Gratitude Monday: Vacation

Sunsets on Lake Michigan 300x225 Gratitude Monday:  VacationAh the bliss of a vacation:  no routine, no kitchen, no electronics beeping, talking, demanding.  Just the beach, the bike trail, and the campfire.  Ice cream every night.  These this fill me gratitude because:  a) I love the outdoors, b) I love that my family loves what I love, c) I am physically  and financially fit enough to enjoy all of this.

Now back to reality.  My gratitude list this week, in no particular order: Continue reading

Photo Friday: Sunsets

Sunset over water fills me with peace.

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The light calms my soul.

Children murmur.. The breeze whispers…Dinners beckons from outdoor grills..

Even pirate ships seem benign.

Dr. Sweet: Dentist Sculpture

Who dated George McGovern’s daughter, met Louis Armstrong, had a father who owned a radio station, is a detailed sculptor, and knows that if it weren’t for lips, the tongue would push the teeth out of the mouth? He lived in Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois; he had homes on farms, in small towns and big cities. He dabbled in politics and aspired to be an artist. Who is creating a bust of President Abraham Lincoln, capturing his character and his Illinoisan visage, in a labor of love?

Who has so many intelligent thoughts begging to be set free that they sometimes tumble over his tongue, and lodge momentarily between his teeth? It’s Marengo, Illinois’s long-time dentist, Dr. Jim Sweet.

I got a chance to meet this interesting fellow, and my-oh-my, Continue reading

Goals Progress Report: July

Ahh… July is my vacation month.  4th of July, Camping, BlogHer…  How will I get anything done?  Some months are meant to kick back and relax.

June got me going, though.  I did watch a lot of soccer.  I love soccer.  Maybe I deserve some rest.

My Progress on Game Plan 2014:

  1. Get my novel published:  I will get editors, a cover designer, and a publisher.  I will.
    Progress: My content editor,Lisa Romeo and I sat down and discussed her take on A Land of Milk and Honey.  She filled me with such confidence and encouragement.  She also filled me with fear and trepidation.  Yet, I managed to put fingers to keyboard and start the editing process.  Aww… It’s not as hard as I anticipated.  I can do it, I can.
    Lisa gave me some good advice about finding an agent and what demographics/genre my book falls into.  She encouraged me in that direction rather than the artisanal route.  She has confidence in me and my writing.  Yeah!
    I joined a Chicago Writers Association and have two writers conference on my radar.
    I’m going to BlogHer this year afterall.  Let the networking begin!  Can’t wait to meet old friends and make some new.
  2. Knit or crochet yarn stash into hats for charity: I have a lot of yarn stash.
    Progress:  Acht!  No knitting during May or June.  None, zilch, nada. I thought about those half-knitted sleeves, and looked at the yarn stash.  Can I call that progress.  No!
    Gardening is still taking a front seat alongside balancing the ecosystem of my water garden.  Wrestler #1 is getting married at my house in September.  I have many weeds to pull before the canopy goes up.
  3. Make enough money writing to pay property taxes:  Maybe I wasn’t clear enough in 2013.
    Progress:   Only 1 more newspaper articles for a local paper, but I got paid double this time.  Plus the Sweet gentleman I interviewed sent me a dozen rozes.  (That makes a total of 12 for the year.) The place where I volunteer asked me to re-design their website and (!) asked for a proposal.
  4. Expand my platform: a key to successful selling of a published book, I’m told.
    Progress:  Still growing at a rate of 10 or more followers each week on BlogHer, SheWrites, Instagram, Twitter, FB page; Google+, Pinterest.  My Klout score is up.   Miss E did help me with Snap-Chat.  So far just three snappy chatters.  I don’t quite get it, but it is fun.

  5. Experience Night atDSCN5543 300x224 Goals Progress Report:  July the Museum with Two More Grandkids.
    Progress: 
    Complete!  Yay!  Miss K and Mr. L.  Mr. L plans to be a paleontologist when he grows up.  Miss K has her heart set on fashion design.  The two kids were congenial enough, but they never really talked to each other.  Really interesting dynamics.
  6. Travel Route 66 with Loved-One:  I plan to get some sponsors and write about out trip.
    Progress:  This goal is post-poned until spring or fall of 2015.  Drat!  But on the happy side, Wrestler One and his Loved-One will be married in September in my back-yard.  What a wonderful goal replacement.
  7. Volunteer:  Last year I tried a women’s shelter.  Maybe this year, the food pantry.
    Progress:  Success with “1st Way Pregnancy.”  Volunteering is going so-so.    (This shelter mission is “To provide loving assistance, emotional and financial support for women and girls who find themselves in a crisis.”  The values of “1st Way Pregnancy” match mine, that is: empower women to make life-affirming choices by offering financial and emotional support.  Rather than shaming and coercing with rules and regulations.)
    I’m learning a lot about myself.  I really like to be in charge; or at least self-directed.  It’s humbling to relinquish control, especially when I believe I have improvements to offer.
  8. Read two book a month:  This goal doubles my 2013 rate.
    Progress:
    In June I read two very different books:
    9780316176484 Goals Progress Report:  JulyLife After Live:  A Novel by Kate Atkinson.  Woooo-Weee.  For me this was an amazing and depressing book.  The construct and imagination of the author is phenomenal.  But, poor Ursala keeps starting her life over again.  Or does she?  My sister-book-lover, Christa insists that something else entirely is going on.  She has yet to sell my on her version.  Still, it is intriguing.  (As an aside, this month I also watched a BBC mini-series based another Atkinson novel.  She has a way of weaving memory and current events together that is very like the way I remember real-life stories:  a bit here, a bit there, in no particular order.  I like that technique.

     Goals Progress Report:  JulyBristol boys Stomp:  The Night That Divided a Town by Doreen M. McGettigan.  This book is a memoir of the brutal murder of McGettigan’s younger brother.  Her short jig-jagged sentences convey the emotions of the events with razor precision.  The story high-lights the the variegation of victims, from McGettigan’s brother, his survivors, and the neighborhood.  Because I read her book, I have a new perspective on what it means to reclaim a neighborhood as “home” after brutality strikes.  I got a chance to sit down and talk to McGettigan about her life, the events surrounding the murder of her brother, and her writing process.  I plan to share some of that experience with you later this month.

    From past months:
    Adela Crandell:  A Land of Milk and Honey
    Eric LarsonIn the Garden of the Beast
    Beth Nonte Russell:  Forever Lily.
    Graham Greene:  Our Man in Havana.
    Michael Allan Scott:  Flight of the Tarantula Hawk – A Lance Underphal Mystery.
    Linda Lawrence Hunt:  Bold Spirit:  Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America.
    Rachel Thompson: Broken Pieces (interviewed)
    Guy Kawasaki: APE
    Hilary Grossman:  Dangled Caret (interviewed)
    Candice Millard:   Destiny of the Republic.

  9. Get new carpeting for the lower level:  Ugh!  I don’t even want to go down there, it looks so bad.
    Progress:  Not yet.  Last month, I vowed come hell or high water.  No Hell, No high water.  No carpet.
  10. Send St. Patrick’s Day photo cards to friends and family: Progress:   Complete.  I got  great feedback from my Welcome Spring card.  Several people thought they just received an invitation to something; they weren’t sure what.  They loved the pictures and the surprise out-of-the-blue greeting.  I think I’ll do this again next year.

Well, there you have it at the halfway point of the year.  I find that putting my progress out here for the world to see is a way of keeping me on track.  I loathe the idea of sharing my failures.  My hope is that a little self-pressure will keep me motivated.  Plus, putting my successes in writing, keeps my spirits up.

What about you?  How do you hold yourself accountable?  What motivates you?

 

 

Gratitude Monday: Memories and More

As usual, I’m linking up with Laurel and Alphabet Salad for a little gratitude sharing. Today my list is whimsical and serious. My heart and mind remember a person whose quiet influence threads through my childhood and remains strong through my adulthood. I will not miss Aunt Arlene. She will be a part of me always.

Appreciative people: This week I got a dozen roses from Dr. Sweet, a dentist/sculptor I interviewed for a newspaper feature story. He loved the story I did. He is such an interesting person. Soon, I will write something here about him.

Aunt Arlene: On Independence Day, Aunt Arlene passed away. I may always think of her as my quiet Aunt. The mother of Gary and Jeff, two obnoxiously boisterous cousins. At long last, Aunt Arlene was blessed with Beverly, a sweet little girl, who helped clean up messes, as set things straight, until she was actually big enough to really help. Or at least that’s the story Uncle Glenn told, back when we were all little. Aunt Arlene was a study in graceful beauty, dedicated to her family and mad in love with Uncle Glenn. I could tell by the way they looked at each other.

Amtrak & Metra: For almost the same price as gas and dinner, I am at Mom’s and ready to attend Aunt Arlene’s funeral. A senior rate, and priority boarding: Simple pleasures for a journey.

Fireworks: I love them. I marvel at the chemistry and physics hiding behind the kaboom and flare. How do they make a Smiley Face emerge from an explosion? It’s a marvel.

Hot Air Balloons: I missed the fesitval, but the pictures shared blew me away. There was a time, when I aspired to get a pilots lisence and my own baloon. The air is still and the basket is warm. On my one Christmas Gift balloon ride, I floated in near peaceful bliss, waving to ant-sized people below. Next year. Next year. There’s always next year.

Insulated Lunch Bags: I packed my dinner for the train ride. Wonderful. A turkey-cheese sandwich on brown bread, tomatoes, and grapes for desert. Oh yes, and a Snickers that Duckie tucked in as an act of love.

Willing Workers: Thanks to three grandchildren and a tag-along friend, I got a new flower bed dug. I planted the decorative grass and lily of the valley myself. Thank you Miss S, Misses E, and Mr. N. You worked super-hard in the hot sun.

Old Blankets: I pulled out blankets to sit on for the local fireworks display and bundled them into a reusable grocery bag for the long hike to the top of the hill. “That’s really old,” Beanie said, burying her face in the red wool plaid. “I remember this blanket lining the bottom of our red wagon.” I do, too. And I remember you (and your sibs) clinging to the sides of the wagon as we bumped along to the fireworks in days gone by.

New Work: This goes along with appreciation because someone recognized my value and asked for more. Yes, and then there’s the manuscript edits that I’m plugging away at. My book is shaping up better than ever.

The Silliness of Cats: Sasha is the playful girl, but her sister Misha, out did herself this week. Here she is trying to “hunt” my grandfather’s clock pedulum.

20140707 080034 28834865 Gratitude Monday:  Memories and More

Want some more gratitude? Check out these other lists by clicking on the link below:

You might want to start your own list. I love starting my week reminding myself about all the reasons I have to be thankful.

Photo Friday: 4th of July

IMG 1960 224x300 Photo Friday:  4th of JulyHappy 4th of July Everyone!

I’m a sucker for food, family and fireworks.

First a picnic of brats and ribs and potato salad.  Next we load up or blankets, M&Ms and diet Coke (I don’t know why, but these things are tradition.)

We arrive at 8PM and the crowd was already thick around the bandshell.  We take our usual spot on top of the hill and wait.  Twenty minutes of color explosion.

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Was it worth it?  Always.  What are your 4th of July traditions?

Two more local towns, two more firework displays. 

I think we have enough M&Ms and diet Coke to see us through.

Gratitude Monday: Summertime and Grandchilden

On Mondays I Link to Laurel and her Alphabet Salad to share gratitude.  Please be sure to click on over and see the gratitude she, and others, share.

 

 Gratitude Monday:  Summertime and Grandchilden

 gratutude 1 1024x768 Gratitude Monday:  Summertime and Grandchilden This weekend we celebrated Miss G’s eighth birthday.  She and her two brothers are the grandchildren that live the furthest from me.  It takes us about and hour-fifteen if traffic and construction don’t thwart us.  I am so grateful all fourteen of my grandchildren live so close by.  Besides a rollicking game of kickball around some outdoor pools, Miss G loved the cake I made her.  Three are coming over this morning to help me with yardwork.  I am truly blessed.

Here are just a few random things for which I give thanks this week.

  •   Gratitude Monday:  Summertime and GrandchildenFireworks:  I love 4th of July fireworks.  How many can I get to this year?  They start on Thursday in my town, and cycle through neighboring towns all weekend long.  Woot!Woot!
  • Fish:  My two koi (Zorro and Bleu) are thriving.  They help me keep the pond ecosystem in check, and I believe I finally outsmarted the Blue Heron.  YaHoo!
  • Muscles:  I have some.  Thanks to Body Pump at the local health club, an exercise partner, and building a retention wall in the backyard, I now look like a mini Incredible Hulk.  Okay, I can see some muscle definition in my shoulders and neck.  WeeHa!
  • gratutude 300x225 Gratitude Monday:  Summertime and GrandchildenBicycle:  I love riding my bike.  I feel like a kid again.  Especially now that my new bike is a cool shade of turquoise and has a seat and handle bars that let me kick my legs out and coast.  Wheeeeeeeee!
  • Friends:  Friends from church, friends in my neighborhood, friends from long ago, new friends, blogger friends, family friends, and blends of all of these.  You make my life full.  Ahhhh!
  •  Gratitude Monday:  Summertime and GrandchildenRain:  My surroundings are like a rainforest so far this summer.  Flowers and vegetables, shrubs and grass are all flourishing.  And no need to drag a hose around to water.  Mmmmm….
  • gratutude 2 300x225 Gratitude Monday:  Summertime and GrandchildenCats:  Oh Sasha and Misha, you crack me up.  They play a game of “fetch the Beanie Babies” every day, climb in my lap when I’m reading, and nest on my desk when I’m writing.  My-O-My.
  • Mom:  I am so lucky to talk to her every week.  She is so full of wisdom and fun.
  • Fitbit:  10,000 steps and 10 flights of stairs is my daily goal.  Fitbit gives me a reason to move.  PushIt!
  • Kim:  A gift of musicality, our church choir director.  This Sunday she’s back after her vacation.  She has the gift of making everyone sound better.  I don’t know how she does it, but she does.  WowWee-PowWee!

What’s on your gratitude list this week?

Photo Friday: Chicago, The City that Works

Comments I heard:

Ooooo!  I never saw it from this angle. before.

Is it new?

It looks like people from the neighborhood are here.

People are hardcore urban here.

Look, Look, Look.

People actually live and work here.

Let’s sit down and talk a while.

I love this city.

Getting High on Cannabis Knowledge

350px Sativa Getting High on Cannabis Knowledge
The top bud of a super silver haze plant. This strain in particular is a Sativa indica Stabilized hybrid consisting of Skunk, Northern Lights, and Haze stabilized in Switzerland by Mr. Nice Seed Bank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Born in the Flower Child generation, I missed out on the drug culture entirely.  I never even went to a kegger.  Well, I take that back, I did go to one when I was a senior in high school.

“Look!”  someone shouted.  “Adela’s here.”

I can’t believe its echoed out of the barn and across the field.  A bunch of my classmates swarmed at me, beckoning to me like a crowd of zombies carrying red solo cups.

I was so embarrassed that I left after fifteen minutes.  Was I really that straight-laced?  Was I really that much of a geek or nerd or whatever, that the crowd looked at me like Snow White just showed up at a triple X-rated movie?

Maybe.  Or maybe I’m just a little bit of a control freak.  I decided I’d get drunk when I turned 40.  I did.  With a bunch of people I trusted.  Okay, it’s not that easy to let go of control.  Plus, I like to remember what I did, even if the people around me have a very different memory.

I decided I’d smoke a joint when I turned 50.  I didn’t.  Mainly because Wrestler #2  was “shocked and appalled” by my behavior.   “It’s illegal,” he admonished me.   (I hate it when my words come back at me.)

Today many States legalized pot: twenty-two, plus Washington D.C.  Mainly for medicinal use, but two States legalized cannabis for recreational use, too.

Okay, now I’m geeking-out over cannabis facts.  And they’re coming at me from everywhere:  The radio stations, CNN, and my favorite podcast “Stuff You Should Know.” (At the end of this post, I have a bunch of links, so you can geek-out along with me if you are so inclined.)

According to Chuck and Josh (“Stuff You Should Know hosts,”) the word marijuana started to be used to describe cannabis sometime in the 1930s as a way to associate cannabis with Mexican immigrants.  (!)  There are two species or types of cannabis: Sativa which produces a creative, “brain high;” and Indica which produces a “couch-lock” mellow kind of high.

Most cannabis is a blend or hybrid of the Sativa and Indica types.  They have some crazy names out there like Northern Lights (a mostly Indica blend) and Charlotte’s Web, which is a Sativa type.

Cannabis has 109 cannibanoids or CBDs, 33 cancer causing chemicals, and TCH, which is a psychotropic chemical.  Although cannabis can cause cancer, it can also kill cancer cells, most notable liver cancer and breast cancer cells.

body systems thumb1 300x255 Getting High on Cannabis Knowledge
Other human body systems

Scientists discovered a new biological system called the endocannibanoid system, due to some of the cannabis research done.  To put it simply, this system works with our other biological systems to return the body to  homeostatis.  It’s the CBDs that seem to regulate electrical and chemical activity in the nervous system. (Turns out almost all animals, even sea squirts and nematodes, have an endocannibanoid system. Even some plants have a endocannibanoid system.)

The CNN’s chief medical reporter, Dr. Sanjay Gupta reversed his negative opinion on the medical use of marijuana.  He created a docomentary on Charlotte’s Web, a strain of cannabis developed by the six Staley Brothers.  Charlotte’s Web helps six-year old Charlotte Figi in her struggle against Dravet Syndrome.  This form of epilepsy starts around three months of age with increasing frequency of seizures, and usually results in death.  Thanks to Charlotte’s Web, Figi went from 300 seizures to 3 seizures a week.

The strain of cannabis that the Staley Brothers developed has a low level of THC.  According to one source, you’d have to smoke a bale of Charlotte’s Web to get high.  But smoking is not the only way to get a dose of cannabis.  You’ve probably heard about pot brownies.  Other routes of administration are tinctures, oils, coffees, teas, and even strips similar to popular breath strips.

This CNN video is long, but full of information.  Click to watch:

0 Getting High on Cannabis Knowledge

Leafly.com has a ton of information about the cannabis strains available, along with user reviews.  For example, the medicinal uses for Charlotte’s Web are Migraines, ADA/ADHD, epilepsy, and anxiety; Northern Lights is for anxiety, migraines, PTSD, bi-polar disorder, and ADA/ADHD.  Most of the reviews I read addressed the “high” or degree of “mellow” achieved, rather than the medical effectiveness.

So am I ready for a toke?  No.  The control freak in me kicked in for two reasons.  If the endocannibanoid system is so important for my ying/yang balance and homeostasis, I don’t want to mess with it.  Plus, the same system that get things back in balance is responsible for a bit of short-term memory loss.  I like to remember what I did when I have all that fun.  It can take up to 20 days for cannabis to clear my system.  That’s too long for me to relinquish control.  Besides, my inner geeky-nerd is feeling pretty high on all this new-found knowledge.

Okay, here are a few resources if you want more information:

About the endocannibanoid system:

Chuck and Josh How Marijuana Works (“Stuff You Should Know” is a great podcast.  I just learned how soccer works and impressed Loved One with my new-found knowledge. The episode on octopuses or octopi – both are correct, and the origin of comic books, kept grand kids entertained on a five hour car ride.)

About Dravet Syndrome:

 

 

 

Gratitude Monday: Twinning It

Starting the work-week out with gratitude is the best way to start.  I continue to be grateful for Laurel for introducing me to Gratitude Monday.

IMG 4234 Gratitude Monday:  Twinning It

Late last week my brother, Frank gifted me with a visit.  He brought along five of his nine sons, one set of 11-year old identical twins, Robert and Wesley.  They got to me my 7-year old identical, mirror image twin grandsons, Robert and Ryan.  What a gas!  I’m telling you, Frank’s five boys and Beanie’s four boys, and Miss K, right in the middle, somehow managing to get to the center of attention, which is her fair due (according to her internal compass.)

Here’s what else fills me with twin-type gratitude this week (in no particular order):

  • Public transportation:  I took the train into Chicago twice this month.  First with Frank and the boys, then again  to meet a my best-blogger girlfriend, Kim.  IMG 4249 Gratitude Monday:  Twinning It
    IMG 4256 Gratitude Monday:  Twinning It

 

  • Weather:  Thunderstorms and Heatwaves, I love you.  I am so, so happy it is summer.
  • Weddings and Showers:  One nephew married, and one wedding shower in the planning stages.  Two more weddings this summer, and two wedding showers  to attend.  (Plus, a single baby shower, unrelated to any of the weddings.)

    IMG 4216 Gratitude Monday:  Twinning It
    Through the eyes of his grandmothers

 

  • Landscaping bricks and muscles:  I finished my retaining wall this weekend thanks to both.  Each brick weighed 17 pounds, and a placed them all myself.  Take that BodyPump work-out.  (Or should I say, thank-you, BodyPump work-out?)
  • Perennials and Waterlilies:  The yard and water garden are a pallet of color and fragrance.  My favorite time of the year.
    DSC03468 Gratitude Monday:  Twinning It

    bench Gratitude Monday:  Twinning It
    Summer

What fills you with gratitude this week?

Hop on over to Alphabet Salad and check out a few more lists.  Maybe you’ll like to join in the fun.

 Gratitude Monday:  Twinning It

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