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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wonder Socks and a fabulous daughter

Yes, these are wonder socks! Although a picture can't do them credit, they gave me comfort over this difficult weekend.

You see, Friday night a 24-hour stomach virus hit me hard (this one should have been called a "48-hour and counting virus" 'cause the impacts are still being felt - that is why I am still wearing these socks.) You know the kind of virus I am talking about - you and your toilet bowl get to know each other real well, you promise the toilet bowl that you will keep it cleaner in the future, you keep your family up all night long with gagging and toilet flushing sounds, and days later the smell of food still turns your stomach a bit. That's the one!

Somewhere around 3:30 am on Saturday morning, on one of my many trips past my dresser after leaving the bathroom, I realized that my feet were cold (I hadn't been thinking much about my feet, you understand). Previously I got back into bed feeling sorry for myself and hoping desperately this trip to the bathroom was my last trip ... and then my feet would finally get warm in bed and ... zammo ... off to the bathroom again I went. On that trip at 3:30 am, I decided to put on a pair of my hand-made wool socks ... I just slipped my hand into the drawer and picked a pair in the dark (I wasn't much interested in being color coordinated at that point). There was an "ahhh" sensation as I slipped the socks onto my feet. Finally there was one part of my body that was being taken care of - my feet. They were comfortable and warm. The rest of me wanted to die, but my feet were "golden". And every trip after that (yes, it went on and on *sigh*), I would get back into bed and think, "oh my feet are so warm and comfortable" ... it was a small comfort in light of all the other busy things that were going on with the rest of my body - but you take what you can get when you are thinking of just dying!!

So here I am on Monday - still eating almost nothing, weak as a piece of limp asparagus, but feeling a bit better, and I am still wearing my same socks. Now before any of you can make any nasty comments about "dirty socks," let me tell you ... these little gems are broken in just right, my feet have never been cold since I put them on, they are my lucky charm for getting better and they still make me feel good.

They are staying!!

And, my daughter is even better than these socks. She stayed a day later than she intended in a germy house to take care of things. She ran to the store for me, got dinner on the table for my husband and mom when I could barely lift my head, she did my laundry (checked for spots, checked labels, checked pockets, folded clothes, didn't felt my other hand made socks waiting to be washed ... all done without me giving one instruction! Wow.) Thank you, baby!

Now, it would be all worthwhile, if tomorrow I got on the scale and found I had lost 40 lbs!! Ok, that might be a bit excessive.

I'll settle for 35!

Friday, November 26, 2010

And now the sweater pictures

I guess you could say these pictures are over kill. But we really wanted to have a group shot with our sweaters. And Meaty and Grimmy joined us - they don't need sweaters but they weren't going to be left out of a pee-poop opportunity! Enjoy!

Not sure what is happening here. Maybe the glass of wine that was drunk before the walk had some impact on behavior. Got to stop Milo from drinking wine! :-)
A pretty good fit - don't you think?

Great deer poop here!!!

Like I said - our pets are family!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving: past and present

As much as I love Halloween ... if I could have only one holiday a year, it would be Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is about family.

All my Thanksgivings of memory have two constants: my mom and my sister. There were Thanksgivings when I didn't have children or a husband. And it has been 40 years since I spent a Thanksgiving with my dad who died in 1970. But there have been no Thanksgivings in my memory without my mom and sister.

Growing up and as a young married woman I remember having Thanksgiving at my mom's house. Although we always left the table totally stuffed, looking back and compared to today, I think our Thanksgiving meals were modest. They included the typical turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, a vegetable, canned cranberry sauce, and mom's pumpkin pie. Once I had children I took over the dinner, and I learned to cook a turkey and many of mom's dishes. My sister and her boyfriend (now husband) would join our table. My mother-in-law was also with us, and with her came the a tradition of sour kraut and turkey (she said it was a German tradition). Once my sister married, she and her husband would have two dinners on Thanksgiving day: one with us and one with his family. They did that for years until they had children and decided to stay home for Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving dinner torch was passed to my sister when she had children. Since then, our dinners have become an adventure in eating. My sister loves to cook. No, let me say this differently. My sister LOVES to cook. Mom and I treated this meal as an opportunity to get family together and we fixed the same typical and traditional dishes. My sister treated this meal as a passion (and she still does). We have all benefited from that passion. Besides having the space to serve all the family, she has the pretty dishes, the beautiful pottery, and the adventuresome cooking spirit. She gets the fresh turkeys from local farmers, and once we even had two turkeys (we did a deep fried turkey one year - incredible), she makes her own rolls and pies, she makes her own cranberry sauce, she frequently makes two stuffings recipes, and always serves tasty and unusual appetizers ... I could go on, but you wouldn't believe me.

But the food is only part of the specialness that is Thanksgiving. My sister lives in a rural area of Virginia about 60 miles from me. The last 10 minutes of the trip are the best. We turn off the main highway onto a gravel road. This road goes for about 2 miles through a beautiful section of properties, some of which have been there for quite some time. You real feel like you are in the country. Beautiful land. You can't see it well in the top picture, but in the distance is Sugarloaf Mountain. These are two views from her porch.

But it would all just be a Martha Stewart moment if it wasn't for our family. It is one of the few times during the year when we get everyone together. Since our "children" are now grown and most are in their 30's, it is beyond incredible that we have maintained that family dinner tradition. In our culture, it is common for families to go their separate ways, to individually celebrate holidays far from each other, to grow away from the family holiday traditions and the specialness of their relationships. Thankfully, that has not been our experience.

This year Thanksgiving was special for so many reasons. To begin - my son and his girl friend have been together for years. This Thanksgiving was the first time they came together to share our meal. She is very much a part of our family - having her there felt right. I suspect we are seeing the beginning of holiday meal sharing between families. I doubt my son would eat two Thanksgiving dinners in one day. But sharing is the natural way of things. We were thrilled she was with us this day.

And then there was the grand announcement that my sister and her husband will soon be adopting a lab puppy! Actually, "announcement" isn't quite the right word. It was more like an unveiling - my brother-in-law turned his computer screen towards me without saying a word, and there was the perfect little face of a chocolate lab puppy. I was so excited and joyful for them. The last few years have been very hard - two elderly labs with health problems, many struggles to give them a good quality of life as they aged, and, of course, the final heart break when their lives were over. The void will now be partially filled with this beautiful new little guy. You can't ever replace a beloved pet, but you can open your heart to another. And he doesn't know it yet, but he has landed in a home where pets are family members. He is a lucky dog. I am eager to meet him in person.

And then the dinner! Yikes! My sister out did herself - if that is even possible. The turkey was 25 pounds - barely fit in her oven. There were two potato dishes, two stuffing dishes, four or five vegetable dishes, a tossed salad, homemade rolls, two kinds of cranberry sauce (one home made, of course), gravy and mom's pumpkin pie - not to mention the Bourbon soaked dates and Bourbon balls as well as several home made appetizers.

There were 10 of us. She had food for 20.

But if you set all that aside (and I mean allllll of it), the real jewel of the day was that I was able to spend yet another Thanksgiving holiday with my sister and my mom. How many more we have together only God knows. But we are truly fortunate to have had this wonderful day together.

Mom catching a cat nap!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Late fall walk and a handsome boy!

This morning I took a regular walk. The day was beautiful - cool and sunny. But about half way through the walk, I got to thinking that I had walked all the sidewalks and paths near my house. Without getting into my car and driving out of my neighborhood, there were no unexplored routes. hmm ...

And then I took a side step.

Here is my normal path (walked a gazillion times).

Here is the hill next to my normal path (walked on ... never).

Here is someone's back yard at the top of that hill (new glorious adventure).

Oh well, it was fun to branch out no matter how short the joy was. I need to find some new walking routes.

Glad to have my iPod to keep me company on my walks.

Last night I finished knitting Milo's sweater. This sweater was made from yarn that was left over from my daughter's sweater and my sweater. He is one handsome boy, don't you think?

I took careful measurements of Milo's body before and during working on this project, but I kept second guessing my sizing. I couldn't help thinking that the sweater looked too big. Yikes. I measured the sweater multiple times and it matched his measurements, but I did hold my breath a bit when he arrived today and I slipped the sweater on him. Perfect!!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I am so thankful that I have another holiday with my family. I am thankful that I don't have to travel far to see my family. I am thankful that my sister loves to cook, that she is a good cook and that I don't have to cook. I am happy to bring a few dishes and some wine, but I am glad the turkey is at her house and not mine. Besides my oven is a fire hazard.

Yes, I have a self-cleaning oven, but if I turned on that feature now, I would need to open my windows to keep the smoke alarms from going off. One year I turned on the cleaning function of my oven - in January! Never clean your oven in January!! I had to turn off the heat, open the windows and sit with my coat on for about 3 hours. Maybe if I cleaned my oven more frequently than every other year ... I know, 2011 - one of my resolutions will be to clean my oven ... at some point.

No sense raising the bar too high. :-)

If you are traveling for Thanksgiving, hope your travels are safe. Happy Turkey Day to all.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

This and That

Hi again! I know ... it has been a week since I posted. But things have been happening. This week has been an improvement over previous weeks.

First and foremost, my grand dog babies .... Meathead, my English Bull Dog grandson, is doing much better. He finally adjusted to the Phenobarbital. This has been a great relief to me. I have been very concerned about how this drug had affected his coordination, balance, and, most importantly, his personality. All issues seem to have resolved over the course of this week. We have also reduced his extremely high level of Potassium Bromide. Now we wait to see how all this plays out with the frequency of his seizures. So far no seizures. Welcome back to the world, my dear Meaty.

Milo completed his second week of training. He is such a smart little dog, and he has picked up the initial commands quickly. The "leave it" command has worked pretty well to control his obsession of chewing sticks outside and his jealousy reaction with Meathead. It is early still, but Meaty's improved mental state and Milo's training seems to be making life a bit calmer here.

Milo will share more about his training experiences in the blog he shares with Meaty and Grimace. It can be found at

Secondly, I have managed some balance with other stuff important to me.

I seem to be getting back to my walking routine (again!). I missed many weeks, but this week I have been taking a 30 minute walk. Thirty minutes is quite a bit less than I was doing in September, but it is more than I was doing in November. Since I lost walking endurance, I need to build back up again. Thirty minutes is enough for now.

Although it is still Fall, this picture of trees near my house definitely says Winter.

Sadly, I am down to exactly one group Tai Chi session and one knitting group session a week. But as my energies get pulled into other areas, some things have to shrink so that there is room. Shrink, yes. Disappear, no.

I was able to get out for lunch with a friend this week (thank you Happy One, it was a great lunch - we need to do that again sometime.) Having lunch with a friend is good for the soul. Friendships need cultivating.

I did set some of my knitting and weaving projects aside this month so that I can complete Milo's sweater. That project is nearing completion.

I've been absent from blogging. Not a long absence, but not where I want to be. I really want to blog 3 or 4 times a week. Daily was fun when I first stated, but in my unpredictable life, 3 to 4 times a week is do-able. Of course, this week was once. Today.

I am still reading, but I am not reporting on every book I read - only the one I think are worth recommending.

I can't seem to keep up with the house work - but I am learning to live with that. (Ok, it still does bother me, but I am working on it.) I am, however, focusing on decluttering. Every time a charity calls looking for a donation of household items - I say "yes" even if I don't have anything to donate. It gives me the incentive to sort through stuff and give it away. Slowly, very slowly, spaces in the house should start to open up. Less really is more. A trite saying but no less true.

Finding balance is probably the biggest lesson I am learning this year. Balance ... a hard lesson for a Type A personality like me to learn. Lots of false starts in the last few months, and I am sure I will have more. And learning to say "no" to things that eat up time that I don't have is something I am practicing.

So although I am "blog quiet" at times, I am not off track - just sorting, sorting, sorting all the elements of my life .... and sorting some more.

I am very thankful that I am learning to put perspective on my life.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hard Week

Well, last week was hard. It began well enough after the weekend in Philadelphia, but it sort of slipped downward as the week progressed.

The main concern has been Meathead, my English Bull Dog grandson. He is in the third week on Phenobarbital and the drug has been hard on him. He is very lethargic. (Doesn't this picture just scream LETHARGIC! Hard to believe, but he likes sleeping like this!) He also lacks balance and is disorientated. Because he is so unsteady on his feet, we frequently need to carry him downstairs or lift him out of the car, otherwise he lands on his face. On slippery surfaces like the kitchen floor his feet just slip out from underneath him, landing him on his stomach. The best description is that he looks like a severely drunk person. Sometimes drunk is funny. But in Meathead's case, it is heartbreaking.

When I saw Meaty on Tuesday he was symptomatic, but when I picked him up again on Friday for the weekend he was scary ... zoned out like a zombie ... standing in the middle of my son's living room head bent down. I wanted to cry when I saw him. I don't think he even knew me. So Saturday I took him to the vet for blood work. I think the vet was expecting more improvement at week 3. Even without the lab results she backed down the Phenobarbital. (For the record - I hate that drug with a passion and nothing I have seen has changed my mind - but I am told it is a highly effective drug for epilepsy.) We started the new dosage on Sunday morning. Although Meaty was still very wobbly, his wonderful personality was back on Sunday.

To add complications, Milo was very jealous of the attention Meaty was getting. It was a struggle to keep peace when the 3 dogs were here. Clearly my dear Milo needs more restraint and training. But trying to enforce that while managing Meaty issues were impossible.

Last week also marked the return of my dear Maxine. Maxine is my 8 year old Maxima. I really love that car and the dogs have their dog scent all over it. Of course to get her back in good working order, we had to write a big check! I know that some would not have spent the money on an 8 year old car, but there have been no problems to this point ... a pretty darn good record, and she has many more miles left in her before I am forced into write a really big check to replace her. That will be a very sad day for me.

And today I spent most of my time getting mom to the places she needed to go: lab, bank for her, then bank for me, then store - we did take a moment to get lunch out. Home now and thought I would post something so that I don't start getting emails (again?) asking where I am. I am here - treading water.

I need to get back to walking so I can cope better. The glass of wine while making dinner just isn't enough.

Up side? Dancing With the Stars is on tonight. I love escapist TV!!

Got to go - the vacuum in calling and the rug steam cleaner needs to be used in a few places!!

See ya!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What the non-cook cooked!

Last Friday I cooked!

Not "big deal" cooking, but just a few new dishes so that my sister and daughter had something good in the house to eat. And surprisingly, they turned out pretty good. I want to share them.

The picture is of my kitchen sink after cooking. Through the window you can see my bird feeder that kept me content while I was cooking.

All the recipes can be found at Check out this website. It is great.

The first dish is called Linguine With Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese. I discovered this dish one night when I was taking Meathead and Grimace home, and my son's girlfriend was cleaning up from dinner when I walked in. (She has a wonderfully informative blog at The house smelled wonderful and my son said the dish was yummy! Graciously she offered me some to take home and graciously I said yes ... like right away before she could change her mind!! It was to die for! Yes, you squash-haters out there, this dish is to die for! You can put bacon and cheese on anything and it is wonderful.

Now you should know that I did tweak the recipe as it was written. It called for 6 slices of bacon. Good heavens, I am not opening up a pound of bacon and then using only 6 slices. Get real! So I used it all. I couldn't see myself cooking up only 6 slices, I couldn't see myself just eating the left over bacon while I cooked (bad for my blood cholesterol), but I could see myself eating all the bacon crumbled into the dish smothered in cheese. Somehow that dairy option made the bacon seem healthier. :-) And then there was the issue with the goat cheese. The recipe called for 4 ounces of soft goat cheese, crumbled. Well ... goat cheese comes in 3.5 ounce packages. One half ounce short of what was called for! So I bought 2 packages (I did wince alittle - it was $6.99 a package.) When I opened up the packages, I tasted the goat cheese. Yum - mega yum. But what was I going to do with the extra goat cheese once I used 4 ounces. I couldn't just eat it - although it was way good - but the cholesterol you know. So I added to the recipe - all 7 ounces. See, I figured that it was additional dairy (goat is dairy, right?) - think of all that calcium. And I beefed up the amount of garlic - who uses only 2 cloves of garlic!! And garlic is good for the heart balancing out the bacon and the cheese (sort of) and it keeps away vampires. All good! I did reduce the pound of linguine to 3/4 of a pound - got to cut calories somewhere! And the butternut squash - what can I say. If you don't like butternut squash, you probably have genetic damage. This recipe was good the first day and every day after. Some recipes are good at first but don't carry over well. Not this one. Yummy every day until it was gone. Note to my dear cousins - when we see you in December, this is on the menu!

The second recipe is called Shrimp With Sausage and Tomatoes. I didn't tinker with this recipe quite so much. I did add garlic - because there was an obvious typo in the recipe - they forgot the garlic. And I omitted the peas. My husband doesn't like peas. But the title pretty much describes what was in this. I think the main flavor came from the fire-roasted tomatoes. It is served over rice.

A third recipe I made this weekend was called Spaghetti With Beef Mushroom Sauce. Sorry, no picture but there is one in the Real Simple web site. The recipe was pretty simple. The ingredients were pretty typical for us: ground beef, mushrooms, garlic, diced tomatoes, Parmesan cheese - stuff we eat alot of here, but the secret ingredient was 1 cup of heavy cream. I was tasting this recipe as I was making it and thinking all the time ... boring! And then I added the cream ... what a difference. Now my husband likes all the things in this recipe, but he didn't like this one so much. I think the cream was too much for him. The recipe did say you could lighten this dish by omitting the cream and doubling the tomatoes. I don't know about you, but tomatoes can never step in and replace cream. If I do this recipe again, I might reduce the cream some, but I don't think it would be as good without it.

And for the record: I am thankful for that kitchen window!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A sister and a daughter

There are no pictures here. No wonderful descriptions of magnificent sights.

Just a simple recognition that without the help of my sister and my daughter, our day drip to Philadelphia would have been impossible! The peace of mind I had that mom was OK, that my sister and my daughter were here to take care of any situation that would arise ... well, to quote a commercial ... it is "priceless".

Now I am not saying that it was a piece of cake for them while I was gone. They had, in fact, broken out a bottle of wine in an effort to cope (mom can be a challenge when change is forced on her). And mom was rather un-gracious when I got home. After all, I got home at the dreadful hour of 10:00 pm. And apparently 2 phone calls home to check in that everything was ok was not enough. "So, you decided to come home" was my welcome! *sigh* But I knew in my heart that everything was OK, and it was fun to have one day without any cares or concerns.

So what could I be thankful for on this day? A sister and a daughter.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Road Trip Part Three - the other stuff

The trip to Philadelphia was made with friends. We have traveled with this couple before and it is always fun.

We left at 8:30 am on Saturday morning. The trip was uneventful, but special for several reasons: I didn't have to drive. I love it when I don't have to drive. (And we still didn't have our car - they are promising we should have it Tuesday - almost a week from when I dropped it off the third time for repair). And our friends drove south from Baltimore to pick us up and then drove north to get to Philadelphia. That was a very generous thing to do.

After arriving in Philadelphia, catching lunch and confirming our tickets, we checked out Cleopatra and then the Hubble. Both shows were terrific.

Walking around, I notice they had a walk-through heart. Pretty cool. Yes, it was aimed at children, but children come in all sizes and I enjoyed walking through the 4 chambers of the heart and the lungs.

They also had a Pendulum Staircase. That was pretty interesting. I leaned over the staircase just long enough to catch this picture. I don't like heights so I was quick.

The trip home was uneventful as well. Yes, we used maps and we used GPS - thankfully that was their job. They did a great job driving and navigating.

The day ended with dinner in Columbia.
It was a wonderful day.

November 6 - I am thankful that we had the opportunity to see such important historic objects.

November 7 - I am thankful that I am a human being. Human beings are capable of such magnificent things. (Did you see those pictures from Hubble?) Sometimes we need reminders that we can do great things.

November 8 - I am thankful for friends that would ask us to go on this adventure with them, who would go out of their way to pick us up, and who would do all the driving.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Road Trip Part Two - Hubble

(posted Monday, November 8, 2010)
Our Saturday road trip was filled with more than just Cleopatra. The Tuttleman Imax Theater was showing a 40 minute movie called Hubble.

This theater had a 4-story domed, wrap-around screen, a steep seating arrangement that tilted you backwards allowing you to see the whole screen. The seating arrangement felt alittle like sitting on steeply slanted wall and if you leaned forward too much you would topple off the wall. Of course, that is just me, - height always makes me nervous. But once the show started, it was easy to forget about the seats.

The show started with the announcer giving all kinds of suggestions, cautions, warnings, etc. etc. etc. One of the announcements said that movie cameras and flash cameras were prohibited. Hmmm... And besides - "your pictures won't turn out anyway" - pretty much what they said exactly. Well ... I am sure you can guess that wouldn't deter me. No flash, but my camera worked just fine, thank you very much!

So folks ... welcome to the universe.

Here are the Hubble telescope that made these pictures possible.

Here is the "bus" that got the Hubble up real, real high!!! :-)

Here is one of the humans who braved this dangerous trip to help repair the Hubble.

This movie pulled out many emotions from me. I started out feeling immense pride at what man can do when we set our minds to it. Many people working together to make this possible and succeeding! Makes you wonder why we can't do smaller things like balance a national budget, or get along without our earthly neighbors without anger and war. Don't you think we should be able to do those little things if we can do this big thing???

And then when we get just a peek at our universe, those images make you feel small and unimportant. Even our Hubble is just a tool to show us how little we really know. We are just a speck.

Finally, the question of "Are we alone in the universe?" seems to be obvious to me. Of course, we aren't alone. The expanse of our universe is really beyond our ability to imagine - so there must be life out there somewhere.

PS - My camera did a pretty good job even without a flash. Of course, it couldn't show the full scope of each picture, but I was centered in the seats so I figured I would capture something if I just kept hitting the button. I really didn't know what I was getting because the camera was just resting on my stomach while I snapped images. I was pleased.

I love stretching the limitations and breaking the rules.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Road Trip: Part One - Cleopatra

(Posted on Monday, November 8, 2010)
On Saturday we took a road trip to see Cleopatra - The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt, a fascinating museum exhibition currently on display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA.

The exhibition, sponsored by National Geographic, showed the remarkable treasures discovered during archaeological expeditions of the land and under water locations of the old city of Alexandra and Cleopatra's royal palace. Unfortunately pictures of the exhibits were prohibited so I am forced to show pictures from the printed materials provided.

Initial impressions?

Wow, these people had a lot of gold. It was amazing just how many gold items were on display. What is remarkable is that the retrieval of these items continues - as well as searching for the burial place of Cleopatra. The gold on display was just the tip of the iceberg.

It was also interesting to note that images of Cleopatra are not common so getting some idea of what she looked like was not easy. Apparently after her death, Rome ordered all images of her destroyed. Guess they didn't care for her too much. But despite that, some images survived. Most images were on coins, but there were a few sculptures that managed to avoid destruction. But all images on display from Egypt were different. Apparently individual artists manipulated her features in a way to reflect the custom of the times - to display their Pharaohs as Gods - so these images didn't give you an idea of how she really looked. There was one sculpture of her in the Roman style - so her features were probably closer to what she actually looked like. If that image was correct, she was a beautiful woman even by modern standards.

Since many of the items on display were buried under sand and water, they were in excellent condition. It was amazing to see such beautiful items and think that 2,000 years ago these items were used, handled by those who served Cleopatra - maybe by Cleopatra herself. In fact, there was one piece of papyrus that was written in Cleopatra's own hand - signed by her. I found that most incredible that such a delicate a piece of papyrus had survived.

The trip was an success. And the Cleopatra exhibition was well worth the trip to Philadelphia. We saw a few other things while we were there and I will tell about them (with pictures) during another posting. It was a wonderful day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cooking Day and my kitchen window

I spent most of the day cooking for company coming tonight and to cover my absence all day tomorrow.

My sister and daughter are coming tonight to spend the weekend with my mom. My husband and I are going to Philadelphia tomorrow with friends to see a museum exhibit on Cleopatra. It will be a fun day with friends, eating out, and a once-in-a-lifetime (at least my life time) museum exhibit. But it can't happen without some preparation on my part. Yes, I did do alittle house cleaning but mostly I needed to cook.

I have house-dog sat at my sister's house in the past. The fun thing about house sitting (or mother sitting like this weekend) is that the sitters can just sit and do whatever they want. There are no chores and no cooking either. When you are hungry you just go to the fridge and open to door to wonderful dishes already prepared that just need heating. So I made some meals today - one for tonight and one for tomorrow. And for those who know me well, cooking is not fun for me. But today it was different. I did pick new recipes for me - I'll share them next week as they were easy and very tasty. But what was very special was the company I kept while I cooked.

You see my kitchen window is right over my sink. I looked out frequently while I was cooking (looking for distractions I guess - and finding it). I couldn't believe just how busy my bird feeder was. And the variety of feathered visitors was great! I had no idea that many different kinds of birds graced my deck. I was constantly picking up my camera and taking pictures. Here are a few a the best ones. And as you can see not all the visitors had feathers.

I am thrilled to see the Blue Jay is back - at least I think he is a Blue Jay. I included 2 pictures of him: one where he takes center stage all by himself and one where he is sharing the feeder with another bird. I thought the comparison of size was pretty amazing. Mr. Blue hasn't let such a small perch get in the way of getting at the seed. I have never seen more than one Blue Jay. I can't believe he is the only one around.

And then there is this little cutie. I think I can take credit for that round belly.

And at one point the feeder was full and other birds were flying around like there was something given out for free. Oh wait, it was free!!... I couldn't capture all the action.

And then there was this little guy who seemed to be waiting his turn at the feeder. Some visitors had better manners than others.

Let us not forget the other guest I usually see. He is quite a looker! Don't you think? He seems to be just looking over his shoulder at me.

Yes, this afternoon was pretty great having company while I cooked.

And thankfully I have an abundance of great things in my life:
  • Wednesday, November 3 - I am fortunate to live next to a watershed area - a wooded location that is the perfect home for birds.
  • Thursday, November 4 - I am very fortunate to have the company of these beautiful animals - so near my home.
  • Friday, November 5 - I have one pretty great point-and-shoot camera.
There. I think I am caught up there. :-)

PS - Sorry I have been gone for a few days. My car has been in and out of the shop several times this week. Currently my Maxima is in the shop and has been there for several days. She is getting older - 2003 - and hasn't really been a problem until now. And I don't think we are ready to buy another car. We want our pup-taxi back.

It has been a frustrating week trying to balance our planned schedule with inconsistent transportation. Some stuff just dropped off the calendar, like all the Tai Chi. I wasn't in the mood. But I am fortunate that the auto repair shop we deal with has given us a loaner every time, but it is frustration to not have your own vehicle.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pulling out of a fiber funk!

This year it seems I took a bit of a hiatus from knitting. It wasn't planned. I actually had a very long list of knitting goals back in January 2010 - mostly knitting - because that was what I was into last year.

You see, 2009 was "The Year of Me". Everything I planned to make was going to be for me only. My knitting group friends were also invited to knit things for me (of course, that got a laugh but ... you never know! :-) ) In all my prior knitting years, I made stuff for others, but 2009 was going to be about me. And so I knitted like a mad-woman for the whole year. Big projects. Sweaters mostly, but other stuff as well. I even finished a scarf that I started in 2000 - yes, it took 9 years to complete (don't ask). At the end of 2009 I fell apart on the selfishness vow and knitted a hoodie sweater for my daughter. But other than that, it was me, me, me.
This year the "knitting tsunami" came to a crashing halt. I don't know why but I couldn't get enthused to knit much of anything. I finally made a sweater, that I gave to mom because it was just too warm for me. And I made a hoodie for me, but it is sitting downstairs waiting for buttons. In May signed up for a Knit-a-Long on the web site Ravelry. The sweater was one I have looked forward to making, but I am not very far along (pictured above).

There were a few spikes of new interests this year, however. I bought a spinning wheel, but I am waiting for more time with my cousin to help me get my spinning "legs". I have done some spinning on a spindle but that has been sitting idle recently. I am still very interested in spinning, but I haven't got much time or energy right now for such a big new thing.

A smaller new thing was weaving on hand looms: the Weave-It loom and the Hazel Rose Looms. They have been very easy to learn, and very easy to pick up and put down. They seem to fit very well into the ADD that has been my hobby life this year.

I have begun a new project - a sweater for Milo that will match the matching sweaters my daughter and I have. As far as knitting goes, that is what I am knitting on mostly. It is getting cold outside so that is my main focus.

BUT ... for November 2

Despite my distractions this year, I am very, very thankful for these hobbies, for my large stash of yarn and fiber, for the tools I use to support these hobbies, for the friends and family who join me in these wonderful past times, for my knitting group filled with friends who encourage each other weekly. I am so very lucky.

My interest in these hobbies is still strong. The funk that has been 2010 is fading. I am eager to pick up my needles, my looms, my spinning wheel and spindles ... and I am so grateful for them.