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

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

GoodReads Reading Challenge for 2016 and 2017


GOODREADS
It's that time of the year again - how many books will you read this year? 
Can you beat last year's goal?


Last January I joined the GoodReads Reading Challenge for 2016.   It is simple, really.  Just pick a number of books you want to read in a given year, plug it into the Good Reads website, log your completed books, and see if you reach goal.

I had no idea how many book I read in a year.  Last year I picked a random number - 25!  Silly me.  I passed that number very early on.  The final 2016 total was 43 books.  The total was probably more since I don't think I logged every book.  And I know I started about 10 others that I lost interest in and abandoned without finishing.  My reading is a mix of Kindle and Audio.  It has been a few years since I have read an actual book.  I should give that a try once again.  I used to adore reading non-electronic books.

My total of 43 for 2016 is really pretty low compared to some readers on GoodReads.  It is not unusual to see a goal of 75 or 100 books for the year.  I find that reading level pretty amazing.  That is about 2 books a week!!

GoodReads sent out invitations again for 2017 and I signed up.  I think I picked a total a little closer to my reading history. This year -  45 books.  I probably should have picked a higher number because last year I had a gap in time (summer moving) when I wasn't reading much.  But I will go with 45 - you never know what the future may hold - and I do love reaching a goal!

Have you ever joined a reading challenge?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Reflections on 2016

Hello all and Happy New Year.

I know - gone again from blogging.  Not going to make excuses.  The spirit just didn't move me to sit in front of the computer and type.  But I still follow several blogs - one by my blog friend Paula inspired me to check in once again.  She reflected on the year 2016 - and I got to thinking - yep! 2016 is worth summarizing.




1. What did you do in 2016 that you have never done before?

My husband and I moved this year.  I orchestrated the entire process (downsizing 30 years of stuff, purchase of the condo, contracting the move, packing and unpacking, townhouse sale).  My husband's disability has severely limited his ability to assist.  There were times during those months when I thought the effort would kill me - but just like with previous challenges, I put one foot in front of the other and came out on the other side reaching the goal.  I kept reminding myself, if I was single I would be doing this same thing anyway.  I did have the support of family and friends towards the end when my health took a hit, but I survived the experience on pure stubborn-ness for sure!

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions? Will you make more for 2017?

I don't think I had a New Year's Resolution.  Obviously if I did the answer to this question would be No - I didn't keep it if I can't remember it.  I did have a word for 2016.  It was MOVE.  Ha!  I meant for that word to reflect more physical movement and improved health.  I didn't achieve that - but I certainly did MOVE this year.

For 2017 I have picked another word.  I wanted it to reflect what was lacking in 2016.  My new word for 2017 is CONSISTENCY.  I want better consistency in the key areas of my life:  exercise, improved diet/health, and, alas, blogging.  At times this past year I have considered closing down this blog.  I never seemed to do it.  So I am hoping to be more consistent in posting.

These are not Resolutions, however.  I think the word 'resolution' dooms the effort for me!  

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No.  But we certainly would welcome new life in our family. 

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes.  Sadly, my dear dear grand-dog Grimace died early in the year.  No pet (including all the other cats and dogs that have graced our lives) has found such a deep caring place in my heart as that sweet Pug, Grimace.  He is so so missed.

5. What countries or cities did you visit?

None. We don't travel much any more and I do miss doing that.  Maybe someday but it is doubtful I will travel out of the country. There are too many places in this country I would like to see first.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

Consistency.  Really.  2016 was consistently inconsistent.  In fact, the pattern of inconsistency started back in 2014.  In 2014 mom's health was failing.  Every week was a struggle and a sadness - and she died just after Christmas.  2015 was not much better.  The stability of my role as caregiver was gone and I didn't feel like I had another focus to anchor my life.  2016 was the height of inconsistency!  Uprooting our lives to improve them was extremely difficult and filled with many misgivings.  We are passed all that now.  2017 - looking for consistency.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

We moved after 30 years in one place.  Nothing else comes close.

8. What was your biggest failure?

I didn't move - at least not the way I intended to move.  Striving for exercise activity in 2017.

9. Did you suffer any illness or injury?

Generally my health is pretty good - although I do feel that as I approach 70 years of age (April of this year), my strength is lagging.  I did fall ill with a few colds and GI complaints - and I did spend one night slumped over the kitchen table because that was the only comfortable position my spasmed back would allow.  But all in all - I can't complain.  

That said - I think it is time to focus on boosting my health with better food choices and exercise.  You can't keep leaning on generally good health without putting in some effort - at some point that naturally God-given luck will give out and you better have put some effort into staying strong on your own.

10. What was the best thing you bought?

The condo.  Hands down - this was the best purchase we have made in years.  Although we lost about 1000 square feet of living space, we gained a hugh amount of convenience and freed up a decent amount of cash and time. I will finish the blog 'tour' of our condo in January.

11. Where did most of your money go?

This year the greatest expenditures were related to moving.  When the dust settled our bottom line financially had improved.  But money was spent and shifted at a enormous rate - all of it related to moving.   

12. What did you get really, really, really excited about in 2016?

It has been a long time since I got really really excited about anything.  I think I lost that ability during my caregiving years.  I worry that the experience may have altered my normally outgoing sunny outlook on life.  It certainly changed me.

13. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a)happier or sadder b)thinner or fatter c)richer or poorer?

I guess I am a bit richer.  I am pretty much the same with regards to emotion and weight.

14. What do you wish you had done more of?

Exercise.  And I have to stop thinking in terms of 'wishing' when it comes to exercise!  Wishing gets you no where.

15. What do you wish you had done less of?

Worry.  Second guessing.  Doubting.  The last few years have been filled with too much of that.

16. What is the best book you read?

Well, I read (or listened to) 43 books this year (thank you Goodreads for keeping track).  The count is actually higher if you count the books I started and quit because they just weren't worth my time. I can honestly say that none of them would be described as 'best.'  I look for escapism in reading.  So I pick books that are pretty similar (apocalypse, zombies, weird themed mysteries, unusual life styles.)  My current book is about a female doctorate level psychopath who is an expert in medieval torture devices who works for a special CIA/FBI unit to hunt down criminal psychopaths. See what I mean?  Odd stuff.  None of it would count as 'best.'

17. What did you want and get?

I wanted to find a condo that would make our lives easier and safer.  Got that.

18. What did you want and not get?

I wanted a more flexible and energetic body.  I didn't get that because all I did was wish for it.  Nothing is ever gotten by wishing.

19. What kept you sane?

Knitting is my sanity pill.  Something about the repetitive and creative nature of this activity feeds my soul. 

20. Who did you miss?

My mom and my grand-dog, Grimace.


Happy New Year Blog Friends!

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Safety Pin



I think it can be said without stepping on too many toes, that half the population of the United States is bitterly disappointed in the outcome of the election for President.  Actually a better description of my reaction is shock.  But this is the way of democracy.  Mr. Trump will be our President for the next 4 years.

I wish him well.  I want him to succeed because as President Obama stated, Mr. Trump's success will be our success.  I won't do anything in this blog, in person or on social media to tear down our President - now or in the future.  Respect for the opinions of a significant portion of our population must be allowed in a civilized democratic society.

In the wake of this election, however, we are left with a lot of uncertainty - and for many fear.   In a very divided nation as we appear to be, there must be a place where we can reach a common ground.  I am not talking about policy or politics, nationally or regionally or even locally.  The common ground I speak of must be found individually between people - one relationship at a time.

That is where the safety pin movement comes into play.

I got this flag safety pin in the wake of 911.
The safety pin movement is based on just a single undecorated safety pin.
But I couldn't help bringing out my 911 pin for this effort.
A plain safety pin visibly worn on the clothing is a symbol and a silent message to all of your support of anti-violence and anti-bigotry.  No words are needed.  Like a secret handshake - we can identify those who support the rights of all people - who are interested in providing a safe and respectful environment wherever you may be.


Please take the time to read the article about this movement and its origins.  Participate - show your support for the rights of all people.

One paragraph in this article pretty much sums up the focus:

"Now there's a burgeoning effort in the United States for people to start wearing the safety pin ... in the face of post-election attacks and harassment.  Having to adopt a symbol of anti-violence and anti-bigotry is not exactly what any of us thought we'd be doing in the wake of a presidential election taking place in 2016, but it could be one small way to signal that you're an ally (regardless of who you voted for) to someone who probably didn't think they'd be in this vitriolic and volatile situation either."

I am still upset about the result of this election - but this one small step forward makes me feel better.  And looking for other ways to make things better ... not matter how small ... it is worth the effort.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thank You Readers

I haven't said this yet.

Image Credit

Thank you for sticking with me during this difficult (and some times whiny) time.
  It began to feel to my own ears like I was obsessed ... going on and on and on ...
as I worked my way through this mega life change.
Even as I was writing I was feeling annoyed with myself - sometimes telling myself
 'GET OVER IT' for gosh sakes!!  

And yet I couldn't - at least then.

It was part of the reason I took a small break - until the townhouse sold.
  I was just tired of feeling the way I was feeling, I couldn't shake it,
and I couldn't inflict any more of that on you.

I am way better than I was - and we are doing well.

But a major thank you to all of you.

You guys are the best!


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Knitted Shawl - Holden

One of the things that kept me from going crazy during the last 4 months was knitting.  Here are the pictures of my most recent finished object. 


This shawl pattern is call Holden by Mindy Wilkes.
I have made this pattern twice and will probably make it again.  It is a very enjoyable and easy knit.



The yarn is a gradient set by Miss Babs called Eucalyptus.  The gradient yarns contain graduated colors of 100% Superwash Merino wool - fingering weight yarn - 798 yards.  What does not show are the true colors.  It begins with a green into a blue into a tan into a pinkish tan into a pink.

Here is the gradient set called Eucalyptus off the Miss Babs web site.
Even these colors don't look like the ones in my kit
Oh well.  Guess you have to see it in person.


The funny thing about this yarn was while I knitted, I decided I didn't like the colors.  I was disappointed with how they moved from one color to another.  I couldn't decide what made me purchase this mix of colors (all were packaged together as a group picked by Ms. Babs.)  Ms Babs colors are always stunning.  I figured this for a 'fail' but decided to finish it because I love the pattern.


Once I finished the shawl - I still didn't care for it.  Then I blocked it.  Like magic, I decided I DID like it!  Blocking really is the 'wonder-action' that makes all things right in knitting.



Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Condo - Guest Bedroom and Bathroom

A series of posts on my new home.
As I go about my day in this new place I call home
I frequently think ...
"I like this (xyz) so much better."
Maybe I should write about it."

Before you peek into the guest room, a small disclaimer must be made.  The 'guest room' has a long- term resident in it already.  My yarn collection.  Beyond food, I seem to hoard yarn as well, but I like to call it a collection instead of a hoarding tendency.  Ha!  And to all knitterly visitors to this post, you should know, my yarn collection is big by my standards and average by the standards of other knitters ... apparently. So the guest room sometimes is called the Yarn Room.

Anyway, here goes!
The wall to the left houses most of my yarn for crafts.
I say 'most' because some yarn is on the other wall and in the living room.
Ok
It is a yarn condo!

I have always wanted to have an official guest room  In our townhouse we had lots of space and many rooms but no one room worked as well as this one does as a guest room  This is mostly because the possible townhouse guest rooms were either on the second level - near our rooms - limited privacy or in the basement.  Both required stair climbing to reach and most of our guests were not good on steps.  Frequently guests slept on an uncomfortable pull out couch or blow up mattress in the living room.

Opposite wall - holds all my books, puzzles, games and other craft items, and some yarn, of course.  

Sometimes this wall reminds me of a yarn shop.  Makes me smile.
Masked "Mousequerade."
In this room I also have the remains of a stuffed animal collection.  I used to have many more stuff animals, but this collection was thinned down to what I thought I had room for (and to what I love most of all) in this new place.  Mousequerade is a collectable stuffed cat, who is masquerading as a mouse in a mouse cape with a basket full of cheese.  Obviously this sweet looking cat has 'plans' to trick some little mouse.


Here is Mousequerade without the face mask and with his hood pulled back exposing such an appealing face.  My first (and dearly loved) cat in 1969 was a black and white tuxedo cat called Ashes.  This stuff animal reminds me of him.  When I saw this stuff animal in a gift shop in Savage Mill I was totally in love with him.  But the cost was ridiculous.  I couldn't justify it.  I walked away from him, but my brain would not let it go.  After about 5 days, my husband said - if he is still there go buy him.  He was still there!!  I never regretted this purchase.


On the bed sits a stuffed white angel cat with white wings and glasses. I got this cat on our first trip to Maine.  It was sitting on a gift store counter next to the cash register.  As with Mousequerade, the moment I saw him I had to have him.  But we were visiting the area and would not be returning in 5 days.  So he left with me that day.  This sweet stuffed animal reminds me of a time when my husband and I could travel together with limitations.  I am so glad I fell into that impulse purchase.


The bear is special because he wears my very first knitted sweater.  I took a 7 week learn to knit class back in 1997.  In the 90s I had a terribly stress filled job that I lived and breathed for about 4 years.  It made me into a uncaring and unhappy person.  To save my sanity and to bring back the person I was before being a manager, I quit that job with no job prospects in sight and I took a knitting class.   The sweater on this bear reminds me never to let others change who I am.  Never let circumstances make you a lesser person.  Be sure to remain caring to all.  Remember what is important in life.  This bear, which is not collectable at all, carries much on it sweatered shoulders.


This desk was one of the two pieces of my mom's that I brought with me to the condo.  Actually the desk was mine as a child.  It is a simple drop leaf maple desk but I would never part with it.  It reminds me of mom and of my childhood.


Here is another stuffed cat that is part of my small collection.  I just love the cat on its own, but in its arms is the silk flower corsage that my mom was given and wore on the day of my son's wedding.  My son was married on my mom's 60th Wedding Anniversary so she was recognized on that day with this corsage and a small matching silk bouquet of flowers.  It was a very special day - special for my son and his wife, and special because it was the best mom was mentally and physically before she began to seriously decline.

I am still figuring out how to decorate, but the evolving theme is 'cats' and 'yarn.'



The full bathroom off the second bedroom has two doors: one door is off the bedroom, the second door is off the living room.  It is a good size bathroom and would house a wheel chair or a walker if needed. It also has its own linen closet.

Max our cat loves this room.
Not all the cats in this room are stuffed!

The guest room is a special room for me.  This is one think the townhouse didn't give me - one room with all my important things.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A pause in the story ...

I guess I took an unexpected pause ...

Not the pause that was planned or refreshes ... just a pause to cope.

Last I wrote was September 21 - and I was in the middle of a "condo tour."  I will get back to that with the next post.  But this post is about the "pause."  Hard to believe it is now November 6.

Our townhouse settlement date (or the giving away of a "child" I birthed) was scheduled for October 27.  As we move closer and closer to that date my focus on anything was a failure.  Of course, I had tasks to do related to the sale.   I visited the townhouse off and on, meeting with contractors, sweeping and raking periodically, collecting mail, chatting with the neighbors.  It kept me connected and engaged, but it also kept me emotionally tied to the property.

I didn't sleep well the night before settlement.  I didn't think I would.

The day of settlement my husband and I arrived in the lobby of the settlement company.  As we reached the front desk a man passed by us and approached a young couple sitting on a couch.  I heard him mention something about " .... here for Setting Sun Way property."  I turned and said we were also here for Setting Sun Way property. I met the lovely young couple who was going to buy my dear townhouse.   And when I say "lovely" ... I totally mean it.  Before the settlement began, the woman said that she "thought she knew my daughter" and that I looked just like her.  Turns out she did know my daughter.  They went to high school together. She and her parents had lived in this neighborhood back then and she loved the area. This couple were very very excited about moving into the townhouse. She commented several times what good care I had taken of the unit.  Basically, she said all the right things.

The knot in my stomach began to unwind.  Here was the perfect young family (they had a 10 month old child), who wanted to make a home in our home ... in our neighborhood ... around our neighbors ... because she loved it.

You cannot possibly imagine just how relieved I was to meet this perfect people - who I would have chosen if I could - to live in my home.  When we left settlement I began to let go of the grip of steel I had on that townhouse for so long.  My "child" was going to a good family.

On Halloween I was invited back to Setting Sun Way by a few of my former neighbors.  Halloween is a big deal in that community.  It was just one big happy mad house.  The new owners of the townhouse were just returning from somewhere and we talked for a bit.  My former neighbors came up and introduced themselves to the new owners.  It was a warm and welcoming time.  Before I moved on, the woman asked me if I would like to come in and see what they had done so far inside.  I declined.  As I told her, I got through settlement without tears, not sure I could go inside now without tears.

I am beginning to feel a certain level of comfort in this condo.  It may never reach the level of "home," but it will become more than just "where I am living."  Now I am thinking about blogging again.  I am beginning to bring out some hobbies I previously abandon.  I am changing out some appliances that need replacing.  I am redoing some of the window treatments.  I am setting down some roots.

And I am not visiting the townhouse.  It is now busy with other folks.  :-)

Next time I will continue with the condo tour, and we will visit the guest room.

Talk again soon.