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, December 22, 2012

Pondering the Holiday

If you are here and I am here, then it is safe to say that at least the two of us survived "the end of the world."

My tree is decorated, the gifts are purchased, wrapped and under the tree, some of my Christmas cookies are made - at least the cookie dough is prepared, and the holiday cooking is in full swing!

This holiday has been a very carefully staged event.  Nothing too big, just the basics.  Time spent with family enjoying the season, gazing at my very lovely Christmas tree, rubbing the ears of my dear, dear grand dogs and crocheting. Yes, time spend on crafts that give me a peaceful feeling.  (Knitting would give me more peace, but the project under the deadlines is crochet.)

And here is the biggest Christmas gift of all ... 
an English Bull Dog, named Meathead,
who is healthy, happy, ornery, stubborn, and loving.  

How dear that gift is.  In the beginning of November we feared that this dear soul our family has come to love with an intensity that is fearsome ... this dear dog might not make it to Christmas.  He is well and appears to be going strong!

The best gifts don't come wrapped in holiday paper and ribbons!

Merry Christmas to all!


Posting will resume after Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Prepare - the end is near

... or so they say.

Who says?

The Mayans, of course.


Why, today!  Sometime today!!

Oh wait!
  You don't believe in the prediction of the end of the world today?

My husband and I went with friends to a museum in Philadelphia last month to see the Mayan exhibit and find the answers to the question of ... 

Will the world end today?

Here is what we discovered.

The parking lot next to the museum had a speed limit of 7 1/2 miles per hour.  Not 8.  Not 6.
7 1/2 miles per hour, people!  Be sure you take note.  I bet it is radar enforced!!
We discovered that the city of Philadelphia has a sense of humor!

The Mayans were serious about their wall art.  Magnificent.
We discovered that the Mayans were very symbolic in their art and writings.  

The museum provided private listening devices to hear short
explanations of the various exhibits.
We discovered that their written language was picture writing - some of which can be seen on the statute on the left.

A good question.
We discovered that scholars have been studying the picture writing for a long time and believe they have translated the meaning of their writings.

Interesting!  And true.

We discovered that the idea of the end of the world did not begin or end with the Mayan culture.

"The Maya did not predict the end of the world in 2012 - we did."
We discovered that a lot of what we know rests heavily on our interpretation of the symbols.  We also discovered that this interpretation may not be a prediction.  Is it possible that we have just misunderstood what the Mayans were staying?

Here is a cartoon with another interpretation of the symbols.  I vote for this interpretation!

Anyway, we had a great time.

See you guys tomorrow!!  :-)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas at Brooke Grove

Christmas as Brooke Grove is always a festive affair.

The hallways are graced with the red of the season.

The table decorations are colorful and sparkly.

The shared living areas are warm and inviting.

Visitors make the festivities more enjoyable.
My two nieces, mom and me.

Smiling faces are food for the soul.
Resident pets are the icing on the cake.

The big holiday is fast approaching.  Remember to take time and enjoy the moments of the season!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Prayer and a Shawl

Cancer is a reality that drops brave men to their knees.

This holiday an extended member of our family is struggling with cancer.  And with that comes the chemo that is all too familiar to those who have dealt with this disease before.  It is the kind of fight that each cancer victim must make alone ... but not without the support and prayers of others.

This month I was moved to make a Prayer Shawl for this person.  There is little I can do to make the fight back to health easier, but I could knit a shawl to wrap around shoulders when tired or chilled.  A visible reminder that there are those who care.

It was my first prayer shawl - and, actually, it was my first shawl ever. I enjoyed the process, the knitting and the thoughts of giving it as a gift.  The action of knitting it helped slow down time and remind me that this is what is important, this is how I can help, this is how I can put a smile on her face.

And I didn't want to box it up.  I shopped for a basket that complimented the colors of the shawl.  And it was no easy task to find such a basket during the season when everything, and I mean everything is red or green.  :-)

A gift from the heart ... during a time when we sometimes forget that gifts should come from the heart!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Illusive Time and Sorrow

Time has a way of passing quietly and quickly.  I know I have the same amount of time each day that I always have, but the end result during this season is always the same ... not enough time, too much to do, no time to focus on what is important..

My walks have been short and infrequent ... a fact that was frustrating me.  One walk this month the fog of the afternoon was heavy. But the beauty of the fog provided a gentle and peaceful atmosphere.  A lovely personal space in a busy day.

My thoughts focused on slowing of life, enjoying the moment, simplifying the frantic noise of too much in too little time.  My pace was more of a stroll.  I visited the water's edge frequently to listen to the silence. Somehow the time spent thinking seemed more important than how many steps I was taking or how quickly I made it around the lake.

Life goes on.

Then the inconceivable happened.  The violent slaughter of innocent children.  Newtown, Connecticut sounds like a quaint New England town where only good things happen.  A town that is a peaceful as the lake pictured above ... and yet this month, it was a horror - worse than any hurricane or earthquake.

My thoughts were in a turmoil once again ... sorrow for the families and this town, and sorry for us as a society.  Somehow these children who lived hundreds of miles away from my town ... these children felt like our children, my children.  Words were useless.  Actions ineffective.  Disillusion that anything could change this now or in the future.

And then I heard on TV that Newtown has been flooded with requests for a town address.  Citizens around the country were seeking a way to send personal messages to the members of this town, our town, to let them know of the sorrow that we all share with them.

I am not sending Christmas cards this year, but I will be sending a note to this town, our town, so that they know - "You are not alone.  We are in deep sorrow with you.  We are all citizens of Newtown this day."

If you care to send condolences to our neighbors in Newtown, follow the link below to get more information.  The address is listed below.

Peace my dear blog friends.  
Slow down your time by not rushing the days.
Don't fret about what doesn't get done.
Love your family and your friends.
Take time to enjoy the moments of your life.

You never know
 how many moments you have left. 


Condolences to Newtown Connecticut
PO Box 3700,
Newtown, Connecticut 06470.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Monster in my Hand

You are not going to believe this!

This little monster,
 small enough to fit in my hand,
 this time sucking creature that is now firmly rooted to my hip,
 this thing called an iPhone
... is now my best friend!

The obvious feature is the phone.  I am happy to have reliable equipment without worrying about taking a deep breath and slipping out of cell phone range - dropping the call.  Yes, even the phone function has grown on me.  I have assigned ring sounds to various people.  My kids rings are "barking dogs."

I still enjoy the audiobooks and pod casts, just like on my iPod Touch.

But then there are the other new things that I have grown to LOVE!  Like ...

The Reminder List app - I use it like a To-Do list for each day.  This little app works similar to a calendar.  I stack up my activities, I mark them off, they get moved to a completed list, undone stuff gets automatically moved to the next day.  No more writing down everything on a piece of paper and then misplacing the paper. (I can't tell you how often I did that.)

Now I have GPS - I know.  I am probably the last person on the planet to get GPS, but now it is my new toy.  I have my son's address on this screen.  I know where he lives, but I play, I play.  Someday I might go somewhere where this would be handy.

Let's not forget the apps.  My favorite app right now is PT Timer - it allows me to set the time sequence on my stretching exercises so that I don't have to count to the 60 second hold with each exercise.  It times me and tells me when to stop.  Love it.  I can watch TV or listen to a book while doing my stretches.

What is nice is that this "monster" is the only piece of equipment I need to carry.   Before I had 3 things: iPod, cell phone, camera.  Now it is all in one. I can take pictures (great pictures), check email and surf the web without needing to be in a hotspot.

I can see your expression!  "Well, of course you can do these things.  Everyone can do these things.  Why aren't you keeping up?"  *sigh*  I guess I am a slow adopter to technology.

Why do I call this phone a monster?

It is a monster because I started out not wanting it, but somewhere along the way I "drank the cool aid" and now I love it.  Not sure how that happened.

I did make one final last stand:  No texting!

You have to take a stand somewhere!!  :-)

PS - Steve Jobs - you will be missed.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I do not share.

 Oh yes,

Tis the season

The time has come.

Prepare for a taste sensation.

Do not get between me and this winter treat.

It is here for a limited time only.

Peppermint Ice Cream!  

It is in my bowl.

I do not share.

My husband doesn't even know it is in the house.

All for me!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Beach Trip

I know I am behind in reporting on this fun trip ... but better late than never.

In November I made time for a weekend trip to Ocean City, Maryland with family and friends. This is one of many trips to the edge of the North American continent (the beach by any other name) - thankfully I live only about 3 hours from the ocean.

Camera shutter in the way!  

This visit was interesting because several weeks prior, Hurricane Sandy had made a visit to Ocean City.  The area really had missed a major bullet because when you hear about the New Jersey shore communities, you know that beach erosion was a minor issue.

And yet, it was a remarkable visit.

Here is a picture of my sister and I standing in front of a beach dune that was worn away by hurricane ocean waves.  Pretty impressive, but at least the dunes did what they were suppose to do ... protect the properties behind them.

Our visit was great fun ... weaving, knitting, crocheting, pajamas (which we pretty much lived in), wine, crab cakes, walks along the shore, walks along Ocean Highway ... really, it was all perfect!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Queen of the Return

I am sincerely the Queen of the Return.  Return to walking that is.

I know I am in a minority on this ... but I love winter.  I love winter walking specifically.  I love the long shadows of winter, and the chunky coats and the scarves and the gloves ... I love it all.

But most of all, I do love walking.  I remember my love affair with walking every single time I return from an absence!

Really ... even if you have started and stopped a walking program, you can start again, and again, and again.

After all, who is keeping track!

And the body remembers ... so it bounces back pretty quick.

This is good time to take up walking.  Crisp chilly weather is perfect for walking.

Get out and do it ... the body remembers.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The measurement monkey

My life seems to always have been about measuring.

Measuring my progress against professional goals,  measuring my weight, my activity, my expectations, my project progress ... you name it, I have measured it.  And although I have seen positive elements to measuring stuff, I have also wondered if the act of measuring has negatives as well.

I follow a blog called ZenHabits.  Zen ... sounds like something that evolved out of 1960s thinking.  But it is a site that sometimes posts pieces that ring a bell with me.  That happened recently.  The blog post is called "Untrack: Letting Go of the Stress of Measuring." The link is here.

As I read this piece I could see myself in many places.  Somehow it always seemed important to document, to see improvement, to measure.  After reading this blog post, I decided to simplify and to limit this measuring monkey I have allowed to ride on my back for years.

After careful thinking I have decided to limit my measuring habit to two areas:

  • To see accountability in my walking life, measuring my progress in Walker Tracker makes sense.  It helps me see how active I am and it help me continue to be active.  Activity is vitally important to my health.
  • Keeping track of my yarn stash is also productive.  It help limit my spending in that area.

But all measuring methods that I have layered all over my life in other ways just have to go.  It eats up too much time, adds stress that isn't necessary, and does not add any real value.

Hope you have a chance to read the ZenHabit blog post.

The Thanksgiving Bird

We are in the last hours of the Thanksgiving weekend ... which began on Thursday and ends shortly at 11:59 pm.

Our Thanksgiving was special.  Friends now have joined our family festivities, for the second year.

My main goal this year was to simplify.  I eliminated one big chunk of time by purchasing a pre-cooked Butterball turkey.  The instructions said to put the bird in the oven at 325 degrees for about 2 hours to heat.  The house filled with the wonderful aroma of turkey, there was no basting or constant temp checking for doneness.  And remarkably, it turned out PERFECT!!  Everyone one said it was one of the tastiest and juiciest we have had in years. Even my husband who doesn't typically enjoyed turkey, loved this one.  He even ate turkey as leftovers the second night.  (That was a first, I assure you!)

I was shocked, of course, because for years our turkeys were always special purchases with special preparations.  Since I was taking this short cut, I really didn't hold out much hope that this turkey would measure up.  But I am a believer now.  And after all, shouldn't Butterball know how to cook a turkey perfectly!??!

And it looked pretty darn good as well. Beautifully browned.  It weighed only 12 pounds but that size turned out perfect for us as well.

Every last bit of that bird is now gone - either eaten in the last few days or frozen in many containers as turkey soup in my freezer.


The only down side of all my holidays now is that mom cannot be with us.  Still ... those 20 steps that lead to my house are beyond her abilities.  So my son and I went and shared lunch with her on Thanksgiving at Assisted Living. The main meal served at noon was, of course, a turkey dinner. :-)

I wish I could be casual about this whole thing and make excuses why she wouldn't enjoy the business of the holiday at my house ... but I can't.  Holidays for us traditionally are family times.  She is my dearest of family members, and she is not with us on these days.   Christmas will be another hard holiday for me that I just need to get passed because there is a sadness that I won't have her with us.  Oh yes, we will take her out to lunch on Christmas Eve and I will take her to Christmas Mass on Christmas Day.  But it is not the same.

It is just not the same.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My New White iPhone

So, the "big girl" phone arrived.

I am now the owner of an iPhone.  

I have always been excited about my new Apple "toys." products.  Always.

I remember vividly when I got my iTouch, and my iPad, and my Apple computer.  I dearly enjoyed each acquisition and the new functionality it gave me. 

For some reason my new iPhone doesn't do that for me. 

I have had it for almost 2 weeks.  It works like a charm. I can now sit on my couch (in my living room in my house ... I mean really inside my house ... with the door closed even ... ) and make a phone call - no easy trick with my old cell phone which treated my house as a "dead zone."

And it is nice to be able to check my email anywhere, anytime - not just in a hot spot.

However, I still am not a "cell phone junkie."  I could easily return to "the land of no cell phones."  (Joyfully return)  And the increased flexibility of access to the internet and email - well ... it just isn't all that important to me.

But I am ready for the next big storm that takes down the power ... which means ... we should have a mild winter!

You all can thank me later!


Sunday, November 18, 2012


He is improving.

It is slow, but he is pulling back from "the brink" we so terribly feared just 2 weeks ago.

This past Friday I took him back to the Emergency Vet for a repeat chest xray.  My son met me there.  The xray showed improvement - the shadow over one lobe of his lung was receding.  The vet could see more heart and lung than before.  She could see more inflation of the lung.  That finding along with his general increased energy means that the antibiotics are making a difference.  They are leaning away from lung torsion as a diagnosis (exceedingly good news) and towards a deep seeded pneumonia.  His symptoms for pneumonia are considered atypical - so the vet cannot be definitive on her diagnosis.

No matter, he looks and feels better.  He will continue on his antibiotics for another 2 weeks and another xray will be done.

He is an old bully.  Age range for English Bull Dogs is 8 to 10 years.  He is 10.  And he is no stranger to many near-death experiences.  My daughter and I still vividly remember the time he chocked on food, stopped breathing, lips and tongue turned blue, and he collapsed.  She and I had minutes to turn the situation around.  The Heimlick Maneuver is very hard to perform on a stocky bull dog.  But adrenaline is a mighty "drug" and sticking my hand clear down his throat didn't hurt either.  He survived.

I suspect he will be on antibiotics for a long time.

It is a reminder that nothing lasts forever.  I will take every beautiful moment I have with this deeply loved bully and treasure it because "the brink" isn't gone forever either.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spontaneous Slumping


Returning from a slump.

I now call this period Spontaneous Slumping.

I considered calling this Slouch Slumping.

And then there was Lump Slumping.

A near runner up was Grump Slumping.

But Spontaneous Slumping won out, 'cause that is how it happens.

For me Spontaneous Slumping looks like this:
  • One day I am "great guns" doing everything, the next day I am not - sort of like catching a virus!
  • One day leads to another of doing nothing ... and another and another ... and then 3 weeks of absolutely nothing have accumulated.
  • My life starts "tripping," and bad things start happening to people I care about and I find myself thinking - "Gosh, was this slump a psychic warning of bad things?"
  • I decide that I am over thinking this.   Thinking this was psychic anything means I have hit the bottom of my slump.
  • Finally I don't like who I am in a slump - so I start kicking myself in the butt.
So now that I am past the butt kicking stage, I am back to:
  • walking
  • tracking my step counts and milage
  • stretching
  • blogging
  • making my "to do" lists
  • doing the stuff on my "to do" lists  :-)
  • planning
The bad things have settled down again.  We are all coping.  And at least the "badies" seemed to have stopped dumping down on everyone's head at the same time.

Working on a few posts to share some of the good things that happened while I was slumping!

Monday, November 5, 2012

What Matters

Life has a way of stopping you dead in your tracks, pealing away the extraneous in an instant and focusing you on what really matters in life.

I will be gone from my blog until next week to focus on what really matters.

We had a serious scare with my dear dog, Meathead.  He is an older English Bulldog.  Thursday night my son called and said he needed help getting Meaty to the emergency vet.  Meaty was having trouble breathing. Within minutes I was out the door.  (My husband later said I didn't even hang up the phone.)

Tests were inconclusive, but the x-ray showed something near his lung.  The vet recommended the specialists at another ER vet clinic 40 minutes away.  Meaty spent the night at the second ER.  After more tests and exams  - the firm diagnosis was still missing.  Pneumonia, tumor, lung torsion ... maybe, maybe ...  It came down to treating for Pneumonia.  If not Pneumonia, the only choice left was euthanasia.  Surgery in such an old bully is not a humane option.  Antibiotics were started.  My son, his wife and their dogs spent a long weekend at Grandma's while we waited to see if Meaty's breathing improved.  We showered Meaty with love, with treats, help up stairs, and our undivided attention.  If this was his last weekend at Grandma's, we had to make the most of it.  The outcome was this ...
A guy and his dog.  Buds!
More weekends at Grandma's are in the future.
Struggling with the right choices for Meaty was difficult, especially when you aren't sure what the diagnosis is.  We are apparently treating a deep seeded pneumonia.  His breathing has improved greatly - almost totally normal. Antibiotics will be part of his regimen for at least 2 weeks, but maybe longer.  A repeat chest x-ray will be done in 2 weeks.  We are hoping for good news.  My son and his wife deserve the "Dog Owners of the Year Award."  Such heart wrenching choices they struggled with this weekend.  Thankfully they made all the right ones.

If that black cloud wasn't enough, my daughter-in-law's mother was hospitalized and is seriously ill.  She was in the ER with her mother while my son was in the Vet ER with his dog.  Now hours are spent at the hospital at her mother's side ... wading through all the issues and decisions that go with being a first line care giver.  My heart goes out to her as I have a sense of what she is dealing with.  We are all worried for the family.

Just those two issues should have been enough bad karma for this couple.  But one of their friends was in an auto accident and very seriously injured.  He spent the week in Shock Trauma with a life changing injury.  He has a long road ahead to recovery.  This was shocking news for all of us.

It was good to have everyone under the same roof to help juggle the many competing issues that kept falling on their heads.  Some of the bad has started to resolve, some of the bad has yet to begin the mending process.  Some things can't be fixed by simple antibiotics.

But this week my focus will be family - what really matters.

I'll post again sometime next week.

PS - If you pray, please spare a few prayers for my son and daughter-in-law ... and for her family.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Epic Fail

So all my frantic ice making preparations for Hurricane Sandy were an epic fail for keeping the power on along the east coast.  You thought I was joking about that, but usually when I prepare for something, it doesn't happen.  To everyone in the path of Sandy ... sorry.  I did my best.

We lost power for about 24 hours.

That wasn't the only epic fail we experienced.  We lost our land line phone service.

But, hey, I have a cell phone, right?  hmmm ... well sort of.

I have this simple cell phone.  It cost $20 for the unit.  The service was the cheapest I could find - $20 every 3 months through Virgin Mobile.   Early days with this plan (2009) I used it so little I had accumulated about $90 is unused minutes.  I was and continue to be - a low user of cell phones.

But ..

Mom got sick a few times prior to 2011, and then she was sick pretty much all of 2011!  I used that $90 quick.

Now why would I tell you this story?

Well here is the real epic fail of my phone service.

  • My house is a dead zone for my cell phone.  Ha!  No problem, since I have a land line in the house.
  • The power goes out. No lights.
  • My land lines go dead.  No phone.  No problem.  I can use my cell phone to report the outages.
  • Oh, that is right.  I need to stand outside to make a call.
  • Lest we forget there is a mega hurricane on the eastern seaboard.  No matter.  I stand on the side walk and make the call. (Thinking Rambo thoughts - Sandy doesn't scare me!)
  • My land line phone company, AT&T, wants to do some "problem solving maneuvers" while I am on the line before they schedule a technician to visit the property. Maybe this can be fixed quickly. (Bets anyone if this will be quick or not?)
  • Remember - if I go into the house with my cell phone to make "the maneuvers," my call will be dropped!  Can't do that.
  • Oh wait.  I am not alone! My husband can do the maneuvers, so I yell the phone company instructions to him from the sidewalk (where I am standing in the rain.)
  • ahh ... it is very dark in the house.   We have 5 telephones on 3 floors.  He must stumble his way around the house using a flash light and his poor eye sight to do my bidding.  
  • Wet. I am very wet.
  • Oh, and before you say my husband should use the cell phone and I should disconnect the land line phones - you need to know he doesn't use cell phones.  It is a thing with him.  
  • I must admit at that point standing in the rain, I thought he might be on to something!! :-)

So the "maneuvers" didn't work.  We are still without land line service.  But we still have our trusty $20 cell phone - which is soon to be history.

I think I will maneuver this little Virgin Mobile phone with its stinko network into the trash and get myself a "big girl" phone ...  I think an iPhone is looking pretty sweet right now!

Two epic fails in 24 hours is quite enough for me.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Today makes me want to sit by a window and just watch the rain pour out of the sky.  Thankfully the rain is still only pouring straight down ... not side ways with great winds like expected this afternoon and evening.  It is funny how weather can make you feel energized or sedentary.  It is a sedentary day for me right now.

But 8 days ago, the weather was perfect and I was walking around the NY fair grounds at Rhinebeck.  The Sheep and Wool festival was in full swing.

It began with a bus ride.

And not just any bus ride, but one where almost everyone was doing this ... so nice to be surrounded by my "peoples."

Of course, you know me now pretty well.  I had to do something a little different.

Yes, that is me in the bus bathroom.
 I did legitimately need to use it,
 but I also legitimately needed to take a picture.
Thank God that small area had hand rails all around!
I think the bus driver must get his kicks by increasing the
challenge level of using the pot successfully.

The fair grounds were spectacular.  No inadequate words from me are needed.

And then, of course, the best of the best - a picture of me with my cousin.

The bus trip was arranged by my cousin's yarn shop - Gosh Yarn It.  Cute and catchy title for a yarn shop I think.  They also have these very cute bags that I have been coveting for some time.  (I know coveting is a sin, but it isn't like I am coveting something sinful, like some one's husband.  Mine is a small covet.)  Here is a close of up the bag.

The day ended with a return trip over the Hudson River.  Beautiful place to have your gy-normous summer mansion if that is your style.

But here we are now 8 days later with this ...

Actually rain is just fine with me.  I love rainy days (even Sandy-Rainy-Windy days) as much as I love sunny ones.

Did I buy anything at the fair?  Gosh, yes.  Need you ask?  No yarn, though.  Hard to believe right?  Do you need a reminder picture of my yarn closet?

Pictures on that to follow at some point.