Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Friday, October 31, 2003

Friday Five On Halloween

Here are the Friday Five questions for today.

1. What was your first Halloween costume?

I have no idea. How about the first Halloween costume that I remember? When I was in the sixth grade (mid 50s) I was a safety patrol. For rainy days the school supplied wonderful light colored flowing cape style raincoats with hoods. I remember talking our advisor into letting my friend and me borrow two of these raincapes to use as ghost costumes on Halloween. I think it helped that my friend's dad was the sixth grade teacher.

This costume was wonderful because it solved the annual conflict created by having a wonderful Halloween costume and then having to wear a coat over it. In SW Michigan it is traditional for it to rain and/or sleet and/or snow on Halloween.

In case you are wondering, it is raining as I write. But it is too warm to have sleet or snow, so that is better than other years.

2. What was your best costume and why?

My best costume was for Hoe-Down Day, not Halloween. Hoe-Down Day was a homecoming week event at Marshall High School. My freshman year I went as an alien. I dressed in green and used green food coloring on all my exposed skin. Several of my teachers recalled this costume years after I graduated.

3. Did you ever play a trick on someone who didn't give you a treat?

I don't remember any time when I didn't get a treat except for the people who weren't home or didn't want it to look like they were home. I've always been a rather peace loving, law-biding person. Plus I was too busy eating candy to bother with playing tricks.

4. Do you have any Halloween traditions? (ie: Family pumpkin carving, special dinner before trick or treating, etc.)

Halloween is not a special holiday for us. We live way way in the country and never have had a Trick or Treater visit us. I do have a very bright orange turtleneck that I wear to work on Halloween with black chinos. That's the best I can do.

5. Share your favorite scary story...real or legend!

I can't lick an envelope without thinking of the story my friend Russ told me about someone who licked an envelope and then "hatched" a cockroach from her tongue.

Supposedly while licking an egg-infested glue strip on an envelope, she got a paper cut. The cut got "infected". When she went to the hospital to have it examined the doctor made an incision to release the pus and a roach crawled out.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Pray Before Committing

There are many worthwhile causes and projects needing to be done in this world and the Lord doesn't expect me to do all of them. One of the rules I have for myself is "Don't agree to any optional project until you've prayed about it for three days."

If I would have followed my rule, I would not be facing four large empty shoeboxes in the front seat of my car that need to be wrapped and filled with toys and personal items for Operation Christmas Child.

My church is doing this project. When I first saw the announcement, I gave a moments thought to doing a shoebox and then moved on to thinking about something else.

The next week my friend Sherry mentioned that she had four shoeboxes and she had such fun shopping for the kids. I was easily caught up in her enthusiasm and next thing I knew she was bringing me three shoeboxes and I was asking my friends at work for more.

Now reality has settled in. I don't want to do this. I hate shopping. I won't digress into all the reasons I hate shopping, but one of them is physical pain from being on my feet too long. For that reason, I do most of my shopping online. This project can not be done online.

Since receiving the shoe boxes, I have prayed about this project. It's now obvious that this was my idea, not His idea. It's also obvious that since I started the project, it is now my responsibility to finish it.

I know I'm sounding like Scrooge here. Please know that I do many things to help other people. This project was not mine to do - until I made it so of my own free misguided will.

I will wrap and fill four shoeboxes. I will pray that the contents please the children who receive them. I will start praying to not resent the time and effort I am going to spend on this project. I will try to remember in the future to follow my own rule: pray BEFORE committing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Three New Psychological Syndromes

Ever notice how some widows will go on about their deceased husband as if he was the most perfect man that ever lived? When you know he wasn't and you know that she knows he wasn't? I call this the Dead Husband Syndrome. Pity the second husband if she ever marries again.

Lately I've been diagnosing with amusement that myself and others have the Dead Husband Syndrome about Pharmacia, our former employer.

Pharmacia no longer exists. It was eaten by Pfizer. Pfizer has been very thorough about making sure that everything Pharmacia is eliminated, including many of the employees. Those of us who are still around indulge in conversation about the good old days and how it used to be. Pharmacia is remembered as the perfect employer. We have no memory for the things we used to complain about. This variation on the Dead Husband Syndrome is called the Dead Company Syndrome.

Many years ago when I first started working as a COBOL programmer, there was a programmer named Nanct who couldn't program. She was a friendly, attractive, pleasant woman. Everyone liked her. Since I was new to office work and office politics, I watched in amazement as my coworkers talked about how poorly Nancy was treated by management. As far as I could tell, all management wanted was for Nancy to write some program code that worked.

One day management gave Nancy a simple programming assignment and told her if she wasn't able to do it they were going to have to let her go. She couldn't and they did. The whole office was in an uproar for days. Poor Nancy! How could they do this to poor undeserving Nancy? Not a soul would listen when I timidly mentioned that Nancy didn't have a clue how to program. All they could talk about was how unfairly she was treated.

Since then, when co-workers are completely blind to the fact that a fellow employee is incompetent, I mentally think of it as the Nancy Syndrome.

Since all three of these syndromes are caused by human nature, there is no cure. If you would like to contribute to my psychological research, leave your observations in the comments.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Friday Five On Sunday

This Friday Five came from sister Carrie. She let me change the questions a little to make them more fun to answer. Thanks Carrie.

1) Name five books (excluding the Bible) that you've read in the last five years that you really loved.
  • Harry Potter (all of them) by J. K. Rowling. A work of genius unfolding in our time.
  • A Painted House by John Grisham. I was sad when this book ended just because there wasn't any more of it to read. I think it is his best.
  • The Christ Clone Trilogy by James BeauSeigneur. An "end times" book a thousand times better than the awful but popular Left Behind series. The Christ Clone Trilogy is a well written story by an intelligent author. It is good reading for anyone, not just Christians.
  • The Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny. I gave this to Bob for his birthday several years ago and he read it out loud while I knit socks for him. It is actually ten books combined into one volume. An excellent science fiction saga.
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis - a masterpiece in presenting Christianity. I admire the intelligence, thoroughness and logic of C.S. Lewis.
2) Name five favorite television shows from the past.
  • Mary Hartman Mary Hartman
  • Startrek (the original)
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser
  • Hill Street Blues
3) Name five movies that you have watched more than once.
  • Shirley Valentine
  • Star Wars
  • Harry Potter (all of them). I've only watched these once, but plan to watch them again and again.
  • The Graduate
  • ET
4) Name five music albums that speak to your soul.
  • 25 Treasured Hymns by Tennessee Ernie Ford. Tennessee Ernie has a voice like I imagine God might sound if God did signing. My friend Russ played this CD for his mother while she lay dying in the hospice. Horrible thought. But if I had to go through an extended death experience I would like to do it to the voice of Tennessee Ernie.
  • Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf. Definitely not boring. I feel young again when I listen to it.
  • Conversations by Sara Groves. The whole album speaks to the heart.
  • The Best of the Mamas and the Papas. Nobody sings like Mama Cass. So sad when she died.
  • Simon and Garfunkle in Central Park. Great singing and great songs.
5) Name your five favorite current cartoons. I read these five favorites online everyday along with runner up favorites Curtis, Sally Forth, Zits, Baby Blues, Big Nate, and Arlo & Janis.
  • For Better or Worse
  • Luann
  • Frazz
  • Grand Avenue
  • Ben
Far Side gets honorable mention as a great cartoon memory from the past.

Am I the only person in the world who never liked Peanuts?

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

This May Not Be What You're Looking For

Now that Seasons of Violet has Bravenet stats, I'm able to see how readers get to my blog. It would be interesting to know what they think when they get here, especially when they get here while looking for something else.

Last week I had a visitor who did a Google search on "Kalamazoo Christmas Parade". It just happens that the number one entry on Google for "Kalamazoo Christmas Parade" is Seasons of Violet. No doubt that person was looking for information about the parade - maybe date and time. Imagine their surprise when they ended up looking at a Seasons of Violet post about a calendar with scenic dog poop pictures. (October 12 post if you missed it.)

Two different readers arrived at Seasons of Violet by doing a Goggle search on "Pfired". The number one entry on Google for "Pfired" is Seasons of Violet. Is this fame or what?

Tuesday I had a visitor who got to Seasons of Violet by entering a Google search for "picture pile of dog poop". This time Seasons wasn't the number one entry - but still, is this really how I want to be found?

Wednesday someone got to Seasons of Violet by doing a Google search for "WWJD bandaids". Seasons of Violet came up second on the Google list. WWJD was in my October 14 post and bandaids was in my October 17 post. This points out the futility of using the general Google search for two separate words. The advanced Google search will let you specify that the two words be an "exact phrase". But why would anyone want WWJD bandaids?

In case you're wondering how much information I get on my readers, don't worry. Your identity is safe. I can't tell who you are. For a direct hit, I get your OS and browser information and the IP address and name of your ISP. If you come from another internet site, I get the name of that site. If you come from a Goggle Search, I get to see what you were searching for.

Something tells me that people searching for "Kalamazoo Christmas Parade" or "Pfired" or "picture pile of dog poop" or "WWJD bandaids" didn't find what they expected in Seasons of Violet. Hopefully they were entertained for a few minutes before they left to try elsewhere.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Why The Parade Is Safe

Last fall Sunny was new to her Briarwood Advanced Hobby class. We didn't know the people or the dogs very well. One of the dog owners convinced Gail, the owner of Briarwood, to enter Briarwood dogs in the Christmas Parade. Gail wasn't very enthused about it, but decided to give it a try.

At the time, we were working on teaching the dogs to jump through hula hoops. When Gail asked who was going to be in the parade, she mentioned having the dogs jump through hula hoops. A dog can't jump through a hula hoop while their owner is holding their leash. I was not going to have my precious dog off leash, downtown, in a loud crowd with unfamiliar loud noises all around. I said we couldn't make it.

At the first post-parade class, I heard the story of what happened. Briarwood was placed by a band in the parade staging area. A band member clapped the cymbals and the group from Briarwood quickly came up with a Plan B that didn't require any dog to be off their leash, not even for a second. They did the simplest heeling drills: left turns, right turns, about turns. The crowd cheered and clapped and thought it was wonderful.

Now Gail loves doing parades. Briarwood Advance Hobby dogs, including Sunny, marched in the Doo Dah Parade last spring as the Poop Patrol. We had pooper scoopers and did fun drills, formations, and skits with the dogs 100% on leash.

This fall when asking who was going to be in the Christmas Parade, Gail mentioned that all dogs would be 100% on leash. I'm going to be walking along behind the rickshaw with two leashes in my hands. Fraulein, the German Shepherd pulling the rickshaw, will also be on leash.

There are two Advanced Hobby classes. Sunny is in one and Pappy is in the other, so we know all the people in Advance Hobby now. They are all dog lovers and we all watch out for each other's dogs. Sunny and Pappy will have lots of extended family there if anything unexpected happens. Three of them work as vet assistants. I consider the whole thing very safe or I wouldn't do it. The dogs love doing it or I wouldn't do it.

Little Pieces of Good News

My Kalamazoo manager (who is not really my manager but has the assignment of watching over me and acting like a manager because my real manager works for Pfizer in New Jersey and has only met me once) showed me an email written by my real manager to his superior requesting a January 9 Pfire date for me. Both my real manager and my pseudo manager are the nicest of guys. I had asked for the January date and it had been tentatively agreed to, but this is the first concrete evidence I've seen that it is really going to happen. If it does happen, I have 44 more working days until I get Pfired. This is good news.

My blood pressure was 116/69 at my doctor's appointment this morning and I got taken off my blood pressure medicine. That was one of my goals in losing weight and it was very satisfying to have it happen. I'd had the dosage cut in half this spring so my current dosage is very low and can safely be eliminated. One of many health incentives to never gain that lost weight back again.

Sunny liked riding in the rickshaw. She sat in the rickshaw box looking like the princess that she is. While I pulled her around and around, she watched her classmates practice their stunts for the Twelve Dog Daze of Christmas - dancing, singing, leaping, carrying rings. I think she was glad to be in the rickshaw.

Updates on Life

Updates on Life
German Shepherd Fraulein's mom and dad brought the rickshaw to doggy school Thursday night so I could see it and we could decide if Pappy and Sunny are riding in it for the Kalamazoo Christmas Parade. I think it's a "go". The box in the back is about eighteen by eighteen and eight inches deep. Pappy got in it and Fraulein pulled him around while I gave him little pieces of turkey dog. He was thinking he wanted to jump out, but as the little pieces of turkey dog appeared in front of his mouth he decided to stay in it and keep eating. In a few minutes he was relaxed and thinking that riding in the back of a rickshaw might be OK after all.

They left the rickshaw at Briarwood so Sunny can try it out on Monday night. She is a little more skittish about some things than Pappy is, so I'm curious to see how she does with it. Fraulein won't be there to pull her, so I'm going to try and recruit a human to do it. The rest of the dogs are learning to dance and/or leap and/or carry golden rings. Sunny and Pappy get off easy with just learning to ride in a box.

Mom's Beaded Socks are done and delivered. I left the toes open until I was sure they were going to fit. After the birthday party was over, she tried them on and I finished them up and took pictures. See Mom's Beaded Socks Album in Picturetrail. I'm very happy with the way they turned out. A fun project.

Next knitting project is not started. I'm still deciding what it's going to be. Opal Inspiration with eyelet lace I think.

Granddaughter Kimmy is turning eight on Thursday and the maternal side of her family had a party for her on Saturday hosted by Great-Grandmother, my Mom. It was a nice family get together and resulted in some good pictures of family members. For the interested, the pictures are on Picturetrail in the Kimmy's Birthday Party Album.

I think it's interesting that the contents of my refrigerator and freezer inspired more comments and funnier comments than anything else I've written about. Read the comments on the Friday, October 17 post for some interesting thoughts on preparing food and how to submit winning recipes in recipe contests.

Mom's Pink Beaded Socks

Pictures From Kimmy's Eighth Birthday

Friday, October 17, 2003

Friday Five Five Things

Here are the Friday Five questions for today.

FYI: 1 Weight Watcher point equals approximately 60 calories. It's more complicated than that, but at least that gives you a clue.

1. Name five things in your refrigerator.
  • Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese. Yummy. 1 point per wedge. One wedge easily covers eight Triscuits.
  • Red seedless grapes. I use them for diet snack food. 1 point per cup. Great for stress eating when I just want to keep sticking things into my mouth.
  • Brie with herbs. Another low fat treat to have on my low fat Triscuits. When I open up the brie, the dogs all flock to the kitchen. And yes, I do give them some and they love it.
  • Oscar Meyer no fat hotdogs. These are very tasty. 1 point each.
  • Smuckers low sugar strawberry preserves. 0 points unless you use way way too much.
2. Name five things in your freezer.
  • Aunt Millies low fat split-top honey bread. Tastes great. 1 point per slice. I wrap a piece around an Oscar Meyer no fat hotdog for a 2 point meal.
  • Lean Cuisine frozen entries.
  • Healthy Choice frozen dinners.
  • Skinny Cow peanut butter ice cream sandwiches. Very yummy. Creamy and satisfying. 2 points.
  • Eddy's ice cream. Not mine. Really.
3. Name five things under your kitchen sink.
  • Terry cloth rags.
  • Dish towels.
  • Red Juice from the Clean Team. A strong biodegradable cleaner.
  • Blue Juice from the Clean Team. A mild biodegradable cleaner.
  • Lime Away. A rust and lime remover.
4. Name five things around your computer. (I'm answering for my work computer.)
  • Pens and pencils.
  • Telephone.
  • Paper. Pads, scraps, Post-its, printouts.
  • A cute ceramic old-fashioned doctor in a red bow-tie about four inches tall holding a giant tube of Upjohn Mycitracin. A souvenir from three mergers ago when we were The Upjohn Company.
  • Daily Dog Fancy calendar. Today's picture is a Sheltie in a pile of leaves.
5. Name five things in your medicine cabinet.
  • Deep Woods Off.
  • Scooby-doo bandaids.
  • Mycitracin.
  • Tinactin.
  • Dental floss.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

What Would Jesus Do About This Tee Shirt?

After my post on Christian blogs, I did find some blogs written by intelligent Christians who know the Bible and aren't legalistic. It's been a blessing for me to know that they exist.

Going Jesus is a blog written by a church secretary who sells tee shirts and other items that say wtfwjd? at Cafepress.

wtfwjd? is a clever combination of the two popular acronyms WTF (What The F**k) and WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?). I've been chuckling over this acronym for several days now. I think Jesus might very well laugh at it, too.

I've always thought WWJD? is a stupid question. How are we supposed to know that? And, if we did know, what makes anyone think we are supposed to do the same thing Jesus would have done? He may have been fully human, but He was also fully God - complete with ability to do miracles. We are only human - members of a fallen race. I don't think it's expected that we know what God would do. I think it's impossible that we do what God would do.

Short digression: I do think it's possible to know what God would have us do or not do. There is a big difference between doing what God would Himself do and doing what God wants us to be doing.

I would not wear a wtfwjd? tee shirt. It's not because I think it's offensive to God. I would not wear it because it would offend many nice, sincere Christians who don't agree with my conclusion that it's humorous and benign.

Christian or non, I'd love to hear your thoughts on wtfwjd? Please leave a comment. If you are shy, you don't need to use a name and/or email. They're not required.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Monthly Doos and Pappy Update

Looking for a unique Christmas gift?
Check out Monthly Doos - the 2004 dog poop calendar. Slogans: "Everything is dootiful in its own way." and "Monthly Doos. When you care enough to give a crap."

It's a beautiful calendar with a gorgeous scene for each month accentuated with a pile of dog poop. The calendar has "Loads of fun facts, quirky quotes and stories about the lore of dung, as well as portraits of the offally sweet mutts who made the mounds."

This is only the second year for the Monthly Doos. According to the back cover it's back by popular demand. "Monthly Doos 2004 is a craptacular follow-up to our steamingly successful first effort."

The calendar is published by - who else? - Watch Your Step Productions. They have a very nice website Monthly Doos complete with buzzing flies. You can see all the pictures and read more of the text. I found it too funny to be completely gross. It's worth a visit to the website even if you don't want to buy a calendar.

Watch Your Step only sells wholesale from the website. Unless you want a minimum of six, you will need a retail source. I got mine from SitStay, another great site to visit if you have a dog you love.

The calendar I bought is going to be a Christmas present for Gail, the dog trainer and owner of Briarwood Dog Training. What better gift for someone who inspired me to march as part of the "Poop Patrol" in the Doo Dah Parade last spring?

Weekend report
The weather this weekend has been so beautiful. I've taken advantage of it by going on many walks with the dogs. All in all it's been a very restful weekend. Next weekend Kimmy is coming over, so it will not be restful. In fact, I need to be careful not to get over tired this week so I'll have some energy left for Friday and Saturday.

Little by little I'm working on this blog to get it the way I want it. This weekend I installed another hit counter. This one is from Bravenet and seems to be working great. The stats are much better than the Blogger hit counter I had to rip out in order to get the comments to work. You can see the count tally at the bottom of this page. If you visit more than once in 24 hours, it only counts you once. I like that.

Pappy went to the vet Saturday for his annual checkup and shots. He's very healthy now, even his teeth. The vet estimated his age to be four years old. When we adopted him last November she estimated his age to be five. Maybe we should all start eating dogfood.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Tit for Tat

Before I ever had my own laptop I joined a Yahoo sock knitting group from my PC at work. Someone in the group was knitting a pattern from the Knitting Curmudgeon web site so I checked it out and was fascinated by her writing, her thoughts, her life, and her friends. I went back to read more again and again. It was my introduction to blogging.

The Knitting Curmudgeon is an excellent blog. I still read it even though we have different philosophies of life and she frequently insults things that are dear to me, including my faith and the wonderful ladies in the Socknitter group.

Her blog is described as "not for the faint of heart". Her posts critiquing knitting publications, knitting lists, and knitting designers are very well written and I almost always agree with her. But let's just say she doesn't seek out the kindest way to express her opinions. And don't go to her site if a little bad language offends you.

The idea of having my own blog originated with reading the Curmudgeon. I thank her for that.

She’s currently going through a difficult season of life. I pray for her. She would probably find that insulting and offensive. Sounds fair to me.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Friday Five on Sports

I went out to the Friday Five (no longer active) website to get the questions for today. At first glance I thought today's questions were boring. But once I got into answering them it was fun and brought back some good memories.

1. Do you watch sports? If so, which ones?

  • Not usually.

2. What/who are your favorite sports teams and/or favorite athletes?

  • Joan Benoit Samuelson: Won the first women's Olympic marathon in 1984. Now mother of two and still running. Does charity work in Maine.

  • Florence Griffith Joyner - FloJo: World record sprinter with eye-catching outfits and four-inch fingernails. She was awesome in so many ways. Died in 1998 of a severe epileptic seizure. So sad.

  • Steve Yzerman: Over a decade as Detroit Redwing captain. He's been there for the bad years and the good. Always a hard worker and a class act.

  • Derek Jeter: Yankee shortstop who grew up in Kalamazoo. His mother used to work in my building and we ate lunch in the same cafeteria. Does that make me famous?

3. Are there any sports you hate?

  • I hate any sport that someone expects me to play. See question 5.

4. Have you ever been to a sports event?

  • Olympic Track and Field Trials in 1988, 1992, and 1996. That's where I saw Carl Lewis and FloJo. Also Jackie Joyner and Mary Decker Slaney.

5. Do/did you play any sports (in school or other)? How long did you play?

  • I'm a near-sighted nerd. Do I need to explain more?

Bonus Friday Five from Mother
In the Wednesday comments, I wrote the following update on the plans for the Briarwood Dog Training entry in the Kalamazoo Christmas Parade:

"I just found out tonight that Gail wants Sunny and Pappy to ride in a rickshaw pulled by Fraulein, the German Shepherd. That means I'll be walking and holding their leashes."

This got Mother curious about everything and on Friday she responded with a set of five questions. How handy! So here is a second set of Friday Five submitted by Mother:

1. From where is the rickshaw coming? Who's got one?

  • Denise, a woman in Pappy's Advanced Hobby dog training class, has a rickshaw. I believe her husband made it for Fraulein, their German Shepherd, to pull. She is going to bring it to class next Thursday so I can see it.

  • It was Denise's idea that Briarwood do the Christmas Parade. She is making twenty-six gold capes for our group to wear in the parade along with matching neck scrunchies for the dogs.

2. Who is going to control the German Shepherd?

  • Denise will have Fraulein's leash. Fraulein is a mature, intelligent, well trained dog. Fraulein is friends with Pappy, but she doesn't know Sunny yet.

3. Are Sunny and Pappy still going to have their carseats wrapped as Christmas gifts?

  • Doubtful. I don't think there is room in the rickshaw for the carseats. The dogs may be in wrapped boxes or maybe not. We have to see how it works the best.

4. What makes Gail think the German Shepherd wants to pull this putative rickshaw a mile or two through the cheering masses??

  • Fraulein pulled the rickshaw in last year's Christmas parade, so she is experienced.

4. Or that Sunny and Pappy are going to sit still for it??

  • They don't have to sit still. Gail wants them to be the "Two Naughty Papillons" in the Briarwood 12 Dog Daze of Christmas. She wants to see if we can get them to jump in and out of the rickshaw. Yes, I will be holding their leashes.

The Briarwood parade application has been sent in so The 12 Dog Daze of Christmas theme is final. The execution of the theme is still in the planning stages. There will be practice sessions and many changes to come. Stay tuned and don't worry.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Dreaming of the Future

Last night I had a dream where I had two kneecaps on each leg. I kept staring at them and I couldn't figure out where the extra kneecaps came from. Then someone explained to me that double kneecaps happen when you get older. I never knew.

The real physical changes that are happening as I get older are almost as mystifying as double kneecaps even though I did know about them. I've been studying elderly people since I was a child. I used to work in a geriatric nursing home. My aging body should not be a surprise. Instead it seems to be one surprise after another as it happens to me.

Gray hair. Wrinkles and sags. Hair in strange places. Memory lapses. Trifocals. Aches and pains. More aches and pains. Yikes!

I'm learning what it means to be "long in the tooth". It means that food is going to visibly stick to my teeth and I'm going to have to act like an old person and pick it off. Yuck!

Even with all the usual signs of aging present, I have to keep reminding myself that I'm almost sixty because it seems impossible. When I say it out loud it makes it more real. It's like I'm plugging myself into reality.

So far I've been able to accept and deal with the manifestations of aging. It's what is yet to come that concerns me. How bad is this going to get? What if I really do end up with four kneecaps?

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

And A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Briarwood Dog Training is going to have The 12 Dog Daze of Christmas for it's entry in the Kalamazoo Christmas parade. Sunny and Pappy are going to be Two Papillons in place of Two Turtle Doves. This should be fun. We're supposed to have parade practices and float working sessions. Mom has agree to be photographer, so I will have some pictures after it's all over on November 8.

Both dogs have a grooming appointment the day before the parade so I only have to keep them clean for 24 hours. Even that will be a challenge with Sunny. She has curly hair that works like a dirt magnet when the ground is wet.

In my cube at work I have a Papillon calendar. The October Papillon is a cute little fluffy puppy. Every time I look up I WANT IT. It won't happen. Three dogs are plenty. And two of them are almost as sweet as a puppy anyway.

We've had several hard frosts already. The tender plants are looking done-for. I'm looking forward to being in the garden much more next year. It needs my attention. It's looking remarkably well for the neglect it's suffered the last few years.

I'm working on a 100 Things About Me page. So far I've got about 60. Writing 100 things about me is more difficult than I thought it would be.

One of my daily laughs occurs when the Blogger spellchecker doesn't recognize the word "blog". It wants to replace it with "bloc". Wouldn't you think . . . . .?

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Mom's Beaded Socks

My family has a long history of receiving unwearable knitted garments from a loving grandmother. Just the word "knit" can cause some members of my family to start laughing. I haven't offered to knit for any of them. They've suffered enough. Therefore, I was very surprised when my mother asked me for a pair of hand knit socks.

Originally I planned to knit lacy stripes for her and even purchased the yarn. Then I mentioned I wanted to try to knit a pair of beaded socks for the challenge of it. The problem was that I didn't think I would ever wear them. Mom is an artist type. She said she'd like a pair of beaded socks. So that's what we are doing. I'm having fun knitting and she's going to have fun wearing.

As of tonight, both cuffs are done on Mom's beaded socks. 480 little beads have been knit in and I'm extremely pleased with the results. What fun! And someone I love is actually going to wear them! Mom even bought some Capri pants so the socks will show. I can hardly wait to finish them.

Please Don't Make Me Do It Again

Imagine that you've just finished a creative project that took eight plus hours and now you're ready to move on to your next creative project. But you can't because you have to go back and do an exact replica of the project you just completed.

That's the feeling I get when I finish knitting one sock and it's time to start the second sock. This feeling is so common with sock knitters that they have a name for it: SSS - Second Sock Syndrome.

Starting that second sock after the first one is complete is a bore. The challenge of the pattern has been met and conquered. Now it's time to get on to the next challenge, to see how some other yarn and stitch pattern look together, to do anything but knit an identical sock.

I avoid SSS by knitting both socks at the same time. I start one sock, knit a few inches, and then start the second sock. I grab the shortest sock each time I sit down to knit. By the time one of the socks is done, the other is almost done and I have a pair.

Some sock knitters have complicated methods of knitting both socks on the same set of needles at the same time. I do it the simplest way possible - on two separate sets of needles with two balls of yarn. Each sock in process is an independent unit.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Please Release Me, Let Me Go

57 more work days until I'm Pfired. I need to do this countdown in order to have the reality of the situation sink in. Soon I will be unemployed/retired after twenty-five plus years of working full time.

Most of the time I smile when I think about it. But there are little niggling worries, too. What will it be like to have all that freedom? All that time? No structure? No paycheck?!!

Will I really be a better housekeeper when I'm not working? Will I stay up too late and sleep in too long? What will I have for lunch? I've been buying lunch at work for twenty-five plus years.

I plan to spend the first week vegging out: sleeping in, reading, knitting, messing around on the web. After that I will need to add some structure and routine to my life. Surely I have the self-discipline to do that. Don't I?

Now that I've spit out my niggling worries in this blog, it's time to show some confidence about this major life change. All - yes every single one - of the former workmates who have been Pfired/retired before me are loving it. They are finding new interests, doing new things, and looking ten years younger when I see them. I plan to do the same.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Friday Five - Cars

While surfing around today, I found a site that has the Friday Five. Five questions to answer in your weblog. (Friday Five no longer exists.)

Friday is past, but here goes anyway. I'll check the questions out again next week and see if I want to do the Friday Five on a regular basis. To be truthful, I found answering to be a little boring. Maybe that's just the thing for a Friday.

Friday five - two days late
1. What vehicle do you drive?
  • 2000 Toyota Camry Classic Edition

2. How long have you had it?

  • Bought it in March 2000 mostly paid for with the money from my Y2K bonus. The company offered all its computer people three months extra pay if we worked hard and made it through Y2K without any negative impact on the business. What a deal.

3. What is the coolest feature on your vehicle?

  • My Camry is a very practical car without many extra features. The coolest thing in it is two doggy carseats in the back. People are always pointing at them and asking about them. The little dogs sit in them so they can see out the window. Plus it keeps them safe and secure. The seats are anchored in with the seatbelt. The dogs wear a harness and are tethered to the seat belt. The dogs get very excited everytime they see me pull out the harnesses. They love going on rides in their carseats.

4. What is the most annoying thing about your vehicle?

  • It doesn't have four wheel drive. Four wheel drive is very handy in the Michigan winter. The Camry does handle well in the snow and ice though.

5. If money were no object, what vehicle would you be driving right now?

  • Toyota Highlander or 4Runner, but only if the ride was as comfy as the Camry's ride.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Little Doggies Gotta Go Somewhere

Little doggies gotta go somewhere October 4, 2003
Background: Sunny our Papillon mix and Pappy our Papillon are small dogs. Both are under fifteen pounds.

Sunny weighed two pounds when we got her as a puppy two years ago. There was no way we were going to let that little thing go outside without one of us being by her side to protect her from the wildlife and raptors - or maybe even a big insect. Our solution was to Wee-Wee pad train her.

For those of you who don't know - and I'm guessing that's most of you - Wee-Wee pads are like human baby disposablele diapers without the crotch folds. You lay one on the floor. The dog squats on it and pees and/or poops. Then you dispose of it and lay down a new one.

This worked great and saved us from freezing our butts off during the winter of 2001-2002. Then in the late fall of 2002 we got Pappy. He was a mature Papillon rescue dog with many shyness and fear issues. We don't know what happened to him before he ended up in rescue. We do know that he got passed around to at least three different rescue organizations and he has physical scars from his past life. He was housebroken however, and this wasn't the time to try to teach him different.

Because of Pappy we ended up getting lots of cold, healthy fresh air during the winter of 2002-2003. Sunny always went out with us and she learned the joys of going potty outdoors.

Now Sunny prefers to go potty outside. She only uses the Wee-Wee pad when it's raining or when the timing of the trips outside don't meet her requirements.

We still don't let the little dogs go out by themselves. Same reasons with the addition of a coyote spotting on our property.

This morning I was sitting and knitting and Sunny asked to go outside. It couldn't have been more obvious what she wanted. First she went over to the Wee-Wee pad and wadded it up into a ball. Then she turned around and glared at me. I got the message. We all went outside and she pooped like a big dog - in the grass.

Pappy is well adjusted now and we've been debating if we should try to Wee-Wee pad train him for the winter. I don't think it's going to happen. I think we're going to have another winter with lots of cold, healthy fresh air and exercise.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Happy Birthday Bob and Frost

Happy Birthday Bob!!!
Love you, so we won't talk about how old you are today.

Baby it's cold outside
September in Michigan is usually very beautiful. Just a little bit of coolness in the evenings. Nice sunny days, the leaves barely starting to turn.

This September was cold. We had to turn the heat on. But this morning took the cake. October 2 - two weeks before the average SW Michigan first frost date - and there's ice on everything. It rained last night and then the temperature went down to thirty degrees.

When I took the dogs out for their morning walk the frozen grass was crunching under my feet. When I went to get into my car, the doors were frozen shut and I had to scrape the windshield. Yuk. What's next? Snow?

Shrinking Violet
Monday I wore a pair of size 10 slacks to work. I bought them about two months ago and have been trying them on every week waiting for the time when they looked decent enough (meaning not too tight) to wear out of the house.

Today I ordered four more pair of size 10 slacks. When they get here, I'm purging my closet of all my too-big slacks and I'll have something different to wear that fits for each day of the week. Feels good. Official Weight Watchers weight loss is at twenty-seven pounds.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Miscellaneous Updates on Life

Knitting: The Lollipop socks are almost done. Down to the toe shaping on both of them. If nothing unexpected happens, I will be working on Mom's beaded socks by next weekend.

Christmas Parade: Briarwood Dog Training is going to be in the Kalamazoo Christmas parade. Gail, the owner, likes the idea of Sunny and Pappy peeking out of a wrapped box. I'm supposed to work on teaching them to wave their paw. Pappy will wave, but I doubt Sunny will. I'll be able to teach her to wave, but at the parade she's going to be too excited to do it.

Getting Pfired: Pfizer says they need to keep me until the end of the year. I've asked for a January 9 date to be severed. Now that I've adjusted to the thought of being unemployed, I'm anxious for it to happen.

Weightloss: Last Wednesday's weigh-in was not good. I was up 3/4 of a pound. Since my fast food weekend a week ago, I've been within my point range. This week's weigh-in should be better.

Seasons of Violet Blog: I'm planning to update my blog everyday this week. That's a big challenge because of the time it takes. Time is very tight during the workweek. Eventually this blog will have a more interesting layout with pictures of violets. I don't dislike my current layout. It's plain and functional and will do very nicely until I get around to changing it.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Seasons Change But Tattoos Are Forever

I saw a young woman with snake tattoos on her arms and shoulders. Oh honey, I don't think that was a smart thing to do. Don't I remember that it hurts to have tattoos removed?

Life changes us. Our interests change as we age. While it might be interesting to have a tattoo history of things we used to find important, it's more likely that we don't want to be so frequently reminded.

Thinking of my own life in ten year intervals, here's my imaginary tattoo history:

1955, 10 years old - New tattoo is a picture of Howdy Doody.

1965, 20 years old - New tattoo has hearts and says "Harold Forever".
  • Harold was my first husband. We married in 1965.
  • Howdy Doody was removed in 1958, as soon as I could earn enough baby sitting money to pay to for the procedure.

1975, 30 years old - New tattoo has flowers and says "Bob Forever".
  • Bob is my second husband. We married in 1975.
  • You can bet that "Harold Forever" has been removed.

1985, 40 years old - New tattoo is a picture of running shoes.
  • I imagine myself finding the meaning of life during a runner's high.
  • "Bob Forever" still works, except I'm about twenty-five pounds heavier. It's looking a little distorted.

1995, 50 years old - New tattoo is a Christian cross.
  • I'm a new Christian and it really is the meaning of life.
  • The running shoes have to go. I have arthritis and a bad back. I'm lucky I can walk.
  • "Bob Forever" still works, except I'm now about fifty pounds heavier. It's looking very distorted.

2005, 60 years old - New tattoo is going to be difficult to place amoung the wrinkles. I'm thinking it will be be something about Seasons and Violets.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Getting Kicked Out of the Nest

Background: I worked for Pharmacia for 17 years. Pharmacia was acquired by Pfizer. Thousands of us in Kalamazoo are being severed. We call it being Pfired.

Late last fall when I first learned I was going to be Pfired, my initial reaction was happiness. After all, I wasn't planning to work that many more years and the severance package was generous.

We had a psychologist brought in to conduct a class on the emotional impact of being severed. He talked about denial, anger, resentment, and depression. I listened, decided it didn't apply to me, and threw the handout in the wastebasket. Classic denial.

In a few months as the slaughter began, I noticed that it didn't take much to bring tears to my eyes. I started having uncharacteristic emotional reactions to everyday events. By that time everyday events included the elimination of everything familiar at work: the departments, the systems, the culture, and the people.

The anger, resentment, and depression cycles peaked in August. These were the weeks prior to one of my favorite workmates getting Pfired. For several weeks I was unable to concentrate and the slightest thought of what was happening brought a big lump to my throat.

I think I'm better now. I think I've reached the stage where I accept and I'm ready to move on. I don't like what is happening. I'm never going to feel good about what is happening. But I'm almost ready to thank Pfizer for throwing me into the next phase of my life.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Thoughts on Weight Watchers

The score: I've been doing Weight Watchers at work since late January. So far I've lost 25 pounds and have 11 pounds left to lose.

The Weight Watchers program works. How I feel about the Weight Watchers organization itself is another story. Maybe some other post I’ll write about it. Maybe not.

Here's a list of what I've learned:

  • In order to lose weight I need to eat much less than I was eating before. It's amazing I wasn't more overweight than I was.

  • Sometimes when I think I'm hungry, I'm really thirsty and water takes care of the craving.

  • Drinking eight glasses of water a day is easy and doesn't result in more trips to the bathroom. It does make me feel better than I've felt in years.

  • Giving up almost all sugar plus drinking the water helped my aches and pains. They didn't go away, but they are much less noticeable.

  • It's really fun to pull out my fall clothing and have it be baggy.

  • There are some good tasting low fat products on the market. They are way outnumbered by awful tasting low fat products on the market.

  • I would rather eat a small amount of a good tasting traditional dish than a large amount of a traditional recipe altered to be low fat.

  • As long as I have grapes to munch on, I can ignore almost all other snack foods.

  • Eating as a reward is not permissible. Rewards to replace eating are hard to find. In my case knitting time and laptop time are substitutes. But in a time pressured world they are not always practical.

  • Once a week I can cheat and eat something that is more points than I'm allowed in a day. Maybe that's why I've lost less than a pound a week. On the other hand, it's made the process bearable.

  • The health rewards are significant. Both the measurable (blood pressure, cholesterol) and the unmeasurable (energy level, joint pain).

  • The WW eating plan is something I can live with for the rest of my life. That's were other diets fall short for me. They are too restrictive to maintain.

Question to Ponder: Why is it that two of my favorite low fat products, Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches and Laughing Cow Cheese, have "cow" in their name and a picture of a cow on their package?

Thursday, September 11, 2003


I don't need to see the images. They are burned in my brain. The impact of the planes, people tumbling through the air, the towers crumbling down.

This is a fallen world. It will always be full of evil until Jesus returns.

It is our job to be salt in this world and fight the futile fight until that return. That will be the day we can finally rest in His peace and His love.

Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Miscellaneous Updates on Life for September 7

Knitting: Mom wants the beaded socks I'm almost ready to start knitting. This is the first knit item my mother has ever requested, so I'm looking forward to getting started. The last pair of CIC socks aren't done yet and I won't start the beaded socks until they are.

Doggy School: Pappy did the agility course off leash one time last Thursday. Then we switched the order of the course and I put his leash back on so I could help guide him through the new configuration. I'm not sure he needed guiding. His progress is amazing.

Christmas Parade: Briarwood Dog Training is going to be in the Kalamazoo Christmas parade. We are looking for ideas on what our entry is going to be like. I checked out Goggle for dogs in Christmas parades and came to the conclusion that dog schools in general have little imagination. So far Briarwood is not the exception.

Getting Pfired: As far as I know, my date to be severed is March 5, 2004. Almost everything I do is going away by the end of October. I’m thinking they can’t possibly mean to keep me until March. If they do keep me, it's good for the retirement budget. The problem is that I'm mentally and emotionally ready to go NOW.

Weightloss: I’m down 25 pounds since late January. About 15 pounds left to go. Next week we start the fourth ten-week session of Weightwatchers at Work. It will be interesting to see if the class actually starts. Most of the veteran attendees are on the verge of getting severed, or were severed last week. I sent my check in. We’ll see what happens.

Grandma and Kimmy Do The Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival

Friday afternoon I took a few hours vacation and went to pick up Granddaughter Kimmy after school.

We ate a snack at McDonalds and came home to play with the dogs, play with the dollhouse, and play Sorry. She won.

The main event of the weekend was the Friday night firework display over Maple Lake at the Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival. They were awesome, as always.

On Saturday we visited the festival craft sale and the carnival rides.

Granddaughter Kimmy and Daughter Heather.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Picking A Name

Note added 3/14/2010: September 1, 2003 I started my first blog, Seasons of Violet, with this post.

I am in the process of moving posts I want to keep from Seasons of Violet to Stitches of Violet intending to delete Seasons of Violet when the transfer is complete.

A few weeks ago I made a list of names I might possibly use for my blog. They all included the word violet, because violet is my e-mail name and my theme.

After making the list, I sent it out to some family and friends for their thoughts. Most of them thought that “Violet Blooms” or “Blooming Violet” was the best name because either it reminded them of spring or it indicated that I was blooming. Blooming as in personally growing and becoming a more complete person.

So glad I asked. I do have days when I’m blooming. They are rare and wonderful days.

Many of my days I am just trying to survive. Sometimes I’m depressed and/or tired. Sometimes I feel crummy. Sometimes life seems heavy and hard. Those are the days I need to write the most.

I’m sure everyone will be surprised when I don’t use a name containing “bloom”. Instead, I’m going to go with “Seasons of Violet” to represent the changing times of lmy life.

My dear husband Bob, in his great wisdom, picked that name from the start. He knows me well.