Mark Twain

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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rainy day, Rainy night and looms ordered

Another rainy, rainy day and rainy night. I tried to get a night picture from my front step. Someday I will figure out how to use my camera!! :-)

So when that didn't work I settled for a picture of Meaty at the front door, sad that it was still raining. He doesn't like being wet and although he has pretty good bladder control, he can't wait until Saturday to step outside ... which is what he wants ... Saturday, when it will be dry and cool and a beautiful fall day. I'm with ya' Meaty!

Today I had three dogs take care of, and walk, and feed and play with, and medicate (Milo has an ear infection and although he is the smallest of the 3 dogs ... it is a world-class wrestling match to put ointment in his ears). I picked up Milo yesterday, and last night Milo and I were up twice to go out for a walk. It was just pouring buckets of water at 3:30 am and, of course, Milo wasn't thrilled about going out in that. But I was persistent. We stood under my small front porch - me holding a large golf umbrella and Milo staring out into the great downfall wondering why it was so important that he go out just now!! Knowing Milo ... I am sure he thought my carpet would work just fine for him till the rain stopped. He finally took a deep breath, ran out into my front yard squatted quickly and then return to the porch. Now you should know that he didn't get even the least bit wet, because I held the large umbrella over him the whole time. I got wet, but the little prince didn't! ;-)

On the up side, earlier in the week I placed an order for some beautiful hand-held looms from Hazel Rose Looms. They can be found at the following link:
I took this picture off my iPad with my camera (sort of a picture of a picture), so doesn't show them off well. Other pictures will follow when I get them. But in talking with Hazel about my order she shared that Ravelry has a group specifically for hand held looms. I don't know why I am surprised. They have groups for everything. I am eager to get my looms.

Well today is the last day of September. No walk for me today. Actually the end of September was been almost a total bust with walks and step counts. I think I reached my 10,000 average steps (won't know for sure until I update Walker Tracker) but I was doing way better than that at mid-month. October is another month. I'll do better than September. And if I just keep doing better with each month, the end result will be sensational!

Welcome October!!! You can't get here soon enough!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins

As enthused as I am about walking, I can honestly say that walking across America isn't on my list of things to do. It isn't going to ever be on my list. But I totally loved reading about Peter Jenkins experiences doing just that.

Peter Jenkins is pretty high on my list of favorite authors. His book A Walk Across America was my introduction to him and his writing style, and I was hooked.

His story begins as a young man living during the Vietnam era. He came from a very normal New England family of comfortable means and he had completed his education, but was disillusioned with the American society he found himself in. Thinking he might consider just leaving this country, he was encouraged to explore America before giving up on the country. And explore he did, on foot, close up and personal. He sets out with his dog Cooper (pictured on the cover), walking from New England down to New Orleans, Louisiana. Being young is definite advantage to setting out on this kind of journey.

His walk takes him through the large range of peoples and cultures that make up America. Until I read this book, I can honestly say I didn't give much consideration to the huge range of peoples that make up our country. It was a real reminder to me of what makes our country so great.

He camped along road sides, walked through raging snow storms, stayed in seedy motels, ate foods typical of the area, interacted with the local characters of the small communities he passed through, and temporarily settled in various communities for brief periods working various day-laborer jobs when he ran out of money. It was a fascinating and difficult adventure to read about.

The second book, The Walk West: A Walk Across America 2, chronicles his walk from New Orleans to the Pacific Coast - walking with his wife. His description of walking across the desert and the Rocky Mountains was riviting.

Peter Jenkins is the author of several other books - I have read them all:
Looking for Alaska
Along the Edge of America
Across China

And his opinion of America from his experiences?... there is no where else as wonderful as this country. I have to agree with him - especially after reading his books.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Today I "caved"!

I am sooo tired today. I caved.

It is rainy - all day rainy. This is the view from my front step. Rain. I usually like a rainy day. Today it makes me tired.

I walked. I usually get a "second wind" from walking. Today it made me tired.

I have Tai Chi practice on Mondays. Instead I sat on the couch and watched "Monk". I felt bad missing practice, but the rain, and the tired ... Today - no Tai Chi.

I want to take a nap. I don't nap well. I can't sleep in the middle of the day and if I do (rare), I feel terrible when I wake up. I feel bad for hours after. Today ... napping is the last thing I would do.

I have $75 in gift cards for Borders Book Store. I could get $75 of whatever I want for noth'en. But that would mean leaving my couch. Today ... no free stuff for me.

The only thing I didn't cave in on was ... walking. I am proud of myself for walking. The rest will just have to wait until I feel better.

And I did weave-it weaving today while sitting on the couch. And through the magic of the Internet and on line shopping while sitting on the couch, I ordered some new hand held looms. And tonight is "Dancing With The Stars" so I will be watching that. I can do that from my couch, dressed in my PJ's with knitting in my hands and a glass of wine. I think by tonight I will have sprouted roots in this couch.

Tomorrow is knitting and dog day! I should be better tomorrow.

Post Note: Yes, I watch Dancing With The Stars. I love it. I love the dancing, the costumes, the improvements some stars make, the guest entertainers, the comments of the judges (they can be so funny), the music, the unexpected stuff that happens (it is live) ... I love it all. It is something that mom and I can share - she loves it too.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Curse of the Stuff Shells

This week has been difficult to keep up with. I feel like a rat running in a wheel. I have missed blogging twice, I have missed logging steps for several days, I have failed to go for my walk for several days in a row, I have been out of sorts all day (probably because I didn't walk.) The week seemed filled with many "carnival pop-up activities" ... to-dos that come out of no where and go on and on, like the carnival game where you take a hammer and pound down each pop-up head only to discover another head pops up, and then another and another. As we closed in on the end of the week, I got some very sad news from my cousin in PA. The week was not getting better. And today was a "company dinner day" at our house and I was serving the stuff shells. I should have known better - and ordered carry out pizza instead. Let me explain.

Last January we scheduled a get together with old friends at our house. I planned on making these stuff shells - new recipe for me. January being January, some of our friends were sick with flu-like symptoms, so we rescheduled to February - still at our house. We ate the 2 trays of shells in January - they were good but it was a lot of shells. By February I was ready to make the shells again - 2 trays. And again, we were foiled. No one could come because we got between 2-3 feet of snow that weekend. So again, we ate 2 trays of shells. I felt pretty sure I wouldn't be making these again anytime soon. I saw a pattern forming. And besides, I was pretty tired of them by now.

This September it was my turn to make the company dinner, and again I made the shells (after all, none of our friends had tried them yet, and it has been 7 months since I last made them). I held off until this morning to throw the recipe together - delaying the cooking (just in case - I am not superstitious, but ... ). As it turned out one person had severe bronchitis and didn't come, and right before folks were to arrive, my son calls me from the emergency room were he was with his girlfriend. She is a runner and was running a 20 mile race this morning. She collapsed just after crossing the finish line. Turns out she was ok, probably dehydration (I wish the summer temperatures would just give up!) but still it was a scary situation. We are so glad she is ok. I didn't have time to think on this because as I hung up the phone, our friends arrived. We were not totally canceled out, but the gods did seem to have it out for us once again. I guess we should be happy there isn't 3 feet of snow outside today.

So this bad karma day which included some other disturbances ... this day (and this week), is finally over. Really, I am not a superstitious person, but I can't decide if we broke the curse of the stuff shells or we just managed to survive it.

Tomorrow I will decide if I should throw that recipe away. Too bad, it is a good meal!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

# 9 Read - I think I remember how.

I used to read a bunch! It was my main thing to do.

We had a library in our house. And I read everything. I loved all kinds of books: adventure, science fiction, autobiography, historical fiction, romance, escapist stories, you name it. Not very focused I know, but I didn't discriminate. And I was married to a man who valued reading almost above everything else. He had a huge growing personal library and didn't really use the public library because owning the book was almost as important as reading it. And as our disposable income grew, we built a large collection of books between us.

Then in the 90's I stopped reading for fun - like a cold dead stop! I was too busy with working to read. I read some, but it was all work related stuff and when I was free of work - like at 2:00 am, I was sleeping. I think back on that time as a "sick" time.

Reading was just one of the many things I stopped. I worked all the time. I no longer had time to read, to walk, to stay connected with people (unless they were work people) and I didn't have hobbies either. When I finally came to my senses, I started to add things back into my life - starting with my husband and kids (I said it was a sick time, didn't I?). And then I took up knitting. Knitting was my main vehicle back to a normal life. As my husband said at the time, paying for knitting classes was cheaper than paying for therapy. Did I mention that I am thankful that my husband stuck around during the 7 years of my "sick time"? I am grateful - in the extreme.

But not everything returned. Reading for fun did not return. I have listened to a number of audio books - I guess that counts some. And the "reading train", that was fueled greatly by my husband's love of books, slowed a lot when he sold off his personal library. His eyes were failing him (how cruel is that), and to prepare for the possible inability to read, he sold his books. He has replaced them over time with a huge audio library. He listens to books all the time, but the physical act of sitting, reading, turning the pages of a book ... that is rare for him now. Never, never fail to appreciate the smaller things of life. Sometimes they are bigger than you think.

I miss reading, and I want it back.

So I have added this as a goal - I can't say I am reading a lot right now, but it is happening more and more. And there are some favorites that I would like to share. In looking at other blogs, lots of people make lists of the books they have read. I think I will expand on this idea a bit. I'll make a list over time. But some books are special enough to devote a full posting to talk about them.

Reading will be a struggle for awhile. This reading thing has to fit inside my current life that is already filled with other hobbies, mom duties, dog time, doctor appointments, taxi service for my family, exercise, not to mention occasionally (and I mean very occasionally) cleaning a toilet or running the vacuum. But it is a 20 year goal.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Complaints from the "peanut gallery"

Walking daily with my camera, I have taken a number of picture of beautiful leaves. The trees are still very green, but leaves are falling at a fast rate, and those that hit the ground are sometimes beautiful - such as this one.

Can you tell I am sooo ready for fall?

My walk was less than perfect at its start today ... complaints from the peanut gallery interferred. I needed to get up early and be out the door by 7:30 am to fit a walk into my already packed day. So I set the alarm for 6:00 am thinking that I would be ready to walk by 7:30 (I am not really a morning person so 90 minutes to get all the parts of my body moving in a coordinated fashion seemed appropriate).

Once out the door little complaints were being sent from my legs, my ankles, my feet, my thighs, cycling back around again to my legs ... and so on, messages that said "too early, what are you thinking, we work better at 9:30 or so, go back in the house until 9:30, too early, too early" ... messages for the first 45 minutes of my walk. I just kept moving and ignoring. I was out for my walk, the day was beautiful and cool, and every one of my body parts just need to get their act together. At least, that is the message my mind kept sending to my legs, ankles and feet. At the 45 minute mark (8:15-ish) in the walk, I guess all the little complainers gave up, because then it was smooth sailing ... for the last 20 minutes.

And to reward myself, today was knitting group day! Another magnificent morning, with magnificent friends, sharing a magnificent hobby. My second reward was getting my two grand dogs, Meathead and Grimace, in the afternoon.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Milo perspective

I returned from the beach with my mama yesterday. She and I stayed at my grandma's overnight. Mama always promises me that she won't leave me ... but I know better! Like today.

She slipped out this door to go grocery shopping, she said. We didn't need any more food ... I have plenty! So I sat by the door waiting.

Finally my grandma opened the door for me.

Better! I can now see where she is going. Oh no maybe not. I don't see her.

Oh, there she is in the black car driving away! Away from me. Can't she tell that I am not in the front seat with her?

I finally got Grandma to take me out. Gone!! But I could smell her. I know if I could just go down to the curb, she might be waiting there for me.

I am waiting.

Waiting, and waiting.

I know she was here because I still catch her scent. (She smells soooo good! Just like a mama should.)

Why would she go away without me?

I am just going to sit right here and wait.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Still no mama!


I am at the curb! She is not here.


Still waiting!

Ok, so Grandma let's go in. She has left us both!

Let me check just one more time.

Grandma is a good couch buddy, but I sure wish mama was here!

YEAH! She is home, home home!!!!

I so love my hugs!

And those kisses, I so need my kisses.

But what I need more than anything, is my mama!

And, she came back. I knew she would. It was Grandma that was so worried!

I never doubted my mom!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Afghanistan Lecture Series

I did something different today.

I attended an interesting program on Afghanistan. Our local library sponsored three lectures in the Distinguished Scholars Series. I was dog free so I thought I would take advantage of a wonderful offering.

The lecture I attended was called: America's War: A View From the Ground. The speaker, Seth G. Jones, Ph.D, is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and adjunct professor at Georgetown University. He served as a Senior Advisor to the Commanding General for US Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan and is the author of In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan. Besides being very knowledgeable, Dr. Jones was very careful to avoid taking political sides in the discussion. He did provide the probable impacts to the US if we remained in or withdraw from Afghanistan, and made it clear that there is no easy or correct answer. Since I try to stay politically neutral, I greatly respected his ability to present facts without slanting them to a personal agenda. A rare gift, indeed.

A side note: He looked very young to be a Ph.D and to have traveled in extensively in Afghanistan and to have been a advisor to our Special Forces! Young, I am telling you!! Young!!! But I was encouraged that such young people are so knowledgeable. Really, I was way impressed with his demeanor as well as his commanding knowledge of the topic ... I couldn't help but wonder exactly when our generation (the baby boomers) slipped from the lead roles. I am sure every generation wonders the same thing.

I had signed both mom and my husband up to attend, but they both bailed out on me this morning so I went by myself. Mom always hates to see me go to things "by myself" - as if there is some horror in arriving to your destination without an entourage. I keep reminding her, I am very happy with my own company. I have so little time to myself, that when I do get time away ... just me, I am thrilled. No matter how many times I tell her, she doesn't believe me.

There are 2 other lectures, but both fall on days when I have the dogs, so I don't think I will get to attend those. The other 2 lectures are by different presenters and the titles are: The Case for Withdrawal and Toughing It Out. Both are focused on Afghanistan. Very timely topics and sound interesting. I will hold the dates just on the off chance I can attend.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Walking my legs off in September!

Once again I walked Centennial Lake today with my husband - the weather just can't be any better - cool, breezy, sunny with no humidity! The lake still looks very green but, the coming of fall will bring great changes - I love it!

I noticed when I logged my miles for today's walk on MapMyRun.Com, I had totaled 53.96 miles during my exercise walks for September - as of September 18th!! Still many days left in September. That is outstanding, because in all of August I had logged only 51.95 miles - for the whole month. I have really upped my effort this month. I should be well ahead in September when I sum up my exercise efforts. Of course, the down side of that is that I have made October more of a challenge!

There were also tons of people at the lake. When we pulled into the parking lot I commented to my husband that some kind of activity must be going on because the parking lots were all full. Not so, just everyone enjoying the beautiful outdoors. I did make a mental note to avoid the weekends - weekdays are much more quiet.

And tomorrow my family returns from the beach!! Yeah!!! Looking at my To-Do list, I won't do quite as well in the completions as I did in the walking miles. I'll look at it again tomorrow.

Hope you did something wonderful this magnificent Saturday.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Three beauties in the woods

My walked got pushed into the afternoon. I prefer the morning but I wasn't getting up early to fit in a walk. So after Tai Chi, a trip to the vet's, a bank visit with mom and lunch and a few other little things, I took off for my walk

I was restless again today and decided take one of the wooded paths that trails between the edge of the watershed and a housing development. It was cooler and deeply shaded. No too long into this walk I spied two little ears sticking up over the edge of a fence (I thought of Milo immediately - look at the ears!) I looked closer and the ears disappeared. So I walk to the side of the patch of trees and there were three little guys - two were babies for sure and one was just a bit older. They stared back. I got a few pictures and they never moved. I could help but wonder if their mom was somewhere near.

I continued my walk down the path and saw several "No Dumping Signs". I finally stopped to see what was being dumped. Apparently local residents were dropping old vegetation over the edge of the fence. I am sure they don't think this is a problem as they are not dumping actual garbage. But this kind of dumping is not good for the environment, and it does attract rodents to nest there. If they knew that they could be attracting mice and rats so close to their homes, they might not dump there. I am not sure the signs are making a difference.

I walked back into the neighborhoods and noticed this little doorway in the side of a tree. Very cute indeed. Maybe Alice from Wonderland lives in that tree. It is a very cute lawn decoration for sure.

I kept pushing on, feeling pretty good but I noticed my feet were beginning to hurt. That was new since I bought my new walking/running shoes. I looked down and discovered ... I had not changed my shoes before going out. I wasn't in my good running shoes at all. It is good to know that the $150.00 that I spent for those running shoes was well spent!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dodging snipers!

I am mid-week in waiting for my family to return from the beach - and my grand-dogs ... they will return too.

It is the silence, the quiet, the stillness of our house without the frequent visits of the grand-dogs that has been the most difficult.  I filled that void with sounds of the vacuum, the steam cleaner, the iPod, the TV, and when I could, I left the house to see friends, to run errands, to walk ... but sometimes I just enjoyed the quiet.

Now you should know that the house isn't totally void of living things  There are five of us here - three people and two cats - but all us are pretty darn quiet on our own!  My mom is 84 so she keeps a pretty low profile, and my husband is kind of a hermit - hermits are not party animals, and the pets are cats - their claim to fame is stealthy silence, quiet but deadly attacks on stuffed mice, and inscrutable staring.  The only one who is sometimes noisy is me, and I hadn't had my morning coffee yet.  So when I suddenly interrupted the silence early this morning with a VERY BIG NOISE, it was jarring.

As usual, I was up before everyone, doing my normal stuff, checking the thermostat for the outside temperature, getting the coffee ready, opening the blinds, setting out mom's dishes and cereal and pills, and opening up a window to let in the cool air.  Unfortunately I forgot to turn off the house alarm, so when I opened a window the mega-horn began to scream and scream and scream in big, big wailing noise - mega noise - made more startling because of the silence of the house over the last few days.  The sound jolted me ... swear words erupting from my mouth as I was running to the key pad to punch in the disarm code to shut down the alarm and stop that blasted horn.  And sometimes it takes several frantic tries at keying in the code before the system accepts it ... like today!!

And then the call from the alarm monitoring service checking to see if we were all right.  I am always embarrassed when they call, because we are "always all right".  When I answer the phone I want to say in a cool, collected manner:
     "Oh yes, I was just testing the system,
       we are good,
       just making sure that we hear from you guys if we have a problem,
       good job on calling us so fast.
       Ta-ta for now."

But being frazzled by the sound of that awful horn, the frustration of not getting the horn off sooner ... they get this honest and slightly frenetic response:

     "I am sooo sorry!!!
      Yes, yes, we are all right.
      Oh my God, that horn is so loud.
      You see I opened this window and ....
      Oh, no, please, don't call the police!!! I am still in my pajamas!!!
      Sorry, sorry, sorry.
      My name?  uh, give me a minute, oh yes, I am .... "
                                             (No coffee. Not at my best.)

And then the final embarrassment ... the one that lasts longer than the phone call ... after our two cats have been pealed off whatever ceiling they were clinging to, they walk around the house like they are trying to dodge snipers!!

I guess they heard the horn.
I will be glad when my two legged and four legged family members get home on Sunday and life returns to its normal noisy state.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Completely and forever ... 37 years ago.

Today is my son's birthday. He is 37!

I marvel that 37 years have passed so quickly, that I had a second child after his difficult birth, that I am old enough to be the mother of someone who is 37, and that I managed to create two such wonderful people as my son and daughter (well, I guess I didn't do it single-handedly but for purposes of this discussion - let's just say that I did!) Ok, ok, that was selfish. My kids are lucky enough to have a father who loves and cares for them for the whole of their lives, and a phenomenal extended family that provided the perfect cocoon to support and develop happy and healthy human beings.

But I can speak only for myself in commenting on parenthood.

I always knew I would be a mother! Always! It is interesting that some people have just the opposite understanding. Children are not part of their future, and unless an accident happens or they marry someone who feels strongly about having children, they do not reproduce. But for me ... always, always, always ... kids were part of my life's plan. And looking back over 37 years, I would do it all again.

What I couldn't understand in advance ... what no one can understand without walking this path, was how having a child changes your life completely and forever! Those 2 simple words just don't seem to really make the impact they should. "Completely ... Forever" Maybe if I bold, enlarge, italicize and capitalize all the letters.


No, that doesn't do it either. There are no words to express the change that floods over you when you are handed your newborn child. You know instantly that the focus of your life has just changed as dramatically and permanently as if you were physically lifted off the planet Earth and placed on Jupiter. I've heard it said that having a child is like having your heart beat outside your body. Those words come close to the experience of giving birth, raising and letting go of your child. And the "letting go" ... it is harder than the childbirth.

I'd like to think that my husband and I did everything right, and that is why we have such wonderful people as our kids. That would be a lie. Parents make mistakes. All parents! I remember a number of my own failings in parenting, and I am sure that my kids could name a some I forgot. Parents are humans and humans aren't perfect. I have always said that raising children is like walking through a mine field. Some of us make it without being blown up, and some of us don't.

Thank you God for letting my two kids make it to the other side in one piece.

And, son, I am so very proud of the man you have become. Happy Birthday!

Love you always - completely and forever,

PS - and yes, my baby girl, I love you always - completely and forever - too.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Knitting with friends.

I love Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I am amazed at how congenial our Knitting group is. This is a drop-in group that is open to all, but there are regulars who usually attend, and today we had 7 participants. Seven is a small group for us, as we usually 15 to 20. But since the group was small we had the most interesting conversations - a sharing of life experiences that made us the people that we are today. It was wonderful.

Happy One also brought her weave it blanket with her ... it is a blanket in development but oh so beautiful. The pictures show her working on the Weave It loom.

Tuesday is the best day of the week!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Espresso day

A view from my walk: A lovely path behind my house. With the winding path, it sort of looks like a greeting card!

Another wonderful day for a walk. It was overcast and cool, with the sun promised to burn off the cloud cover by noon. I walked for about 75 minutes this morning. As I walked the sun began to show itself. And that walk poured tons of energy into me.

Today was also graced by having coffee with one of my knitting friends. We met at Starbucks and the time seemed to pass so quickly I couldn't believe it was almost 2:30 when we parted. It is wonderful to develop a friendship from a common interest and then discover that our lives in many ways have been parallel, and as such, we instantly understood each other's life experiences and difficulties. It was a fun visit and I look forward to another in the future.

After lunch I dropped by a local store to purchase a new shower curtain. My afternoon was to be filled with vacuuming and dusting the upper level and a major cleaning of our master bath. Instead of cleaning our shower curtain, I decided to just pitch it and buy another. Somehow a new shower curtain makes the bathroom seem much cleaner. Actually, I would love to just pitch the whole dirty bathroom - and put in a new clean one, but I am sure I couldn't sell that idea to my husband - a shower curtain is cheap alternative.

By 5:30 pm I had finished my house cleaning for the day (more to-dos tomorrow) - and was able to take a shower in my clean bathroom. I hate cleaning bathrooms, but I love using a clean one.

I felt very energized from my walk this morning, so the rest of the day I just seemed to be brimming with energy. That morning walk is like a double shot of espresso. I remember 2 years ago the same thing happened. If I started the day with a 60-90 minute walk, the rest of the day was extremely productive. If I didn't do that walk early, I needed a nap in the afternoon. It is amazing how responsive my body is to exercise!!

Hope your Monday was just as full!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The To-Do List Game

Our windows were open last night, and I awoke at 5:30 am to the sound of rain outside. I enjoy that sound. But this morning I couldn't go back to sleep. I was restless like the way I get just before I travel. However, this time I wasn't me ... my kids were traveling. It seems that lately any little thing can disturb my sleep even if it doesn't directly impact me. I didn't go downstairs until 7:00 am as my daughter and Milo were sleeping in the living room, and I didn't want to disturb their sleep too - especially with such a busy day ahead of them. God keep them safe on this wet travel day ... actually keep all my family safe on this wet travel day.

Over the last few days I have developed quite a large to-do list of things I would like to get done this week. I promised myself that once the kids left I would stop adding to the list and only work on crossing things off it. The list has 39 things on it, and as usual, it is far more than I can get done in one week. Some things will take up a whole day and some are pretty short. But I am going to make a game out of it and see just how many things can be completed. Here are the rules:

  • The week goes from Sunday the 12th (today) through Sunday the 19th.
  • If I start a task and don't finish, but didn't anticipate finishing (like photo album work, or casting on Milo's sweater), then it counts as done for the week.
  • If I start a task and don't finish, but did plan to finish (like walking 5-6 days this week - but only walk 4) then it isn't complete for the week.
  • Fan-tab-u-lous Achievement would be marking off 33 or more items.
  • Reward for Fan-tab-u-lous Achievement? No idea. Probably just feel good that I got so much done.
Let the game begin!

Walk Rx

Today no matter how I tried, my mood was unhappy! So after lunch I decided (no, forced) myself to take my walk. It was rainy and cool, and for half the walk I was wet from the knees down and from the neck up. I finally gave up trying to keep the hood up ... just threw it back and let my wet hair get wetter. Here are some of the pictures of my "Search for Fall".

Early tree changes

Even bushes can change to the most vibrant colors.

So do what do you see here? Look very close.

Can you see it now? The most perfect spider web. Without the rain and the right angle, it would have been invisible.

And, yes, I am good now. I could tell half way through the walk that I was doing better.
I am ready for the rest of the week.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Self Pity Week

I am beginning my "self pity" week.

This week my family is visiting the Outer Banks, North Carolina, something they have done for years. Here is one of many group pictures we take. Every year since 2008 I can't go! My sister and her family, my kids, my cousin, the grand-dogs ... they all abandon me this week, and I always feel a little stranded at home.

What is funny is that although I haven't been able to make this trip for a few years, the week didn't have an actual name until a few days ago. A friend and I were making plans to have coffee together. We hadn't seen much each other for a few months - she had been going through some difficult family losses. I shared my dilemma with her - the one week out of 52 that I get down, because it is beach week and I am not at the beach. And she said ... self pity. "Self Pity!". Yes, I said. That's it!! I could have kissed her, but we were talking by email, and even in person that might have been construed as strange. She said I could blog about it as long as I didn't wallow in it!

I love my friends!

This year, however, I am taking a different approach! Well ... actually, I want to take a different approach! I am going to focus on the free time I have, enjoy the fun things I can do, I am going to walk and walk and walk, and hope that time passes by quickly. I am also not going to watch all the ga-zillions of people outside who are walking their dogs. Last year I seriously considered walking up to a few strangers and paying them money to hand over their leashes so I could walk their dogs!! Would you hand your dog over to a stranger who has the look of someone seeking a fix (a "dog fix"), and who is handing out money so they can walk your dog?? And I am not going to flood my family with daily emails while they are on vacation - written as if the email was created by my grand dog, Meathead - who hates the beach and would prefer to stay home with his grandma that week. Each email I sent as Meathead to his papa got more and more desperate about missing his Grandmother. No! Not this year!! I am going to do it differently. I am going to walk and walk and walk. I am going to cope with this week in an adult fashion, stoically, with dignity and in the company of Johnny ... Johnny Walker, my brand of scotch.

PS - In defense of my family, I am always invited to go to the beach. I don't go because mom can't travel that far and doesn't desire to go anymore. Leaving her home is out of the question. And my husband (who hates the beach) doesn't drive anymore so leaving him stranded at home doesn't feel right either, and Max, our cat, needs his fluids every other day for kidney failure and that is a two person job without question (sometimes it feels like a 6 person job, but we couldn't fit that many people into our bathroom). So maybe "abandon" is a bit over-dramatic on my part.

Maybe the one who is doing the "leaving" is me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

# 8 Be passionate about your passions

I am enthusiastic about my pasttimes. Passionate is a good word for it. Passionate about my passions. Something catches my eye and I just need to do it. I think having hobbies and/or interests keeps you young in spirit, engaged with life and people, mentally sharp - all the things we start out life doing without thinking.

But hobbies are not part of all lives. Some are so focused on their careers that there isn't time for anything else. I did that crazy behavior for 5 years before I realized that I didn't like the person I had become. I quit making the job the focus of my life and took up knitting. Knitting will never be far from my side because it made me sane when I needed help. For some, interests slip away as they age. That has happened to my mother. Other than reading, she shows little interest in filling her time with anything besides TV game shows and tracking the weather.

Until this year I can say that knitting and my beloved grand-dogs have filled my life. But this year I got restless. I needed something new. So, in keeping with my passionate response to things, in the last 6 months I added 5 new interests to my life (keeping the first two, of course). The pictures reflect activities that I haven't pictured in this blog yet.

  • iPad and game addiction. There are adventure games with characters that you play and stats that you improve, dragons that you kill, treasures that you find, goals that you achieve. Come on ... you haven't lived until you have killed at level 30 Demon Seed with massive fangs dripping with blood and one burning eye that sees into your soul, and stands 20 feet tall with massive armour ... beat him single handedly in an awsome battle of wits and skill and lots of healing potions!! Of course, if that is not your style, some games are strange but satisfying - like We Rule and We Farm. In both you create your own little world, buy buildings and farm land, plant and harvest crops, collect rents, increase fortunes, and expand your dwelling, your lands, your businesses. There are no Demon Seeds there! Really, if anyone had told me a year ago that I would be playing this kind of game I would have asked you what you were smoking. IPad apps should come with a warning label as being hazardous to the rest of your life. Steve Jobs - shame on you!

Weave-Its: I was introduced to this little loom by my friend HappyOne and I blogged about it a few days ago. I have a fascination with weaving ever since I saw a full size loom in use on a visit to Maine several years ago. The loom filled a small bedroom-size space. I decided that I couldn't house such a large hobby, but when I saw this hand held loom and the beautiful fabric it produced, I was hooked. And I have this failing - if the item is rare or hard to get, the challenge to get one becomes part of the appeal. They stopped making these looms in the 1950s. I was not detered. I am happily making these little squares and look forward to having my own blanket made out of left over yarn - of which I have a ton (another failing).
  • Walking: I have a long history of walking, but stopped 2 years ago because of my stupid feet. They are better now, but gettng back to walking seemed like a chore. Thanks to HappyOne, I was able to see my walks through different eyes and have returned to the enjoyment of this simple activity.

Spinning: My cousin introduced me to spinning. Seeing her beautiful yarn creations finally roped me into buying a spinning wheel. Although I haven't been active doing this now, the desire is still there. I have the wheel, I have the desire and I have the roving - now I need the time.

Blogging. OK, it's HappyOne again!! Yes, I discovered her blog and decided that I should try that too. I love writing and was paid to write in the past. Now I do it for the pure joy of writing. HappyOne, if you do any other activites that I don't know about yet, please keep them a secret until 2011. I am full up right now. :-)

And I am still knitting. I can't stop that because I have the equivalent of a small yarn store in my yarn stash. I may even need to add that stash into my will. And besides, knitting is my soul mate. When I can manage it, I read. That and my granddogs who when they are here demand my full attention!

It is a busy, busy life. I love it.

Now, when I can get God to take me seriously about extending the day from 24 to 36 hours, I would like to add 2 more things to my list. As a young person, I discovered that I have a talent for drawing. Certainly the artist in me is not anywhere near as strong or as developed as it is for my cousins. But it is gift that I never developed (which I am sure I will hear about when I reach the Pearly Gates). I just might be able to squeeze this activity into my next 20 years, but NOT in 2010.

And a friend suggested that I might like Genealogy. That idea does intrigue me, but I also know it is a "hobby" that can suck all the oxygen and hours out of your day and then some. But my son did start the process going several years ago on an on-line family tree site. We'll see.

So, those are my passions - and it is a major 20 year goal to keep them all juggled without dropping one!

You know, I didn't "work" this hard when I had a job!! ;-)