I'm able to write poetry again. That's a hopeful sign.
I haven't written but 1 or 2 poems in over a decade. Haven't been able to. I really thought that perhaps I was past being able to write at all, given what our past year has been like.
I'm not sure what has changed. I hope it means that I'll be able to get back to editing my book. I hope whatever changed, stays changed.
I'm a little afraid to even say it out loud, for fear of scaring it off. Is it like a little shy mouse? Should I whisper?
Can I leave out cheese to trap it? If I could, would that be a good idea? Or would it die if I did that?
Maybe I should use a live trap.
So, yesterday, for the first time since we set up our pool on July 4th, it smelled like chlorine. Odd, since the chlorine had tested within the range of normal, and I had added only enough bleach to bring it up to the high mark of the normal range. I swam anyway, but wondered... later, I realized...
Now, if I hadn't gotten myself as well-educated as I could about cheap, simple pool care, I might not have realized there was a problem. Pools are supposed to smell like chlorine, right? That's how you know they're clean!
Wrong. A well-balanced pool, I learned, near the end of last summer when it was really too late to make good progress on last year's pool, smells like nothing or smells "clean." A chlorine smell means a possible burgeoning combined chlorine problem.
This morning, I tested the pool with a simple test kit that only tests total chlorine. (It's all I have right now. Next year I'll get a more comprehensive kit) The total chlorine number had gone up overnight.
Now, that ain't right. Unless my neighbor was sneaking bleach into my pool in the middle of the night, that's quite suspicious.
It appeared that the total chlorine number was around 5ppm. (These tests aren't super precise.) So this morning at about 11 am, I used an online pool calculator and information about proper shock levels to raise the chlorine levels to around 12ppm. (Again, some guesswork needed because I don't have a kit that tests chlorine levels above 5ppm, although you can get a rough idea.) It was about two cups of 8.25% bleach.
By 5 pm, the chlorine smell was gone. A test with my little OTO style test kit at 7:30pm showed chlorine in the "very dark yellow" stage (see the "rough idea" link just above), so between 5-15ppm. Much higher than you'd want to swim in.. but with zero chlorine smell.
Isn't that crazy? Raise the chlorine to get rid of the chlorine smell! It's like magic!
Now I will test the water first thing in the morning before the sun hits the pool and starts burning off chlorine, and if I've only lost a little (i.e. no change in the color; I can't test precisely) I'm going to assume I've nipped combined chlorine in the bud and simply keep a close watch on things. If the color changes a lot and has dropped down into the range where my test kit registers, I'll know that there's still too much organic matter decomposing and turning my good chlorine into bad chlorine.
Now, that's all not very precise and it would be much better if I had a fancier test kit, but it's the best I can do for now. I figured it's probably better to get the chlorine a little too high and have to wait more days to swim than to let the pool sit cooking combined chlorine and end up having to close down the pool sooner than I want to because it's just gotten gross!
PS: So now you know. When you walk into a public pool area or a hotel pool and there's that strong smell of chlorine, that doesn't mean the pool is clean. It means it's dirty enough that the sweat, urea, and organic matter is "eating up" the chlorine and turning it into other compounds that smell like chlorine but don't sanitize like chlorine... Ew, ew, ew.
1. If you have small hands, like I do, you'll get just one manicure out of a sheet of wraps because you'll use all the smaller sized wraps. Pictured is what's left after doing my hands.
The suggestion I was given was to make Scotch tape templates for my nails in order to cut down the larger wraps to size. For me, this is way more fussing and bother than just painting my nails with conventional fingernail polish in the first place. Which, other than the smell bothering my husband, I really don't mind doing. It's kind of relaxing and I can do it while watching TV. The drying time required gives me a good excuse to sit and do nothing for a full fifteen minutes. Also, trimming down the larger size wraps for smaller hands will interfere with the design on some of the wrap styles, so you should be aware of that.
2. It appears that most women find many wraps styles that they like and think are cute. That is not true for me. I think I found about three that I liked okay and none that I loved enough to pay $15 a sheet. (The sheet above I won in a party drawing. I like the color and design but not enough to pay the full price. I'd rather splurge $15 on a bottle of top-shelf nail enamel that I'll get way more uses out of.) I realize my tastes are not your typical mommy-type's tastes, though, maybe. I'm not super attached to the idea of having designs on my fingers that I can't do with nail polish. Many of the patterns are very busy to my eye; I actually prefer a cleaner line and a solid color in most cases. Jamberry does have some solid colors, but not many. If they had a budget line of plain solid colors that were $8 a sheet, I might be more tempted.
3. You've got to have a very sharp scissors which are ambidextrous to trim back the excess wrap when apply the wraps. If you don't, the edges of the wraps will get jagged or tear and your finger nails will snag on everything.
4. You still have to have a steady hand and patience for attention to detail to apply these. It's a different sort of steadiness and patience than painting your nails with enamel requires, but they are not quite as effortless to apply as Jamberry's instructions portray them. And the removal process is a bit more involved than enamel removal is. (Although you do have the option of not using nail polish removal, which for those with allergies to acetone, or other chemical sensitivities, is important.) I found the coconut oil removal process messy, and I still had to use nail polish remover to remove the last haze of adhesive off my nails.
In summary, they're kinda neat, but they're expensive and they're not quite as perfect as everyone says they are. As in most things female and girly, I find myself an outlier.
PS: Maybe not such an outlier. I guess there are others out there who have discovered that Jamberry wraps aren't a good match for everyone.
When there are new people in your church, groups, communities, and other social circles, offer your name. Offer it more than once, and offer it soon after the new people show up.
It makes you, and by extension, the group you belong to, seem open and approachable. It makes it easier for new people to "break in" to your group. Sure, they can ask. But having to ask makes you an outsider. Being offered a name makes a person feel welcome, like you're glad they're there. And the longer they're there, the more weird and awkward it is for them to ask your name. So offer it early on, too.
Social cohesion occurs with common interests, but it also runs on the supply of information and the withholding of it. When information is withheld, a group is closed or feels closed. Jargon, memes, inside jokes, knick-names, verbal shorts cuts: all of these things help group members feel like one of the group. Conversely, quickly getting a newcomer up to speed with all of those things is a fast way to make a newcomer feel welcome. Making them ask for explanations, even if those explanations are given, serves as a marker to the newcomer that they don't yet belong.
This is, of course, particularly important in the church. It really doesn't matter if a congregation engages in complicated, obtuse worship that is indecipherable to outsiders if everyone the new member meets is open, warm, and willing to offer information in a way that makes the newcomer not have to ask for every tidbit. Conversely, a simpler, plainer service that matches the greater culture can be incredibly bewildering if a newcomer doesn't know insider terms and jargon or has to ask what the heck an "accountability partners group" is or what a "church plant" is.
It's perfectly ok to have jokes, memes, jargon, other special terms, verbal shortcuts and any number of other things that are unique to a particular group. In fact, those things are a big part of why belonging to a group is so much fun.
Just, you know, offer your name. Offer it, as the old joke about Chicago voting goes, early and often.
Almighty God, who didst order the moment of our births and numbered the hairs on our heads, look down with mercy upon these Thy servants, the children of those whom are soon called to their heavenly Home. Guard weary minds against error, protect tired bodies from stumbling, and uphold tearful hearts with the comfort of Thy own dear Comforter, to whom we pray, together with Thy Son, whom Thou hast also called to Thyself for the salvation of our souls, and who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
I made a friend last year
with eye of variable width.
That eye, like mine, became
an eye of deeper sight.
We traveled some, we did,
mostly close to home;
but there is much to see
when far up close you look,
when close you view the things
that far away you see.
And now we say goodbye,
this friend of mine and I.
Our eyes, once one became,
must once again depart,
to go our separate ways.
I, changed forevermore;
he once, always, the same.
A friend asked about ironing shirts faster. I don't know that my way is the best way, but it does yield an ironed dress shirt in much less than the 15 minutes my friend said it takes him. So here goes! Some general ironing tips in a note at the end, for any other readers who hate ironing and want it to be less of a chore.
First I iron the collar, flat on the board. Unbutton the collar, if it's a button down collar.
Then the two fronts of the shirt. (For the other side of the front, you'd be rotating the shirt clockwise, then, around the tip of the board.)
Here's the rotation... Don't worry about getting the shoulder tops perfect; you'll hit them again when you do the back of the shirt farther along...
Then the back of the shirt...
Rotate the shirt again, similar to how you did the fronts, to lay the back yoke flat on the board, and get the tops of the shoulders and top of sleeves.
I do the sleeves last. Lay them flat as possible, straightening the bottom hem so the crease will be neatly on the top of the arm.
I used to mess around with carefully ironing the cuff and cuff pleats, but then I saw professionally dry cleaned mens' shirts up close. They're done in a professional flat press, and the pleat is ironed however it lands in the press. So that's how I do it, too. Just press it flat.
General ironing tips for people who despise ironing:
1. For pete's sake, buy a good iron. Heavier is better. Higher wattage means it will heat quickly. Look for the best quality you can buy with the fewest bells and whistles to break. No digital do-dads, etc. Just an iron. I know, you don't want to spend money on a chore you despise. Having a good tool will make the job faster and easier. Trust me. A $15-30 iron will slow you down, not steam well, and generally make you frustrated.
2. Hang stuff up right out of the dryer even if you can't or won't iron it right away.
3. Iron in front of the TV or with music or a podcast to listen to.
Choosing surprise linings and facings is definitely one of the perks of sewing some of your own clothes. I was going to use some black anti-static lining fabric for the pockets, but when I started to assemble the pocket bags, it was clear the anti-static was way too thin. So I went stash diving and found this, which I had bought to use for the pockets of a pair of jeans. There's plenty of fabric for both this and the jeans pockets, though. Speaking of those jeans... I need to re-do the pattern fitting for those (I've lost weight since the last time I made the pattern) and get those made up... hm... maybe I should do them as a pair of cropped pants for summer...