Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On Being Grateful

I don't know if you you've noticed or not, but, I think I may have complained a time or two (or a hundred) about the heat here in AZ.  There really is no secret about how much I hate it and I'm really good at complaining about it.  But sometimes, things happen that make me feel so guilty for all the complaining.  Because while the heat is obnoxious, I can go from my air conditioned house, to my air conditioned car, to work or the grocery store or really anywhere and be in an air conditioned environment.  And by and large the heat really never causes any inconvenience other than once a month when I have to pay for all that air conditioning. 

So when disasters hit in other parts of the country, I always feel guilty about complaining about the heat.  Because we are so lucky here in the Southwest.  We don't get earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards...or hurricanes.  The most we deal with is some flooding when the monsoon hits, and if you don't live in the flood plane, then pretty much you're good to go most of the time.  Nothing as dramatic as what has happened on the eastern seaboard the past few days.  And so, since this is a post about being grateful, I have to say...I'm very grateful for where I live...even if it is hotter than hades.

I'm also grateful that I have a very level headed daughter who seems to never lose her cool when faced with adverse circumstances.  You see, she has spent the last four days stuck in Manhattan.  She can't get a flight out until Friday.  She flew back to NJ for a wedding last Wednesday.  She and a friend from high school decided to make a vacation of it.  They've been planning this trip for months.  They went to NJ early for the wedding and then the plan was to go to NYC on Sunday and come home yesterday.  Sandy had other plans. 

When I talked to her on Sunday I expressed my concern about their plans to still go into Manhattan.  She assured me that where they were staying would be much better than staying in Jersey and since all the flights had been cancelled by then, there was no way to get out of the area anyway.  I decided to trust her, because what else could I do.  Surprisingly my anxiety level wasn't too bad.  And, of course, as always, she was right. 

She works for a large luxury hotel chain and she already had reservations at one of their hotels in Times Square.  There could be worse places to ride out a storm.  Thankfully the storm did not affect the area where she was too badly, as you can see by the picture below.  This was taken Monday night from the window of their hotel room.  I've added her caption from FB below the picture.

For everyone who has been wondering...this is our view from midtown. No flooding, we all still have power, and the rain is even taking a break.

So, here is what I'm grateful for today:

1.  My daughter is safe, dry, has a roof over her head, food to eat and great friends to spend the time with.

2.  None of her friends were harmed during the storm.

3.  All my family and friends that live in the area are safe and sound.

4.  She works for an awesome company that has comped not only her extra nights but also all her meals.

5.  NYC is providing buses that will take passengers back to Newark for $16.  Thus saving her a ton of money on what could have been a very costly cab ride back to the airport.

6.  They were able to get out and about a little bit yesterday and more today and thankfully they will be able to salvage a tiny bit of their "vacation".

So, there you have it.  So much to be grateful for...even the heat...maybe.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Big Finish

The afghan is finished!  I don't think any four words have ever made me happier.  This was by far my least favorite project EVER!  Not because it was the hardest.  It wasn't.  But it was the most tedious.  It took me about 4 hours to make all 42 of the squares. The assembling of this afghan took me 15 hours.  Yes, you read that correctly.  one, five....15!  I've never spent that much time assembling an afghan...and I never will again.  It just makes the whole thing...not fun.  And crocheting is suppose to be fun.  Not 15 hours of "I wish I was doing anything else but this".  I could explain to you why it was so tedious, but that would be I'm not going there.  Just believe me when I was hell. 

But, even after all the hell....I LOVE the finished product.  The visual effect is very cool.  I'm excited to give this gift, especially since I will be able to tell the recipient that it is a one of a kind, never to be duplicated piece!  Hopefully they will love it also.

Here are a few pictures of the finished product:

This was taken while I was procrastinating.  I'd already put together two strips and figured out what the process was going to be like.  I procrastinated a lot....putting off the inevitable.  And then I spent last Thursday and Friday doing nothing but assembling. Ugh.

This was the moment of triumph...completely assembled.  Only thing left was to put on the border and edging.

And here it is...finally finished...finally!   Awesome, right? 

So now it's on to the next project.  I have a few in mind and I'm not certain which one I'm going to start next, but I can assure you, it will NOT take 15 hours to assemble :)

Hope everyone is having a happy and productive week!

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Life Well Lived

I'm never one to turn down a trip to San Diego.  I haven't been many places in my life, but of the places I've been, San Diego is at the top of the list.  I never miss an opportunity to go to Point Loma.  I love the lighthouse there, but more importantly I love to stand at the whale lookout, feel the wonderful ocean breeze and listen to the waves of the Pacific crash against the shore.  It's one of those spots in the world that make me feel totally at peace in my heart.  It feels like home to me. 

I have lots of happy memories of San Diego.  Not the least of which are the times we went there to visit Dan's aunt and uncle.  They lived in a little town about 30 miles east of San Diego called Alpine.  They lived up on a hill that overlooked some beautiful pasture lands right across the I-8 highway.  Dan's uncle built the house himself.  They were life long residents of Chicago who had had enough of snowy winters and when Dan's uncle retired from the Chicago fire department, they moved to Alpine.  Lucky for us.  We spent some wonderful weekends there listening to Uncle Lyle's stories and eating Aunt Jackie's spectacular food.  After we had kids we would stay with them and take trips into San Diego to take the kids to Sea World and the zoo.  Aunt Jackie was the one who introduced me to Point Loma.  She took us there to show us the lighthouse, she loved lighthouses.  Little did she know that she was helping me create a life long love affair with the Pacific Ocean.  I will always be grateful to her for that. 

Jackie and Lyle were typical salt of the earth, hard working Midwesterners.  They worked hard all of their life, even in retirement.  They were never idle.  They raised seven sons who all live their lives pretty much the same way.  They are a perfect example of how to live life well.

Aunt Jackie passed away about 10 years ago after a long illness.  Uncle Lyle continued to live in their house in Alpine until just a few years ago.  Most recently he was living in Colorado near one of his sons.  We knew his health was declining so it wasn't a huge shock when we got the call that he had passed away, but it was sad news indeed.  So this past weekend we traveled to Alpine to attend his memorial service.

I have to be honest and tell you that I really wasn't looking forward to going.  I've been to many funerals for the people in the generation previous to mine.  Every single one has been someone we've lost way to early.  Either to illness or tragedy.  It wears on you.  Of course you always celebrate their life, but it's tinged with this overlaying sadness of what might have been and the loss of a life cut way too short.  So this was the experience I was taking with me to say goodbye to Uncle Lyle.  Thankfully it was not the experience I left with. 

We gathered in the cemetery on Saturday afternoon.  Many of us had driven from Phoenix to be there.  Many had come from all over the country.  We stood in the beautiful California sunshine, with a cool breeze blowing, to listen to the testimonials of the people who loved Lyle.  And as I listened to sons, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, neighbors, friends and in-laws talk about Lyle, I got such a sense of peace.  Of course there was some sadness as there always is when a loved one leaves us.  But this service was much more about celebrating a life than mourning a death.  We had all gathered in this place to pay respects to a man we all loved. We payed respects to a life lived with purpose, hard work, family, faith and service to others.  A life very well lived. And as with every experience I have, I tried to figure out the lesson I would take away from this one.  I listened well to the stories shared. I shared my own.  I came away with this one singular thought:

There is nothing better that you can give your loved ones than a life well lived.

This thought was reinforced as we later gathered at the hotel to eat and visit and tell more "Lyle" stories.  So much happiness and joy on a day that would have typically been sad and gloomy.  I was so grateful for this experience.  I was so happy to reconnect with people I had not seen in years, people whom I think about with fondness and that make me so happy that I married into this amazing family.  I was so honored to help celebrate Lyle's life.
Point Loma

On Sunday, Dan, Sarah and I drove out to Point Loma.  We walked up to the lighthouse and out to the whale lookout.  As I stood there looking out over the ocean, with a beautiful breeze blowing and the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore, I said a prayer of thanksgiving for having had the chance to know Lyle and Jackie.  I said a prayer of thanksgiving that they were now together again for all eternity.  And I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the lesson of a life well lived.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Jeez, it seems to fly by from one Wednesday to the next!  Time for another Wednesday Hodgepodge.  Questions courtesy of Joyce at This Side of the Pond.  Go on over to her blog where you will find links to all of us who play along on Wednesdays.  Come join's fun! 

1. In what ways do you indulge yourself?

I love chocolate, so, that's usually my go to anytime I feel the need to indulge...and even when I don't :) 

2. Have you ever taken a cooking class? Any interest? What type of class would you most like to try?

I don't think I need cooking classes because I am the chef of everything boxed, canned and frozen.  I also make a mean take out.  Who needs classes for that?  Seriously though, I'm sure my family wishes I would have taken a class or two.  I even think about it sometimes when I'm watching the Food Network...which I do on a regular basis.  But then I come to my senses and call Pizza Hut.  Does anyone else who hates to cook love watching the Food Network and convince themselves that if they only had Giada's kitchen they would love to cook?  No.  Only me, huh?  Ok then...

3. What does it mean to be a good citizen?

Follow the laws of your state and country, vote, take care of the environment around you, be nice to your fellow citizens...appreciate the abundance of everything we are so fortunate to have in this country.

4. 'Tis the season of the political these ads influence your vote?

Nope.  Because no matter who they are, they can spin anything to make it look they way they want it to.  I actually throw every piece of political mail in the trash before I even look at it, I don't answer my phone during election cycles (that's what caller id and voice mail are for!) and I usually mute the TV when the ads come on.  I do my own research and vote my conscience.

5. What's something you see today that makes you wish you were a kid again?

I can't think of anything that makes me want to be a kid.  I think I had an awesome childhood and I think today's kids are missing out on the simpler times with all this technology they are hooked to. But, I see things all the time that make me wish my kids were little again.  Fisher Price has a doll house that I am dying to buy for someone...sadly, my girls are too old for such things now.  Guess I just have to wait for grandkids...

6. What's your least favorite cliche?

At the end of the day...   It's over used and I'm sick of it 

7. What percentage of your Christmas shopping has been completed? How does that make you feel?

Zero, nada, zilch, none.  I don't feel anyway about it because it's normal for me.  I can't get in the spirit of buying things until it gets closer to the day.  I'll start getting panicky around the second week in December.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Words cannot express how badly I wish it was November 7th.  I am sick to death of all this election stuff.  I just want it to be over and then lets deal with the outcome.  I wish politicians wanted to be public servants...

Ok, ladies and gents, that's a wrap on another edition of Wednesday Hodgepodge.  Hope everyone is having a fantastic week!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Crochet Gone Bad

So here I am with my first post after my "ah ha" moment.  And guess what?  It's all about crocheting.  Today will probably be the first of many posts about crocheting.  I'm fairly obsessed with it so it's a good assumption that it will show up many times.  I never really wanted to write about crocheting because I don't intend for this blog to be a crocheting blog. There are certainly enough of those out there and most of them are much better at the art than me. Also, I kind of figured it would be boring.  But, it's who I am and since this blog is about get crocheting.  If you're bored, I won't hold it against it you if you just move along to the next blog on your list.  That's what I would do.  If you stick around and leave a comment I promise to return the favor.  Onward...

A little background for those of you who don't know me very well: 

I've been crocheting for 34 years.  My best friend taught me to crochet and then I fell in love with her brother and married him.  I had three kids and was really busy with Little League, girls scouts, violin lessons, orchestra, softball, and band.  Oh, and I worked full time too.  I crocheted when time permitted but it wasn't a lot. It hasn't been until my recent "empty nest" experience that I have really become obsessed with it.  My husband is convinced that I don't even know what I'm making anymore.  He says I "just make and make and make and never take a break".  But I DO know what I'm making, which is mostly afghans, and mostly for gifts.  So this brings us to my current WIP (work in progress for you non-crochet types ;) 

It started out as this lovely idea for a baby afghan.  I modified a larger pattern down to baby size.  The visual effect of this afghan is pretty cool...but you'll just have to take my word for it because I don't have any pictures of it that don't belong to someone else.  Yeah, I'm not going there anyway, you'll have to wait for the finished product for that.  Here is my progress in pictures, with a few comments...and a lot of frustration.  You'll see what I mean....

I started out with these lovely colors....I love the makes me happy :) 

And this is what the individual squares look like.  I was pretty happy with them at this point.  The container is filled with half done squares.  I crochet assembly style as I find it is much faster...even if I have to finish off all the colors and tie in all the ends....oh those wonderful ends...where's that sarcastic font when I need it?

All the sad little yarn ends...waiting to be tossed.  336 ends to be exact.  Woven into the work and cut off.  So much fun....not.  This is my least favorite part of crocheting...or at least it was until I started trying to put this together.  When I found this pattern I didn't think far enough ahead and ask myself  "how will this be stitched together?"  I didn't even think of asking myself this question because I never have, and I have never had a problem.  Until now. 
Here's the problem.  All the squares get stitched together in random fashion (which will eventually make sense when it's completed) and the colors don't match up.  So, you can't use one color to stitch them have to use two or three and change them as needed.  I think you can figure out what I mean by looking at the picture.  I also had to find a new seaming technique which requires me to sit at the table and not in my comfy chair in front of the TV.  This is a problem.  I'm pretty sure I've said this before at some point, but it bears repeating.  The real reason I crochet is so I can justify watching TV.  I love TV.  I probably love TV more than crocheting...but don't tell anyone.  You'll blow my cover.  If I'm crocheting, then I'm not wasting my time while watching TV...or so I've convinced myself.  Anywayyy....

I decided to make it my mission last weekend to just sit down at the table and get the dang thing done.  I worked on it about 3 hours on Saturday...only finishing 3 strips.  Did I mention this seaming technique is also time consuming?  No?  Well, it's time consuming, frustrating and I can't do it in front of the TV.  It is the pure definition of crochet gone bad.  Even having my little shadow for company couldn't make it better.  So, I put it away and didn't work on it the rest of the weekend. 

Instead, I made this for my youngest daughter.  It's a table scarf for an end table.  It was way more fun...and I got to watch TV while I made it!  Win, win.

I am on vacation next week so my plan is to work on the evil one for a couple of hours each day in hopes of getting it done.  It's not gonna beat me...I don't think...

Ok, if you made it all the way through are now my best friend and I promise to crochet something special just for you ;) 

I hope you noticed, in the background of the pictures, the cute blanket that my cute and thoughtful daughter made for me.  She made it in honor of my mother whom I lost to breast cancer.  October is breast cancer awareness month.  Do your breast exams, get your mammograms and see your doctor regularly.  I hate this disease and I don't want to lose anyone else to it. 

Hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The One Where I Screwed Up

So, I haven't posted in a couple of days.  Nothing really new about that.  I know you all are painfully aware of how sporadic my posts can be.  But in this instance I had an excuse other than being lazy. 

I received an email from Blogger at the beginning of this week. It scared me, and made me re-evaluate everything about my blog.  I was probably on the way to doing this anyway, but this gave me the extra shove.  Before I tell you what happened, let me say a few things first.  I have never, nor will I ever put ads on my my blog is totally not for profit by me or anyone else.  I'm not trying to make money off my blog or any of it's contents, nor will I ever do that with this blog.

Apparently I copy infringed on someone by using one of their pictures in my blog.  Blogger took down the post and I got the reprimand (please spare me lectures.  I know what I did was stupid.  Believe me when I say that you could never be harder on me than I am on myself.  If you feel the need to lecture, fine, but I will be deleting your comment if you do).  Back in April when I was participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge, I used a picture I found of the painted desert in one of my posts.  I NEVER implied that the picture was my own or tried to make money off it in any way.  I also gave photo credit to the website where I found the picture, which I naively thought would protect me from this.  I had seen it done on other blogs so I just followed their lead.  I'm pretty sure my mother warned me about doing this when I was little.  You know, "If everyone else was jumping off a bridge, would you jump too?".  Apparently Mom, I would.  So here is forewarning about following the crowd...don't do it.  I'm pretty sure you are all smart enough to know this though.

Anyway,  I have taken down all the posts that included pictures "borrowed" from the Internet.  Spending time in court defending myself against copyright infringement is not my idea of a good time.  I'm weird like that.  It really hurt to remove the posts, but I only have myself to blame.  I feel stupid and embarrassed.  So, lesson learned...I will not be doing that again.  Kind of puts a damper on my Arizona Almanac posts though.  I'm not a world traveler...not even a state traveler...not even a little bit.  And I'm not much of a photographer either, so that's going to limit what I'll be writing about.  Unless you'd like a tour of my back yard, which is in Arizona.  I could pass it off as Arizona wilderness, if you saw it, you'd hasn't seen a mower since softball season started.  I digress...

I've been thinking a lot lately about this blog and what I want it to be.  I read tons of other blogs.  I have a good amount of blog envy.  I try not to, but it's what I'm best at.  Comparing myself to other people, and not in a "I'm better than you" way, but a "I can never be that good" kind of way.  Which I tell my kids not to do all the time.  Practice what you preach...another lesson my mother tried to teach me.  Apparently I'm not a very good student.  So, I started really paying attention to the blogs I absolutely love and one thing became clear.  Every single one of them writes about their everyday life.  They write conversationally, which is how I like to think I write.  They write about the things they love.  Their family, their hobbies, their husband/wife/significant other...all the things that make up who they are.  And they are darned interesting.  See, I always feel that if I write about my life...who would want to read that?  I'm certainly not that interesting.  But what I realized was that I'm no different than most of those people who's blogs I read.  Well, most of them are thin, and most of them have young kids...but other than that...we are pretty much the same.  And I find their blogs amusing, entertaining and sometimes informative.  I feel like they are my friends.  And I think I feel that way because they just share who they are.  With no pretension...they are just real people writing about what really happens to them.  So that's what I've decided to do. 

I'm just going to write about my life.  Those of you who know me know that I am honest about all aspects of myself.  I have no desire to portray something I'm not.  So, you will probably get lots of posts about crocheting because that's really what I'm obsessed with right now.  I'll try to mix it up a little, but if it's heavy on the crochet...I apologize up front for that.  I'll probably talk about my kids some..sorry kids but it's for the good of the'll just have to live with it.  I will certainly be talking a lot about my husband because being that he is the King of Procrastination...well, he's full of good material.  I'll probably write about the cat.  The weird cat.  Sheesh she's weird.  But I'll save that for another time.  So, I'll just be writing about me and what I'm doing from now on.  The blog is called The Gerri Chronicles after all.  I guess I should be writing about Gerri.  I might throw in an interesting tidbit about Arizona here and there...but there will be no pictures unless I took don't hold your breath :)

That's it.  Thanks for reading and thanks for sticking with me.  I'll be doing lots of crocheting this weekend so I should have lots to share in the future ;)  Hope everyone has a terrific weekend!