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, December 28, 2018

Eyes on 2019: Crafting

Did you make crafting plans in 2018?
Did you check back to see how much you completed?
Or are you a spontaneous soul - that likes doing things on a whim?

Really, either approach has its pluses and minuses!

I am a planner.  I start thinking about the next year in November - not intentionally - but my brain starts percolating.  Plans firm up more in December.  By January I usually have a fleshed out list - a map for the New Year.  Do I get it all done?  Nope, but it gives me satisfaction to see the road ahead.
After all, January is kind of a natural beginning.

This post is focused on my crafting life.  I looked back at my plans for 2018 and here is what I found:

Knitting
  • Red hoodie for grand daughter (Done - and I did a pink shawl collar sweater and matching hat so it counts as 2 sweaters.)



  • A cable sweater for grand nephew (Done - No cable sweater but a sweater and hat combination for this Christmas.  In fact, I did 2 sweaters for him ... could anyone forget the first defective sweater I ranted on about? I think this counts as 2 sweaters.) 

  • A knitted toy for grand daughter (Nope)
  • A summer something for my grand daughter. (Nope - decided she was growing too fast to aim for this summer)
  • Baby blanket for my grand daughter.  (Done - The Zookeeper's Blanket.)


  • A sweater for myself (Nope!)
  • Shawl - with beads - for my daughter-in-law. (Nope)
  • Shawl - with beads - for my daughter. (Nope). 
Crochet
  • Amigurumi toy (Started, but ... will finish in 2019)
Spinning
  • Spindle spinning (Nope)
Needlepoint
  • Select canvas and yarns to ending in a finished project some in 2019.  (Nope)

See what I mean ...
a road map of sorts.

********

2019 projects are firming up.

Knitting and Crochet


(All sample pictures below are pulled from Ravelry)

Joyal - Dress by Taiga Hillard.  Dresses for grand daughter

Joyal by Taiga Hillard
I love this little dress: simple, feminine and practical.  It can be worn in the summer as shown, or in cooler weather with a long sleeve shirt under it - and as the child grows it can be worn as a tunic with pants.  I have two yarns chosen by 29 Bridges Studio of Maryland:  Coral Reef - a cream with speckles of red and rust and Prue - a solid red.  This is a Super Wash Yarn.


Spring Garden Tee by Alana Dakos

Spring Garden Tee by Alana Dakos
This garment is a feminine tee perfect for spring and summer. I have Cascade yarns Sunseeker yarn, cotton and acrylic - that is machine wash and dry. Two colors:  a light orange and a light green (two tops) with very subtle sparkles in the yarn.  Perfect for a child.


Three sweaters for me.

This goal seems a little indulgent.  Three sweaters?  I have hand made sweaters and I seldom wear them.  There is always something that is not quite right about them.  But ... ever hopeful me, I will find the perfect pattern for me.  Here are my choices.
  • Shibui Knits - Cirrus by Nancy O'Connell.  This is described as a poncho.  It is poncho-like.  It has a cowl neck, wide sleeves and a curved hem.  The pattern was a bit pricy ($10) but free if you purchased the Shibui Knits yarn.  Unfortunately that yarn was well over $200 to purchase and I was pretty sure I had just the right yarn in my stash.  Obviously, we shall see.  I usually get into trouble when I substitute yarns.  *sigh*. The yarn I have chosen is Brooks Farm Yarn Mas Acero in a black/gray/dark lavendar color ways - the colors have very short runs. 
Cirrus by Nancy O'Connell
  • Harley by Jenny Williams.  I purchased the yarn this pattern for different sweater 2 or 3 years ago and discovered before I made the whole darn sweater ... the first pattern would not be right for me.  I picked this new pattern.  The yarn is by Purl SoHo and is 75% Extra Fine Merino and 25% Cashmere and it was expensive so I don't want it sitting in balls in my stash.  The color is called Tidepool and is not far different from the color in the picture - except that the Purl SoHo yarn color seems to look somewhat green in certain light, blue in another light and gray in yet another light. Interesting yarn.
Harley by Jenny Williams

  • Lady Jane by Susan Mills.  I set my sights on this sweeter probably 10 years ago.  I am going to make it this year!  It is perfect for every day use.  Yarn choice still under consideration.
Lady Jane by Susan Mills

Mignon by Justin Lorkowska - Sweater for my grand nephew's August birthday.

I found this pattern for him before he was born and just loved it.  Originally on my 2018 list, I decided to wait to make a bigger size - 2T - so he has time to wear it longer for winter 2019-2020.  This is a top down designed pullover with Honeycomb panels.  The yarn I have is Cascade Yarns, 220 Superwash Sport in a seafoam blue.

Mignon by Justin Lorkowska

Create 3 cowls - one for me, my daughter and my daughter-in-law - I have made many shawls but don't wear them as much as I thought I would.  No shawls this year - just cowls.  No patterns or yarns picked yet - but I have plenty of both and just need time to make decisions and put both together into kits ready to knit.

Gnomes - these are so darn cute.  I have no choice but to make several of them.  Nothing but the pattern picked so far.

Tapestry

I started a basic 'learn-to-do tapestry' sampler from a book in 2018.  I enjoyed it, but got swept away in children's projects ... and so the incomplete sampler sits idle.  I'd like to finish it and do an actual tapestry picture this year.

So those are my plans for 2019!  I think the scope of the projects is probably way to large but oh well.    I have stopped looking at all pattern websites and yarn companies.  The more I look, the more I think I would like to do.  It never ends.

Do you make craft plans?




Thursday, December 13, 2018

HELP - A Study in Frustration


!!HELP!!

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

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

So here is the problem from my end:

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


PLEASE TELL ME THAT THIS PROBLEM IS NOT JUST MINE!

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

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

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

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


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

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

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Rocky Point Disappearing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now for the big disconnect.

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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



It is just nature at work- relentlessly!




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

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Quiet Holiday - A Gentle Reminder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scars upon scars.

The 'happy' season is different for me now.

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

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

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

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

And that is ok.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Observations of Living in a 55+ Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is nice to know that!

Glad that looking back didn't result in regrets!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Making Plans

Making Plans

That's where November always leads me.

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

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

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

Its a plan, not a resolution.

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

Project from the fun side of my life:

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

Project from the business side of my life:

A Hold-It-All-Together Plan

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

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

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

So what to do, what to do.

Enter my invention -

My Book of Many Things!

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

Lost?  Let me explain further.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Friday, November 9, 2018

Not a Minimalist

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

Seriously, I love that minimalism defies definition.

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

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

So why do I even mention this at all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or maybe I should just make up my own term.

I am an "Enough-ist." 

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

I am open to suggestions!!


Friday, November 2, 2018

Lessons in Friendship and a Trip

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

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

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

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

We were thrilled to get the invitation.


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



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

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



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

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

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

Some lessons in life

 ... well ... 

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


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









Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween from Rosie the Riveter!!


Yes, this is my little Rosie, the Riveter!  


My little Esk in her first Halloween Costume.


Ok, guys!
  It can't get much cuter than this!


I think I am going to melt!



💖 💖 💖 💖 💖




Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Cemetery Visit

In keeping with the Halloween spirit,
  I want to share a recent cemetery visit with you.  


 A very charming, quiet, and a very cherished (finally) cemetery called Whipps Garden Cemetery located in Howard County, Maryland - right in the middle of a housing development.




Back story:

I have lived in Columbia, Howard County Maryland since 1973 and never visited this cemetery until 2018 - despite the fact I have passed it ... oh, maybe 100 times or more!

Old private family cemeteries can be unusual depending on where you live in the country.  Development on the east coast of the US, however, is invasive.  I cringe at the thought of how many old graves  sites have been lost in time or just paved over with the steam roller of developers.

Many original Howard County farm homes dot the landscape within Columbia, a planned city that is 50 years young.   On occasion you will find a small family cemetery attached to one of these original properties.  In fact, when I lived in my former neighborhood of King's Contrivance, Columbia, there was one such house right in the middle of our development - with a small attached graveyard.  What is really amazing is the fact that any of these small cemeteries remain in this area ... in spite of the march of modernization and development.

Beautiful iron works 

The Whipp Garden Cemetery:

The Whipp Garden Cemetery is located in Ellicott City, adjacent to Columbia - in Howard County, Maryland  The cemetery sits in a well establish housing development called St. John's Community, right off St. John's Road.  I vaguely remember catching a brief glance at this cemetery as I sped past in my car during its neglected period prior to 1987.  I remember thinking it was sad to see its decline.  But I also remember years later seeing people working in that cemetery.



Today, I finally stopped!

I was moved by all I saw and learned!

This one acre plot of land was established as a cemetery in 1833, yet some gravestones were from 1820s.  William Whipps bought the land in 1855 for $73.25, and the deed noted the presence of an "an old graveyard."  The Whipps were well-known farmers and merchants of the day who also served as blacksmiths at Oakland Manor -- now Oakland Mills in Columbia.  The last burials at this site were in 1915.



The Whipps burial ground was always just a little country cemetery, not affiliated with any church.  In the later 1800s, burial lots were sold to other families.  Over time the cemetery was forgotten, over grown, and suffered from vandalism.


Not much thought was given to this cemetery until 1984 when building stakes went up in the weeds and bulldozers began clearing the brush!  A group of neighbors - members of the St. Johns Community Association, Inc. led by Barbara Seig - decided that this little wooded cemetery had suffered enough neglect and abuse.


Thank God for concerned citizens who saw a wrong and took steps to make it right.


Marker with no writing on it.
Restoration began in 1987 by the community association assisted by the descendants of the Whipps family, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, area garden clubs and neighborhood volunteers.  It is now owned by The Friends of the Whipps Cemetery and Memorial Gardens, Inc., a non-profit organization.


This precious gift of a beautiful old cemetery for the residents of Howard County is maintained by Master Gardeners who plant and maintain heritage and native species in a variety of different settings, interspersed by pathways, benches, iron works and tombstones.


The plants are typical of Maryland in the 1800s.

I will visit again.  


I am sure that the face of this special place changes with the change of seasons ...

Just as it has changed over its long history.

For now that face shows beauty, care and reverance for the history of this
small one acre cemetery.

Here's hoping it's future is bright.


** Note
Information about the Whipps Garden Cemetery was pulled directly from 3 sources - A brochure created by The Friends of The Whipps Cemetery and Memorial Gardens, Inc., A Self-Guided Stroll through the Gardens booklet and their web site.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Blogger Commenting Issues

Just a 'housekeeping' observation about Blogger - the Blog Platform that I use to house and write my blog ...

Recently I received a private email from one of my long time blog friends, Michelle.  She writes at Boulderneigh Blog - and you should stop in for a visit - especially if you love sheep and dogs and cats and horses and gardening and photography and knitting and spinning.  Yes, it wore me out just to write all that ... she is a very busy lady.

She was having a new problem commenting on my blog.  She had other blog readers/friends who also reported similar problems with Blogger and suggested a fix for that problem.  I took her advice and the problem on my blog disappeared - I think.  She, at least, can now comment.

If you notice similar problems on your blog or other blogs ... on Blogger, here is the fix I made:

Change comments from "Embedded" to "Pop Up Window" on your blog.

Not to get too technical ... but I did notice a minor change on my end of the blogging experience as the blog author using "Pop Up Window."

When comments were set to "Embedded," I could visit my blog without signing in, and respond to individual comments using a 'Reply' option button available after every individual comment.  Now that 'Reply' button is gone.  Now that I am set for "Pop Up Window," the only way I can reply to comments on my blog is to leave another new comment  (like I am an external reader) and prove to my blog that I am not a Robot.  But I can't reply individually any more.  Odd.

Not a big deal.

But it does seem like the Blogger Platform has experienced a series of problems in the last year.  It does make me nervous.  I would hate to start all over again on a new platform (with their unknown problems) and/or loose my history here.

Anyway, let's hope that the Blogger problems are now under control.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Binge Watching

I watch a lot of shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime in the evenings.  I seldom watch anything in "real" time (beyond Dancing With the Stars and America's Got Talent) preferring to binge watch show after show of a series until I reach the last season.  This evening TV time is also my knitting time - and a quiet space when I control the TV remote and the choices.

Thought I would share some of the titles I have watched and my impressions.


24
Counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) fights the bad guys of the world one day at a time.  With each episode unfolding in real time, "24" covers a single day in the life of Bauer each season.   (9 seasons with 24 episodes per season)

You know, I am really not into counterterrorism topics, but this show is ACTION, ACTION, ACTION.  Non-stop action and you simply cannot pull your eyes away from the screen.  I completely enjoyed the series.  Sorry it was over.  Rating:  A++++

Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan
Former US Marine, Jack Ryan, now is a up and coming CIA Analyst.  He is thrust into his first dangerous field assignment.  One season only available at this point but I understand another season is in the works.

It was ok.  I enjoyed some of Tom Clancy's books and the Jack Ryan character.  But will I seek out another season ... maybe.  Rating:  C

Designated Survivor
As a lower-level cabinet member, Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) is catapulted into the Oval Office as President by a devastating attack on the night of the State of the Union address.  Two seasons available.

I think the first season was pretty good - and the second season was ok.  I am a fan of Kiefer Sutherland.    This show was cancelled.  There is no third season.   Rating: C+

Suits - currently watching
Big time Manhattan corporate lawyer Harvey Specter and his team are launched into the play for power.  Eight seasons - 16 episodes each season.

I will admit I had no real interest in a legal themed show.  I started watching so I could find out who this Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, is/was.  The show is very good, interesting, funny at times and the characters have grown on me a bunch.  The one thing I know after watching this show is that I could NEVER be a lawyer.   The show is still in production.   Rating: A+

Absentia
After being declared dead in absentia, an FBI agent must reclaim her family, identity and innocence when she finds herself the prime suspect in a string of murders - 1 season, 10 episodes

The draw for this show was actress Stana Katic who plays the missing FBI agent.  She was the star of another TV series called Castle that I enjoyed.  This show was a little brutal at times to watch but good enough to watch all the 10 episodes. I think a second season is planned for 2019.  I probably won't seek it out when it is released.  Rating: C

3 Wives 1 Husband 
Documentary series offers a rare access to a fundamentalist community of 15 Mormon families that live in the desert of Utah.  They are polygamists - the practice of marriage to multiple people at once.    This series examines the personal politics of courtship, how to behave correctly in front of sister wives, complicated sleeping arrangements, and also acts as a catalyst to a wider selection of relationships, love, family and faith in the contemporary United States.   4 episodes

I admit I watched these 4 episodes mostly because I was curious.  I am drawn to reading books and watching shows of different life styles.  On the surface, the documentary answers many questions about the lives of this segment of our society.  Just like any other small and different group (Amish, Hasidic Jews, etc.) there is curiosity, mis-information and, at times, fear.  Watching this show I felt some questions were never addressed:  how do they support such large families.  The family in the documentary had anywhere from 12-19 children, 3 wives and 1 husband.  At a minimum, the funds to feed and clothe that many people were not explained.  It could also be argued that so many dependents of one man could not be an easy life - stressful even.  I could not see myself accepting any of that, but I wasn't raised as a fundamentalist Mormon as these people were.  And even with their upbringing, they had some problems with this life style.  It was a very interesting show.
Rating: B


So what shows have you been watching?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Grand Parenting


Sometimes it is still hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I have a grand daughter.

She is here in the world.

She is growing in size and personality.

And still ... part of my mind stutters as the idea that 
she is really is here!



So many of my peers have grand children and even great grand children, and have walked this same path before me at a much earlier age.

This is 'old hat' to them.  "Oh yes, grandchildren, part of living if you have children of your own.  
No big deal."

And yet, when you reach a certain point in your life and your children are in their 40's
you start to accept the fact (you force yourself to accept the fact)
that your life choice to be a parent
might not be their life choice.

You learn to accept ... sadly and grudgingly (maybe) that they desire
something different in life - that children are not part of your children's life plan.

You learn to accept.



I always knew I would be a parent.  
The choice to be a parent was hard wired into my very being.
And if I had to choose all over again, I would choose the same path.
Parenthood is a vocation.
It is not everyone's vocation.


Becoming a grand parent is different.  
You have no control over achieving that status.
You can't choose it for yourself.

But one glorious day, after having accepted the obvious ...
a grand daughter graces your life with light and beauty and joy.


Dear Eskarina,
 you cannot begin to understand
 what a miracle you are to your grandmother!


Monday, October 15, 2018

Grand dog sitting


So I am watching these two sweet dogs this week - my grand dogs.  Ragnar, Rags for short, is the white English Bulldog on the left, and Olivia, Liv for short, is the hound mountain dog mix on the right.  Rags came to us as a puppy.  Olivia was a rescue coming to us at approximately the age of 2.  They are buds.

This week my son and his wife are out of town and I am their regular dog sitter.  At times in the past I have kept them at the condo with marginal success.  They are big dogs with lots of strength.  Together they can easily overpower me if they are on leashes.  Individually I can manage them.  But they are really 'house' dogs - not 'condo' dogs - and they don't always understand the noise limitations of living so close to other people.  And they are used to their large fenced in yard - as pictured above - leash walking is sometimes hard.   So I decided to 'live' at their house with them and come back to the condo to visit with my husband each day.

And usually, dog sitting at their house is uneventful ... except when it is not!  Like Saturday.

Saturday I arrived at the house.  My son and his wife had already left.  The dogs were waiting excitedly for me.  A full week of Grandma - who spoils them, and loves them, and gives them treats for just breathing!!

To blow off some of their steam at my arrival, I opened the kitchen slider and let them run in their yard.  I proceeded to get myself unpacked.

At some point I opened the door and called for them.  Rags came running from somewhere deep in the yard at full gallop.  He raced for his water bowl.  He was alone.  No Liv.  I called for her again.  Nothing.  No worries.  She probably was fully engaged with a delicious scent she could not let go of (part hound after all) and I let Rags back out in the yard again.

I walked along the back of the house to the far side of the yard - calling her name, stepping carefully to avoid poop and dodging Rags who was still exuberant.  I didn't see her.  She didn't seem to be anywhere in the yard.  A small little voice of worry crept into my mind.

I turned and started walking carefully back the way I came, looking in the bushes and up the hill.  I was about halfway back when I realized that Rags was circling me and running back to where we had been - over and over again.  Hmm... I turned around and walked back.

When I got to the end of the yard, I noticed that Rags was walking behind a shed and running back out again.  It didn't take long for me to discover this ...


There she was!  Obviously under the shed and stuck!  She had squeezed in a small spot closer to the other side and could not figure out how to back out.  Actually she may have had very little room to make any adjustments except to go forward.

And, of course, Rags was so frustrated because Liv was 'having all the fun' and he couldn't get his chunky little body in that space.  (Liv normally is the brains of the pair - but she didn't show good judgement this time.). I had to take Rags back into the house - because he was 'helping' just too much.

And then I had to dig her out.  When we were done - she could squeeze out and she was very joyful.  Grandma had saved her.  The space, however, looked like this.


Just too inviting for another visit.  
One episode like this was enough for me.  
So I spent some time lifting and repositioning some cement blocks in that space.


That little episode took a few years off my life.  I don't have that many to spare.  But I knew I was getting her out, even if I had to call Rescue 911 - and have the fire fighters come.  

When we were done with this little escapade, the sun was starting to set.



Olivia has proven to be an exceptionally smart dog in many ways since we got her.  
Her vocabulary is impressive.  
She is very careful around my legally blind husband
 and waits patiently for me when she and I are going down my condo hall steps together.

But this day, she let her 'hound brain' take over!!


Love her bunches!!

Even the hound parts.