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, November 12, 2015

One wish ...

If you could have one material wish
 (no wishing for world peace here ... )
 what would you wish for?

That was the question posed by a blogging friend called Paula at Smidgens, Snippets and Bits.  That question seemed to resonate like a huge gong in my brain.

And it made me instantly sad and pensive about life.

My one wish is as impossible as world peace.  My husband has a degenerative eye condition that over the last 10 years has robbed him of his vision.  Today he is legally blind and at some point in the future, he will be totally blind.  His condition has no cure!

My wish would be sight for my husband.

In fact, if it was medically possible (it isn't) - I would happily give him one of my eyes.

While this statement sounds self sacrificing on my part - it is not!  It is the fatiguing result of watching too much loss around me.

I spent the last 8 years watching my mom slowly lose all parts of a life she had independently built up  ... lost through age and dementia ... until finally she was left with only her daughters standing by her beside waiting for the end.  She did not even have the comfort of knowing we were there.  Total and complete loss.

Now I watch my husband slowly shed a life time of cherished hobbies.  First to go was some of his independence - no driving.  Then his substantial library of books, followed by his enormous  American Stamp Collection,  and now on the chopping block is his beautiful and valuable toy soldier collection.  TV is now mostly a radio show for him.   Even pouring a cup of coffee without spilling it has become a challenge.

The gift of one of my eyes would be a small sacrifice to make to improve his life.

But wishing is a waste of time.

How easy it is to focus on all the troublesome problems in life.  If problems go on for years and years, it becomes a habit to view life through the lens of loss.

This year - the first year of my mom's passing and the first year of increasing disability in my husband - I have allowed my emotions and point of view to settle on what is missing - what is lacking - on loss!  It has sapped my energies.  Fatigue best describes my internal mental state.

I need to change the lens I am looking through!

So I am pushing myself right now instead of wishing.
  • Organization.  The Bullet Journal has been helpful in putting some control back in my hands.  
  • Gratitude.  I need to write down all the positives - they are many.  Bullet Journal - make room.
  • Adult Coloring!  Yes, coloring for grown ups - and I am not talking about porn coloring books!  I didn't need a new hobby but apparently I have one.  Coloring is apparently a new (old?) hobby - one most likely relegated to children in the minds of many.  But now it has become quite the adult past time to help reduce stress and increase relaxation.  Who knew?  I have new coloring books, new color pencils and I am off and running - well, off and coloring at least. Maybe I will post a picture or two.
  • Legos - opps!  See a theme here?  I will blog more on that later.
  • Knitting - nothing replaces the satisfaction I get from knitting.
  • Walking ... enough said.
If I have one strength  ... it is my ability to adapt and change.  Lately, however, it is harder than normal.  Fatigue is a powerful enemy.  But I have little patience for people who sit and say "poor me" and do nothing about it.

I have lost patience with poor fatigued me!  Working on a different description.

How about you?  
Any wishes?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My kids ... My soldier

I am always warmed by pictures of my two kids together.  They turned out to be such wonderful and responsible adults.  This picture is from the 1990s - when my son served in the military as a Marine.

This post is to recognize that service.  I wasn't the best 'service mom.'  Our family does not have a history of military service.  It is not part of my life experience.  While I am a strong supporter of our military, their families and the sacrifices they experience every single day, I don't do separation well. Separation from family is part of the deal when you join the military.  I wish now I handled that time better.

And now I recognize the short comings of those feelings.  I am not proud of them at all, but I am very  proud of my son's choice and his service.

Happy Veterans Day, Matt.

Here are my two wonderful 'kids' today.  

How lucky can one mom be!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

A journal of a different kind.

Over the years I have had almost every kind of calendar / planner you could name.  They were always paper - never digital.

This year I went "rogue."   With little structure in my life - no job or caregiving duties to wrap my days around - I assumed my simple life could be reduced to a simple bullet list on 3x5 cards. Each day a new card.  Undone tasks transferred to the next day's card.  Completed cards - thrown away.

Well ... it hasn't been pretty!  Not pretty at all.

First off the cards would be prepared and then ignored.  Opps!  That's a fail!  Then cards got lost.  Great.  Now I have to rely on my 68 year old memory.  Another failure in the making.  Finally, if the cards were completed, they were trashed and the information was lost.  Mostly that wasn't a big deal because things like ... clean toilets, do laundry, and take a walk - aren't huge losses if they aren't saved for posterity.

But other lost details were sometimes important.  It is nice to when your last mammogram was done, when that specific bill payment was sent (since the post office lost 3 pieces of our mail in the last 6 months) and did you send that birthday card/anniversary card/wedding gift?

So the 3x5 cards had to go!  I searched and searched for a planner - finally bought one.  But it was totally ignored.  I was back to the 3x5 cards (the writing, the ignoring, the losing, the pitching.)

Enter the
 Bullet Journal.

I learned about bullet journaling from a blog I follow called Assortment.  The blogger just started using a bullet journal and I followed her link to a Bullet Journal site to watch a video.  It all clicked in my brain.  Then I watched some videos of other bullet journaling folks.  I learned that your journal can be as minimalistic or as elaborate as you desire.

Here are the pros from my perspective (I think I will use bullets ... Ha!  )
  • It is analog - just the kind of planner/journal I prefer. 
  • It has a stitched bound spine - not loose leaf or spiral bound.  Yet it lays flat. 
  • Pages are not printed with a manufacturer's organizational structure.  Pages are dotted - sometimes a grid.  You create your own structure and boundaries. Simple or complex. 
  • No wasted pages (like financial tracking, or telephone lists, or exercise logs - unless you add it in.)
  • I am less likely to lose a book - not like those illusive 3x5 cards.
  • There is no fixed end date - like December 31.  Use up the pages then move onto a new journal.  
  • Structure can be customized on the fly.  Reduce or add more as needed.
The cons (and there is only one for me):
  • You build the journal - that almost sounds like a pro statement, but it does involve some time to set up.  I think I can off set that by keeping my journal simple - it doesn't need to house my whole life.  
That is it.

I watched several YouTube videos on this topic and it is interesting to see what folks include.  Shopping lists, weekly menus, recipes, reading lists ... you name it.  Some journals include decorations like a scrap book and a place for actual journal writing (not bullets.)  Some include tabs, others include add-in pages that are preprinted to minimize set up.  All are stored safely in a simple book.

Or it can simply house an organized bulleted list of tasks using the Bullet Journal techniques described at  Check out the link to get a quick sense of how it is set up if interested.

My new bullet journal was delivered today and I am off to set it up.

I love lists and bullets and keeping on track to get things done.  Keeping my fingers crossed that 3x5 cards are history ... and this tool helps make things "pretty" again.

Friday, September 11, 2015


Every anniversary of this terrible day the TV, the blog-sphere and social media is flooded with 9-11 remembrances.

And I support remembrances.  We must remember.

What I don't support are the images that emotionalize, sanitize or minimize the truth of that attack.  Beautiful waving national flags, a tearful statute of liberty with the smoky towers behind her, the struggles of the heroes to save lives ... those images do not show the terror, the desperation and the horror experienced by the innocent lives trapped in those burning buildings.  To remember that day with vanilla patriotic images fades the stark truth.  It separates us carefully and gently from the actual ugly event.

I don't think we should do that.

This is the image
 we should hold in our minds.

 this man!

 that some people jumped to certain death
 rather than stay in the inferno of those buildings.

 that as our innocent citizens fell from the building
  they knew with certainty that these were their last seconds of life on earth ...
approximately 10 seconds ...

 that those on the ground below
 will never forget the terrible thudding sounds of bodies hitting pavement
one after another - over and over - about 200 times.

If this post makes you upset, uncomfortable, angry, or sad, then I have achieved my goal.

We must never forget the real images.
This is how we do honor to those who died in that attack.


Post Script:
  • My last blog post on 9-11 was September 2012. The title was Jumpers.
  • From the reading I have done - it appears that the New York chief medical examiner's office does not consider these people "jumpers."  Jumping indicates a choice and would imply suicide.  These people did not have a choice probably because of the force of the explosion, the fire behind them and the lack of breathable air.  Because of these conditions the deaths were ruled homicide.  It is a small but merciful distinction.   They most certainly were murdered.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Knitting Life

I am truly blessed to have a rich crafting life with friends and family who share similar interests.

Knitting started for me back in 1997 - before the current knitting craze took root in our society and the out shoots of spinning and weaving pulled me into their influence.  Almost 18 years ago - amazing.
My first sweater - that is large enough to fit two people.  Lesson learned about the value of  gauge swatch.
But this sweater will always be mine.  Comfortable, warm and will fit over absolutely anything
I have.  AND it is my first sweater, so it holds a special place in my heart.
Same pattern that I made for mom.
It fit mom perfectly.
I still have this sweater. It will always
be with me and it will be worn by me.  

I learned to knit as a reaction to a stress filled management job of 7 years.  Those years were filled with long days and long long weeks.  It got so crazy that it would take me 3 work days to prepare for vacation, and 3 vacations days to unwind from work.    Oh, most of that crazed life style was my own doing.  But you know it is bad when you are living and breathing a job - no hobbies, no reading for fun, friends and family time shrinking, lists upon lists of things to remember and do - all job related.

So it probably is no surprise that in 1997 it all came to a screeching halt.  I quit that job without having another job in place.  Oh, I was professional about it ... giving them four months notice, but I had an end date ... a light at the end of the tunnel ... and I was making my escape.  Thankfully I had a husband who understood.

And then I found knitting.

Actually I asked my husband about maybe taking a 7 week "learn to knit" class at my local yarn store and it was a pricey class.  He agreed with the statement, "Why not.  It is cheaper than therapy."  Hmm ... guess he saw that I was reaching critical mass in that job too.

A special picture of mom, my sister and I (L to R.).
And my sweater is the Central Park Hoodie - a
fun sweater to knit and wear.
And a knitter was born.  Knitting filled a need that nothing else could do.  It occupied my hands and mind in a meditative way - my soul needed that.  It had a beginning, middle and end - my type A personality needed that.  And it was a creative activity that produced with a beautiful item - well, maybe not beautiful the first year when my skill level was that of "rookie."  But from then on many lovely projects have emerged.

The start of my current shawl project with beads on the ends.
Knitting not only healed all the broken parts of me in those early years, but it sustained me during some of the hardest years of my life taking care of my mom.  I made several beautiful things for her during her time with me and she was buried in a shawl I made for her during the last year of her life.  It gives me comfort to know she is wrapped in something right now I made for her.

A cable and lace poncho I knitted for my daughter.
It was an great design starting at the bottom of the
poncho and decreasing your way up to the neck.
And now knitting is still giving.  This year I find myself at loose ends. Mom is gone.  My husband is becoming more or more disabled.  That "caregiver mantel" I so carefully set aside at my mom grave site is slowly and persistently finding it place back on my shoulders once again.  Knitting fills a void and allows some escape.  Nothing else is capable of keeping the edges of my life all glued together in a sane way like knitting - not even blogging.

Rigid Heddle Loom - a cozy kind of activity.
I enjoy the process and will do this again and again.
Just not right now - the knitting needles call.
I have been pulled into related crafts.  I can crochet, I do weave on occasion, and spinning fiber tugs at my desires now and then.   I love my looms, my spinning wheel and my spindles, but they will never replace my knitting needles.  Knitting is the activity my hands reach for when I need constancy, escape and peace.

A lace and bead shawl I made for my daughter that almost killed me with frustration.
I swore more during this project than any other in 17 years.
And I pledged I would never do anything life this again.

But the end result turned out beautiful I think.
And I decided in an absolute instant ...
I think I could knit something like this again.

Just like childbirth!!
Knitting can hurt like the devil and you swear "never again"
and then you forget and are just so pleased with the
object completed and you think ...
oh that wasn't so bad.
I think I could do this again!

The knitting life for me!

Monday, August 17, 2015


I live in a neighborhood that was built about 30 years ago.  My husband and I are original residents so I remember a time when all the growth was young and not very big.  I love the maturity of the vegetation and how it provides a cool and shaded space to live and walk.

Really, there is no excuse for not walking in my neighborhood.  It is safe and well maintained and comfortable.

But for some darn reason finding time for walking is always a struggle for me.  This spring I started out so well with a routine of regular exercise.  Then the house renovations started.  Three weeks of painting, and a week of kitchen renovation ... and all those weeks and weeks to prepare and clean out and recover.  No walking then.  And some days the heat was more of an assault than even these lovely trees could cope with.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

That is all those barriers were ... just excuses.

Last week I began again to establish a walking routine.  And I kept thinking about the why and how of my struggle with this simple habit.

And then I saw it.  The example of what happens to you when you don't keep active.  I saw it on my walk and it is a picture I just might put on my fridge to motivate me.

This is an old road way that was closed to through traffic over 30 years ago.
It ends at a creek where the bridge was washed away in a long-a-go hurricane.

Do you see it?

It is so obvious that you might miss it if you are looking too closely.  The side walk suddenly narrows.  Oh, the side walk is still there - hiding under the overgrowth of nature, but the path shrinks remarkably when not tended.

I live just to the left of this picture.

Here is the view with me standing on the narrow path.  And literally, this is where I feel like I am looking at my walking life at present. Standing on a narrow untended path.

You would think the example of inactivity in my mom's life would put the fear of God into me.  And it did for a time.  But images like that fade from memory.

I am a very visual person.  I do best with graphic examples.  My visual memory is petty darn good as evidenced by road trips when I could find my way back without a map - because I had "come this way before," ... even it is was years and years ago.

And so, in my walking world, I have come this way before.  I am standing in a place that is not well tended and I see where I want to go.   Aim for enough activity to broaden the path - my life.  This image also accurately shows how quickly you lose stamina over 60.  When I was 30 I could hold onto energy without much effort.  Now if there is no effort, the path narrows very very quickly.  Nuts!

This aging process certainly is a whole lot of work.  No wonder so many folks just give up and sit!

Out of respect to the body that got me this far - I am a bit more reasonable about expectations, but "reasonable" is not my normal mode of operation when it comes to exercise.  I am wired to be a competitive person - always looking to do more - be the best - aim for the lead.  And because of that exercise has always been "all or nothing" thinking.  After all, you can't be competing all the time.  Competing means there is a start and a finish - and someone wins.  This less younger version of me has had to readjust that thinking.  Walking doesn't have a start and finish as a habit.  The goal is not to be a winner, just physically a more active version of me.

Now my goal is to just move!  It isn't important that I beat last month's time, or walk more miles than I did last week.  The goal has slipped comfortably into what makes sense now - keep moving - and hold onto 10,000 steps a day average.  Those steps don't have to be fast, they don't have to be all at one time - but they should happen ... just happen!  As far as goals go, this one couldn't be more simple.

So here I go again.

Pedometer says today I have only 525 steps - at 8:23 am this morning.  Only 9,500 more to go!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jacket Sweater Done!

The picture above is the bodice of my green jacket sweater I made for myself back in 2009.  It is called the Faery Ring Jacket by Mary Scott Huff and it is a free knitting pattern on Ravelry.   I fell in love with it the moment I saw it.  I will say that this jacket sweater is an enormous project - the hem falls mid thigh, there is a hood, and the bodice is all cables.  It is a whole lot of knitting.  I would guess the number of stitches in this sweater are equal to knitting two sweaters.  It took me almost a year to finish my jacket.  But the finished product is lovely.  Love at first sight for me.

And apparently it was love at first sight for my cousin, who saw my jacket one visit in 2013.  She tried on my jacket and offered to pay me to make her one.  Well, I don't knit for pay and I definitely don't knit for pay for family.  That afternoon we sat down together and she picked a color for her own jacket ... this beautiful blue.

I am sorry to say it took me two years to finish her jacket, but as my other cousin (her sister) reminded me ...  "you had a lot going on these last 2 years."  Yes, I guess I did, but this spring, I decided that this jacket had to be finished.  And I finished it in July.  And here is the proof!!  

And as far as accepting payment ... I did get compensated!  Look at that beautiful smile.  

Love you very much dear cousin.  Wear that jacket in good health!!

Other knitting projects that have waited patiently behind this one are now in the works.