Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Blizzard 2016 or Winter Storm Jonas

Jonas was a whopper of a storm.  It started out calmly enough at 11:15 a.m. here in Orange, VA on Friday, but quickly moved into a category known as a Nor'easter.  Yep, good, old fashioned, Nor'easter.  Wind whipping, snow blowing, bare spots in some places, and 5 foot drifts in others.  Jonas ended his wrath on us at around 9 p.m. on Saturday night.

This was the sunrise Friday morning - we never did see the sun that day......

Sunrise before the storm.
I did a lot of prep work on Friday because we were told there was no doubt we'd lose power.  Two years ago, after a storm not nearly this bad, we lost power for almost ten days.  It was awful.  That's the year I drove 70 miles to a store where they had power, and bought a huge generator.  That thing saved us that year.  In late 2014, I insisted that we prepare for winter weather so that when it [inevitably] hit, we would be prepared, instead of worried all the time that we weren't prepared.  I'm really thankful that I was insistent.  It's been really great knowing we are prepared and as the saying goes, "prior and proper preparation prevents piss pour performance......"

We had our electrical box set up so we have a switch that when if the power goes out, we can flip that switch, then start the generator, then flip whatever switches we need to run whatever needs to be run.  It's not a whole-house generator.  We looked into one of those and between the cost, and the fact we'd have to put in a propane tank, and make sure our propane was always full (which is difficult enough in good weather but in winter with snow on the ground, would be a challenge), the thing would have to sit right below our bedroom window, as well as right in the path of where we walk from the back door, to the barn.  It was not ideal...and again, very expensive.  More than we wanted to invest.

The transfer switch was less expensive by far, and we had already invested in a good generator.  So we decided on that route.  I'm so grateful we did.  It's not perfect, but it takes a LOT of the pressure off us during a power outage.

The snow and wind were exhausting.  The snow just kept coming, and the wind was howling all day Saturday and into Saturday night.

However, Sunday dawned bright and beautiful.....and with tons of snow to be moved.  This below is the Mister.  After plowing the gravel driveway (which is why it's not plowed down to the gravel).
We have an extremely long driveway.  This is only about a quarter of it.

This is Gabbi, our little Maltese.  This was during the storm, when she had to go potty.  We shoveled the front yard, and poor little thing, I had to make sure she didn't blow away!  Her ears blew up just as I snapped this shot, and she looked like she was going to fly away.
This is Blue, who is wondering where his grass went that he'd been eating yesterday!  He was NOT happy that the grass was gone....under a couple of feet of snow.

This is what it looked like in the town of Culpeper on Sunday.  People walking in the roads because the sidewalks were full of snow.
We survived.  No loss of power.  Some loss of sleep due to worry, but I worked really hard not to worry too much.  We were SO prepared.

I had cooked a bunch of food on Friday morning.  I made chicken breasts, and chicken thighs, and a sort of chili - we don't like spice so it was ground chicken, baked beans, diced tomatoes, salt and pepper.  It was yummy when we finally ate it.

If we don't get anymore snow, I'll be okay with that.  This was a big storm for our area of the country. I know other areas got hit with a lot more damage, and I feel really bad, especially for the residents along the east coast that have been hit several times in the last few years with flooding and erosion tearing away the coastline.

I'm not one to wish away time.  January is almost over (I can hardly believe it).  February is a "short" month.  March usually brings in spring, so it's very close.  I will look forward to warmer weather.  My arthritis has been painful, and it gets so every winter now.  Not fun.  Age is sneaking up on me.  Also not fun.  However, I am trying to live my life by the day, and not be the year.  I'm also trying not to think about my age but about how I want to live.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope if you were affected by this storm, you're doing well and didn't suffer any loss or damage.

Take care,
Always,
Martha

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Looming Snowstorm

We are in the path of the upcoming looming snowstorm.  Predictions for the area we live in, is 1-2 feet.  FEET.  C'mon.  Really?  The Euro weather models for the predictions are more accurate than the U.S. or Canada models.  The Euro model is scary.  Just sayin.....

On the other hand, I can hardly believe that January is half over.  Time just seems to fly by now that I'm older.  I can't believe I'm going to be 60 years old this year either.....in some ways I feel it, in others, not so much.

Sadly, several famous people have passed on this week - all in their 60s.  That's scary.
Even sadder, a person that I got to know over the last 8 years or so has also passed on.  She was vibrant, well loved in her work as a nurse, in her community, and as a horse woman.  She was always bright, cheery, and down to earth.  I feel sad for her passing, but I feel sadder for those people who's lives she touched and who will miss her the most.  Her family, of course, is very saddened.  Her husband and her sons.  They are all angry and will have to face life without her in theirs.  Her best friend, who was like a sister to her.  They held each other up in times of need.  They had tons of fun together in the horse world.  They were always smiling and happy when they were together.  Sue made everything you did with her, fun.

I will be getting on my old computer (which now resides upstairs but might have to come back downstairs for this task) and downloading all the old pictures I have on it.  I know I have many, many pictures that will be missing from an even older computer I had.  I wish I had saved them when I should have.  Photos are something I cherish.  I plan on getting many of them printed, even though they may sit and not be looked at often, I want them to be in the printed form for the future.  After all, I am realistic that I won't be around forever either.

I've decided to challenge myself this year. I joined a photography challenge which isn't a competition, but more of a challenge for those of us that need a bit of a push to do more with our photography.  I like this idea.  I'm not good at doing it on my own, but I may just decide to start one of my own.  I think that'll be fun.

This last weeks' challenge was red.  Be artistic.  Well, I don't think I was artistic in the sense that I created something that was red.  Lots of photos of red wine splashing on dark backgrounds were posted.  I don't drink wine, and I don't have the artistic fortitude some of the people have - I'm not a pro at this stuff.  However, artistically, I like my photo because I was able to get a sharp center of focus, with even more red in the background, and the foreground is just out of focus as well.  I happened to be taking a different photo, which didn't turn out the way I'd hoped it would, then turned and saw this.  I knew I had the shot I wanted.
The previous challenge was landscape.  Since I'd been busy the beginning of the week, and sick the middle to the end of the week, I decided to get this shot:
Landscape:  Get the foreground, and don't forget the sky!  Well, I got the foreground shadows which I love this time of year - I think I love it because it proves the sun shines sometimes even in the dead of winter.  The elongated shadows are pretty cool, along with the low sun, the starkness of the bare branches on the trees, and the hilly landscape in the background.  The horizontal lines of the fence with the contrast of the vertical trees.  The sun peeking at the top of the photo.

I post my photos on the Facebook page that has to do with the challenge - dogwood52 - but I don't get many likes or comments because there are SO many people involved and posting and some of the photos are totally amazing.  It's okay.  This is about challenging myself, not about criticism from others.

The first week challenge was a self portrait.  Yeah, not happening since I'm not happy seeing photos of myself.

Next challenge is a portrait of someone else.  I don't know what I'm going to do but I'll have to get out with my camera and try to catch people unaware - that's my favorite way of doing a portrait of someone else.

One of the other things I have planned for this year is to create a quilt for our king size bed.  Call me crazy.  I bought some beautiful batik fabric but I didn't buy enough.  I then found some Shimmer fabric strips to use in addition to the batik fabric, and I really love the combination of the fabrics.  I've done 2 sections of the quilt, sewing the strips together in a certain order.  Then realized the sections aren't large enough going across the bed, left to right.  So I spent part of the other afternoon laying out the next choices for strips, and I think it'll look okay.  It's not perfect, I'd prefer that I'd made better choices before sewing the strips together in the first place, but I'm working with it, and I'm okay with it.  It's not for anyone else, it's for me, and it's a learning experience.
A sneak peak into what my new quilt will look like


I have yet to decide if I'll try to quilt the fabric myself, either on my new machine, or on an longarm quilting machine, or if I'll send it to a quilt shop to get quilted by someone else.  For me, that takes the "I did this myself" out of getting this quilt done.  Since my new machine can quilt a design in the hoop from a pattern, I think I may be doing it myself, if the machine can handle the bulk of a king size quilt.  We'll see......

I have woven 5 yards of neutral fabric on my Saori loom.  I haven't cut it off because I'm trying to get as much out of what's left on my pre made warp, and I want to weave some blue fabric.  Eventually, I'm going to have to order a new pre made warp.

I'm also signing up for a few classes/demos this year, as I don't want to let learning opportunities get past me. I'm tired of giving things up because of guilt.  I want to live today.  I don't know that tomorrow is promised.

Well, I'm off to do some more snowstorm prep.  Wish us luck.  If you're being affected by this upcoming storm, I hope you stay safe and warm, and have plenty of fun stuff to do.

Take care,
Always,
Martha

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year! Ringing in 2016

Funny, that 2016 is easy to type.....

2015 was a year of ups and downs.....at the beginning of the year, I had decided I was going to give up my fiber business, and just lay low for awhile.  That made me sad, but I decided to embrace it.  I wanted to be more creative, and I did that.  I didn't do as much as I had hoped, but honestly, looking back, I really did a lot.  I started out going to a Saori weaving class at the beginning of the year, and that inspired me.  I got a Saori loom, and have had fun on it.  I got better at knitting, and can now knit continental style.  However, I can only do hats, fingerless gloves, triangle shawls and rectangular things.

2015 was also a year of challenges.  I started out wanting to get healthier. I  started with P.T. for my knee, which turned into P.T. for my posture as well.  I ended up having the 2nd knee surgery on my right knee (first one was a long time ago).  I got cleared by the oncologist as far as the uterine cancer I had (along with a hysterectomy 5 years ago).  However, realizing that I was having more and more trouble with my breathing, especially feeling breathless, I decided to pursue that by requesting a chest x-ray be done, which led to a C.T. scan, which led me to a Pulmonary specialist, and a diagnosis of  Bronchiectasis.

I lost one of my (2) older brothers in August. I'm still sad and come very close to crying every time I think about him, and the loss.  He was the one person in my family I was closest to, though not as close as I would have liked.  I was never close with my parents.  I am not that close to my oldest brother who lives in CA with his family.  But Mike was my bro, we thought a lot alike, but he was way smarter than I am, and he knew what he was doing in his life.  He was brave.  He wasn't always the smartest when it came to his health.  I do wish he'd taken better care of himself.  He might still be around, if he hadn't continued to smoke after his quadruple bypass heart surgery about 20 years ago.  He accomplished a lot of good in his life, he touched many lives, and his legacy lives on in Portland, Maine.  I miss him though.....

On another note, my in-laws are treating their son/brother (my husband) like crap, and I feel bad for him.  However, it's not my burden, and I'm working on staying out of it, and not feeding into the drama.

I worked on my weight.  Embarrassed as I am, I am going to admit here, that I was up to 238 lbs.  I'm only 5'2" tall.  I carry my weight all over my body - even my toes were fat.  I've worked hard on losing, have cut out all bread, rice, pasta, and a lot of other stuff that wasn't good for me.  I still indulge in ice cream once in awhile, and I'm addicted to chocolate....and wish I could cut it out completely.  I may be able to do it in 2016....but I'm not committing to that just yet.  I'm down to 205, but have gotten down to 201, but can't seem to get that off for good, and keep going down.  I really was hoping to be below 200 before the end of 2015....but it isn't happening.  I have gone to the gym more, I'm doing well most of the time in my eating, I've been going out and shopping (walking) more, but the breathlessness and exhaustion catches up with me.  The doctors like to say it's stamina, but it isn't.  I've tried to explain what it feels like, but no one understands.  So I am keeping my mouth shut, and hoping that I can continue to fight the weight battle, and to fight the exhaustion, and fight the breathlessness, and be strong.  I will continue to work out at the gym, both with weights (light weights, not trying to build muscle, but lots of reps with light weights to tone and still lose weight) and in the pool - I'm not a swimmer but I am working with foam dumbbells and a pool noodle with my arms and legs, and running and walking laps in the pool.  In 2016 I plan on spending more time in the pool, and working longer.  It ends up with me being too exhausted to do much else during the day, but I will fight that as well.

For 2016, I also plan on going through each room in the house, and totally cleaning out and dumping as much stuff as I can.  I can't live in the clutter anymore. I want a house that has space, that I can be comfortable in, and that I am proud to be in.  That takes work.  Today, I worked on the bedroom, and the bedroom closet.  I still have the bathroom to tackle, and hope to do that tomorrow.  Under the sink and the bathroom closet really need it.

I am going to focus on doing more projects in 2016.  I want to work on something every day.  For now, I've laid off knitting because my right arm hurts, from my fingertips to my shoulder blade.  I have a feeling I have another bone spur in my shoulder.  I had one removed about 8 years ago, and I think it's back.  The only way for it to go away is surgery....not looking forward to another one, but I'm not sure how much longer I can take the pain.  Getting old ain't for sissies!

I am going to work on my photography more.  I will weave more.  I will conquer my sewing and embroidery machine and become good at what I want to do with it.  I am going to quilt again.  I have bought fabric that will make adorable ornaments and can't wait to get some done for next Christmas.  Those projects are small and quick and will be easy to work on while it's hot during summer.  I want to spin more yarn, then knit it into fun stuff.  I want to sell more of my hand made items, and make some money this year.

I will also work on myself. I want to accept what is, live in the moment, and make my moments more meaningful.  I want to enjoy what I'm doing, when I'm doing it. I will be stronger, and fight harder, to be healthy and feel better.

There are many things I don't want to give up - like the hope of traveling to Maine again; moving to a neighborhood and having a one story home; becoming successful with my business in another form; and feeling well again.

Meanwhile, I hope you have the best New Year ever, and a happy, healthy, and successful New Year.  Thanks for being out there.  I appreciate it.

Always,
Martha

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas 2015 Week

Seriously, how the heck did that happen????  I mean, holy cow!  I can't believe Christmas is almost here.

I'm enjoying getting things made and I don't plan on stopping after Christmas.  In fact, I hope to continue making things throughout the year.

I'm currently working on a project for the grand daughters.  We got to see them this last weekend but as usual, I was having so much fun, that I forgot to get pics!  Christmas day, we will once again trek up to Northern VA to see the kids and spend a bit of time with them, and give them Christmas gifts.  I will get some photos then - and good ones, if I can remember to take the gosh darn camera!

I've been playing some with my new embroidery machine.  I'm working out the kinks, but slowly.  Everything I do, is a new experience.  I did use it as an actual sewing machine and it was really nice!  :-)   I enjoyed sewing on it a lot.  Smooth, quiet, and easy.  I didn't do anything worth showing here, just a bit of stitching to fix an ankle brace that hubby wears.  He tore it, almost to shreds.  Sigh.  Luckily I had some nylon webbing in black, so it's very sturdy now.

I've given away a few sets of my hats and gloves for the holidays.  It was fun making them, and fun seeing people get them and be happy with them.  Shhh,  I made a black hat for hubby.  I worked on it right in front of him, so he's seen it, but it's going under the tree on Christmas.  teehee

I will continue to knit, because I find I get lost in the process.  It's portable, especially since I don't make anything big.  Maybe some day.  We'll see.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

What's New?

Well, around here, there's always something.  I get bored easily - did you figure that out already?  Ha!

This past week, I went back to the Pulmonary doctor for my second appointment. I've been diagnosed with Bronchiectasis.  It's a disease that has no cure, but there are many levels to the disease. I've been told I have a very mild case.  That's a good thing.  However, they want to know the cause of it, and that hasn't been found yet.  We will continue to try figuring it out, but there are about 50% of the cases they never really know what is the cause.

I've also been told they "think" I have asthma.  I've never had an asthma attack.  I do have some wheezing.  I've tried 2 different inhalers, and they don't really make a difference.

Leave it to me to get a disease that is somewhat rare (1 in 200,000 people have it).  If I don't start getting better help/answers from the hospital, I'll find another doctor. I do like the hospital, but, the one downfall is that they have you see the Fellows or residents for certain things, instead of seeing an experienced doctor.....and I'm not in this for guessing games.  As happened with my heart, I don't want to be a practice patient.  I want to see a doc that's been around the block and has a way of finding answers..........

I've been knitting up a storm.  I don't know why.  I get in this mood, and I want to knit. I want to become a better knitter.  However, I realize I will never be a knitter that does beautiful lacy shawls, or scarves, or follows a pattern.   I'm a free-form sort of person.  I don't like to follow rules - if you read my blog, you know this about me already.  So I sort of make up my own rules and ways of doing things that don't involve things like using 4 dpns for getting to the small part of the hat.  Hats and fingerless gloves are what I've been making, for friends and family.  I don't normally do Christmas gifts, but I feel generous this year.  And for goodness sake, what else am I going to do with several sets of hats and gloves????



Excuse the crappy photos. Taken inside, with light from behind, by camera phone, by husband......need I say more?

That's about it for this post.  Dinner is cooking and I'm starving - as usual. I'm down by 31 lbs.  I don't think I've mentioned that.  For my next goal, I need to lose 6 lbs.  That will be a BIG goal.  Then, I will have 50 more to reach the goal of the highest weight I want to be at.  Eventually, if I can pull it off, I would like to lose between 50 and 80 lbs....although I'm not sure I'll live long enough (mostly because it's going SOOOOO slowly!) to get 80 lbs off !  I'm no spring chicken.  Just realistic.

Take care.
Always,
Martha

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Am I Crazy or What???

Or am I glutton for punishment?  Who knows!  However, I've taken on a new craft with a new, very expensive, very technical sewing/embroidery machine......

Yep, that's right.  I bought a Janome MC15000 v2 machine at the Quilt and Sewing Expo in Fredericksburg, VA.  Call me crazy!

I've sewn before, and coveted the really nice, fancy, many feet involved, sewing machines.  I've even quilted before, and liked it to a certain extent.  However, I have no desire to do all the math, or cut huge pieces of cloth into small pieces of cloth then sew them back together.

Besides, it's only fun if you have a LOT of different cloth of all colors.  Right?  And I can't really afford that.  I also don't have the space.

Speaking of space, I had to reorganize my space to accommodate the new machine.  It's pretty large, not to mention that the embroidery arm sticks out the back of it at least a foot and a half.

The machine, all lit up.

It's a beauty for sure.

I finally (after weeks) got brave enough to try a design.  It's a built-into-the-machine design.  Mostly, people pay and download new designs.....which is certainly something that could certainly get me into a LOT of trouble.....

Although it doesn't look like it, this is blue thread on a white background.  It's a terrible cell phone pic taken at night, which I tried to fix both on my phone AND on my computer.  This is the best I could do.  The design with the words is about 6.5 inches height and width.  It's a bit puckered, but I've been told if I used more stabilizer behind it, that could be remedied.

I'll be working on some more but I am researching and trying to find answers to questions I can't find anywhere else.  I've asked if there is a really good, current book, that is similar to the Quilters book I have, which has all sorts of excellent info in it, for those of us that need hand holding from beginning to end.  No one has suggested a good book yet.

I do feel that I will be getting back into some sewing though, eventually. I have to get up enough stamina to pull the bins of cloth that I have stashed away in the basement and see what I have.

I attended a class yesterday, which actually consisted of watching a slide show giving information about stabilizers.  It was informative and something I had questions about.  Now, I just need to put the information into action.  The class also referenced a vest that was made, and embroidered.  The style of the vest appealed to me, as well as the way it was sewn together, so I purchased the vest pattern.  It'll be a good vest pattern to use for hand woven fabric.  The instructor suggested using embroidery on pockets and adding the pockets to the vest, which gave me the perfect idea for using my hand woven for the vest, then using commercial fabric to embroider on, and sew onto the vest.  I woke up thinking about it.  Now I have to get busy weaving fabric to make the vest!

The weather has been quite strange lately.  Last week, it was 80 for 2 days.  It's November!  I don't mind too much, but when it goes from 80 to 54, it's a drastic change and my body doesn't love it.  I don't like heat, but it did feel good since we'd had some colder days and nights as well.

That's about it for today.  I can't believe Thanksgiving is only a couple of weeks away, and Christmas is only a few weeks after that!  Yikes!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Getting Back To Normal.....

I think I'm finally getting back to normal.  Well, as close to "normal" as I can, after a death of a loved one.
In the last six weeks, we've driven from central western VA, to central western FL.  We took care of all my brother's business while there.  Heat, humidity, wicked thunderstorms.  Ugh. I have been to FL a few times.  I must either visit at the wrong time, or the wrong places, but I've never said, "Oh, I'd like to move here."  Ever.  Never ever.  I just do not like it at all.

Last week we drove to Maine.  South Portland to be exact.  We rented houses in both FL and Maine through Homeaway.com.  The homes in both places were okay, both owned by women.  Both pretty much represented accurately.  However, staying anywhere away from home is stressful to me, husband, and the 2 dogs we took with us.  It's just not the same.  Sleeping in different beds, not mattresses we are used to, and who knows who else has slept in those beds!?  Using utensils and dishes and cups and pans that aren't always clean when you get there.  The pool at the house in FL was filthy and I was hoping to relax in the evenings by spending some time in it - which never happened.  But, we were able to take the dogs, and feel secure about them staying in the homes, and they didn't come home infested with fleas.  So, there are the plus points.

In Florida, as I said, we took care of a bunch of business which went, for the most part, smoothly.  In Maine, we attended a dedication ceremony for my brother Mike.  He had worked for the Portland Housing Authority for a long time.  He was responsible for creating the four study centers which are accessible to under privileged students.  He wrote the grants, got everything approved, and kept them up and running during his tenure.  However, there was a LOT more that he did.  Only a few people were there to state the things that Mike had done for them, but I know for a fact, there are hundreds of people currently out in the world, that have been touched by my brother's caring and heart.  He literally took one student (well, there were probably a lot more than one) and literally took him to school every day, picked him up every day, took him to the study center, and took him home at night.  Mike helped this young man avoid being in a gang. The young man's brother had been killed in gang-related violence.  This young man was heading down the same road.  My brother helped this young man stay out of danger's way, and helped him through school, and to get into college.  Mike helped so many students do what they were told was impossible for them to accomplish - go to college and get careers.  He helped them fill out scholarship applications, college applications, and sometimes drove them to the college.  He helped them study for tests.  He helped them get where they needed to go and do what they needed to do.

I'm very proud of my brother.  He did good stuff for other people. I only wish that he had been alive to see the dedication, hear the stories, and know how many people he really helped and how they will never forget him for it.  Success through education. It's something Mike believed in.

A few pics of our trip to Maine.  We got to spend a small amount of time seeing a few light houses, and going to this little tiny beach near the house we rented.  If I could afford it, and I could talk my husband into it, I'd move there in 2 seconds flat.



















Yep, I enjoyed it.  I would rent this house for an entire season if I didn't have 2 horses and a cat at home that need caring for.  The dogs go with us, so that's fine.  This house had a for rent sign out front, and it was mere steps from the beach.

It's one story, steps from the beach.  Sigh......

Well, that's it for me for now.  I have a lot of things to talk about but will save them for another day and another post.

Take care,
Martha