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

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Quiet Month

Finally I have reached the best month of the year
 that I earned by surviving the previous two months.  
The Quiet Month ... January!

I love everything about January.

I love the absence of holidays, the routine of each day, and peaceful weather that has done all its contortions to change the seasons. Settling into the placid pace of winter is the reward.  Even when there is a snow storm - it usually approaches quietly no matter how intense it becomes. And a snow event leaves behind a beautifully clean white blanket ... hiding many of the ugly signs that man has passed this way.

Even my frantic decluttering mojo that struggled to make space around me has passed, as I knew it would.  It will return, but for now it is hibernating.

The whole of January is like a pause that allows time for rest and recharge.  No distractions from the chilly outside world or demanding holidays.

For me - January is month made more special because of the full display of all the seasons in my area.  How fortunate I am to live where the four season equally share the spot light.  Folks who crave heat and love living in more southern climates miss out on some of nature's best displays of energy and wonder.  How sad it would be to never enjoy Fall's breathtaking colors, Spring's budding and waking, and only have Summer's showy lush greening and growing day after day after day.  And those that live in areas where Winter is King and night never seems to end also miss out on some of the qualities that Summer contributes.   Without all those experiences, January might lose some of it luster for me.  Because of the seasons, January makes its own quiet statement.

As interesting and celebratory and visually stunning as those other seasons are ... I always look forward to the rest and recharge month.

Let's hear it for the Quiet Month!!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Connections and Mojo

The restraints are off!!  
No Goals or No Resolutions or No Guidelines or No Anything
 that speaks of a yearly intention.
I have plowed ahead regardless - one connected link at a time in "making space"
  just like I always seem to do every single January.

And yes,
all the actions were curiously linked.

It started with a walk-in closet.  This closet holds 'stuff' - paint, rags, wrapping paper, Christmas decorations, cleaning supplies, tools ... it is a catch-all closet.  When the door is closed - it is OK.  When the door is open - it is not.  When I decorated for Christmas I had to practically empty the closet to get to the right boxes.  Same struggle when I needed wrapping paper.  Ugly!  God forbid I should need a hammer or a nail.  When Christmas stuff returned to storage - I did a big clean out.  Now I can walk into the closet.  Fancy that!  I can actually walk into a walk-in closet!!

The closet clean-out produced two bags of donations.  My first thought - two bags - not enough to make the trip to Good Will, so I easily created a few more bags from my "guest/yarn/book/hobby room."

BUT ... while tootling around in the "guest/yarn/book/hobby room" for donations ... I remembered a problem that needed my attention.  My knitting notions and needles were in total disarray after 9 months of marathon Christmas knitting.  The disarray was so bad I was forced to buy several circular knitting needles in sizes that I already owned but could not find.  *sigh*  Now I have an organized knitting notions bag - an actual tote size bag.  (Yes, I have a knitting notions problem.)   And finally, all the knitting needles are back in their 'homes' ready for the next project.

And speaking of the 'next project,' after wandering around in my knitting supplies, I pulled out all the knitting projects that I set aside to get Christmas projects completed.  Yep!  I did a little line up of things that needed finishing.

Finally I was done.  'Stop looking at stuff' I cautioned myself.  It never ends.  Best to do something that really need doing ... like bill paying.

Ha!  I am so naive.

I set myself to working on bills.  Of course, my wandering eyes drifted towards the 5 inches of filing that I put off for months.  At the same time,  I remembered that I needed to find a specific proof of warrantee that my previous searches didn't turn up.   Filing followed bill paying.  And a search for a specific paper followed filing.

Filing done!  Warrantee info found.

Since I am not a fan of filing, I decided to distract myself with a cup of hot tea. (Seriously, a cup of tea ... where could that lead, right?)

See, I am a coffee drinker, but for some reason I have boxes and boxes of different kinds of tea.  And much of it never gets consumed because most teas upset my reflux.  (Bet you know where this is going ... ). So with a ton of tea taking up space - most of which I cannot drink - I decided to thin it out.  I made several cups of tea to taste, and I pitched near 100 tea bags in the trash.  I still have a life time supply of tea, but it felt good to get rid of the stuff I couldn't swallow.

NOW I am done!!
(Does anyone believe that?)

My knitting activities will probably lead to a much needed reduction in knitting patterns and books.  My tea tasting adventures will definitely lead to a much needed clean out of my messy pantry.  Who knows where this 'clean out fever' will connect to next.

January always seems to trigger this fever in me.  List or no list - ironically downsizing and cleaning out usually makes an appearance in my New Year.   This year it popped up spontaneously without a set of New Year goals.  It felt wonderful to just do what was in front of me rather than what was on goals list.   All that was needed was the mojo to do it!

But here is the really satisfying thing. 
If the mojo goes away - oh well.  
I got a lot done while it was here.  
It will return.  
It always does! 

 "Clean Out January" - a very satisfying thing to do!!
  A lovely way to begin the New Year!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Problems Commenting AGAIN!

I can't believe I am experiencing this problem again.

Problems commenting started before Christmas.  I noticed when visiting others blogs:
  • if a blog use "Embedded" comments, I could not leave a comment easily - meaning that it did not recognize my Google Log In and I had to leave my actual named and Web Address.  So I typed in my name and my website and sometimes it confirmed my comment was received and sometimes it didn't and sometimes it left a message and sometimes it didn't.
  • if a blog used "Pop Up" comments, I could easily drop a comment on their site.
The last time this happened, it was a problem with my browser in Safari Privacy Settings.  Once I fixed that, all commenting problems resolved.  My Safari Privacy Settings are still set correctly. So this is a new problem and I don't know if it is me or Blogger that has the problem.

Has anyone else who uses the browser Safari noticed this problem?  Is there a fix?

!! Frustrating !!

So if I haven't commented at your blog in awhile, that is why.

Has anyone else noticed problems?

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Grand Master Plan for 2020

This is the time of year for
 goal setting,
 project development,
 and resolutions!  

Newspaper, magazine, blogs ... all seem to have some version of those elements displayed in their recent issues/posts.  All provide inspiration and sometimes guidance for making next year count!!  Make it the Best Year Ever kind of thinking. I have been guilty of all those year-end activities in previous years!  And I have relished reading about others goals as the clock rolls over to a new year.  In fact, I built a successful professional life around being organized and goal-driven.

This year I have a **New**  Grand Master Plan for 2020.  It is a brilliant and daring idea - and a 'first' for me!!  Potentially life changing and yet simple.  It belongs on a magazine cover!!  Drum Roll, please.

There is no Grand Master Plan.  
No goal setting.
No project development.
No yearly to-do lists. 

No nothing!!

Deep breath!  Trying to wrap my brain around that single idea.

But saying and doing are two different things.  What does 'the doing of nothing' look like?

Since I have never done this before I couldn't help wondering if there were guidelines for such a decision.  You know ... a "how to" for planning nothing!!  I have never seen anything that comes close to implementing that course of action.   With no guide or sample of how to do nothing successfully, how does one get started??   And once started, how does one keep it up?

Of course, my brain is having trouble imagining such alien concept and it was looking for a crutch!!  Go figure.  It takes a type-A personality like mine to look for  the "right way" of starting and doing nothing.  Ha!

For starters ... I am pretty sure that doesn't mean the death of daily to-do list, or weekly menu planning, or shopping lists, or weekly calendar management.  I am all for breaking out of my rigid mold a boldly following a new direction, but a 72 year old brain still needs some structure after all.  To me it means I have no overlying goals or "special words" or New Year's resolutions or lists of major projects ... to achieve for the next year.  None!!

Summed up in a single sentence:
I am not layering on top of my everyday life
any more expectations than I currently have to get through each day. 
(I wonder if I should write a book about that.) 

While I glory in the newly minted feeling of freedom that planning nothing for the new year provides, I have a sneaky suspicion that some people have approached the New Year with this attitude for a long time.  For me, however, it is ground breaking.  It might even be another level of maturity or increased confidence!  Maybe just a new way to live my life.

Me ... without a plan! 
Will anyone recognize me?

Since I am not breaking out in a sweat or trembling or hyperventilating ... it must be the right course of action for me!

No goals, no problem!
2020 is lookin' good!!!


Sunday, December 29, 2019

Pictures, pictures, pictures.

As promised - pictures from the second family
 Christmas gathering!!  
Nothing but pictures.

Another Cover Girl Shot 

She is a beauty!  
Back shot of the dress!!

Gift Opening Time - Esk and Will

Will's sweater - my niece checking it out.
She is pregnant with her second child.
A girl!!

The sit and spin was a hit!

Grandma will definitely get one of these for the condo!!

And now for some "grand parents" shots!

My sister and my brother-in-law trying to set up
an indoor tent!  Too funny to watch real time.

Ah - the challenges!

Still more effort!

Finally!  A rocket ship tent!  The kids loved it.
My Christmas tree at home on Christmas Eve - waiting for Ms. Esk.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas and the finished objects pictures ...

I have finally ... 
(this is the most recently 'finally' ... )
sworn off knitting Christmas gifts.  

This year was a busy year for planned knitted Christmas gifts.  I knew I had to start early.  Is April early enough?  I knew I had to remain focused on the goal.  I did.  And I knew I must not knit right up to Christmas Eve ...  early December was a good deadline!  Why?  Because knitting Gods are quirky and can place obstacles in your way to finishing on time.

The last time I had such a heavy knitted gift list was 2003.  I planned 8 projects.  EIGHT!!  I started in October!  OCTOBER!!  For the non-knitting readers out there, that is insane!  Who does that??? But I made my deadline in 2003.  How?  The knitting Gods stepped in - this time with 'help.'  In early December my gallbladder blew up putting me in the ER - followed by a surgery, and 3 weeks off from work with the instructions to lift nothing heavier than knitting needles.  Done!!  I had to give up a body organ, but I made my deadline.  That year I swore off Christmas knitting forever.  I only have so many disposable organs!!

Forever came and went however ... and here we are in 2019!

I didn't plan 8 projects this year - only 3.  A dress and sweater set for my grand daughter and a sweater for my grand nephew.  A reasonable number in 9 months.  What I didn't plan for was how much knitting thin yarns and small needles really is or how time consuming (and thumb injuring) some fancy knitting stitches are to old thumbs.

Grand daughter's dress and sweater (Projects 1 and 2)

I am very pleased with how cute this set turned out.  Items knitted in fine yarns (fingering weight) with small needles have a wonderful finished look and drape.  Of course, I moaned and fussed about how long it took.  I probably won't go that thin with yarn again for a child's garment - it takes too long, they grow so fast and the use of the item is limited.  But it was an effort of love for a child who holds my heart in her tiny hands.  I'll knit fine yarn items for her again one day when she is older and her growth isn't so dramatic.

Grand nephew's sweater (Project 3)

It took me a long time window shopping through Ravelry to find this sweater pattern.  I loved it the moment I saw it.  While this yarn was thicker (sport weight,) the stitch creation was slower and it just about robbed my thumbs of fixability.  The basket weave stitch in the body is interesting with a density that speaks of jacket weight verses sweater weight.   But I was forced to switch to stockinette stitch for the sleeves - out of the desire to avoid injury.  When I purchased this uni-sex pattern, I planned to make one of these sweaters for my grand daughter too, but those plans went out the window quickly.

Five cowls (Project 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)

I made 2 of the silver gray cowls.
The thick yarn cowls were a knee-jerk reaction to so much thin yarn knitting.  The fat yarn captured my eye in Joann's weeks ago and I purchased enough for 2 cowls - one for my daughter and one for my daughter-in-law.  They turned out so well, I returned and got another color for me.  Fast, fast, fast.  One evening and one cowl is done.  I have seen others wearing cowls made of thick yarn so I suspect this is in vogue right now.

The other two cowls were thinner yarns.  Larger cowl loop designs that are meant to wrap around the neck an additional time.  The red cowl was a Mobius design, but I twisted it an additional time so that the front of the stitch would remain outward.  Not sure it achieved what I was going for, but once wrapped around the neck, it is a non-issue.

Son's hat (Project 9)

My son has never requested anything knit.  He did ask me to crochet matching Viking helmets for him and his daughter which I did.  Esk has outgrown hers, and I need to make the next size up for her (January project), but I thought I would make a quickie hat for him.  After all, I had more than met my deadline.  And he shaves his head - so cold weather needs more than a ball cap.

I finished his hat with 2 weeks to spare.  I briefly considered looking for one other project (crazy thinking).  Then I got sick and so did my husband.  The knitting Gods had stepped in and smack me across my head to bring me to my senses.

If anyone is counting ... I knitted 9 projects - exactly one more than in 2003.  And I only meant to knit 3 projects.  I wasn't trying to break any records and I sure as h*ll didn't want to give up another organ ... so next year we are aiming for moderation and no deadlines.  That should keep the knitting Gods happy.

Onward to 2020
 and the freedom to knit whatever!

PS - Looking for pictures of Christmas Eve??  There are none!  Can you believe it?  It was crazy bedlam here with 5 adults, an almost 2 year old and 3 dogs in our condo (two who do not get along and have to be gated separately!). But it was fun. Take it from me, next year I won't make this picture mistake again.  We are attending another extended family Christmas party on Saturday. It is at my sister's so the pressure is off me and I can focus on pictures.  Promise.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Begone December 2019

That's right!
I want December to be gone from my sight!
Call me a Grinch!  
If I remember correctly,
he wasn't all bad.

It has been a hard month health wise.  It started with a cold for me - minor, but still a bug that weaseled its way into my body.  I think I called it Cold Number 1 in my December 3rd post.  No sooner did it leave me, then my husband started with a GI bug that got into his body.  You know the kind ... nausea and other unmentionables better left unsaid.  But his GI bug was accompanied by a fever, and then losing consciousness, (a new twist on an old problem for me), and then a call to 911, and then a visit from the nice EMTs.  He recovered his consciousness and refused a hospital visit, but was sick with this bug for about 4 days total.

During that time my daughter needed my assistance with transportation to a dental appointment that might have ended in conscious sedation for a procedure ... it didn't, thankfully.  Small blessings.  But no sooner did I return from that then my husband's bug jumped ship and decided I was a good candidate for further havoc.

Nine ugly hours after it started with me - I finally began to feel human again. - no fainting and no fever, but me and my toilet .... well, we are 'buds' now, and my ribs still hurt 48 hours later from trying to empty my stomach that was already empty when I started.

In between all that fun and frivolity I was busy making appointments for my husband for lab work, a CAT scan of his brain, a new patient appointment with a Neurologist and the EEG that doctor wants him to have, and a new patient appointment with a Cardiologist.

Losing consciousness gets everyone's attention!

Here we are on December 22 and my daughter calls.  She feels sick.  I am desperately hoping that while I was helping her with the dental appointment I wasn't also infecting her with whatever that GI bug that might have been hiding in me when we were together.

Oh, and did I mention that my cat, Wally, was diagnosed with a hyperthyroid condition last month?  He stopped eating the prescription food for this condition this month, which had the condition under control, and he isn't been interested in taking the medication no matter how I disguise it.  Cats are so particular.  So we are at a stand off at present - but that is only for this month.  Untreated hyperthyroidism kills if not treated.  I may have to force feed that pill down his gullet to save his darn life!!

And to add insult to injury, I am not a big fan of Christmas anyway - my dad died 2 days before the holiday and my mom died 3 days after the holiday. I struggle at this time of year.

Probably the only thing that is keeping me from totally checking out of this whole terrible month - is my dear grand daughter, Eskarina.  She has reached the age where the wonder of the season puts a sparkle in her eye, and this grand mother would rather die than snuff out that light.  Those tiny little 20-month old shoulders shouldn't have to carry even an ounce of burden because of my bad luck.

My husband's GI bug is gone but he thinks he is starting with a cold.  I am better from my GI bug.   With any luck Cold Number 2 will hit me around New Years.  My daughter is still an unknown as of this evening.  My daughter-in-law mentioned that Eskarina seems to be starting with a cold as well.  She awoke this morning saying, "Buggers in nose."  (Buggers!!!  Who taught her the word 'buggers'??).  But day-care is just one big cold-virus factory, so the fact she has a cold is not too shocking!

So everyone ....
Happy Holidays!!
(Aren't you glad you aren't anywhere near plague central?)

PS - I promise to stop in again before the end of the year to provide pictures of my finished projects (shots are in the camera), and a few pictures of Christmas Eve with Eskarina.  And to provide proof that I participated 'joyfully and fully' in Christmas - despite everything!!