Ends & Pieces
Jul 28th, 2010 by Sonja

This was a real treat when I was a child.  Ends & Pieces.  That would be bacon I’m talking about here.  The meat packing plant would pack up all the bits that are left over when they are finished slicing up the perfect strips of bacon and they heap them onto a styrofoam tray, wrap some plastic around them and call it good.  You get some real treats in there, nice meaty pieces of bacon, but you also get some real duds; slabs of nothing but fat.  It’s cheaper than so-called regular bacon because it’s not very pretty.  But it’s very tasty.  So that’s what you’re getting today … ends and pieces.  Cheaper than the regular thing, some pieces might be really meaty, but you might find some that are pure lard.  You’ll have to decide.

About 7 months ago, LightHusband and I joined Weight Watchers.  We’ve added more than a few pounds over the years and we need to send those extra pounds packing; go find someone else to torment, thank you very much.  BlisteringSh33p and BlazingEwe had joined about 5 months before we did, so they were old hands at it.  So off we go every Monday night to face the ScaleMiser and listen to our FearlessLeader as he gives us help, tips and pointers for the week to come.  This is a long tedious process during which I am coming face to face with my very unhealthy relationship with food and how I use it to feed many things in my life besides my bodily functions.  sigh.  But that’s another story.  Last night as we sat in the meeting, I came face to face to with another gremlin in my life.  ADHD.  It’s something I’ve often wondered thought I might be dealing with or have dealt with and I laugh at myself about it a lot.  But it was not even a diagnosis when I was young, so I was certainly never given that label.  And now I’m not sure I want it.  But it would be nice to know because then I could figure out how to overcome it.  In any case, our FearlessLeader was describing the 4 main ingredients in what WW calls, Filling Foods.  These are foods that give you the most bang for the buck (the calories they contain).  Mostly they are high fiber/low calorie fruits and vegetables.  He said, “blah, blah, blah air, water, fiber, protein …. ” and I had a fully formed vision of Air, Water, Fiber and Protein as the SuperFriends from the Hall of Justice.  I could not stop giggling and leaned over to tell BlazingEwe.  She started giggling.  Then neither of us could stop.  And poor FearlessLeader had to bring the meeting to a halt because we were about on the floor!  I ‘fessed up to my vision and brought the house down.  But my point is, I’m always having visions like this and have had since I was very little.  When I was younger, I thought everyone did.  As I get older, I’m finding that no, I’m kinda weird.  Not everyone thinks like this.  In fact, it’s mostly people who have brains which can’t sit still think like this.

I know I can get medicine to help with this.  But I don’t think I want it.  I think I’m going to read up on coping and figure myself out.  I’m going to try and harness this energy for good, not evil 😉 and work with it.  This could be a good thing eventually.

The other day (maybe the same day) I had conversation with a young lady about reincarnation.  She confided in me that she believes in reincarnation and proceeded to give me some statistics that bore out this belief.  I listened politely.  Then she asked me if I believed in reincarnation.  No, I said, I do not.  I do, however, believe that our soul continues to exist past the life of our physical body, but I do not believe that it goes on to live in another body.  She wanted to know why I don’t believe that, but our conversation was cut short and I didn’t have a chance to explain myself.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot since then and the short answer is grace.  And, honestly, that’s the long answer too.  Oh, I used to believe in all kinds of different things, and yes, I even spent some time believing that reincarnation was a likely possibility.  But then I discovered grace and I just can’t get enough of it.  I don’t like the idea that we’re born over and over again to atone for the sins of a past life that we can’t remember.  It seems capricious and mean and points to a standard of behavior and perfection that really no one can live up to.  It reminds of the legend of Sisyphus somehow; always hungering and thirsting for something we cannot have.  But the God I found in my late 20’s and early 30’s was giving out love and mercy and grace liberally, to all who wanted it.  Believe in me, S/He said, and that’s all S/He wanted; some trust, some faith and some love in return.  I can do that.  So, no, I do not believe in reincarnation, but I believe in grace and the One who Loves endlessly.  But sometimes it’s fun to talk about past lives and imagine … I’ll grant you that 😉

It’s that time of year again … in many different places people are talking about reunions.  They are talking about class reunions, family reunions, school reunions, etc.  I had a startling revelation about the power of our minds the other day.  It was very revealing to me.  About 6 months ago, the LightChildren and I joined a couple of homeschooling groups for the purpose of socializing with other teenagers.  We get together with one group in particular about once a week and all of us have made friends … me too!  It’s been a welcome relief after the past three years in the desert.  The moms are all about my age, some a little older, some a little younger.  But they are around my age.  We all look like a peer group.  I admire these women and see them as adults in the middle of their lives.  Then one day I was thinking about a couple of my dear friends from highschool who I will be seeing when I go to Vermont next week.  It was startling to me that I do not “see” them as being the same age as the women who I am friends with now.  For some reason, my perception of my highschool friends is that they are younger than my current cohort group, when the fact is that they are likely older than the ladies here in Virginia.  Then I wonder, do my highschool friends and I behave differently when we’re together?  Do we revert and act more like our younger selves?  What forces are at play here?  Or do I behave more maturely when I am with my friends here in Virginia?  Or … am I the same and I just play cruel mind games on myself?  It’s all very mysterious and makes me realize what a powerful force our minds are when we are dealing with reality vs. perception.

Sunday night we had a huge scare.  LightGirl ended up in the emergency room after an anaphylactic reaction to ???  We don’t know what.  The best guess at the moment is that she had Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis.  This is not common, but it usually caused by a combination of food and exercise.  This does not mean that the patient is allergic to the food they have eaten, but it may mean that they are sensitive to it and the increased blood flow, etc. of exercise causes an extreme anti-histamine reaction causing anaphylactic shock.  She is going to the allergist tomorrow where we will find out more about this.  Her lungs still hurt and she is having trouble talking.  I can find out plenty about anaphylaxis on the internet, but nothing about the aftermath and recovery.  If anyone reading this has gone through it and knows what we might expect, I’d love to hear your story.  It would be a huge help to us.

In a week we go to Vermont for our annual pilgrimage.  It’s going to be a somewhat shorter trip this year.  But it will be fun nonetheless.  I’m looking forward to some porch time to say the least!

Favorite Movie?
Jul 1st, 2010 by Sonja

Really?  Oh … so not fair.  I cannot possibly choose my favorite movie.  That’s like asking me to choose my favorite color.  What?  As if I have one.  It all depends on my mood, or what I’m thinking about at the moment, or what I’m working on or … or … geez.  In my world, this is a ridiculous question.

What’s your favorite movie?

Now that I’ve got my whining out of the way, long time readers of this blog (the one or two that are left) will note that the Lord of the Rings trilogy probably surfaces the most often as movie(s) and books which speak into my life with the most clarity.  So if I have to choose one, I’ll choose three … but together they comprise one.  Kinda like the Trinity.  That’s fitting.

How about you?  What’s your favorite movie or movies?

The Eyes Have It
Jun 30th, 2010 by Sonja

So.  Basically I really hated yesterday’s prompt and had a rebellion.  You’ll be left forever wondering what it was, why I hated it and what I might have responded to it if I’d stopped kicking over the traces long enough to actually think.  My tiny little excuse is a really really bad case of hives that is apparently caused by the sun.  I have turned into a vampire.

Har.  Just kidding.  Some meds I take for seizures are causing sun sensitivity which, in my case, causes hives.  This has happened before in the past 5 or years since I started this new drug, but I’ve never been in the sun as long as I was on Friday (riding a tube down the Shenandoah).  So the hives were mighty and cursed this time.  Prednisone has become my new best friend.  However, I had so much fun on that tubing trip I’d do it all again … I’d just give in and go to the doctor’s sooner :)

Today’s prompt is this –

What’s the first thing you notice about a man when you meet him? A woman?

The first thing I notice about men and women is their eyes.  Maybe it’s because I was taught to look people in the eyes when being introduced.  Or maybe I just love eyes.  Or whatever.  Who knows … I could spend all day rationalizing, but the bottom line is I dig people’s eyes.  I love eye shapes and sizes and colors.  I love the way a person’s eyes define their face and their mood.  I love the way eyes sparkle and gleam.  I think the most fun I ever had in a class was when I took a class on portraiture and learned how to draw eyes.  I got so much perspective from that experience.

The second thing I notice is their hands.  You can tell a lot about a person from their hands.  You can see how they feel about themselves in the way their hands are carried and used in a conversation.  You can see how they relate to the world in how they take care of their hands and how their hands are used in their line of work.  When they shake hands with you, you can tell a lot about how that person perceives you and your status vis a vis them.  Personally, as a woman, I love it when a man gives me a good firm handshake.  I hate the namby-pamby woman shake that I’m subjected to in the name of chivalry or whatever.  It sucks.  It’s like expecting a great bowl of good chocolate ice cream and you get a tiny dish of half melted soft-serve instead.  Bleh.  I also like good hugs but only from friends.  Stranger-hugging is weird in my book.  And there is entirely too much hugging here in the south (from my northern perspective).  But I digress … as you may have noticed I also love hands.  And lately, I’ve loved watching as my children’s hands are developing from pudgy kid hands into adult hands.  They are beautiful.  The same is happening with their friends and cousins.  It’s like a small marker of passage through time and is enjoyable to watch as they cavort through life together.

What about you?  What do you notice when you first meet people?  Does it differ with the genders?

Jun 18th, 2010 by Sonja

Today you get two for the price of one … because I forgot yesterday.  Or got distracted.  Or something.

Without further adieu …

What’s the one food you feel like you couldn’t live without? What’s the one food you’d rather die than put in your mouth?

I cannot live without ice cream.  Chocolate ice cream.  With nuts.  And/or brownies in it.  Ice cream is what God eats.  But it doesn’t make Him/Her gain any weight.

The food I’d rather die than put in my mouth?  Canned fish, not tuna, but things like sardines or mussels, or octopi … horrible snotty bits of oily smelly seafood that look like turds in a tin.  [shudder]  LightHusband and LightBoy love these in a very primal way.  It makes my stomach turn just to write these sentences.

If you could take a train journey through any part of the world, where would you go?

For all of our married life LightHusband has loved to tease me with the idea that he is going to take me to Kenya and we’ll live in a hut there.  Now, lest you think I’m a suburban princess who cannot get by in a hut, that is not why I find this forbidding.  It’s the heat and humidity.  Sub-saharan Africa has always looked like hell to me because I hate heat.  Cannot stand it.  I’d much rather be cold than hot and I’ve been this way since I was a very small child.

So when I daydreamed about this question I was very surprised by the pictures that came to mind.  I saw myself in a train, a very old-fashioned steam powered train (by the way), traveling slowly through sub-Saharan Africa!!  This train went through lots of small tiny places and I got off everywhere and walked deep into the bush so that I could visit the back of beyond and meet people.  It was a fabulous trip.  And I loved it.

P.S.  The train was not air-conditioned.  I just wanted all of you to know that.

My Saturday Night
Jun 20th, 2009 by Sonja

Well … LightGirl and LightHusband are off at a wedding.  We were all invited as guests, but the bride & groom are trying to save some money (who isn’t these days?) and very politely inquired as to LightHusband’s availability for wedding photography.  He loves to do that, and LightGirl wanted to help him with her blooming photography skills.  So they are off.  My ever present introvert raised it’s head and I decided to stay home; I’d only know two other people there and with my extroverts taking pictures, I’d be lost.

So … LightBoy and I stayed home.  He invited his bestest bestie to spend the night; they’ve known each other and been besties since they could each grab a truck and roar at the other.  LaughingSon arrived just at supper time.  The big treat of the evening was Chik-Fil-A with shakes for dinner.  I was treated to a car ride and dinner with two pre-adolescent boys.

Allow me to recount some of the conversation for you.

LightBoy – “Wanna Turkish breath mint?”
LaughingSon – “What’s that?”
LightBoy – “It’s where I drop my pants and fart in your face”
Me – “OMG [exclaimed in full voice and laughing cause I couldn’t help it] where did you hear THAT?!?!” thinking perhaps a hockey locker room or something
LightBoy – “YouTube”
LaughingSon – [muttering] “oh man … I’m glad I asked”
Me … sputter sputter … no more YouTube for you young man EVER.  You’re grounded for LIFE! then we all burst into laughter.

Laughing giggling silly conversation ensues from the back seat for a few more minutes about nothing that is memorable and then:

Me – “Hey guys, you know that shakes are on for tonight, right?”
Them – “YAY” more laughing and general mayhem
LaughingSon – “Yeah, I’m too skinny … you can see my ribs without even sucking in.” (and he is pretty skinny) “See you can feel my ribs.”
LightBoy – “You can feel my ribs too.” pause “Well … you can if you kinda dig for them.”

bahahahaha … how, you might ask, did I keep the car on the road?  Yeah.  I dunno.

When I asked them what they wanted for dinner in the car, I accused them of sounding like Patrick Starfish and I was promptly corrected. No, I was told, Patrick sounds like this and we sounded like that.  Oh.  Well.  That’s much better and oh so much different and privately rolled my eyes.

On our way back into the house I had to lay some ground rules for the evening.  “There will be no Barbies blown up, maimed, dismembered or exploded on these premises this evening or in the next 24 hours.”  Mostly because LightGirl is not home to give her permission to have her old dolls tinkered with.

They are out playing with some boys in the neighborhood now and have plans for movie watching, Wii playing, X-boxing, etc til who-knows-when.

So.  My Saturday night may be quiet but it sure is interesting.

Ball Gown Odyssey & Rant
Jan 17th, 2009 by Sonja

Note to clothing and pattern manufacturers –

Large women can, do and desire to wear tailored beautiful clothing.  Flour sacks went out with, well, I guess pig stys and muu-muus.  A large, dumpy, unfitted piece of clothing only serves to make one look larger and sort of unfinished.   But an article of clothing which fits well and is constructed for one’s body type will actually serve to make one look attractive, no matter what their weight or size.  We need to loose the notion that wearing flour sacks covers things up … it doesn’t.  It just makes you look worse.  And sloppy to boot. Hint to manufacturers … watch Tim Gunn.  He really does know what he’s talking about.

I spent Wednesday afternoon with the pattern, tracing it onto sewer paper.  Then cut it out to make a mock up.   Thursday I was overwhelmed.  Then Friday morning I decided I hated the original pattern; it looked too old and not dressy enough.  I ditched the first pattern.  Did some quick internet pattern shopping here and found two patterns I loved and could purchase at my local sewing store on the way to roller skating with the LightChildren.

Problem – even though both patterns would look stunning on the larger figure, neither was sized for anything above an 18.  Pooh!  Good thing BlazingEwe and I know how to pattern draft.  She’s a whizkid at it because of her background in architecture, I pretty much fumble around in her shadow.  But that is why we share a brain.  So we spent yesterday afternoon putting the two patterns together to make one dress and resizing it for me!  Even if we’d done nothing else, we’d have needed to add five inches to the length of the skirt because I’m taller than the average woman.

In any case, I thought I’d post pictures of the patterns here.  They’re made by Kwik Sew.  I’ve never used this pattern manufacturer before.  I really like them so far because the pattern is printed on real paper, not tissue paper.  We’ll see how the directions and everything else goes.  But I’m impressed at this point.

Kwik Sew 3382

I’m using the bodice from the above dress.  I love the V-neck and the tucks in the bodice.  You can’t see it here, but it’s also got a V in the back bodice as well.  I haven’t decided whether or not to make a wrap from the organza or use a velvet wrap I have.  It’s going to be in the teens or 20’s on Monday night.  I have a feeling time is going to make the decision for me.

Kwik Sew 3307

See view A?  I’m using that skirt with the bodice from the pattern above.  I’m using the patterned organza in the flounces.  No sleeves.  We briefly thought about re-structuring the arm-holes in the  bodice from the first to be able to add bell sleeves.  But … time over-rode us.  It’s easier to make a sleeveless dress at this point.

Well … I need to finish cutting it all out before LightGirl’s hockey game today (we leave at 10:30 a.m.) and get my sewing space organized for the onslaught.

Frightening Destiny
Oct 13th, 2008 by Sonja

LightHusband just came to me, as I perched upon my sofa and asked, “Would it be too much to consider cleaning this space up sometime?”  I struggled to contain the laughter and said, “Well, of course it would be … where else would I put my stuff?”

Now “my” sofa is a green micro-fiber suede sofa with a chaise end.  I sit on the chaise part.  The rest of it is covered in books and papers, with the odd, empty popcorn bowl.  Upon one short stack of books, is a pile of unused paper that is a resting place for my coffee.  In front of the sofa is an old coffee table.  Upon the coffee table are more books and papers, a stack of candle holders, and my laptop case perched precariously on one end.  Underneath the coffeetable … more books.  And Rosetta Stone Arabic.  Because one day soon I really am going to start that.  Really.  I am.

LightHusband went on.  By now we were both laughing.  “You know what you need?”  “A bookshelf?” I replied.  That’s the standard answer in our house.  “No,” says he.  “You need an Uncle Paul room.  A room with a recliner in the middle surrounded by bookshelves with a light next to it.”  “Hah,” says me “I really do need a bookshelf.”  He ignored me and went on, “I can see you just like Uncle Paul, sitting there with all your books in your recliner … come to think of it, Opie was like that too.  Oh!  NO!  You’ve got it from both sides!!!”

So there it is friends.  My destiny, given to me by blood … a recliner surrounded by books.  I can only hope that someone will stop by with coffee and water occasionally.

Taking Suggestions
Aug 27th, 2008 by Sonja

As those of you who read this blog regularly know, I homeschool the LightChildren.  Well, a more appropriate description is … they engage in home learning and I throw books at their heads.  No.  That’s not right either.  But something happens around here and occasionally something like an education seems to sprout.

Well, we fell behind in history.  This is sorta bad since I’m just a hair shy of being a certified social studies teacher.  Three hairs shy of having a masters in secondary education with a focus in … history and social studies.  So you’d think that we’d just fly right through history.  Well, yes.  And, um, no … not so much.  You see, I have all these hang ups and pre-conceived ideas about how history has to be.  So we fell behind.  We’re scooting through the modern period this summer and starting over again with the ancients this fall.  It will be fun because now I’m finally teaching a teenager and all.

In very exciting news, LightGirl has decided that she’s going to work on her own theory of everything.  The books are spread out all over the sofa.  First, though, she needs to get over Lyme Disease.  It all began yesterday when she and LightBoy watched a documentary on the History Channel on the island of Atlantis.  They came up from the playroom and recounted the whole thing to me.  Silly mom … I thought they’d been watching cartoons and was plotting revenge.  In any case, as she watched the documentary, LightGirl began to notice that many of the stories from Atlantis bore a striking resemblance to all the myth stories she read when we studied the ancients several years ago.  Later in the day, she asked to go to the library so she can get some books on myths and Atlantis.  She is quite determined to find this “missing link” as it were.  She didn’t even realize that we’re getting ready to tackle the ancients again this year in history.  It was a pleasant surprise.  Her eyes were sparkling.  She’s busy plotting the next book she wants to write.

In the meantime, we’re just flying through modern history, giving it a lick and a promise.  The girl who lives in my heart and studied international relations twenty-five years ago is weeping with shame at the utter horror of raising children with so little knowledge of modern history and its importance to where we are now.  (Okay, weeping may be overstating it just a little … but … you get the picture.)  So, here’s the thing.  We have a family movie night tradition.  We love to watch movies together.  LightHusband makes delicious popcorn, we have a light dinner before hand, turn down the lights and snuggle in together.  It can be any night … but we watch the movie together and then talk about it for some time afterwards.  So I thought it would be a good idea to get some movies with historical content to watch for modern history.  But I’m running out of ideas.  I’m going to post my list below.  Please add yours in the comments.  I’m looking for any reasonable movies about history anywhere in the world from 1875 to the present.  Please remember the ages of my children are 11 and 14.  They’re used to some violence (we’ve watched BraveHeart together without the final death scene, and LightBoy has watched Saving Private Ryan) as long as it has purpose and context.  We try to stay away from sexual content … but well the Viv@ Vi@gra ads and KY ads on television these days leave little the imagination, so really … who cares.

Here are the movies I found:

Grapes of Wrath
We Were Soldiers
To Kill A Mockingbird
Judgment At Nuremberg

We Interrupt This Blog …
Aug 14th, 2008 by Sonja

… for a special announcement.

Some of you may remember a period of whining and complaining earlier this year when BlazingEwe and I were involved in making my/our guild’s raffle quilt (pattern is Shakespeare In The Park, copyright by Judy Martin in The Creative Pattern Book).  It was finished in June, quilted and everything.  We’re kinda happy with it.

So we entered it in our county fair …

Shakespeare In The Park

… and WON … Best Of Show AND First Place in our category (made by a group).

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Friday Five Fireworks Edition
Jul 4th, 2008 by Sonja

Sally Coleman writes – “I have to admit that I am chuckling to myself a little; how strange it seems for me a Brit to be posting the Friday Five on 4th July! I realise that most of our revgals will be celebrating in some way today, but I hope that you can make a little room for Friday Five! From my short stay in Texas my memories of the celebrations are of fireworks and picnics, one year we went in to central Houston to watch the fireworks and hear the Symphony Orchestra play, we were welcomed and included, and that meant a lot!”

So lets have a bit of fun:

1. Barbeque’s or picnics ( or are they essentially the same thing?) – My definition? Picnics are never at someone’s home.  You take your (cold) food somewhere else.  It’s usually sandwiches and/or finger foods.  Fruit and cookies.  Wine or beer for grown ups.  Simple fun stuff to eat.  Barbeque’s mean grills and sloppy food and potato salad and coleslaw.    The latter two are must haves for barbeques.  Must.  Haves.  Oh.  and brownies.

2. The park/ the lake/ the beach or staying at home simply being?  It depends … I’ve done all.  This year we are staying at home simply being.  It helps that we can watch a great fireworks display from our front yard.  Friends are coming for dessert.  But that’s it.  My favorite years were back when we were allowed to camp out on the lawn in front of General’s Row at Fort Myer in Arlington to watch the DC fireworks.  This is no longer allowed because of all the security measures.  It’s sad to me.

3. Fireworks- love ’em or hate ’em?  I absolutely adore fireworks.  I could watch them for hours and hours.  We need to go back next year and see the DC fireworks now that our kids are older and can appreciate them.  DC has spectacular fireworks.  Absolutely spectacular.

4. Parades- have you ever taken part- share a memory… I have been in so many parades.  I spent almost every fourth of July from the time I was 15 until I was 33 marching in a parade.  Except two or three when I was in college.  They’ve kinda blurred together.  It was always, always, always HOT and sweaty.  I hated marching in parades on the fourth.  We have an ugly national anthem … it’s a beer drinking song.  I hate Yankee Doodle; because I’ve played it 9,438,527 too many times.  I’m not the most patriotic person, so all the flag-waving and histrionics made/make me sort of nauseous.  Besides … it wasn’t July 4 that was important at all.  It was more like July 2 or something.  I still love the fireworks.

5. Time for a musical interlude– if you could sum up holidays in a piece of music what would it be? Well … of course the 1812 Overture with real live cannons.

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