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, June 14, 2019

50 years ago today


Life Partner!

Glad I have one.
Hard to remember life before this day 50 years ago.
So many happy, sad, difficult experiences ahead for the couple in this picture.

How many more joys and sorrows are ahead for them?
How many changes?
How many anniversaries?


A reflective day.



Sunday, May 26, 2019

Walking, Watching, Weight Watchers



Walking

My walking life took a hit last week.  All the Game of Thrones binge TV watching and all that knitting time resulted in low step counts (about 8,000 on average - so I guess not so low.)  Yes, I could have watched TV and walked in place at the same time.  But what doesn't work is walking in place and watching TV and knitting - all at the same time.  Last week wasn't a total 'slug fest' as I did get out for a few walks, and I did my Leslie Sansone Walking Indoors DVD about 3 times (my grand dogs thought that was pretty funny to watch), but reaching 10,000 steps each day just didn't happen.

However, I am now off the couch!

Time to get back on that walking wagon - hmm - wagons are for sitting ... time to strap on those walking shoes and get stepping again.

And I am doing that - but carefully!  My left knee (2017 surgery knee) has been complaining a bit.  The answer to that problem is simple - continued walking and the return of the PT strengthening exercises  Thankfully my knee seems to warm up to the exercise if I slowly push through and step carefully.  It almost feels normal after 15 minutes so I know nothing serious is going on.  For now ice packs after walking, Advil and a knee brace are 'my friends.'  (And, let's not forget the PT leg exercises to strengthen.)

On the plus side - (a very BIG PLUS),  I have discovered the many of my 'age related' complaints are minimized with all the extra movement.  I can get up in the morning with little stiffness in my legs. Even my knee feels normal again.  I don't seem to need that early morning 'adjustment' period of letting all my body parts 'wake up.'  My leg cramping problems are much reduced.  My energy levels are so much better.  And when I feel down - going out and taking a walk fixes that problem.

Watching

I don't think I ever sat and watched so much back-to-back TV as I did this past week.  Game of Thrones episodes is like eating potato chips - you can't watch just one!  Although I did read the books years ago and saw most of the seasons when they first aired - that was a long ago - 8 years to be exact.  I forgot a lot of the details.  It is fun to catch up and watch them again.  But all that sitting is just too much after a bit.

But I am not done with Game of Thrones.  I am still watching the back seasons of Game of Thrones through the library loan system.  Once that is finished I will be done.  I will really really miss this series.  Amazing production values, great story, total escapist type experience!  It will be hard to replace that series with something else.  After 8 years it is like saying goodbye to old friends (good guys and bad guys).

Weight Watchers

I started Weight Watchers in July 2018 and I went on a Weight Watcher break in December!  I was within 3 pounds of my goal weight.  That break was supposed to be a few weeks - ended up being a few months.   I guess you don't really call it a 'break.'  It is more of a stop!  Thankfully I haven't regained more than 3 pounds.  Guess my eating habits have changed for the better.  Thank you Weight Watchers.

I have tried to get back on the Weight Watcher Wagon twice since December - getting on that wagon involves actually tracking what I eat and sticking to the program limitations.  The limitations aren't the problem.  I can't seem to consistently track any more - I never really enjoyed that part of it.  But I know it is an important part of the plan for success.

Since I am paying a monthly fee - and not really using the program, I am sorting out if I want to just stop paying for now.  To stop paying means that I will lose access to the online features that make tracking easy.  But if I am not tracking ... *sigh* ... I guess those online features aren't as important right now.

Struggling with this idea.

In truth, I don't see myself tracking what I eat forever regardless of my decisions right now!  But the diet is a healthy one and very user friendly - so it is hard to just let go.  Except - I think I have already let go ... by default!  *sigh*.

My enthusiasm now is walking.  The positive feedback I get from that activity is massive.  I think walking (and keeping generally to the Weight Watcher program without tracking) - if kept up will be the answer to holding my weight stable for now.

So ... I have talked myself out of this monthly charge and moving away from formal adherence to the program.  We will see how it goes.

I can return at any time - the time is just not right now!


Thursday, May 23, 2019

My Last Week

I have to say - the last week was pretty darn wonderful.  I know I set the bar pretty darn low on the "wonderful" scale, but it was.

My son, daughter-in-law and grand daughter were on a trip to Disney World in Florida.  As the official dog grandma, I get to spend quality dog sitting time with their funny and crazy dogs when they travel.  The white English Bull Dog is Ragnar - Rags for short.  The mixed Hound and Mountain dog mix is Olivia, Livvy for short.  They live about 20 minutes from me.

Rags - a photogenic little guy!

And a busy guy - always on the run.

They are good friends generally.

Olivia is the smart one - like really smart!
Scary smart!  

Since these wonderful creatures are yard trained dogs vs leash trained dogs, I find it easier to pack my bags and move in with them for dog sitting.  I travel back home every afternoon to spend time with my husband and make him dinner - then I travel back to my exuberant charges who are always over joyed to see me.

What makes this time so special - beyond getting quality time with these mutts?  The answer is easy.  I do NOTHING.  Beyond making sure they are fed, medicated, and loved - and yard time of course, the time is my own.

And yard time does not involve just opening the door and letting them run!  Oh no.  If I do that, they pee and then return to the door looking in with sorrow in their eyes.  Yard time must include Grand ma standing in the yard and watching them.  The 'watching them' is critical to them having fun.  It is like they are performing for my enjoyment!  And, in truth, I do get enjoyment watching them run and play.

Beyond that - I do nothing.  Absolutely NOTHING.  It is grand beyond measure.

This visit, however, I had two very selfish goals!

Goal #1: Watch as much as I could of Game of Thrones on their cable connection (I did see the final episode in really time with the rest of the world.  Thrilling!)  And I was re-watching the previous episodes.  I made it through Season 5!  I will check out season 6 and 7 from  the Library.

Goal #2: Finish knitting Esk's dress while I watch Game of Thrones. I am at the hem.  Almost!

I didn't complete either goal - and you know ... that was ok!

I don't answer the phone, I don't talk to anyone, or do any household chores.  I eat and snack when I want to and what I want (sharing, of course, with my mutts), but except for my time at home in the afternoons with my husband, my time is my own.  It is freedom.

There is only one little downside - they wake and greet the morning at 5:30 am.  I do not!  BUT those early mornings did extend my day about 2 hours so that I had more Game of Thrones time and more knitting time.  Ha!  Who says there isn't a silver lining to every cloud!

Now back to the real world!






Sunday, May 12, 2019

She Was Right!


I prefer to minimize my political opinions on this blog - not eliminate them, not ignore them, not to pretend they don't exist - but limit them ... to when I just can't stand the current terrible state of our democracy and I have to explode somewhere.  So today is that day.  While others are espousing the wonders of Mothers on their blogs and in social media, I prefer to spot light one woman, both mother and statesmen, who should have been our President if we followed the popular vote.  She is not a perfect woman (no one is perfect) and she is not without her own 'baggage,' but she was prepared to represent us on the world stage with honor and strength - and that was unfairly denied her.  

My space, my blog, my opinion!

Time for John Pavlovitz.





Hillary Was Right Calling Them “Deplorables.”

Hillary Clinton was right about everything.
She was right when she warned us that Donald Trump was in bed with Russia.
She was right when she said our election process was being irreparably compromised. She was right when she noted his cruelty, his impulsiveness, and his recklessness.
She was right when she suggested he was beholden to a murderous foreign dictator.
She was right when she told us that he was dangerously incapable of self-control on social media.
She was right when she pointed out the toxic hatred he was cultivating and releasing in people.
She was right when she noticed the way he was dragging national discourse into the toilet. And she was right was when she called his supporters “deplorables.”

At the time of the statement in 2016, she was unfairly excoriated in the media and by Republicans—but looking back she was using sober judgement, measured speech, and incredible restraint:
“To just be grossly generalistic,
 you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.
 They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic – Islamophobic – you name it.”

They are.

In the wake of the police shootings of black men, the street corner assaults on gay couples, the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, the defacing of synagogues, the burning of black churches, the mistreatment of migrant families—Trump’s supporters daily reveal their phobic hearts and their willingness to ignore vulnerable people’s suffering.
“And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people – now have 11 million.”

He has.

He continually cries “fake news” about the legitimate Press, while disseminating the wildest of conspiracy theories from extremists media outlets, previously and rightly marginalized because they appealed to only the tiniest lunatic fringe.  “He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric.” 

He does.

Just look at his Twitter feed at any moment during the past three years, and you’ll find the unhinged, incendiary ramblings of a supremacist, terrorist sympathizer—whose account under any other circumstance—would be deactivated for its hate speech, its purposeful targeting of individuals, and its steady invocation to violence.

In 2016, Hillary was being prophetic.  She used the word “deplorable,” to describe people who would soon: 

applaud Muslim travel bans,
celebrate families separated at the border,
abide children being placed in cages,
demonize teenage shooting victims,
defiantly deny the value of black lives,
vilify sexual assault survivors,
bless a predator to the Supreme Court,
cheer Presidential rally cries of shooting immigrants,
approve of the suppressing of Special Counsel reports,
sanction the complete perversion of our Rule of Law.


Deplorable, was being kind. I have many other words for such people, and they’re much stronger and far less diplomatic than that.

Hillary closed her now infamous comments by saying,
“Now, some of those folks
—they are irredeemable, but thankfully, 
they are not America.”

Well, she was about half right.  These people may not be America, but they represent a good 38 percent of it. That’s far too much of any nation aspiring to greatness. As long as more than a third of our country blesses such malfeasance and tolerates this kind of toxicity in the name of holding power, we’re going to continue to regress into chaos and implosion.

When Hillary Clinton said that half of Trump’s supporters were deplorables, she was in essence claiming them to be filled with contempt for others, motivated by fear, and driven to exclusion. She may have been right in that moment—but the percentage today is actually much higher.

Anyone still supporting him has deluded themselves into an alternate reality that makes them incapable of compassion or reasonable dialogue. All that they have seen from this President and his cadre of grifters and criminals, hasn’t proven alarming enough to wake them into decency or rouse their humanity alive.

Hillary wasn’t name-calling, she was accurately describing the kind of inhumanity we are now seeing as people’s default setting. Given their support of a man who regularly uses phrases like “Crazy Maxine,” “Pocahontas,” “Pencil Neck”— or “Crooked Hillary,” their feigned offense at her supposedly offensive language was and is laughably hypocritical anyway.

No, Hillary was telling the truth, as difficult as it is to admit. She was diagnosing a collective sickness that afflicts a terrifying number of Americans. The woman who should currently be helming this nation was right about far too many things, and not enough of us listened.


Hatred, bigotry, supremacy, misogyny, and violent phobia are indeed
 sickening and repugnant and reprehensible 
and yes, deplorable
—or at least they should be.



John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. In the past four years his blog Stuff That Needs To Be Said has reached a diverse worldwide audience. A 20-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. In 2017 he released his first book, A Bigger Table. His new book, Hope and Other Superpowers, come out on November 6, 2018.

Monday, May 6, 2019

AGAIN!



Everyone together!


"Elaine is beginning her walking routine - AGAIN!"


The story of my life.

Pedometer Story

While I was sick I wasn't wearing my pedometer!  The battery was dead and I couldn't find the charger and I wasn't walking much - just from my lounge chair to the bedroom and back!  Looking for the charger was a low priority.

Now that I am feeling good, I decided that I didn't like the pedometer I had.  I got it at Christmas.  It wasn't that old and it worked just fine, but I really prefer a larger face with colorful icons and this was a slim line style - not as easily read as other styles.

Feeling healthy and eager to get my walking shoes back on I purchased a Fitbit Versa Lite - on sale for Mother's Day.  I am very very happy with it.  The time display is large, it includes the day of the week and the date (silly, but I like confirming what I 'think' I know, 😀) and it shows 3 basic tracking items: pulse rate, steps and calories burned.  Other screens track other things, but everything I usually want is right on the first screen.




So - the problem of the Fitbit was solved.


Tracking Story

Back in April I mentioned a website (Walk4Fun) that I began using to track my steps on.  What a fun site to visit.  I strongly encourage you to visit the link, Walk4Fun, and check it out.


Photo credit: Walk4Fun
This is a full size map of the trail, but additional maps of smaller
sections are available on the site showing the exact locations.

Briefly, it is a free website where you can log your steps - and apply them against one of many famous walking trails around the world - and see pictures of the chosen trail from your 'virtual' hike all along the way.  I chose the Appalachian Trail (AT) and I am thoroughly enjoying the 'trip.'  And to top it all off, if you have a Fitbit, you can link your Fitbit to your Walk4Fun account and your steps are automatically logged without any further effort on your part.  But if your pedometer is another brand, you can key in your step counts manually.  And then just periodically visit the site to see where you are on the map and visit some of the pictures of your travels.  Wonderful wonderful idea!


72.9 miles
Photo credit: Walk4Fun
My position at approximately 76 miles on the AT.

Earlier this month, my Pennsylvania cousins were visiting me and I mentioned this website. They became interested.   We formed a team on the site, and we are all walking the AT together (well, we are at different points because our individual step counts are different), but we can keep track of individual our progress.  Then we broadened the team to other family members and friends.  Now we are 9 on a team called Cousins.

So now I not only enjoy seeing the pictures and my position on the maps, but I can see where I fall within the team!  My one niece is a runner and lives in Chicago.  She walks everywhere.  Her numbers are very high - very high without even trying.  Then there are team members who are inspired to get active again and fall somewhere below the leader.  But the leader inspires us to keep walking ...

Great fun.


Steps Story

I am one of those who is inspired to get active again and in trying to get my step numbers up - I discovered that it isn't as easy at 72 as it was at 52.  But not discouraging to me at all.  I have had to become creative in how I get those steps.  I park further away from my destination, I take walks outside, and there are inside opportunities to get steps in as part of my routine.  This morning I decided to walk around the condo while my coffee perked.  By the time it was ready, I had walked 1035 steps!  Wow.

Some days don't seem to allow time for walking during the day - so I have fallen back on my tried and true Leslie Sansone - indoor walking DVDS.



Leslie Sansone: Miracle Miles 5 DVD Set featuring Free Super-Sculpting Chain Link Band


I have a few of her DVDS and they are really very good.  Steps movements are simple, repeated, and gradually increased in intensity as needed based on the DVD you choose.  It is a work out for sure - and it adds steps.  I even have one aimed at "older adults." The DVDs are ideal for when I can't get out for that walk, or I find myself at the end of the day and short of my goal number of 10,000 steps.

That's my walking update for today.

It is wonderful to feel energized and well again.  As hard as that flu virus was to get passed, it increased my appreciate of how important good health is.










Saturday, May 4, 2019

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The only thing that could entertain, distract and help me pass the idle time when sick last month was the audio version of Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

Gone with the Wind

My memories of reading this book and watching the movie are pretty unremarkable.  Long film, beautiful costumes, strikingly handsome actors, memorable moments - like "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn."  Escapist kind of story.  My kind of book.

Funny how are memories of a story
 can be so different from our impressions
 when coming across the same story around 40 years later.

It is probably next to impossible to find anyone who does not know this basic story ... but just to be safe, here is what Wikipedia provides in summary:

Gone With the Wind was first published in 1936. The story is set in Georgia during the American Civil War and Reconstruction Era.  It depicts the struggles of a young Scarlett O'Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner,  who must use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of poverty following Sherman's destructive "March to the Sea."  As of 2014, a Harris poll found it to be the second favorite book of American readers, just behind the Bible.  It was adopted into a film in 1939.

I purchased the audio version of Gone With The Wind mostly because recently I purchased the Kindle sequel  Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind by Alexandra Ripley.  I thought it would be good to reacquaint myself with the original story of Gone With The Wind before jumping into the sequel.  From what I read about the sequel - it was better than a TV movie they made.  I never saw the TV movie.

As a product of the later 20th and early 21st century thinking on race and equality - I had a slightly different response to this story than when I read it 40+ years ago.

Pluses:
  • Written from the South's perspective, the story provided a fairly detailed account of how the South lived and thought at the time of our Civil War.
  • While history books usually give a commanding detailed account of the battles and causes for this conflict, this story filled in the gaps in what it was like to live as a civilian during this war on our home soil.
  • I have read and watched the movie of this story more than once.  This book is an example of a rare book that I will re-read.  I seldom re-read books.  
  • It was a long, long, long story.  I love a long story and this one is herculean in its length.  The book did provide a deep understanding of character motivation - filling in the gaps that would be missed in the movie (movie running time: 3 hours, 45 minutes.)

Cons:
  • The story is marketed as a Coming of Age story set in the Civil War and Reconstruction period.  I would argue that a 'Coming of Age' label should be based on character evolution - growth and maturity gained through life experience.  I don't think that happened.
  • Scarlett O'Hara got on my nerves so badly that by the end of the story I was ready to kill that woman myself. (I know, I know, she's make believe, but you know what I mean.) Because this was the book and not the movie, I was witness to all her thought processes and priorities.  ALL of them!  She was so self centered, willful, and shallow.  For a woman with the intense drive and intelligence to survive and succeed in post war conditions, she was just plain stupid about everything else.  She never learned ANYTHING about life or how her actions were impacting others.  She never understood what was important in life until the very end of the story when she had lost everything that mattered.  Seriously, by the end I was happy to see her finally get what was coming to her.  I felt no sympathy or pity for this woman.  Maybe a small argument could be made that she was a product of a dying way of life and was hard wired to respond as she did - but there were other female characters who were the total opposite of her ...  who also were products of the same way of living.  I think Scarlett's lack of complexity as a flawed character is probably indicative of writing in the 1930s - when good guys all wore white hats and the bad guys were just as easily identified.  
  • Details about slavery and the "darkies" was hard to swallow.  During the reconstruction - when slaves were 'set free' with no life experiences, training, or history of humane treatment ... beyond slavery, there were long passages about how bad the "darkies" were behaving now they were free.  My 21st century self couldn't help yelling (silently) that if the Black population had not been forcibly yanked from their native land and forced -  against their will under horrible inhuman conditions - to the American colonies as slaves - those 'bad behaviors' of the "blackies" wouldn't exist!  No where in the telling of the story did it mention that the white men created this terrible situation they were struggling with and paying the price for that decision through generations.  Our founding fathers foresaw this problem when creating this nation, but they could not get the slave states to support Independence from England without including slavery!  But to be fair,  the book was written in the early 1930s and a more evolved recognition of the seeds of race relations was not yet recognized. Even if it was recognized - it probably had no place in a story that was designed to share the culture of the time.
  • So now I have the sequel to this book ahead of me - called Scarlett.  Guess who it is mostly about?  I am hoping that Scarlett's behavior reflects some sort of growth after 44+ hours of listening to Gone With the Wind.  The book will get my normal 80 pages or so to grab my attention and if not, it gets deleted off my Kindle.
I doubt I will read or listen to Gone With The Wind again.  I am pretty much done being aware of all Scarlett's thoughts.  I will borrow the movie from the library and watch it again.  The costumes, the beautiful people, the story ... they are still there, so it is worth another look.





Friday, May 3, 2019

BIG Deep Breath

Ahh, done!  
A-2-Z Challenge 2019 is finished.

Post Challenge Update

Big Deep Breath. I must admit, I am kind of glad to be finished - and free once again to blog in "any direction" that I want.

Blogging in this challenge is only limited by the letter of the alphabet - and that you post on the assigned days.  But I limited my posts by picking a theme. If I was tempted to do this challenge again I would omit the theme.  Beyond that, this challenge was very well organized and managed by the lead team and I applaud their efforts.  Thank you!!

One unexpected discovery I found on the last day:  I had noticed that responses to my posts during this Challenge were few.  Not really typical but understandable if Aging is not an interesting topic for some.  On the last day of the challenge I noticed over 160 messages in my Gmail Spam Folder.  Yikes!  I opened some of the messages and noticed that many them were not one message, but a collection of 10 or 12 messages grouped together within the message.  Then I discovered that there were post responses in Spam from new and established readers.  A ton of them!!!   Gosh.  I have corrected this situation by sorting out that mess and getting visitors comments posted appropriately to each April post.  It took hours to fix.  Thank you to all that commented.  Not sure how this happened, and sorry your comments didn't make it to my blog in a timely manner.   All that has been fixed.

(This is my scheduled post-Challenge update.)


Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

Next up is Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival scheduled for this coming weekend (bigger deep breath.)



Already I have sanitized - cleaned everything in the guest bedroom (aka - yarn room, craft room, mental health space) - and it is flu free.  The windows in the condo have been open and fresh air has filled our space.  The attached bathroom is also 'company ready.'  Now onto the rest of the condo. The big event is Saturday!

Knitting

BIGGEST DEEP BREATH OF ALL.  I am back to knitting.


Pictured above is a knitted dress I am working on for my grand daughter.  Right now it looks like cat vomit!  I am hoping that when I cast off in another few inches - and block this sucker - a beautiful swan will emerge from this ugly duckling.  Blocking always improves the look of knitted items - and it better not fail me now!!

I am also hoping I don't regret using this speckled yarn in a dress that has a knitted pattern.  I hate when the knitted pattern competes with the yarn and they both lose.  I know better than that, but sometimes get blinded by the razzle-dazzle that caused me to purchase the yarn originally.

The yarn is fingering - so it is slow going to knit, but it is super wash so easy care.  The body is A-line with the pattern repeated on the back as well.  It is hard to get a sense of the line of the body because my needles (still attached) are holding it in.  The buttons shown are there to give a sense of where buttons will go - maybe I will find the perfect buttons at the fair!  This project should have been finished by now - but I was too sick to work on it.  Trying to catch up now.  When done completely ... it better look like this. 😂



That's all for now folks.