Lynn's blog

I've been putting craft-related stuff that I do over at; this was to have been my site for my knitting and spinning students, but since I'm not teaching any more, and no one goes there (fewer than 20 people a day, compared to thousands here), there's not much point. So I'll be folding all my knitting and spinning stuff into TNH, where it should have been all along, and redirecting over here.

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  • When it comes to TV appearances, if you're at all out of step with the "mainstream," whatever the hell that is, trust no one. It's not like I really thought Dr. Phil was a stand-up guy or anything, but this just proves it. [hat tip]
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I'm cranking out the finished objects at Knitting 911: My Knitting Olympics sweater (6 months late) and the two scarves for Lou and Jo, to wit:

Started: 9/27/06
Finished: 10/18/06
Materials: Essentially 1 skein of green heather Cascade 220 with pompons in a contrasting heathered lavender.

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Sorry for the delay in getting pictures of Day Two up. We spent most of yesterday lazing around recovering, or rainboot shopping for the girls. Do you know there is not a single decent pair of size 2 rainboots to be had in this town? Josie's peeved. Off to the catalog we go.

Here are Karen and Leonard, the people who made all this happen:

Karen put the call out for help for me, and Leonard answered it. I will be forever grateful to them both. Isn't Leonard adorable? He is. I also have to thank Gail. I don't have a picture of her, but she was here through the entire process and my family's great thanks goes to her.

Here is Spencer with his trellis:

Spencer is a crazy boy, also adorable, who was out there building that trellis until 12:30 am the night before. Grapes will be on that trellis. Or something. Maybe squash or cucumber vines. Or all of the above. We haven't figured out yet what's going up the trellis. Talk to Leonard. But ain't it purty?

Speaking of adorable boys, here is JJ in the pond, and our friend Tom helping him:

They emptied it, mucked it out, found the holes that had been draining out water, patched them, fixed the fountain pump, and got it all running again.

Everyone had fun making seed balls:

Inside these balls are seeds for all kinds of flowers, herbs and edibles. Scatter the balls into spots where the world could use some green--empty lots for instance--and voila! instant wild garden with no further input from anyone else. Karen made me a big one shaped like a goddess figure--she's holding it in the top picture--but it broke! I'm going to let the pieces dry out the rest of the way and then scatter them in the front by the kiosk.

At the end of Day Two the group had finished about half of what we've set out to do in the yard.

--The swingset has been taken down, the old garden beds taken out, and five new "guild" style plantings are now in that area, anchored by two apple trees, a nectarine, a pie cherry and a fig. Underneath them are gooseberries and currants. Underneath THEM are medicinal and culinary herbs including "fraises des bois," the little wild strawberries that do well in dappled shade. I have yet to get a good picture of one of these plantings but I'll keep trying.

--A grape has been planted to grow into the laurel hedge.

--The pond is cleaned out, patched and working again. This spring we'll restock it with fish and tadpoles.

--The front of the property has been planted with forest/shade plants like salal and oxalis, and mulched.

--The new swingset is taking shape. As soon as it stops raining later this week John will start that up again, and if the weekend weather cooperates he'll have it finished then.

--The rose and iris beds have been cleaned out and the irises, overcrowded and unhappy little rhizomes that they were, have been divided. You can now get into the gazebo from all four sides.

Still to come:

--Annual garden beds sized so we can put the chicken tractor over them.

--Herb spiral plantings.

--Cane berries and kiwis on the back fence and shed.

--Guild plantings in the western half of the garden, including paw paw trees. Pickin up paw paws, put em in your pocket...

When the rest is going to happen I don't know, but I think it's soon.

12: The number of years John and I have been married as of Friday. The whole garden thing sorta subsumed our anniversary.

19: The number of years I've been sober as of today.


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About 15-20 people have been marching in and out of my yard today. Things are winding down so I thought I'd post some pictures of the guild planting and sheet mulching techniques that they're using in the yard.

First they put down cardboard:

You can see in this picture that some of the plants (the big ones) have been planted in holes cut in the cardboard. Some smaller, shallow-rooted ones are being planted right on top of it.

Then they put down a bunch of rabbit litter--straw and rabbit droppings--donated by a gal associated with City Repair who has a whole lotta bunnies:

Another view:

Then in some of the guilds (like the one directly above) topsoil is put on top of that; in all of them, mulch--in this garden's case, shredded tree--is the top layer.

So that's what's going on right now. It pretty much looks like piles of mulch surrounded some little trees; if you didn't know better you'd think we'd just hauled in some piles of wood chips. I have to be careful about letting people step on them, because some of the plants are small.

The thing I really want to show you is the trellis Spencer is building along the side of the house, out of bamboo and pieces of the deceased apple tree. SO cool.

I leave you with one last thing--the garden plan, which I meant to post yesterday. Click on it to get a bigger view:

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I'm exhausted and the build hasn't even started yet.

I spent all day and night Tuesday, all day and night Wednesday and a good chunk of this morning dealing with the server problem, just in time for the start of work on the garden this morning. Leonard was here bright and early with a chipper to chew up the remains of the apple tree, which now sits in a big pile in the driveway along with a truckload of tree shreds from a service. A bunch of volunteers started clearing out the garden in preparation for tomorrow's build.

Plants are arriving: A fig, currants, a male kiwi, grapes, Oregon grape, salal, a nectarine, two apples--one of them a Cox's Orange Pippin, one of my favorites, the other a Melrose, another favorite. Two beautiful trees, I'm excited; I actually clapped my hands and squealed when Leonard told me about the apples. A honeysuckle. Ferns. Strawberries. One by one, two by two, they're trickling into the yard, these plants.

I spent the afternoon clearing out the dirty, messy gazebo so I'll have a space tomorrow for feeding people. I'm fixing two kinds of porridge--vegan and vegetarian/omnivore--and two kinds of soup--vegan and omnivore.

And now I am completely and utterly exhausted. This is exciting and wonderful and I'll be glad when it's over. :)

UPDATE: I finally found my card reader, so here are some pix of the end of day 0.

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The server blew up. I'm having to rebuild it on a new box by hand. I'm very stressed. If your login doesn't work, request a new password; it may be that the passwords got hosed in the transfer. Here's hoping not.

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City Riparian

If you're interested in learning about permaculture, here's your chance. The City Repair project will be planting a food forest in our yard throughout City Riparian. There will be workshops, too, on "guild" planting, sheet mulching, making seedballs, and spinning yarn (taught by yrs trly). The work/learn party is free; the workshops and nighttime events are suggested donation, but no one will be turned away.

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--The Nietzsche Family Circus, in which random quotations from the philosopher are paired with random Family Circus cartoons.

--Looking for Halloween knitting patterns? Look no further. via.

--My favorite awards, the IgNobels, have been handed out. I missed the live webcast but wait as always for the day after Thanksgiving when Science Friday will air the replay. People came from France for the ceremony! Hilarious.

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--Cute and easy tea cozy from Hello Yarn. Well, actually it's this hat, but I agree, it looks more like a tea cozy.

--Via Lifehacker, I hereby present Folding Like a Pro, in which 3 different folding techniques are shown:

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Chirpy Telemarketer: Hello! May I speak to Lynn, please?

Me: This is.

CT: Hi! This is Jane from [some telemarketing company]! I'm calling because one of your friends told us you like wine, and we wanted to talk to you about that!

Me: [temporarily speechless and trying not to laugh outright]

CT: Which do you prefer, red or white?

Me: Well, honey, I don't know who told you I like wine. I'm a recovering alcoholic. I'll be sober 19 years on the 15th.

CT: OH! oh! well gee! well! congratulations! OK bye!

I'm wondering who the "friend" was. Must be someone who knew me 20 years ago, in which case the answer to "red or white" would have been, "Whatever you've got."

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Hey, if you want a shot at winning one of two copies of The Complete Organic Pregnancy be sure to enter by the end of today.

--And on that note, some news pregnant girls may wish to skip: Premature births responsible for many more infant deaths than previously thought.

Scientists now say a third of infant deaths are due to premature births — a much larger percentage than previously thought. ...The revised statistic may lead to greater efforts to counsel pregnant women about taking care of themselves and avoiding actions that can lead to preterm births — such as smoking and drug use.

It also may help organizations lobbying for more research into why some women who follow medical advice still have preterm babies. The March of Dimes is advocating to expand federal research into preterm labor and delivery and the care and treatment of premature infants.

--Doing animal studies? Check out The Macaulay Library and its huge collection of animal pictures, videos and sound--some in surround sound!
It's the world's largest collection, and it's free.

--Maybe it's time to bring back Saturday morning cartoons and ditch the rest of the week's TV? Weekday TV watching hurts schoolwork, according to a new study. Weekend TV watching doesn't seem to matter.

No, not my apples--my apple tree. Yesterday, as we got ready for the installation of our food forest garden in two weeks, we were horrified to discover that the trunk of our apple tree had caved in. On further investigation we found it was hollow at least four feet up the tree and the base was rotted.

I woke up this morning to the sounds of chain saws--across the street. A crew was taking down a neighbor's tree. John ran over, negotiated a good price, and now we are less one tree.

But! Now I feel Phelan's pain. I processed only one big bowl of apples--enough to fill my soup pot--into applesauce. Well, AM processing, they're still boiling down, to be partly eaten tonight with sausages, garlic mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and salad (German, no?), partly taken to church tomorrow night for the potluck, and the rest to be eaten or stored. I was pretty damn tired of apples by the time I got that one pot done, and was sticky from head to toe with apple juice. I can only imagine how bad it is for her--bushels and bushels worth.

I tell you, I'll miss that tree. The yard looks very weird without it, and it gave four different varieties of really delicious apples. But once the food forest is in, not only will things get a lot more low maintenance, we'll have a wider variety of perennial food crops and the apple tree(s) will be in a more logical spot than where it was. And I'll be investing in: 1) a better juicer (Hata and I are considering coercing the spousal units into a shared fruit press since they have fruit trees and grape vines too); and 2) an apple peeler/corer/slicer gizmo. I could have sworn we had one but it's vanished.

I'll tell more about what's happening in my yard in an entry soon. Here's a preview, and if you're in the Portland area, I invite you to come take the workshops and work in the garden. It's gonna be a great time.

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Hey! We're on the Mother Talk blog tour this time around! I got a chance to read the new book The Complete Organic Pregnancy (scroll down to the bottom for a chance to win a copy) and ask the authors, Deirdre Dolan and Alexandra Zissu (should have asked if she was any relation but I bet she gets that a lot), three questions. And here they are:

LS: My readership is inclined to be mostly sympathetic to "organic living," but at some point they often have to draw the line in terms of practicality, most often financial practicality. What is the minimum a mama should do?

DD&AZ: In the book we encourage pregnant moms to transition to a more organic lifestyle. Only they know what is practical for them. We're eager to have them be as organic as they can be but any organic step is a step in the right direction – 20 percent or 100 percent. The initial transition phase, which is really as much of a mental shift as anything, might take a little work. But once you're living organically, the issue of is it practical or not doesn't really come up. It just is. Sure, every once in a while the store might be out of organic milk or recycled toilet paper, so you substitute, or you go back the next day when the stock is replenished. But that's the same for any conventional item as well. All of this is to say we think living organically is as practical as any kind of living. As for the minimum a mama should do, we have a list of steps we keep coming back to because we think they're worth taking to protect the baby during the childbearing year. They're not necessarily in order of importance.

1. Buy non-toxic cleaning products because basically everything conventional is bad for a growing baby and for you. This will help reduce your indoor air pollution considerably. (You can make your own cleaning products for a fraction of the cost with a combination of liquid soap, baking soda, water and white vinegar.) [TNH has tons of articles on just this.--L]

2. Eat an organic, whole foods diet. This refers to eating food as close to the form it comes out of the earth as possible (think potatoes, not potato chips!).

3. Have your house and water tested for lead, particularly if your house was built before 1987. Drink your water out of glass, not plastic, whenever possible.

4. Read the ingredients in your beauty products. Can you pronounce, let alone recognize, what's listed? Our government doesn't (yet) regulate cosmetics as organic which means any producer can claim to be organic. Choose products with fewer and more natural ingredients. We have specific brand suggestions in the book.

5. Don't renovate while pregnant. If you need to make basic changes, especially where the pregnant mother or baby will be sleeping, use zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint, and nontoxic wood and glue.

LS: And how much DO finances factor into having an organic pregnancy? Is it possible to do it on a budget?

DD&AZ: Yes! With regard to food, we can't argue that organic beef is cheaper than regular beef. It isn't. Neither are organic beets. But the organic beef and beets (or whatever you're buying organic) didn't involve feeding sludge, antibiotics, hormones or grain to an animal meant to eat grass, or spraying pesticides and herbicides into the world, both of which are priceless. It also didn't involve a farmer having to breathe those pesticides and herbicides which will effect his/her health and the health of his/her family.

That said, here are a few cheaper ways of going organic:

1. Join a local CSA – Community Supported Agriculture. Members support a farm by purchasing "shares" of the harvest, and pay the farmers before the growing season begins so that they have money to farm the land. In return they get a wide variety of vegetables (and sometimes fruit and even meat) during growing season (which depends on where you live). Members also share the risk of things like bad weather and crop damage. For more information, checkout .

2. See if any of your local health food stores sell organic grains, nuts, and cereal in bulk versions. They often do. Bulk is always less expensive.

3. Switch to a whole foods diet. This means eating food as close to how it comes out of the earth as possible (think potatoes, not potato chips). Eating whole foods means avoiding processed, packaged foods. These are more expensive than you think. Do a shop avoiding chips, cookies, frozen meals and the like and then check out your grocery bill. You'll save money and, when filling up on whole foods instead, gain nutrients needed for your pregnancy. Really.

4. Make your own nontoxic cleaning products with some combination of liquid soap, vinegar, baking powder, and water. This is arguably cheaper than buying brand name cleaners.

5. Cast iron pans are a lot cheaper than nonstick ones, which are toxic.

6. When setting up your nursery, ask around to friends and family to try to get hand me down clothes, furniture and other essentials. Recycling is always inexpensive. (Just don't take any old mattress; it is likely to contain chemical flame retardants and be wrapped in vinyl, a known carcinogen. We urge you to invest in an organic crib mattress instead.)

7. Buy less stuff. Maternity clothes aren't very useful for long, neither are infant onesies. Wear regular clothes if you can while pregnant (tight is the fashion over a cute bump these days anyway). A baby doesn't actually need very much besides a boob and a diaper.

LS: At one point in the book you describe the best attitude to be one of "defensive living." As crazy as some of us get when we're pregnant, is this really a good posture? Mamas blame themselves so much already for practically everything; does this add potential for yet another layer of blame we can drape over ourselves?

DD&AZ: If you're looking to protect your growing baby, your kids, and yourself from the ridiculous amount of chemicals in the world, defensive living is the way to go. We're not saying it is a great posture, nor is it a layer we're creating. It's just a fact of life. There are over 82,000 man-made chemicals floating around our increasingly polluted world, and the effects of only a fraction of them are tested and understood. The burden of these chemicals on a grown, adult body is disturbing -- just imagine their negative repercussions on the fragile system of a still-developing fetus. There are many aspects of our daily lives we don't have control over, so it makes sense to both of us to make good, organic choices where we can, to minimize this burden on our babies and ourselves. In the book we have 27 diaries on many topics pertaining to what it means to have an organic pregnancy, one of our mom-writers, Florence Williams, writes that being forced to live defensively makes her "furious. As mothers, as consumers, as pregnant women trying our hardest to nurture a little being with ten toes and a high IQ and a decent shot in a complicated world, we were inadvertently siphoning them neurotoxins, carcinogens, and who knows what else (and, believe me, we know very little). None of these products or foodstuffs came with warning labels or ingredient lists." Her fury makes sense to us. And so does erring on the side of caution when it comes to those toes.

I'm going to post an actual review of the book on its page here in a bit; I wanted to get this up first. Thanks to Deirdre and Alexandra for answering questions!

OH HEY ALMOST FORGOT! BOOKS TO GIVE AWAY! Comment on this blog entry with the notation you want to be in the book giveaway and I'll put your name in a hat for two copies of this book! Post by 10/2 and we'll pick two names on 10/3.

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It's quiet--too quiet. Are people having trouble posting? Email me if you have a tech problem because I'm not seeing anything at this end whether I'm logged in or not.

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I've been awake since 4:30 am, up since 6. I just couldn't get back to sleep. I think it was a blood sugar crash or something. I ate a hellacious amount of highly fortified ice cream last night at Coldstone Creamery. WHAT was I thinking? Never Again. I mean, I usually just don't eat that stuff. I don't know what possessed me, seriously. So I'm pretty much zombified today.

I did some graphic cleanup on the site to pass the time. You may note there's a different font in the side bars and menus--easier to read at smaller sizes than Times New Roman. The front page has been pared down a bit; all the blog and forum listings are gone, relegated to the same sidebar scheme as the rest of the site, though the most recent comments are still on the front page for now. (I'm really hoping people can get used to using the list of newest posts instead--if you're logged in it'll show you exactly what you haven't read.)

I installed a new module called workspace today too; you will see a link for "my workspace" in your menu bar to the right under your name if you're logged in. It puts all of the stuff you yourself have written--blog posts, comments, the works--in one place. Since I've written so much here, I can't see it myself; it times out. Tell me whether it's useful.

My main object right now is to get more people posting. It seems that it's "just us" so often here--not that there's anything wrong with just us, I'd just like to see more new people here. Do you notice any obstacles to participating here that I could address?

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Two via Lifehacker:

--Rebates are scams. And you know it's true.

--Free iTunes Downloads: This blog exists only to track all of iTunes' free stuff. I subscribe to it in RSS so as not to miss goodies. Sorry, overseas/Canadian folks, it's just us Amurricans.

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Send them to Iraq. No, seriously. There's a gal stationed there with the US Army Corps of Engineers who gives out as much candy and stuffed toys as she can scrape together, usually ordered from Oriental Trading Company out of her own pocket. If you've got some stuffies you could send her, some little kids in Iraq would love you for it.

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--It's not the obesity, it's the diabetes! Researchers have found that being overweight in itself isn't what does you in--it's that obesity tends to bring on diabetes, and the diabetes does you in.

--I'm so glad the Taliban have been driven from Afghanistan. Oh wait.

--Over at Get Rich Slowly, JD dissects your average unsolicited loan offer; how's 35% annual interest rate sound to you? Take his advice, folks: Get on the opt-out list--and throw offers like this right into the shredder.

--Read about the Tripoli Six and take action. Letters to the editor, phone calls, blogging, whatever you can do. It's almost too late to save these innocent people.

--It's Banned Book Week. Piss some jerk off, read a book you're not supposed to. via

--Sure, you've heard of using your car to cook stuff, but how about your dishwasher? via

Over at Knitting 911, my crafting blog, I report on finally finishing my ill-fated Knitting Olympics sweater, and the blanket I was working on for my mom's friend. Next on the needles: Much-needed scarves for the girls, hopefully to be finished in time for Martinmas.

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Early linkage!

--whip up whips out the organizer patterns. Some great stuff in here.

--Inspiration from Why Homeschool.

Going to the ER on Monday after my little "drum solos" was actually good for me. Nothing was wrong, yada yada. I got through without dying and without getting bulldozed. John and I repeated "NO BETA BLOCKERS" so much that finally a nurse said, "OK! We got it! No beta blockers!" I got my new MedicAlert bracelet listing "no beta blockers" today too, so I feel a lot better about my chances under unfamiliar care now. Plus also it's two tone gold and silver titanium! ooooh!

At therapy last night we talked about why I came back from the dead--why, if I was happy being dead, and I was, I came back, and how did I feel about that. "I imagine you feel meaningless," she said. I initially said no, not at all, but when I thought about it further--yeah! I did, and I didn't really even know it. Why DID I come back? I mean, I have all kinds of reasons to live; my husband loves me deeply, I have two little girls who need me, I haven't buried my parents yet (not that I'm looking forward to that) and I'd never put them through burying me before them if I could. But people in the exact same circumstances die all the time. That's not all it takes to stay alive.

So why did I come back? I don't know. I imagine it'll become clear as time goes on, and in the meantime, there are my children, my parents and my husband, and my readers. And myself.

My therapist got me to commit to one daily physical self-care thing for the week; when I'm depressed I forget to eat, I don't shower, I wear the same clothes for days, etc. All of which I'm having trouble with at the moment. I committed to walking around the block. Did it first thing this morning after I took a shower.

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Today's good stuff:

--Fellow Portland blogger Get Rich Slowly summarizes an Ask Metafilter post on when it pays to make stuff from scratch. (I think they miss the point about knitting socks from scratch; it's not just the superior materials and fit, it's an enjoyable hobby that results in something useful.)

--Eliminating Lead Poisoning over at Treehugger talks about the new point of care testing device that turns testing for lead poisoning into a simple finger stick with results in three minutes. This could revolutionize public health.

--8 Ways to Save for a Quick Emergency Fund. Pretty self-explanatory. via.

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Linky goodness!

--Habetrot is a new craft blog focusing at present on art and photos. Right now she's got delft tiles of shepherdesses, pictures of sheep, pictures of spinners, all kinds of interesting things. via.

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Aye, I was back in the ER last night, and aye, it be Talk Like a Pirate Day. Cast yer eyes on Yarn Harlot's list of piratical knitting, the saucy wench, and the official TLAP page on knittin' like a pirate.

So enough with the dialect for the ER part. More after the jump.

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That's the conclusion of this study from Australia:

After the researchers adjusted for factors including socioeconomic status and years of education, they found that women who were overweight or obese were less apt to attempt breastfeeding at all and those that did were less likely to continue breastfeeding. ...

Overall, the researchers found, overweight or obese women were 76 percent more likely to stop breastfeeding before their infants were six months old than their normal weight peers.

A number of factors could help explain the findings, the investigators say. For example, excess weight may change a woman's hormonal profile, making sustained lactation more difficult, or it may be harder for an infant to "latch on" to breast tissue if the mother is overweight or obese.

The researchers also report that overweight and obese women were more likely to have pregnancy complications and C-sections than normal-weight women.

Here's one factor they didn't talk about: Lactation consultants and nurses who don't know what to do with big boobs.

When I had Josie, my already-generous breasts swelled 3 cup sizes (and stayed there--I'm still dealing with them). The two lactation consultants sent to my room to help me had NO idea what to do. They were both B cup gals, and very obviously and visibly uncomfortable when confronted with a living Venus of Willendorf. We left the hospital still unable to breastfeed. If I hadn't found another large-breasted mom through La Leche League--and if my mom hadn't helped me pore through every line of every baby book we had checking off obstacles--I would have given up and gone to formula. As it was, Josie and I were a happy breastfeeding pair for three years.

My experience with Louisa was different. The lactation consultant I had was also large breasted (though more normal sized elsewhere), I'd had some experience, and Lou was/is a natural chowhound. :) But it helped to have an LC who wasn't scared to touch me, didn't act vaguely nauseated by my size, and had navigated a good-sized tit of her own with a baby.

Watching smaller breasted women do it, I was always glad I *was* so generously gifted; I had far more positioning options than smaller women. These things were more like hoses. I could point them in all kinds of directions. ;)

What I'm saying is, body hatred of fat women, by the women themselves and the medical establishment, factors into this. It's not all hormones and/or difficult births.

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Here's what I've dug up today:

--EEK! My favorite local store is starting online order/delivery!

--One of my favorite Internet gadgets is Pandora, which I use as a radio station; my main station, by the way, is called Rootsy, and I program it with a wide range of American roots (and roots-inspired) music, from zydeco and blues to bluegrass and flat-out country. Lifehacker has a bunch of Pandora tweaks to help you get more out of it.

--Get Rich Slowly features a guest entry from A Homesteading Neophyte's Phelan: An Introduction to Homesteading. Be brave! Keep chickens! Grow a garden!

--And lest we forget, tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day! Don't forget your arrr-gyle socks!

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We had a small kitchen fire this morning. Sheryl, our faithful and patient housekeeper, had a pot of water on to boil on the back burner to make Lou some mac & cheese (a rare treat in our no-boxed-food house). Apparently self-same Lou had gotten chocolate sauce all over that back burner unnoticed last night, because it burst into flame! A small but spectacular fire. (I forgot to add Lou's comment: "Sheryl, you don't know how to cook!")

I ran in and threw baking soda on it with no harm done--no smoke damage or anything--and with one significant result: The smoke detectors didn't go off.

Guess what John gets to do tonight! :)

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For your entertainment today:

--Aaagh! Stop me now: Vintage iron-on transfers, hundreds of them! I collect "Aunt Martha" transfers, especially days of the week towel transfers. boy, this is going to be hard to avoid...

--I'm sure you've already heard, but in case you haven't: Bagged spinach linked to e-coli outbreak. If you have some, throw it out.

--Back to school help: Finding affordable tutoring. Great tips on finding help for your student, especially good if you're a homeschooling family. [hat tip]

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