Friday, September 26, 2008

Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don't add up. (James Magary)

My favorite thing this week actually has to do with my new diet. (Yes, it's a diet. I know that you're supposed to think of diets as "a new way of eating" rather than by the d-word, but the truth is that it's a diet. Luckily it's a diet I can easily live with.) My favorite gadget this week is the Weight Watchers' points calculator.

Being able to figure out the points for just about any food is what makes this diet feasible for me. I would go nuts if I could only eat certain foods. I might only eat those foods anyway, but knowing that it's by choice rather than restriction makes a difference. And there are times when I just don't feel like planning and cooking and cleaning up, so being able to eat occasional "junk" is vital. As long as I calculate the points for it, and I have enough points left for the day, I can eat anything.

Weight Watchers gives you a free cardboard slider that you can use to figure out points. You match this line with that line, then check where it all ends up. It's simple, easy to carry, and very usable. But the points calculator is way better (in my opinion). Mostly because I can read it even with the darn bifocals. (The little lines on the slide card made my eyes go nuts.) It's an extra "toy" that I could probably have done without, but that is making the transition to a healthier me a little less frustrating. (One slice of a large Papa John's Hawaiian BBQ Chicken pizza with wheat crust is only 7 points! Yum!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Work is not always required...there is such as thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected. (George McDonald)

It's Wednesday again, and time for an update on the knitting. My last update was a month ago, so it looks like I've got a lot. Until you realize that it's been a month, and this is all I've gotten done.

I've been keeping up pretty well with my commitment to do one charity baby hat a week. Sometimes (like this week), I struggle to get a hat finished in time. But the hats are fun, quick projects and are almost becoming as much of an obsession as the sock knitting for me.

I like this lace-trimmed hat pattern. It was very easy to do, but turned out so pretty.

This hat was one of the ones that barely made my weekly deadline. I ended up knitting it at our Boca Knit 1 Brew 2 meeting. This is the second time I've used this pattern. It's a quick, easily memorized knit. And I can continue to talk while doing it, which made it perfect for the meeting.

Then I got the bug to do some crocheting. I used to crochet all the time, but my arthritis got too bad. Recently I've been thinking that if I can knit without it bothering me too much, maybe I can crochet. The hats were a perfect project. I got all three done in the time it usually takes to knit one hat. And my hands were just starting to cramp as I was finishing the third hat. I want to make some more of these, because they're so easy to personalize with stripes, or flowers, or whatever.

This week I went back to knitting. I picked what I thought would be a really easy pattern (it's only K2, P2) but it's turned out to be a pain in the neck. I've frogged more rows than I've knit. (Okay, that's physically impossible, but it sure seems like I have!) It's an adorable pattern, provided you don't goof up and do an extra knit or double up on the purls as you make your way around the circle. Part of the problem is that I tried to walk laps as I was knitting this, and I think that concentrating on K1, step, P1, step was just a little too much for my coordination. I still have until tomorrow night to finish the hat, so I think I have a good chance at keeping to the weekly deadline.

I'm working on my second scarf for the Special Olympics Scarf project. After several false starts, I decided to do another double knit. It's fun to see two sides develop as you knit along. I'm making up my own stripe pattern, so we'll have to wait to see how it turns out.

I will admit to being somewhat obsessed by this scarf project (despite the lack of progress on the scarf). I've got everyone in my family (my sister, mom, daughter) working on scarves. I'll be starting my student on one today. And the other day, I talked a complete stranger into making one. I was at Micheal's Crafts, and a woman was looking at yarn. She's a new knitter, and made the mistake of asking me if I knit. Twenty minutes later, she left the store with too much information on yarn and knitting, my business card with instructions to email me if she had any more questions, and a promise to me to make at least one scarf (since that's all she knows how to knit, she might as well knit one for charity) for the Special Olympics.

This lace stole (Mystery Stole 4) is the reason that I haven't gotten any further on the S.O. Scarf. I'm trying real hard to keep up with the weekly clues, but I'm starting to fall behind. I'm about 10 rows into this week's clue, and there are 60 rows for each side to be finished by Friday's new clue. Lace knitting is fun, and I love the way it's turning out. For being my first lace project, I'm being very adventurous and doing it without any lifelines. (Well, it would take longer to do the lifelines, and I barely have time to knit it as it is.) I have learned that when reading the lace charts, it helps to highlight each stitch (i.e. k2tog or SSK) in a different color, and to write in the number of plain knit stitches in a row before starting to knit that row. That way you can just knit the row without having to stop and examine the chart for each stitch. And by doing it one row at a time, I can easily see which row of the chart I'm on without having to worry about rulers (which tend to get bumped to the wrong row, in my experience, which means that you end up tinking quite a bit).

I had one last project that I did. I managed to do this one afternoon, in a fit of determination. I wanted to be able to use my ipod while on the treadmill, but I don't have pockets (I hate the ipod in my jeans pocket) to keep it in. And I'd look really stupid wearing the armband holder. So I've had it in my mind to knit a necklace holder. I finally figured out a pattern I liked (very simple, knit in one piece) that I based on a bunch of patterns I looked at. I used my first handspun yarn, so now I have an excuse to show that off as well. I've used my cosy carrier a couple of times now, and I really like it, although a pocket for the cord would be nice on the next one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. (Anne Tyler)

Just in case you were wondering about
about the 100-calorie cupcake packets.
Yes, you really get three cupcakes for 100 calories.
But they are miniature cupcakes.

Once upon a time I was thin. I was also young and foolish, but it's being thin that I miss. (Probably because I'm still a little foolish, but not foolish enough to want to be young again.) Actually, I don't really care about being thin. I just want to be able to run around, or up and down the stairs, without losing my breath and to be able to buy cute clothes. And most of all, I don't want to become an insulin-dependent diabetic, which is where I'm heading if I don't get my act together.

So I've started some better health routines. A couple of times a week I stop at the gym on my way home from work to walk the treadmill for half an hour. This weekend, I went to the park and walked three laps around the heart-smart trail. (Did you know it's possible to knit and walk at the same time?) And three weeks ago I joined Weight Watchers.

I plan on sharing my progress in this blog. I'm NOT going to tell my actual weight, but I'll probably mention how much I've lost along the way. (14 pounds so far!) And I'll share any hints, helps, or information I learn along the way.

If anyone would like to join me in a quest for better health, please feel free to add your comments.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A guest is like rain: when he lingers on, he becomes a nuisance. (Yiddish Proverb)

D/C moved out last Thursday. He cut short his two week stay after only four months, which is a good thing because I was literally at the point of changing the locks when he went off to work.

It wasn't that he was difficult to have around. He stayed in bed all day, out of the way, so we hardly knew he was around. If asked, he was more than willing to help with an occasional household chore or to cook dinner. He only spent one weekend in jail (a misunderstanding with a sober cop), and only had to be escorted home by the police because of his drinking on one occasion. He was always polite. My co-workers thought he was cute (although none were willing to take him off my hands -- I asked).

And truly, my impatience with him had nothing to do with the lack of rent, contrary to popular belief. (Just to be fair, I did receive a total of $120 over the four months; less than $10 per week toward the household bills and groceries.) When I said he could stay with me, I had no intention of charging him rent. I know how difficult it is to get back on your feet after a run of bad luck, and I wanted D/C to have an opportunity to get a new start. What irritated me is that he didn't take advantage of the opportunity. He was content to stay in bed all day, doing literally nothing, until I got mean and forced him to find a job with a paycheck. He didn't appear to mind feeling like an unwanted guest until I forced him to look for a place of his own. And when pressed about the drinking episodes (the only house rule I had was no drinking -- based on his brother's warning that D/C becomes nasty and violent drunk), D/C blamed everyone except himself.

Now that he's gone, I miss having him around. I wake up in the middle of the night, worried that he's not home yet until I remember that he has his own place now.

Family is family. And family should always be there for each other. So I don't regret saying, "Yes, of course you can come stay with me for a couple of weeks." And I will probably answer the same way, if asked again.

Only, the guest bed has been moved out to the trash...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. (Winston Churchill)

There's something about young girls and horses. It's not Prince Charming that we fall in love with, it's his horse.

When I was very young, I wanted a pony in the worse way. I even made up a song about it. (It wasn't a very good song; the words went something like this: Dream horse, dream horse. Magical, mystical dream horse. So pretty to see, so nice to ride; I wish that you were by my side...)

I didn't stay in love very long. Just long enough to have a couple of rides at a stable that rented out horses by the hour. I clearly remember one ride when the horse wouldn't go where I wanted him to because he was too interested in getting back to the stable to eat. There was also a ride on a horse that didn't like to be around other horses; he would kick or bite, which made for a nerve-wracking ride when you're basically a timid, unadventurous passenger. There were also a couple of good rides, but I think the fact that I was basically a timid, unadventurous rider ruled out my ever being a good rider.

My daughter is in the horse-loving stage of life. (Thank goodness -- I'd much rather deal with a horse than a boy!) It does surprise me a little bit; I thought this would be a very quick stage since she has a friend that owns a horse, so she knows how much time and work it entails. But instead, she's convinced that she can also handle the commitment of owning a horse. I can't handle it, so I'm not budging on my anti-horse-owning stance. We finally reached a compromise, and she's started taking riding lessons.

I'm sure you'll be hearing more about these as time goes on.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Some for renown, on scraps of learning dote, And think they grow immortal as they quote. (Edward Young)

Teena in Toronto pointed out that today is my Blogoversary. I'm totally astonished that she knew that -- I hadn't even remembered, and it's my blog -- as well as amazed that there's anyone reading this outside of my daughter and one or two friends. Oh, and an old boyfriend. It's hard to believe that I've been posting for three years. (And yet I still have only a couple of readers... I guess I'm not as good of a writer as I had thought I was, once upon a time. Or maybe I'm just as boring as my children accuse me of being.)

My blog started out as a place to be creative; I was posting pictures and interesting tidbits from my life. In the beginning, the photos were the focus. I admit it: I had a new camera, and I wanted an excuse to take pictures every day. I still have the same camera, and although I've lost some of my enthusiasm for it, that camera still resides in my purse as a "must have with me" item.

I've progressed through various phases and obsessions, and once I even made it through an entire month of daily postings. The only sure thing is that this blog is still evolving.