Monday, December 29, 2008

My day started mildly enough. What's a flat tire before sunrise, when you've already planned out the childcare and thought ahead to taking the car in for servicing? Two more new tires have now brought me up to four new tires in a year. The bright side to this whole thing being that I shouldn't have to worry about getting a tire shredded on the drive up to Washington.

The kids were wonderful today. I love them more every day. I love cooking for them, I've gotten used to having a blond head sandwiched between my elbow and the counter, silently pointing out snacks that she wants.

I just don't quite have the fine print worked out. Money and housework and the joys and stress are all wrapped up in a wonderful knot right between my shoulderblades right now.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

All about socks

The Yarn Harlot (see sidebar for her site) has waxed poetic about socks on many occassions. This is one of my favorites. It inspires me that she can be so open with her myriad projects, and looking at her pictures reminds me of my own work area. And the secondary work area. And the spot by my bed, under my bed, the box under the dresser, and the box in the closet. Oh yes, and the rubbermaid bins full of more stuff. I've even used a stacking crate system to make my own stash shop in the family room- imagine a yarn store's cubbies, only in a corner under a window where I can see what I'm doing and stack the skeins right out in the open where I can walk by and admire them.

My addi turbo needles arrived from england this week. Yay. "yay" is actually way too tame a word. I want to roll around in my bed cradling them to me, but I'll settle for just tucking them into my purse and carrying them around everywhere until the blue socks are done. The blue socks are a commission, and are also the first pair I'm able to do entirely on one needle in the round. I wish it were easier to find a 12" circular needle, that I would have obtained this item years ago. I've crocheted socks. I've knitted them on a straight standard needle, double-points, and two circulars. Now I'm doing it on one needle, and so far it has been everything I dreamed it would be. Wonderful.

Also hot on my mind is the pancake bread recipe. I did this ages ago, with homemade bisquick mix, and it worked out nicely enough that it occured to me this would be a great way to get a bread-like substitute that's wheat-free and tastes good, plus being simple to make, cook, and freeze. Make your favorite pancake or biscuit mix, a trifle more thick than you would if making traditional pancakes. Drop by small spoonfuls onto a hot greased griddle. Treat like a pancake as far as cooking. Then top with whatever. Cheese, lunchmeat, pb&j. Syrup and butter. I know it's not really a new concept. It's new to me though.

Must go. Duty calls. So does my bed. It's nearly 8, it's not bedtime yet but I'll willing to treat it as though it were, and I'm very Very tired. Long day chasing the little ones.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas was great; exhaustion afterwards is less so. One tired tot and one less tired infant, and three adults taking it in turns to manage all of the household and childcare duties. We've struck a happy balance over here. Right now despite a too-early start, things are easing into a quiet morning. Everyone gets to do things they want to do. Nobody is feeling overwhelmed (except the 3 year old who learns that life is Not Fair) and said 3 year old is now exploring the freedom to nap. Put another way, she's been told that she needs to get some rest today. Not optional. She Will Sleep. Last night she went to bed overtired and exhausted, and got only enough rest to allow her body to jumpstart AWAKE at the unholy hour of 4-ish. Starting approximately at sunrise she began the screaming tantrums. The new restraining technique is working like a charm. My only regret is that I didn't get it right the first time. She's now experimenting with self-injury during tantrums- I don't think it's intentional, but it's a reaction to the overstimming. She sports a small bloody scratch on one cheek. On the other hand, that's not so bad when compared to the length and severity of the fit.

One of the rewards I let myself have to compensate for these tantrums is an extra cuddle with Robbie. I find that I need something comforting to ease the release of my own tension afterwards. Is there a sweeter way than a whif of fuzzy-baby-head? Than a smile given so completely and freely? I haven't found many so far. A hot cup of chai and some computer time and a cuddle with my infant son... heaven. Glancing in on the tired tot, exhausted and sleeping in her blanket nest... equally priceless. This too shall pass. It always does. And the other side will go on, similar to today but unique in it's own challenges.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Starting a new chapter of creative cooking. New ingrediants, new to me at least, and Alton Brown's advice becomes more appropriate than ever. Know your ingrediants. Know your food. If you know a food, you know what to do with it and can be creative with how it works and plays with other foods. Tonight's dinner is not completely wheat-free, but the main dish is so if you want you can be safe.

On the side: Potstickers. Ling-Ling is our preferred brand. It comes with nifty little sauce packets in a great big bag. Brown in 2Tbsp oil for a few minutes, then add about 3/4 cup water and cover. Simmer for a minimum 8 minutes. Uncover, and continue simmering until the water is evaporated and the potstickers brown up. Sprinkle with one of the packets of sauce and let stand until you're ready to serve.

On the main side: In a standard saucepan combine some frozen broccoli (and carrots, if you like) and some chopped, cooked meat. I had a cup and a half of roast pork. Add a couple cups of water and bring to a boil. Add half a package of thin rice noodles. Remove from heat, cover, and stand until the noodles cook, about 8 minutes. Drain the excess water. In a large pan (I used my dutch oven) heat 2 Tbsp oil and another packet of potsticker sauce. Add the drained noodle mixture and stirfry a few minutes until it's all mixed and happy.

Cost of meal:

leftover pork, about 1/4 of a $5 roast. Approximately $1.25.
Broccoli. 1/2 of a 16oz bag. $0.75
Thin rice noodles. 1/2 package, $2.49 a package. $1.25.
Potstickers. 1/3 a big bag, bag was $7.99. $2.66

Total dish cost $5.91
4 servings for $1.47 each.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'm dreaming a wonderful dream and I never want to wake up from it. We decided to try eliminating wheat from Tiff's diet on Sunday, when she was getting over being so sick, and she had sat herself down to polish off an entire can of apple wagon wheels. That was extraordinary. Getting her to eat enough has been tricky ever since she started table foods. It's been... challenging.

Since then she's eaten about three times as much on a daily basis. Essentially, she's suddenly eating normal amounts of food for a child her age without coaxing. She latched onto rice cakes, and wagon wheels, and has been willing to try a greater range of table foods without throwing a fit. That's just the change in her eating.

The change is in the rest of her. I am seeing the fog lift. I'm watching my little girl wake up. I'm talking to her and she is acknowledging hearing my voice, she turns to me and speaks in a soft clear voice, she's watching my face light up when I can recognize her words and she responds eagerly to that... I'm afraid to believe this is happening. Is it the wake up we've been waiting for? Is it possible that it's finally here?

We tried this sort of diet before, once, and nothing. Maybe she wasn't ready? Maybe it wasn't the time? I don't care. I'm seeing some sort of hope and I'm afraid to believe as much as I'm afraid not to believe.

I don't want to wake up from this dream.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's certainly been an interesting week. We've all been sick- have I mentioned that here yet? I don't remember, offhand, and I'm too lazy to check. Right now I'm finishing up four loads of laundry and a sink full of dishes- the remnants of a busy and happy Sunday afternoon.

I've been working on my socks lately, finishing a pair in lavender, blue, and white that will go live on Etsy tomorrow when I take some pictures of them. The next pair is already on the needles. I'm experimenting with a rolled stockinette cuff. Brownie points for those of you who know what that is without looking it up :)

Bought some new sock needles last night with the ad money. I'm trying to save up for a special birthday present for the Boy, but I couldn't resist the needles. They looked so nice, and they were reasonably priced, and one of the better brands. I've never worked with them, but I hear that they glide through fiber like a hot knife through warm cheese.

mmm. Cheese. Got to go, feeling hungry again.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I just signed up with acobay today, and for a new site I have to say I like what I saw. It was nicely planned out- the colors are a good fit for what they're presenting, I could surf it without getting a headache (we've all still got the flu, and my eyes hurt), and I especially liked being able to sign up without jumping through a zillion hoops.

What Acobay does, is provide a neat little twist to social networking. Instead of matching you up with people based on interests, it matches you by what stuff you have. If you've got anything, from cars to books to gear, you add it to your "stuff" and you can read what others have to say about that same thing. You can randomly look at the stuff of others and read their comments. I could see this being useful for product reviews- do you trust everything that amazon lists on an item before buying an item? Maybe. Maybe not. Same answer applies to this site, but the people reviewing something may be better trusted than something that comes through the amazon marketing chain. No, I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I've just been a bit too active reading their websites and have a healthy skepticism.

I added a review of a book I just finished reading. Check it out!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

what I'm learning as a parent

#1. That all of my bestest female friends have 2 kids and a generous spirit of the "I told you so but I'm too nice to remind you that I've told you so"

#2. That all small kids bring home a bad case of the stomach flu to share with their younger siblings in a spirit of true generousity. The closer this is to a major holiday the better. Bonus points for infecting their mothers in the first round of vomiting, causing her to be knocking back shots of dayquil and praying that the adult diapers she had in the back of the linen closet will prove adequate to contain whatever spews from her while cleaning the children.

#3. When the inevitable messes occur at both ends, be grateful that the children are still in diapers that contain all messes or at the least give you less laundry to do.

and last but not least....

#4. The inner grace to avoid cursing out their husbands who are blessed with cast iron stomachs, who come home from TAD orders after a week away and dance right through the plague infecting your household without seeming to notice anything greater than the "weren't you supposed to pick up more (insert item here) today? And what are you making for dinner?"

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I've spent the past few days knitting a pair of cotton socks for a friend. Last year I made her a pair of wool socks, which met with two unfortunate accidents. I hate wool- it never does what I want it to do. One of the pair felted while being gently handwashed, the other sock stretched. How is it possible for two identical socks (made from the same skein, no less, to suffer like that? I've never had that problem with cotton. Cotton is gentle and does what I want it to do, and can be machine washed and dried without effort. No coddling, very dependable. I love fibers that I can depend upon.

The Boy is away this week. Doing navy stuff. On a ship. He'll be back next week, soon enough, but Tiffany is really missing him. She was clingy to me yesterday and today, and spent a lot of time with me in eyesight. Woe to us if I left her presence for more than ten minutes! She'd come looking for me. While I'm glad that she cares, it's a bit disconcerting to have her suddenly acting so normally with a mommy-attachment while at the same time seeming to ignore me completely.

On the other hand, this behavior is perfectly normal for a cat. And she has so many other cat-like tendancies.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

About a year ago now I was recovering from the delivery of my second child. It was... interesting. We were stressed about money, about life, about the challenges that another NICU stay was going to mean for us. And you know what? We made it through. It has been a wild and crazy year, full of fun and tears and all the things that make up a family life.

I wouldn't have had it any other way. I wouldn't change one moment of the past year, even though it was by turns a horrible thing and the most wonderful thing. Hearing my kids laugh together. Seeing the way that my daughter has blossomed just by seeing her little brother grow and play. Holding them both on my stomach while they're climbing over me with giggles and tickles. That's one of the blessings of motherhood. It's not always about the dishes and laundry. It's not always a chore. Sometimes it's a chance to revisit the best parts of your own childhood all over again. This time, though, I'm the mommy and I get to say that yes, we can have ice cream and waffles just for the hell of it. I get to say that we can ignore the “Rules” of mealtime and naptime, which evens out all the moments that I have to be tough and enforce those same rules. We can't ignore the rule all the time, or even frequently, but sometimes we can. Sometimes we can throw caution to the wind and just enjoy the sunshine on the carpet in pools of gold, and let the laughter bubble up from deep down until it infects everyone around.
I grew up in an area where hunting season was a religious holiday and excused one from school for about three days of the year. Rites of passage for the boys I studied with. Not that they usually were out for killing things, it was merely a way to bond with their male relatives. Sometimes with their female relatives, depending on the family.

Black Friday is tradition there too. Some of the best shopping deals of the year happen on that day. If you are buying linens, you aim for the white sales between Christmas and New Year. If you're buying anything else, like Nikon BDC Slam Hunter's Package, which contains a lot of the really cool stuff that a hunter would want, you go on Black Friday. This year because of the economy being what it is, the bargains are better than ever on most of the retail sites. Shoppers are being careful with their money. The credit crunch is coming closer. And a lot of people find that if you're having to tighten the wallets a lot you'd better plan a few splurges in there or else it will lead to a spending spree and regrets.

Look at it like a diet. If you deny yourself cake for a year, by the time month 7 comes around you'll start salivating at the very hint of a cake. If cake is presented to you in an attractive way, you'll eat yourself sick on it. Much better to set aside one night a week to have a small sliver of cake. That way you can indulge that wish and not overindulge later.

Of course, if you're into hunting, you'd be better off with the above-mentioned deal than a chocolate cake.

Section 4
A soldier in black armor stopped them near the border at dawn.
"Names and business," he demanded in a hard voice.
"Janis and Doyen, traveling home," Wren changed indefinably, somehow becoming bent and old.
"Occupation?" the soldier gave a cursory glance to see that they weren't carrying weapons.
"This your son?" his eyes were caught by Cedar.
"Yes, noble sir.  He's not very bright but his mother dotes on him."
"Looks more like a daughter than a son to me," the soldier stepped forward.  "Why are you traveling so early?"  Wren pushed Cedar to one side.
"Run, girl!" he shouted.  "Don't look back!"
     Cedar obeyed blindly.  She ran, weaving her way between the trees, and quickly became lost.  The drawn was causing a fine mist to rise from the ground.  She found she could no longer see ten yards in front of her.
     Suddenly she could hear sounds of fighting.  It echoed from the trees all around her and she couldn't tell where she was in relation to it.  A man appeared before her with a gaping wound in his chest.  She screamed, and screamed again when she tripped over a body at her feet.  The sounds of her scream followed her down the long tunnel into darkness.
"Is she okay?" a worried voice above her head asked.  A cool cloth wiped her face.
"Child, wake up."  Someone urged.
     Cedar kept her eyed closed.  She didn't dare open them for fear of whose hands she had fallen into.
"Gently now, lift her head up."  Her head was lifted and another moist cloth was pressed to her head.
"She's bleeding."
"Mirelle!" the first voice called. 
A scent of lavender knelt by her and lay fingers to the scratch.
"Nothing serious," a soft voice reassured them.  "Open your eyes, dearling.  We won't hurt you."
     Cedar cracked one eyelid and then the other one.  The blurry face of a woman peered down at her.  She blinked her eyes and the image focused to show honey-brown hair framing sea-green eyes.
"There now.  That wasn't so bad.  Where are you from?"
Cedar clenched her lips tightly and Mirelle sighed.
"Then you're coming with us.  Sit up a bit so I can lift you."  She was surprisingly strong, and Cedar was hoisted to a saddle.  "It will be more comfortable for you to sit forward."  She did so and Mirelle was suddenly sitting behind her.
"We can talk a bit on the road," she said kindly, "but for now we must move quickly.  It is not wise to remain at the site of a skirmish long; the sounds could bring unwelcome company."  Cedar got a look at the owners of the other voices.  Long, lean men wearing leather armor sat sleek horses, their swords hung on their saddles.  Mirelle was the only one out of place.  A deep blue skirt split for riding was cut of a rich fabric.
"What's your name, dearling?" Mirelle asked after they had ridden a while.
"Cedar," she said quietly.  Her stomach was rebelling again.  She could not go back a slave to Emberfaile, yet these people would not be so easy to slip away from.  Wren would not return to save her, but if there was even the slightest hope of his survival she would keep silent.
"Where are you taking me?" she mustered enough courage to ask.
"Sevren's Keep," Mirelle announced.  "You're my responsibility until we can find your family."
"Where’s that?"
     Mirelle was quiet so long that Cedar thought she would not answer.  Then came a single word wrapped in mystery for the girl.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Have you gotten your copy of Phoenix Rising yet? A nifty little thing, not too heavy, for those who like fantasy stuff.

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.
And another goldfish bites the dust... Why is it that I cannot keep them alive this month? The rest of the year I did fairly well. I kept many fish living. I only had to replace fish three times. Today another one died. Strangely enough, he sank rather than floated. Wish I knew why that was- did he suffer fatal constipation or something? But we're down to one fish again, and I'm seriously considering letting this one live out the rest of the lifespan without replacing any more. We're moving in a few months, and this is one less hassle in my day.

I have grown quite used to the tank, though. To watching my fishies, the kids' fishies, rather, and enjoying the hum of water and light. It makes the living room a less dark place. Fish are good pets for little ones, they produce very little in the way of mess.


Must be a Wednesday. Never could get the hang of Wednesdays.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to Viral Market is a new offering from sherpa stores. The kit is available now, and offers the latest techniques and instruction in viral marketing. What is viral marketing? No doubt you've already come across it. In simple terms, it takes advantage of human behaviors to spread word of mouth advertising about products using existing social networks. A person may know three or four people to talk to every day. If they tell these three people, then those three tell their acquaintances, and so on. Viral marketing is a low-cost way to spread word of new things- just look at how rumors spread on myspace! Or gossip. The only difference is that the initiation of this type of gossiping is usually paid for. A small investment, say five bucks to a person for just dropping your product name in their daily conversations, could have 200 customers visiting your site within the next month.

The important part of this method is to frame the message so that it is more likely to be passed on. I guess that's why a lot of chain letters don't always work. Are you more likely to forward an email if it appeals to you and your wider network of friends? Are you more likely to hit delete if it misses the point?

It's worth a thought. After all, isn't that part of the point of blogging in the first place? To spread thoughts, ideas, your own words beyond the confines of your immediate social network?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It doesn't matter that she won't look at me for hours at a stretch
because when she woke this afternoon it was my arms she ran to
My lap that she crawled into
My hands that she pulled across her belly to hold her

I stayed there, motionless, holding my daughter close to my heart
We waited for a few moments
Whatever shadows had disturbed her peace passed over us
She sighs. Moves her body around.

A small blond head looks up and she sees me
China blue eyes
Pieces of the sky, that morning she was born, were gifts from heaven
Her smiles reach her eyes. Light her face. My girl. Mine.

I see her now. I see her then.
My first preemie. Weeks spent sitting at her side watching the machines
Terrified to touch her
Now I'm hard pressed to stop touching her.

I touch her hair when she sits next to me
Her hands when she brings me books to read
In the kitchen I wash dishes and she comes to find me
Not looking at me, but pushing her body against my legs

She's my blue-eyed kitten
She's my heart. Like her brother. Like their father.
I could never have dreamed of this contentment
Tomorrow comes soon enough.
Section 3

     When the House lay sleeping in the dead of night, Wren slipped from the kitchen hearth to begin the more important part of his mission.  Stepping lightly in the passage leading up to the Warden's office, he heard the muffled sound of sobbing in the Hall.  He found he could not ignore it; the cries reminded him of another child so long ago.  Retracing his steps he entered the Hall.  By the embers of the dying fire a young girl lay curled on her side.
"Are you alright?" he asked in a whisper.  The child gasped and struggled to sit up, wiping the tears away with a dirty hand.
"Yes, Master," she said.  Wren told himself that he shouldn't be surprised; after all, most slaves on the plantations wore identical clothing.  It was an adolescent girl, and from the looks of it she had been crying for a long time. 
"I'm not your Master," he said kindly, sitting down close to her on the hearth.  "I am the bard who sang tonight."  She became alert so quickly he smiled.
"Truly?  You come from Outside?"
"Yes, I do.  Why are you crying?"
"Because my friend died."
"Did you know her a long time?"
"Ever since I came to the main House."
"What's your name, child?" 
As he looked at her tear-streaked face and tangled hair Wren felt something well up in his heart he had rarely felt before.  What was there in this girl-child that urged him to forget his job?
"Do you want to see the Outside, Cedar?" he asked slowly.
Cedar could not believe her ears.  To be offered-- it must be a trick.  Housekeeper would surely come in soon to punish her.  Her lips formed a single word: Outside.
"If you are very brave I can take you.  I won't deny the risk, but you will be free."
     Slowly, Cedar reached one callused hand and placed it in Wren’s worn one.  With an ache she remembered Jory telling her that she would never leave Emberfaile, that they would live out their lives there like many before them had done and like many others would after their bodies were dust.
"Take me Outside," she whispered.
"The first thing you must do is to smear this on your face and arms.  Your legs are covered but we must make you look like a little black cloud blending with the night."  He scooped up a handful of soot from the fire and began to paint his own face.  Cedar copied the move, and when she was done he inspected it carefully.  Touching one or two spots she had missed, he took her hand and they crept to the door.  She started out into the hall, but he thrust an arm across her chest to prevent her.  She bit her lip and made a face as she tasted soot.  A circle of bobbing light gave a soft glow to the corridor walls.  As it grew bright­er Housekeeper appeared.  Her iron gray hair was braided in a single plait as thick as Cedar's wrist and she carried a candle.  She peered into the Hall as Cedar and Wren flattened themselves against the wall.
"I must have dreamed it," she said.  With a sigh she turned and went back to her own room.  The soot-streaked fugitives let out their breath when her footsteps could no longer be heard.  Gesturing for Cedar to follow him, Wren led the way to the court­yard door.  He bent his head to hers and breathed,
"I must fetch my things.  Wait here."
     In an instant he was gone and Cedar could feel her heart beating as though it would burst.  No sooner had he gone but he was back with a harp strapped to his back and his cloak tucked under one arm.  He held out his free hand and said,
"This is your chance to back out, my dear.  After this there is no turning back."
"I want to go," Cedar replied.  He nodded.  He had given her the choice and she had not shied away.  There was fine stuff in this one, and the next weeks would prove it.
"I have a charm that will spell the lock open," he said softly.  "There are no guards here.  If we are careful Seare's own guard will not even stir in their sleep."  Cedar nodded once.
     They crept across the moonlit courtyard to the heavy iron door that separated Emberfaile from the world.  A touch of the charm to iron was all that was needed for it to swing open.  Wren and Cedar were through in an instant and threw their weight behind it to make it close again.
"Now we must run," he told her.  Cedar felt something queer inside her stomach.  Fear twisted into a small hard ball, and her chest hurt when she breathed.  "Dun in short spurts and walk when you to not run.  Stay close to me and when dawn comes we will be hiding far from this place.  Do you understand?"  One had to be careful when talking to a Caledon slave, he remembered.  They were so easily confused when given freedom.  Best to give slow, small commands in the beginning or they would simply sit down and refuse to do anything.  Sudden freedom had shocked them too deeply for recovery.  He was relieved when Cedar nodded in the dim light.  They ran together across a barren country until they were far away from Emberfaile.

       Cedar fell to her knees, squeezing through the last tight branches of their daytime shelter on the seventh night of run­ning.  Her muscles ached, unused to the activity, and her chest blurred.  But she was seeing the world.  She was Outside now, and this was a gift too great to be brought down with mere physical pain.  Wren was waiting for her, having already relieved himself and was now preparing to sleep.
"Wren?" she asked hesitantly.  "Where are we going?"  She felt foolish.  He opened his eyes in surprise.
"I hadn't really thought about it," he admitted.  "We’ll go to Lyria, I suppose.  My daughter lives there, last I heard."
"What does it look like?"  Cedar rested her elbows on her knees. 
"Green," he said after thinking.  "Lots of trees.  They grow over underground water and places where a small stream wanders the trees echo its course.  I was fascinated with it once."  Wren closed his eyes again.
"Will I live in Lyria forever?"  Cedar asked anxiously.
"Maybe.  Maybe you'll travel when you grow a bit.  Anything is possible.  You have many more choices now, Cedar.  Learn about them, about yourself, and whole new horizons will open before you." he was silent and Cedar didn't ask any more just then although she was dying to know what a horizon was.  She hoped it was something good to eat.
     Wren shook her awake at twilight; it seemed as though she had only just closed her eyes.
"Before we go on, there is a change in plans," he told her.  Cedar nodded; she still didn’t know much and it was safer to just agree with him.
"I will disguise myself as a farmer, and you must pretend to be my son."
"A boy?"
"If they look for you, they look for a girl," he explained.  "Not for a farmer and his son."
"What about your harp?"  Wren ran a hand down the side of his harp.
"I can get another harp," he said firmly.  "I may not be able to rescue you again."
"Why do you do this?" she asked suddenly.  "You risk much for me."
"I was born in a place called the Heartland.  My parents settled there after their service and when I was grown I built a house for my wife there.  Yet for all the love I gave them I was gone when my daughter was born.  I never knew her until she was three years old.  I always try to help children, because I could not help her.  She keeps her distance from me even now that she is grown.  I guess this is why I help slaves like you.  Yours is not the first rescue I have done."
"Oh," Cedar said.
"You'll pass for a boy," he looked at her critically, "If you keep your voice down and stay dirty.  They kept you in trousers and your hair is fairly short.  You haven't grown breasts yet--"
"Yes I have!" she burst out.
"You have," he relented.  "But not enough to make anyone suspicious of your disguise.  There's a free farming village near the border, two days travel.  If you are questioned say that you live there; Morgantown is its name, and it's just across the border from Lyria.  If we get that far everything else will fall into place."
     They crawled from their hiding place and stretched.  Night was walking fast over the land.  Small hills competed with trees for space.  A spring bubbled up from the earth a few paces from where they stood.  Wren passed her part of a loaf he had stolen the night before from a camped traveler.  Settling their clothes in order Cedar and Wren began again the long trip home.
As the holidays grow nearer I find online window-shopping to be a lot of fun. There are now websites catering to all interests and tastes, they never close, and if the kids need to interrupt mommy's downtime I can easily move away from the site and be whatever and whoever they need me to be. I've got a lot of different types of people among my friends and family. There are engineers, artistic types, crafty types, and outdoors types. It's always the outdoors type that make me want to rip my hair out when it comes to gifting. This is because I'm just NOT that way. I kinda get why people want to be outdoors. I enjoy walking through botanical gardens and I like nature walks, but I've never seen eye-to-eye with those who scale cliffs for fun or want to sleep outdoors at night under the stars. Maybe I like indoor plumbing too much. Maybe it's more that I don't want to have to use a fine-tooth comb on my hair to evict creepy-crawlies at the end of the mission. Whatever. This means that window-shopping on adventure gear websites is a true adventure for me. It's safe- I never have to worry that I'll reach for my credit card in the middle of the night. I get to drool, and fantasize about using the really cool stuff, like Luminox watches, out in the field. Glow in the dark stickers have nothing on the serious gear. If I had access to the cool toys? Maybe I would be open to converting. Maybe not. Who knows.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wren munched the bread set before him by the buxom kitch­en maid.
"They tell me that you are a harper."  She brushed up against him.  He swallowed quickly.
"I am."
"You play for the Warlord tonight?"
"Oh." she considered this.  "The traveling must be lonely."
"Not really.  I see a new place each night and there are people everywhere I go."
"But surely it must be lonely," she purred.  A sharp word from the head cook sent her pouting to the other end of the kitchen.  Wren offered a silent word of praise to his Lord that she left him alone to eat.  He had traveled by foot for days to reach Emberfaile.  He had been awaked in a storm that threatened to sweep him away in a river of mud, and dried out in the next two days by a blazing sun that almost made him wish for the rain again.  Such changes in weather were not uncommon for Caledon, although across the mountains in the Allied Countries the elements were in check.  This was the work of Rom, he suspected, and was trying to prove.  The Dark God of Caledon had slept for hundreds of years, and only in the last few generations had His Priests began the bloodrites that would wake him. 
     For this reason the Allied Countries had sent their most gifted spies into Caledon under many guises.  As harpers and healers they traveled, and sought out places whore Warlords were staying.  Their mission was to gather information about campaigns planned and in progress, so that their homelands might defend successfully.  Now, truly, was the time under which this war might be won; a war that had dragged on for five generations.
Wren entered the hall without feeling nervous at all.  The table at the far end was decked with fresh linen and assorted greenery.  Servants hurried around with large platters of beef dripping with juices and gravy.  At the center of the table was the Warden in a shirt spotted with grease; the man beside him could only be the Warlord called Seare.  He was tall and grim, a black cloak shrouding his lean frame.  This night will be long, he thought; but he did not know how long it would be as he took a seat by the fire, leaning the harp back into his shoulder to play.
     The first chords he struck were off, and biting his lip he took a deep breath before continuing.  Closing his eyes he did not see the girl with red-rimmed eyes enter the hall, slip­ping behind a tapestry to enjoy the music without catching the attention of her masters.
Promises is more than just a rehab center, it's a place where the challenges of sobriety are faced in a realistic way. Most people think of rehab as a lock-down facility, where you go for the therapy and psych services, and where when you leave there is a high rate of relapse because social aspects of the addiction are not addressed. Sucessful substance abuse treatment has to take into account that nothing happens in a vacuum. It's not enough to get clean, you have to learn how to stay clean in the real world. As someone who learned how to cope with reality again after living with food addictions, I can fully appreciate that if you can't be safe in your own life, you won't succeed at sobriety.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In honor of this month and the many things I've got on the burner right now, I'm going to post one of my stories. It's got several parts, I'm breaking the chapters up into smaller chunks, and I'll try real hard to get the parts up in a timely manner. If you just can't wait to find the ending, this novel is available on Lulu, titled The White Lady.

......And now for the first part..........

Cedar sat gazing at the sky instead of working.  The scrubbing brush lay untouched in a puddle, and a bucket of hot, soapy, water was rapidly cooling.  From where she knelt she could see a small patch of sky framed by a high window and the distant mountains.  A year ago when a Warlord had come to collect the harvest one of his servants had been persuaded to tell her of the world outside Emberfaile. He spoke of a place called Velay, where the sun baked sand until the air appeared to waver.  It lay over the mountains, he told her, where his master had just fought a campaign to stalemate against men and women fighting together on fast horses painted with bright colors.  The servant might have said more, but Housekeeper had noticed Cedar and ordered her back to work.  She was close enough to breeding age then that they had brought her in from the fields and taught her to scrub and launder.   The Breeding Master was already observing her.
     A sharp cuff to the head jolted her out of daydreams.
"The floor won't scrub itself."  Jory, an older housemaid, said as she set down a fresh bucket of hot water.
"Aw, Jory, I was only--"
"I know.  You were only looking.  Emberfaile is all you need to know, child."  She stiffly got down on her knees.  The round bulge of her latest pregnancy made kneeling difficult.  "Soon you’ll have children to bear, and maybe that will keep your head fastened onto your shoulders."
"Didn't you ever wonder what it would be like?"
"Oh."  As Cedar's face fell, Jory relented.  "All right.  Once.  When I was sixteen the Priests came to look me over.  Housekeeper argued that I was too weak to be a good Priestess, but they decided they wanted me anyway.  The night before we were to leave I crept up to the watchtower and took my first look outside the walls."
"What was it like?"
"Cedar, I went straight from nursery to House.  I was never out in the fields.  When I saw land going on forever without walls it terrified me."  Jory rapped Cedar’s knuckles sharply with her brush.  The girl quickly resumed scrubbing.  "I went straight away to Housekeeper and begged her to help me.  She gave me a potion that made me so sick that I couldn’t see straight for two days.  The Priests left empty-handed and the Warden had her punished for what she did.  But I stayed, and now I work hard for her.  Unlike some I could name."
Cedar guiltily scrubbed harder.
"Do you think I'll ever leave?"
"That’s for the Warden to decide.  Not until you've born a child, that's for sure."
"I don’t think I'll be a good mother, Jory."
"What does that have to do with it?  The Breeding Master will decide when and who.  The child goes to the nursery after birth.  That's all there is to breeding.  I never bothered with my two brats after I bore them, and it will be the same with this one."  Jory patted her round stomach.
"It's almost time for harvest," Cedar changed the subject.  "I wonder which Warlord will come this year."
"If it's really that important to you," Jory sighed, "I can ask around.  But you must keep your mind on your work today.  Keep out of trouble."
"There will be a feast," she mused.  "The Warden will feed everyone the same."
"We'll be dying of heat in the kitchens."
"The good linens will be used, and everything smelling sweet."
"You will strain your back scrubbing.  The incense will give you a headache just like last year."
"Jory!" Cedar protested.
"Sorry," her friends smiled.  "It's new for you.  Your first year in the Great Hall.  The field hands don’t do the housework, the indoor servants do.  I'll finish scrubbing.  You go downstairs and help with the laundry."
     Cedar dropped her brush in the bucket, and straightened up slowly. 
"It won’t take much more," she offered.  "I did get most of it done before I started dreaming."
"Get on with you."  Jory flicked some suds at her.  Cedar giggled.  She turned to leave, but saw Jory shudder with a grimace.
"Are you alright?"
"I'm fine."  Jory forced a smile.  "You go."  She watched her young friend walk down the passage.  Another pain shot through her.  It was different from birthing pains, and she should not be having them for two more moons.  If they didn't stop soon she would find the Breeding Master.  He would know what to do.

Cedar blinked as the sun shone into her eye.  She was up to her elbows in soapsuds and hot water again, only this time she was bent over a scrub board. 
"Did you see the line of wagons and retainers this morning?" a girl asked.  Her hair was hopelessly tangled and one of her shoulders bore a healing welt.
"It's the Warlord and his entourage, come for the Feast," an older woman said, her hands busy with the table linens.
"Do you know who it is?"  Cedar asked eagerly.
"Seare."  The old woman shrugged.  "Who else?  He is the closest.  His campaign in Lyria went badly this year.  He’ll need supplies and replacements for some of his servants."
"How do you know so much?" someone demanded.
"Children!" she laughed.  "I serve the Warden's chamber!  Or I did, anyway.  I may be only a cleaner now that my beauty is gone, but sometimes I hear him talking with the other Masters here.  I remember what I hear."
"Warlord Seare," Cedar rolled the words around in her mouth, sounding the feel of them.  They gave her a chill.
"There's a treat for us tonight.  A bard wandered in at noon.  He'll play in the Hall for the Warlord."
"Where is he?"  Cedar asked innocently.
"Don't try your tricks on me, youngling." the old woman shook her finger.  "You get to your work.  Housekeeper has been far too lenient with you, in my opinion.  You need more discipline and a lot less freedom to go here and there."
"Pregnancy will slow you down," another woman chimed in.  There was a chorus of agreement.  Cedar face grew hot.    
"The Breeding Master still hasn't decided has he?" one of them said kindly, seeing her blush.  Cedar shook her head.
"He has.  I had my interview last night.  Next week will be my first session,” she mumbled.  There was a long moment of silence.  Sheets and tablecloths slipped from chapped hands back into the soapsuds.  Cedar looked at her feet.  All at once they were surrounding her, hugging her, and tousling her hair.
"You won't be a child much longer," the first woman spoke.  "Soon you will receive your permanent assignment."
"Will you ask to stay in the House, or will you go back to the fields?"
"Why didn't you say something earlier?"
"How many do you think you'll bear?"
"Leave her alone."  The gritty voice of Housekeeper broke them apart.  "Tend to your work.  Cedar, come with me."
The women hurried back to their tubs and Cedar was left all alone to follow Housekeeper through the House.  Her white apron was starched and crisp, her hair parted along a rigid line.  Time had only hardened her as it was hardening her appearance.  When they reached her office, Housekeeper lifted a heavy iron ring and produced a large brass key.  Turning the lock she en­tered, sat behind a large desk, and Cedar stood on the edge of the carpet staring at her feet and twisting her hands nervously.  She had never been called up before Housekeeper before; she knew that nothing good could come of it.
"So."  Housekeeper looked down at her with sharp eyes.  "You are Cedar.  Do you know why you are here?"
"`No, Housekeeper.'" she corrected.
"No, Housekeeper," Cedar said.  She gripped her hangs even more tightly to avoid shaking.  Her palms were moist and she was acutely conscious of not having bathed for a week.
"Today you are fourteen.  A most auspicious age.  At fourteen you are old enough to bear children, and to receive your life's work."
     Housekeeper folded her hands on the desk and leaned forward.  Cedar could feel those eyes boring into her soul.
"You have slacked your work ever since coming to the House.  You have been caught daydreaming, sneaking up to the top of the guardhouse, and asking questions about the Outside.  This does not inspire confidence."
"No, Housekeeper."  Cedar mumbled.
"Speak clearly when spoken to."
"Yes, Housekeeper."
"What am I going to do with you?" she asked herself.  "What task that I set you to that you will not shirk?  The Breeding Master has spoken with me on this matter."
     She rose from the desk and crossed the room to stand at the window looking down on the courtyard.
"Your quota will not be set until after your first pregnancy.  You know the reason for this."
"The Breeding Master wishes to know how my body will take to childbearing, Housekeeper."
"Yes.  However, in the meantime you must be assigned.  Tonight you will attend the Harvest Festival.  Tomorrow you will return to the fields.  Hopefully the work will keep your mind occupied in more suitable ways."
     Cedar's heart fell through her stomach and straight to her feet.  She did not want to return to the fields.  Especially not at harvest.  The labor was backbreaking under an unforgiving sun.  She would not see Jory again, save only to exchange quick words when their paths crossed; an unlikely prospect.  She dimly heard the Housekeeper dismissing her.
"Cedar."  The words broke through her daze.  She came back to herself in the courtyard, with one of the nursery maids shaking her shoulders.  "Cedar."
"What is it?" she asked dully.
"Jory is calling for you.  She was brought to childbed an hour ago."
"She is not supposed to deliver yet, is she?"
"It is too early.  The child will not survive.  If we are lucky we can save her.  You must come."  Cedar let the shock wash over her, only one more of many shocks that had assaulted her this day.  She allowed the nursery maid to lead her away.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sunlight weaves me in a web of color
warm sliding across my skin
heaven is rolling me under
one morning with the pillow, with soft blankets curling around me
burrow deep into the closeness
eyes closed and dream in the serenity
Pearls have been a symbol of classic beauty for a very long time. A single strand of them is enough to compliment the little black dress, the wedding gown, or a business suit. If you're looking for the genuine pearl, try to get the best whenever possible. Of pearls, the Akoya pearls are high quality and can cost as much as $15,000 a strand. Save yourself some money without compromising on quality; the same pearls can be had for about $2000 on

This is an image of an Akoya strand. You can see the difference in luster between this and a more common strand. When you want to make an impression, use the classics. Simple and understated is to many people the epitome of class.

Monday, November 10, 2008

All things pass
The wind that curves around our house also touches yours
Carries a kiss from one heart to another
Memories through the years lose some power to gain others
No pain is absolute, no weariness so deep that love cannot endure
We bend rather than break
bowed by the storms that would strip away all patience and grace
catching our breath when the eye of the storm passes over
praying for the strength to keep going
waiting for a day when it is enough, when the storm is over, when the spirit of that sweet child shines through again with a glance
hard-won, this glance, this respite from storms
drive your roots deep into the ground again and draw strength in the earth
draw your breath from the sky
may my fires reach out to share warmth when you need it
water to quench a thirst
comfort to match what once you gave me

I wrote this for a friend of mine who's having a rough day.
Time was that every day I'd tuck my girl in with a kiss and a thanksgiving that one more day was ended without one of us broken. Then it was every other day. Today was a good day, one of the rare ones when everything came together nicely at the end and she not only initiated contact but used her words to let us know precisely what she wanted. Even though she treated me like chopped liver the whole rest of the past 24 hours, I didn't care. When that small blond head is tucked up under my chin, I am just grateful that I sometimes get to benefit from her joy.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


my brain is working. Tons of thoughts, tons of processes, and I'm coming to the tail end of my typical fanfic binging with the same realization. That I always do this when I'm forming characters in my brain, that I form them to fit a particular universe and flesh them out there, then move them into my own worlds and settings for the writing. That I can produce some pretty nifty stuff, when I can get the overwhelming angst-iness out of the way, when I can settle down and do the work.

The other half of my thoughts this morning is taken up by the sickening realization that there is fanfic written about everything and anything. Including the muppets. God help us all. I mean, nothing against it as such, but really. Really. I tend to read fanfic for the angst and drama and tragic thingies that release my own inner drama queen in a safe and quiet and above-all non-personally-re-enacted way. Muppets just don't play into that for me. I can honestly say that I've no wish at all to visualize Kermit and Piggy in a bondage scene.

I hope that last image does as much for whoever reads this as it does for me. Pass the brain bleach?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

don't ask
don't tell
it's been a long night

tomorrow will be better.

these things happen.
So much angst, so little time... today it feels like I'm walking through the shadowy places again, only the control I've got over the rest of me (the outside me, as opposed to the inside me that gets to write here) is so much better than it's ever been. I had to discuss things with a friend of mine, things that made the placating side want to hide and placate, and although the discussion went fairly well I still feel this sense of panic. I think that's where it's all coming from.

So how to deal with the angst in a productive way? Or at the least, a non-harmful way? The kids are in bed, the dishes are done, the house is put to bed for the night. And I'm reading angsty fanfic. Which makes it all so good....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

That greenish thread I was telling you about? Scrumptious. I'm still trying to figure out how to describe it accurately; a picture of it just doesn't capture the shimmer right. Bluish green. Shimmery. Laceweight- I'm using two strands to weave with, warp threads are sturdy ecru cotton that was left from the beige and red tape I just finished.

I just the answer would be to think back those pearlescent finish notebooks that were all the rage when I was in grade school. It's like that. A pearlescent shimmer over the face of the green. Lake is a good descriptor. That's what it was tagged at on ebay, but I don't know the make of the thread or anything else about it. Probably a good thing, because if I did I'd be sorely tempted to track down more of this and see how many other shades it comes in. And make lace in large quantities from it. Pretty, shimmery, colored lace like cobwebs of dragon wings.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My latest weaving, a 4yard and a bit strip of trim, is nearly finished and ready to go "live" on Etsy. Beige ground, red pattern worked on top, the pattern is fairly low-key and simple. I am working that part now; wasn't sure whether or not I'd get fancy with it, but now that the time is here the piece seems to be asking for the less-is-more.


I'm waiting for a shipment of threads to arrive so I can start another strip. The color is supposed to be a blue-greenish shade, and I will be working the pattern in white. Most likely that will be fancier.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thank you all for continuing to add to the Goldfish Cracker Funds. If you've enjoyed what you read take a moment to check out the items featured on the sidebars.

....And have a pleasant week ahead of you...
Blue eyes not listening
flyaway hair do you hear me
who do you see when you look towards me
is anybody there

one moment there the next I am not seen
she grasps five books and reads them all
brings to me and climbs in my lap
moves my hands to do what hers cannot do

then I am here
blue eyes lock and her joy explodes
laughter- willing- words spill over
in the maze of complex thought
go to the park, the bus, I want a popsicle
everything is right

clouds blow across the sun's face
everything is wrong
her body thrown side to side
blue eyes do not register the walls or furniture
only items to toss in her sudden storm
I hurl myself into the fray to collect her bruises
she does not see me
I don't know when she hears me
I haven't stopped talking since this storm began
some point she gulps air
tears slow, her flushed face wet
confused as she climbs into my arms
we rock and breathe together

five minutes later everything is right again
I laugh to hear her laughing
Every look is precious to me
I crave her acknowledgment
I cannot fear her storms

Friday, October 24, 2008

My daughter is holding a pumpkin half her size on her lap, and covering it with a blanket to keep it warm while singing to it. This is funny and disturbing at the same time. Also unbearably cute. And I can't find my camera!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hmmm. Last Friday started out normal. Low-key. Relaxed. Then all hell broke loose. In the space of about 12 hours, Robbie went from normal to very sick. Very very sick. He's still so small, and his poor lungs are still so fragile, that I took him up to urgent care. Several hours later we were home with an inhaler and breathing treatment schedules. The chest xray was clear, so they weren't terribly concerned, but when we got home the poor thing had a rough night. I nearly went back to the hospital with him, but sometime in the night his fever broke and he has been slowly recovering ever since.

It's a scary thing when your kids get sick. It's terrifying when you know that their immune system is compromised, that their lungs are especially susceptible to infection and severe damage at these sorts of things, that the mere sounds that they make can't always tell the difference between a simple cold and a ICU-worthy illness. Robbie's still a bit short of 12 pounds, despite his strength he is still so young and fragile and I worry.

My clearest memory of that night is holding him upright on my chest, skin to skin, his fever burning us both and his skin bright red all over. The gasping for breath that rattled his body, and the racking coughs. After the initial shock of onset, the thing settled. He's snoring a bit now, and otherwise seems as healthy as ever. Hard to believe.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I've been getting steadily addicted to the weaving sticks again. I put the rug project on hold for a few days to explore a slight more difficult form- handwoven tape. In the days before machines made ribbons and twill tapes easy and cheap to obtain, they were used as fastenings and decoration (along with half a dozen other uses). I'm making this one with beige cotton, using cross-stitch needles for my weaving sticks. The tape being created is about a half inch to three-quarters inch, tight and even, a smooth weft finish (the threads go across in the narrow way instead of the long way). It's cute and neat. I'm planning to put this one on etsy as well when it's finished, to join my virtual craft show. This tape isn't fancy, but it's useful and practical...

I was trying to get a decent picture of it this morning but it was hard. I don't think the light was playing well with my camera, and possibly it was reacting poorly to my busy busy day.
LASIK technology has changed a great deal since it was first offered as a solution for eyesight issues. It can be a royal pain to wear glasses. It can be worse when your eyesight is bad enough to require glasses all the time. Poor eyesight screws with your peripheral vision, which in turn can have serious consequences for those whose careers depend on good vision. Such an occupation is pilot. Pilots need good vision; military pilots need every advantage they can get in less than optimum conditions. My husband currently does admin work for a squadron that trains military pilots. More than simple pilot safety is riding on the ability to see; when the pilot is also responsible for operating sophisticated weaponry systems it becomes a matter of common sense. Among the stringent requirements for pilots is 20/20 vision. Lasik has become a wonderful tool to ensure this.

LASIK information is easy to find. The original procedure involved one laser to do the majority of work and handheld devices to do the cutting. Recent improvements have replaced the handheld devices with a second laser to improve accuracy and decrease the chances of surgeon error. As you can imagine, Department of Defense policy is pretty tough on approval of new medical procedures. They not only have a love of red tape, they want to make sure that the surgery they do on our servicemen are proven techniques with known success. It's better for everyone.

My husband wants to get this done someday. He's talked to a lot of people who have had this done, and despite a healthy cynicism when it comes to governmental procedures he feels that the benefits are far beyond any potential risk. Someday it will be in our budget and I look forward to being able to support him in this. As for me? I have a lot of risk factors involved and my eyes are already very bad- severely nearsighted with astigmatisms in both eyes. I don't think I would be a good candidate. Time will tell- there are such refinements every year in the procedures and in another five years I might become a good candidate whose life could be changed forever.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

My stickweaving is going very well, I hope to finish the first rug by the middle of next week. The best part of all? I can't decide. Either the weaving itself, or the old-time feel of doing a form of loomless weaving that can be tucked up in my hand, or the ability to modify the weave and form to fill multiple uses.

I guess I should say that I'm in love with the whole thing and leave it like that.

In other news I'm so proud of my daughter- she's finally accepting toilet training, and has embraced it with (metaphorical) open arms. The first instance was totally without fanfare. Waiting until everyone else in the house was thoroughly occupied with other things, she walked into the bathroom, assembled her training potty, and went. I was passing by as she finished and was pulling her pants back up. Since that, she has repeated the task many times with great joy. I'm beyond thrilled at this. We all are.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

My ancestors got to this country before it was a country. Depending on whether you count the official arrival date by descent through the Lenni-Lenapi, or by the colonists who arrived on William Penn's first voyage, it's been a while. I grew up a stone's throw from where my forebears first settled in Pennsylvania. It was history brought to life in a way that the historical recreations couldn't quite compare with. On one hand, I could go often to recreations. Men and women in reproduction clothing standing by cookfires, cast iron kettles I could have climbed in, soap and candle making and spinning wool and flax from the source... you can get a good feel for history if you do that enough. There's another sense to be found by walking by a graveyard with red fieldstones whose carving has been all but worn away by time. Roughly shaped they still stand to mark people who came here on the small wooden ships. People who were like us with hopes and dreams, whose sorrows were born as best they could with a dozen children and two or three in the ground before they were weaned.

Four hundred years in a place leaves something behind for the descendants, whether or not they can see it on a daily basis. When I walked in Ireland the summer after graduation, I saw that same sense of history in the people on the streets. When I walk in the town I currently call home, I don't see it as much. When I walk in the places that have historical monuments, I feel it a little. A hundred years old? Respectable. But where are the real histories? Where are the walls built of stones plowed up in the spring, laid back down to mark the yard in 1746? Where is the ancient grave? Where are the textiles that were laid aside in hope chests and forgotten, to emerge again and be treasured by generations that study the patterns and methods?

I'm writing this because of crafts. I do needlework, and I bake my own bread as much as I like, and every now and again I slip into a daydream as my fingers fly in the task. I feel close to generations of my maternal line. So many of my skills are handed down through the generations, so many of them taught from one woman to the next. My mother traced those lines through the centuries, and a number of things kept coming to light in anecdotes that make us marvel at how much family traits don't change. Our love of books? An ancestor that bartered chores to neighbors for candle ends, he'd stay up at night reading. There were writers, and readers, and historians, and a whole family of weavers. There were accomplished seamstresses and good cooks. There were stubborn stiff-necked anabaptists, martyred for their beliefs in Switzerland, expelled in the Palatine. There were respectable people. There was a member of the King's Lifeguard in Prussia, who had a religious experience when he saw the sinking of the Spanish Armada.

They were people. They were our people. A history, a heritage. Tonight I think about that a lot, don't know why exactly, maybe I'm reading too much history and seeing the resemblances in my children to the elder generation who have already gone to heaven. There is nurture and nature, and I wonder how much of these traits are due to which cause?

What is cause, what is effect?

Do I really need to know the difference when it comes to these things?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Today's mail brought a present for me. Weaving sticks. I had just enough set aside for them, and I felt I needed a little present after being so tight with the budget. It seems that no matter what we do we're always behind on something or other, and it's awfully old...

Part of my push on the Virtual Craft Show is that I'm trying to get some money together for Christmas. Part of it is that I'm trying to carve out a few moments for myself doing stuff I really really like but have no real place for/need in this house. My stick weaving is part of that. First project is destined for the Craft Show- it's a throw rug in cranberry red. I'd love some ideas as to what price to put on this; please leave a comment with your thoughts.
I went from a 36G/H to a 36D on the 19th of September. In about three weeks I feel different. Better, lighter, more sore in certain places when I stretch and move in certain ways. My clothes fit better. As we figured would be the case.

I can't begin to describe how much prettier I feel on a daily basis. This, in spite of the scarring that I'm told is going to be worse than most of these procedures, because of both the amount of tissue removed and my own personal skin characteristics in those areas. The doctor took about half of each breast away. The skin around the area is tighter. One side effect of this removal is that the breasts got lifted as they were reshaped. I have the perky breasts of a teenager. Nipples are several inches higher- instead of sitting well below the breast crease they now proudly sit at the appropriate level. The nerve endings of the aerola are rebonding with the nerve endings of their new position, causing a pins and needles sensation not unlike letdown. I'm applying a cream to my scars everyday to help with the scarring.

And yet... the secondary infection that we feared did not happen. I am healing at the rate I healed from the c-sections, and I am looking forward to the day that I can exercise and work up a sweat without hurting from my boob-bounce.

I have been doing a lot of crafting this week. Working on some stuff for the Virtual Craft Show. Christmas is coming up, remember, and we all have someone in our lives that from time to time needs a little gift. Thought doesn't have to be a big thing, and a handcrafted item both supports "local" artists and ensures a certain uniqueness. New listings include a wrap necklace (I wrap it three times for a nice length of necklace, and about 10 times on my wrist to make a bracelet that my kids both love to fiddle with). Nothing fancy, but it's a simple piece and serves more than one function.

If you're inclined to help support this site please browse our widget ads. There could be a few great deals to be found, and sometimes you find stuff that you didn't know could fit a need in your home.

Monday, October 06, 2008

When my daughter walked into the dentist's office the first thing her eyes landed on was a wall to wall fish tank. "Fishies!" she cried. Then came several minutes of shrieking, pointing, and using her words to point out the fishies in the tank. Pink fish. Green fish. Thin fish. Starfish. Blue car.

The blue car was a piece of fish furniture. More words than I've heard from her at one event in a while. Meaningful use of language to label objects, coupled with turning to me several times and smiling. More than smiling, she was laughing. Her face and body lit up with the joy. I forgot that I was sore, forgot that I was tired, forgot my own fears.

The first dentist visit ever. I'm still scared of the dentist; it's been years and I've been pain free from the teeth since the last extraction healed. I have no teeth left to hurt. So why am I scared? Because this is my daughter. My child. My thirty-years-younger identical twin, and she is still non-communicative for the most part despite the immense progress she's made this year. How do you get her to do what must be done at the doctor, when she is beyond the ability to hold her still? How to make the first dental checkup go well, so that she has no unpleasant experiences to associate with this?

I found a good doctor. I found a good clinic. The visit went well. My daughter stayed happy the whole night, although she went to bed Very tired and will sleep very well indeed tonight. I succeeded at this test.

Bring on the next test. I can handle it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

This morning my son's teacher was here on her home visit, and told me that I'm glowing. I have felt pretty ever since last week, on a regular basis, and it's showing. More confidence in my appearance, more confidence in myself, and I love it... It can't be all put down to surgery, but a good deal of it can be. Wonderful.

When you feel good on the inside it burns through to the outside. You take more pains with your appearance. You dress better, take pride in your figure, wear the colors and cosmetics that flatter you. It's a cascade upwards. I'm much more familiar with the cascade downwards, with depression and low days and the like. Nice to know that the reverse is equally true, that when I feel better inside the outside reflects it.

So what am I doing to celebrate this? That's the question. I love feeling like this. I love feeling pretty, feeling happy, love that people are noticing. How do I make this feeling last forever? More importantly, where was this self-confidence when I was young?

I had a little unexpected money come in this week. First thing I thought of was using it to fund the grocery shopping. What did I do? I bought a set of used teletubby tapes for my daughter. I bought a new pipe for my husband. Then I bought a set of weaving sticks for myself. I last used weaving sticks as a child, making a hanging planter. Since I've been bitten by the crafting bug again (and in time to do some stuff for my virtual craft show on etsy!) I can start doing that again. There are so many things that can be done with weaving. And knitting. And beading.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Argh. Can't sleep. Insomnia, which has never let me down in the years that I've been dealing with it, strikes again. I have overdone things a bit this week and my new chest is swollen just a tad, and it's a truly odd feeling. My own fault. I'll lay off things tomorrow.

It's hard to think of how often you use certain muscle groups before circumstances make you change habits. How many times do I take my daughter under the arms and sweep her up? Hugs, tickles, on and off the bus, on and off my lap, half a dozen times during pull-up changes? Once or twice just to bring a smile to her face. I was totally swept off my feet this week by her sudden willingness to talk. There were so many times that she used her words to label objects. She asked for more treats earlier today. She even said "please".

I'm never going to get tired of hearing her voice. Never get tired of having her hand me a book and take my other hand to lead me to the couch for a story. She climbs into my lap and snuggles close to read a book. She says the name of the book. I have to count each victory separately because it feels like such an overwhelming accomplishment.

Another post of random disjointed thoughts as I can't fall asleep even though my brain is wandering through a hazy dream-like world. My body on the other hand can't fall asleep. So let's jump on the Net, right? Let's let my fingers do some wandering to new sites and some old favorites that I haven't visited in a while.

Everybody, have a wonderful night and a beautiful tomorrow. If you are blessed with offspring, give them an extra hug.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It has been a while since I was forced to recognize the paradox that is my mind's workings. How is it possible to hold two completely different opinions on a subject? First I was going to write that I feel the same after the reduction as I did before. Then I have to add a "but" to that statement. But I feel indefinably different.

I've lost 5 cup sizes. I'm now a D cup instead of a G/H. That's a lot of letters to lose over a few hours. Ten days after I lost those sizes I feel prettier than I've feel in a while. I have the perky breasts of a teenager. Seems wrong, somehow, to know that I haven't looked this good since I was a freshman in high school, and even then I'm not sure I looked that good. It's true that self-confidence makes a person more attractive to others. When I was young I didn't feel that good about myself. It showed. Now I feel pretty. I know that I am, that my husband thinks I'm hot and that my children are thinking that I'm pretty to them. I look at myself in the mirror and I'm not cringing. Good things.

It's one of those things. It just is. So wonderful, so different, and I'm still the same person I was before. Except I'm not. There's an inner peace with myself that I'm still being surprised with every blessed day. I'm going to enjoy finding out more about that later.

Check out my virtual craft show if you've got a minute. I posted a rosary today; I had the beads laying around and thought that I'd string a few and put them out on the table. Look for new dishcloth patterns coming in the next day or two. I'm working on some crafts that would make great stocking stuffers. The holidays are coming quickly, and there's always one or two people that you have to find gifts for at the last minute. Surprise them with a handmade item! And handknit dishcloths and towels are perfect for office exchanges, being pretty and practical all at once for a bargain price.

Friday, September 26, 2008

used to wrap myself in a shroud of pain
soft wicked blanket
today I've bundled it up
it's out by the curb with the rest of the trash
drown my life now in smiles
blue eyes bright
sing my name in the morning light
blessed among women for the joy
motherhood a gift eagerly sought
earnestly held
future in my keeping
children teaching me as I teach them
wonder again that a thing so precious
lays a hand in mine
turns up two faces of laughter
greet the dawn with joy

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The post-op appointment went well. As I lay back on the table to have my surgical support garments removed and the dressings checked, I choose to count ceiling tiles. A number of years ago I was with a friend during one of her post-op checks. She had a lot of trouble healing from reduction surgery, and that colored my expectations and worries for myself this past week. My surgeon, though, was very pleased at how it turned out. I'm healing well. The drains were removed and the dressings changed, and I've got approval to shower again. Yay me! I still have to hold off on underarm deodorant for a while, and that's why I may not be feeling so fresh during the next few weeks.

I've yet to walk along a beach at sunset discussing freshness with my mother, and oddly enough I feel okay with that. Does anyone else remember those commercials? My mom would always turn to me when they came on the television and made rude comments. While I've never hesitated to talk about anything with her over the past nine years or so, including Freshness, it's not something that brings up the desire to go walking on a beach at sunset.

No, I don't know how the first paragraph led into the second. That's a product of a slightly deranged mind and a rerun of South Park. Sometimes you just need to watch shows like that at the end of a really long day, and this is one of those times. My kids are played with, fed, bathed, and tucked up all snug in their beds while I'm getting the house set for tomorrow morning. The only thing left on my to-do list for tomorrow is to lay my own clothes out ahead of time. It's easier, because I don't have to worry about much. Fortunately the dress code of the stay-at-home mom is a simple one, and the school bus driver is very forgiving if I don't have my hair combed when I walk Tiffany out to the bus in the morning. After that it's a world of giggles with the little boy, and he's pretty forgiving as well. As long as his mom's willing to play peekaboo with him in the sunbeam, he really doesn't care what I'm wearing or how combed my hair is.

Monday, September 22, 2008

reduction surgery. bilateral mammaplasty. so far, it's a success. I had the procedure friday and am still fairly drugged. could be worse.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's getting time to replace this keyboard. Now it's missing two keys. Possible to work around, but it's not easy. Especially when one of the keys is a letter key. Letter keys can be so important.

As always we're on a strict budget. It's starting to show some improvements though- grocery shopping is easier, meals have gotten healthier, and there is less clutter around the place as I'm steadily throwing out what needs to be thrown, and tidying up what needs to be tidied.

On the other hand there's not as much time to blog. There's time to clean, do laundry, do dishes, and cook. There's time to knit. There's time to parent. Not much time to sit on my butt and be online. Which is great for breaking the Internet addiction and not so great when I'm counting on those goldfish clicks to help balance the books at Christmas time.

Should I start a new resolution? To blog daily again, to do what needs to be done? To work things out? To improve my writing skills? One can only hope...

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's an interesting challenge to find new things to do with unfamiliar foods. Go to the produce section and pick something out at random. Bring it home and find out what to do with it. You might just discover a new recipe that tastes great! Today we're cooking with red cabbage and apples. I haven't decided yet what to serve with it. Any ideas?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm sitting at the table at the end of a really long day. I'm exhausted, my husband went to bed at 6PM, and the kids are now finally both tucked into bed. It's almost sunset. The weather outside is uncomfortably warm, but I expect it to cool by morning. My living room furniture has been required to reconfigure to meet the needs of two parents who don't want their children (read: daughter) to climb into the sideboard and play on the inside of the goldfish tank.

All in all this was a pretty standard day in paradise.

My uncle is in town. I'm beyond thrilled that he's here. I feel like I'm showing him just how good my life has become from such a stormy adolescence. It's wonderful. Tomorrow he's going to see the giant trees, and right now I'm able to sit with him in the living room while doing family-type stuff. He's the father I didn't have. It's a good thing.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I just wandered over to BillsIQ and took their financial heath quiz. It was actually a fairly good one, compared to a lot of the others I've seen. Instead of trying to push their products on you all the time, it asked the right questions in a wide variety of areas. And of course it's easier to answer the questions truthfully when you're alone... I don't know about you, but when I'm sitting across from someone else it's awfully tempting to skew my answers to match what they seem to want to hear.

In the summer wind
cold money evaporates
dreaming in the breeze

Debt consolidation is one recommended way to help get your monthly bills under control. It's easy to lose sight of how much you owe other people when the amounts are spread around. It's easier to get overwhelmed by ten different interest rates, ten different companies and policies... and when you start feeling overwhelmed the most likely reaction is to run and hide until the stressor goes away. It might be a perfectly logical response, but it won't provide any Debt help. Seek the best form of Debt relief by facing the whole picture and making a plan to deal with it. Pay off the high interest cards first. Consolidate so that you only have to make one payment, only have to deal with one company.

You can take back your financial freedom. It's never too late.


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We're getting ready to send Tiffany off to school on the bus this morning. Transport has been worked out and she came home on the bus last night. I know that a lot of parents have this worry about their kid on the first few solo bus-riding adventures. What if something goes wrong? What if they get lost? What happens when they get to school in the morning?

Thing is, by the time those kids go on the bus most of them can tell their name to someone who asks. Tiffany can, sometimes, if she wants to. It's by no means certain that she will. She's delightfully persistant. Worrying so at times. She fixates on her goal, and does what she needs to do to reach that goal. I just hope she uses her power for good.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I remember playing games with my mother a long time ago. She divided the day between me and her housework, a lot like I'm learning to do. When I woke up, most of the morning was mine. Her undivided attention for teaching me things, playing games, taking walks is one of the things that I treasured most. She made me feel like I was the most important thing in her world just then. I never doubted her love for me, or that my mother could fix anything at all that troubled me.

Sometimes she would bring out games from her own youth, games brought up from my grandmother's basement or down from the attic. Bingo was one. Dusty cards in the box, small wooden buttons with numbers, larger disks of deep blue to mark the spaces. A wonderful thing. A memory, of games and laughter, that lives deep inside my heart.

Disney Bingo seems like a cool way to make similar memories with my own kids. Certain computer games have been shown to help bridge the communication gaps my daughter experiences. Right now she's just starting to show an interest in Disney characters, and this game provides an interactive experience that might help her. The game is available at, or at a fairly good price.

Sponsored by Screenlife Games

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's the night before the first day of school. I'm not quite sure how it's going to feel when I get the bus worked out; Tiffany is supposed to be transported, but it fell through the cracks and didn't get sent over to the transportation office until last week, and so we're going to need a few days into the school year for it to work out. I know how it'll be in the morning, my little girl will start laughing when she sees us going to school. She'll try to twist away from my hand to join the big kids on the playground. When we get to the classroom she'll forget I ever existed for a while.

Three hours later I'll be back to pick her up. Tired, disheveled, so happy. Run all around and play some more.

My big girl. Another year closer to growing up and away from me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm back on an even track again, after a challenging week. It's Friday, it's payday, and this is when I pay the bills, balance the budget, and plan the grocery shopping for the next half-month. The sun is shining, the birds are singing in my backyard, and I'm thoroughly enjoying the hour or so of pure quiet while both kids are taking their rest and I have the rest of the house to myself for a bit.

Today has been great so far. Had a nice morning, our recess time went well, Tiffany had her usual blast running around the yard in her swimsuit and Little Blue Shoes trying to catch the sprinkler. We did more fingerpainting on the patio. I'm almost out of paint now, got to remember to look for more when I'm out. My bean plants are fully sprouted now. The green tops are leafy and starting to spill up over the sides of their boxes. I always forget how nice it looks, how green and vibrant. How alive. I wonder if it will stay that way, if I'll manage to grow a crop from this. I hope so. In our next home, I'd love to see a patio corner full of planter boxes and pots, all spilling over with fresh veggies. Beautiful.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Does every parent of a child diagnosed with an austic spectrum disorder lose their shit for a while during the period when this is evaluated, diagnosed, and treated??? Maybe that explains a few things. Maybe I'm more normal in outlook than not. Just know that I can't "pass" for normal average and stop trying? I'll concentrate on loving my kids. Loving my husband. Caring for everyone. If I can keep my own brain together, the rest of the family has to follow my lead in that.

Maybe I'll even grow eyes in the back of my head and be able to watch both children twenty-four hours a day.
I feel so defeated some evenings. I can't watch my daughter every second of the day. I can't take my eyes off her, or it seems that something happens that involves a lot of cleaning and disinfectant and an emergency bath. I can't give my other child the attention he deserves when I'm doing all of that. I can't split my body in half and be everything to both of them at the same time.

I've been accused of the worst kind of negligence by having Robbie after I knew what a challenge Tiffany was. I'm a bad mother who deserves to have her children taken away simply because my daughter has PDD and takes off her pants to shit on the floor and play in it when I put her to bed for the night. Even worse as a mother because I chose to have another child, because I had a micropreemie and didn't take good enough care of myself while pregnant. I'm damned no matter what I do, and my daily penance is scrubbing shit out of the carpet every night. Tonight it was twice. Twice, while my husband works late and my son has an upset tummy. After a day of running between the kids. Playing with them. Doing Robbie's therapy with him, reading to Tiffany, playing with them outside in the yard for a short while before the sun got too hot and the day got too dusty. We did craft projects. I fed them healthy food and got her to sit at her table for lunchtime. If I try hard enough, is it enough to convince the public watching on from the Internet that I love my kids enough to be allowed to mother them? Tiffany wanted to have water play this afternoon, and wants to do it herself, and pulled my teakettle off the stove. I heard it smash on the floor as the sides broke. I swear, it's not possible to keep my eyes glued to her twenty four hours a day. I get angry that I'm expected to in order to prove my fitness. I get furious that people blame me that she's not toilet-trained and that she will rarely if ever tell me what she wants or needs without a game of twenty questions and three minutes of trying to make eye contact.

Obviously I'm a rotten human being. My daughter plays in her shit. I can't stop her yet. It's not for not trying.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

About a week ago I planted some seeds. I just tossed them into two planter boxes- half a packet in each box. Cover with soil, water well, and walk away. I haven't had much time to go out and see them lately, I have only made sure to water the boxes on the scheduled watering days.

Today I went out and saw a mass of green shoots poking up from the earth. So wonderful. So amazing. I've never had much luck with plants; my main skill is at killing them either by over-watering or under-watering. It takes my mother to have a real green thumb, to keep houseplants alive and thriving. My daughter seems to be inheriting a knack for it from what I see in the yard every morning.

It is a truly wonderful thing to see when I look out there. It feels like spring, come again, in the middle of a hot and dusty summer.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Procrastination should be a four-letter word. Nothing wastes time better, and nothing is as sure to get my guilt feelings dancing around that the house is a mess, the kitchen's messy, nothing got accomplished today. As I heard on FlyLady recently, it's time to get up off your franny and get busy.

Which leads to the other extreme if I'm not careful. Obsessiveness. Perseveration. The inability to let anything go. I can do it, though, if I stick to baby steps and make myself stop at the end of a certain time limit instead of a task. The laundry doesn't have to be done all in one step, as long as it gets all done one piece at a time. If I just put one piece away every time I pass the basket, the whole pile is away before I realize it. I've been doing the chore without noticing! Which keeps me from complaining, which makes me feel happier inside myself, which leads to ten other happy feelings and puts a smile on my face at the end of the day instead of a weary feeling as I survey the mess and make excuses to myself about why it didn't get done today.

I still procrastinate, though. I still carry over undesirable tasks from one day to the next because I don't want to do them. Sometimes it helps to write out the steps for those tasks ahead of time, so that I can just get everything in place to make that call or write that letter in a sudden rush. Sometimes I tell myself that no task can get carried over for more than three days. If it gets carried over that long, the temptation to drop it from the list altogether becomes too great and I conveniently “forget” that it's there.

I'm fighting the procrastination habit. I'm winning in slow steps over my daily chores and my messy house is starting to show the signs of improvement day by day. I think it can only benefit my kids to grow up in a can-do atmosphere instead of the clutter and the guilt-shadow in their mother's attitude. When I look in the mirror, do I see the person I'm afraid to become, or the person I want to be? And how can I become the person I want to be in a way that it'll stick?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The best thing that I've found for me, personally, in organizing myself is the simple list. I start with a piece of paper, I write down what I need to do in simple terms, and I cross it off as it gets done. I make the tasks simple, one or two step things. Then I don't get overwhelmed. Once I start getting overwhelmed, I want to sit down and avoid the list altogether. Can't do that if you want to get it done.

I've really fallen away from this in the past year. During the past week, I've started making daily lists again. Of course, I make them up the night before. I'm mentally focused at that point. The kids are in bed, the kitchen is clean, the coffee pot is set for the morning when my husband wakes up. I'm awake and can write down what needs to be done. If I wait until the morning, I don't always get things going. I might not have slept well, have woken up cranky. The kids might have gotten up extra early and needed me to roll out of bed and run from the second my feet hit the floor. If that's the case, my list is instantly in front of me and I can work from that as I'm waking up.

During this whole past week I've been tired. Not sleeping well, a lot to do, many things that came along without any warning (a shredded tire comes to mind). Yet in the evening hours I don't feel frazzled. I feel in control of my life. Mommy's happier, Daddy is happier as a result, the kids are less likely to act up. Nobody's feeling stressed. It will be interesting to see if this feeling keeps up, if I can continue making my lists before I go to bed every night, if this new calmness carries over into other aspects of my life.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Last night the easter bunny came to visit. I had just put the babies to bed, when I looked out the patio door and saw the largest white bunny I'd ever seen sitting in the middle of the yard. Two long white ears, enormous body, pink twitchy nose. I called to the Boy and he came over. We stood staring at this animal for a few minutes.

“That's the oddest thing we've ever had in our yard,” he says. I agree.
“Must be a pet.”

The things that go through your mind at such a moment. What do you do? Who do you call? Animal control? Given the inability to ensure this animal stays in the yard, and that you can't bring it inside the house, do you put up some flyers? We went around knocking on doors. It didn't help. Found out that it could be our neighbors, but that they weren't home, and no one was sure just when they'd be back.

I put out some water and lettuce. The bunny ate lettuce right from my hand. Very hungry, it seemed, and very tame. We'd check on him from time to time, and though he wandered around here and there he always came back up to the back wall of the house to lay in the shade against the cooler concrete.

When the neighbors got home I went out to greet them. It was their bunny. He went home to his own bed. I dreamed of white rabbits and easter baskets last night. This morning it's another week, another blessing, another new day that will be filled with all sorts of good things.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I'm sitting in the dark. The sun is set, the fading light on the horizon is all purple, almost orangey purple down on the treetops. It looks so soft, like I could reach my hand up and stroke the sunset, and although I know the features on the houses across the street I can only see the silouette. Black, against the velvet.

I am the last one awake. This is usual. My children are snug in bed, my husband turned in an hour ago. I might be up for the next three hours. Insomnia is haunting me again, and even though every night I'm doing my breathing exercises and relaxation I can't fall asleep. Eventually the body and brain just seem to shut off, only to snap awake again at the slightest sound in the house. I've been sleeping with the white noise from our fan for too long now because I can hear around it to the sounds of our house. I just can't figure it out. When I wake up in the morniing I feel as though I've never gone to bed.

It's a cycle, of course, and I'm used to this one. It won't be so bad. I'm making my preparations for tomorrow tonight before I lay down- the kitchen cleaned, house picked up, eating surfaces swiped with disinfectant. Lunch has been made. Breakfast is poured out and in the fridge waiting for sunrise. It's peaceful here.

The velvet sky is dimming even further. Now it's just all blue-purple. Time to tuck myself in and wait for whatever lays in tomorrow for me. Good night.
What are your plans for this year's Alzheimer's Walk? Whether you're going to do something personal, such as learn more about the complications and concerns of those affected by this disease, or whether you're going to show your support publicly by participating in one of the walks near you, the important thing is to remember.
Taking part in an Alzheimer's Memory Walk is easy. They are held all over the country, are generally two to three miles long, and serve to both raise funds and awareness of Alzheimer's. Be a team captain and organize your friends to come out. Share your stories and some fun on beautiful mornings; get exercise and help someone else at the same time. As long as one person remembers, it will not be forgotten.

Did you know that Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in this country? It's a sobering reality, and if you haven't already been touched by the life of someone coping with it, chances are you will be. We raise money and awareness for so many causes, and some of the time it's easy to feel burned out by it. Who can care so deeply about everything? Much of the time people pick and choose things to get passionate about. We'll wear our ribbons on our bumpers and show our support for just about everything. How about getting out of the car and showing your support in a more tangible way? Besides which, it's a great exercise for your body so you can stay healthier and keep everything working in the best shape possible.

Sponsored by Alzheimer's Walk