All Sorts of Changes!

Good day to you, fellow WordPressers! It’s been a long time! How have you been?

According to my posts, I’ve been gone for well over a year, and many things have changed. More than likely I’ll go over them all at one point or another, but for now let’s visit a few of the larger changes that have come to me over the past year.


I have a new job at the same university I was working for. Before last May I was taking down everything everyone said in meetings that I understood less and less of and spending the next two days furiously typing, fact-and-acronym-checking, and editing those conversations. Now I am an academic advisor for the freshman class. In August I was given 100 freshmen to look after. It’s been a real trip to witness their transformations, in more ways than one. I am often struck mute simultaneously by both the entitlement of students who never had to break a sweat and the incredible dedication and work ethic of students who understand what a wonderful opportunity college is. The latter give me hope for the future, especially when I remind myself that these young adults are going to be making crucial decisions for us when we’re old, helpless, bedridden, and unable to speak for ourselves.

My husband and son and I still live in a retirement community, a block away from my mom. We just found out recently that the community looks down upon a 1967 Camaro with no motor (and precious little more than a frame, really) under a car cover in the driveway, if you call “the Bylaws state that ‘any unconventional vehicle of any description’ is not permitted” any indication. My mom has graciously offered to keep it in her garage, even though it’s that time of year when my husband is hardly at home working ballgame after banquet after concert after fundraiser and can only work on it a little at a time. She’s even named it. “Waynette” will soon make an appearance on this blog, in all her rustbuckety, primer-covered glory.


We have resigned ourselves to the fact that we have a nervous dog. This product of the streets/shelter is scared of innumerable noises, people, and objects, seemingly at random. The elderly person she accepts scritches from one day will be growled at the next, and the next day she will charm them again with her bright face and wagging tail. The one thing we do know—we will never figure out exactly why, unless one of us learns to speak dog. Every Fourth of July, every tall nephew with a full head of hair, every random gunshot or boomy noise in the distance—all are cause for alarm, and turn walks into a tug of war with no warning.

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I received a crank knitter a couple of birthdays ago, and that pastime quickly morphed into a crochet/yarn addiction that my husband firmly believes will take over the house. Instead of insipid sitcoms with vapid adults and mouthy, oversexed teenagers, knitting and crocheting podcasts have taken over my evening watching habits. It’s a great way to connect, laugh, and learn with other like-minded crafters from around the world, and I will probably add some fangirling to this blog in the way of highlighting one or more of my favorites in future posts.

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No, this is NOT part of his new job!

My husband got a promotion at his job as well, at the same university, and his headaches have increased tenfold. Suddenly we have the money to pay the bills the day the bills come in the mail, and it’s a strange feeling, even almost a year later. We can both hardly believe the lightening of both our existence and our stress levels. However, we are still dedicated to using those things we have learned, because, as my mother always says, “It doesn’t matter how much money you make; you’ll still find something to spend it on.” It is our hope that we are able to build a savings and take better care of ourselves. Perhaps this blog will provide some sort of accountability, even if it is only to cyberspace.

I hope to return to this blog regularly with crochet, garden, allergy, and frugal updates.



What I’m NOT Doing

Whenever I come back to this blog after an absence, I feel compelled to throw an explanation into the ether about where I’ve been or what I’ve been doing—in much the same way as I catch up with an old friend in the grocery store. You know how it is—a quick listing of my recent activities, how the family’s doing, where I’m working now, etc.

Instead, I’ve decided to tell you what I didn’t do.

These past few months, I did not:

Spend too much on Christmas presents.

Worry about the size of Tom Brady’s balls.

Worry about the condition of my home. I live in a condo with two big guys, an active, happy dog, and a cat. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my home will never be “company ready,” and that’s just fine, because, like the introverts we are, we never have people over anyway. We both work full-time, and we do what we can, when we can. It’s been rather liberating, actually, and easier to look at piles of yarn or books and cluttered end tables as “works in progress” rather than “a mess that needs cleaned up.”

Comment (as much) on the news. People are going to make bad decisions, and news sources are going to report on, promote, and even celebrate them because they’ve nothing better to do. It’s been tough! So far I’ve bit my tongue through:

  1.           “Taliban aren’t terrorists;”
  2.           “We’ll send several officials out in the middle of Ferguson’s violence to encourage further race-fueled looting and pillaging of black homes and businesses, and killing, but not to France to stand united with the world” (not to mention “Let’s send an aging 70’s musician to sing a song to France instead”);
  3.           “Yeah, it’s winter and we live on the coast, but we’re not going to prepare during the warmer months for disaster so we can gut the stores and buy up all the bread, milk, and eggs hours before a blizzard arrives because who doesn’t need French Toast during a weather emergency?”;
  4.           Various photoshopped images of contemporary “celebrities” in ridiculous poses that either skew everyone’s perceptions of physical “health” or send the world’s perceptions and expectations of women screaming back to the 50’s (usually both simultaneously);
  5.           “That deceased, highly decorated, Navy Seal sniper was a coward of the highest order for protecting our troops and our country and doing what he was told;”
  6.           “The unemployment rate is decreasing (just don’t mention that they’re mostly part-time jobs and they’re still underemployed);”
  7.           Anything Dennis Rodman has to say about relations with North Korea; and
  8.           “Seth Rogen and James Franco are geniuses and their movie should be shared around the world! It’s a cinematic masterpiece! About that ‘hacking’ thing, that’s really not a big deal.”

You can see how tough that would be to ignore, don’t ya?

It’s getting easier as I go. I can concentrate on keeping up with what’s important in my little corner of the world—

Helping my son, who recently lost his father and who may end up paying for the funeral with the handfuls of nickels left over from his part-time, fast food paycheck because the life insurance company has denied the claim his employer said his father qualified for;

Getting my already exhausted husband through the last month or so of basketball season (his busiest time of the year), in which he has no scheduled days off;

Ironing out the particulars of some new opportunities related to my volunteer work on campus, which will hopefully become a paying enterprise (if I can keep from getting frustrated with the “speed” at which the university works);

Designing and building a new, more permanent cold frame on the garden table to house seedlings and early spring crops;

Paring down the rest of the container garden and eliminating the smaller herb containers in favor of my newest experiment, dwarf blueberry bushes, as well as continuing to grow the green onions and tomatoes that do so well on our porch;

Rearranging the pantry and the kitchen cabinets to accommodate and organize our slowly-growing store of food and paper goods;

Continuing to prepare for disaster (basically, one of us losing our job) by stocking up on essentials a little at a time; and

Continuing to contribute to savings, even if only a little at a time, and try to forget it’s there.

As you can see, there’s enough to do without worrying about what everyone else is doing…

The iPhone 6 and the “Teddy-Tickle-Me-Cabbage” Generation

I’ve become increasingly aware lately of the sheer mindlessness with which we spend money. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back in my awareness landed a few days ago when the iPhone 6 came out. Thousands of people worldwide were camping out in front of Apple Stores. A simple Google search revealed that people pitched tents in Boston, Houston, Chicago, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Manhattan, and Dayton, just to name a few American cities.

Around the world it was much the same. In London, 100 people who were camping out in front of their particular phone store were surveyed (the article made it sound like more than 100 were present!) and 67% believed the iPhone was a “good value.”


Here at home, from my cell provider (AT&T), the iPhone is $649.

If you didn’t catch that, let me type it again, longways this time.

Six Hundred and Forty-Nine Dollars.


I could almost make two mortgage payments with that kind of money.

Perhaps someone should have asked, “A good value compared to what?”

In Perth, Australia, the first person to purchase an iPhone, in his zeal to reveal it to the reporter who asked for a look-see, promptly dropped the thing face-down on the concrete, among the collective gasps, derisive laughter, and expletive-laden exclamations of onlookers.

I wonder if that was a good value?


At least his girlfriend has the sense to look sheepish.

In Sydney, Australia, a California couple became the first people in the world to own an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. They ordered the things online and TOOK A PLANE to Sydney, simply so they could say they were among the first to grab the latest model. There he is above, in all his arrogant, Yankee glory, nostrils flared and hands raised in victory. At least his girlfriend had the sense to look sheepish.

I simply can’t fathom why that sort of thing is important to them. I wonder if they will do it again in a couple of years when the next model comes out?

How many people, I wonder, are actually buying an iPhone 6 because their current phone is wearing out, broken, or desperately in need of updating? And by “updating,” I mean they’re still using a clamshell phone, or they have one of those clunky nineties models that don’t fit in your purse or pocket or the operating system is just too ancient to work with today’s technology kind of “updating.”

It’s enough to give this forty-something wicked Teddy Ruxpin, Cabbage Patch, and Tickle Me Elmo flashbacks.

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Perhaps that’s it. This “Teddy-Tickle-Me-Cabbage” Generation grew up with it. How many of these individuals begged their parents for the latest craze until the hapless adults descended, en masse, upon toy stores and shopping malls, pushing and smacking each other to obtain the latest thing to be shoved under the bed or left outside in the rain or thrown, stained and headless, into the attic? How many of their parents bid outrageous amounts on eBay for these toys? How many parents came home without one, whatever it was, and was greeted on Christmas morning with “I hate you!”? What if they were successful in wrestling from some harried shopper whatever polyester-clad, fuzzy plastic gewgaw they were after and their children responded with “This is the wrong color!” or “I TOLD you I wanted the one with Kung-Fu grip!”?

Is that really what’s happening here? Are our spending habits stuck in the 80’s? If so, that’s rather sad, for our prices certainly aren’t. Do we (and I mean we, collectively) think we have that much disposable income that we fork over $649 without a thought because that’s what our parents did during the age of shoulder pads, enormous hair, and reckless overspending? Have we a grossly overdeveloped sense of entitlement? Where did it come from? What fuels it? It’s as if, as consumers, we’re stuck on a toy rocking horse, rocking furiously, the springs constantly whispering their chant, “There must be something else to buy! There must be something else to buy!”

I will be the first to admit to being tethered to my cell phone. Granted, I am an Android user, but the shackles are much the same. I text my husband, son, and mother regularly. I have even been known to text my son that dinner is ready so I don’t have to leave the kitchen. I read Harry Potter FanFiction. I play MahJongg. I’m even trying a 30-day trial of KindleUnlimited to see if it would be worth spending the ten bucks a month. I snap photos of the dog’s “cute-to-me-but-not-likely-the-rest-of-the-world” moments and post them on Facebook like some deranged doting grandmother.

But to purchase the next phone (read nonessential appliance) as soon as it comes out? Not this gal.

Every phone I’ve ever gotten from my provider I’ve spent $30 or less for. Most of the time they were free. In one case I actually waited to upgrade until the phone I was after was free from AT&T. It was an LG Phoenix, and for my meager purposes, it was well worth the wait.

I wonder how long it will take people to realize we’re not in the 80’s anymore. Until then, I shall simply marvel at those who continue down this road of mindless spending.

The Indulgent Chuckling of Father Time

I was taking the dog out the other morning when Fall came.

Before I leave for work Mags gives me the face. Dog owners know that face. It’s the face that says, “Pleeeeease can’t we go outside for just a little while? The ground is damp, and it’s perfect sniffing weather! Plus, there may be something new to roll in. You guys are going to be gone all day. You owe me this!”

Naturally, I caved.

We stepped out onto the front porch, which is currently festooned with an assortment of dew-dotted spider webs, dying tomato plants, and various containers of shriveled herbs in damp soil. Beyond lay the acorn-strewn sidewalk and the tiny stretch of yard we call ours, blanketed with the heavy August morning fog that is understood by almanac writers and old wives to predict a hard winter.

We picked our way along the sidewalk—I tiptoeing around the acorns, Maggie stopping to inspect several of them, eventually deciding on one to bring into the house on the return trip—and simultaneously I saw, heard, and felt:

  • Children across the street waiting for the bus, eyes half closed, kicking lunchboxes with their knees,
  • Crickets lingering and chatting to each other, probably about the coming winter, and
  • That slight chill in the air, faint and humid, which immediately and irrevocably sealed it…Fall is on its way.

Funny how I should think it’s the day Fall came. That chill in the air was the switch that alerted my awareness, but Fall had been on its way all along. Days have been getting shorter for two months now. Children are in their third week of a new grade. Local newscasts have already been speculating on the chances of each high school’s swift, scrappy, and spirited football lineups.

It’s a gradual progression that sneaks up on me. A yen to feel the soft, insulating bulk of a cardigan or hear the zip-zop of corduroys slowly emerges. I start noticing that regardless of what I wear, there’s a certain time of day when it’s inappropriate for the weather. Short sleeves in the morning are too chilly. Sweatshirts in the afternoon are too stifling.

I go online, and seemingly overnight, Pinteresters are eagerly pinning garish yet carefully arranged photos of apple cider recipes, Halloween crafts, and pumpkin spice…everything.

That morning the switch in my awareness tripped, sloughing away the minutiae of adulthood with which we occupy ourselves, allowing me to register the ancient, subtle, visceral reaction present in every one of us.

Into my mind flew visions of countless versions of myself, at various sizes and ages, hearing the crickets’ ancient song, lyrics as old as the Creation. Feeling the snap in the air at the elementary school bus stop, my kneecaps faintly knocking my Snoopy lunchbox as I fidget. Smelling the burnt dust from the furnace duct after months of icy air conditioning and corn pollen breezes.

Hearing the rhythmic creak of the rope supporting the tire swing and warming my arms on the old pickup tire which retained the heat of the day, staving off the chill from the evening breeze. Walking the nature trails with a bouncy blond mini-me, filling a baseball cap with acorns of every shape and size.

Smearing the car’s condensation from the night’s dampness on my school clothes as we crammed three middle schoolers, one tuba, two celli, and a 6’ 3” driver in a 1971 Super Beetle. Feeling the nubbly warmth of the basketball that keeps missing that hoop, dangit, in the driveway, while the muffled cheers of a football game waft across the yard and the sun slowly sinks to sleep.

Swishing, with high kicks and much giggling, through the knee-high leaves in the park, scattering gold, orange, and red like confetti, watching the dust motes dance in the rays that pierce my vision, fiercely asserting themselves between the branches.

Slowly, the penetrating heat of the day will be replaced by crisp breezes and the sweet, earthy smell of damp, decaying leaves. Fall has arrived, not with trumpet fanfare, but with a gentle, wafting insistence that sunk into my awareness until its presence could no longer be denied.

As I came back to the present version of myself, I could almost hear the indulgent chuckling of Father Time. It’s almost as if he said, “It caught you unawares, child, once again! Someday, when you’re older, you’ll learn to look for it more often, and the memories will carry you. Until then, listen to your dog more. She knows.”

I looked at my surroundings in wonder, and finally my eyes came to rest on Maggie, who glared at me as if to say, “Duh! Why do you think I wanted to come outside? Now walk me over here, human, because I’ve caught a whiff of something I might wanna roll in.”

Raynaud’s and Me: Singing (and Sporting) the Blues Year-Round

My feet are freezing.



It’s late August in the Midwest, and my feet are cold, despite the two pairs of socks and clunky leather shoes I’m wearing. Actually, I don’t really consider them clunky…I think they’re rather happenin’. I’ve always been a fan of Eastland shoes, and prefer them to the spindly flats other women seem more than happy to scoot around in.

My tendency towards stiff and sturdy footwear probably started when I was very small, when my mother would outfit my brother and me in Stride Rites that practically willed one’s feet to correct themselves. You 60’s and 70’s kids know what I mean!


Come to think of it, I could use those tennis shoes some mornings…which is the right foot again?

The reason they’re freezin’ can be attributed to one thing…Raynaud’s Syndrome. It’s a condition that has left me with cold hands and feet (and nose, and ears) since I was 15 years old. Suddenly I had no circulation in my extremities, or so it seemed. Simple things like walking into an air-conditioned room or picking up a cold bottle of water can cause the blood vessels in my fingers to react like it’s 20 below zero outside, and sound the alarm to the rest of my body to shunt blood to my core to protect my innards. My ghostly, mottled skin and fingernails with their distinctive bluish tint often prompt coworkers to say, “Eww! Are you okay?” (Touch them and watch them jump about eight feet in the air and yelp!)

I have seen a doctor about it, who said that I could either wear layers to keep my core warm and get regular exercise, or I could take blood pressure medicine to open my blood vessels a little, improving flow. I decided on the former since he explained that people who take blood pressure medicine when they don’t have high blood pressure could cause them to pass out a lot. Instead I try to walk in the sunshine at least once a day and wear layers. I also began taking Vitamin D a couple of years ago, and for some reason that helps. (It apparently also helps to write the words “blood pressure” a lot; so much so that they cease to make sense to me after a while.)

Know what else helps? Not wearing shorts. Ever. For over a decade. Sandals, either. Just the thought makes me shiver–literally! Long pants and socks are the order of the day, year round.


Despite the extra layers (especially the two pairs of socks!) I still get cold. It starts with my feet and creeps up from there. Several years ago I started knitting legwarmers with a Knifty Knitter loom set and some acrylic yarn. Now, I’m not talking about those thin little fashionable legwarmers made out of t-shirt material—these are thick, chunky, slouchy legwarmers. The thicker the better!

It took some time to hammer out a tried-and-true pattern; the instruction booklet that came with the loom was written in no less than six languages, and for a while I couldn’t knit anything functional in any one of them! I added a couple of my own tricks and now have a pattern for a functional pair of legwarmers that takes me about 6 hours to finish.
Here are some of my past creations:


I have branched out into scarves in the past couple of years, and this summer I was able to crank out two of them in the five days we spent in Pennsylvania. I knit while I’m watching television so I don’t feel so guilty about mindless hours on the couch.

A person only has two legs to warm, so I’ve taken to selling my finished products on an Etsy page. It’s a nice little site (that’s not so little anymore!) that allows serious, I-do-this-for-a-living crafters as well as plodders like me a chance to make a few bucks on our creations. If you haven’t looked at Etsy before, I encourage you to do so; many of the pages there are maintained by some very talented individuals who take pride in their work.

Around here, where Necessity is the Mother of Invention (or, according to my guys, Mother is the Necessity of Invention), it takes a little thinking and a little handiwork to get around some of the things life throws at us. It’s just another tightwad, DIY, hooray-for-the-80s way to deal with what I call “The Blues.”