Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quick March Updates (books and bike)

Well, the month isn't technically over, but with all the packing and getting-ready I still need to do tonight*, the chances of my exercising any more, or finishing another book, before midnight are beyond slim and well into none, so I think I can give the March Exercise and Reading Summaries now.

*Depending on the weather tomorrow, I may put my trip off, but the forecasts are varying so wildly, I'm waiting to see what things look like tomorrow. It's complicated by the fact that they'll get more crap snow west of here than I'll see when I wake up. Decisions, decisions.

To recap, I read 20 books in January, and 21 in February. In March, I read ... 22! How very consistent of me. And also, how very explicative of why I get so little done around the house. It's a sacrifice I am willing to make, though I was thinking yesterday of the irony that when I'm at work, I think of all these things I could be doing if I was at home ... then I go home and don't do half of it. (Though I did do dishes last night, which is something. And cleaned the top of the stove, which was disgracefully overdue.)

After experimenting with Goodreads earlier this year, I've been keeping the book list in a spreadsheet in my Google docs, and it's working perfectly for me. Thus I can tell you that eight of the March books I read for the first time, and I got eight (but not the same eight) out of the library. My favorite of the new reads was probably Tied to the Tracks, by Rosina Lippi (author of another favorite of mine, The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square), and I've been on a real fantasy kick, re-reading much Mercedes Lackey, Tamora Pierce, and Lois McMaster Bujold. And it has been good.

As for exercise, you know I've been improving there. I mean, in January I rode the bike for 10 minutes, while in February, the total was 65. Now, are you ready for March?

302 minutes. Wow, if I do say so myself. That's more than 5 hours! I like that graph.

And having said that, I'm enough of a nerd that I actually did make a graph. Embrace the inner nerd.

Plus, that's with losing 7 days to illness and headache, plus the occasional self-granted day off. Not bad.

All right, I have things to do. The Bruins are up 3-2 after 2, so hopefully the third period will be entertaining to pack to. Now hush, don't tell Carlos I'm leaving!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Trying-Not-To-Rant Post

I missed going to my stitch and bitch group Monday night due to the tail-end of that migraine, and I didn't go to the other one near work tonight, because I have to do the laundry I didn't get done last weekend*, since I'm going to be away this coming weekend, and the end of the clean underwear is in sight. (That was my intention, but as one of my neighbors has both washers full of clothes and hasn't moved them to the driers, I'm kind of stymied. And thwarted. And ticked off. Ahem.)

*with the migraine and all

Yes, I'm going to Grandma's, which means upstate NY where it's really still winter (boo), but it also means seeing not just Grandma but also my mother, who's been staying there for a few weeks, which is yay! Ah, family, you know? We're weird, but I do love us:

funny pictures - Sanity runs from my family......

You can imagine my feelings about the storm that's supposed to come through on Friday, a day otherwise known as my travel day, are not so positive. Snow. On April first, and that's no joke. Up to a foot of it in Western MA, which of course I will be driving through. I thoroughly disapprove of winter storm watches in April. Holy Maria.

On to happier thoughts, before I pull myself down into snow depression. My knitting has not completely suffered this week, despite the lack of SnB time, due to the happy knitting/exercise bike connection. I rode the bike for 30 minutes last night (20 and then 10), and it does get the knitting done. More tonight!

And speaking of knitting: When weighing the pros and cons of traveling to DC* by train or by plane, is it wrong that my reaction to the longer travel time on the train is, "That's a lot of knitting time!"?

*Not this weekend, it's a different trip.

See, the train is cheaper*, but it takes twice as long as the plane (or more). That's supposed to be the drawback, but what I'm thinking is that plane travel has lost all its allure for me. It gets me where I want to go, granted, and when the distance is unrealistic for me by car or train (Florida, California) then I'll take it, but it's certainly not fun. (I think I remember how exciting it was to fly when I was four or five. I'll never recapture that thrill.) Flying now feels like a chore.

*The Acela isn't cheaper than flying, but that only saves an hour and a half [some high-speed train, eh?] versus the regular trains, and is more than twice the cost, so I don't think that's worth it. I mean yes, I have the money, but I'm too cheap let's-call-it-frugal to spend it without more of a perceived value than that.

On the other hand, it's a few years since I've taken the train. It's longer, yes, but once you're looking at six and a half hours, it isn't much of a step to eight. You get scenery, it's not as cramped, easier to move around ... hmmm. If I have the time (and I do), and I want to take the train, why not just take the train? Worst case*, it's boring or annoying, and I won't do it again.

*I know, real worst case would probably be the train crashing, but you can say that about flying too. I mean the likely worst case.

My goodness, I'm footnotey tonight.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kind of a Random Mix, BUT, no headache!

(cross fingers, knock wood)

Despite a wicked case of insomnia last night, today has been much better than yesterday in the migraine department*, ranging between Level 0--No Pain and Level 1--not so much pain as Awareness of My Head, with the occasional lapse into Level 2--Is It Coming Back? This morning it felt less like a typical headache, and more like my brain didn't quite fit right in my skull. Like putting on a pair of new shoes that don't know your feet yet ... or, more disturbingly, as if I was trying to fit my brain into someone else's skull. "It's the same size, it should work."

*So hopefully we'll improve on yesterday's short-and-weird posting, sorry about that.

Yeah, looks like I may not achieve coherence exactly. But hey, what else is new? Here's some of the randomness crossing my mind today.

I deleted an e-mail today, from a survey-marketing-type company, then thought again about it. Didn't I see a "last chance" message from them before, and more than once? Let's check the trash.

Seven. This is from the last month. Good lord, people, marketing can do better than that.

Of course, I also got a renew-your-subscription from PW last week, and my subscription expires in July. Personally, I think March is a little ahead of the game.

A couple of hockey points:
  • As of Sunday night, the Bruins are officially in the playoffs. Yay! Given that their season has overall been good, it would have been a major disappointment if this didn't happen, but I do appreciate that they didn't wait until the very end of the season to confirm (though the number of games left is in single digits). It makes it easier for me to read about the bubble teams and their tragic numbers, when the Bruins aren't in that race.
  • The Bruins' rivalry against the Montreal Canadiens goes back decades, and is as incendiary to each team's fans as the more well-known Red Sox/Yankees strife (what is it with Boston sports fans?). I would certainly buy the hockey equivalent of the Sox shirt that says, "I root for two teams, the Red Sox, and whoever beats the Yankees". (Sadly, I've never seen one that says. "I root for two teams, the Bruins, and whoever beats the Canadiens.") Habs fans are quick to bring up the number of Stanley Cups that Le Bleu-Blanc-et-Rouge have brought home (it's higher than five, is their basic point), while Bruins fans in recent years scoff at their opponents for whining and diving. (Just don't bring up too many men on the ice; that's still painful, like the ball going through Bill Buckner's legs is to a Red Sox fan.)
    Anyway, that's just backup to explain why I laughed when a Bruins fan blog referred to That Team as "Le Blanc, Bleu et Merde". Not particularly mature of me, sure, but hey, it's funny.
So. I have a Bruins game to watch, coincidentally, and a sleeping pill to take, and cats to appease since I was out this evening having dinner with a friend, oh and I want to ride the bike after a few days of headache making that inadvisable, and, well, I think that's it. It's enough!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Tidal Nature of Migraines

aka, This is my brain on a migraine.

Today I was pondering how a migraine rolls around and through me like a tide. A mild one is like water to my ankles, swirling around; then as it gets higher, the waves are more like to knock me off balance, knock me over, knock me down.

And I also pondered how it's almost always the left side of my head that hurts more. Does that mean I'm left-brained? Right-brained? Fighting it?

Not the deepest thoughts, but the most I can handle, given a headache that reaches down to my shoulder blade.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Good: Sunday. Bad: Head

I woke around six with a pretty bad headache. Took a pill and went back to bed, slept and slept, woke with the head much better ... which is good, but only relatively. It's been a pretty blah day. Lots of lying on the couch. Patting myself on the back pretty hard for emptying the dishwasher AND hand-washing most of last night's dinner dishes (last one is soaking). Oh, and I cut my nails! Wow, how accomplishy of me. I'd actually like to lie down, but that brings me to:

my head hurts more when I'm lying down
the rest of me is tired and wants to lie down
what to do?

What I've done is try to lie down, but then gotten up again because ow. Carlos is still on the bed, and I'd love to join him but it just isn't feasible right now. He got plenty of lap time on the couch earlier, but I'd be perfectly happy to cuddle up again now. Sigh. Back to the couch, I guess. After leftovers.

Last night's dinner was pretty darn good, happily. The recipe I used for pot roast guidance was this one, and mine turned out well. My roast was smaller (3.45 pounds), so I used one can of soup and half a cup of water, and the gravy tasted fine to me. The mashed potatoes were, well, mashed potatoes, I love'em, nothing new there. The baked corn souffle looked disappointing, as it didn't puff up even a tiny bit, but it tasted good (especially around the edges, which got kind of chewy, yum), and perhaps if it had been called corn casserole I wouldn't have minded the look as much (souffle just sounds puffed-up, right?). I would make it again, though. Maybe try a different pan, maybe beat the egg more. Maybe accept it as it is.

Ow. Time to get the head away from the computer. Happy trails. Go Bruins.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Real Food

Yes, I cooked! This wouldn't be such news except that it's something I haven't been doing much of, recently. I go through phases of cooking more and of cooking less, and recently has been very strongly less. But today, I've had a pot roast in the crock pot all day, and I made mashed potatoes, and the baked corn souffle is in the oven. Can't wait to eat!

I'm disappointed in the Bruins (1-0 loss) today, and especially in the officiating (since the Rangers scored after they were clearly offside), but I did have one funny moment watching the game. I had just registered with slight distaste that the sound people at the Garden were playing the Chicken Dance music*, when I heard what the crowd did to it: at the last four beats, they chanted, "The Ran-gers suck!" (This seems to be a thing? At Islanders games? I don't know how it made it to the Garden.) A good laugh when I needed it.

*I got really sick of that when I had season tickets to the Checkers**. Not that I liked it the first time I heard it. And they played it at every game. So.
**At the time, they were an ECHL affiliate of the Bruins; now they're an AHL affiliate of the Hurricanes. Weird.

I'll leave you with two shirts from the latest Signals catalog that caught my eye. Just because.

Oh, and the size seven needles? Can't find them. I used size 6 instead, and hope the gauge will still work out. And my stash is a little better organized now, anyway.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Night, Not At All In Brief

I was going to blog last night, though as it was late (again) and I was tired (again), it wouldn't have been at great length. I did start to write, though, and then I hit an issue with Blogger deciding that I wanted my words to be italic. I didn't, so I highlighted them and took the italic off and started typing ... and they were italic again. So I highlighted them and took off the italic and started to type onward--and when it came out italic again I lost my cool, and shut down the computer in a high temper, aka a fit of the I'm-So-Tireds.

I feel rather like a broken record* with the so-tired this week, but looking at my calendar, I can see I've been overdoing a little, and not leaving myself enough recuperative time.

*Do the kids these days use this expression any more? Do they understand it? I mean, I know what a party line was without living with one, hopefully broken record endures in the CD** era.
**Wait, is this now the MP3 era? Or something else altogether? Gah. I Is Old.

To wit, this week:
  • Sunday I was out in the afternoon and evening, not getting home until late (for me, for a work night).
  • Monday I left work at 4 to go to the eye doctor; then went to stitch and bitch; then picked up some groceries quickly. Home after 8.
  • Tuesday I stopped at the mall to go to the Clarks store (full shoe story below) on the way home (arriving around 6:30, the earliest all week).
  • Wednesday I went to another stitch and bitch near work, then stopped at DSW on the way home, thus arriving 8-ish.
  • Thursday I went to Petsmart after work, and returned a library book, before going in for my annual contact lens appointment. Another DSW stop after, and home after 8 again.
  • Tonight I went for the long-overdue Full Grocery Experience. Home maybe 6:30? In time for my three-dollar therapy* dinner (real food tomorrow).
*Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, of course.

Not a huge amount of stuff, nothing individually strenuous, some quite pleasant ... but the cumulative effective made me Too Tired to Deal* (With Much of Anything). Thank heavens for a weekend without anything scheduled. I like having things to look forward to, but too much brings stress in its wake.

*TTD, I like that. I may use that again. TTD or TTTD, would you say?

So! Let's update, shall we?

Number one, the weather.

After that brief flirtation with nice weather, we are firmly back in the unseasonably cold department. It seems that Mother Nature mixed things up this year, and March came in like a lamb but is going out like a lion. (Wait, lions are equated with warmth to me. Well, never mind that analogy.)

The forecasted 1-3 inches of snow for Wednesday-Thursday turned out to be less than an inch where I am, NOT that I am complaining, of course. Even better (I thought Thursday morning), it fell overnight, so I avoided the ultra-depressing sight of falling snow* that had me so low on Monday. The worst part was having to clear off the car--and then even worse, driving behind cars that didn't bother, so that there were be a *pouf* and I'd be driving through a cloud of snow. Lazy asses, some people.

*Though it flurried mid-day, and again in the evening, which was pretty depressing.

Then there was some more last night, so I had to clean my car off again this morning, little frozen pellets this time, and seriously, enough already. Enough! The sun came out today, which was nice to see, but the highest forecasted temp in the next week is 48, and really for the end of March I expect a little more than that. And, as we said when I was a kid, that and sixty cents will get you on the T.

Update number two: the shoe story. It's one of those "why does a thing get discontinued as soon as I find it" stories. Fortunately, there's a happy ending.

Having decided to buy a new pair or seven of the shoes I mentioned, that are comfortable and attractive (to me), although not cheap and not as durable as I would wish, I went to first one Clarks store, and then another. Neither had my size, and at the second they told me that the company isn't going to make them any more (OF COURSE THEY'RE NOT), so they couldn't order them for me.

Naturally, I wasn't pleased. I tried on some other choices, but nothing worked as well, and I left empty-handed, feeling bitter and thwarted. I want those exact shoes, I'm willing to pay for them, and I can't have them. Humph!

It was only on the way home that I remembered the existence of a little thing called the Internet, and considered the possibility of finding the shoes elsewhere (what a revolutionary concept!). I looked online, and though there were not a multitude of options (some didn't have my size, and some only had the nubuck option which I rejected because hello, cat hair), I found what I wanted, in black at least, at Yay!

Before ordering, I decided to go to a DSW store and see if they had the shoes in stock. They did, in both brown and black, in many sizes, but none in mine. Of course. However, the nice clerk called another store and found a pair there, and they held them for me and I picked them up last night and yay, happy ending.

Except it's not the end, because I'm also ordering more online (I was going to order them last night, but I was TTTD, remember?). It's going to be a couple of years before I'm ready to go through the trying-on process again.

Update number three: the results of my eye appointments. Not that I think you particularly care about The State of My Corneas, but you know I'm quick enough to share when something goes wrong, I thought it would be nice to do so when everything's good. So!

The eye doctor had no complaints about my eyes. He checked everything out, including the spot where he had to repair a small retinal tear a few years ago, and gave me a clean bill of health, optically speaking. Good! Any appointment that ends without plans to point a laser at my eye is a good one for me.

Then, last night was the contact lens guy. The store is the one where I got my first glasses at age seven, and switched to contacts in high school (so early 80s), and as I told the eye doctor, John is in charge of my eyes. I just do what he tells me to, because he's the expert and my vision is very important to me. (It is such a relief to be able to out-source something like this, to someone I can completely trust. I don't know what I'll do when he retires, since that will probably happen before I die. I try not to think about it.)

As a contact lens specialist, John keeps up on the market and what's new and improved, switching the brand I use if something better comes along (that's available at my prescription [-10.5 and -11.5], anyway; not all brands go that far). For the last five years, I've been using the same one, which he liked for me because it lets more oxygen through to the cornea, and after the exam last night, he was extremely pleased with how my eyes are looking. He said my corneas were the best he'd seen all day, which is kind of a weird compliment but hey, I'll take it. Also, there's a spot on my right eye that he's been monitoring forever, and it's actually healed to the point where it wouldn't register as a problem if seen for the first time now. How about that!

I'm all about my vision continuing to be available to me for many years to come. We actually switched my lenses to the new version 2 of the same brand, which are supposed to be even better. I can't tell the difference, which is what matters to me. The technical stuff? That's John's job. God bless John.

Update number four
: the Bruins. Or, after last night night's awesome game of amazingness, perhaps I should say THE BRUINS!

I've mentioned that the Bruins have seesawed this year (and last year), doing great and then rotten with no obvious reason for the change. When they went 7-0 on their road trip recently, then won only one game of their next seven and looked like they weren't sure how to play the game, it was incomprehensible and frustrating to me. Tuesday's game against New Jersey didn't start much better (bring outshot 12-1 early on is pretty bad), but after allowing one NJ goal, the Bruins scored the next four, leading to a much-needed win.

Last night's opponent was Montreal, a team the Bruins have long history with, and much recent bad feeling due to the issue with Max Pacioretty. I was concerned that the Bruins would be tripping over their skates, but instead they came out in a dominant fashion, never really let up, and won 7-0. It was awesome! (Did I say that already? Well, it was.) They scored here! They saved there! They scored when they were playing two-men short!

Happy sigh. What a good game. I'm going to try to bask in the glow, and not think about tomorrow's game just yet.

By the way, the Globe had a short video piece with fans of both teams before the game, which is fun, and at one point this guy walked by in the background. I am offering a prize (contents tbd) to anyone who can give me a rational explanation of his suit.

What the hell? That thing is heinous. They're Bruins colors, but that thing is fourteen kinds of wrong.

Now, if I don't post again soon, think of me searching through my yarn stash, looking for my missing size 7 DPNs. I'm missing 2 of the set of 5, I haven't used them in over a year, and they could be ANYWHERE. Knitterly version of a needle in a haystack, this is.

In conclusion, all this text needs a photo ending. Here, look at the baby, and have a good weekend.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's Late, So, Briefly

Memo to the person trying to reach one of my neighbors at work today (which I knew because first her cell phone rang, then her desk phone, then her cell phone again): She Is Not At Her Desk Right Now. Duh. Give it a rest. Please.

If, like me, you have felt starved of color as winter drags on, you may want to see this series of photos of the festival Holi, featuring both amazing colors and joyous expressions. It's a wonderful change from the many photos of tragedies that have been posted lately.

Here, if the Holi pictures weren't cheery enough, try some more greenhouse pictures. They make me smile, is all I know.

Tomorrow's Thursday ... closer to Friday all the time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Still Biking, Still Knitting

Today I was thinking of the part in Alice in Wonderland about jam yesterday and jam tomorrow, but never jam today. That's because we had snow yesterday and should have snow tomorrow, but had none today. The difference, of course, is that jam is a wishful thing, while snow, well, you know how I feel about that.

In the interest of fairness, I will say that the snow yesterday was not a big accumulation: it melted on the roads, and only piled up on the grass and roofs--and on my car, I cleared an inch of slush off the thing. Eventually, the precipitation changed to rain, and melted much of what was there, though this morning there was still some around, including on a pile of old snow I noticed, which looked like a huge lump of coal dusted in powdered sugar.

Also, I would not say that before yesterday, I thought we were all done with snow. But thinking it might come, and seeing it fall, were very different feelings. And knowing that more comes tomorrow (one to three inches, they think), well, yuck. I may have had to stop on the way home for some chocolate, preventively speaking. Theoretically. The Mini Eggs have been out for weeks, you know, and me not buying them.

Exercise report:

The biking is going well. Knitting, in addition to being magic in other ways (sticks+string=fabric? magic!), really keeps me going on the bike, for reasons I can't quite articulate but am not going to question. Of course, bring sick threw me off for a while there, but I picked back up and am going strong.

These are my calculations, based on a Sunday-through-Saturday week, of minutes on the bike:
January (total month): 10 minutes
February 15-18: 20
February 20-26: 30
Feb 27-Mar 5: 75
Mar 6-12: 10
Mar 13-19: 85

Obviously, I didn't really get started until mid-February, and you can see about when I discovered the knitting connection, and the numbers headed upward. The week that I was sick barely registers, but I got back on, didn't I? Yup. (Pats self on back.)

Yup. Knitting. On the bike. I'm not asking why, I'm just going to keep doing it. Right now, in fact. Later!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Light In The Snow (Kind of)

A haiku:

Snow. Today came snow.
Snow. It makes me want to cry.
Snow leads to chocolate.

I honestly believe I would weigh 50 pounds less if my first reaction to such things* was not, "That sucks. Chocolate would make me feel better."

*Things like snow on the first full day of Spring--and on a Monday, no less. Insult, meet injury.

Instant depression: just add snow. And we're supposed to get more later this week. Snow is a four-letter word, all right.

So! Yesterday was a busy day! And not an early night: I'm more likely to be thinking about getting ready for bed at 9:30 PM than to be rolling through the door at that hour.

I was a little extra-sleepy this morning. It didn't help that I woke up, in the dark, wondered hopefully how much time was left before the alarm, and found that it was three minutes. Hrmph.

But anyway! Yesterday! When the sun was shining, and I was happy!

Sigh. Sorry. The snow really had me down today. Ahem. The temperature was cool yesterday (40s), but the sun was out, and it was either a really nice day for winter or a fairly nice early spring day. I spent the morning getting Things done (laundry, bills, dishwasher), so that I could go out later. I wanted to go back to the greenhouses at Wellesley College--remember when I went there last year? Ahhh, yes. Flowers and warmth and hope and ahhhh.

It was wonderful. Peaceful. Hopeful. Warm soft air, lovely plants, flowers, not many other people. It was so soothing, a feeling that I totally lost in the snow today but ahem, look at the pictures and remember.

So that's about one-tenth of the pictures I took; I'll roll others out over time, saving the cactus shots for a bad day (when I'm feeling prickly, get it? get it?).

After that relaxing interlude, I headed on to Legacy Place in Dedham, where I had time for a little shopping before meeting friends for dinner. I wandered around doing something between shopping and sightseeing.

I may have stopped into JP Licks. I admit nothing. But isn't this funny?

And the colors of the paper in the Paper Source store were wonderful. More and more in winter, I crave color.

They also sell some amusing items:

And in another store, a particularly Boston t-shirt:

Eventually, I got tired, so I found a chair in Borders and sat knitting until it was time to meet the group. I had a brief, pleasant conversation with an employee who was a knitter, and also was amused by the juxtaposition of these departments:

Then it was time to meet up with the group. We had a lovely, delicious, laughter-filled, relaxed meal, and I got the perfect fortune in my fortune cookie:
You will soon be surrounded by good friends and laughter.
I already was! I wish the next fortune I get will be, "You will soon get your dream job."

That, sadly, marked the end of the weekend. Bolted home and tried to wind down and get ready for bed.

If weekends were 50% longer, I estimate they would be 83% more awesome.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Not Wordless, but Word-Light

What's been going on around here, other than the Bruins being baffling? (Seriously, win seven in a row and then lose six of the next seven? WTH?) Well, there have been cats, mostly sleeping:

Including another in the Miri series, "I haz a pillow."

There has been yarn-winding:

There has been swatching:

Admittedly, it's an oddly shaped swatch...

(It turned out I didn't need to make it quite as big as I did at first, but why waste all that time?)

But the bigger problem is that it has three and a half stitches to the inch, and the pattern calls for three. Expect to see a swatch on a different sized needle soon (this was a US 10 and a half).

There has been odd-book-looking:

And there has been blocking. Yes!

Before washing:

And after:

Off to un-pin it!