Thursday, February 20, 2020

After Almost a Year, I'm Almost Back to Normal

Tonight is Project Runway, and if things run the way they have been, I'll be posting the photos and results on Saturday. But I'll be watching and making notes tonight. We're down to six designers now, so it's much more cutthroat. 

Yesterday's "day off" was productive, but I didn't get any beading done. I did, however, spend a lot of time thinking about the next step for my Owl Project and I've pretty much figured out the direction I need to take this for the wrap-up. There's still a lot to do on it, but I was at a point in the project where a serious shift in design had to be added, and I wasn't sure how I wanted to approach that. I think I've figured it out now, so I'll try to begin implementing this on Sunday. 

It's time to add some cascading fringe ala Givenchy's
offset fringe on this slip dress. Of course, I'll be doing
it in beads, and the appearance will be quite
different, but the concept will be similar. 

My visit to my Physical Therapist yesterday morning went very well. I went in with a printout of the exercises I've been doing and told Joseph that I needed these consolidated. the schedule I had was based on five days of gym work, but I'm now able to swim two days a week, so my gym days have been cut back from five to three. We went through each exercise and tossed ones that were duplicated in other ways, fine tuning things dramatically. He thinks I'll be able to go through the exercises in twenty minutes now, I think it will take me longer, but either way, I think it was the thing to do. 

When I first started seeing Joseph for my shoulder injury, I
couldn't lift my arm much higher than the 59 degree mark.
Now I'm closer to 100 degrees, and we're pushing for the
full 110 degrees that swimmers usually need. 

He checked my range of motion and mobility and I'm almost back to where I need to be on my shoulder. Rotator cuff injuries are so common for swimmers that it's often nicknamed the "Swimmer's Shoulder". I've recovered almost full rotation, only ten degrees yet to achieve. He said that would be fine for most people, but those in sports that require wide, full swings like swimming and tennis need that extra flexibility. Makes sense to me. 

I don't enjoy having a very messy desk. It does tend to get that way quickly
because I'm dealing with so many things on a daily basis. But I'm
trying to keep it under control. Time for a quick clean again to tame it a bit. 

So, as I wrap this up and begin to get into an exercise mind set, I'm looking at my desk and realizing I need to clean it up once again. It's actually still in pretty good condition from the "major" clean-up I did a few weeks ago, but it's a flat surface and things accumulate. Time to dig back down to a true desktop once again - LOL. Have a wonderful Thursday and I'll be back tomorrow. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A New Toy aka A New Piece of Electronics to Play With

It's Wednesday, my "day off" and my first load of laundry is already working through the wash cycle. I start my day off with a bang - meeting with my Physical Therapist for what may be my final time, at least until I manage to screw something else up with my body. I'm going to hope that's a long time in the future. I'm going to make Joseph work hard today, though. I need him to go through the exercises I've accumulated and they need to be fine-tuned and condensed so that I can actually manage them within my alloted time span at the gym on the three days a week I'm working the floor. I plan on being in the pool for the other two days. 

I'm not fond of running, in fact, with my osteoporosis, I'm only supposed
to do a fast walk, no serious impact stuff like running would be. So I
walk really fast around the track, but that's BORING. I have my tempo
tracker to keep me on step, and I listen to books, but it's still really boring
to get my two miles on the track into my schedule. 

I got a new exercise/heart monitor delivered yesterday. The one I've been wearing for the past few months was great for non-water exercises, and it was water tolerant, so no problems with the shower or even if I forgot to take it off when I started my swim. However, it didn't track my swimming, and I needed one that would do that. So I did what I usually do - started researching on-line. 

I wanted an exercise band that would also work for my swimming. After
reading a lot of reviews, I decided on the Honor Band 5. It's
affordable and after I get used to how to put it into various modes,
I think it will be a good choice. If not, I'll return it. I'm giving
myself two weeks to get used to it before making up my mind. 

The Honor Band 5 tracks a lot more sports types. The most important thing I purchased it for, however, was the fact that it will track my swimming laps in freestyle, breast stroke, back stroke and butterfly (although I don't swim the fly). Right now, in the pool, I'm a lot slower and I'm not managing more than a single lap in any single stroke before switching to a different stroke. This is allowing me to avoid straining my shoulder, but it's also making it impossible for me to track laps easily. I've been swimming via time spent in the pool. I need to do better than that. 

Wrist-work fitness monitors are very common these days. They're
inexpensive (at least most of them are) and they do a great job
of giving us feedback on how active we are and how well we
are sleeping. I've been wearing a fitness band on my wrist for
several months now and I love them. 

I had a credit at Amazon from a defective product I had returned, so my fitness band ended up costing me less than $20. For that money, I'm willing to experiment. These fancy things always take a while to get me trained - how best to use them, how to switch from one mode to another, etc. I'll give it a couple of weeks and see how it's working out. Worst comes to worst, I'll go back to my previous band which worked just fine for everything except the pool. 

So, that's the excitement in my life right now. But it's my "day off" and truly, anything can happen - LOL. I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday and I'll be back tomorrow. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A False Spring Hope Falls to Snow

The season, which had been giving us false signals of Spring, came back to Winter late yesterday just in time for our drive home from the shop, and so I awakened to snow on the ground. Knowing it was snowing as we returned home, DH gave me "permission" to leave "bunny tracks" in the driveway as I go to the gym this morning, and I'm going to do exactly that. There's a nice underpinning of slick on the roadways, so the plows have been out plowing and salting to make the roads safe for all (many of whom are returning to work today after a long President's Day weekend). Of course, I was at work yesterday, so no changes for me LOL. 

I used to look forward to February when I was young and
in school. We got the 12th and the 22nd off for the two
Presidential birthdays, and celebrated with food and
valentines on the 14th. That's all changed now - the
birthdays are merged into a Monday holiday, and
food in the classroom is often frowned upon or
even forbidden. Makes for poor memories for today's

I'm hitting the pool today, I got one pound of Valentine's Day celebration off me yesterday, but don't want to be on the running track two days in a row. I'm trying to add the pool to my workout routine at least two days a week (until I get my tattoo, when I'll have to stay out of the water for a couple of healing months). I have missed the water and the chats in the sauna afterward to warm up before my shower. I'm happiest when I can swim. 

I fully admit that I love the pool. I have to be a lot more careful now to avoid
straining my rotator cuff, but it's a delight to finally be back in the
water. I have my PT appointment tomorrow and I'm sure Joseph will
be pleased to hear that I'm back in the swimming pool. 

I spent my Sunday working on my Owl project which is coming along quite nicely. DH was glaring at me on Sunday morning as I took my board in hand. "I'm waiting until I see the owl appearing," he grumbled. I immediately set him straight and showed him how the piece will relate to the owls with the centerpiece. He was a bit shocked that I would use the piece, but shy not? I purchased it years ago to use in a beaded piece, and this was the right one for it. I know I'm not showing photos of in-process, but that's the way I work. I have been taking photos, and I will share eventually, but I like keeping works in progress under tighter wraps. 

I know I've mentioned that I adore owls, no old news there! 

I messed up at the cash register yesterday and ended up inadvertently charging a customer $9 for a $30 sale. *sigh* Damned gift cards. The printout that comes from my charge machine when a giftcard has inadequate funds for the full sale on it is very confusing. We've messed it up several times over the years. I really took a hard look at it and determined which total was actually charged, except I messed up. I guess I'm eating this one - bad me. You strive for perfection and swim in the mud instead. *sigh* 

There are places in the world where mud swimming is done, but
I don't think I like swimming in mud very much. I messed up,
though, and I have to live with it. 

On that note, I'm off to commune with water - both frozen on the ground and streets and unfrozen, heated and chlorinated in the pool. Have a wonderful Tuesday and I'll be back tomorrow. 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Grief and Loss - Reaching Out

It's always hard when one goes ahead on a road you can't follow. It's always hard to lose an anchor, a loved one, a friend and confidant. It's an unexpected emptiness when turning a corner and not seeing the person you expected, when wanting to ask a question, or to share good news. It's an emptiness that never truly gets filled. It's the death of someone beloved, and this happened to two members of my extended family - on and off line - this past week. 

Near death experiences often mention a long tunnel
lighted at the far end. I'd probably be looking for the
graffiti, but that light is rather mesmerizing, isn't it. 

In my own family, we lost a cousin, a father of two. It's on my sister-in-law's husband's side of the family, so a distant cousin by marriage, and I can't say if I ever met the man, but my nieces and nephews knew him and know his wife and children. The memorial is scheduled for today with the funeral scheduled for Wednesday. This death was hard because he killed himself and that will leave lots of questions behind for his immediate family; questions about what clues they missed, what they might have been able to do, and a lot of second guessing. It's tough to lose a family member that way. It seems to add extra sting to death's grip. 

Maybe we move through the clouds into a type of
vortex. A force of nature on an supernatural plane. 

In my on-line family, a dear and long-time friend lost her mother over the weekend. In this case there was an illness as well as a respectable age, but it's still not going to be easy for those who are left behind. My heart goes out to her daughter and son who will be missing her presence. 

This tunnel exhibits a nice Fibonacchi curve in it, the curve
that exists throughout nature in almost every living thing. 

It's an odd thing about death. It occurs around us every day - plants, animals and people are always being born and dying. It's common. But it also is the Great Mystery - that journey that continues onward without signposts or road maps. Many people believe that you meet again with loved ones and move into a condominium in the clouds. It's that old "My Father has many houses" message and I'm sure that celestial property values are determined on piety and proximity to the Big Dude. But that's totally NOT my thing. 

If I'm going to consider tunnels and star-shine, I'm going to go
with dimensional tunnels to the stars. We are all made from
stardust and powered by energy and light. If we believe Einstein,
matter is neither created nor destroyed, it merely changes form. 

On the other hand, when you think about those words, "My Father has many houses", and consider that we are all light, energy and stardust, perhaps they do make sense after all. We are members of the cosmos and matter is neither created nor destroyed, it merely changes form. Matter can become light, and light can be starlight, moving into the universe and joining with light from billions of stars throughout the void. Here, there are indeed 'many houses' and lots of room since the universe is expanding. 

In the end, how will you be remembered by those you
leave behind? If you will be remembered with love, then
you will have lived a successful life. 

So, to wind down, do we meet our loved ones again? Will we recognize them if we do? I suppose it's possible, I certainly can't discount that possibility. But to be a mote of light in a universe of stars? That will be heaven for me and I will ride the solar winds and play in the galactic clouds. 

On that note, I'm moving along. DH's Valentine's celebratory meals put four pounds on me so it's back to the gym for a serious workout today. LOL Have a good Monday and I'll return tomorrow. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Project Runway Episode 10 - Live to Tie-Dye

A little late, but here's the summary of this week's episode. After this Runway we're down to six contestants, four of whom will be able to make collections for New York Fashion Week. So ... here we go! 

Leslie Jones (a comedian and friend of Christian Seriano's) is the guest judge for tonight's episode, and the designers are walking backward in time by working with tie-dye. Do all of you remember tie-dye? Hippies, summer camp, childhood, the '60's, are among the responses when Karlie asks what tie-dye means to the contestants. The challenge is to elevate tie-dye into runway ready fashion. The designers will be taught several techniques for dying by two experts, then meet Christian at Mood for supplementary fabrics and finally they will return to the workroom. It's a sleep-over. They'll stay in the workroom until the Runway the next day. That will allow them time to dry their tie-dyed fabrics without time issues. Cots are set up and onesies have been provided for everyone's use for this 22 hour challenge.

Brittany Allen dyed her silk into pastels with accents
of blues on a background of pinks and salmons.
The sheer sleeves were gathered at the elbow, then
puffed again to the wrist. Criss-cross strapping
held the bodice together and were also featured
on the back of the dress. It was cute, but not

Two people wait in the workroom to teach the designers five different methods of tie-dye and how the dyes react to different fabrics - mainly variations of cotton weaves and silks. Silk will accept the dye easier, resulting in a darker, more saturated color. Cotton resists the dyes more, resulting in a lighter tone and more bleeding of the dye on the fabric. There area a large assortments of white cottons and silks for the designers to choose between, and a wall of bottles of dyes for them to use. Everyone chooses silk except Delvin and Victoria. I wonder if they'll regret that later.

Delvin McCray played it safe this week. He was
unenthusiastic about the challenge, and designed a staid,
rather boring look. Although I enjoyed his color
choices, some of the judges had problems with
both the colors and the design. It might have been
well made, but it wasn't one of Delvin's better

At Mood, the designers have a budget of $175 and 30 minutes to shop. The supplemental fabrics must allow the tie-dye designs to be the stars of the show. Can the designers manage to do this? I know exactly what I would be doing with my dyed fabrics and my supplemental fabrics if it was my design. Too bad I'm not in Mood, I could happily go crazy there like everyone else.

Geoffrey Mac was talked into a more "military" look
by Christian. He was frightened that his fabric
color choices would be too dark, but I totally fell
in love with this gown. I'd love to see it in
my closet. 

As the designers return from Mood, there are 17 hours remaining before the Runway and the clock is ticking down. At fourteen hours remaining, Christian comes to the workroom to touch base with the designers. While he visits with each designer, several of them are going crazy about how their dye jobs are turning out - either wonderful or horrible. It's going to be quite the challenge since usually fabrics are ready-to-go, not needing to be made and colored. Fabric color and weight are always important in any design, but designers usually don't have control over the actual color and pattern of the fabric. This challenge gives them a different perspective - they not only choose the design, but also the color and the pattern and where the accents of color should go. Of course, most of these contestants have never tie-dyed before, so that finesse might be seriously lacking.

Marquise Foster made a flirty halter-style dress that
would be appropriate for a hot day or an ice rink. For me
it was a bit too much costume and a bit too little
fashion. I liked his tie-dye look, though. He did a
good job on the dye and the tiers. 

The models come in at midnight for their fitting, 12 hours before the Runway is scheduled. Although some of the contestants have dyed fabrics drying on the racks, most only have muslins for their models. With less than 12 hours to go, it's going to be a PITA for everyone to finish on time. As the night progresses the designers push themselves through - some with a little sleep but most without any sleep at all. The clock keeps ticking down the hours to the Runway. Soon the sun is rising and the exhausted designers are facing a Runway show in just a few short hours. Are the garments sewn, did the dyeing techniques work out? We'll have to wait and see.

Nancy Volpe-Beringer channeled her inner 1960's
girl with this outfit, but her tie-dye pattern and
colors were impeccable. If you have a chance to
watch the unseen judges comments on Bravo TV's
website, it's worth the view for the comments on
this outfit. 

I love Geoffrey's fabric, Victoria's top looks like a poofy pajama top, Nancy totally reverted back to the '60's with a loose pair of pants, a wrapped top and a tied headband, but her tie-dyed fabric is wonderful. Brittany dyed her silk in bubblegum colors, designing a short play-dress using some of the criss-cross strapping that she used in the Ashley Longshore challenge of several weeks ago. Sergio's ombre tie-dye is so pale it's practically non-existent, although the cocktail dress is really cute, and Delvin,s dress is remarkably forgettable (considering I'm writing this within ten minutes of seeing the fashions walk the Runway and I can't recall his design ... yeah - forgettable). Marquise ended up designing an ice-skating outfit. It's cute, but not really in the upper tier for a Runway.

Sergio chose to do an ombre effect on his cocktail
dress, with gussets in half of the twelve panels in
the skirt. The sewing skills he demonstrated here
were outstanding, but his color choices got
washed out in the runway lights and it looked
almost like a white dress. 

Brittany and Marquise are declared safe, leaving the other five for winner or loser. The judges are in love with Sergio's lemon on white cocktail dress, and I admit on closer look, it is really well designed and sewn. Geoffrey's floor-length sheath in olive green with orange accents takes my breath away and the judges are in love with it as well. Nancy gets pulled back from her 1960's revival by the removal of the "hippie headdress", allowing her flowing pants and wrapped top in an interesting tie-dye technique to show better. Victoria's denim 'diaper' over denim jeans covered with a sheath top and a poofy flounce is a disaster. Delvin - oh yes, he had an orange day dress that was stiff and didn't flow at all. I would have liked it a bit better in a lighter fabric with the waist inserts in a solid accent fabric. It's an old and dated style, though, and also not well made. That's a bit surprising from Delvin who is a tailoring expert and always pulls off a quality, well-sewn design.

Victoria Cocieru's design was a disaster from top to
bottom. What had originally been conceived as an
over-sized peasant blouse gathered at the waist,
turned into this shoulder-apron over a poorly
dyed shell. The pants featured a denim diaper
attached to a long pant, with bleach thrown onto
the side and those buttons down the front. I can't
say she's not bold, but I can say that she didn't
demonstrate a lot of good taste with this outfit. 

So, my choice for winner is Geoffrey. The gown's silhouette and the depth of color in the fabric was wonderful. For the loss, I'm really pushing for Victoria. She's had some serious failures lately and today's design fell flat. Delvin is also really close to being sent home, though. His tailoring skills, something that he's been proud of from Day 1, just didn't come through in this challenge at all. My guesses, Geoffrey for the win and Victoria for the loss. Let's see if I'm right.


No, for the first time in a few weeks I was wrong. Instead of Victoria, Delvin is being sent home because his constructions techniques were totally misrepresented on that fabric and in that design. The winner, however, was indeed Geoffrey with that slinky olive sheath dress. So now we are six, and four go on to create collections for New York Fashion Week. I don't know if all four will actually get to show their collections, often there is one more elimination just before the big reveal, but with only six left now, the apartment is getting empty and each challenge is life-or-death for the designers. Who will be next week's winner?

Have a great day and I'll be back on Monday!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Color in Flowers for Valentine's Day - Runway Tomorrow

Runway fashions aren't available yet, so I'll be posting about last night's Project Runway in tomorrow's blog. That means I need to pull a blog out of the ether, so here we go. How about color. Everyone lives in a world of color, although the perception of color and the depth of colors each of us perceive are different for everyone. Of course you know about color blindness - that "shade to grey" that is experienced in the red and green tones for many people, predominantly men. But were you aware that each of us sees color quite differently? 

In fabric, these flowers would be using an ombre technique. moving from
the intense depth of color near the center to the much lighter colors at
the edges. Mother Nature can dye with a sure and practiced hand. 

Of course there are categories of color - blue, red, yellow as the primary colors, orange, green and purple as the secondary colors. But the variants, the shading between the colors and how the material displaying the color can make the difference in perception also affects how everyone's color perception is slightly different. Since it's Valentine's Day (have a great one, BTW), let's take the time and look at some colorful flowers. 

I remember walking in the high mountains and seeing clumps of blue
Columbine flowers, just like these. So beautiful. 

In Colorado, where I grew up among the mountain peaks, there was a preponderance of blue flowers in the upper reaches of the slopes. The Columbine, in blue, is the state flower and it's a beauty. DH has planted Columbines for me here, but without the elevation, they are yellow and pink. It's those high mountain meadows that allow for the blue Columbine. 

The Indian Paintbrush is a splash of brilliant red against
the background. It's an opportunistic flower with a wide range
of comfortable areas in which to grow. It's found from Texas
to the Rocky Mountains and is hardy in both harsh weather and
hot sun. 

For red flowers, we had our Indian Paintbrush flowers. These opportunistic flowers loved disturbed earth and grew in multitudes alongside the high roadways. I would walk a couple of blocks to the river and cross over the bridge. On the other side, as the road continued onward towards Independence Pass, would be the road cuts and I would often find Indian Paintbrushes there. 

Black Eyed Susan flowers are often considered a weed flower, although
you can grow them from seed. They are altitude friendly, so we found
them easily in Denver, but they were less common in Aspen. That
extra 3000 feet of altitude made things a bit harder for these sturdy

For yellow, there were Black Eyed Susan flowers, usually considered a weed, but what a pretty one! I don't know anyone who planted these on purpose, but when they came up and bloomed, they were usually very welcome. 

Roses come in many colors, and they also accept dyes quite easily, so
there are some real technicolor blooms out there. I tend a bit more to
the conservative, so this is a nice assortment for me. 

Of course, I have to mention roses too, because my mother planted roses along the front of our home in Denver and because it is Valentine's Day, the day when roses are often part of the gifts given to a loved one. The variety of roses is astounding, they are colorful and actually pretty hardy, but small things can bring them down - too much water or some species of insects. Roses are prized, however, and new varieties are being developed all the time. When I was in Portland I visited their rose garden. It was exquisite and quite amazing. I highly recommend it (along with the zoo and the Japanese Garden in the same large complex) if you're ever in Oregon. It's a great way to spend a long day. 

The International Test Rose Gardens in Portland, Oregon, have been in
existence and operational for more than 100 years. It's a perfect climate
for roses, and there are multitudes of varieties being tested here. Visitors
can wander throughout the garden and look a the variety of blooms. 

So, Happy Valentine's Day to all of you. I'll be back tomorrow with fashions from the Runway. Enjoy your day and be kind to others. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

We're entering the deep freeze for a couple of days now. Right now it's -6 F (-21.1 C) and we're only going to get colder over the next 24 hours so that tomorrow morning's wait in front of the gym doors will be held at -10 F (-23.3 C). Yup - it's a cold time in the hot town tonight and I'm going to be bundled at my computer desk in my sweatshirt and a lap throw while watching Project Runway tonight. The good part to the cold, because we're supposed to "...look at the sunny side..." is that we're not expected to get any snow along with this cold front. Yippee ... shiver. 

When we add any wind at all, the temps will drop even farther. Our -6 of
now could easily be -26 when the wind hits. It looks like a lot of us
are being hit by this cold front: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North
and South Dakota and Montana. along with parts of Nebraska are going
to be hit. I'm really feeling for people on the Rez who live in old,
drafty trailers without heat. People will die from this cold front. 

I had a couple of hours to spend on my Owl project yesterday and it's coming along nicely. Then I made an error late last night and decided it was best to just leave it for the day. Of course, that was when I was just trying to get one more thing done, so that's probably why I messed it up. But, I'm almost finished with the first tier of the second cascade. There's a lot still remaining, but it's all good. 

The big corporations often manage to wiggle out of a
lot of their taxes, but little guys like me end up actually
paying a lot. And of course, as self-employed people, we
are taxed doubly on social security. It's not fair, but
we'll be retiring soon and be out of this rat race. 

DH and I met with our accountant last night for our corporate tax appointment. I'll make an appointment for our personal taxes soon, those are a bit more complicated, but not too much. Despite the many complaints we both have, we actually keep really good records and can get our hands on the items we need when necessary. It's more a matter of organization, which sometimes is lacking a bit on my end. I am super organized, sometimes I have to hunt a bit more for items like annual license fees for the cars, etc. 

I guarantee I did NOT buy a Baby Yoda valentine's
day card for DH. I got him something much more
romantic. He might drive me crazy, but he's still
my man. 

Here we are, the day before Valentine's Day. I did buy a card for DH when I was at the store yesterday. It's always a question whether or not he will actually open it. Sometimes he prefers to leave cards unopened, just looking at them like a yummy dessert that shouldn't be eaten. I've never quite figured that out, but whatever - LOL. 

It's a Project Runway night and I'll be watching and taking notes
to share with all of you. If the Runway photos are available for
me at 3:30 am, I'll get those plugged in and you'll have my PR
post on Friday morning. Otherwise, it'll be Saturday. 

A reminder that tonight is Project Runway night, so I'll be writing as I watch. With luck the Runway photos will be up in time for me to plug them in and post tomorrow, otherwise my post will probably be a complaint (legitimate) about the cold weather. I also have an appointment with my dermatologist tomorrow and I hope she can come up with a few miracles for my hands. I guess I'll have to wait and see, but I could use a new med or two or twenty - LOL. Have a great day, stay warm, and I'll be back tomorrow - a little colder, a little older, and maybe a little wiser.