Monday, July 30, 2012

Wanna take a trip to Atlantic City?  Come on!

First, we'll head to Lindenwold to pick up the train.  It's only 5 dollars one way.  Not too bad for a 50 mile one hour trip.  Those train tracks lead back through Cherry Hill and across the Delaware River to Philadelphia.

We'll be riding NJ Transit with stops all along the way until we reach Atlantic City.  Good thing we brought some knitting.  (Elanor's May sock.  Yep, I'm sorta behind in her sock of the month gift).  Just a bit more and it'll be done.  Unfortunately, my handsome husband is sitting there and holding his hand is much more enjoyable than holding the knitting needles.  And yes, I say that with a straight face and in all honesty!

Here we are coming up to AC. One of the cool things is how the water starts to take over the land as you get closer.  And you can see the windmills that are outside of the city. We asked for a day with no rain and we got one.  Thank goodness for the occasional cloud cover or we would be baking in the heat and humidity.

The ride down is quiet and pleasant.  We are on the 2:23 train that gets us into the station at 3:30.

Atlantic City Jitney AssociationThere's a waiting jitney (small bus-like vehicles that move all over the city) and we're off,  headed for the boardwalk.

I like boardwalks.  I like the fact that you can smell the salt/suntan lotion/hotdog/peanut/people conglomeration.  It's wonderful fun to look at what people decide is appropriate to wear out in public.  I'm sorry that they moved the Miss America pageant away from here.  It's cheesy atmosphere is perfect.

What shall we do first?  We can look at all of the shops that sell "sundries" and the same few t shirts and sun dresses.  We can go into Ocean One, the mall.  It has stores we don't see everywhere.  Oh no!  We have to leave because the fire alarm is going off.  Someone is probably smoking where they're not supposed to and has set off the alarm.  We don't get to see the dancing fountain but that's ok.

I know, let's go into a casino and give them some money.  They'll let us play with their slot machines for a few minutes but basically we could  just hand them  money right at the front door.  We are lucky in a lot of ways but gambling?  Not so much.

Ready for dinner?  I am and by now the outdoor restaurant we have chosen has some shade.  It's called Bungalo and is inviting looking isn't it?

It turns out to be more style than substance, unfortunately. The wait staff is all young and pretty to look at but they don't seem to pay much attention to us.    Peter Kevin is ordering a drink made with muddled cucumber and gin (very refreshing) and I am ordering a pina colada. I don't often order alcohol since it makes me sleepy but I thought I'd splurge a bit.  This was disappointing in that it had very little flavor.

Disappointing is the theme here.  Our meals are ok but not worth the exhorbitant prices they charge ( I order lobster ravioli and get 3, count'em 3 ravioli).  We'll eat and not linger too long.  The club music is good but a bit loud and we can't talk.

We have to stop at Steel's Fudge and get some fudge (and carmel corn) and by now our (ok, MY) feet are getting sore.  I have not worn good footwear for this (but I'm cute!) and my toe is developing a blister.

We can sit down by the Korean War Memorial and rest.  It's quiet here and the sound of running water is pleasant and restful (and it's odd to have a war memorial right here on the boardwalk).  We have about an hour before our train home and we can either walk the 10 blocks or so to the station or wait for the jitney. 

We just miss the jitney and a taxi fortuitously drives by and we splurge on a ride back to the train station.

The ticket agent is rather surly.  I guess he would rather not be working on a Friday night but I understand that.  We'll sit in the cool station and wait for them to call the train.  You'll know when it's time when people start massing at the door. 

Our ride home is less quiet as we are sitting behind 3 18 yr old young women.  They were noisy and loud and overly silly all the way home.  I don't mind giggling and laughing but these girls are hitting each other with train schedules and yelling.  It's all I can do not to tell them to act their age.  And of course, they are riding all the way to Philadelphia. (and someone really should tell them that wearing clothes that allow great rolls of pasty white (or whatever color) flesh to hang out between your shirt and pants is not attractive.) 

We ignore them and watch the sun go down as we head west.  You can see the storm front moving toward the shore.  We were lucky we missed it.  We pull into the train station at 9:15 and find our car right where we left it. We'll head home, shower off the sweaty afternoon and eat carmel corn while we watch the original version of The Andromeda Strain. 

What a nice day it was.  I'm glad y'all decided to come with us.  We'll have to do this again sometime.

Friday, July 27, 2012

"Leave behind the passive dreaming of a rose-tinted future. The energy of happiness exists in living today with roots sunk firmly in reality's soil."

~Daisaku Ikeda

Because hope springs eternal, I am writing this at my desk at work with mental fingers crossed that it will allow me to post.

I love this quote.  It's everything I've been trying to remind myself this year (the "look for the good in the moment" year) and what I've been trying to live up to.  You all know what I mean, so I won't belabor the point.  I'm just checking in as the year moves into its final half (and how exactly did THAT happen?) to report that I am still trying and often succeeding in finding the joy in the everyday.  I think of it as the TGIW or Thank Goodness It's Wednesday mind set. 

I am trying not to just wander through the first four days of each week and trying to appreciate them as they happen.  If we live for Friday, then we ignore 4/7 of our week.  So not cool.

Am I good at this.  So/so.  I have my weeks when I can't wait for them to be over but that's natural.  I am getting better, though and that's what counts to me.

Today Pk and I are heading off on the afternoon train to Atlantic City.  We love taking the train.  Let someone else sit in traffic on the Expressway.  We sit in comfortable seats.  We plan to walk the boardwalk, maybe give a few (very few) dollars to the casino and then have dinner outside if the weather holds.  It's hot and humid and there's a 30 - 40 % chance of storms.  We're optimistic.  The AC Food and Wine Show is in town and maybe we'll hit that (we've been before and were less than impressed).

I'm working on a photo project for a favorite client who is turning 60 this month.  I'm making a photo album of folks past/present that he can enjoy.  It's been bittersweet to look at the old photos and see how many people are gone.  I'm going to take a disc and have prints made and put them together.  I like doing this.  A little bit of nostalgia is good for the soul.

Have a good weekend and if you think of it, think rain-free thoughts for the NJ coast for later today.  I am not taking an umbrella.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I have this weird inner-ear thing that I've had since I was a kid.  My parents were not "go-to-the-doctors-for-everything" kind of people so I just dealt with it as best as I could.  It wasn't until I was in college and one of my roomates got nervous and made me go to the infirmary that they told me this had a name (labrynthitis) and that I could take something for it.

It strikes when I've had some sinus issues and usually a pill will make it bearable (the room spins round and round).  Every once in a while, I get a bout bad enough to make me spend a day flat on my back and yesterday was one of those days. 

I woke up about 2:30 in the morning, rolled over and felt the dizziness, and took some meclizine and went back to sleep.  Usually, this means I'll wake up feeling a bit tired but ok.  Not this day.  I woke up Saturday morning and couldn't walk a straight line.  I took the maximum dose of meclizine and some decongestant and some xanax (the Mayo clinic website said they have good results with benzodiazepenes so I tried and I think it helped) and managed to spend most of the day in the twilight zone.  Not really asleep but not nearly awake either.  It was so weird.  But no dizziness.  If you've never felt dizzy like this, you can't imagine how awful it feels.  It brings on nausea and headaches and you feel like everything is spinning round and round and round. 

Today, I am just tired.  The labrynthitis makes my brain tired and I spend most of the day just sitting around.  I managed to go and get a pedicure this morning and put some baked beans in the crockpot so Pk could have beans and weenies for dinner but that was about it.  I dozed most of the rest of the day away. 

And now I have to fold one more load of laundry and get my things together for work tomorrow.  Thankfully, it's not an overly busy day. 

Pk took good care of me, mostly just leaving me alone as I asked.  I don't like people to hover and he let me sleep in the chair in the living room for over 2 hours yesterday afternoon.  Slug.  I was/am a slug.  But I'm perfectly ok with that.  I think our bodies make us do what we need and sometimes we need to just sleep.  I was so tired after Handle with Care on Friday.  We went to the bookstore after work and then had some dinner and came home.  I was falling asleep by 8:00. 

And here it is almost 9 and I'm falling asleep again.  So, I think I'll listen to my body and put myself to bed after I get the laundry out of the dryer.  I hope you all had a good weekend.  Was there really a weekend in there?  I think I slept through it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Look!  It's a sleeve!  Not just any sleeve, but the first sleeve of my sweater.  This is a close up so you can see the handspun personality of the yarn.  I think it will smooth itself out somewhat when it's blocked.  I like the organic look of it.
The Oatmeal sweater has a small cable design on the sleeves but the unevenness of my yarn did not lend itself well to the pattern.  I tried several times before deciding I could live without it.  When I attach the sleeves at the yoke, I'll see if the larger design works out.  If it does, I'll include it.  If not, I'll have a plain yoked, handspun sweater. 

When I set out to make this, I had in mind a "workhorse" kind of sweater. My brother brought Pk a cardigan back from a trip to Ireland and I ended up wearing it.  I literally wore it out.  The elbows were darned and darned and darned again.  The only way to save it is to put leather patches on them and I'm not enamored with that idea.

I wanted a sweater to replace that one and I think this will work.  The material is strong.  This will probably not pill and not pull out of shape.  It's sturdy and I think will last me a long while.  I have some other yarn in a hollyberry color for a more dressy sweater for myself but this one is the sweater of my heart.  It doesn't hurt that the wool came from a farm in MD where they work with disadvantaged children.  It's a good karma garment.

I've started the second sleeve.  It's been so long since I knit with anything but fingering or laceweight yarn that I forgot how quickly things progress.  Since I figured out the stitch count and finagled the numbers, it's been a pleasure to play with yarn I've made myself.

Tomorrow, I'm giving away the first of the baby sweaters.  The mother is leaving work after Friday and her department gave her a small shower instead of an all hands kind of thing.  I'm so glad I thought to ask or she'd have been gone and I'd have missed giving her the sweater I made for her baby. 

The summer here has been challenging but we are getting through.  We've been in a state of preparedness for "fierce thunderstorms" for the past three days but have only seen clouds.  In fact, it's cloudy right now but no sign of rain.  While I don't want the violent storms, some liquid precipitation would be a good thing right about now.

I have Handle With Care tomorrow.  Again.  Already.  It feels like we just did this but I know it's been a month.  Fortunately, there are two other trainers so I won't have to take anyone down.  I have bursitis in my left knee and it's been vocal all week.  I don't relish the idea of having to go down on my knees on the hardwood floors.  I have been thinking of giving this up and letting someone else do it for a few years but I keep going back for the training.  I developed the program at work and I'm reluctant to hand it off to someone else.  Some day but not quite yet.

I am recertified for CPR and Automatic Electronic Defibrillator again.  So, now if someone has a cardiac arrest around me, I can leap in and do 100 chest compressions a minute.  If you've never done this, it's exhausting!  I took the recert class with nurses/technicians and it's much more interesting than the one my coworkers settle for.  If I'm going to be certified in a skill set,I  want it to mean something.

Not much else going on here.  Pk and I are planning a date night down in Atlantic City next Friday.  We'll take an early day at work and then take the train down and walk the boardwalk,  have  dinner somewhere and then take the train home.  It's a great way to go to the shore.  No worrying about traffic and parking and it's a hour long train ride (which we love).  I hope the weather cooperates. 

How's summer treating you?  (or winter if you happen to be below the equator!)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

from inside the center court looking down Market St
The recovery committee in Philadelphia (and recovery means anyone making positive changes in their lives due to drugs, alcohol or serious mental illness) is having a Recovery Idol competition.  There are several men and women competing for a recording contract.  They have been singing in different venues all over the city since February.

We have a woman from our center in the competition and Friday they were singing outdoors in the Center Court of City Hall at noon.  One of my coworkers and I walked down to City Hall to offer support.  It was not unpleasant out, warm but not awful.  We got there in time to see our girl sing (and she was wonderful) and then walked back. 

Unfortunately, I was wearing my adorable Converse One Star sneakers (in pink) that have no support and are hell on your feet if you have to walk anywhere.  They are not made for walking, just looking cute.  All weekend, my ankles have let me know that it was a bad idea and I should not repeat it.

After a brief reprieve weather-wise, we're back in the soup again.  It's so humid.  I love July.  I love hot sunny days where you can feel the sun beat down on your head and it makes you feel like a kid with a whole sunny day ahead of you.  Humidity?  You can keep it.  It rained off and on Saturday morning and then the temps went up and that just made everything sticky.

Despite this, I managed to complete my Tour de Fleece challenge (I wanted to spin 6 ounces of fiber into laceweight yarn).  It's not quite as thin as I'd like it but it's fairly consistent and gorgeous.  I'm quite proud of it.  If there's enough yardage, it will become a Forest Canopy shawl (Pk says I should add some green in there as well but I may do some double stitching in green to add bits of color to it).  It's been washed and is hanging to dry but that may take a while (humidity).

Today, we got up early and went to the flea market at Columbus with the girls (and Jim).  We walked around and I think everyone found something they wanted.  Pk found some planes (for making wood molding) and a pair of scissors that he's going to clean up for me.  They were once enameled with tourquoise and red designs.  They're incredibly well made and with a little work will make good sewing scissors.

I found some interesting things.  A quart container of buttons.  Kate and I were looking at it and there was no price.  She said "offer her 10 dollars and maybe she'll sell them all to you".  The woman came over and said "oh, that's a dollar".  FOR THE WHOLE THING.  We snapped it up (it's filled with all sizes of buttons in greys, blues, reds and greens and some black, still on the cards in small bags for individual sale)!  She asked me if I knew how much buttons cost nowadays (and patterns) and I said yes, I was well aware.  I started to feel a bit like I had taken advantage but there was no bargaining.  She named a price and I paid it. 

I also bought a small china dish that will sit on my dresser and hold my watch and rings at the end of the day and a patch from Camp Inawendiwin.  It's like I was meant to have this.  I spent some of the best weekends of my young life there as a Girl Scout.  They must have issued this badge for the bicentennial in 1976 (I would have been a senior in high school and had just left the scouts).  It was on the top of a box of patches and I bought it.  I have a jacket full of Camp Inawendiwin (which supposedly means friendship) patches and girl scout badges and I'm thinking of taking them off and making a blanket with them. 

It was hot today and of course, humid, but we walked around for about two and a half hours before we called it quits and went to the diner for brunch.  Pk and I came home and have been slugs ever since.  He's been working hard on a new programming language at work this week and it's worn him out.  I keep reminding him that when we learn anything new, it's hard work. 

It's been a good weekend.  The first part of the week promises to be brutally hot and humid so we'll be slow.  Since tomorrow is supposed to be the least hot day, we'll hit the gym on the way home and then take it easy on Tues and Wed.  I think the heat will break on Thursday. This has been an especially hot summer (after a mild winter) and we are adjusting ourselves to it. 

Wherever you are, I hope your weekend was a good one.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to tell me the reason I got bit by so many mosquitos is that I was so sweet.  I now know that brunettes are more likely to get bit than blondes and that's why I came home from the park last Sunday night covered in bites and Pk had not one.  (Most of the bites are normal sized but one blew up into an enormous itchy welt that hurt.  Gotta love mosquitos)

He and Kate and I went to sit by the river.  I introduced Kate to the fibers prepared by Joan at The Cupcake Fiber Co and she fell in love.  Being the mom, I gave her my bobbin of spun singles and the rest of the roving.  Kate wanted to spin and needed something easy and pretty to entice her back to her wheel.  Joan's "cupcakes" are just the ticket.  She is loving them. 

We spend lots of time at the river when it's hot.  There is a breeze and the sounds/smells of the river are soothing and cooling (all except for the very loud speedboats which are just disturbing).  We spent a few nice hours just sitting outside.  The heat wave broke that night and this week has been more moderate, although the humidity has hovered between 90 and 92 percent.  Why yes, my hair has been looking extremely lovely in all that moisture.  I had forgotten how curly it is and the humidity just brings out the best in it.  (Peter Kevin loves it so it's worth it)

Unfortunately, there has been so little rain that the park is not the lovely green color in the photo.  It's rather brown and there isn't much grass.  All my neighbors have brown crispy lawns except for two obsessive compulsive men.  They have watered and mowed and edged and their lawns are green and lush.  I can't justify in my mind wasting the water.  If/when it rains, the grass will come back.  And so will the dandelions.  I'd bet they're both happy that our lawn is dead because we let the dandelions grow and if they're not growing, they're not making seedy puffballs.  I like the puffballs.  I help the little seedlings on their merry way every chance I get.

I am almost finished my Tour de Fleece spinning.  I have a few more hours to put in plying my singles and then the washing and counting up to see how much yardage I managed to get.  So far, I am loving the yarn.   I've just been tired in the heat and after work, I don't always feel like sitting in front of the wheel. Pk and I have been watching Star Trek (the original series) and loving all the drama.  "I'm a DOCTOR, Jim, not a miracle worker!!!!"  It's so much fun. 

We have plans to go to the flea market with Em and Jim on Sunday.  We'll go early before the heat sets in and then have brunch somewhere on the way home.  I love flea markets.  You never know what you'll find there. 

Other than that, it's been a quiet time.  I love summer.  I love the slow pace and the kick-your-shoes-off feeling.  I don't even mind the heat.  I spend so much time being cold at work that coming out of the building in the afternoon is a treat.

It's early still and I could spin just a bit more if I put away the computer.  'Night y'all. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Whew!  It's been hot here!  The first week of summer we had a heat wave and we are already in the middle of what's predicted to be an 11 day marathon of 90+ (35C) days.  (Our record is 18 days of 90+ degree days in a row.  That was in 1988.  I remember it.  Well.)

Pk and I have been good about going to the gym.  Our goal is to ease ourselves back into the routine and as long as we make it twice in a week, we're good.  We went this morning and I can feel it in my shoulders now and I know tomorrow my abs will protest.  I managed to do 45 situps (with weights) and that made me feel good.  We know going to the gym is good for us both mentally and physically but it's not our favorite thing to do. 

After the gym today, we got on the train and went to Philadelphia to pick up our "share" for the week.  This was a good week.  We got some corn on the cob, some peaches, some onions and zuchini, some Damask plums (slightly larger than cherries but definitely plums), eggs and chevre cheese, green peppers and dill.  I've never seen plums like this but they're tasty!

I used the peppers and zuchini in dinner tonight.  I made sort of a pasta primavera with bay scallops and vegetables.  It was delicious.  Standing in front of a hot stove in a hot kitchen is not fun but when the results are as good as this was, it's worth it.  I'm putting some sausage and tomatoes and peppers in the crockpot for jambalaya on Saturday.  It's supposed to hit 101 degrees and I'm crying Uncle.  The crockpot will save me.  (this should not be taken as complaining.  I am well aware of how lucky we are that we didn't get hit by the violent storms last weekend that knocked out power all over the east coast in the middle of all this heat)

We had lunch with one of my coworkers who is at work today and then came home.  Pk worked on a computer program that he is debugging and I spun and plied for my Tour challenge.  I have these few days off and I'd like to get my tour spinning done before I go back to work on Monday.  I spun 4 ounces of fiber since June 30 and have plied about a quarter of it so far.  (I still have two ounces to spin into singles but I only have so many open bobbins!)  It's still not as thin as I'd like it to be but it's pretty.  Plying thing singles takes a while but it's a meditative process.I sit in the spare room in the morning before it gets too hot with a fan on.  It's pleasant and sunny.  I could be a woman of leisure so easily. 

We have three days left of vacation.  Since they're going to be warm, we'll be doing as little as we can get away with.  Pk will work on the car in the mornings and I'll sit outside and keep him company (I also help.  I hand him things although by the time he gets done describing what he wants, it's probably quicker if he just gets it himself).  

I just finished listening to an excellent book called Defending Jacob by William Landay.  It's a mystery (kind of) and a story about parental love (kind of) and a legal thriller (kind of).  It's hard to categorize.  I can tell you there are no zombies in it.  It was a bit heartbreaking at the end.  I think it's a good summer read. 

It seems like our budget cuts at work might not be as drastic as we originally thought.  The state legislature passed a slightly less draconian budget.  We'll still have cuts, but they won't be as deep. 

So, there you have it.  A more optimistic ending.  I am a firm believer that things work out in the end as they're supposed to.  And as Gandalf says, "there is some comfort in that thought".

Happy Sunday!  I am sitting here working on my sweater made with the cashmere yarn my husband gave me for my birthday last year. I’m further...