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, May 29, 2016

My Life List - Memorial Day Weekend 2016

My Life List

I am joining the blog Smidgens, Snippets and Bits in sharing "My Life List."

My Life List Currently: 

I am thankful ...
... on this Memorial Day for the citizens who gave their lives in service to our country.  My earnest wish is that we can live in a world where there is no need to memorialize deceased military citizens because the world will be at peace.  Human beings being what they are, I am sure not even my great grandchildren will live long enough to see that day.

Looking out my front window ...
... I see well maintained green spaces and terraces.  I live on a small hill that separates us from the street.  It was the distance from the street that attracted me to this location.  Townhouse developments are typically uninteresting, cookie-cutter communities that resemble each other.  Frequently they have tiny front yards that hug a parking lot.  The developer of this community created an appealing space at the entrance where some of the town homes are up off the street allowing some sense of privacy and style.  The original landscape has matured.  After so long a time I hardly even notice its inviting beauty until someone else comments how lovely the setting is.  I'll miss this view when we leave.


As I ponder ....
... the Memorial Day holiday and this political season I can't help but wonder how our country got to such a dysfunctional place. I try to avoid taking public positions on political and religious views.  No one's deepest beliefs are changed by raging discussions of these topics.  But I am so uneasy at the national trends right now, I feel the need to express a worrisome opinion somewhere.  My blog ... my space .... my opinion.

I am a registered Independent.  I have supported both Democratic and Republican candidates over my voting history.  One party never has all the answers.  But we are so divided as citizens now, and I believe that this division is reflected in the leadership we elected ... polarizing us even more.  Setting aside policy differences, when we cannot even replace a Supreme Court Justice using the rules our nation lives by - our Constitution - we are in a very sad state.

I believe current candidates are the most diverse (and one is just plain frightening) choices for President in our history.  Sadly no candidate shows the leadership potential to pull us away from our derisive path.  I admit to being a big supporter of President Obama ... not because I agree with all his policies, but because he is an educated, even-tempered, thoughtful man who has served with grace under incredible pressure.  If a person of his quality could not bring us to more national unity and understanding, the current batch of candidates most certainly will make things worse.

When the nations of the world look at our struggles to pick a leader ... a leader who historically is the leader of the free world ... I am sure they cringe.  What has happened to America?  Are we going through a "terrible twos" period in our history, or a mid-life crisis, or are we in decline as the voice of reason in a crazy dangerous world?

I hope we are in a momentary "blip" in our history.  That calmer more reasonable minds will prevail and we return to a better sensibility of who are ... and behave accordingly!  (I am such a polly-anna!) 

What I am learning ...
... I am learning to keep my mouth shut about this political stuff on Facebook.

What I am reading ...
  •  This Bitter Treasure by S. W. Hubbard.   This is the 3rd book in the Palmyrton Estate Sale Mystery Series.  The lead character, Audrey Neaton, is the owner of an Estate Sale company.  The mysteries revolve around that various estate sales she coordinates.  There is always a mystery and there is a bit of romance but the theme that attracts me is the estate sale business.  Great fun!
What I am creating ....
Besides an ulcer :-) ...  I am still working two shawls.

Discovery time ....
I bought two new items this week.  During a period when I am not buying much of anything, I was kind of surprised by these purchases.
  • The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker.  I obviously have a weakness for reading non-fiction books on this topic. Rated on Amazon as 4.8 stars out of 5, I couldn't seem to pass this up.  I usually buy Kindle editions because they are cheaper and don't take up space, but for this title, the Kindle was more expensive.  I probably will pass the book on when I am done.  My designated shelf for books is full and I am not going to allow it to spill over.
  • The Handbag of Holding -  Ok, this was a fun impulse purchase.  I will admit to a bit of a tote bag obsession.  I always have a knitting project or two, plus my Kindle and my iPad with me.  I am always on the search for interesting and functional totes.  This bag is the latest in that search.  The origins of this bag and name are found specifically in the fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons (D and D).  A "bag of holding" is described as a "wondrous item" used by gamers to hold a great number of items that would normally be to big or to heavy for the bag or a person to carry.  It is "a bag that has an interior space considerably larger than its outside dimensions and can hold up to 500 pounds.  The bag weighs about 15 pounds regardless of its contents."  See?  Wonderous!  Anyway, I came across The Handbag of Holding on Amazon.  It is a tote designed to hold a lot in an organized fashion and its zipper pulls are 20 sided dice (another game reference.)  It has a handsome tailored look, and I love the game reference.  I used to play D and D with a group - and my husband and son still play monthly with same group of individuals for over 35 years.  
Feel free to check out the Amazon links.

What I am watching ...
I finished watching House of Cards and am now struggling to find another highly rated series to follow.  I have sort of run out of titles.  Any suggestions?

I started a TV series call Grace and Frankie.  The actors are Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen - all actors I enjoy.  Briefly, it is a comedy about two women finding out that their husbands are not just work partners, but have also been romantically involved for the last 20 years.  The wives have a strained relationship already and coping with this news doesn't make things better.  I have seen the first two episodes and I am not entirely sold on it, but it has multiple seasons and is highly rated so I will give it a few more episodes before I decide.  Sometimes these things grow on you.

What's on my camera phone ...
The beautiful lady is my daughter, Kristin with her dog, Milo.  This picture is one of the professional
shots taken for sales promotions where my daughter works.
She is the Director of Sales at a Retirement Continuing Care Community in DC
and Milo is considered "part of the sales team."  Folks love seeing
that pets are part of the life in a senior community so it is not an idle title for Milo.
He is not on the payroll, but he pulls is weight. :-)
A quote I want to share ...
Some things in life cannot be fixed.  They can only be carried.  Megan Devine

In my experience most things can't be fixed.  They must be carried.  And the load of carried items just keeps getting heavier as the years pass.  I think that is why people get shorter as they get older - the weight of life gets heavy.  :-)  Well, that is my story, and I am sticking to it.

A peek into my week ...
It is the end of one month and the start of another.  I feel the pull to start initiate and/or re-commit to things at the beginning of a month.  I plan to focus on these 3 things:
  • With the downsizing efforts reduced, I have time to finally get my photo albums and loose pictures organized.  I am also hoping to do some journaling in the finished albums - adding thoughts and remembrances in and around the mounted pictures. Nothing fancy - no scrap booking or artistic endeavors - just a way to make the parade of photos more interesting and maybe more meaningful to someone else should they show an interest.    
  • Increase my step totals beyond the 7,000 average I do now.  Goal remains 10,000 steps a day.
  • Be more consistent in my stretching routine.
A peaceful Memorial Day to you!
Remember what all those soldiers died for.
Make your citizenship count in a positive way.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Authenticity Shawl

The second shawl I am working on is called Authenticity.  The first picture shows the finished project as shown on the pattern.  This is another pattern that can be made bigger by repeating the 16 line pattern any number of times or by adding to the garter trim.  I plan on making this one a bit bigger as well.  


The yarn I am using is Berroco Lustra is which is 50% wool and 50% tencel.  As a result it has a shiny appearance.  The picture below is closer to the true color of the yarn than the succeeding pictures.  But even so, the gray threads in the picture below seem to be 50% of the color - when they are not.  It has a more deep purple pink look to it.  Maybe when the shawl is done, I can take a picture of it out doors in natural light.


The picture below is provided just for comparison - they don't look at all the same when they are exactly the same ball of yarn.  Lighting is so important when trying to capture color.  I hardly ever get it right.


Here is my progress knitting Authenticity.  As you can see, it will require very strong blocking to bring out the pattern.  Also, this pattern is not the most difficult lace pattern I have ever done, but it does need your attention while knitting.  I am always counting the different sections to make sure I have the right number of stitches before beginning the next row.  I try to be so careful, but mistakes happen more frequently than I would like.  So far I have caught them at an early stage.  I will be very glad to get to the lower garter boarder where I can relax and to worry about counting sections.



Friday, May 27, 2016

Hitchhiker Shawlette

As mentioned in a previous post ... I am working on two shawls.  

This first shawl is an asymmetrical  shawlette.  



The yarn used was a Socks that Rock medium weight.  The dyer has a tendency to create yarns with bold large shifts in color.  The dying technique can cause pooling of colors (large areas where a single color can collect together resulting in uneven or badly placed blotches.)  Finding the right pattern for these Socks that Rock yarns is important if you want to avoid unintentional pooling.  

Also interesting to note is that when the yarn is in the skein it looks different from when wound into a ball.  The two yarns above looked exactly the same before I put one into a ball.  They look so different to my eye.


The pattern I used is called Hithhiker.  The designer's picture is a smaller version.  This shawlette can be made bigger just by continuing to knit until you decide to stop.  My version is generally bigger.  


This pattern has the advantage that you can work on it without paying much attention.  You knit every row (known by knitters as garter stitch) and the instructions for the points are very simple.    Generally I like to have a project that requires little or no attention while I knit so I can watch TV or carry on a conversation with friends and not worry about making mistakes that require major ripping out to fix.

Once completed this seldom needs blocking.  The garter stitch lies beautifully flat and needs no massaging through blocking to look "finished."  Most knitted garments need gentle blocking and some shawls required excessive blocking to bring out the pattern and provide a finished look.  Not so with this pattern.

I think this is my 4th Hitchhiker.

Next up - a traditional shawl.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rags

 Here is my newest baby, Ragnar  ... sometimes called Rags




Meeting With The Agent

We like our agent!  It was a good decision to change agents.  The first gentleman was nice, but I couldn't help feeling he was focused on a different element of the market than we were.

Our third meeting with the new agent went well this week.  The walk-through of our property was simplified by the fact we will not be residing in the house when it is shown.  So our "punch list" should be short.

But during our talk I was caught unexpectedly by an emotion that I have kept under control.

He said our house would show very well in the pictures and in person.  Our care and improvements will make for an easy showing.  Then he said that the brochure they would create would also look great.

Brochure!!

Something about having our house shown in a brochure made the emotion of leaving this place suddenly rise to the surface.  I responded, that I would try not to cry when he created that brochure.  He glanced at me and paused for a moment.  He then gracefully shifted his gaze and commented that a move like this after 30 years is hard - so much life has occurred here - and your obvious care of the property shows just how hard it will be.

I could feel my eyes tearing up and my throat tighten.  I couldn't speak.

He quickly went on to describe the house he and his wife had lived in and had 6 kids in - 1100 square foot rancher.  He talked about how it felt to keep that house, but rent it to strangers.  That his son still cuts the grass for that property.  That he only rented to those he trusted, but still had attachments.  And so on and so on.

While he talked I had a chance to get control of my emotions.  I was grateful.

We moved on.

Oh my God.
  This won't be easy.
  How will I ever get through the settlement process!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sliding towards less

While I am not qualified to speak on the topic of minimalism,  it does feel like I am slipping towards a "less" style of living. Setting aside the downsizing efforts needed to move, getting less stuff off my radar always makes me feel better.  I've done this many times, but not so drastically as this time.

For the most part, I can't remember the bulk of what I have carried out the door.  Obviously if I can't remember that mountain of stuff, it was not important.  It was taking up space in my world and robbing my attention and energy.

But the remembered list of discarded things is considerable AND remarkable for many reasons.  It totally astounds me how much we held onto - long beyond our interest in them.  Passions from 20 or 30 years ago that we lost interest in and just boxed away.  Hobbies and past times my husband could no longer enjoy because he could not see.  Sentimental items that lingered because we could not let go of the emotion attached to them.  Valuable items we never touched much less saw for years and years.

Here is a brain dump of the remembered stuff that is living with new owners.
  • Doll house and all the doll house furniture - this all went back to the original owner, my daughter and pictures of that lovely hobby were featured here. It is the one thing if she simply didn't want it any more, I would take back.
  • Stamp Collection -  valued at over $80,000 at one time.
  • Huge board game collection
  • Vast library of books - near a thousand at one point when my husband could read
  • Miniature hand painted soldiers - over 300 miniatures, many were museum quality
  • Themed chess sets - 10 or 11 in all
  • German imported nut crackers - 22 in all
  • Furniture - 2 chests of drawers, 2 benches, a full size freezer, 2 desks, a head board - that was just in the last 3 months - many more pieces in the last year.
  • Kitchen stuff - mugs, good china, Kitchen aide food processor, about 40 cookbooks (a ridiculous number for a person who doesn't want or like to cook) 
  • Crafts - spinning wheel, yarn, about 25 books, yarn
  • My work clothes are gone, boxes and boxes of shoes are gone - mostly because my sad old feet can wear only about 3 pairs without pain.
That list makes me a little breathless.  The money we spent.  Yes, we did get enjoyment at the time but really ... the space and energy it subtracted from our lives over years exceeds the balance of enjoyment we got for a short time.  Too bad I can't send a message back to my younger self and say "STOP!  You won't really care about this stuff for most of your life!"  

Well ... I still care about that doll house and my yarn, but everything else, not so much.

And still stuff remains .... photo albums and pictures I will keep because they spark precious memories.  I still have a lot of clothes.  Guess I will need to check out condition and size.  Our pantry is shrinking ... the thought crossed my mind more than once over the years that I may be a food hoarder.  At least all the expired foods are gone :-) and I check the pantry before I shop.  Ha!  There is a roughed in closet with storage items (Christmas, lamps, picture frames, ladder, shovels, etc) that has yet to be explored.  I bet I have weed killer from 1999.  And my yarn room.  *sigh* I have given away some yarn to various folks and about half my pattern books.  I could still knit until I was 97 without buying even one skein of yarn and never run out.  Here there is no doubt ...  I am a card carrying hoarder of yarn.  I think I will happily hold on to that title until I take my last breath.

Interestingly enough, ongoing stuff reduction seems to have unintentionally spilled over into other areas of my life.

For example:
I have long since given up a wide array of cosmetics, perfumes and lotions.  My approach to personal appearance is simple - this is me, the way God made me and life changed me.  My gray hair and wrinkles have been well earned. I wouldn't think of hiding them.  I am happy with myself the way I am.  All I really need is a blow drier and hair brush, moisturizer, lip gloss, a splash of blush, enough sleep to keep the circles from my eyes and a smile!  I hope all that counts as graceful aging instead of laziness.  Ha.

I have never been a big jewelry person but I did have a few pieces that were special.  I gave away some to family, kept a few, but only wear my wedding ring now.  I don't even wear earings in my pierced ear lobes.  My, how times have changed.

My personal schedule is much reduced.  I used to enjoy many social obligations and organized groups that used my talents.  I don't get the energy or enjoyment I used to from that busy schedule.  Now I limit myself to fewer external ongoing commitments and look forward them more because they are not squeezed into an over committed calendar.  I am happy with my own company, my family and close friends.  I don't seek out more just because I have time for more.

Sliding towards less ...  
a good thing.

Monday, May 23, 2016

My Life List

I follow the blog Smidgens, Snippets and Bits. I found Paula when she was a caregiver for her husband who has since passed away.  I was caring for my mom at the same time and my mom passed away several months after her husband.  She and I had a lot in common.

She has a fun blog, and you should check her out.  One post she offers with regularity is a "My Life List."    As I read through her recent list, I realized that my own responses to her prompts jump out of my mind too.  Although she started this practice as a link to A Simple Woman's Daybook blog, she decided to break away from that format.  Her own format is relaxed - no strict rules about entries or prompts, no linking to other blogs, just a way to share short bursts of your own life as it suits you.  I loved the idea of it and have decided to "steal" (translation - join) her idea.  Knowing Paula, it will make her smile.


My Life List Currently: 

I am thankful ...
... for the continued thread of connectivity and friendship I have with blog friends who have traveled with me since this blog was created in 2009.  So much has changed, so many hurdles leaped.  And yet, here we still are together.

Looking out my window ...
... I see green.  I am so fortunate to have a green back drop to my townhouse.  Yes, I have neighbors attached to me on either side, but when I look out my back windows it is like looking into a small forest of green.  Deer frequently visit that hill of green and you don't need binoculars to see them ... I am that close.  Sometimes they sit on that hill (they think they are hidden) and I can watch them.  Mom used to love that.  I will miss this view when I move.

As I ponder ....
... the next 15 years.  Yes, in only 15 years I will be 84.  Seems almost impossible, that so much time of my life is behind me and that I will be an old woman by anyone's definition in 15 short years.  I am not sure I would think about this next stage of life it I hadn't watched an elderly person walk through it while living in my home.  That realization is less a theory and more a reality once you have had the experience.  It is much like the young person at 25 who knows if they live long enough they will be a very very old person at 50, (ha), but really doesn't believe it so it is more theoretical - and yet as you get closer to 50 you start to believe it as reality (except 50 doesn't feel "very very old.")

What I am learning ...
.... patience!  Patience, patience and more patience.  I thought I had learned all there was about patience in taking care of my mom, but I find the well of patience I still need to learn continues to grow in taking care of my husband with his increasing visual impairment.  Being his eyes is a daily - sometimes hourly - task.  I push back frequently in many small ways to encourage independence, but it is like pushing a boulder up hill.  And he is a person with little patience - has been all his life, so the frustration he feels is so great with this limitation - and the sorrow I feel knowing this sometimes brings tears to my eyes.  In writing this, I realize that maybe what I need to be doing is teaching him patience.  Hmmm ....

What I am reading ...
I am almost always "reading" two books.
I am listening to The Sound of Glass by Karen White.
I am reading on my Kindle Treasure of Darkness by S. W. Hubbard

What I am creating ....
I am working on two shawls.  Pictures to follow in another post.  All my other fiber projects are packed away so that the house looks tidy and uncluttered for a potential sale.

What I am watching ...
Season four of House of Cards - Oh, my God, these people are so despicable.  And I wonder at myself that I can't stop watching that show.  Ha!


What's on my camera phone ...
I have been helping my husband to set up a new iMac computer.   In doing that I took two pictures of our personal wall paper from the old iMac.  The first picture is my wall paper of a flower filled with color and shades of pink.  The second picture is my husbands wall paper.  Color has no meaning for him.  He needs contrast and bold lines - and with these changes he can see only parts.  We can't look through his eyes, but these images sort of demonstrates the scope of what he dealing with.  These pictures make me sad.





A quote I want to share ...
One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in her life.  And with that she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them.  So she made a decision to survive using courage, humor and grace.  She was the Queen of her own life and the choice was hers!   Luputha Hermin

I have a ways to go before I am using courage, humor and grace.

A peek into my week ...
This week we meet with our new real-estate agent for a final walk through of our property, to get a final punch list of changes needed so we are ready to sell this property if something shows up on the market for us to buy.  We will also sign the contract with him.  And my regular schedule of dogs visits starts up again mostly because the puppy needs a break mid-day to peep and have his lunch.


Word of the year update ... Move!
Well, my word for the year is "move" and I guess it still fits.  I planned it to mean keep my body moving.  Turns out it is more like "move" all your worldly possessions somewhere else!  Yikes.  How did that happen.  My "move" exercise efforts are still struggling.  By the time I get done with my "move" all your worldly possessions efforts, I am bushed.  I guess moving is moving regardless of how it happens.  But now that my downsizing efforts have slowed, my exercise efforts need to pick up.


Well, there you have it!  I think it is a fun exercise and it hits the high (and low) points of my life today.  Enjoy.