Friday, August 26, 2016

It's been a while

More than three weeks. Not much new going on.

Although, this morning I found out my best friend may be moving again, this time to Texas.

Her youngest grandson is a bit of a gymnastics prodigy. This last April, at 7 years old, he placed 5th in the regional championships. According to his grandmother, he has a tremendous amount of natural ability, but has yet to hit the point where he really needs to put in a lot of work to improve.

The gym he is currently training with just lost two of its top coaches to a rival gym across town. If they switch gyms, he will be with the same coaches, but with less time available for (of course) more money. The gym he is currently at was working to get either or both of the Hamm brothers (who are more or less local) to coach in place of the guys who left, but that fell through.

Long story short, the family is considering moving to Texas so their son can be coached in one of the elite centers in the country. He would have to try out for a spot; nothing is guaranteed. If he has what it takes to compete at that level, the family is willing to do what is needed to make it happen.

Meanwhile, I need to start saving for a trip to the 2024 Olympics, just in case. Rome, Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles are the remaining candidate cities; Hamburg dropped out, thank heaven. The host city will be picked next September. I'm not so sure Paris is a good bet, nor Italy, given the migrant issues. Budapest is a long shot. But a lot can happen between now and then, including the future star himself deciding gymnastics is no longer fun when he has to actually work at it.

Nothing much new in my world. Looking forward to fall. We've had exactly one day with a high below 80 degrees this month, and it appears nothing is going to interrupt that streak in the near future. Less humid, at least. Still, the apple orchard store is open and caramel apples are ready.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The good, the bad, the unredeemably ugly 8.3.16

The Good: It's Wednesday. Hump Day. For many of us, halfway through the workweek.

More Good: Back to school sales have started. I may be obsessed with school supplies, and I haven't been a full time student in 35 years. One of my favorite lines from a favorite movie: "I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils..."*

I fully intend to rush the autumn season by putting out all the autumn décor the last weekend in August. There may even be seasonal food (I've all the ingredients for either/and pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread in the house right now). The only thing I may wait until Labor Day to change over is the stuff on the front door; my neighbors may think I'm crazier than they already think I am if I put the fall wreath out in August.

The Bad:
Hot. Humid. Sweltering. On the bright side, the worst days are today and tomorrow, rather than over the weekend. So over this recurring swamp-like atmosphere.

As much as I'm anticipating the season changing, the ever later sunrise time is a bit disheartening. Based on the current sunrise, I think I'll be driving to work in the dark within ten days or so. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it, but that won't stop me from disliking it.

The Ugly: This week both my local paper and Outlook have made major changes to their websites. Not only are the changes overwhelmingly ugly, they render the sites almost unusable. The local paper was bought out by Gannett a while ago (home of USA Today); they have now changed their site to adhere to the parent company's "standards". Apparently that means a cluttered home page, fewer stories accessible without major digging, and a depersonalized comment section.

Outlook - just no. Ugly, harder-on-the-eyes font. More white space, but more jammed into the spaces where there is actual content. Invisible checkboxes and toolbars. No way to delete an email on the phone app unless you open the email. Oh - and now, all junk email shows in your inbox (they have some new thing called "clutter" that has to "learn" your preferences - save.me.now).

*You've Got Mail, in an email from Tom Hanks to Meg Ryan.

The good, the bad, the unredeemably ugly 8.3.16

The Good: It's Wednesday. Hump Day. For many of us, halfway through the workweek.

More Good: Back to school sales have started. I may be obsessed with school supplies, and I haven't been a full time student in 35 years. One of my favorite lines from a favorite movie: "I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils..."*

I fully intend to rush the autumn season by putting out all the autumn décor the last weekend in August. There may even be seasonal food (I've all the ingredients for either/and pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread in the house right now). The only thing I may wait until Labor Day to change over is the stuff on the front door; my neighbors may think I'm crazier than they already think I am if I put the fall wreath out in August.

The Bad:
Hot. Humid. Sweltering. On the bright side, the worst days are today and tomorrow, rather than over the weekend. So over this recurring swamp-like atmosphere.

As much as I'm anticipating the season changing, the ever later sunrise time is a bit disheartening. Based on the current sunrise, I think I'll be driving to work in the dark within ten days or so. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it, but that won't stop me from disliking it.

The Ugly: This week both my local paper and Outlook have made major changes to their websites. Not only are the changes overwhelmingly ugly, they render the sites almost unusable. The local paper was bought out by Gannett a while ago (home of USA Today); they have now changed their site to adhere to the parent company's "standards". Apparently that means a cluttered home page, fewer stories accessible without major digging, and a depersonalized comment section.

Outlook - just no. Ugly, harder-on-the-eyes font. More white space, but more jammed into the spaces where there is actual content. Invisible checkboxes and toolbars. No way to delete an email on the phone app unless you open the email. Oh - and now, all junk email shows in your inbox (they have some new thing called "clutter" that has to "learn" your preferences - save.me.now).

*You've Got Mail, in an email from Tom Hanks to Meg Ryan.

Friday, July 29, 2016

No particular order

Hit the trifecta today: Friday, payday, "summer day".

I've a long list of things I want or need to do this weekend. Thankfully, the weather is going to be pleasantly dry and even a bit on the cool side, at least for today and part of tomorrow. I'm always a bit more in a mood to work on things when it's not tropical outside, whether or not the actual work needs to be done outside.

Last night's dream featured a man peering in my bedroom windows, with intent to enter and cause harm. In the dream, a friend's police officer husband went to investigate; in real life, I took a quick look at the patio before I left for work, just in case.

Anyone who has been to my place knows that a criminal bringing a ladder and climbing up to the second floor windows is a ridiculously difficult way to enter my condo, given the alternative points of ingress.

Where was I? Things to do...there are three projects that WILL be complete by the end of August. I worked on one a bit Wednesday night, and was surprised at the progress made in just an hour and a half. Then again, everything was set up ahead so I could focus on just doing the one thing I needed to do. That seems to be the key to getting anything done after work during the week: set everything up on the weekend.

Not part of those three projects, but needing to be done is a quick declutter of the loft. I'd like to have the upstairs carpet cleaned in late August (I'm off one mid-week day then), but before they can do that, I need to move some stuff. As in furniture. Ideally, the people who want my old bed, dresser and chest of drawers will be able to pick it up before then. They are at an out of town family wedding until next week, or I'd get that settled. We'll see if Stanley will offer their "two rooms and a hall" deal when each of the rooms is 16 x 16 feet.

Also not part of those three projects, I need to figure out when to schedule a chimney cleaning. It's been on my list to have done for the past couple of years - not urgent, as the fireplace is gas (no creosote build up) and not used more than once a week through the winter. A cleaning is a way to get rid of any gunk left when the old owners converted from natural to gas, as well as a chance to have it inspected for any crack or other issues.

Oh yeah - and get rid of miscellaneous critter skeletons. Yet another critter found its way past the cap and down the flue. From the sound of it, this wasn't a winged creature, but a chipmunk or squirrel. Short of taking the damper apart and out, there is no way to rescue them (which would most likely end with a sooty, crazed rodent careening around the house in panic).

I've contacted the home owner's association about repairs to the cap. If I read the association documents correctly, while the inside of the chimney is my responsibility (it's contained within the outside walls), the cap is theirs (my "property" ends at the roof). No sense having the thing cleaned if animals can still get in.

August starts Monday. Summer is almost gone. Oops - correction: Summer is almost gone!! Contrary to popular belief, I don't actually hate summer, it's more that I like every other season more. Autumn is my favorite (add to to-do list: bring out autumn décor items to put out last weekend in August (Labor Day is late-ish this year and I don't want to wait).

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

History missed

Over the course of my life, I've been witness to a whole host of events that are the subject of "where were you when..." questions. While I don't remember the assassination, I do remember exactly where my four year old self was when I saw the riderless horse in Kennedy's funeral procession. So many other events, whether or not I was old enough to understand them...MLK. Another Kennedy. The Watergate mess and a president's resignation. An assassination attempt. Spacecraft exploding after launch or on reentry. Wars begun. Genocides.

9/11.

But the greatest event of my lifetime - July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong becoming the first man to step on the moon?

Yeah, missed that.

Not for lack of trying to see it. Like many households across the world, we were glued to the live television coverage. It took forever before all the preparations were complete, and Armstrong was ready to exit the landing module.

It was a hot summer night, around nine-thirty, our time. Since it was hot, and the house not air conditioned, the front door was open so the sight breeze could filter in through the screen. Along with the breeze, we heard sirens. Not uncommon, as we lived just two blocks over from a firehouse. Instead of growing fainter as the trucks moved away, responding to the call, the sound grew louder.

Red lights flashed on and off in our windows.

My mother, ever the nosy one, went out on the porch to look down the block and see what was happening. It wasn't enough that she was out there, she had to start calling "Get out here! Come look at this!" in that parental voice that brooks no disobedience.

So my sister and I (in my case reluctantly; my sister was only seven, and up for more local excitement than living history making) joined her on the porch.

By the time she let us come back in, Aldrin was on his way out of the lander to join Armstrong on the surface of the moon.

Yeah, I may still be a bit bitter about that.

So what was going on down the block?

Never did find out.



A shameless plug to sell raffle tickets

Sigh. I should have known I wouldn't escape.

Last month, since no one introduced the new girl (me) at the quilt guild, I thought I'd escape the job of selling tickets for the raffle quilt being given away at the quilt show in October.

No such luck.

The raffle quilt lady was on me almost before I got my foot in the door last night.

The quilt - I will try to remember to scan the picture and post it here tonight - is a 90 x 90", very traditional looking pinwheel quilt. It's scrappy (not all coordinated colors, but a wide variety) with an off white background. I can't tell from the picture what the quilting itself looks like, but I believe it was quilted by a member who has a long arm quilting machine, so I believe it is quilted in an all over pattern.

If anyone wants to buy tickets, I'm willing to ship the quilt if you win. Groundrules:

1. Tickets are $1 each, or $5 for six. I must have payment in hand by 10/14. or I will buy the ticket and if it wins, the quilt belongs to me.

2. If you buy tickets, the stubs will go in to the drawing with my name and address (so as not to freak out the raffle quilt committee, who might otherwise think the guild is responsible for shipping), but I will email you scans of "your" stubs so you know your ticket numbers.

3. I'll send out notice of the winning number to anyone who buys tickets, preferably from a guild source, to keep things on the up and up.

I only have 24 tickets, so really, I could spend the $20 and buy them all myself. I don't exactly need another quilt, though.

This would be something that you could throw over a bed (it's almost, but not quite, big enough for a queen sized bed), use as a cuddle quilt, use for a picnic blanket. Or, for that matter, hand on a wall.

Leave your email in the comments, and I'll get in contact with you.

//done with shameless sales pitch//

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Slowly wilting

So it begins. Tired, cranky, slow moving. Funny, even though I have the incredible blessing of central air at home and at work, the heat still gets to me. Maybe it's a psychological thing, after all those years in a sweat box flat?

It's not as bad as it will get later in the week, but it is still in the low eighties and humid. Quilt guild tonight (in a thankfully air conditioned Salvation Army church/hall), so I'll be in and out of it a few times.

Plans for Friday's fun are going to have to change because of the heat. My 90 year old aunt and I were going to lunch at a place that has a wonderful patio and wrap around porch with seating - and very few inside tables. No way are we going to eat al fresco when the National Weather Service has already issued excessive heat watches (heat index 103 - 110) for both Thursday and Friday.

I hate to even have her come out. Maybe I'll pick up Panera and bring it to her? I know how much she was looking forward to it. Though I'm not sure I'll survive a Panera run in that heat.

To all my friends who profess to LOVE, LOVE summer: here you go. I don't want to hear a word from you about how it is "too hot". Be careful if you are planning to be out.

Eh. How many days until winter?

Monday, July 18, 2016

On feeling old

At fifty-seven, my foot has yet to slip over the edge of the grave, but I'm still what one would call solidly ensconced in middle age. This fact bothers me less than many of my similarly-aged friends, as I've no children growing into adults to make time's progression in my life obvious to all.

But boy, am I feeling old today.

Yesterday, I went to a wonderful baby shower. I've the privilege of calling both the grandmother-to-be and the expectant mom my friend. You see, I met them both when they first came to my church - back when the mom to be was eight years old.

Sigh.

A whole crop of the young ladies who were my charges in AWANA when they were eight and nine years old are now married and having children at a rather quick pace. A quick survey of the kids who were part of the program the years that I was a leader shows at least ten kids, and three more (that I know of) on the way.

There is a special joy in this, even for a non-parent like me. These young parents have, for the most part, been faithful to what they have been taught, walking out their beliefs moment-to-moment. They are setting an example for these little people, in the hope that they, too, will come to a life of faith.

While I will play no part personally in handing down my physical genetic make up, I hope I've played a part in handing down my faith. If that's true, I can live with the grey hair, aches and pains.

With fairly short notice for this shower, I did not have time to make even a small baby quilt, and for that, I'm thankful. Chris was able to give to her daughter Kim a baby quilt that was made for Kim by the women of the church Chris and her husband attended back when Chris was pregnant with her. Every other square is signed by the women who encouraged and helped Chris with her first pregnancy. Several of the women who signed that quilt were at the shower.

As I said, these young people are popping out kids with abandon. A month from now, I've the joy of going to a baby shower for another very special young woman.

Note to self: Get hair colored before then...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Don't bother starting the darn merry-go-round

Are you familiar with the feeling of just wanting all the busy-ness to go away? Do you ever feel that way before everything actually starts?

I don't even want to get on the merry-go-round of activity that is my next week. I realize that it is my introversion speaking, and I know I will have fun/accomplish things. Yet it is likely that Saturday will turn into one all-day nap in order to make the following week possible.

Event one: After church Sunday, a baby shower for a lovely young lady I've known since she was eight years old. As a bonus, her mom, a friend of mine who moved to the wilds of "up north" Wisconsin (defined as anyplace more than ten miles north of your current position) twelve years or more ago, will be there. Celebrations of new life are wonderful (in spite of silly shower games). But...people. For hours.

Event two: Tuesday night, quilt guild meeting. Joining the guild was a voluntary action on my part. It's part of my "get more plugged in to the Milwaukee and environs quilting community to build up potential customers for possible retirement long-arm quilting business" plan. But again, that means networking, which means...people.

Event three: Hair appointment after work Thursday. Generally, if I'm not feeling chatty, Peter will let me live inside my head while he works on my hair. The forty minutes waiting for the color to develop, however, is a minefield of possible social interactions. Note to self: take along kindle and bury nose in book. It doesn't always protect me, unfortunately, as there are some people (strange as this sounds) who think when you are reading, you aren't "doing something".

Event four: On my Friday half day, meet my 90 year old aunt and her daughter-in-law for lunch. This is the event I am least conflicted about. The ladies are good company, and as a bonus, we are going to the chicken place for lunch. The extended forecast doesn't reach next Friday yet, but, as has been the pattern for the last several weeks, the weekdays are set to be hot (upper 80s) and humid. Hopefully, as in past weeks, the cool down will come on Friday. If not, we'll just be sure to take a table on the wide porch on the north side of the building, out of the sun.

Event five: A class at church Sunday night. Again, this is something I actually signed up for, in spite of knowing full well that Sunday evenings are my lowest, least people-friendly, willing-to-go-out time of the week.

The irony is that there is nothing on the calendar for three weeks following, other than a TSA interview for TSA Pre. The week after that, though...four events, two on each of two different days. Agh.

If for any reason I don't show up somewhere I'm expected, the odds are my not-so-inner introvert has pulled me into my bedroom, curled me up in a ball and stuffed me under the bed. All electronic devices will be turned off, and the doorbell only works on days when both the full moon and the sun are visible in the sky at the same time while it is raining. I'll crawl out when I'm finally recharged.