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

Thursday, December 13, 2018

HELP - A Study in Frustration


I have reached the tipping point in frustration
 on commenting in a number of the blogs I follow.

It has become so frustrating
 that I often visit a blog and pass on without stopping to chat!
  And that just kills me!!

So here is the problem from my end:

  • If the comments setting on your blog is set to "Embedded" - (meaning that when I select the comment button, I don't get a "pop up window") ... your blog with embedded comments does not recognize me as signed into Google and it does not let me comment without a going through many many steps.  
  • The first step offers me 3 options to sign in to comment with minor frustration:
        • Google Account - this option shows me signed as signed into Google on only one blog and her blog uses the Pop Up window designation - all other blogs do not give me the ability to sign in - even if I am already signed in to Blogger and Google!  In fact, I also get a prompt to log into Google before my comment is posted, because it is a better way to manage comments.  And if I choose the Google Account option - post my comment - and hit Post - it acts like it is posting it, but it never shows on the blog.  Sooo Frustrating.
        • Name/URL - which I now use most of the time:  Elaine (Retired Knitter) and then I key in my web address.  This is OK - but not preferred.
        • Anonymous - which I don't use - I don't want to be anonymous and some blogs don't accept that 
  • The second step - Prove That I Am Not a Robot - is where things get very frustrating:
        • I get dumped into reCaptcha that shows me pictures after pictures after pictures of Crosswalks, Buses, Cars, Fire hydrants - over and over again.  I took notes - the average number of screens I am offered is 4 - that means that sometimes I get 6 or 7 screens before I am accepted.  And those screens are small and grainy and just hard to see.  That is NOT OK!


Yes, I know some of this is a Blogger Platform problem!  

How many readers leaving comments on my blog have had this same problem?  

Does anyone have a suggestion or a fix for this problem that I can do from my end? 

Here is what I am doing on my blog:
  • My blog uses "Pop Up Window" commenting.  Please, please, please, consider changing your blog to "Pop Up Window" commenting.  For some reason it is less problematic for the commenter.  "Embedded Comments" have more problems.
  • I have removed the reCaptcha and the Robot Check from my blog.  Yes, this is a risk.  I am going to give this a try for awhile to see if it makes things easier for visitors who want to comment.  
If you are reading this post (follower or not), 
please, please, please, 
leave me a comment and
 then let me know what happened. 

I may need to put Moderation back on my blogs to protect it from Spam, but for now I will just "fly without a parachute" and see what happens.

Finally, if I can't find a work around on this problem, I will stop trying to comment on blogs that have Embedded comments.  Sorry, folks!  This is is supposed to be fun and it definitely isn't.  I will still swing by and read what you are up to - but no commenting.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Rocky Point Disappearing

Rocky Point, Long Island, New York
An Interesting and Beautiful Place

This is one of many cross stitch pieces given to my mom by her long time friend
from Rocky Point.
They were very good friends.
In my recent visit to see my mom's life long friend in October (story here), I learned about Rocky Point, Long Island, New York, her chosen home. It has a dynamic and surprising history.

A *Nor'Easter storm was coming through on the
day of our visit.  The winds were blowing
and it was very wet.  This street where my mom's
friend lives was beautiful just the same.
At 93 years of age mom's friend has many wonderful memories of Rocky Point.  During our visit she shared what Rocky Point was in her youth and what it is today.

Her home - updated and expanded over the years from
the original cottage of the 1930s.
On the surface this community has a wooded 'settled' feeling with long established year round homes nestled within its boundaries.  Initially filled with summer cottages in the 1930s, now it has a mix of updated year-round structures and a few of the original summer cottages.

This path leads down to the Long Island Sound.  At the path's head, the sign said
"No Tresspassing" but my sister and I decided it didn't apply to us. 😆.
If we hadn't taken the path, we would have missed the amazing views of the sound
during angry weather.
But the 'settled' feeling is a false one.  Time and nature is making dramatic changes to this land.

We were almost at the water's edge at this point.

The picture doesn't do the angry waves justice!  They
poured over that bulkhead.  The bulkhead is important.
It holds down the erosion of the coast for the house located above the cliff.
Right beside the bulkhead the erosion is huge.
Walking back up the hill - my sister ahead of me.
The wind was strong.
During our visit we noticed a picture mounted on the wall.  It was a kind of map of the Rocky Point.  Shown in dark blue background with light print, it had the look of a surveyor's document.  Individual plots of land, roads and the shoreline of the Long Island Sound showed the scope of the area in the 1930s.  Our host explained that this picture showed Rocky Point as it was when her great aunt purchased the cottage (now a winterized and expanded home) we were standing in.  She pointed out exactly where we were figuratively in this map of the area.

Now for the big disconnect.

Standing at the front door of her home I could see a row of houses across the street that runs parallel to the rugged cliff coast line beyond.  Those houses back yards' end at the cliff's edge that drops off sharply into the Long Island sound.

But standing looking at the long ago map of Rocky Point, I see that my current location is many parallel streets away from that cliff. All the land shown was divided into many many individual plots where houses resided.  That land, those roads, and those cottages are all gone!

In fact, several houses just across the street were already considered 'Condemned' by the State.  And one house was gone .... off the cliff.  All that remained was the front yard and a road side mail box.

In the fore front - the road my mom's
friend lives on.  Behind that is a
solitary mailbox.  Behind the
mailbox is a fence located in what used
to be the front yard of a house.
The house is gone.
Yes, my mom's friend lives in a house that used to be be far from the coast ... and now is exactly one street and one row of houses away from being cliff side.

The supports of a house
 that fell off the cliff into the Long Island Sound.
It was  Geology 101 for me.  Geology 101 talked about land changes in terms of hundreds of years - even thousands of years.  But changes demonstrated so dramatically and stunningly within the span of one life time ...  that chapter was not covered in my class.   When my mom's friend inherited the Rocky Point property in the 1960s she had the foresight to check with a geologist.  His assessment in the 1960s was that her property would last until the end of her life - but maybe not until the end of her children's lives.
The story of a fast disappearing coast line - is hard to ignore when recognized over a very short period time.  Yes, this coastline has probably been receding for hundreds of years.  But would it have been so easily measured if man had not built right up to the shoreline back in the 1930s?  And would there actually be less erosion if accelerated global warming was not whipping up violent storms to pound on this coast?  And could man do something - like sand dunes seen in beach communities to slow the march of this destruction?

The next day was BEAUTIFUL.  Fall colors still held on
to the trees despite the winds that whipped at it.
The pictures of this beautiful area do not do justice to the beauty and drama that is Rocky Point, Long Island. I am glad I got to see the splendor of this place - and the drama of it as well.  During our visit the area was experiencing a *Nor'easter.  This strong storm was churning the Sound and chipping away at the shoreline as it has done hundreds of times.  Even once the shoreline claims our host's home, there will still be many properties behind her that will still stand.  But as time passes each house will take its turn at being 'beach front' property ... until they aren't any more.

The sky and the sea was beautiful.
Just beyond the white fence, the cliff drops off.
I am standing in a back yard of a condemned house -
condemned because it will take its turn to fall into
the Sound.

The quiet of the next day!
Future years may not be quiet for this little house.
But today, all is well.

One last look at a yard - and property behind
the fence that is disappearing.

It is just nature at work- relentlessly!

Nor'easters are usually accompanied by very heavy rain or snow, and can cause severe coastal flooding, coastal erosion, hurricane-force winds, or blizzard conditions. Nor'easters are usually most intense during winter in New England and Atlantic Canada (definition from Wikipedia.)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Quiet Holiday - A Gentle Reminder

As we approach the Christmas season, it is time for a gentle reminder.  

Amidst the flood of holiday cheer and good will, there are those who may desire to skip the merrymaking.  The reasons are many.  A first holiday without a loved one or friend, serious health or money problems, and some, like myself, have memories around this time of year that are like scars over a wound.

Of course you can't miss the commercial signs of Christmas.   The festive decorations in red and gold and green that cover shopping malls, homes, even cars ... seasonal music pouring into our ears, trees gayly decorated and beautifully wrapped gifts.  TV shows with charming holiday stories that all have a happy ending.  The societal prompts are everywhere - "Be Happy!"

And yet ... Be Happy ...  Well, it has not been my response for many years to this holiday.  I make an effort to keep those sad reflective feelings at arms length around others in December.  But I feel the need to remind all on behalf of the "Less Than Happy Club" of which I am a member, that Christmas is not always a joy filled.

My memories ...
shared with you as a one example of the struggle some have
this time of year. 

Old memories ... as an elementary teacher pulled suddenly from my students,  .... standing in the school secretary's office decorated in reds and greens and golds, hearing mom's voice say over the phone the words "dad just died,"  tears,  confused faces of my second graders as I left them with a substitute in the middle of their holiday party ... waiting outside for my husband to pick me up, disbelief, seeing another staff member, arms filled with holiday cheer for a staff party, smiling and happy, and seeing the smile fade as I said the words ...  and within days standing at mom's side in a funeral home that was decked out with the reds and the golds and the greens of the season, helping to pick out a casket while Christmas music filtered softly through the speakers, hearing her whisper, "I hope he knew that I loved him."

The date was December 23, 1970.  
I was 23.  
I remember it like it was yesterday.

Years pass.  The holiday subtly changed.  Bad things do happen when the world seems happy.  New to me at age 23.  Children were born, memories were put aside with purpose and with determination.  Some joy seeped back in.

Fresher memories ... the same music, the same reds, the same golds, the same greens of the season, the same joy in the air ...  except it was December and my 85 year old mom moved in assisted living.  Christmas was hard.  And the next year was harder, always harder.  I began to dread the signs of the approaching happy season.  My mantra  ... I will get passed this - then 'normal' can return.

Until Christmas 2014 came.  The same of everything was back.  Again.  Music, greens, golds and reds, decorated trees, gifts.  All the same - except three days before Christmas a new image was added ... a nurse sitting me down ... the words "your mother is dying."  Regrets expressed, only a few days left, comfort drugs for her, can I do anything for you or your family.

Truly, what little joy of the season in me was sucked out.

December 28, 2014 she died.  
I was 67.  
I know that was 4 years ago,
but it is really only yesterday in my mind.

Scars upon scars.

The 'happy' season is different for me now.

I accept the memories now.  They are a part of who I am.  Not something to be swept aside.  It is an anniversary of a sort that two important people passed from this life during the happiest time of the year.  And one life, mine, changed because of it.

My experience isn't unique.  Nursing homes report a high incidence of death at Christmas.  And the troublesome problems of life continue - missing a loved one, financial problems, health problems, emotional upheaval - despite the constant unending message of December to "Be Happy."

So remember as you move through this month some folks are struggling.  They may still smile and laugh and appear to be engaged in the wonder that is the Christmas season.  But they may be wearing a mask.  I know that I do.
Be kind.  
Be understanding.  
Be tolerant of their need for space from the season.  
Be happy yourself.  

But remember, sometimes 'happy' is not the goal for some - 
sometimes just a quiet peaceful holiday is all that can be achieved.

And that is ok.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Observations of Living in a 55+ Community

Do you ever look back at a major life decision and wonder if you would have made the same decision if you had known then what you know now?

After 2 years of living in a 55+ community, I have made some interesting observations about this style of living and our decision to move here.

When this community was being built in 2007, it was a very popular option for interested seniors.  I understand from some original owners that there was a waiting list for units.  New owners initially fell between ages 55-65 ... younger seniors.  All moved in within a year or two of each other as the development was built.  All had similar motivations and were inspired to make this new style of living successful for themselves.  Newsletters, committees, social activities, and active board of directors (some report an over active board that ruled with an iron fist) were the norm.  Naturally there was an excitement in wanting to make your "new home" perfect.

That is what I briefly know about this communities early years!

I have impressions of how this community has changed over time and what it is now.

We moved into this condo when it was about 14 years old.  When we were searching for a condo we looked for specific things: an evaluator, less living space to manage, lower living costs, a reasonable condo fee, pet friendly, geographically close to our kids, and a property that was cared for and financially viable.  We weren't looking for some of the more typical considerations - amenities like organized social activities, business center services, or exercise equipment.  In fact, we were initially not even looking for a senior community and we were looking for places without those typical amenities.  The fact there is no newsletter or committees or social calendar is just fine with us.
we did not want to pay for things we would not use - those amenities comes with a high dollar price tag in the form of elevated condo fees.  Nothing is free.

Some of you were readers of my blog as I struggled with the decision to move and to find the right place.  You might remember just how emotionally draining and exhausting the whole process was.  I have some observations on the pluses and minuses of the decision I made two years ago.  
  • Plus: Ease of interior maintenance - since I am the one doing all the maintaining - this is important.  
  • Minus: Vanilla is not my favorite flavor - I like variety.  I miss the mix of residents that we used to have - families with young children, singles, Halloween Trick or Treaters.
  • Plus:  Definitly cheaper - a big plus.  We have an adequate retirement, but time and inflation can eat into that nest egg.  Expenses are stable here with no large jumps in the condo fee.  No external issues to manage like when the roof leaks or the snow falls.  
  • Minus:  Less control over making sure the exterior is repaired and maintained.  Property ages.  Halls need painting, hall carpet needs replacing ... now at 16 years old, this property needs on going maintenance. 
  • Plus:  Quieter - neighbors are more considerate of how they live their lives and how it might impact others than in more vibrant younger communities. 
  • Minus:  Moving after 55 - at least for me - means leaving behind a place called home of 30 years.  That same feeling will be unlikely here. 
  • Plus:  More time for me and my personal pursuits.  
  • Minus:  Some folks who live here are aged past the point of being independent safely.  That is an issue everywhere, but when you live in a senior community, it is more evident.
  • Plus:  You can build new friendships among your peers when you are surrounded by your peers!  I have been very lucky to make several friends in this community.  
Nothing is perfect - every style of living after a certain age carries some concerns.  We certainly could not have anticipated some of my minuses and pluses when making this decision two years ago.  But despite the minuses - I am still content with our choice.

It is nice to know that!

Glad that looking back didn't result in regrets!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Making Plans

Making Plans

That's where November always leads me.

Now, make no mistake.  These are not resolutions!  I have taken the stand to 'resolve' nothing!!  Especially at the beginning of a new year.

Resolutions typically involve something personal like losing weight, or exercising more, or sticking to a budget.  They seem to focus on improving something about yourself.  I have personal goals like this but I have moved away from hanging the start date for these goals to the first of the year.  It never works for me.

But November ... that's different! I feel the pull to make plans for the next year - sort of like a to-do list for the coming year.  I guess it is a lot like what gardeners do in February, as they scour the seed catalogs ear marking pages, making lists and placing orders for their spring-summer gardens.

Its a plan, not a resolution.

Over the last few weeks I have been thinking and planning and organizing to make two significant projects (from different sides of my life) happen in 2019.

Project from the fun side of my life:

A Knitting Plan
  • Knitting Projects in 2019:  I am building a list, and creating the yarn and pattern kits in preparation for next year's knitting. Doing this will mean I won't be swallowed up by only kids projects (as much fun as they are) - finally getting to a sweater for myself two years in the waiting.  
  • Slim down the patterns:  How many patterns does one person need!  To find any inspiration in that pile of paper is impossible. Time to recycle most of it.
  • My yarn:  It owns me ... I don't own it.  Recently I tried to find some yarn in that avalanche of skeins and it was so frustrating.  Far from fun.  I have to find a way to own that yarn again - and not the other way around. 

Project from the business side of my life:

A Hold-It-All-Together Plan

As with most couples, my husband and I shared the responsibilities of our married life for almost 50 years.  As my husband's disability has grown, the sharing has shrunk.  Slowly his to-dos got added to my to-dos ...  and along the way new to-dos out of necessity also got added to my list.

At the same time, however, my aging brain is saying -

"Lady, you are getting older - 
and so is your brain -
 AND you have already filled me up -
 AND there is no room to add more stuff -
I am retired, you know!!

So what to do, what to do.

Enter my invention -

My Book of Many Things!

Ok, this is not exactly my invention.  It is a carved out piece of The Bullet Journal method.  Here is a second link on Bullet Journaling.  What I think I need to do is extract just the pieces of The Bullet Journal system I need to help track all the details that I don't want to store in my brain.  These details are not to-dos.  They are more the reference materials of my life.

Lost?  Let me explain further.

See, my life isn't as crazy daily or even weekly as it used to be - so the calendar portion of the bullet journal system is not very useful to me.  That calendar feature was built on the idea of  'to-dos' lists that could be juggled and adjusted daily within your bullet journal.  That calendar system is great, by the way, and I used it when we moved.  It saved my butt as I independently juggled downsizing, purchasing property, moving, and selling property - all in a 6 month period!  I kiss the ground the inventor walks on because kept me from totally de-compensating during a stressful life event.  But now life is more peaceful and my to-dos don't consume me like they used to.  I keep a wall calendar for appointments, and daily 3x5 cards with to-dos.  That simple process works for me now.

But there is a sea of information that needs a place to reside outside my brain.  It is sort of the reference material of my life - the big picture stuff - the future road maps - beyond just cleaning the toilet today or dusting the bricka-bracka tomorrow!  Archiving it in writing into a single place is the plan I am working on.

That single place is my Book of Many Things 'cause that is what it will hold.

So what kind of information am I talking about.  Here is my initial collection:
  • Knitting List for 2019
  • List of packing items when traveling or off for the weekend.  I hate building that list every time I pack a suitcase.
  • Budget Plans and schedules
  • Blog post ideas
  • Log ins and passwords
  • Knitting Group Rotation
  • Movies/Books Titles - what I have read or what I plan to read
  • Future purchases or wish lists
  • Birthdays/Anniversaries
  • Menu plans for big celebrations
  • Doctors and their demographics
Right now this stuff is scattered in a number of places.  There isn't a real logic to its location.  And sometimes they are housed in locations that made sense when I did it, but they no longer make sense - and I can't find it.

I am still sorting out if I want a bound book or if I want a 3 ring binder.  A bound book has more appeal to me.  My life has a lot of 3 ring binders in it and I don't think the ability to insert or replace pages is a big enough draw to pull me away from the idea of a bound book.  I like the permanency of a bound book.  And the Bullet Journal System is built on a bound book.

Obviously the Knitting and the Book of Many Things projects need more thought and planning.

I am in the planning part of this process now ... 
'cause it is November, 
and it is what I apparently do in November!!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Not a Minimalist

I am greatly inspired by the movement called Minimalism.  I have read books and followed blogs by folks who espouse minimalism ... those who describe what it looks like and what it doesn't look like ... those who have used broad brush stokes to explain it - like "Less is More" and those who nail down the concept to the point of how to organize your sock drawer.

Seriously, I love that minimalism defies definition.

Plug the word minimalism into any online search engine and a plethora of links and titles pop up.  So I won't bother to enumerate titles I have read and enjoyed.  If you link the word "frugal" to minimalism in your mind, I will say most definitely, it is not the same thing at all.

For me minimalism is simply reaching of "enough."  Enough for your needs - be they physical or emotional or mental.  Moving beyond "enough" or more than your needs is not a minimalist.

So why do I even mention this at all.

When I discovered the minimalist movement maybe 10 years ago, I strived for that.  Or I should say I strived for magazine equivalent of minimalism.   The magazine equivalent looks something like:
  • All surfaces clear of brick-a-bracka.
  • Drawers and closets with space to spare.
  • More visible floor space.
  • Less stuff on the walls.
  • No duplication of items.
  • No items stored for some distant point in time when I 'might' need them.
Initially it was an astounding goal to strive for in a household that was more than one person and was filled with the possessions of several family members - possessions built over their life times.  But no matter.  I strove for that.  And as the clutter began to clear - I could feel that sense of well being that has been described over and over again by others.

Then when the dust cleared after mom's death, and it was just my husband and I, I really stepped up the push to removed in some way all the stuff that was weighing me down.  Due to need, I even extended that to how much living space did we (a retired couple) really need to be happy and safe - ending in our move to condo living.

Broadly stated, over 10 years we probably reduced our environment baggage by 75%.  

But still ... I didn't fit that 'magazine image' of a minimalist.

And then I realized that maybe I was a minimalist after all.  I had reach my goal of "enough."

Then I walked into my yarn room.  Believe me when I say, I am far beyond 'enough' when it comes to my crafts.  And then I checked my pantry.  I am a food hoarder.  The pantry is always bulging and I can't seem to get that under control.

I am not a minimalist.  I am a person who continues to strive for 'enough' in all things and although that state of being doesn't have a label like "Minimalist" ... I am ok with that.

Or maybe I should just make up my own term.

I am an "Enough-ist." 

Hmm ... It doesn't roll of the tongue does it!?

I am open to suggestions!!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Lessons in Friendship and a Trip

In the last years of my mom's life I learned many end-of-life lessons.  As her body and mind failed her, she showed how hard aging can be, how the little steps in "letting go" of independence can drain your enjoyment of life, and how her love of family continued despite all the loss.

The lesson of friendship, however, I learned from someone else.

A true friendship doesn't fade away because our lives change, or we move away or we get old, or our brain dies slowly.  Recently I learned that even if we die - that link of lasting friendship and affection is not lost ... unless we intentionally let it go.  Mom's friend of 65 years had no intention of letting go of anything.  I learned something about friendship from her one weekend in October.

When my mom's friend called me and invited my sister and I to visit her (almost 4 years after mom's death), I was blown away by the invitation.  She lived far away and had limited mobility and mom's dementia removed mom mentally from her friends.  But mom's friend managed to keep connected with me over the course of mom's last months.  Since mom's death, that friendship connection remained strong within her friend - wanting to know about our growing family ... and mom's great grand babies!

We were thrilled to get the invitation.

Our visit would take us into Long Island, NY by train.  I love train travel.  My sister and I looked upon it as an adventure.  Thankfully my sister is a seasoned traveler so she took control of working out the details of travel.

The train turned out to be great fun.  Who knew they served food and drinks in a dining car!  We were several train cars away from the dining car, so we walked (read: staggered - train movements, you know) through another car I have never heard of - the Quiet Car!  Apparently in the Quiet Car - you must be quiet.  Ha!  A Quiet Car seemed like an odd thing to find in a bouncy noisy rocking mode of travel.  Each car has a toilet - thankfully.  The seats in the train provide a pull down tray and reclining options just like riding on a plane.  But the similarities between train and air travel stopped there.  Air travel requires so many security checks before you can even board the plane.  Train travel?  Not one security check.  Sort of like riding a bus - you have your ticket and you just get on - and don't tarry, 'cause that train is rolling out of the station with or without you.

The highlight of our trip was seeing Mom's friend again.  She had retired many years ago to a beautiful area of Long Island called Rocky Point.  At 93 years of age, she is still as sharp as ever.  Our conversations with her were interesting and animated.  She had her share of health issues that limited her mobility, but make no mistake ... she had her mind!

My sister and I prepared photo album of our grand babies as a gift for her.  We also included several pictures of mom during her last years just before the dementia totally took her from us.  She loved the book and we heard from her daughter that she shared it with others.

Riding home on the train after our visit left lots of time for thought and reflection.   I couldn't help but marvel at how rich my mom's friendship life was with this woman.  Mom's friend was always a fire ball of a personality.  My earliest memories of her (I was probably age 7), are of a woman who was strong of body and mind, energitic and very generous of herself.  My mom was always a calm accepting kind of a personality who understood more than she ever said.  Together they complimented each other so well.  But I was also sad because mom was not here now to enjoy the friendship they had cultivated over a lifetime.

We plan to do our share of staying connected with this wonderful woman ... especially now that we know that she has not let go of her friendship with our mom.  Not even death can take away what they had.  The album we gave her had lots of open spaces.  We will keep her current with pictures and notes - and we will take her up on her invitation to return for another visit - probably in the spring.

Some lessons in life

 ... well ... 

they brought tears to my eyes more than once that weekend.

Next ... a little pictorial of Rocky Point Long Island - the beauty and the reality of living there.