Sunday, September 28, 2008

I've Got One Hand In My Pocket, and the Other One is....

...stocking up my pantry:). Seriously, at this very moment, happiness is as simple as a full pantry and a tank of gas in one car. We did our grocery shopping today and, although it was $75, which is waaaaay over our budget if you follow my blog, we stocked up on several staples, and I've already got three big meals planned for the week, so we should be able to freeze some food and stuff!!

On a crappier note, I have done NO knitting today. We went to church, had lunch with my folks, did our shopping, and then I completely fell out until 5 pm. I must have been tired...and it was the kind of sleep where you still feel groggy even though it's going on three hours later. I think I've been letting the stress get to me way too much lately and it's just throwing everything off. I was talking in Life Group today about not feeling like I can get myself together at all...I just don't even feel like doing anything, which is a bummer.

It's been a lazy weekend, aided by the fact that we've not been able to drive much of anywhere because of the gas shortage. It'll be interesting to see what happens this week, and I'm not thrilled that we're having to postpone the yard sale since no one will be out driving around next weekend until we get some freakin' gas.
Dinner tonight was simple...biscuits with choices of toppings. I topped mine with sugar-free syrup. I absolutely LOVE Jiffy Mix. You can make anything with that stuff. I swear, there's probably directions to make a turkey out of it somewhere.

I have no more for tonight. This was pretty lackluster, honestly. My bad. But at least it has photos this time...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thoughts on the Gas Shortage

I'm torn because I don't know who to be more angry with on this whole situation...the news media definitely bears a significant amount of responsibility. Honestly, you can't whip the viewship into a frenzy of worry and then say, "but please don't top off your tank constantly and hoard gas." We don't live in a society that can self-monitor...people will immediately run out to the nearest gas station, wipe out the reserve of fuel, and then get into fistfights or pull guns on each other in outrage over cutting in line. You can't turn to a news channel without constant coverage of when gas is expected, who's got gas, why there will be a problem for some time...it's making people crazy.

But then, Thursday, Pat McCrory makes a statement that a huuuge load of fuel is coming in and there'll be enough for everyone soon. We drove to my parents' house this morning and there was not a station on our way in Charlotte that had gas. There were a couple in Union County, and those had lines down the street with cops directing traffic. My conspiracy theorist side believes that the announcement about the "massive shipment" of fuel was probably not true at all, but was just an attempt to stop the hysteria. The problem with that, though, is that the announcement of lots of fuel is going to send people out in droves as well.

My inner conspiracy theorist also toyed with the idea earlier today that the news media just wants to see how well they can control the populace. I know that's far-fetched, and it's really just got to do with the rabid, blind, ruthless pursuit of ratings, but, were the media wanting to get a gauge of their own power, this gas shortage has most definitely proven to them that they are able to incite almost primitive behavior in otherwise decent human beings.

We got gas several days ago, so we were not worried, until today when Joey had only 1/4 tank, and he'll definitely have to drive up to school Friday, so we needed to get him fueled up. We finally found a station on the way home that had just started to develop a line, so we only had to wait for twenty minutes or so, and the man running the station was doing his best to direct the traffic to keep things flowing and to keep people honest. It wasn't a terrible experience. I still have half a tank, so I should be okay for most of next week.

Honestly, I can't even imagine what it's like for those people with huge gas-guzzling vehicles right now. I am so thankful that we have two cars that get over 30 mpg. I'm also hoping that our society takes note at how over-dependent we are on oil. I doubt they will, as we seem to be the only area affected and thus, no one is talking about us on a national level, but it really brought home the idea to me of living more locally and smaller, or at least getting in shape so one can ride distances on a bike;).

So, we're spending the evening at home to keep from wasting gas. In full frugal mode, we've got the windows open, letting the cool breeze in, have the lights off and are using the natural light from outside, and will be eating out of the pantry tonight. Tomorrow, we'll just go to church and do our grocery shopping on the way home, and then we will be in for another night.

I've got our menus planned for the next week, and Joey and I have planned for it to be a little more expensive week than normal because I really want to stock up on staples. This gas experience has really gotten me thinking about having a stocked pantry after seeing how possible it would be to end up stranded, needing to live off our own stores for weeks at a time.

The older I get, the more I begin to understand this world and the cycles in which it runs. To my grandparents who lived through the Depression, this is nothing new. To my parents who went through the last Recession and gas rationing, this is nothing new, but to my generation, this is devastating, and it's worse than it's ever been, because we're more dependent on conveniences than we ever have been. Generations past have known how to take action to live in a self-sufficient manner. We're used to cell phones, mp3 players, cable, microwaves, supermarkets, cars...and were these things to be taken away, we wouldn't know what to do.

Employment focus is more and more on the financial markets, which are starting to prove themselves to be a house of cards of sort, based on greed and money that doesn't even exist...which all works very well until it's time to settle up and there's no way to pay. Few of us still focus on the work of our own hands...we don't need to because we can just import it from a third world country.

It all concerns me. I love technology just as much as everyone else (except cell phones. I hate them), but I'm just concerned that we're not as balanced of a society as we used to be...we're always a people of excess...if ONE is great, then ONE HUNDRED must be even greater!! We fail to understand that there is a place in this world for every task, for every specialization, and once we start to move the basic rudimentary jobs away, we're making ourselves more and more dependent on others to meet our basic needs.

We weren't always that way....this country was founded on the ideals of working together as a community to provide for ourselves, without being under someone else's thumb. Now, we're only interested in passing the "boring" or "annoying" jobs off to someone else so that we can do something more sophisticated. It's like we've completely forgotten that sometimes it's necessary to do things that we don't necessarily want to do, just because we know it's good for us to do them.

Sorry...no solutions here. Probably not a whole lot of facts and statistics either. Just my feelings from watching the mass hysteria in Central NC and hoping that whoever is elected will take these things to heart and pay attention to the proper direction that we need to take our country.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Crikey Lou!!

That's become my new exclamative phrase as of late...no idea why, and it probably sounds extremely dorky, but I figure it's better that things I could say. After EIGHT hours in continuing ed (which, while I'm exhausted, I'm also grateful because it was FREE CE and made up almost half of what I need by July 09), I'm ready to relax and call it a day.

I went out to mow the lawn Tuesday with the reel mower and saw some strange, unidentifiable objects in the yard. I moved closer to them and it seemed as though they were GIGANTIC mushrooms. I tapped one with my foot and, as I suspected, they were hugely gorgeous mushrooms!! They were bigger than a human head, and were absolutely magnificent. One of them looked like a giant butt, haha!!
In the event that you've not noticed, I'm obsessed with mushrooms. I've actually toyed with the idea of trying to grow edible ones in the house. I've always loved psychadelic-looking mushroom kitsch from the '70s. I even have two neclaces that I got in Charleston that are polymer clay mushrooms. So, in honor of my love affair with the 'shroom, I've decided that my next tattoo will indeed have to be a psychadelic mushroom...so, now, I must find some pictures to take to Sarah so that she can draw something up for me and I can continue my love affair with inking significant things on my body.



Here I am, loving a giant, psychadelic mushroom...

I've also been thinking a lot about the whole frugality vs sustainability thing. Sustainable, eco-friendly living is my ultimate goal, clearly, but I think that I may be setting myself up for failure by overwhelming myself with information when I'm not in a position to take action on certain things. That may not have made sense......to illustrate: I've been reading all summer about everyone picking their organic produce, canning, freezing and dehydrating, filling their cabinets and freezers with wonderful, super-local and safe food to eat all winter. I didn't plant a garden this year...and, quite honestly, I probably won't be able to do anything on a large scale next year either (at least until I can develop some skill and not watch everything die and rot). I can't afford to buy all-organic food....it's too expensive, and quite honestly, there's so many loopholes to declaring something "organic" that I'm not entirely sure I'll be getting something that's much better than the conventional option. So, I start to get defeated and feel like a failure, which then leads me to give up on the entire idea and forget about it, which is no progress either. Because of the way Joey and I need to live to be able to pay for school, I think that our major focus for Fall and Winter of this year needs to be the areas where frugality and sustainability meet:

  • continued water conservation, which should get easier now that it's getting to be cooler and we have less reason to need to take more than one shower per day.

  • reduced electricity and natural gas useage. Last year, we went the entire month of November without turning on the heat, and even when we did, we left it at 62 only so the pipes wouldn't get too cold and the Kins wouldn't be uncomfortable. We plan to do the same this year, but most likely will aim for using the gas logs less too. We will also continue to work to use the residual heat from the stovetop and oven when we're cooking, and we'll be eating lots more "warm meals" (i.e. soups and stews that can be made in the crockpot)

  • Stocking up on canned and frozen veggies and fruit so that we can make good, hearty, healthy, delicious meals all winter.
In short, we're going to relax our large-scale focus on sustainability for now, recognizing that we can't let ourselves feel defeated because we can't make every change at once. I guess for some, that may make us "posers" or mean to them that we're not entirely serious about the sustainability movement. This is not so...we're just at a point in our lives where we need to focus on the small changes that we can make instead of being overwhelmed because we can't completely overhaul our lives at once.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Letting Go of the Bull...

It's funny to me how we can think that we've grown past something, only to be showed in very unmerciful ways that we haven't. I had a recent experience that left me with the very same jealous pit in my stomach as I've had ever since I was a teenager, the feeling that I would never be good enough, that my life would never get to be easy and "perfect." It was over something that I thought I'd made peace over long ago, but the feelings rushed back just as though they had never left, despite my years of growth, years of space, of removal, of accomplishment, of comeing to feel more and more adequate as a human being. I wonder why that happens? I don't want to be someone who holds on to things, who keeps the same hatred and anger always stowed away to pull out at will.

I had a nice dinner tonight with my friend Donna...we caught up as we hadn't seen each other for a few months since she, along with her husband and others, have started a new church in the Waxhaw area. It was nice to talk again, to get to be myself and not get overwhelmed with everything around that seems to be spinning out of control.

I spent more time on the cowl today:). WIP (or perhaps CIP) pics will have to go up tomorrow...it's too dark to take some now. And I'll probably need to pull out that shawl again soon...it would be pretty crappy to neglect that for my beautiful cowl;).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Overwhelming Sense of Being Overwhelmed

*sigh*. The house looks like a bomb went off. The lawn mower wouldn't start yesterday or today (it probably needs a new battery). Joey's got two books to read and has been in them all weekend. We overslept and were late for church this morning. And I know that I'll have a couple hundred emails waiting for me tomorrow morning, so I'm starting to feel like everything's closing in.

I feel so off-kilter, like life is getting away from me. When I'm home, I'm tired and don't want to do anything. For some reason, it seems as though I can always turn our money over to God and be a good steward financially, but when it comes to time itself, I'm unable to get things together. I hate feeling like I'm barely getting enough done to string myself along through the day...surviving, but not thriving.

I started knitting a cowl yesterday in some Bernat Denim Style that I had in my stash. It's my first attempt at circular knitting and I had to frog it and restart three times, which was also frustrating. I'm moving along pretty well now, though, so I'm feeling good about that.

Blah.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Finally...WIP Picture and Musings on Jacksonville...

Here you have it....the start of my Simple Triangular Stash Shawl and I have to say, I'm pretty pleased. there is a small mistake in the yarn over pattern in the middle, but it's relatively small, and I'm really bad at frogging back and reknitting right now, so I figured I should probably just leave it as-is. The shawl is actually much bigger now because I worked on it while waiting for my flight from Greensboro back to Charlotte and again on my flight from Jacksonville back to Charlotte yesterday. I did get asked by a nice older lady what I was knitting:).

The trip to Jacksonville was excellent, despite having to drive up to Greensboro to fly right back to Charlotte and get on the same flight to Jacksonville that I would have been on if I'd flown direct. It was cheaper that way, and one of my coworkers was already heading up there, so he dropped me off at the airport. I expected to be much more nervous than I was, but I handled it pretty well...got to my gate okay and on the plane. Unfortunately, I seem to attract strange people cosmically...I always end up sitting next to the person that you see and think, "man, I feel sorry for whoever has to sit next to him/her."

Prudential was wonderful. We learned a lot, ate good food, had a good time, and I was able to spend plenty of good moments in conversation with my friend Elizabeth.

We spent time with my folks last night since my dad picked me up from the airport, so today we are relaxing while Joey reads for his classes on Tuesday. I love the fall weather...it's cool, and we have the windows open and I'm actually chilly enough to be under a blanket. We'll probably do some grocery shopping this evening and then will hit the Aquatic Center tomorrow. I'm just feelin' the love for fall today:).

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Arms Feel Like Jello

We joined the Aquatic Center tonight. We're going to cut out one takeout meal per week to be able to cover the cost, and we had so much fun! We got a complimentary training session and Kent was very nice and knowledgeable. I am ALREADY loving the gym. But my arms DEFINITELY feel like Jello!!

I leave for my trip to Jacksonville on Wednesday. I'm nervous about getting there by myself, but I'm also excited because I feel like it's something that I need to do. And I won't be totally alone because my coworker and friend Elizabeth is going too. I just have to fly the first leg by myself.

I'm definitely going to incorporate swimming into my routine. The pool looked so inviting tonight when we walked by after doing our routine in the weight room. Honestly, there weren't all that many people in the pool, either, so it looked like I would be able to get a lane. I joined this awesome website; registration is free and they personalize a workout for you so that you can begin a swimming program. I'll probably start that Saturday since I'll be gone until Friday. The hotel we're staying at does have a pool, though, so if it's warm enough still, I may try to do a little swimming there.

The shawl is still coming along. Our knitting group meets tomorrow night, so that will be fun. I took some pictures tonight, but they turned out very poorly because of the lighting in the living room and the deep red color of the shawl. I'll try to take it to work tomorrow and get some pictures there where there must be some better lighting.

Oh, what a day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's So Nice to Be Happy...

I'm finally happy today. I'm not worried about anything, I'm chilling out, drinking coffee, getting ready to jump in the shower and then go tour the aquatic center after lunch and after Joey finishes his paper. We're going to piggyback on that and do our grocery shopping for the week before we come home since we don't know what's going to happen with the gas because of Ike. Yesterday was INSANE in the Charlotte area...gas stations running out, having to have cops on-site to prevent fights. People are so crazy. We got gas a few days ago, so we were okay, and we're just planning to stay in for the most part this weekend. Tomorrow, we'll do church and then we've got a fellowship to go to which isn't that far from home.

We're going to start next month taking out $100 cash and having that be our grocery budget for the month. I'm excited. I think it'll help us focus on stocking the pantry and shopping the sales. I don't want to be so reliant on Wal-Mart, and I want to feel as though we've always got enough in the pantry.

Part of why we're doing this is because we're going to join the Monroe Aquatic Center next week after I get back from Jacksonville. We've decided that it's worth the money to have a good place to work out and swim (I love to swim for exercise), and when we were looking at how much we spend each weekend eating out, if we cut back to one take-out meal per week (and possibly just share one entree), we've more than made up for the monthly fee. We've always been very dedicated when we have a gym membership, and we're feeling like this will be the best way to use that money. The Aquatic Center is AWESOME from the website...they have everything, and it's much cheaper than the YMCA.

There'll probably be another post later as I've got a WIP that I need to show off:).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Favorite Summer Memories

  1. Riding in the truck with the windows down listening to John Mellencamp
  2. the golf carts at Ocean Lakes
  3. Getting annoyed that my mom wanted to stay on the beach for 14 hours every day
  4. waking up at 8:30 in the mornings
  5. going to breakfast with my mom
  6. Lunch with mom and Bobbie on Wednesdays
  7. swimming in the pool in the backyard
  8. sleepovers that could last for the whole weekend
  9. Ghostwriter
  10. helping plant the garden
  11. jumping through the sprinkler
  12. summer movies!
  13. going out for ice cream
  14. playing cards on the porch into the night
  15. fireflies
  16. riding bikes
  17. Seeing Hanson in June of 97
  18. Walking and Harmonizing with Crystal

That's about all I've got. I was thinking about it earlier today while pondering the summer's end. I wish summer still held the same free, glorious feeling as it did before. Now, every day is the same. I hope to get that rush at the end of May again someday. I'll always love fall most, but it was nice to feel free...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thoughts on Blue Like Jazz...

I finished Blue Like Jazz yesterday. I think Don Miller probably verges on being too permissive, and I think that's the problem that several of my friends have about the book. I don't agree with that entirely...I can definitely see where it would upset the fundamentalist among us. It turns traditional, conservative Christianity on its ear, and makes you think about whether or not you are simply living by somewhat arbitrary pre-established "religious rules," or whether you are really allowing yourself to be affected by Christ in a genuine way, and whether that difference is coming across to those around you, by words and by actions.

I thought that it may have been a bit excessive for him to feel that he needed to apologize for all of the "ills done in the name of Christianity" throughout history...I think that history is much too complex of an animal for us to decide what should and shouldn't have occurred to make us who we are today. I'm not saying that the Holocaust should have happened or anything, please don't mistake me, but I've always felt that it was silly to apologize for things to which we have no tangible connection whatsoever. However, in believing that, I also recognize that he was among a very different group of people who would need to be reached in a very non-traditional way, and I do think that he did the best that he could in the context in which he was working.

What I did like very much was his attempt to reconnect us with the mystical qualities and the allure of our belief structure, while at the same time, bringing Jesus to an accesible level. He says that he view Jesus as someone who would like him, and I think that's true, but we often don't picture it that way. We see Jesus as the solemn, sunken-faced, sad man, standing next to God (who is undoubtedly some strange cross between Father Time and Santa Claus) with his nail-pierced hands outstretched, not necessarily to reach out to us, but to show us the wounds. What Don Miller does is bring Jesus to a level that I think was always intended. He was a man, who laughed, lived, loved others, and who, were he to walk in our door, would probably sit down and eat dinner with us, talk to us, listen to us.

He also treats what Joey and I have been discussing lately about "compartmentalizing" our lives, having our "church life," "home life," "work life," and making sure that they intersect as infrequently as possible, and viewing Christianity as a religion rather than as the way we live. I really do believe that's where we fail as Christians. We sit in our churches and argue about whether or not drinking is sinful, whether the world was literally created in six days and the dinosaurs are just a ruse by Satan to get us off track, and we're leaving people outside who don't know that there's someone out there who's bigger than they are, someone who knows what's going on and who can help us, someone who really cares about what's going in our life, someone who weeps with us when our kitty dies, someone who wants us to talk to Him, to care about Him, to love Him too...and they are people that will listen if we'll just CARE about them....not knock on their doors and beat them with Bibles and tell them that they're going to Hell, but genuinely talk to them and care about them and be honest with them.

The face of Christianity is changing; I don't mean that we should abandon orthodoxy, far from it. I mean that this generation is beginning to understand that we need to change the way we reach people. The "sawdust trail" and "Just As I Am," while great, just aren't working anymore like they used to. Our generation is a generation of skeptics, of cynics, of people who are crying out for answers, for someone to listen. We are the children of broken homes, of parents who went wild and created the "ME" mentality. We are beginning to see the hollowness of it, of the vacuous space that comes from caring only about ourselves and our own lives and failing to recognize that someone at this very moment is orchestrating this entire beautiful world in which we live.

We are a generation of people who are realizing that we can't treat the planet like a piece of trash, that God didn't put us here to take as we please and do whatever we want and destroy things for commodity, not even for necessity anymore, just to get what would make us more "comfortable," or the latest and greatest. We are starting to understand that our denominations haven't encouraged us enough to be STEWARDS of this planet...we are to be good stewards of everything else, money, time, possessions....yet somehow CREATION was left behind. We are changing that.

Don Miller has inspired me to change the way I view my walk. Whatever you think of his book, you must admit that he makes you think about your own walk, about whether you're really loving the way Jesus commanded, whether you're living what you believe or whether you're living a beautiful lie, putting on a pious face for people and casting principles aside otherwise. I want to be genuine. I want to love genuinely, to speak genuinely, to work genuinely, even to fail genuinely.

So, tonight, I leave you with a picture of genuine love, taken by someone I genuinely love of someone I genuinely love. Please think about that tonight. Pray about it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Rough Week

It's weird to have a week where I feel so "off" these days. As I've been recovering from my anxiety problems, I've been relatively even-keeled, and even hopeful most days. I still get upset whenever I see an animal hit on the side of the road, but otherwise, I've been handling things pretty well. Monday was a great day off...we went shopping in the morning and I made apple butter and read and knitted.

Tuesday, I overslept and woke up two minutes after I usually leave for work. I had remained "unwashed" on Monday, and thus, I had to go almost a full two days without a shower, which made me feel skeevy and gross all day. On a positive note, though, I ended up getting to work at the time that I actually WANT to get there, so I've been able to adjust my schedule so that I'm spending more time at home. I also read some great tips from One Green Generation about natural skin care. Since reading it, I've been using Vitamin E Oil as my moisturizer on my face, and my face already feels and looks better. I'm back to using it on my arms again too, so the scars are starting to lighten up.

I overslept again on Wednesday, but only by ten minutes that time, so I wasn't too upset. We went to the library and they didn't have the novel that I need to get for my book club, but I did get two Stitch 'N Bitch books and Hollywood Knits which have been interesting and informative.

Thursday, my tongue started to hurt. Dad had his 6 month stress test. Band rehearsal was cancelled. I found, when I got home, a giant blood blister on the side of my tongue.

This morning, it hurt even worse. I burst it (gross) thinking it would heal more quickly. Now, I have an even more painful exposed ulcer. Blah.

My seaming didn't go so well, last night. It looks a little like a six year old tried to stitch the top together. It was my first attempt at any kind of seaming, much less kitchener seaming (hope I spelled that right). I probably should have just done the traditional mattress stitch or something like that, but I just thought it would look better to have them "seamlessly" woven together. I'm going to block it before I seam up the sides since there's been so much rolling.

I've also taking to reading Green apples-a knitting blog. It's not that I'm amazed that so many people my age are knitters, but it does give me hope to see that other people have started only a few years ago and are now so good. I wish I could be as good a knitter as she is, though. It's amazing how quickly she finishes her sweaters and how good they all look. If there are any other knitters out there in blog-land, I'm really interested in knowing how you got started and how you dealt with the painful process of learning and making horrible objects that you could never wear. It would help to have some encouragement to keep practicing. I really do love it. I just love looking at yarn and needles....I love knitting so much that, were it a person, I would hug it. I'm just so impatient. I want to be an expert already. I want to be churning out beautiful cabled sweaters already.

I'm so ready for fall. Sometimes, at work, I'll look out my window over my cubicle at the sunny day and pretend that it's cold outside. It's not too much of a stretch as it's already getting a little chilly in the mornings, but it's still getting to 90 in the afternoons, which I can do without.

Oh, and, did you know that orangutans have eyelashes? I just thought it was cool to see.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nothing to Say

Haven't blogged much lately. I don't have much to say. Made apple butter on Monday and it was good. Been knitting. Went to the library and checked out three knitting books. Overslept my alarm the past two days in a row.

Joey's personal library embosser came yesterday and he loved it. I think my tank top is going to turn out ugly, but I have to actually finish something. I keep reading other people's knitting blogs and wanting to do that kind of stuff so badly, but I feel like I'm never going to get there.

*sigh*. Guess it's just one of those days. Don't know why. I was productive at work and got a lot done. Got good books at the library. Took some apple butter to Joey's parents and they fed us dinner. Got the rest of the evening to relax other than putting the clean dishes away and loading the dirty ones. But, somehow, I still feel....meh.

Hopefully there will be a better blog tomorrow. For now, I apologize.