Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Was it Sabotage?

I know I am pretty dense about some stuff ... but I think I am actually now RETIRED!

Yep!  I have looked all around me, in all the rooms, in the closets, under the furniture and  through my calendar ...  and I can’t escape the fact that there are no obligations or commitments hiding anywhere.  I am completely and totally retired!

Imagine that!

I suspect this is kind of an odd statement to make considering I haven’t held a paying job since 2007.  But as we near the end of this month, January 2022, I realize that after 15 years of stepping away from formal paid employment, I am retired. It took years to get here, but here I am!!

What happened?  Why did it take so long and did I sabotage myself?

When I left my last employment in 2007 they gave me a “retirement party.”  And there was no need to correct that assumption, because that was what I was doing.  Retiring!  I was only 59.  But my underlying reason for stopping work so early was my mom.  She was living with us and it was very hard for me to hold down a full time job and help her out all the other hours.   Turns out my mom became a 24/7 commitment as she was developing dementia. It wasn’t retirement for me. But it wasn’t exactly sabotage, because she needed help and I was able and happy to give it.

When she died in December 2014, I thought now I will officially retire.  My commitment to mom taxed all of me more than anything else in my life.  I needed a break.  I just needed to close down her estate - and then I was done, done, done. But did I retire? Nope.

With mom gone, it became overwhelmingly apparent that my increasingly visually impaired husband was at serious risk of falling on our stairs - and in a townhouse, there are a lot of stairs.  So from 2015 to 2016 I began the downsizing, taking on tasks my husband could no longer do because of his vision problems, “shopping” for a new and safer place to live, orchestrating the sale of our townhouse, organizing the move, and purchasing our current condo - not to mention the unpacking and settling in a new place and location.   I was 69 at the time of that move, and I used up every last ounce of myself.  Did I somehow sabotage myself over that year and half?  I don’t see how.  Now the person needing help was my husband - we needed to move and I had no choice but to take the lead.  

In August of 2016 we moved into this condo.  I remember thinking “all I need to do is get us unpacked and settled and I will be retired.”  The list of obligations and commitments were at 0!  One day in January 2017 I was walking my daughter’s dog enjoying the feeling of lightness and I was approached by a resident with a measuring tape.  He asked me to help him by holding the measuring tape while he took measurements of a community project.  Ha!  I was thrilled to help, to make a friend of a neighbor, to become part of a community!!  Within 15 minutes he invited me to attend an informal meeting of the board happening in a few days.  He started talking ... you should join the board, you’d be great at it!!  God knows what he saw in me.  Was it my sparkling personality, or the way in which I competently held the measuring tape or .... was I just a warm body without 2 heads, and they needed a 5th board member - and there I was!!  Of course, I didn’t recognize any of that at the time - and I started thinking “Oh yes, this might be fun.”  (In that moment, the “Oh yes” moment,  I began to sabotage my retirement dreams!) Like a magnet I attended that meeting, got involved in community activities - crescendoing in a spell as a board member that ate up hours and hours (... and HOURS) of time every single week.  And this volunteer job felt very much like work without the benefit of a salary!   January 3 of this year, I stepped out of that board position and ... for the first time in forever - I didn’t sabotage myself.  I keep looking over my shoulder, but there are no other hangers-on to hijack my new status! 

I’ll admit, it's a little disorienting, but I think I am finally retired.  

But then the thought dawned on me.  Despite all the past demands on my life, I have been lucky enough to reached this point with good health and independence.  And now finally, my time belongs to me - to do what I want.  Some folks never reach this point.

While I know life can change in a moment I have taken a precaution to prevent self sabotage  - there is no room in my life for measuring tapes!!  I am hoping that will be enough.  Today I am retired!

Friday, January 21, 2022

My Winter Puzzle

My current puzzle is a Christmas scene.  It is called Christmas Cheer by the Vermont Christmas Company.  I haven’t done enough puzzles to develop a favored company.

I didn’t have as much time before Christmas to work on this puzzle as I hoped and here I am after Christmas - actually mid-January - working on a Christmas theme.  I considered stopping the work and putting it away for next year, but knowing me, I might not want to do this same puzzle again.  

I love having a dedicated space that I don’t
need to change out for other use.

Of course, today a snow storm is predicted and this puzzle is full of snow ... so now it is my Winter Puzzle.  It probably is best I finish it this year and then re-home it.  I seldom re-read books and creating jigsaw puzzles are the same. I seldom repeat a puzzle.  I have glued a number of puzzles together that were of interest to my Grand daughter and she has them hanging in her play room.

This puzzle is quite large.  As I typically do, I began with the border pieces.  Then I usually pick items within the puzzle to put together - items that are easy to find in the mix of puzzle pieces - which in the beginning is a lot to paw through. 

This time I focused on the Christmas trees.  That was a mistake.  Finding the pieces was not hard, but getting them put together was harder than I thought.  I started focusing on the people in the picture.  That went faster. And then the buildings.  

And with time, some of the Christmas trees began to take shape.  

This last tree is still a struggle.

The cost of puzzles climbed during the pandemic, mostly because people were so interested in doing home activities and puzzle companies had trouble keeping up with the demand.   In 2020 when I rediscovered the joy of putting puzzles together I went on a binge of puzzle purchases.  I sort of went puzzle crazy.  Beyond this puzzle I have 24 puzzles waiting for me to assemble.  Some were cheap - a few were expensive.  A few were gifts. Now, that puzzles are widely available again, I realize that I wouldn't spend more than $20 for one.  The time and enjoyment I get from them is well worth the $20 or less spent.  But some puzzles go for upwards of $30 or $40 dollars.  Since I don’t repeat many, that cost would be too pricy for one completion only.  I am a little loathed to buy puzzles second hand.  I would hate to find a piece missing.  But if the picture was compelling enough, I might risk it.

I have heard the opinion that doing a jigsaw puzzle is not a productive use of time - especially if it is dismantled after it is completed.  I guess I can understand that opinion on one level, but I also believe that not all activities need to be productive.  Relaxation is also an important state for both mind and body.  The path to relaxation is different for everyone.  Based on recent events - completing jigsaw puzzles is a pretty popular method of relaxation.

Do you do jigsaw puzzles?

  Do you have a preferred vendor?

  What is the range of cost that you find reasonable?

  What is your experience with previously owned puzzles?

One last picture - update as of Wednesday night!  The trees are finally complete (and they weren’t fun to do) as well as much of the bottom.  Hoping the sky isn’t as hard as it looks.  😀



Tuesday, January 18, 2022

I forgot ... this is fun!

Ever have a hobby that you set aside ... set aside for years ... and then, because you have a slight injury  and extra time ... you pick it up again on a whim ... and remember just how much FUN it is!!  Forgotten and challenging fun with a few surprises thrown in.

That is me and Legos.  Yep!  Legos ... the building blocks of children. 

But hasn’t been for just children for a long time.  Not by a long shot!  Not by size, or by complexity or by cost!  Especially not by cost - because the kits for adults (those over 16) are quite expensive, and only get more expensive when Lego retires certain kits. 

More than 5 years ago I built my first pair of buildings.  The Pet Store and a Private Townhouse Residence.

This was my first build. And I discovered when I was searching for these pictures in my blog history
that I built them in 2015!  My heavens.  So it has been more like 7 years.  Time has passed so fast.

And these were my first surprises.  I was building the basement level of the townhouse and
following the directions so very carefully ... I began constructing some of the interior pieces - without knowing what they were.  Imagine my surprise and amusement when I discovered they were a telephone and a toilet!  I was building a TOILET!!  So darn cute.

Anyway, now that I have set my knitting needles and crochet hooks aside, I looked for ways to fill that time and not stress out my digits.  Thankfully, over the years since that first build, I have requested a number of lego kits for gifts.  I must have 5 or 6 waiting.  

The time to begin building again is PERFECT!

The kit I am working on now is The Detective Agency - The Pool Hall - Al’s Barber Shop with another residence squeezed in-between!  This is the picture off the box.

For those who aren’t aware of how the construction is approached,  I thought I would share some of my methods.

All the pieces come in separate bags like pictured above.  The bags are numbered 1 to 4.  Each number is the sequence they suggest you make the kit in. I made this shot above bigger so you can get the feel and logic of the sorting.  First off, all the bags marked with a #1 have already been constructed into the first floor of the Pool Hall. 

Front of the pool hall.  If you look through the glass doors you can 
just see a bit of the pool table.

Looking down from the top you can see the ceiling fan I built (put a smile on my face
when I figured that out) and below that is the pool table.

Here is a better shot of the pool table before the walls went up.

Now I am preparing to do all the bags marked #2.  Beyond the fact they have gathered all the pieces together that  I need all for the next section in these #2 bags, I can see no logic to the pieces as they are packaged.  All 4 bags are a mix of shapes, sizes and colors.  So I had to come up with my own logic for sorting.

I simply sort by color.

Lego’s instruction book is also a marvel.  No words.  Just each step pictured, starting with the exact pieces you need next.  You then compare your previous work to the picture in the book and use those pieces you pulled to build your room one baby step at a time.

Literally - no words. Really very international.  Legos
can sell their kits all over the world without worrying
about translations.  Genius.

When this kit is complete it will be placed beside my first one in a plastic demonstration case to keep the dust off.  I will continue building my little town one set of buildings at a time.

One final note.  I have never ever had a piece missing.  How they manage to manufacture and package this as they do would be a very interesting documentary to see.  But in the back of the instruction book is a listing of all the pieces used - with a picture of the piece in the color used and its number.  It shouldn’t be too hard to get a replacement.


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Shocking - I am making potholders

You know ... I gave up a few things since the beginning of the New Year.  And when that happened I found time I forgot I had.  So I looked around and realized - hey - you bought this larger than normal pot holder loom last year, and you bought these expensive all wool pot holder loops to make 3 pot holders.  

So here is the pictorial story of the hand made pot holders, that finally got made and I am so glad.

This loom is larger than the standard pot holder loom.  And I love the size of the pot holders it makes.

Here is the first potholder that I made in colors that match my kitchen.

Years ago I bought a pot holder loom and wool loops and it made the standard (but small-ish) potholders. 

Here is the new pot holder made on the bigger loom.  Pretty big difference in size.

Another photo shot for size.

I show this picture as a lesson!  When I made the first bigger potholder I was sitting on the beach with my sister and cousin.  I wove the potholder and figured I could get it off the loom with just my fingers. After all, that is what I did before.  But on a larger loom, it is way easier to lose control and find a scrambled mess in your hands.  And it was a total mess and I had to take it all apart and start again.  Notice the tool they suggested you use to release the pot holder from the loom.

Notice the anchoring loops used to keep the pot holder ON THE LOOM  until you are finished binding off.

Notice the written instructions that I finally sat down and read before my second attempt at making a simple pot holder.  

After I got over myself, thinking I didn’t need no stupid instructions, (when in reality I did) ... see the 3 potholders I finally made with the very expensive wool loops I purchased when I purchased the larger loom.

I have had the supplies to make these pot holders for more than a year.  When I finally quit my board position and took a hiatus from knitting and crocheting to let my thumb heal .... I discovered I had time for other fun activities - and these pot holders were great fun.

AND just so you know, wool is an ideal fabric for making potholders.  I have had the smaller wool potholders for years and the heat never makes my hand uncomfortable.  But a bigger size potholder makes better sense so you don’t accidentally touch any hot surfaces directly.

Now that these are done, I am once again letting my wondering eye check out what should be next.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Downton Abbey

Binge watching long running TV shows or limited streaming series are one of my favorite pastimes in the evening.  I have watch The West Wing, The Walking Dead, Monk, The Witcher, Queen’s Gambit, Outlander, The Wheel of Time, and Glee, just to name a few.  And some of them I have seen more than once.  They are great fun. 

My current binge series is Downton Abbey.  I saw the first season previously, and maybe parts of the second in the past, but there are a total of 6 seasons and it is highly rated so I started watching it again.  

I really enjoy watching shows that are far far outside the scope of my experience, but interesting to watch and sometimes educational of the times depicted.  Downton Abbey fits the bill because it has many season and it is far far far outside my life experience, and some people really did live like that in the early part of the 20th century.  It also gives the flavor of the working man ... how they lived.  It is a time when things seemed to move slower ... not like today when if you blink - you missed it.

But I have developed some observations about this series and I thought I’d share them here.

  1. Oh.My.Dear.God!  The houses of the aristocracy were enormous ... the extreme.  Of course they had bunches of servants because how else could you live in that much space!  But I had a hard time wrapping my head around the amount of space in the structures. And the amount of stuff you owned.  Just an awesome thought.  
  2. The houses are beautiful!!  Not cozy, warm or even comfortable, but just museums to a time in history when architecture was ‘king.’  But imagine trying to heat those buildings!  Impossible I would imagine.
  3. And they dress for dinner every single night like they are going to a State dinner. EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!  Their hair is dressed by their attendants every single day.  EVERY SINGLE DAY!  I would go mad with that kind of structure and expectation!
  4. Lady Mary drove me insane in the first 2 seasons.  I found myself saying frequently - “you stupid woman”.  Her younger sisters seem to be growing and transitioning into the new world that is heading their way.  Even her father and mother see the changes that are coming and they are evolving in small ways.  As the seasons progress, she finally seems to achieve a kind of maturity.
  5. The clothes are to die for.  I totally love the styles, the costumes - just beautiful.
  6. The social class structure within the English culture is striking.  Even within the lower working class - there is a ranking.  
With all that said, I am really enjoying it - more than I thought I would - even the parts that drive me crazy.  Season 2 includes the end of World War I and the 1918 Flu Pandemic.  I am pretty sure I didn’t see many of the later seasons so it should be really fun and interesting for the next few weeks.

Do you binge watch shows on Netflix or Amazon?  What are some of your favorite shows?  I am always looking for a few good title.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Price for Stupidity!

New Discovery!! 

Just like Covid 19 - knitting disorders have ‘variants!' 

As I was preparing this blog post to be titled Start-itis, one of my blog buddies, Susan, of e-i-e-i-omg! did a post on AAOCKD - ACK for short! 😁 Or for long:

Advanced Age Obsessive Compulsive Knitting Disorder

(Be sure to follow the link to visit her blog to see what she is up to and how ACK as impacted her.)

I looked up Start-itis just to be sure of the definition. The Urban Dictionary defines Start-itis as - repeatedly starting new projects while having multiple uncompleted projects.  

ACK is most probably very close ‘cousin” of Start-itis. I am guessing that what separates the 2 conditions are the words “advanced age” and “knitting” -  both, by the way, are true for me.  While Start-itis can afflict anyone, at any age, and any activities, ACK seems exclusively directed at us folks of a “certain age!"

In my experience, start-itis is the strong desire to have the completed item - and there are so many many wonderful completed items to be desired in knitting and crochet - that you can’t help but want to start them all. 

I haven’t experienced much start-itis in my knitting life. It always seemed counter productive to have many projects started and then starting another new one - it was like creating multiple distractions to stand in the way of getting any one thing finished.  And when I discover a long ago abandoned unfinished project, I always felt sad for the yarn and the time lost.  My interest in the project and even the yarn itself waned and I ripped out the work - and sometimes even discarded the yarn.

But since January 1st - a fierce case of start-itis or maybe ACK has gripped me.  And it is not project driven - it is yarn driven!  I have a strong desire to actually cast on many of the beautiful - and expensive - yarns I have accumulated over the years.  God knows, I don’t need another scarf or shawl or sweater - I can’t wear all that I have now.  But I want to work with those beautiful yarns and see how they look in a fabric as opposed to sitting idle, wrapped in a ball or skein, for ages and ages.

... BUT

... and it is a very big BUT ... after having casted on a number of new projects - 4 by my count, right after finishing a very large crochet blanket in record time ... I am now paying the cost for all that stupidity!  Here is a pictorial view of the problem ...

Normal right thumb.

Not normal left thumb.

The Fix #1

The “not normal” picture was taken after I spent some time stretching that thumb into a straight position this morning - which it couldn’t hold without help from my right hand - but at least was improved from what I saw when I got up!! Yikes. (And yes, I did knit last night for about 4 hours, ... BECAUSE I thought the problem was due to crocheting, and I was knitting!  Apparently I was wrong.) Bummer.

When I saw how sad my left thumb was this morning, I went out to Google Doctor to self diagnosis myself (no lectures, please, since I had no intention of going to my doctor now and bringing a ‘hitchhiker virus' home to cause other problems, thank you Covid 19. 😷)  Turns out my symptoms match exactly Trigger Thumb caused by over use - it even listed crafts as a culprit! Crap!  The price I pay for stupidity! So Fix #1 is no knitting or crocheting for awhile, the use of a thumb brace, and anti-inflammatories - like Advil! While I was getting Fix #1 implemented my brain was thinking ... What will I do with my time!!!  

Well being a hobby hoarder collector, gratefully I have options.

I have about 20 puzzles waiting to be completed.  Since I anticipate this 
knitting and crochet abstinence will be for weeks - maybe a few months - 
I set up a puzzle station on a desk - moving the table top computer
that my husband can no longer use - to the side.  It is a great set up because I
can work on the puzzle in short bursts - out of the way of my husband.

I got this puzzle for Christmas.  
A Girl and Her Dragon.

And this one too.  
The Curse of Blackwood Hall.

Fix #3 - WEAVING
My looms have been idle for some time. And I have lost interest in most rigid heddle
looms - in fact I am trying to sell my 24# rigid heddle loom with stand now. But I have 2 smaller rigid heddles, several continuous weave pin looms, and 2 tapestry looms - all of which
I am still interested in using - especially now when knitting and 
crochet is off the table.

Right about now I should have a cousin who is probably jumping up and down with joy.

She has been trying to get me back to weaving for some time.

Fix #4  Legos

 I have about 6 Expert Level Lego buildings
 that I have put on the back burner for years.  It
is hard to explain why that is the case.  I 
LOVE building lego structures.  I started
one of my kits last night and marveled at why
I hadn’t been doing this all along.

This set matches another set I have already created.

And just this Christmas I got the Lego Tree house!!
I can’t wait to start that.

Fix # 5  Audio Books

Add to that a rather large library of audio books I need to catch up on while I
make an effort to increase my daily step counts.

And no pictures for Fix #6, but a to-do list calls to me as well - items that have been bumped and bumped and bumped, again and again, when the siren’s call of knitting begs me to sit and just knit.  Stuff like cleaning out the pantry so I don’t buy stuff I already have while discarding stuff I brought with me from the townhouse 5 1/2 years ago (that just may be out of date - ha!, or I won’t eat because it is just too unhealthy,) and sorting out some more craft items I want to donate so that I can focus on the items I really want to do when my thumb returns to normal.  And there is always the mundane stuff like the laundry this is waiting for me right now as I finish this post - and if I don’t get to it by the morning, I’ll be wearing the dirty stuff again.  Ugh!

No - I have plenty to keep me busy.  But despite all my good intentions and all my appropriate Fixes ... I still feel sad about setting aside all my wonderful yarn.

But no matter ... I am left handed and this is my left thumb and ... have you tried to do anything recently without using your thumbs?  Let me assure you - it is damn hard!! And if I want this left thumb back without pain and with some strength ... I need to let it heal and hope it is not a permanent feature.  

The consequences of my stupidity shouldn’t be a life long sentence.  *sigh*


Sunday, January 9, 2022

No, I don’t know “what’s in it."

While I profess to be totally annoyed with all those people who don’t get the Covid Vaccine, I am not prepared to place all the blame on the continued pandemic at their feet.  

Since this is a world event, it is a world problem and requires a world fix. A world fix is almost impossible achieve. There are so many in the world who would gladly step up and get the shot if it was available to them. If you really think on it - we can’t even feed all the people that are on this planet - provide adequate housing, clean water, clean air, education.  Will we ever get a Covid vaccine in all those arms? Highly unlikely. So Covid 19 and its family of off-shoots will be with us forever. When I hear people saying we need to “whip this virus in 2022, I just want to laugh.

Just like the flu, I can choose to lower my chances of getting seriously ill or maybe dying from that little bug, but can we get everyone to take the flu shot? Nope! Covid will be the same, I fear.

But I came upon this one perspective on Facebook. It really hit home for me. I just want to share.

I'm fully vaccinated and boostered. 

No, I don't know "what's in it". Neither this vaccine or the ones I had as a child. Nor do I know what's in the 11 secret herbs and spices at KFC.

I also don't know exactly what's in Ibuprofen or Paracetamol-- they just cure my headaches & my pains. 
I don't know what's in tattoo ink, botox and fillers, or every ingredient in my soap, shampoo or deodorants. I don’t know the long term effect of mobile phone use, or whether or not that restaurant I just ate at REALLY used clean foods and washed their hands.

There's a lot of things I don't know.
I do know one thing: life is short, very short.
I personally still want to do things. I want to travel and hug people without fear, and find a little feeling of life "before”.

Throughout my life I've been vaccinated against many diseases. Measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chickenpox, hepatitis, pneumonia, influenza, rotavirus, tetanus, pertussis. My parents (and I) trusted the science, and never had to suffer through or transmit any of those said diseases.
I'm vaccinated. Not to please the government. Not to make other people do it. 

But I don't want to:
* die from Covid-19
* lie in ICU with a pipe down my throat
* not be able to hug my loved ones
* have to test routinely
* live my life in fear

Can't say it any clearer.