Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Today Is A Day To Vote

Today is voting primary day here in the Frozen Northlands. I wish I could claim this would end the non-stop political advertisements and phone calls, but I know better. This is merely the precursor to thousands of ads and appearance tweaks before the actual election in November. Then we may have six months of relative silence before it all begins again. Do any of our elected officials really care about anything except getting re-elected? 

It's important to vote, even if it is in a primary election. Voting
is a privilege, not a right. 

Nonetheless, I'll drop by the polling station after breakfast, before I head to the shop for the day. It's a bit of back-and-forth, but I doubt there will be major crowds of any kind and it won't take long to cast my ballot. Will my vote make a difference? At this stage of the game, probably not, although I expect our actual November election will be rather tight in some of the races. 

Sometimes it seems that the candidate with the deepest
pockets or the loudest voice is the victor. Not
necessarily the best endorsement. 

I was raised by immigrants from World War II - Jews who were able to (barely) escape the Nazi war machine. Having a voice through the election process is almost sacred, or at least that's what I was taught. Politically, my parents were liberals and I was raised to reflect their ideals. I do, almost all of the time. I voted Libertarian once, and Independent another time, and even voted Republican once, but most of the time I'm a staunch Democrat. But I vote the person, not the party, and sometimes the person is on the other side of the fence. I vote my conscience. 

I wish that we actually had a system of ranked
voting. Ranked voting pulls things away from
party lines and says the person with the most
votes goes against the person with the second
highest total. Period. It's so simple. 

This is a primary election, though. This will toss some of the chaff into the air so that the November election will be a bit cleaner and have more positional clarity. Today's election will merely narrow the field. That's necessary, though. For example, right now there are three different candidates for my little suburb's mayorial position. After today's vote there will be two candidates remaining. Then the real fight begins. 

The major and minor political parties have permanent booths at the
State Fair (here's the DFL booth from a few years ago). Individual
candidates also, often have booths with scheduled "Meet the
Candidate" times. Here, Tim Walz is running for Congress. This
year he's running for Governor of the state. 

The fun part of election season are the various meet-and-greets that take place at the State Fair in a couple of weeks. All of the Statewide and the major City candidates will have booths at the Fair and will make personal appearances. If you have a specific question for a candidate, the Fair is a great place to make your query. 

And, I'm off. Adding voting into my schedule today means a very busy early morning for me. I'd probably better get my act together and head out to the pool. Have an excellent Tuesday, and if you have an election in your area today, go vote! 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Projects - FrankenSmaug and Seasons - Color and Desperation

So it was a busy week last week - busy as in making, repairing and re-doing things. The end products were good, everyone was happy with their repairs and the money gained went into my "State Fair and Renaissance Festival with Sharon" fund. That time is quickly approaching and we go through money like water for the four-and-a-half days that she visits. I save all year for it and it's worth every penny. 

"FrankenSmaug" is my laptop. The initial repair resulted
in the two screws barely seen on the left. The newest
repairs have resulted in the two right-hand screws, the
binder clip on the lower right, and the copper strip at the
top right. *Sigh* - the things I do to keep my laptop

I'll start with my computer - FrankenSmaug. My Toshiba is feeling it's age a bit, but it's still schlepped back and forth from home to the store and back every day. It weighs a ton, but it works. The weakness with Toshiba laptops (and Lenovo too, if the internet is to be believed) are the hinges attaching the screen to the keyboard. Some months ago I changed out the left-hand hinge. I should have replaced the right-hand one at the same time because here I was, six months or so later, with the need to tear the computer apart once more. 

It's nerve-wracking to tear a computer apart. I'm not trained, just jumping into the deep end because I can't afford the $300+ (and the time away without the laptop computer). So I had the second hinge available (they are sold as a set) as well as the screws, and I had done it once, so I had the basic knowledge of how to repeat the process. The computer wasn't happy about it, though. The plastic hinge cover in the black section was half-broken with no way to attach it back, and the actual lid wasn't able to be pushed back into place quite enough. 

Thus the fixes - the screws, of course, because they attach the new hinge inside the lid to the keyboard section. The binder clip is keeping that last bit of gap that the screen now has, firmly in place, and the copper hinge cover that I fashioned to replace the broken plastic one is actually working quite well (and it's a fashion statement - LOL). Poor FrankenSmaug. It's been an eventful life, living with me. Still, he turns on just fine, works well, and now is as unique as Smaug himself was - the last living dragon in Middle Earth. 

"Seasons" was a chance for me to play
with color. I've been beading these
carrier beads for a few months now, and
they really needed to be put into a
more permanent form instead of banging
around in a plastic baggie. 

The other thing I was working on last week was my State Fair entry - "Seasons". It's a beadwork necklace that I designed to play with color. I worked the colors through a circle, each one featuring one old and one new color: AB, BC, CD, DE, etc until the last one which returned to A - JA. Progressing like this produces a circular movement of color and I designed two different patterns to showcase it. With wooden filler beads and touches of gold filled beads and chain, it turned into a rather fun project. I actually got it to the State Fair on time. I doubt it will win any awards, but that really wasn't my goal. I just had fun and wanted to share some ideas with other. 

So, I'm tight on time and calling this done here before running off to the pool. It's going to be a crazy-busy week, so I'd best get moving on it. Have a wonderful Monday and I'll be back tomorrow. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

My Last Sunday "Off" For A While

It's hard to believe that it's Saturday already, although for most of my friends and readers, it's just another weekend. For me, today is just one more day of work before I have a day off to share with DH. I think we've got quite a lot planned for Sunday with at least one trip to the compost lot with brush that DH has been stacking up. But he also said he worked hard to keep our Sunday labor less intense than it has been over the past few weeks. If that's the case, I'm quite grateful. 

The front gates of Renaissance Festival aren't in pristine
condition any more, but we'll be moving to a new
location within another two--three years. I'm not
exactly sure when the move will take place, but
know that land has finally been purchased. 

Next weekend is opening weekend for Renaissance Festival so we'll be out there, wandering the grounds and seeing what's new. I doubt we'll go every weekend as we have in past years, there's still a lot that needs to get completed in the backyard this year. Still, we have season tickets for Ren Fest, so when we decide we want to go, it's no problem to toss the parasol into the car and head on out. 

There's nothing like the Minnesota State Fair. I have to purchase
my advanced admission tickets and Blue Book coupon books
on Wednesday. Guess I'd better start getting a firm count on
how many tickets I'm going to need this year. 

Tomorrow I also need to drop my entry off at the State Fair. I've been rather closed-mouthed about the fact that I was putting a beaded piece into the Fair because so many of my customers also enter beading and they seem to be intimidated that I would be putting in a piece also. I very much doubt that I'll win any ribbons or awards - it's nothing really special, just something that I had fun making and thought "What the heck". 

But it's been years since I last entered anything. In fact, it's been years since I picked up a needle and beads to make something. I use thread and needles all the time for repairs and restrings for customers, but I haven't actually made something beaded for myself for more than five years. It was refreshing to return to my creative roots and deal with small pieces of color at the end of my needle. 

The Fair judges thousands of entries in hundreds of
categories each year. County fair winners are automatically
invited to exhibit at the State Fair, but the competition is
stiff, especially in popular categories such as quilting and
baked goods. 

Check-in procedures for the State Fair have changed a lot since the last time I entered. Everything is pre-checked in through the website and no walk-up entries are allowed. I still remember how excited I was when I entered for the first time - joining a long line of people and dropping off a beaded cabochon necklace. I'm pretty sure I won a ribbon for that one. It's one of the cluster of blue, red and white ribbons pinned to my wall in the computer room. I've had pieces I thought should have won an award that didn't, and others which were awarded a ribbon when I thought they probably wouldn't. This year I'm not expecting any ribbon but I'm giving myself a pat on the back for finally entering another item into the exhibit. 

So it will be a busy Sunday and next week will be a busy one too, but it's all good. I enjoy being busy because otherwise time is too boring and I'm burying my head in an ebook instead of eagerly examining the world around me. Have a great weekend and I'll be back on Monday. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Antibiotics - A (Very) Short History

The new meds are working and I'm breathing a sigh of relief. I'm not out of the woods yet - I'll stick to the treatment course my new dermatologist prescribed - but I haven't had things looking this good or this pain-free for months. Antibiotics are a total miracle. 

Alexander Fleming won the Nobel Prize for his work
in the discovery of penicillan. 

Today's world tends to take antibiotics for granted, but really, they are a relatively recent discovery. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillan in 1928, but it really didn't get widely used until the late 1930's and World War II, where it saved thousands of lives. 

Antibiotics come in all different looks, types and dosages. 

The Golden Age of antibiotic development was 1940-1962 where various classes of antibiotics gave rise to more specific drugs. These classes, penicillans, beta-lactams and cephalosporins featured a variety of medications under their umbrellas. 

Antibiotic drug resistant bacteria is becoming a
serious problem and knocking the effectiveness
of antibiotics down. Fortunately, I seem to have
a good response to the antibiotics I was prescribed. 

Unfortunately, a patient can develop resistance to antibiotics, and they can be overprescribed which also can result in disease resistance. This has created a new grouping of ailments and infections that are antibiotic resistant and people are dying from the cure. Also, antibiotics work against bacterial infection, not viral, so all sorts of health issues can't be resolved by the administration of a course of antibiotics. 

I'm amazed at how quickly an antibiotic can show results
when they are used properly and against bacteria that
they can attach successfully. I don't think I've felt
this good for months, even though I still have some
major healing to do. 

I'm well aware of how important an antibiotic can be. I'll be taking my meds for the full ten days and using the various ointments and creams for the time prescribed because I really would like to keep myself in good shape for a while. I know my health can go up and down, but this time it was worse than it had been for many years. Since 48 hours has made such a dramatic change, the treatments are doing the trick. Now to keep things going smoothly. 

Enjoy your Friday. I'm totally stoked for the end of the week. Today the outdoor pool will be crowded, so I'll use the indoor pool, but tomorrow I'll be back outdoors again. So much fun, and a good workout too! I'll be back tomorrow. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

New Doctor, New Meds - a New Regime (For a While)

I got really lucky yesterday. In fact, it was a pretty good day all-around. On my way back home from opening the shop in the early morning, I stopped by the clinic to try and schedule an appointment with any doctor in the dermatology department. Of course I had no idea with whom, since everyone working in that department had been fired and replaced with new physicians earlier this year. It turned out there was a 9:30 am appointment open and I grabbed it. The doctor, as it happened, was even running ahead of schedule, so I was actually out of there by 9:30 am, prescriptions and treatment regime in hand. After a quick stop at the grocery store, I was able to start my day. 

Yesterday was a race to get things accomplished, and I
survived the day very well, despite having to make
a necessary schedule change to see the doctor
and pick up prescriptions. 

I managed to get four different jewelry repairs finished yesterday, so I'll have a lot of happy customers who will be contacted and/or emailed today. That leaves me with making a clasp for my State Fair entry, and I'll be totally caught up. I am scheduled to drop my entry off at the Fair on Sunday morning, so I guess I'd better get that clasp made. I've been a little hesitant about jumping into it because I'm using gold-filled wire, but it really isn't super expensive, just a bit above my usual sterling silver levels. 

I don't usually have much to do with prescriptions. Except
for my skin ointments, I don't have any. Now I  suddenly
have new ointments and creams as well as a pill to
take twice a day WITH FOOD. It's a new learning
curve. At least it won't be for long, if the 
meds actually do their job. 

So I'm now armed with lots of prescriptions - creams and ointments and antibiotic pills for a short while to get this flare back under control. One thing that made me feel really good is that I was doing everything right. I was using the right meds in the right amounts, I was walking that line between developing a tolerance for a medication vs using it too sparingly. It's a tightrope walk when dealing with some medications, and I've been walking it very well. 

I've been walking the tightrope of my medication - not too much,
not too little - for years now. This summer I hit a roadblock -
nothing was really working. It was time for a boost to my
immune system. 

What brought on this latest flare and why has it stayed so long? I've been fighting this since early Spring, but it's just been getting worse and worse. In my life, stress is a big kicker, and this year and next, stress will be in high gear. I'm just hoping that the new meds will get things under control once more which will push one stress point out of my current landscape. I'll be really happy if I remember the new medication regime correctly for a few days. It's a new rocking horse and I'm trying to ride it to my best ability. 

I remember riding a rocking horse when I was
a kid. I was so bummed when I grew too large
for the small, spring-suspended horse. 

Here's hoping you have a healthy and happy day. Enjoy your Thursday, I'm off to the pool. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Crone? Me? Probably So...

I really wanted to drop by the clinic and see if I could get a quick consult with my dermatologist, but today's schedule is already so crowded that I think that's not going to work out. Maybe I'll drop by and make a quick appointment. I'm not exactly sure who with, anymore. A few months ago, an incorrect practice by one of their clinicians caused the wholesale termination of almost everyone in the department, including the head - the doctor I had been seeing for more than 15 years. 

My dermatology department was fired from top
to bottom after one person was discovered to have
been using poor procedures. I'm quite sure my own
physician wasn't this idiot, but she was a victim
of the fallout. 

It's really frustrating to see a new physician or caregiver. It's not that they are bad or incompetent or that they won't have great ideas and new things to try. It's that they aren't up to speed with my specific case and the history behind it. I'm not a great believer in re-inventing the wheel. 

I've always had problem skin, since I was a small
child. I'm allergic to everything I come into
contact with, and that's only gotten worse as
I've grown older. 

I remember, in my old biology and human physiology classes, we were taught that the skin is the largest human organ. I doubt that many of us think about that, but I think about it almost every day because my skin really sucks! Since the time I was a small child, I've had skin that reacts negatively to different fabrics, scents, textures and climates. That life on a tropical island sounds lovely, but my skin would make me move back to a dryer climate within a few weeks. 

Living on a tropical island - a dream in the back of the minds
of many. Not me. That much humidity coupled with the
the salt water of the ocean and the heat would be deadly. 

Unfortunately, the Frozen Northlands are NOT a dry climate. In the summer, we have high humidity because we have a LOT of lakes - more than 10,000 of them in the state. In the winter, those lakes freeze and our humidity drops down ... WAY down. In the winter, I have to deal with the cold, and the cold moisture of wet gloves. But the summer is a bad season for me and my hands are hurting this year. The very strong medications that have always worked for me in the past, don't seem to be working very well for me right now. I'm sure that the chlorine of my daily swim also isn't helping, but I'm NOT giving up my exercise. The rest of my body wouldn't appreciate it. 

I think I'd make a pretty good crone. LOL

As I've grown up, I've often thought that in earlier centuries, I quite probably would have died young, and in some serious pain, because of an infection that came through my hands. All it would take would be a single cut of a contaminated blade and I'd have been toast. Of course, with my luck I would have survived with gnarled hands and white hair, been accused of being a witch (probably not too far off the mark), and slain by superstitious neighbors. "Le sigh. Ces't le vie." 

Enjoy your Wednesday. I brought repairs home from the shop. I'm running behind schedule. I currently have silk stretching over my bathroom door, and will dive into an intense day of repairs as soon as I am finished with my morning errands. It's going to be a VERY busy day. The plan is to be back tomorrow, so have a great day! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Old Friends and Old History - The Late 1960's/Early 1970's

When I think back on the summers of my youth, they are painted in a hazy glow of shimmering heat, running footsteps through the park across the street from my house, and the stupidity of wearing a sweater inside my house because my Mom just HAD to have air conditioning in her home - something that was very "oooh-lah-lah" and "hoity-toity" for individual homes at that time. I suspect my general dislike of air conditioning dates from that time - the sheer ludicrous image of being cold and wearing a sweater when it was sweltering on the other side of the doorway. 

A-line skirts were the fashion rage in 1968-69. This
vintage A-line isn't too bad, it's rather typical. 

My next door neighbor, Laurie, was my best friend and we did everything together. We bounced  between her house and mine, but hers was more comfortable - more lived in. We would slap records onto the stereo in her house and sing and dance, thinking about futures as stars on stage and screen. It was my first introduction to a lot of older music including the swing music from the 1940's - that "Big Band" sound, that jazz. That's when I first heard Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller. So good. 

I fell in love with Glen Miller and his band while the world
was diving into psychedelic music on one hand and
Bobby Sherman on the other. Crazy times. 

This was in the 1960's - yes ... way back in prehistory for some of my on-line friends. Laurie and I were going to form a band called "Tyme", she would wear neon pink (because it was her house, she got to choose the color first) and I would wear the darker neon green. The fact that those colors are popular once again, along with some of the fabric designs I first saw in my early teen years, is a bit frightening. OMG - the wheel has come around again - LOL. 

Those bright neon colors of the late 60's are
ubiquitous now. Every person working construction
has a neon yellow safety vest. 

Laurie and I held sleep-overs. We would read aloud to each other while sitting in a chaise on her backyard porch. We would watch her rather disgusting basset hound named "Napoleon" wander through the backyard, sniffing at everything. I loved dogs, but Napoleon really was a disgusting specimen - probably led to my general dislike of that breed throughout the rest of my life. 

Napoleon wasn't as good looking as this
specimen of Basset hound, and I still am
not fond of the breed. 

There were other kids - I vaguely remember an older brother, although I can't even remember his name. We had friends down the block - Robyn specifically was a good friend, Carol and Carol G a bit less close, but still there. We were gooey-eyed about the really cute dude just over the hill in the next group of roads who drove a black hearse with pop-art flowers stuck all over it. He was 'a lot' older than we were, but that's relative. He was in high school, we were in middle school. Age differences seem so much larger when you're a kid. 

I really wanted to show a photo of my old house, but
can't seem to get a copy of it. Want to see for
yourself? The address is 6720 East Mexico Ave,
Denver, Colorado. Apparently the house is now
worth more than $650,000. My mother would
be turning over in her grave. 

I have no idea what brought Laurie to mind this morning. Like most friends from my youth, she appeared in my life, colored it deeply while she was there, but then we moved away to a different house and our friendship didn't survive the move. School friendships rarely do. But then there's my BFF Sharon - a friendship made just a few years after my neon Big Band era friendship with Laurie. Sharon and I are still close - still friends after almost 50 years. It can happen - summer friendships can last after all. 

Enjoy your summer Tuesday because I know I will. I'll be swimming in an hour, and then I'll head to breakfast and to work. I'll do my thing - pay bills, do some pending jewelry repairs, and make a clasp for the item I'm submitting to the Minnesota State Fair. Then I'll be home with my absolutely BEST friend - my hubby. Life is good!