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

Friday, February 21, 2020

My Alien Knee and My Aries Body

There are just some things that you have to accept about an aging body - things that can't be fixed by modern medicine or exercise or ... even magic I would guess.  And I hate these little "reminders" that parts of me are not working like they once did.

I should preface my post with the reality that my health generally is pretty good - my limitations are minimal and my mental abilities have not yet begun to decline.  Maintaining my mind is a major consideration when dementia runs in my family.  So I am blessed, blessed, blessed - over and over and over again to this point in life.

And, yet, I find little resentments creeping up because of a left knee problem that has dragged on for more than 8 years.  It's a nuisance really.  A torn meniscus that has had a surgical repair and a total of 4 long sessions of physical therapy, not to mention all the money spent on hot and cold packs, wraps and over the counter medications to support and sometimes mask the off-and-on symptoms over the years.  I was cautioned by a Ortho doc years ago that you might repair a torn meniscus, but it can tear again and again.

Well heck, there should be a 'recall notice' or something on such a weak piece of equipment.

It is silly for me to go on so, when I have friends and family who have had full knee replacements, debilitating arthritis, cancer treatments, and/or died early because of serious illness. It is embarrassing to admit that I have just this little nuisance issue and I can't seem to accept that.

So why is it I have so little patience with this little (sometimes big) knee.  I thought long and hard about this - my resistance to even one little medical limitation that can't seem to be fixed by anything medicine has to offer or by my own force of will.

My daughter would suggest that it is because I am an "Aries."  Sincerely, I place no validity in this astrologic stuff.  It is fun to read and try to compare it to personalities that you know, but is it true?  I just can't buy it.  And when I told my daughter that, her response ... "Oh mom, that is such an Aries answer."  Haha!!

So I looked up my sign on the internet for this post and found this stuff.

*****

Strengths: Courageous, determined, confident, enthusiastic, optimistic, honest, passionate
Weaknesses: Impatient, moody, short-tempered, impulsive, aggressive
Aries likes: Comfortable clothes, taking on leadership roles, physical challenges, individual sports
Aries dislikes: Inactivity, delays, work that does not use one's talents
As the first sign in the zodiac, the presence of Aries always marks the beginning of something energetic and turbulent. They are continuously looking for dynamic, speed and competition, always being the first in everything - from work to social gatherings. It belongs to the element of Fire.  Aries is one of the most active zodiac signs. It is in their nature to take action, sometimes before they think about it well.
*****

So ... crap!  That pretty much is me.   Ok, to be brutally "honest" (one of my qualities), that statement is ALL me!!  What to do ... what to do...

I have come to the passionate conclusion (a strength) that my left knee must belong to another sign!  Yes, that is it.  All of me is Aries except this stupid left knee and I am going to have to beat it into submission.  And I will do so by continuing my leg exercises (which I hate doing by the way ... but no matter).  My left knee is surrounded by Aries muscles and tendons.  I will aggressively (a failing) continue those exercises because there is a physical challenge (a strength) there. I need to resist inactivity (a dislike) and remain determined (a strength) to make this knee fit into my of my body - a body that is Aries 'proud.'

I still don't believe in that Zodiac stuff!  But if I have to be like any of those signs - I would have chosen Aries.  Ha.  I don't believe, I don't believe, I don't believe.

Photo Credit: Topping.com
Aries sign is the Ram
I bet all the Ram's knees work just fine!

How's that for an Aries-attitude post!!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Finally Grown Up

It had to happen sometime. 
I am finally a responsible mature adult!
  Glad it happened at the grand old age of 72.
  I would hate to have gone through my whole life and never reached that state.

It took a Flu bug back in April 2019 to force this evolution upon me.  It was that illness that made me realize I wasn't made of steel - that a little tiny virus, randomly planted in my system, irresponsibly ignored and in the end, allowed to spread to its full potential in me, and then in my husband, and in who knows how many others when I was acting like I was indestructible ... that tiny virus could be very very distructive.  I was sent to the ER by a local minute clinic because my throat was so bad - and my eyes were blood red - that they feared I would have a respiratory obstruction if left untreated!  Of course, that immature person who is actually made of clay had to sleep with cold packs on her throat for TWO WHOLE NIGHTS before she thought of seeking help from that minute clinic.  Too stupid rather than immature ...  was the real problem.

And I can hear the question - did you get your flu shot last year?  Yes, I did.  The flu that I got was not part of the flu shot cocktail for season 2018-2019!  But as my daughter-in-law said (she has a doctorate in Biology and works in the Bio-tech industry) - the flu shot didn't protect me from Type A flu - but it did reduce the severity of my illness.  God help me if I hadn't had that flu shot.)

This winter season I have carried this newly matured me to the opposite end of the pendulum.  I went from "Oh well, oh hum, I am sick. No problem. Keep on going" ... to  ..."Listen up Stupid.  This is a warning shot over your bough.  It can be something serious if you ignore it."

It started with a runny nose and a killer sore throat on Monday morning.  My April 2019 flu began exactly the same way.  Out came the thermometer!  It wasn't working. So bought a new and improved one right away.  One of flu's hallmark symptoms is fever.  I began checking my temperature.  Was checking it every 30 minutes too much?  haha!  I looked in the mirror at my new adult self and said yes.  So I checked it every 60 minutes on Monday. (Probably still too much but I wasn't going to miss that 48 hour window when an anti-viral medication would give the best fighting chance of beating a flu bug.)  Twenty-four hours later - still no fever.  (And no, I didn't get up every hour over night to check my temperature.  I did think about setting an alarm, however.  Ha!! After another conversation with my reflected self in the mirror decided it would be counterproductive.)

I have the very best conversations with myself! 
Probably not mentally normal, but that is for another post. 
😊

I did other things too.  I didn't take any cold or pain meds in the first 24 hours.  I wanted to watch that little bug's progression in real time through my body rather than trying to judge what was going on through a mask of medications.  That was a big change for me.  I really believe in medicinal fixes if there is a fix!  I love living in the 21st century when modern medicine can help reduce or cure many problems.  But I held off to let the possibility of a fever show its face.  I also pushed lots of ice water ... and, of course, I had my medicinal chocolate milk shake.  That felt so good on my painful throat.  If you are unsure what a medicinal chocolate milk shake is - check out this post.

Then I started canceling all my commitments for the next 2 or 3 days until I could figure out exactly what I was dealing with.  I was not going to spread this around even if it was just a cold on family and friends or even total strangers.  How's that for mature!!

Finally, and most importantly, I rested and rested and rested.  I actually listened to my body that said

"Stop moving, for God's Sake. 
I am sending you the 'fatigue' signal. 
You know fatigue is another flu symptom.
I can't get you well AND keep on going like I have done in the past."
  
That was probably the BIGGEST change of all.  The former steel-made me would have just kept going, and going, and going!!  After all - not giving in has always worked for me - until it didn't in April 2019.  But in the past I was never 72!  I didn't have a body that was 'less' due to age.

So the outcome??  
As of this writing four days out
my throat is still somewhat sore but improving,
my nose is still a little runny but improving
and no fever!
My energy is returning.
 This is not the Flu!

Hahaha!  How is that for a blow-by-blow of a simple cold!

I am treating this episode as a 'dress rehearsal' so when the real thing comes along - I am ready!  And the real thing can be darn scary.  As I was writing this post I had the radio on.  They reported that a 16 year old in my area had just died from the flu.  That 16 year old had been seen in the emergency room on a Sunday and died at home on a Wednesday.  Sixteen years old - folks - with a normal immune system, and bursting with health and youth, just her lost the battle against a small flu virus!  

I am finally grown up - better late than never.    

Listen to your body and take care of yourself!
It is a war out there and some of us are losing!
Get your flu shot!  
It is never too late.

Medical Disclaimer:
This post is not meant to be medical advice.  
Check with your doctor to see if the flu shot is right for you!  

But ME is telling you:
Checking with your doctor is just the right and mature thing to do.
  Don't assume you are made of steel.
  No one is - not even if you are only 16 years old.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Rescue Buttons

Yes, Rescue Buttons!

It took me awhile to find a child's sweater for my niece's baby due in March.  Searching took a lot of time.  I finally settled on Wee Envelope by Ysolda Teague.  It looked simple to do and speed to the finish line was an important consideration.  Then I hunted for the right yarn.  I hunted only in my stash because I just have so darn much!!  I like acrylic for small children's items.  I know the knitting community favors wool even for children ... but the reality is that working mothers already have their hands very full.  Acrylic is wash and dry.  Easy peasy!!  And Caron Simply Soft has a very nice acrylic and I have a bunch in various colors.  So I hunted and nothing seemed quite right ... until I saw this multicolor in shades of rose.  The yarn is called Ambre and the color is called Rosewood!  I bought this yarn probably 10 years ago on deep discount so it was deep deep stash yarn.  

I love the colors.



This yarn never found a project because although I love Caron Simply Soft and I love this color called Rosewood - the long runs of color seemed to be a challenge.  The sweater had to be simple enough to not detract from the color changes but not so simple as to be completely boring.

So I took a chance - with a short turn around time for finishing - and began the sweater in Rosewood. As I worked on it - I ran "hot" and "cold" on if it was turning out ok.  The sweater was worked from one cuff to the other cuff - and the body picked up at the bottom of the yoke and knitted down to the hem.  It had an interesting yoke construction.  And the designer had 'picture support' on her web site to help those who didn't understand the written directions for the yoke.  I was one of those who needed help.

But the big challenge were the colors and the way they switched.  I was worried that it was too busy, too much emphasis on the colors ... just too much of everything.  I stopped working on it several times.  I considered ripping it out and starting over in a solid color.  Something safer, where the pattern gets a chance to shine.

Then I decided to complete the sweater and give it to charity.  I would buy a gift for this new baby. To finish it I needed buttons.  The buttons I finally settled on I overlooked at first.  They weren't striking as they sat on a white card.  At some point I found these - but I kept looking.  I wasn't exactly what I wanted but it was something.  I took them to a bright light in the sewing section - and put them against the sweater.

It was magic!!

The color in the buttons seemed to pick up the colors of the sweater as you moved them.  They are sort of pearly so as you move the sweater, the button colors seem to slide between the dark and swirly colors in the sweater.  It is hard to catch that in still photography.  But take it from me ... they are perfect.



For a busy sweater with busy buttons,  it seemed to work.  I sewed them on before I finished the body.  Glad I did.  The more I worked with the sweater ... the more I loved it.  One of my knitting friends suggested that I get baby jeans to go with it.  Brilliant!!

All that self doubt, and starts and stops, all gone.  
Because of buttons.

They are 
"Rescue Buttons."

And, yes, the sweater is going to my niece's baby girl!!  Now I need to go get jeans for her!!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Wallace

I don't post much about the animals in my life.  Not sure why that is.
There are some wonderful pet soul mates in my past and
present.

But these past 6 months definitely belong to my cat Wallace, 
Wally for short.

Max Left, Wally Right
At 13 years of age we consider ourselves luck to have had Wally that long.  He started out life with his brother, Max - Maximillan. We adopted them together, wanting a bonded pair.  After years and years of 4 previous cats at odds with each other, we wanted the next set to be peaceful.

I think these boys are the best looking of all our cats over 50 years.  The first two weeks we had them, we spent $2,000 to get them healthy.  Shelter cats typically come with various problems and we were committed to giving them a fair shot at life. Wally was underweight and ill due to lack of nutrition. During that time I had to force feed him.  His brother Max was 'the dude' in charge - he ate first and didn't care who else was hungry.  Max was a sweetheart, but food was his God!  Wally was docile and waited his turn to eat!  Once we got this pair in our home and discovered the situation, food was abundant for both.  But old habits die hard and Wally continued to defer to his brother.

Max

For 3 years things were great.  Wally was always "second banana" to his brother, but we kept tabs on that relationship and no one ever suffered.  But at 3 years of age, Max was diagnosed with degenerative kidneys - a common condition for cats, but way too early in his young life.  Between prescription food ($$$$) and subcutaneous fluids (injected under the skin of his ruff) every other day ($$$$) we kept Max alive for another 8 years.  He died at 11 years of age from kidney failure - finally.  But for such a long life, he should be in the Records Book somewhere!  When vets hear Max's story they are astonished.  "Unheard of" ... is the frequent comment.


Wally
So that is the back-story of the two brothers.

Now we were down to 1 cat - Wally.  Initially we worried that he would pine for his brother.  Nope!! No pining here!!  In fact he actually flourished.  He was no longer the second banana.  Wally was loving and happy now that he was the star of this household!!

In August of 2019 - 4 years later - when it was discovered that he was hyperthyroid - another common condition for cats.  Over the course of the last 6 months we struggled with medication at various strengths and appetite problems.  We tried a large range of prescription foods and grocery store food.  All efforts cost many dollars.  But this guy is family so we plowed on as we did for his brother.

Getting food into him was the greatest challenge.  I had visions of my force feeding sessions with him as a kitten. Finally his eating trickled down to almost nothing.  Was it his thyroid meds or was it is teeth.  We moved forward with the dental and they discovered the probable cause of his loss of appetite.  His teeth were a mess.  After the cleaning, we took him to a recommended Vet dentist - where we were told his poor gums and teeth were not the result of improper care - but a condition called Tooth Resorption.  His body was "reabsorbing" his teeth - breaking them down right to and into the root.  When cats in the wild get this condition they starve to death because they cannot eat.  It is an internal process separate from regular tooth care.  And he was in a lot of pain as you can imagine.  But, typical of cats, he never showed that.  Just couldn't eat.  Not showing pain or illness is a survival technique for cats in the wild - they don't want to become prey!  Cats are only partially domesticated and predators by nature, so it all fits together.

Wally

The total visit with exam, X-rays, surgery costs, recovery costs, extraction of 8 molars, injectable meds for pain and antibiotics ... (drum roll ... ) was close to $1900.  Did we wince at that cost??  Absolutely not.  He is now comfortable - eating soft foods - and returning to good health.  We hope to have him for many more years.  He is a fabulous cat and we love him dearly.

Wally
Non-pet folks I find don't understand our willingness to do whatever we can for our pets.  My response is that pets are family.  If you look into those eyes, how can you not see a beautiful 'soul' staring back at you?




Pets 'give' more than they 'take.'  And if good health and a quality life after treatment is possible - I will do it no matter the cost.  If they are in pain and treatment will not fix the cause - like with cancer - we painfully and sorrowfully say goodbye to them, release them from their pain, and give them back to God.  We have done that 9 times and it never gets easy!  But for now this beautiful creature belongs to me.  He hopefully has many more years ahead of him.  Now that he has those pesky teeth out of his mouth, he can enjoy living again.



My husband and I have lived with one or more cats our 50 years of marriage.  I think life would be less without one of these graceful and independent animals!


Rest on my dear Wallace.  
You have earned your place in our home and hearts.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Apologies to my children

Have you ever felt like a deficiency in your personality
 is beyond your ability to fix?

Do you struggle with a "just nuts" personal behavior and you fear it will be part of your life until you draw your last breath?  To make matters worse, could this unwanted 'whatever' behavior be a burden to your family after you die.  And because you can't seem to change that 'whatever,' all you are left with is an apology?!?

Think on it!  I'll give you a moment.  What would you apologize for after you are dead?

It can't be the typical stuff like losing weight, exercising more or leading a healthier life, because that lack of self control only impacts you - and not those left behind after death!  Deficiencies in kindness, consideration, generosity, gratitude or love don't count either ... because, again, after your death, it doesn't impact anyone else.  In fact, if your are a selfish, insensitive clod in life, others might be glad when you are gone.  Ha!

But give it some thought.

Still no ideas?
Here is a hint!

You come into this life with absolutely nothing
 and you leave it exactly the same way.

I have told this story before but its worth repeating.  My Uncle died suddenly in his 90s. He died within a month of my mom's death. My cousin (his son) called me to offer condolences and to share a family story or two.  One story that made a BIG impression was the positive 'gift' he left for his children after death.  In settling his estate, his children entered his house to prepare it for sale. They discovered a house almost totally devoid of everything, except the actual items he needed for living.   Closets and cabinets were bare, counter and furniture tops were clear ...  the basics of living were all that was left.  Simplicity in its purest form.

Now why do I go through this elaborate exercise to only end up with an apology?

I don't believe my children follow my blog.  They may never receive this apology in the present.  But after I die and they are summing up all the little details of my life, (which I intend to leave as neat and tidy as my Uncle's house,)  they may come across this blog.  They may read the title - Apologies to My Children.  They might read and understand that I wasn't totally insensitive in the burden I left behind for them.

You see, despite all my other good intentions, there will be this mountain of yarn that will greet my children when they come into my condo.  Beautiful colors and wonderful fibers and luscious to the touch ...  all just waiting for someone who knits to pick them up and ease them into a perfect project.  *sigh*.  It pains me to know that much of my yarn will 'out live' me ... still waiting in their turn in balls and cakes and skeins ... patiently waiting and waiting.

I have long since accepted that I can't fix this yarn hoarding problem.  Yes, I downsized yarn, books and knitting tools when we moved. Prior to that I did a massive inventory of exactly how much yarn I had.  That was an eye opening and embarrassing experience.  It did slow the flow of yarn into the house.  I even revised that inventory a second time - only to discover that despite my best efforts, I couldn't knit faster than I could buy yarn.  But still I struggled manage this.  I deleted yarn vendor emails.  I stopped buying knitting books.  I didn't visit local yarn shops.  I only shopped for knitting patterns that would work for yarn already in my stash!!

But there were some exceptions to this 'yarn fasting.'   I did go to Yarn Fairs during the year - only 2 fairs and yarn was purchased there in very modest amounts (read: normal amounts for normal people.)  And when babies joined our family, cashmere, merino and silk just didn't seem quite right for children's clothes.  So acrylic yarns were added to my stash.  I also added a small amount of fat yarn to my stash - I needed a palette cleansing after almost a year of skinny yarns.  And in my defense, the acrylic and fat yarn did get used.

But then this month I saw this pattern.

Nuallan Cape by Jen Pierce
Knit Picks
Darn!!  I bought the pattern only - 'cause I love it.   I was sure I had something in my stash that this cape would work well in.   I didn't!!  Double Darn! So I went out to Knit Picks just to look at the yarn they used.  Knit Picks yarn is very reasonably priced, but I would need 2200 yards of it for my size.  That's a lot of yarn.  I hesitated.  I set the pattern aside.  I tried to forget about it for now.  I talked myself out of purchasing the yarn.  Focus, focus, focus.  You have enough yarn!

Then Knit Picks ran a 10% off sale on that very reasonably priced yarn - with free shipping.

Done!

The yarn is sitting my condo ... waiting and waiting!  *sigh*.

So ... to my children!!  I am very sorry that when I die you will have to plow your way through so much yarn at my death.  I will leave detailed instructions on how to proceed with clearing out this stash and getting it to good homes with loving knitters.  You might consider burying some of the better choice yarns with me and some knitting needles - just in case there is no yarn in heaven.

So sorry, so sorry.

In an effort to redeem myself, I will work on my list of project for 2020.  I will do my best to avoid these impulse purchases.  But I won't go into any 12-step program to fix this problem.  I just don't wanna!!  I will apologize over and over again - probably until the day I die.  And I will keep knitting.

Dear children.  So sorry.  Love, your mom!



Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Quiet Month

Finally I have reached the best month of the year
 that I earned by surviving the previous two months.  
The Quiet Month ... January!

I love everything about January.

I love the absence of holidays, the routine of each day, and peaceful weather that has done all its contortions to change the seasons. Settling into the placid pace of winter is the reward.  Even when there is a snow storm - it usually approaches quietly no matter how intense it becomes. And a snow event leaves behind a beautifully clean white blanket ... hiding many of the ugly signs that man has passed this way.

Even my frantic decluttering mojo that struggled to make space around me has passed, as I knew it would.  It will return, but for now it is hibernating.

The whole of January is like a pause that allows time for rest and recharge.  No distractions from the chilly outside world or demanding holidays.

For me - January is month made more special because of the full display of all the seasons in my area.  How fortunate I am to live where the four season equally share the spot light.  Folks who crave heat and love living in more southern climates miss out on some of nature's best displays of energy and wonder.  How sad it would be to never enjoy Fall's breathtaking colors, Spring's budding and waking, and only have Summer's showy lush greening and growing day after day after day.  And those that live in areas where Winter is King and night never seems to end also miss out on some of the qualities that Summer contributes.   Without all those experiences, January might lose some of it luster for me.  Because of the seasons, January makes its own quiet statement.

As interesting and celebratory and visually stunning as those other seasons are ... I always look forward to the rest and recharge month.

Let's hear it for the Quiet Month!!
January.



Saturday, January 4, 2020

Connections and Mojo

The restraints are off!!  
No Goals or No Resolutions or No Guidelines or No Anything
 that speaks of a yearly intention.
  BUT 
I have plowed ahead regardless - one connected link at a time in "making space"
  just like I always seem to do every single January.

And yes,
all the actions were curiously linked.

It started with a walk-in closet.  This closet holds 'stuff' - paint, rags, wrapping paper, Christmas decorations, cleaning supplies, tools ... it is a catch-all closet.  When the door is closed - it is OK.  When the door is open - it is not.  When I decorated for Christmas I had to practically empty the closet to get to the right boxes.  Same struggle when I needed wrapping paper.  Ugly!  God forbid I should need a hammer or a nail.  When Christmas stuff returned to storage - I did a big clean out.  Now I can walk into the closet.  Fancy that!  I can actually walk into a walk-in closet!!

The closet clean-out produced two bags of donations.  My first thought - two bags - not enough to make the trip to Good Will, so I easily created a few more bags from my "guest/yarn/book/hobby room."

BUT ... while tootling around in the "guest/yarn/book/hobby room" for donations ... I remembered a problem that needed my attention.  My knitting notions and needles were in total disarray after 9 months of marathon Christmas knitting.  The disarray was so bad I was forced to buy several circular knitting needles in sizes that I already owned but could not find.  *sigh*  Now I have an organized knitting notions bag - an actual tote size bag.  (Yes, I have a knitting notions problem.)   And finally, all the knitting needles are back in their 'homes' ready for the next project.

And speaking of the 'next project,' after wandering around in my knitting supplies, I pulled out all the knitting projects that I set aside to get Christmas projects completed.  Yep!  I did a little line up of things that needed finishing.

Finally I was done.  'Stop looking at stuff' I cautioned myself.  It never ends.  Best to do something that really need doing ... like bill paying.

Ha!  I am so naive.

I set myself to working on bills.  Of course, my wandering eyes drifted towards the 5 inches of filing that I put off for months.  At the same time,  I remembered that I needed to find a specific proof of warrantee that my previous searches didn't turn up.   Filing followed bill paying.  And a search for a specific paper followed filing.

Filing done!  Warrantee info found.

Since I am not a fan of filing, I decided to distract myself with a cup of hot tea. (Seriously, a cup of tea ... where could that lead, right?)

See, I am a coffee drinker, but for some reason I have boxes and boxes of different kinds of tea.  And much of it never gets consumed because most teas upset my reflux.  (Bet you know where this is going ... ). So with a ton of tea taking up space - most of which I cannot drink - I decided to thin it out.  I made several cups of tea to taste, and I pitched near 100 tea bags in the trash.  I still have a life time supply of tea, but it felt good to get rid of the stuff I couldn't swallow.

NOW I am done!!
(Does anyone believe that?)

My knitting activities will probably lead to a much needed reduction in knitting patterns and books.  My tea tasting adventures will definitely lead to a much needed clean out of my messy pantry.  Who knows where this 'clean out fever' will connect to next.

January always seems to trigger this fever in me.  List or no list - ironically downsizing and cleaning out usually makes an appearance in my New Year.   This year it popped up spontaneously without a set of New Year goals.  It felt wonderful to just do what was in front of me rather than what was on goals list.   All that was needed was the mojo to do it!

But here is the really satisfying thing. 
If the mojo goes away - oh well.  
I got a lot done while it was here.  
It will return.  
It always does! 

Meanwhile 
 "Clean Out January" - a very satisfying thing to do!!
  A lovely way to begin the New Year!