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April 2013

Dog Day

Today . . .


is Jenny's birthday.  Yes.  Today, Miss Jenny is SIX!

And how, exactly, does a dog celebrate a special day (as opposed to . . . all the other dog days. . .)???

Long dog naps in her favorite, comfy spots.


A nice walk through the neighborhood with her favorite People.


(Jenny can smell SPRING in the air . . . and she is Most Pleased.)


A brand new toy.  Jenny, who loves squeaky, plush toys best of all. . . was very excited about her new crocodile.



Until it was naptime again, of course!


The day was full of other wonderful dog-surprises, too.

Some new poop bags.  (Lavender scented.  Oh, joy!)


Sam's Yams.  (Jenny's favorite.)


And a new chicken. . . the frosting on the cake!


What a lucky, lucky, dog!


Happy Birthday, Miss Jenny!


And a quick P-Update:  You can probably see that Jenny has healed up quite nicely from her surgery last November.  She is still doing physical therapy every day with Tom, and going on nice long walks each day with me.  She's now back up to walking a 2-mile distance, and is quite pleased about that - especially now that it's spring (well, allegedly. . . ).  Jenny is no longer on a leash-restriction when outside, so she is free to patrol her back-yard territory and run around a bit.  Life is good!  (The next challenge will be keeping her from jumping off the dock and into the lake this summer.  Yikes!)

Listening to You

Today's soundtrack brought to you by Pete and the boys . . .


Listening to you . . .

I get the music . . .


Think about all the sounds you hear every day.

The click of the keyboard keys.  The sound of someone filling the dishwasher.  The oven timer going off.  The dog walking across the wood floor.  The furnace kicking on.  Music on your iPod playing in another room.  Regular conversation.

Just the mundane, normal sounds of life.

Guest speakers at a conference.  Co-workers during a staff meeting.  Friends enjoying a lunch together in a noisy restaurant.  Television dialogue.

Just the mundane, normal sounds of life.


Sure.  Unless you notice that you can't hear those mundane, normal sounds of life quite like you used to.  Maybe you stop using the oven timer altogether and set your iPhone (turned up loud and with the "vibrate" setting on) instead.  Maybe you've figured out just where to sit at staff meetings so you have a better chance at hearing even the more quiet speakers.  Maybe you just stopped watching television altogether -- unless you can plug in earphones and watch on your iPad.

Maybe. . . you're going deaf.


Just maybe.

Well.  Probably.

For years - at least a decade - I've noticed (and my family and friends have noticed) my hearing deteriorating.  Oh, I can still hold my own in one-on-one conversations, and I've developed coping strategies to adapt to my growing hearing loss.  I know just where to sit in group meetings.  I've learned to arrive on the early side and sit down front at large gatherings with guest speakers.  I rely more and more on my earphones for television.  And I pretend I hear things I really don't (because, really, there are only so many time you can ask someone to repeat themselves.)

But in the last year, things have gotten noticeably worse.  I'm having a harder and harder time getting the details in meetings.  I'm missing pieces of information I need.  It takes a lot of energy and hard work for me to concentrate on hearing clearly.  My family, even though they're patient and understanding, get frustrated with me.  My Not Hearing is beginning to take a toll.

So last month, my doctor referred me to an audiologist, and I went through an extenisive regimen of ear and hearing tests.  Turns out I have moderate sensorineural hearing loss (nerve damage; very common as we age; some people are even more prone - thanks to heredity).  It's permanent.  And progressive. 

Lucky for me, I don't feel ashamed that I have a hearing problem.  (Lots of people seem to have a stigma with not being able to hear . . . I don't quite get that.)  Lucky for me, I am open to using assisted-hearing devices:  hearing aids, closed captioning, etc.  And, probably luckiest of all for me, our health insurance includes generous coverage for hearing aids (I had no idea hearing aids were a major health investment -- but they are).

I picked up my "new ears" today.


(Spot them if you can!)

It's going to take a little while (but probably not too long!) for me to adjust.  The world . . . it turns out . . . is a Very Noisy place! 

I'll share more with you . . . as I surprise myself . . . with my new-found hearing ability.  For now,  it is simply a pleasure . . .

Listening to You!




If the Shoe Fits

Back to the Chicago Flower Show . . .

(I need to squeeze out one last Flower Show-related post!)

Last year at the Flower Show, I was pleased to discover a fiber arts exhibit by a group of women artists from the Chicago area, Women's Journeys in Fiber.   (Last year's exhibit featured aprons.)  I was so hoping that this year's show would feature a similar exhibit . . . and I was not disappointed!

This year, Women's Journeys in Fiber presented Footwear: Women's Stories.  Each artist constructed a pair of women's footwear (shoes, boots, sandals, slippers, etc.) using a textile techinique (or more than one!) of their choice.  The work was to tell the story of women through history for whom the "shoe" had a role in defining the individual or her destiny.

The pieces were remarkable!










Each shoe was a wonder; each story compelling.  (For a full view of the exhibit, complete with stories and artists bios, click here.)

My favorite "shoe" was actually a sock.  Designed by a knitter.  With a story that will resonate with most of knitters I know:  A story of the artist's life. . . as told in fair isle.



What really captured my attention with this one?  Why, the needles left in at the top!


The artist left them there, intentionally.  Because her story isn't over yet.  She's still knitting her life -- and she has so much more to add!

I was so glad to find this year's exhibit.  The shoes definitely fit!



Pack Lightly, but Carry a Lip Balm


Ahhhhh.  There's nothing quite like a little vacation!


(Where I was . . . two years ago right now!)

As Carole is busy packing for her upcoming vacation, let's think about what we bring with us when we travel. 

Over the years, I have learned to pack lightly when I go on vacation -- especially when I'm flying.  But there are certain things I just can't do without!  Here's my list . . . Ten Things I Always Bring On Vacation:

  1. "Paperwork" (my Passport, travel documents, confirmation numbers, phone numbers, etc.)
  2. My collection of "devices" (my phone, my tiny little nano iPod, and my iPad)
  3. My camera (and related equipment)
  4. Chargers for equipment (above) and adaptors (if necessary)
  5. My meds (can't live without 'em!)
  6. Lip balm (of course!) . . . and probably some mascara
  7. Things to read (which, for the most part, are now stored on my iPad, but still)
  8. Travel books and maps for my destination (which also may be stored on my iPad these days)
  9. A portable knitting project (for the flight)
  10. Imodium (always)

How about YOU?  What do you always take with you on vacation?


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.

Have Your Cake!

Okay . . . still catching up from last month, here.  But I really do want to show you a couple more things from the Chicago Flower Show.

This year, there was a cake decorating contest as part of the show.  (Perhaps this is always the case, but this is the first year I've paid attention to it.)

I've never been much of a cake decorator.  (Ahem.  Understatement.  Refer to this for proof.)  But I can certainly appreciate the ART of cake decorating.

Like . . . check this one out:


Yeah.  That's a cake! (Click to embiggen.)

Sandie really liked this one:


And this one was very sweet:


I didn't even realize this was a cake:


(But it was!)

Here's my favorite:


After the Flower Show, I Googled to find out which cake was the ultimate winner.  The winning cake was shaped/decorated just like a Tiffany lamp.  Sadly, I have no photo.  (Probably because I saw it and thought it WAS a Tiffany lamp.)

How about you?  Are you a cake decorator?  Which one do YOU like best?  (And. . . do you think you can have your cake AND eat it, too?)

Soul Food

Earlier this week, I read dear Jane's post about having flowers at her desk. . . and how she buys them with her groceries at the store.  Because flowers are food, says Jane.  Food for the eyes and the spirit.

Jane's words have been hanging with me all week.

Because she is absolutely right.

Flowers are food for my soul.

So yesterday, when I stopped in at the grocery for my dinner ingredients, I paused first at the flower stand and grabbed a lovely little bouquet of pink tulips.


I grabbed a few of my small vases and my snippers . . . and went to work.


In moments, I had 3 small vases of fresh, happy tulips.  I stuck 'em here and there, in my most-frequented areas of the house.  Today - and through the weekend - wherever I look. . .


I'll have access to my lovely tulips . . .


and I'll feel nourished.


Soul food!

(Thanks, Jane.)

Moss for Meditation . . .and Celebration

Just before I took my computer in for a brain transplant (successful, by the way; although slow), I spent a day at the Chicago Flower Show.  I hadn't finished telling you all about the wonders I saw there before the computer surgery.  You see, my photos were either (a) on the soon-to-be-transplanted brain; or (b) on the reliable, external back-up . . . which was only useful on a Mac.  Which I no longer had in my possession.


It's time to catch up. 


When I was in Chicago for the Flower Show, Sandie and I took great interest in this. . .


Moss for Meditation.  (More information and photos here.)

My photos just can't begin to do justice to this beautiful, living artform.


The artist's website (link above) describes her work like this. . .

"The moss for meditation series is a creative response to studies emerging from the field of Ecopsychology, which represents significant evidence that consistent exposure and interaction with green landscapes, regardless of size,  significantly decreases stress and supports mental and physical health."

I would say. . . yeah.  Consistent exposure and interaction with green landscapes significantly decreases stress.


(Ecopsychology.  Who knew?)

Sandie and I were inspired.  INSPIRED!

In fact, Sandie . . . being an artist herself. . . dove right in and tried it fwhen she got home.  Her first attempt. . .


Small-scale and very cool. 

She invited me to join her in making moss creations for my birthday last Saturday. 

What fun!

She gathered the materials.


And set up a little studio space in her conservatory/sun room.


Then, we just let our creativity run wild with all the mosses and lichens and . . . stuff. . . she had assembled.


The glue gun came in mighty handy, although we also had access to other (more permanent and volatile) glue sources.


And, in the end, I ended up with this. . .


I've got the moss-piece hanging on the wall, under a clock, in my kitchen.  Once the glue-smell dissipated (which took awhile, I'm telling you!), I'm finding a sense of peace and calm whenever I walk by.


Just kidding about that last bit!  But I love my framed moss.  It was fun to make - especially with Sandie, and I love having it nearby -- where I can enjoy the Ecopsychology-effects on my well-being.

Ahhhhh.  I feel calmer already!


A Barrel of Laughs


I love to laugh, and I think I have a pretty good sense of humor.  In fact, here in our family, we (ahem) joke that "humor is our family value."  We laugh about the good things.  We make light of heavy situations.  We laugh about things that happen to us -- even when the things aren't funny.   We laugh at ourselves.  We laugh with each other.

Erin is a natural storyteller.

Brian is a master of sound effects and impressions.

Tom remembers every joke he's ever heard.  (Even really, really, really long ones.)

Me?  I can't remember a punch line to save my soul!

So.  I can't really take part in this week's Ten on Tuesday topic . . . 10 Favorite Jokes.  It's not that I don't like jokes.  (I do.)  It's just that I can't remember them once I've heard them!

So, instead of jokes . . . I'll give you three (sort of) funny things:

First, a photo.  (Another woodland creature in my garden.)


Second, a story.

When Brian was in first grade, Tom and I went in for a Parent-Teacher Conference.  Brian's first grade teacher was very young - bright and energetic, but very . . . serious.  Not much in the way of a sense of humor.  And Brian?  He was a rather Dennis-the-Menace kind of first grader . . . and always looking for a laugh.  This teacher (Miss S) looked at us acoss the table, very concerned, and explained that Brian often shared off-color jokes with the class. 

Uh oh, we thought. 
Cat's out of the bag, we thought.

Tom, putting on his Concerned Parent face, asked, "Can you give us an example?"

Miss S, a bit sheepish and with a blush, relayed that he had told this joke to the class recently:
Q:  What did the fish say when he hit a cement wall?
A:  Dam!

It was all Tom and I could do to keep from bursting out laughing.  (In fact, we may have.)  After a brief pause -- while Miss S collected herself and Tom and I glanced at each other -- Tom looked at Miss S and, in all seriousness asked her. . . "And how was his delivery?"

Third, the ONLY joke I can ever remember.

Q:  What did the grape say when the elephant sat on it?
A:  Nothing.  He just let out a little wiiiiiine!

How about YOU?  Know any good jokes?


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.