For Posterity

June 24th marks the anniversary of my weblog. It has taken many forms over the years, but today it is 18 years old – an adult on its own! Perhaps we can leave those sullen, uncommunicative teen years behind… Who am I kidding. I’m lucky to get one post out here every few months. However, life’s been kind of interesting of late.

Aside from marking the date, I thought it was probably a good idea to make a State of the World post for posterity – so that years later we can look back and maybe see what we learned from all this. 2020 has been…different. It started off full of promise, and then midway through March the entire world shut down. A novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, made its way from China and Asia to the rest of the world, and there is as yet no vaccine or 100% effective treatment. In the US, most students took a vacation for Spring Break and then never returned to the physical classroom. In Texas, we never shut down completely, but from about March 13th through mid-May, everything but essential businesses were shut down. If you could work from home, it became an absolute necessity, and suddenly the entire world became more familiar with video conferencing. Even now we are requested to remain at home unless necessary, perform only essential errands, and wear a mask in public to protect others.

The shutdowns and restrictions have been met with protests. There are people in the world who are absolutely certain there is some sort of conspiracy going on. The government at both state and federal levels is trying to balance safety with economic considerations. Sadly, the US is not faring as well on the global scorecard as other countries, partially due to those folks who feel that government-mandated limits to personal freedoms are unconstitutional. Masks may not be 100% effective, but they are proven to slow the spread, and that’s what we need to happen so that the world can recover, though “normal” is still a long way away.

In the middle of all this, a massive movement to counter racism arose, triggered by several instances of apparent police abuse of authority. This movement has flowed in interesting directions – increasing visibility and awareness of inequalities and garnering worldwide commitment to eliminating racism, but at the same time creating even more political divides at a time when we need to be coming together instead of falling apart.

Murder hornets were briefly a headline, and started the ongoing monthly Jumanji jokes. Every new announcement of something that could lead to a global catastrophe, even if it is the normal annual hurricane season or Saharan dust, is met with gallows humor as everyone wonders what is next.

Truth be told, we’re all tired of 2020. Many, if not most, people are on edge and at least a little depressed or angry about the current situation. Social media and the news tends to be very divisive. There are lots of “if you don’t agree with me then you hate me and therefore I hate you” types of lines drawn in the sand, and it is heartrending. Weltschmerz becomes the word of the day.

Through all of it, bright shining moments of hope shine through the funky dark parts. Friends and family come together, even if virtually or socially distanced, to support and uplift each other. Slowly we are finding ways to get some sort of normalcy back, even as we prepare for this virus to affect the way we live for many months to come. I’ve seen some beautiful acts of love in the community that help overturn some of the darkest moments of the last few months.

What is next? No idea. But I know that no matter what, God is in control, and that gives me peace. I pray that all of you can find some peace and hope for the future as well.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘Twas the End of December, and All Through the Blog…

…the author was coughing from all the dust and cobwebs she let build up in here. Dang. So. End of 2019. How are we doing on those goals again?

Goal 1: Finish a project a month. Check. As of right now, I have 18 officially finished objects listed in my Ravelry projects list (a couple were multiples). Most of these were gifts or charity, but I did finish a couple of things for myself. If I can finish one more item almost off the needles (only 5 more rows plus an i-cord bind off to go), then I can have a nice, round 19 projects finished for 2019, not counting projects that aren’t yarn-based. My plan was to primarily finish projects that have been sitting around in various stages of planning or progress, and that accounts for about half of the FOs. Definitely need to focus on getting more of those unfinished ones done.

View this post on Instagram

Finished the little baabaabaas.

A post shared by Cynthia L. (@smil3e) on

Goal 2: Read at least 12 new books. Check. I think. I did manage to get 45 items read on my Goodreads list (not counting sets), and I can count at least 12 new ones in there, despite my tendencies to re-read things.

Goal 3: Lose 45 lbs. Um…nope. Sadly this year was one of my worst, movement-wise. 2020 -will- be different.

Goal 4: Write more. Eh. Started the year off well, but I kind of tapered off. I did write more than in the prior year, so it’s a minor victory, but I really want to flesh out some small short story ideas I had and maybe actually turn those scribbles into something worth reading.

Where does this leave us for 2020? Well, we have vision, I tell you! (Ok, I admit, I’ve been wanting to use that pun for the longest time!) January will be the reset month for my diet and exercise plan, to start off the new year on a good foot. I’ve also got a lot of unfinished plans/projects that need to find their way into getting completed. I’m not setting a number for this, but I’ve already pulled out a lot of the in progress items that either need to be finished or frogged. There are a couple of items on my possibilities list for the year, which depend on a lot of things coming together, but I will work toward those personal goals as well. Will I blog more? Who knows — it’s short attention span theatre up in here. However, I’ll be keeping track of my personal goals and sharing progress every now and again. Gotta keep the dust bunnies from multiplying. 🙂

Posted in Handmade Artistry, Health, Life In General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on ‘Twas the End of December, and All Through the Blog…

Where does the time go?

Y’all, it’s late March already. I didn’t think the year was passing so quickly, yet here we are. Generally I’d wait until the start of the new month for a goal check-in, but I’m terribly behind in keeping track already. Time to catch up!

Goal 1: Finish a project a month.
Perhaps I set this bar too low. Already at 8+ projects finished, two of which were long term items in progress. Four of the projects are new ones I started in 2019, so I need to focus more on getting older projects finished as well as getting to some things that have been on my to-do list for ages but haven’t started.

Goal 2: Read at least 12 new books. 
My progress on this one depends on how you count, but the low-end of my count would be five books read for the first time, if I exclude audiobooks and books I abandoned.

Goal 3: Lose 45 lbs. 
Well, I cannot claim as much progress as I’d like for this one. However, I’m refocusing my effort on getting to the gym regularly in the morning before I start work. Since I’ve started working at home I just don’t get as much general exercise/walking in each day and it makes a huge difference.

Goal 4: Write more.
Let’s see – I’ve already gotten a few blog posts in, so that counts for something. I have not been keeping up with my writing prompts. This can definitely improve.

Life has been a bit crazy busy of late, but that’s better than not having enough to do. Let’s get this party started!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on Where does the time go?

Feblueberry

To keep a blog going, we must post once in a while, no? So here’s a status to start the second month of the year. At the end of December, I set my goals for 2019 — a few things at which to aim as life proceeds apace. 🙂 I thought I’d check back in to see how well I got through January.

  1. Finish a project a month. What this actually translates to is getting at least 12 projects completed in 2019 that I had started or prepared for in the past, but just hadn’t gotten through. So far I am ahead of the game – having finished five outstanding projects so far. The one I’m most proud of is finally finishing my Heroes of Yarnia scarf (pic below). This took me almost two years of knitting, mostly because I have a horribly short attention span and always want to start new things. Also done, an 1898 hat and headband that I had started before Christmas, some dishtowels that I first warped up over a year ago, and a no-sew fleece blankie I prepared for also before Christmas. The blankie is probably the least qualified to be on the list, as I had the materials but really worked on it just this last week, but it got done! Naturally, I have several other projects in queue, including plenty of snoozing WIPs that I need to finish.

2. Read at least 12 new books. This goes along with my annual Goodreads challenge to read a certain number of books each year. While I’ve finished five books so far this year, I’m only counting two as brand new (a third one is new to me but it is a reference volume I’ll be referring to a lot over time as opposed to a book I sat and read through). So I’m slightly ahead of the game there. Thankfully a reading club with a few knitster friends is keeping me supplied with ideas for new books to read, rather than revisiting my own extensive library.

3. Lose 45 lbs. This is the toughest status to update. Somewhere toward the end of January, I discovered that my scale was weighing me several pounds light. After I replaced the batteries and resynced it several times, I had lost all my forward (downward!) progress. Still, that was only a minor speedbump. I know that I was already on a downward trajectory, and I’ll be keeping track of measurements over time as well.

4. Write more. This one I’m not counting as a success or failure at this point. I’ve written more at this point of the year than I have at similar times in recent years, but I’m not writing as much as I’d planned. Honestly, I don’t know if anything I write here or elsewhere truly gets read or strikes a chord with anyone who has read it, but I’m performing this part of the exercise to keep that part of my brain active and young. Still some work to do, but progress has been made, I think.

All in all, though January was a tough month for me, it was overall successful. Progress has been made on my goals, and I’m doing better at remaining accountable to them. Onward and upward!

Borrowed this screenshot of TI’s Alpiner. Onward and upward, y’all!
Posted in Handmade Artistry, Life In General | Tagged | Comments Off on Feblueberry

Dream Diaries

Disclaimer: Before I get started, please know that I am not looking for any speaking or analysis of my dreams. Treat them as short stories born from my imagination. The subconscious is an odd beast and I just like to capture its meanderings. Thanks!

So. I was in a talent contest. We were at a camp of some sort, and there were only four of us present (four of us left?). There was no audience. The MC was also part of the contest. Only one of the other three was someone I definitely knew, someone I consider a good friend.

The MC really wanted to get the talent show started, and I had no idea what I would do as my talent. Suddenly I remembered that I could sing madrigal pieces that I had memorized, and felt secure in the knowledge that I had the capability of winning. (But who would be the judges?) My friend got a phone call and wandered off just as the MC wanted to start, and I was afraid they would miss their opportunity to perform. The MC was droning on and on – and I was just concerned that someone else wouldn’t get the opportunity to show their talent. It was no longer about winning, but about making sure they were there.

And then the alarm went off.

Posted in Stories | Tagged | Comments Off on Dream Diaries

2019: Setting Goals

It’s that time of year again – a time to set goals for the new year to come. The word resolutions is often tossed about willy-nilly, without regard to the fact that we, as a society, have a tendency to be anything but resolute about these things after the first week of January. Semantics aside, goal-setting is a good idea to start the year fresh.

Goal 1: Finish a project a month.
What does this mean? Well, it certainly will start with finishing some projects that have been in WIP status for far too long. It does _not_ mean that every project has to be an old one, nor am I tying it to specific dates per project since sometimes small ones take a long time and large ones go quickly. The projects do not have to be fiber-related either, although I have plenty of those.

Goal 2: Read at least 12 new books.
One of my favorite organizational applications is Goodreads, which allows me to track books I’ve read over time, as well as my planned reading list. When I was a child I devoured books, and as an adult I’ve gotten so bogged down with life that I often do not get to read as much as I’d like. My reading goal for next year is much higher than 12, but at least a dozen of the items I do read need to be new material (despite that fact that I love re-reading novels I’ve enjoyed).

Goal 3: Lose 45 lbs.
Yeah, this one has been there for a while, though not always with a number attached. Ideally I’d like to get back to the weight at which I started college, but I was still a teenager then. This particular number is born of the fact that I will turn 45 this next year. I’ve been successful in the past with increasing physical activity and changing my eating habits to better suit my metabolism, and it’s time to get back on that train.

Goal 4: Write more.
Writing more has been one of my goals for a very long time, and I’ve tried several tools to stimulate this activity. So far, I can get going for short periods of time and then it fizzles out for a very long while. Updating this blog will be one of my means to achieve the end – if I can keep to a weekly posting schedule, perhaps I can revive the habit.

This list by no means comprises all my goals for the year, but it is a good start. Keeping it simple. Onward, and upward!

Posted in Life In General | Tagged | Comments Off on 2019: Setting Goals

Today I learned…

Today I learned that exactly one person has visited my blog in the recent past. Well, one human person. One person who told me that my blog was redirecting to another site (due to an error in a sidebar link I had). Oops! 

Well, the error has been fixed, and I’ve dusted off the cobwebs, again. The bitter truth is that I’ve become much more of a microblogger since joining Twitter (and later, Facebook). I think I may have mentioned something about this before. 

At the same time, I often bemoan the fact that I am not happy with my writing skills and would like to write more often. Hm. 

What does this mean? (Confirmation flashbacks for all you Lutherans out there! You’re welcome!) Well, for now, it means that I am going to try to deliberately come up with content for this space on a semi-regular basis. Why should social media have all the fun? 

To my one recent visitor (you know who you are), thanks for letting me know that the site was broken. To any RSS readers that may still be tracking me, hello again! To everyone else – welcome, I hope you enjoy the ride. 

Posted in Blog Stuff | 2 Comments

Kenya adventures, section IV

Help, I’m running out of snappy titles! 😀

May is still the rainy season in Kenya, and rain that started about 8 pm yesterday evening did not stop until about 8 am this morning. Grounds at the health clinic that were already waterlogged became worse, and we were all slogging in mud the majority of the day. On the plus side, we should have beautiful weather for our last clinic day tomorrow, and then for our safari on Saturday. Hard to believe this trip is almost at an end already!

2016-05-19 09.25.162016-05-19 10.19.31

You can see from the photos above just how swampy it got. Still, we had a better crowd today than yesterday. It continues to amuse me that the Kenya residents always want to ask us how we can stand the cold in our short sleeves. It was in the mid-60s to low-70s today, which is normally a bit chilly for me, but with little breeze and high humidity I was quite comfortable with no additional layers.

Amazing things continue to happen this trip – several more people accepted God’s call, and the Pipeline church community has continued to be outstanding in their volunteerism and hosting. One of my favorite happenings of today was a bit simpler, though — a little girl and her brother were waiting by the table you see in the above photo, and I said hello and shook their hands as I passed. Once I turned to go into the tent, I felt a small hand grab mine again, and I turned back around to see the little girl grasping at me and beckoning me down to her level. I leaned down and she whispered, “Give me chocolate!” Choking back the desire to laugh, I had to smile and explain that I had no chocolate on me, but I did share some masala sticks I had in my pocket. This is a local snack of potato shoestrings flavored with masala.

Looking forward to helping more people tomorrow. Signing out for the night. 😀

Posted in Kenya | Comments Off on Kenya adventures, section IV

Kenya adventures, part C

The third clinic day was a little slow,  slower than expected, perhaps. Or friends from Pipeline explained that it was too cold for people to come – indeed, here you’ll see children bundled up in temperatures that seem too warm for such. It was in the 70s, with a breeze that may have been a little chilly at times,  but that is really cold weather for a population that lives so close to the equator.

All week an inoculation clinic has been taking place in the same health clinic space,  so scores of school children have been coming through. This clinic is a government mandate, as recently one child had come down with measles even after having shots,  so all the children must come through and have their immunization shot again. There is no such thing as an anti-vaxxer here. The nurses did start telling people about the eye clinic,  so we got more traffic from the mothers already there.

Once we packed up for the day, we headed out to a very nice meal with our guide Catherine,  at a place called Carnivore. It is a churrascaria, Kenyan style. Rather than a salad bar,  they bring you first soup and then bread and a salad/sauce tray. Then come all the meats. Most were normal fare, but they also offered crocodile, ostrich meatballs,  rabbit, and ox balls. I tried everything but that last. 😀 Catherine’s son Mark agreed to the ox before he realized what it was,  but I’m pretty sure he didn’t eat it. After a very filling meal, we came back to the hotel and all surrendered to our beds.

It has been raining all night,  so I don’t know what that will mean for today’s clinic,  but we shall see.

Posted in Kenya | Comments Off on Kenya adventures, part C

Kenya adventures, part the second

So…clinics. Our mission here with Vision for Kenya/Vision for Africa is to share the gospel as we hold free eye clinics for the people in underprivileged areas. Some teams head out into the villages, some teams (like ours) work in more urban settings. The church we are partnered with is Pipeline, an ELCK church that is located in the Mukuru slum. Although the people acknowledge they are poor, the church members consider themselves all very rich. Throughout the work we’ve done so far, they have been outstanding partners, even having some of the women bring lunch for all the workers each day.

The first day of the clinic, I ran the eye charts. Lining people up in Kenya is not hard – they are used to waiting and very good at knowing exactly whose turn it is. Pole pole – things go slowly. We actually didn’t have too much of a delay getting set up the first day, and I was working with the church choirmistress, a young lady named Judy. She helped me greatly whenever we had people in line having trouble with English. In all the areas of the clinic, it is necessary to have Swahili speakers for those who cannot understand us Mzungus. Of course, we are close to the equator, so I got a little more sun than I had planned for, or at least I didn’t reapply as much sunscreen as I needed. Not a bad sunburn, but not something I wanted to repeat every day. 😀

Reading Glasses

Reading Glasses

 

For the second day, I worked the reading glasses table. Each person coming to the clinic gets a registration card, then follows a path through the clinic, depending on their needs. They open at the evangelism tent, where they hear the gospel story, and from there proceed to have a basic eye chart check to establish their vision level. Those who have bad vision are marked as such and either sent to the autorefractor, or noted to be seen by the doctors. Each person is then sent to triage, which you can see across from my table. Two or three team members take patients one at a time and ask what their eye problems are, to get a better idea of what they need, and then the triage team member will ask the patient if they have any requests to pray with them. For those of you who know me, this is a bit outside my comfort zone, but even I did a little triage when we got busy.

Gloria helping with an active young boy

Gloria helping with an active young boy

Pastor Kevin praying with a triage patient

Pastor Kevin praying with a triage patient

From triage, the patient would come to see me at the readers, or go directly to the doctors for vision testing or medication. The slums are very polluted, and all of Nairobi is not

Dave making glasses

Dave making glasses

much better, as there are no limits on car exhausts and other things that add to the smokiness of the air. A lot of people have come through complaining of light sensitivity or tearing eyes, and they get eye drops from the doctors. For those who need more vision correction, those we are able to help get sent to the glasses table to have distance glasses made for them. Some we have ready made, but some require assembly to get the correct prescription. Usually Dave or Pastor Kevin will make the glasses for those who get to this station, as the frames are a little tricky to handle – the lenses we were shipped this time are slightly too large, so assembly has to be done carefully. The beautiful young lady in this photo had the most amazing smile when she discovered that she really could see distance objects clearly.

All in all, it’s been a successful couple of days. We may not have seen as many patients as we hoped, but we’ve had over 500 come through the clinic so far. Word of mouth is a very big thing in the slums, so hopefully more will come as the week progresses.

Signing off for now!

Posted in Kenya | Comments Off on Kenya adventures, part the second