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, July 31, 2010

The Spinning Wheel just appeared!

It came last night!! Just appeared on my door step around dinner time. Fast delivery from The Woolery. But decided not to open it until today. Yesterday had been non-stop stuff and I had 3 dogs in the house, dinner to put on the table and just plain tired.

Of course, today I struggled with priorities: walk first or put the wheel together. I chose to walk. But I did open the box and unpack the pieces before I went for a walk.

Pictures and update to follow.

total steps - 9510

Friday, July 30, 2010

So promising a morning ...

Here is photographic evidence that Milo can live in peace with his cousins. Now, a scant 15 minutes later ... Armageddon!!

Milo and I began our day in such a promising way.

We got up at 6:30 am - love it that he now sleeps through the night, and after little cuddling on the bed (he is such a cuddler) we went out for a walk. He peed right away - good boy, he looked for a cookie, I gave him one, he pooped right away, good boy, he looked for a cookie, I gave him one, we went inside ... he ran into the living room and peed on a blanket - I yelled NO, and we went right back outside again. Of course, he was looking at me - not for a cookie this time - but wondering just why we were outside when he had done EVERYTHING FINALLY that he was going to do!!! So, that was the first 10 minutes of my day. Now he has had his breakfast and we are sitting on the couch and he has gone back to sleep beside me. He is so cute!

Total Steps: 5878 (not all that great - but I was pretty tired today. The successive days of walking after not being active resulted in being tired today.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday ... I finally sat down

I knew today would be tight. I set my alarm for 6:30 am - wanted to get out for my walk before there was no time for it. I walked for an hour. I often see on others blogs beautiful pictures of forested paths, lake shores, parks ... beautiful areas for walks. My walk typically is around my neighborhood. It is a very nice area. But my walk includes a sweep through my local shopping center (the courtyard is pictured on the left). AND it continues through the grocery store - yes, in this hot weather, I very much look forward to my 10 minutes walking up and down the isles of Harris Teeter and at the end, a cool drink of water before leaving the wonderfully cool artificial environment. (In the picture on the right try to imagine a forest path, trees, grass, forest critters - only my path has air conditioning and a water fountain at the end - and if I am really decadent, an icy cold something from the Starbucks in Harris Teeter. :) You serious walkers out there don't know what you are missing!) And that was my last "alone and peaceful moment" for the day.

Upon getting home today, there was mom's breakfast to get ready (and breakfast and a shower for me), Then food shopping with Mike, then take mom to the bank, and then to a free lunch event for seniors with mom at the Amherst House. Then it was 12:45 pm.

After dropping mom at home, I headed into Bethesda MD to pick up Milo. Usually a 45 minute trip, but I made it in 35 minutes (unusual for the Washington area). Milo and I were in the car on our return trip for about 3 minutes when the skys opened up above us and the rain came down in sheets. So the trip took 75 minutes to get back (the Washington Beltway was terrible) - and we then we swung up to Elkridge to pick up Meathead and Grimace. Thankfully the rains had stopped by then. When I walked into Matt's house, Meathead had diarrhea in the house so I cleaned that up. I then loaded his two boys into the car with Milo, and then it REALLY FELL APART. Milo decided to bark his scratchy bark at Meathead - all the way home - about 15 minutes - in his face - over and over. Poor Meaty, he was sitting in the back seat next to Milo's crate - there was no where he could go. He just had to sit there next to Milo who was losing his little mind. And then multiple dog walks and fixing dinner and I am finally sitting down - it is 6:30 pm. Where did this day go?

And now, at 6:30 pm I just checked my pedometer - presently I am at 12,063 steps (7870 steps are from my morning walk). I still have two dogs walks left and I have to take Meaty and Grimmy home after 9:00 pm. I will be glad to climb into my bed tonight (although my bed will be the blow up mattress that I set up in the living room for Milo and me - no matter - it will feel pretty good.)

Hope your Thursday went better.

Total Steps: 13,689 (but if feels like it was 20,000)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

And now for the resident pets - the ones who actually live at my house!

With so much talk about the dogs (who I actually don't own and who don't actually live here - although all my neighbors think differently), we sometimes forget that there are 2 felines in this house who truly rule! They are Max and Wally, and I would be remiss if I didn't include them in my blog. Here are my handsome boys. Wally on the left and Max on the right. They are brothers (obviously).

Max has degenerative kidney disease which makes us sad because it will shorten his life. We inject fluids under his skin every other day to help him maintain his weight and help with his quality of life. With the fluids he can continue to eat and play and just be his normal self. Without them he would be a pretty sickly guy. So we don't know how much time he has, but whatever it is, we are grateful for every day.

Total Steps: 10,931 (yeah - over 10,000!!)

A Kromski Sonata Spinning Wheel is on its way!!

After researching my options and thinking, thinking and thinking some more, I ordered my Kromski Sonata Spinning Wheel today. It was a big decision - and a pretty pricey piece of equipment for a hobby. But it is what I want to do and I am tired of putting off the decision. Procrastination ... not something I usually do!

I am pretty excited about it. But in a few days I expect I will be facing a big box with a spinning wheel in it, and I won't have any idea what to do with it after I cut the tape on the box. Thank goodness I ordered a DVD to go with it. And then on August 7th I will see my dear cousin Linda, who will walk me through how to spin. It is great having someone with experience who can help you.

Walking-wise - I walked this morning early. I was out for 55 minutes - almost an hour. I felt great. The weather was acceptable but I am so looking forward to the fall when the weather in the morning should be cool and crisp! I also went to Tai Chi practice this afternoon and I always feel like I really exercised my legs alot. Our instructor returns next week and we hopefully will learn the 6 missing movements - the tough ones - the ones that take alot of strength. I better put 911 and EMTs on speed-dial.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Two days in a row ... woo hoo! And a close encounter!

Ok, so maybe 2 days in a row of walking isn't such a big deal, but since I had many many days in a row of NOT walking, I'll take this small victory!

Tuesday's walk included a close up encounter with a deer! I think we were both shocked!!! I was walking down a very quiet side street in my neighborhood, and a full size deer (female, I guess because there was no rack on her head), stepped out from behind 2 big bushes. I stopped and stared at her - and she stopped and stared back. I am sure we were both thinking, "What the hell are you doing here?" Of course my question was more valid because this is an established development. Or maybe her question was more valid because this was her home BEFORE we took over her range. Regardless, it was a staring stand-off! And then ... down the street a car was slowly pulling out of a driveway, and she slowly glanced over her shoulder at the car, and then back at me again as if to say ... "Really? You didn't think you could take me without back up?" and then she turned deliberately and wandered back into the woods. I was soooo sorry I didn't have my camera. My knitting blogging friend carries her camera on all her walks. I may start doing that as well.

Total Steps: 7820

The pedometer is my friend!

This morning I got out for a walk ... the third one since I have started this blog 7 days ago. This is not the level of frequency I am aiming for, but I wasn't totally inactive during the weekend. After getting all the dogs out for a first walk of the morning, one of my favorite activities is taking Grimace for walk next - just him and me. He loves to walk. I have my cup of coffee and my iPod with my podcasts on it, and it is just Grimmy and Grandma time. Love it. But it doesn't really count as an exercise walk. We stop at every tree, every sign, every bush, every everything ... making sure that he sprinkles alittle of his urine EVERYWHERE. For a Pug, he has a bladder the size of a watermellon! But the walk time is quiet and peaceful. We both enjoy it.

I have been thinking about the barriers that seem to get in the way of getting out for a walk. I plan to go back to wearing a pedometer all the time, not just when I walk for exercise. I started wearing it today. In the past it has kept me moving, finding ways to keep my step numbers up. My exercise walks usually generate about 5,500 steps. Last year when I wore my pedometer all the time my goal was to be above 12,000 and I usually made that total. I have been as high at 18,000 but that is a stretch for me. There are studies of pedometer use - and in one study they put pedometers on an Amish population. These folks are active in their everyday lives - no motorized vehicles, no 20-21st century gizmos to distract them. It was found that they average 18,000 steps a day. Pretty impressive. While I don't hold that as a goal for me, it does provide a framework to gauge my own progress. After such a long absence, I am happy to have my pedometer back on my hip.

Today was also a Knitting Group day. I sure do enjoy this Tuesday group of knitters. It brightens my week knowing it is coming up. And this morning the weather was very comfortable. A blessing, because it has been hot and unhealthy for so very long.

Very much looking forward to my morning walk tomorrow.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Any one you walk away from ...

Survived! Survived the weekend!

I know he is only about 12 pounds and I know he has a look that can melt your heart ... and I know that I have 63 years on this earth and he has only 4 months ... but ohhhh, my new grand-puppy, Milo, is a "mover and a shaker".

This weekend I had all 3 of my kids' dogs - Meaty and Grimmy, the two senior statesmen, and Milo, the new kid on the block with Napoleon-like aspirations and the energy of the Energizer Bunny. The only saving grace is that when he goes home, he, too, is exhausted and sleeps for his mom.

Things I learned from this weekend:
  • I can walk 3 dogs at one time - and juggled 2 poop bags and get everyone across the street safely - even when Milo is trying to play "nip Meathead's jowels - we love to eat those drippy drooling bits" game, and the Grimmy who is still hanging back on the curb to smell that piece of poop that some other dog left! We do have the advantage that cars in my neighborhood stop - they didn't try to run us over - in fact, they probably couldn't believe their eyes wondering who that crazy lady was in her PJs, standing in the middle of the street talking to dogs who clearly have other agendas, and why wasn't someone taking care of this bunch.
  • I can make dinner and clean up using only 1 hand - the other hand was occupied most of the weekend - keeping Milo on leash so that our 2 senior boys could get alittle peace. (this is a carryover skill from being a mother - any mothers can do this - no biggy!)
  • I can sleep in one position all night sandwiched between dogs - my right arm doesn't work so well the next morning as it was cradling Milo who is oh so snuggly and cute when he sleeps - and you don't want to disturb sleeping puppies (believe me). But heck, I have two arms - so I can't complain.
Things I learned I can't do from this weekend - at least not yet!
  • I have not cracked the right mix of actions in getting Milo to pee outdoors consistently. For some reason my carpet is a trigger for little accidents. Now the up side is that my living room carpet has never been so clean (steam cleaned, this is) since the day it was installed 25 year ago. Clean is good!
  • I have not learned how to be consistently firm in correcting him - especially without smiling at the same time - he has no idea what I am saying, but he can read the look on my face very well - it says "my grandma is a lollipop". Got to work on that!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

#3 Keep learning - Dancing with the Stars??? Probably not!

It has been a peaceful morning. Meathead and Grimace went home yesterday - eager to spend a quiet night sleeping in their own bed without Milo's insistence on playing. I think Milo missed the canine company but we all really did need a break ... ALL of us!! Meathead and Grimace will be back today and my daughter will return tonight (Milo will be very very happy) and so we will have a big sleep over tonight - and it will be alittle easier with an extra set of hands.

Keep learning: I have given alot thought to how to reach this goal. Once you leave professional life, you have to seek out learning opportunities independently. I think it is one of the biggest transitions you have when you retire - keeping your brain active and engaged. I can honestly say that I haven't done a good job of that over the first few years of my retirement. I have played around with the possibility of learning a foreign language. But somehow it doesn't fit with where I am in my life right now ... it would be alot like putting sliced pickels on a peanut butter sandwich. I like both but together it doesn't seem to make sense.

I have considered auditing college classes, but additional time away from home right now is not a viable option. Of course, when it is possible, I might take some formal art training. It would be fun and I have some unexplored and novice abilities in art. I think learning Tai Chi over the last year was a kind of learning opportunity. On the up side - I am reaping more of the physical and mental benefits of Tai Chi. But it took me almost a year to get to this point in Tai Chi, so I should not put on my list of goals - Dancing with the Stars!!! HA

This year I have decided to learn to spin fiber into yarn. This goal fits in perfectly with my interest in knitting. I have resisted learning to spin for some time ... concerned about the costly purchase of a spinning wheel, unsure if it was something I really wanted to do, alittle intimidated by the prospect of learning new jargon, new skills, new equipment ... maybe I was intimidated by the prospect of learning again. After much thought, and looking at various spinning wheels, I am sure that this is my next learning opportunity.

I will buy a new wheel rather than purchasing one second hand. Knowing next to nothing about wheels - it seemed to make sense to spend alittle more and get a new wheel - one that doesn't have hidden issues that an experienced spinner might spot and know how to deal with. I am also going to get a portable wheel - one that folds and can be put into a carrying case - and I want one that has some style - old style - and is made out of named woods - not ply board, plastic or pressed/processed wood material (as I have noticed in some well known wheel brands). The Kromski Sonata is a full size wheel that come is 3 finish choices. It seems to have a decent reputation and is a wheel that is not easily outgrown. It is a polish manufacturer - and I have polish ancestors - TA DA! Seems like a match to me! But seriously, all things considered, it seems to have all the elements I am looking for (the polish thingy was just a plus LOL). So the investigative issues are complete. Just need to order the item. I'll wait another week ...

And then, major learning begins - still alittle scary!

#2 Tai Chi - and stretching

Oh my how hard it has been to get time over the last 3 days to sit down and write. My weekends are usually filled with 3 dogs (my "kids" dogs - my grand-dogs) and this weekend has been especially busy since my daughter is in New Jersey seeing a friend. I usually have her helping hand. This morning is a good example of how most days go with 3 dogs. Got up at 6:00 am (got to bed early so I wasn't dragging like usual), got them all out together for a walk - well, "walk" isn't the right term because they all have their own agenda and there is alot of confusion, tangled leads, corrections from "grandma" about not picking up and eating everything that comes along (well that is only the puppy, Milo) and stuff like that. Then we come in, I feed them - all 3 have different meds that are added to their food - managing their pills is harder than managing my mother's meds, then we had bone chewing time (there was peace for about 10 minutes while that was going on), then the puppy started leaping on the older dogs, so penned him in the kitchen with me while I had breakfast - then we all walked again - this time Meathead, one of the older dogs has loose stools - something he gets when he stressed (Milo is a "carrier" of stress - not stressed himself LOL), then I took them all inside, crated Milo, finally got dressed (yes, I still was in my PJs - I am sure my neighbors wonder about me), and then FINALLY took Grimace, the other older dog, out for his "grandma-only, walk" which I give him whenever I can in the morning. Of the 3 dogs he LOVES to walk and when he is with the other dogs, he doesn't really get to walk, or to sniff all the places he likes or to even pick the direction of the walk. It is small thing to give him his grandma-only time. We are back now at 9:15 am - the weather outside is steamy already - it is predicted to be the worst day in a series of really terrible hot and humid days *sigh* - how I just love winter. Yes, even last winter with all its snow and cold. Give me winter anyday.

FINALLY everyone is settled down for a morning nap - except me - and I am thinking I could use one too. LOL Anyway, enough about the little "time-eaters" in my life. Must take advantage of these quiet moments while I have them.

Another high value activity for me is Tai Chi. Unlike walking, I have been active in Tai Chi for about a year. I have wanted to take Tai Chi from the moment I saw two elderly residents in my community doing Tai Chi in unison one morning in a local park. It was so tranquil and graceful. Starting Tai Chi at a local senior center, I discovered that Tai Chi is also strength building and strenuous - not in the way walking or running is strenuous ... you don't get breathless, but physically demanding enough to make you sweat in an air conditioned room. Besides the grace of the exercise, it builds stronger legs and improves balance. Both of these are important for me. My mother lives with me and in the last 4 years I have watched her slide down the slippery slope of mobility. She walked with a cane some when she moved in, she now can't walk without it, holds on to furniture as she moves around and when she is outside, she uses a walker. She can't climb the stairs to the bedroom level, so we had to put in a chair lift. And she is unable to get into a standing position from sitting without a firm chair with arms. She works her arms more than her legs. I am hoping that with Tai Chi, I can avoid that fate. Currently we have learned the 18 form routine and starting in August we will learn the missing 6 movements - movements that require more leg strength and balance than all the others. The advanced Tai Chi class (they have been with the instructor for 2 years or so), they now work with Swords ... really cool - waving the swords around while doing the moves.

In conjunction with Tai Chi and Walking, stretching must become (once again) part of my routine. I have been in physical therapy for various conditions and they all improved with stretching. I used to do various yoga moves and had a regular routine of stretching mixed with yoga. And as with walking, I felt great - so great that I stopped!!! I am secretly hoping that this behavior of dropping positive and life-improving activities is a human failing and not just my failing LOL.

Hoping for cooler weather tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

#1 Walking - 1 on the top 20

So walking, walking, walking heads the list of things that are most important to my next 20 years of living. I used to walk alot. Felt great, had lots of energy, slimmed down, got stronger, kept a positive attitude ... generally all the things I wanted to be. So I stopped!! It still astounds me that doing something so positive was so easy to give up.

At this point in my life walking is more than just a nice thing to do now. It is vital to my continued health, strength and well being. It is the one thing that every other goal rests on to be successful. If everything else falls on the way-side, this activity must continue.

And I have had several false starts this year in trying to get back into the walking habit. Something always gets in way. In the past is was my plantar faciitis - foot pain that was so severe that it required prescription orthotics and expensive walking shoes to fix. Lately it has been the weather (hot, hot, hot), and then it has been all the dog-sitting I have been doing - leaving a puppy that is not potty trained is just a bad thing, and then most times I am just too tired - and on and on and on the excuses go.

Having someone provide inspiration - someone who somewhat mirrors the stage of your life and your age is important. In my knitting group there is a woman whose story has motivated me to get serious about walking. She has been walking every day for years and years and years. She walks in the morning, she walks 5 or 6 miles and she is fit and slender and happy. She shared that she was once overweight and out of shape and that walking (and reasonable size food portions) is the main reason for her current state of health. I recently found out she has a blog where she talks about her walks. So simple. She is approximately my age but could pass for 20 years younger. She is an inspiration. I kept thinking ... I could do this same thing. So this week I began getting up early to walk - getting out early gets the walk out of the way for the day, misses the heat, and takes advantage of having some energy to begin the day. Yes, sometimes I do have to get up early to squeeze the walk into my morning ... but in all other regards it is the perfect time. My short term goal for the next few months is to continue to walk 5-6 days a week - for 30 to 45 minutes a day to build up my legs and energy so that when the fall comes I can really crank up the miles. I realize that 30-45 minutes (at a rate of 2.8-3.0 miles) a day is already a decent time for someone who is 63 years old and has recently been inactive - but I have always been blessed with decent physical stamina and so doing that time is not really a stretch for me, but doing it 5-6 times a week is a stretch. I am shooting for a goal of 5 miles a day 5-6 days a week.

Some of the tools I use to keep my interest up are: I wear a pedometer during walks so I can track my steps and so that I can figure the miles walked. And I log my efforts in a website called - on an activity calendar. This web site offers the option of forming groups and creating maps that can give you the mileage of your run or walk. You can also log other types of activities, such as sports or yoga ... Very good site. Another site I have used in the past is This site is designed for folks who wear their pedometer all day to log steps, to make blog entries, and to track progress though charts and grids ... there are also groups you can at this site ... and there are competitions you can join that are also great fun. The competitions are based on numbers of steps taken, and ways to increase those numbers over past history. Sometimes there are prizes and sometimes the prize is just having everyone in your competition know who the winner was. I haven't been wearing my pedometer the whole day but may start doing so again after I have established a walking routine. Both sites are free and both have premium paid levels of membership.

And I think on this blog as a tool to keep me moving forward towards this goal. Although I haven't shared this blog with anyone yet, I probably will at some point. And having the commitment to goals in writing for family and friends to see ... is a help in keeping on task.

And so walking tops my list.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The first day of the next 20 years

The idea of a diary has frequently entered my mind. In fact, when I first retired in 2007, I started one. I bought a very attractive book and made several entries. My goal was to focus on my past memories and to document them in some way so that they could be saved for family. The diary wasn't for me - it was for others. It seemed important. But as with other attempts at writing my thoughts, it seemed to be less important with time. I found the process to be cumbersome (writing with a pen is slow and hard to edit) and of no value to me ... so I stopped. I also discovered that my diary entries were peppered with reminders of frustrating events and the short comings of others. Not a positive or forward looking process.

This blog has a different focus from previous diary attempts. This blog is about me - my goals and desires - what I hope to do or achieve as I live the next 20 years. I write it only for me, but it is open to anyone who enjoys reading the musings of others. It has elements of a "bucket list" or a List of 100 goals -two ideas that are so popular now. My list (at least as this point) will be limited to 20 - 20 items for 20 years. And although I know some of the items that will be on this list of 20 - the list is definitely in development. It is a work in progress, just like me.

And so I start.