Sunday, June 30, 2013

More open sky

First it was the mulberry trees and a dead apple tree that took us from this...

... to this.

And then the winds came last summer, resulting in this:

Then the winds came this summer, with these results:

Finally FINALLY my neighbor cleared out the rest of this corner.

Sad for the loss of the trees but my garden will get more sun now (something I may regret come August).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Yardening is happening but very little knitting

If it weren't so hot out, I would take some pictures of the yard and garden just to show you what an improvement it is over previous years. For trees and shrubs, it's as though they have been near dormant the past two summers and are making up for lost time - super leafy. The hosta bed is *packed* as is the area in front of the house - I've never seen the cotoneaster so dense. The manure we added to the vegetable garden has been a worthwhile investment, too - the Brussels sprouts are *huge* and everything else looks healthy and happy. Funny what a little shit plus nice weather with generous rains will do. Hope the rest of the growing season is as fine.

I actually finished a pair of socks and was so unhappy with the result that, after several weeks of looking at them just lying there on the coffee table, I frogged them. Yep, two complete socks are now two balls of yarn. During the stare down, I started another pair but they are slow going. The Fibonacci vest for my SO, while *this close* to being done, looks so uninviting right now.

Yesterday my SO and I took the granddaughter to Riverfest. Three rivers converge here in the Fort, and they have recently been recognized as an untapped recreational resource. Not that you should swim in them or eat fish out of them yet, but they are improving, to the point where the raft race is returning to the Three Rivers Festival. (Yes, we have a lot of festivals here, averaging more than one a week for most of the summer.) Anyway, we enjoyed a ride on a pontoon boat, petted farm animals, bought some trinkets, shared an elephant ear and lemon shake ups for lunch. Things could have been a little more organized - more signage is needed, plus tables and chairs for dining - but this is a relatively young event. And it's free! Neither of us took any photos because it takes two of us to wrangle one toddler. Fortunately, she was done about the time we were done in, just as the sun came out and things really began to heat up.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An eye for an eye (not for the squeamish)

The morning after my successful day of hiking, I was ready to leave for work and in a big hurry. Betsy becomes uncooperative when she realizes I'm leaving, so I was carrying her outside so she could potty. I flew out the patio door, beagle in arms, and the next moment literally fell flat on my face.

You know how sometimes when you are in peril, everything slows down? That did not happen. One moment I was vertical and a split second later, my face was bouncing off the concrete patio.

I laid there for a minute, assessing the damage, knowing that if I could not get up, I would be laying there for a very long time waiting for help. No blood, so that was good. The dog was sniffing my hair, so she was okay. My new, stylish glasses were bent - splayed is more like it - and one lens scratched, but otherwise intact. I sat up. Not dizzy. I stood up and hobbled back into the house.

My first thought was, I guess I am not going to work today. The next one was, Gotta stop the swelling that is bound to happen; fortunately, I had a gel pack in the freezer. Then I wondered if I needed to see a doctor. I texted my SO, to see if he could come over; fortunately, he was up and his phone was on and he showed up a short time later. I sent a note to work, to let them know what had happened, in case someone was wondering where I was.

I didn't want to go to the ER because I didn't feel like an emergency and I didn't feel like paying for a bunch of unnecessary tests. It was too early for my internist to be in the office, and I was afraid she or her staff would say, Go to the ER. After a bit of discussion, we decided the walk-in clinic was just the thing. They were open, it would cost the same as an office visit, and they have imaging equipment if an X-ray was needed.

The PA who examined me was young and energetic and still enthusiastic about medicine, and she explained everything she was doing, like why she was looking in my ears and nose. Besides my bruised face, I had scrapes on my right knee and right shoulder, and my left foot hurt; apparently, I twisted my ankle as I stepped out the patio door and landed mostly on my right side. I managed to get out of there with no meds or tests, just a tetanus shot, delivered by one sardonic nurse.

Two things surprised me about my visit to the clinic: 1) no suspicions were cast upon my SO, and 2) they did not offer me a pamphlet on how to prevent falls in the home, something they usually do even when I am there for a UTI.

After this point, the story becomes less dramatic. I worked from home a couple of days, worked from work a couple of days, took my glasses to my optometrist where I learned that because I have i.Scription lenses, I would have to replace the frames AND the lenses, to the tune of $600 (that's with the discount - I still haven't reconciled myself to that expense). The following Monday I went back to the optometrist because over the weekend I noticed floaters and flashes; she thought my eye was okay, but sent me to a retinal specialist just to make sure, and he is sure my eye is okay. I'm not quite back to 100%, but getting there.

Okay, here is the squeamish part: pictures!

Tuesday, a few hours after the fall

Tuesday, that night


Notice how crooked my nose looks in the above photo? The swelling was not only pushing my nose out of place, but my mouth as well. I looked like I had had a stroke.



The day after the fall, I could barely move my right shoulder, two days later the toes on my left foot turned black and the foot itself took on a lovely lavender hue.





One week later

And then I got tired of taking my picture in the mirror. At a future date, we shall discuss how this incident has made me feel really OLD.

Monday, June 17, 2013

We hiked and hiked and hiked some more

A couple of Mondays ago I drove up to Michigan City to visit my son. I've been there before but hadn't ventured much farther than the house he lives in. When he visits me and I ask him what he has been up to, he almost always answers with stories of hiking. I don't think of Indiana as a hiking Mecca, but he has several lovely areas to choose from.

Michigan City is almost right on Lake Michigan, so of course we had to see the Indiana Dunes.

Several (13?) years ago I took a business trip to the Denver area. Each day when I stepped out of my east-facing hotel, I would look to the left and be shocked to see mountains. It looked like a postcard. Seeing the lake was not much different. Do people who live in postcards ever get tired of the view?

Unfortunately, the Dunes are bracketed by power plants.

Of more interest were the Century of Progress 1933 World's Fair Homes. These were built to showcase new building materials and construction techniques, and featured wild and crazy innovations like dishwashers and central air conditioning. A developer moved them to the Dunes in an effort to jump start a resort community. Now they are privately owned and undergoing renovation.

Besides the Dunes, we hiked the adjacent marsh where a great variety of birds may be seen. Less likely is this photographer's ability to actually take any photos of these birds, as I had only my cell phone. And we hiked through woods. And we drove to the Red Mill County Park and hiked some more. By the time we were done, my Fitbit had registered over 18,000 steps. Although I'm sure I limited his speed, I kept up with my son and admit to feeling a bit smug about that. As we shall see in a subsequent segment, pride goeth before a fall.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Me So Appy, or Bored No More

A while back I gifted myself a smart phone. While I am still not very adept at typing with my thumbs, I have to admit that I like having this little device on my person. In fact, if I were adept at typing with my thumbs, I would not need a computer for much of anything.

Apps make the cell phone. It came with many, and many of those I do not use. There are several I like very much, though.

I am a regular patron of our local library system, and their mobile app (ACPL Mobile) is better than their regular web site. If I am out and about and see a book in a store, I can scan the ISBN number with my phone to see if it is available at the library and, if so, place a hold on it. Many titles are available in ebook format, and using the Overdrive app, I can not only search for them, but also download them to my phone. I wasn't sure if I would like reading a book on my phone, but I do.

If I don't have a library book on my phone, I can access some of the books and magazines on my Nook, using the Nook app. They have to be ones I get through Barnes & Noble, so library books I have downloaded to the Nook from the library are not accessible by my phone, but the magazines I subscribe to through B&N are.

If I get tired of reading, I can watch movies on Netflix (I have tested this out to make sure it works but have not actually tried to watch a feature-length film on that tiny screen) or listen to music I have downloaded or listen to Internet radio stations like NIPR and Folk Alley.

And if I don't want to read or watch a movie or listen to music, I can enjoy crossword puzzles, thanks to Shortyz. Unfortunately, my favorite NY Times puzzles are not available without a subscription, and I haven't quite figured out how to actually subscribe to the mobile puzzles yet. Or if I want to. Some things are better on paper with pencil.

Twitter and Facebook are two apps that I check frequently. On Twitter, I follow NPR, Modern Seinfeld, several local organizations and businesses, plus the few friends and family that tweet. With Facebook, I can indicate whose posts I want to be notified of, which is nice, but the app frequently lags behind the web site, which is annoying. I can take and post photos from the app, which is fun. Ditto Blogger, although (again) my thumbs are not up to an extensive post.

My employer is on a fitness kick (presumably to bring down health insurance costs) and has supplied us with Fitbit One devices. I was happy to discover that the Fitbit can sync up with My Fitness Pal app. The Fitbit records my activity and shares it with my My Fitness Pal account, and the calories I enter on my phone (which I can do by scanning bar codes!) get transferred to my Fitbit account. I haven't lost any weight yet, but I am more relaxed from using the Zazen Meditation app to set up timed yin yoga sessions.

When I was on my business trip last month, the Fly Delta app came in handy, notifying me of gate changes on the fly (heh). Weather Bug, the only app I have actually paid to upgrade, is also handy, as it changes locations when I do. I particularly like being able to see the weather map. For instance, today started out wet but I can see that the rain will be moving out of the area shortly. I have not had much luck with the map apps, as my service provider is T-Mobile and coverage can be sketchy when I am out and about.

Just because I am away from a computer doesn't mean I can't access my Gmail or Yahoo email accounts. My credit union also has an app, which I was reluctant to get but about the only thing it can be used for is checking balances and transferring funds within an account, so I caved.

The Calendar app I use may have come with the phone, but my SO and I are talking about setting up and sharing Google calendars, not so we can keep tabs on each other but because our short term memories are shot. Another memory assistant is Time Flies, where I record events like oil changes and dental cleanings and when I last washed the curtains in the guest bedroom, then later I can check to see just when I did what.

There are other apps on my phone that I have but don't use much, like i-nigma for scanning those funny blocks on ads or Boycott for seeing if my purchase is socially responsible. I make extensive use of the Note widget, because I am an inveterate maker of lists, although there is undoubtedly an imperfect app out there that will handle that... and MORE.

What's on your phone?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bad hare day

I don't want to go into the gruesome details, but today has not been a very good day, for me or the local rabbit population. Let's look at the hotel room where I stayed on my business trip instead.

When in White Plains, we have to room at the Crown Plaza, as my employer has a deal with them that they will run a shuttle to the office on a regular schedule. This means we don't need to rent a car, which is good for my employer, and we don't have to negotiate the roads around Armonk, which is good for us. The Crown Plaza has always been comfortable, but they recently redecorated.

A place to work. Or order room service.

I'd take this lamp home with me.

A place to relax. Or work. Or watch "Grey's Anatomy" on Hulu.

A place to sleep. Or read.

Good hotel art.

The beds even had individual mini reading lights on either side of the headboard.

I'd take this lamp home, too.

Even the bathroom had art.

Now if they would only do something about the room service menu.

This tag is from the Hampton Inn in Peabody. All Hampton Inns have this tag, and in none of them are the towels allowed to be reused. No matter where I hang them, the towels are whisked away on a daily basis.

Just for show.

The Crown Plaza has no such tags, and yet the towel I left hanging over the shower curtain rod remained for my use for my entire stay. Go figger.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Vanilla rhubarb jam

Recipe from Food in Jars book. Includes Earl Grey tea. Make it so! (one pint delivered to my son already)