Psalm 64:1



They have changed the back-end editor for Blogger and so far I hate it. I can't adjust how the graphic appears -- text wrapping I mean, and I don't really want to break out my HTML skills for blogging.

Internal Weather Check: Raging Storms

Official artwork of this time
*I love my initials*
Housekeeping: I reverted the design of this blog back to "simply classic" or whatever the basic Blogger theme is. I liked the option of the other, but I couldn't get the older post/newer post scroll to work, and that's how I like to look at my blog, so the new theme wasn't working. I've still got it on mariwalker.com, and I'm trying to decide what to do with that site. Possibly a professional WordPress site would be better, as I am still creating content in other places and want to have a record. I'm not sure what's worth the effort (or expense beyond the simple domains).

I haven't written here since the pandemic, social distancing and stay-at-home orders. I've written elsewhere, of course, and at night while I'm trying to sleep I write like a demon in my mind. It's weird, when I am in front of a blank Google document or blog window the words don't flow like they do when I'm working things out before resting in the dark quiet of my room with the hum of a fan and Shawn's sleeping presence.

Everything is different. And yet a lot is the same. Some of that I can explore and unpack in a post for the magazine, since that's parenting-related. But some things are emotional and messy and more ME, and I decided this is the place to write and keep those memories. Or at least attempt that.

On a Zoom meeting yesterday (church staff meeting, of which I'm not on staff but my volunteer presence has expanded exponentially during this time ... another experience to unpack that's appropriate for here or as a faith story but another post entirely -- for a time such as this), our pastor asked for an internal weather check. Similar to John Wesley's "how is it with your soul" but with the prompt to respond with weather metaphors. I get a constricted heart and panic when asked the soul question. I'm not in tune enough to have a good answer, perhaps? It's also general anxiety of sharing with people that pre-dates the pandemic. But I experienced it anew in this virtual experience. I have answered the question more honestly on previous calls because the answer was clearer (mostly cloudy, anxious, maybe a little windy from the swings up and down). Yesterday I just said "fair" because in the moment it was just OK -- my kids were fine in the other room doing their Kindles, I could focus on whatever the call was going to be about. The reality of my internal weather, however, is volatile and there is not a constant weather pattern to be sure.

While trying to sleep last night what kept coming to mind was RAGING STORMS of anger. I am furious at the lack of federal leadership. This type of situation was what entered my mind and filled my being with terror on November 9, 2016. When this jerk and the establishment that enabled and supports him ruins everything my fears included: How will I get contacts? Will I have enough pens and paper and eyeliner? (Good grief.) How will I take care of my kids, and how can people who love them deeply do this to them? And those fears are more real than ever in this time.

Currently I'm furious with the notion that we can get back to "normal" any time soon, even as tens of thousands of Americans have died from this. How many deaths were preventable if adequate personal protective equipment were available? If the pandemic team hadn't been fired years ago? If shut downs and shelter-in-place orders had been issued across the country (you know, at a federal level)?

So I can push those storms down temporarily, and focus on my own little world and my little work. Parenting my two girls through this. Supporting Shawn and his research work. Keeping our church family connected through online offerings and other support. But when the rages surface they are engulfing. And the storms and anger can absolutely spill over into these other areas of my life. I speak unkindly, overstep my bounds and even break things (RIP two pairs of headphones so far).

The raging serves no constructive purpose, but neither can I change that about myself. I hope by recognizing it, marking it down and sharing it I can step toward peace or some semblance of it.

I RAGE ON.

Crochet: Blue Swirl Hat

I made a quick swirled hat, basically designed by the almost-seven-year-old intended recipient, a friend at church. She flipped through my book with designs I'd crocheted and picked out this Divine Hat pattern. I used the exact hook sizes as the pattern recommends and worsted weight yarn.

But she wanted to make specific edits - with the colors and adding the dark blue lines on a light blue background. I put off doing it for many weeks but started it while she was at our house on a play date, to ask for some specifics (what color do you want the band at the bottom - light blue, is it OK that one of the stripes -- my beginning/ending of each round -- is thicker than the others? yes, do you want a pom-pom added to cover the light blue circle at the top? no). It took me a few hours to finish over the course of a few days, very quick and it turned out great. A little big on her but not too big, probably sized for a small adult or tween because of the length. I like when hats can be worn for longer than just today (I've made one or two for my girls that are outgrown within a month ... what a waste).

Anyway, I like the way this turned out and think it would be really cute with white background and red stripes, as a peppermint, and with a striped band at the bottom, although that would be even more of a struggle!



Taco Soup in the Crock Pot

So I don't forget -- I made a delicious taco soup in the Crock Pot while my mom was visiting over Thanksgiving break. I am making it again today and don't want to lose the recipe in and among the hordes of similar recipes. This one is probably the easiest out there, but I might have added too much water today! I eyeballed it until the crock pot was full, egads. Here's my slightly modified version, mainly that I cook the meat with the taco seasoning instead of adding it with the liquid).
  • Brown one pound of ground beef and one chopped onion with packet of taco seasoning until meat is brown.
  • Put the mixture into the Crock Pot. 
  • Add 2 cups of beef broth (about half of a standard size box); a 28-oz can of Rotel, undrained; a 15 oz can of pinto beans, undrained; a 15 oz can of corn, undrained; and one cup of water. 
  • Stir it up, sprinkle on a dry packet of ranch dressing and slowly stir in. (There's probably a smarter way to do that too without sloshing the liquid! Maybe sprinkle the ranch over the meat after added?) 
  • Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  • Put shredded cheese and sour cream on top to cool it down and cream it up. 
  • Eat with Tostitos Hint of Lime chips (Jane's favorite) or Fritos (maybe my favorite).

Tastes even better the next day heated up. Nom. Nom. Nom.

Just Pretending

The first decoration of Xmas 2019
We are slowly getting our Christmas stuff out. It feels like pretend. I don't know if it's the calendar, the weather (so hot, and our A/C is on the fritz!) or a combination of everything, but I don't feel merry yet. Just kind of stressed, which I guess is in keeping with Christmas, at least the secular version.

My first decoration that we hung up is a new one, from my friend Paige's business called Beezus & Roux. She started making art from Mardi Gras beads, and they're beautiful. Epoxy means they'll last. I'm not sure about the bow -- if I were more decorative myself I could fluff it or something, but it's fine for this year. I'll need to keep it inside in the linen closet instead of outside with the other Xmas junk to keep it from melting. A small price to pay. (It is a small piece, so not a huge space sacrifice either.)

I did some Christmas shopping today, buying a bunch of small Frozen II items. The girls both want a BIG Frozen thing -- a vanity (plastic, blech) or dollhouse (too big, and we already HAVE a dollhouse -- a friend just gave us a dollhouse bookshelf). Jane wants a Nintendo Switch, but I don't see that as a good idea, or this learning catalog teacher set that I wouldn't get last year. (She did get a teacher set, the cheaper Melissa & Doug version PLUS my sister, actually a teacher, made her a set of some of the materials she uses, like red pens, name plates for desks, etc.) Livia circled half the items in the Target and Amazon catalogs -- she'll be pretty happy with any toys I think. I now have more than enough for them, although almost entirely TOYS. And none seems "big." But do they really need something BIG? They got Kindles last year, but we still monitor their use and it's not something they have constant access to.

Many things to consider.

Advent is going to fly by. I'm not sure that I'll miss blogging daily -- I know most Decembers I feel that reflexive muscle kick in. I have a LOT of magazine writing to do though, so that should keep me busy and quell any urges. TBD. TBD. TBD.

Happy end-of-November.

Skin Sins

No Filter
Beauty Filter

I hardly took any pictures yesterday, certainly none at our dinner with friends. What is wrong with me? Anyway, I did some "beauty filter" shots -- above left is with the filter and right is without. I'm not really self conscious about the lines on my forehead, but definitely notice them more now and hate them. Look how the filter even blurred my neck a little. LOL.

I am interested in more serious skin care -- a regime to give a glow up perhaps. BUT I think what that really is -- young people who use expensive skin care but have great skin mainly because they are young. I am aging out of the young range, but will still probably throw money at my face. Really if I would just be more consistent with sunscreen I'd look a lot better. I don't go OUT in the sun regularly (and when I do there's sunscreen involved generally), but every day exposure is something I slack on.

Gobble Gobble Wobble Wobble

Back from our friend's house and it was a lovely holiday. I am very full and tired. Still have to get the girls showered and in bed. I took corn casserole, pumpkin dump cake with ice cream and cranberry Jello salad.

I thought of a sort of good blog post to write, but I'm going to try to use it for the magazine, i.e. get paid a little bit for my writing. We'll see where it goes though. I haven't been writing the last few weeks much. Been busy/distracted/boycotting a little. I don't know. Will catch up me next week for deadline!

Only two more posts to go before December. I'm really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. I had an index card somewhere with some post ideas. Kind of in a food coma now and just want to watch TV after the kids get in bed. We watched 3 hours this morning with the Thanksgiving Parade. Screen time is my favorite.

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