Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Tapestry Weekend


Ah, Sunday!  The end of another fun crafting weekend with family.  It is always sad when it is over, but the memories linger.  We sure do have fun.

My cousin working on a tapestry project.
This weekend was themed as a weaving weekend.  My sister and cousin are avid weavers.  By 'avid' I mean weaving is their primary craft over things like knitting and spinning.  And between the two of them, they have a large sampling of small, table top and floor looms.  The fabric they create is amazing.

My own tastes fall more to knitting as a primary hobby.  While I have tried weaving on a rigid heddle loom, I can honestly say it didn't 'stick.'  I still have my rigid heddle looms (3 of them) and I may return to that craft at some point, but my focus has always been knitting.  And lately I have been doing more crocheting - a craft that seems to be growing in popularity.  More on my crocheting efforts in another post.

My tapestry efforts for the weekend.
But a new craft has capture my attention over the last few months: tapestry.  It is a kind of weaving, but on a different scale than traditional looms - and it produces a different product.  Traditional weaving creates wonderful pieces like shawls, towels, blankets, and rugs.  Tapestry is more like painting a picture - except with yarn.  The 'picture' above is the beginning of a sampler designed to teach you tapestry techniques.  It will never be a true picture - just a sampling of various stitches.

The loom my sample is on is a table tapestry loom that I purchased about 5 years ago.  Something back then appealed to me about the craft.  I remember the seller had a beautiful - partly woven - picture of a tree and the sky - a landscape.  The whole tapestry process was reminiscent of my years doing needle point.  I enjoyed that as well.  But the loom sat idle for some time.  The last 5 years have been too busy to devote much time to learning a new craft.


Following along in a book to build my knowledge of tapestry techniques.
The picture below is the piece my cousin is working on.  It is a different sampler design, but it gives you a feeling of the lines, curves, and colors that can be achieved by this craft.

My cousin's sampler.
While tapestry can take a great deal of time to create, I find it relaxing and creative.  I will have to find a way to squeeze it into my available time - tapestry, knitting and crocheting.  That should pretty much fill up any left over free minutes in an already busy life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Maryland Monsoon

View  from my deck.

Yep!  That is what is happening in my 'neck of the woods' and surrounding areas.

Everyday 4 or more inches of rain, like for weeks, but it has probably only been one week!  Flood warnings and flash flood warnings sprinkled throughout the state.  Very swollen creeks and tributaries spilling over and flooding areas.  Passible roads covered with inches of water because the drains can't handle the run off.  I heard this morning that a tornado touched down in a town in a near by county yesterday.  Tornados aren't common in our area but a tornado in July is rare, rare, rare.  Big trees 2 feet across or more falling over because their roots have been loosened and saturated severely.  In fact it was reported yesterday that a woman lost her life when a large tree fell on her house.  Drivers chronically drive into standing and fast moving water on the road - get stuck - and need rescue - despite the fact that it is report daily on TV and radio to avoid doing exactly that!  On the radio yesterday, I heard an example of total stupidity.  A driver got out of his, moved the road block cones put there by authorities to alert drivers to flooded roads ahead.  Then he got back in his car and drove into the water.  I say if you are THAT stupid, the sign on the road block should also include that no one will be rescued that ignores this road block!!

Weather has been crazy for some time, but this month, July, it has been particularly unusual.  But here is the kick!

Standing water in my parking lot.

I LOVE rainy days.  I really do.  Even monsoon days.  I remember walking in the rain barefoot when I was in college - soaking wet and just enjoying the whole experience.  That was years and years ago when my feet didn't need orthotic support to work properly.  They would complain greatly if I attempted that now.  And, of course, there are the worms.  I don't walk on worms now and they seem to love this weather as much as I do - squiggling out of their holes to meander around the side walks.

But ... oh the freedom of just walking in the rain.

My plants love this.
Although I can't walk barefoot anymore, I still don't mind getting wet.  My hair, clothes and shoes can be completely soaked and it wouldn't bother me.  I am lucky to have a partially protected deck and can generally sit on and enjoy weather events.  And I respect the power of water - and wouldn't drive into standing or moving water - whether there was a sign or not.



Last night I tried to sit on the deck and write this post while the rain was pouring down in sheets.  Just listening to the sounds of the rain as it was hitting the ground (in torrents, really) but the direction of the wind was perfect for rain on my computer, and it isn't as fond of rain as I am.  So I opted to only take pictures and write the post inside.

It is predicted that we will dry out by Friday.

The only thing that would make the whole experience perfect ... would be if I could share some of it with other areas of the country that are experiencing droughts and horrific fires.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Vacuum and The Nasal Spray

You can always count on me to address most pertinent issues of the day!  
Last month it was refrigerators.  
This month it is vacuums.
😁

I am not a vacuum snob.

Really, I am not.

Well, maybe I was a vacuum snob at one time.

But I am not now.

Ok, maybe I was a vacuum snob a few many times in my life
over several years ... like maybe 30 years.

But no more.
Nope!
I have evolved!! 


Kirby Vacuum - 1980s
Photo credit:  Ebay

It started with the Kirby Vacuum.  The Kirby was a monster machine.  Big, heavy and strong.  Heavy because the shell and interior parts were made of steel, strong because it could to suck the life out of your carpet and big against other vacuums on the market at the time.  A vacuum on serious steroids.  It also increased your muscle tone, because it was a bloody effort to use ...  suction so great (no adjustments) that it gripped the rug in a kind of tug-of-war.  AND it was very expensive - something like $700 or more back in the 80's (expensive by today's standards, very expensive by 1980s standards.)  It was sold by a door-to-door sales man.  That is how I got mine - except he didn't knock on my door - he sold my friend one, and she shared her enthusiasm with me, and I chased him down so I could write that guy a check too!  *sigh*  Yes, I did that.  Hunted down a door-to-door salesman to pay him money!!  And then I told my sister about it, and he made yet another sale!  The things we remember from our past! I wish I could remember other things like curing cancer or making world peace.

BUT, with the purchase of the Kirby, a vacuum SNOB born.  After all, I had a muscle machine now and I would never need to buy another vacuum again - never (per the salesman).  My house would be cleaner than my neighbors, as well.   Woo Hoo!!  (Today I would have asked if the Kirby also cleaned toilets and washed windows.  I would inquire ... if I never turned on the steroid vacuum would my house still be cleaner - because actually using a vacuum ... turning it on ...  has always been my real problem.)

That Kirby lasted a long time, maybe 10 years - even had it repaired once, but in the end it began to fail and nothing could save it - so I was once again in the market for a vacuum cleaner.  

By then I wanted a less expensive unit.  I think a bagless Hoover followed the Kirby.  Bagless vacuums were all the rage then (maybe the 90s??).  I had to have one.  Good for the environment, cheaper because there were no bags to buy, etc. etc. etc.  New technology, you know!  Except that since this was new technology - it was not really very good.  A few sweeps of the rug and the unit lost suction.  I lost interest fast.

Then the next Hoover used bags - and I bought bags for several years.  Hoover was an ok brand, but I really felt like I needed a muscle machine again to clean 3 levels of a carpeted townhouse that had 2 adults, 2 kids, 4 cats and rotational move-in and out family members.

Enter the Dyson!  By the end of the 90s Dyson had mastered the bagless technology and was beginning to take on more market share.  I had to have one.  I was dedicated to that brand for about 15 years.  Dyson makes a fabulous piece of equipment.  I have previously owned 2 upright Dysons, a canister Dyson and a stick Dyson.  They are very pricy, but they perform as advertised - they never lose suction.  But 'never' doesn't actually mean never as I discovered with the Kirby.

That brings me to the present.

For a few months I suspected that my current Dyson, a canister unit, was not picking up as well.  I blamed the condo carpet as difficult to clean.  After all, I had just spent over $2,000 for yet another new refrigerator so I wasn't eager to buy anything else.  But last week I got pretty frustrated - so I searched on Amazon - reviewed the comments and prices - and purchased an upright Shark.  It was less expensive than Dyson.  The living space I have to clean is less, so a 'muscle' machine just isn't needed.

The head on this Shark isn't very wide.
 The plus is it fits in almost all my tight spaces!!
The Shark was delivered.  I put it together, and it was a snap.  Literally a 'snap'.  No screwdrivers needed.  It all snapped together.  That was a first for me.

And then I turned it on.  (We are getting to the nasal spray part of the story, I promise.)

I started in my guest room.  The Shark worked like a dream.  Easy to push and pull, rotates easily, adjustable, quieter than the Dyson.  I was halfway through cleaning the first room and I glanced at the collection container!  It was FULL.  To the top!!  Are you kidding me, I thought.  I just vacuumed few days ago.  I emptied it, and moved on.  By the time I finished the 1,375 square foot condo, I counted 8 full containers of mostly cat hair.  Gray cat hair.   Gray cat hair on a gray rug that apparently the Dyson did not pick up.  Yikes.

I guess I should be grateful that my cat's hair matches the color of my rug - it never looked THAT dirty.  Sooo .... the Dyson wasn't working well for some time.

I am not a clean freak.  The Dyson was doing a good job at 'fake' cleaning (to use current cultural terminology.). And animal hair has been part of my life for so long - I consider it as normal as dust.  BUT apparently it was affecting more than just looks.  At my husband's last doctor's visit he mentioned that he has been sneezing a lot over the last 6 months.  The doctor suggested using a nasal spray for allergies!

Nasal Spray??  
Heck!!
What we needed was a new vacuum!!



Sunday, July 22, 2018

An eyeball popping discovery

After a year of recovering from a 'broken' knee (torn meniscus) and a month of 'the cold from hell,'  I decided that another 5 pounds on top of what I was previously hauling around was a problem.

Curiously, my doctor has held that opinion for some time.  😁 Go figure!  I guess you could say that I treat medical advice like a buffet - pick out what I like and ignore the rest.

As age has crept up on me, I have a better appreciation for the gift of good genetics I inherited.  Elevated blood pressure and cholesterol are my only real issues (along with most elderly Americans,) and I could make a case for me personally that those two are caused by my life style choices.  (Ok, ok, my doctor said pretty much the same thing.). But a new 'player' has poked its ugly little head on my radar in the last few years ...  'pre-diabetic.'  Yikes.  While not diabetic now, I know that this is one condition I really don't want to manage.

Have I been good to myself?  Yes.  I have been building up my endurance and flexibility with exercises classes, gym time and at home routines since early spring.

Have I been bad?  You betcha!  My diet is the "Retired Knitter's Whatever I Feel Like Eating" diet (with the justification that life is short - and no one gets out alive.  If you need more information on the RK diet - just re-read the title!! 😋)   But sneaking in a McDonalds Big Mac or a candy bar has done me no favors.  Truthfully, I am amazed that my body has handled the RK Diet as well as it has.

Sadly exercise alone isn't the answer.  Darn.  So what else is there!!

Photo credit:  Weight Watchers.com

As always ... waiting in the wings for me has been Weight Watchers.

I have used Weight Watchers several times in the past to bring down my weight or to just feel better.  And every time I go they have changed their program (improved it based on current science actually.) This time was no different.

I am not good at the online memberships - I need to be kept accountable by going into the center, stepping on the scale in front of another person and receiving the written update from their computer.  I don't attend meetings.  I don't need hand-holding, cheering, or instruction.  What I need is another human being staring into my face as they inform me of my success or lack of it.  (They all have nice faces and they are low-key about it - BUT someone else knows my status and type A personalities like me need that.  We believe in winning, even if we have to lie about it!  Truth!!)

So a week ago, I rejoined.

Of course I had to buy a cook book.
But their online library of recipes is robust.
Also, another very good online resource of excellent low cal recipes
is SkinnyTaste.com.  She includes WW Freestyle points for all recipes.
The program is pretty simple.  Well ... not as simple as the RK diet, you understand, but simple as far as traditional (and medically approved) diets go.  Ha!
  • You can have anything (I love diets like that - no no-nos - so when you slip and have that candy bar you haven't broken your will to live diet!  Ha)
  • All fruits and almost all vegetables are allowed without limitations.  Yes!  That includes beans and bananas and some traditionally high calorie fruit choices. You can have lean proteins like fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, beans, and no fat yogurt without limitations.  Yes!  Everything else has a points value and you can scan the points with your phone on to an online tracking data base.  So easy.
  • Basically - it is a low carb, low fat diet.
The first week was an eye-opener for me in how my body responded to this new regime, (or as Weight Watchers describes it) a new life style choice.
  • As long as I wasn't hungry - I didn't crave my chocolate or my Pringles or my Big Mac. I still think about sugar cookies.  Apparently they mean more to me than that other stuff.  Who knew!
  • I wasn't hungry because the diet rests pretty soundly on lean proteins.
  • When I did I want some 'unspecific something'  having a fruit seemed to do the trick.  Win-win so far.
Photo credit: The Tropes Wiki - Fandom

Now here is the BIGGEST eye-opener of all  - to the point that my eyes could fall out of my head ... the regular thirst that I have lived with for about 5 years (thirst that prompted me to carry a water bottle literally everywhere) - THAT thirst - gone!  In the first day of the diet - GONE!!

VERY STARTLING.  And I suspect know the reason.

Remember that pre-diabetic state I mentioned earlier?  Well I did a little research.  With diabetes or pre-diabetes that is not controlled - thirst is one of the warning signals that something is not chemically right with your blood values - specially your glucose or sugars.

Ok - I get it.

A little message from my body sent by way of my mouth -  eat more sensibly.  Since I ignored that little thirst message for years - I guess I was lucky that diabetes didn't jump all over my ignorant self and add condition #3 to my treatment plan.  If I am lucky - the new diet choices may also impact blood pressure and cholesterol.

As far as weight -  down 2.8 pounds.  Pretty painless weight drop as well.  My knees will probably thank me a few more pounds from now.

Win-win.

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks!!!


Fine print for anything I wrote here:  Nothing I have conveyed in this post should be accepted as medical advice. NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING!!  Remember I am the creator of the RK diet - and I assure you that the RK diet has killed a bunch of people.  I am just lucky I am not dead.  I have no medical training.  Do not take anything in this post as medical advice for you.  Consult with your doctor - and if you choose medical advice like a buffet (like I did), you might want to reconsider that decision.  Cheers.  Now I am covered legally.  😇

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Accidental President

Harry Truman was my dad's favorite President.

Why is that note worthy to me?  My dad didn't express much interest in anything, but his job.   He mentioned very little about his past.  But he was a World War II vet as were most men of his generation.  He was with Patton's 3th Army in Europe, and he thought President Harry Truman was a great man.  He mentioned that more than once.  Seriously ... he had little to say about anything in his life so this repeated comment was something that remained with me.

Photo credit: Amazon

When I saw this audiobook, The Accidental President by A.I Baime, I couldn't resist downloading it.

Here is the Publisher's Summary:
  • Heroes are often defined as ordinary characters who get thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and through courage and a dash of luck, cement their place in history. Chosen as FDR’s fourth term Vice President for his well-praised work ethic, good judgment, and lack of enemies, Harry S. Truman--a Midwesterner who had no college degree and had never had the money to buy his own home--was the prototypical ordinary man. That is, until he was shockingly thrust in over his head after FDR’s sudden death. During the climactic months of the Second World War, Truman had to play judge and jury, pulling America to the forefront of the global stage. The first four months of Truman’s administration saw the founding of the United Nations, the fall of Berlin, victory at Okinawa, fire bombings of Tokyo, the first atomic explosion, the Nazi surrender, the liberation of concentration camps, the mass starvation of Europe, the Potsdam Conference, the controversial decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the surrender of Imperial Japan, and finally, the end of World War II and the rise of the Cold War. No other president had ever faced so much in such a short period of time.
Truman followed in the footsteps of FDR who was and is a much loved and revered President.  Most citizens today know who lead our nation during WWII -  many Presidents had no major event during their tenure to mark their time in office and test their leadership skills.  At FDR's sudden death, Truman was thrust into a fire storm of world events that would try the abilities of any individual.

I think that anyone who knows history would agree that Harry Truman truly did face more challenging times than most Presidents.  As I listened to this book I began to see the scope of the events that Truman wrestled with using only his common sense and practical approach.   

President Truman has his haters and his supporters.  Haters to this day point to all the Japanese people killed by the Atomic bombs and the introduction of a new and fierce technology that would change our world  forever.  My dad was a supporter ... because in his words, Harry Truman saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers from a certain death in an assault on the Japanese mainland.  Japanese people of that time, even civilians, would fight to the death in defense of country and the Emperor.  My dad was one of those soldiers scheduled to be re-assigned from the European theatre of war to the Pacific theatre.  My dad felt that Truman's decision to drop those Atomic bombs and end our war with Japan saved his life.  President Truman, the common man, was his hero.

Listening to this account of all the juggled considerations that went into President Truman's decisions - well, I am now a fan as well.  I would also argue that the development and use of the Atomic bomb was the goal of many countries at that time.  We just got there first.  President Truman inherited that Atomic bomb - and it was going to be used by somebody if not the US.  He took steps in its use that will always be controversial.  But he made the tough decision.  He truly was the common man - a regular citizen - thrust into history against his wishes - and who made a huge difference in the world.

I have read a lot about FDR and his wife Eleanor and now I have taken the time to get to know Truman.  I believe that history has shown over and over again, that the right person comes along ... at the right time ... to do the job that needs to be done.  As different as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman were, FDR was the 'right man' to lead us during WWII and Harry Truman was that 'right man' to finish the job as we exited the war.  

Now we find ourselves facing different threats - external and internal and many self inflicted - but all just as serious and game changing as an Atomic bomb.  Sadly that technology has not stood still and our human ability to create destruction has grown to frightening levels.  I kind of hope there is someone 'waiting in the wings' - ready to step in and be the right person for our country and the world now - someone who will do the right thing at the right time - do the job that needs to be done.  Our current President is not that man.

I am hoping history doesn't fail us now.

I recommend this book.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Beating the odds ... maybe!


Remember this beautiful plant! 


And then it was this plant - something going wrong!



Eventually it looked like this.  
Sad. 
But I let it go
 because of one lone tomato hanging on and getting red.  
I knew its days were numbered, however.




This evening I went out to pick the tomato and discard the plant. 
 I noticed - new green growth!

New healthy leaves!!

So I trimmed off all the dead leaves and branches.  
I left the tomato there as a reminder
of what its goal is - once those green leaves fill in.


Amazing!


There's a new game player at the table!

I think I previously mentioned that my husband and my son
 are part of a gaming group that meets once a month at our house
 and has been meeting to play games for over 30 years.  
In fact, my son, who will be 45 this year,
 started playing with the group when he was 7 years old.

Over this past weekend, we had another game.

Below are some special pictures of my son and his daughter, Esk.    





The next generation!
I love this last picture.  
I love the people in it more than I can say.