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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blog Following - a question

Now that the A to Z Challenge for 2012 has launched and hundreds
(probably over a 1,000 again this year)
are signing up and adding their links to the list,
I am left with the same question I had last year!

While I am "window shopping" through all the blogs,
how do I know which ones I want to follow?

Really, it is not that easy a question to answer for me.

When I hit that "follow" button, I fully intend to regularly visit and read the posts. I join that site because something about that blogger's posts appeals to me, draws me in, makes me laugh, makes me think, sometimes make me tear up, ... something ... something that is hard to describe.

When I look at all the blogs I follow (the list is quite extensive and not fully represented on my blog side bar), the first thing I notice is that there is diversity to the mix. It isn't all knitting, or life journals, or cooking, or photography. It doesn't follow a specific theme, like writing or religion!

So what is that indescribable something that draws me into a blog enough to say, "Hey, I want to return and read more."

There are a few "likes" I know about:
  • I like blogs that describe the life of someone who lives in a very different place - remote winter lands or other countries, places that I will never see otherwise.
  • I really like blogs that focus on the home and on the ponderings of the writer.
  • I love blogs that show a passion for a hobby like knitting or weaving or leather work or paper crafts or anything where you create with your hands.
  • I totally love blogs where the writer has a quirky or humorous out look on life.
So as I am "window shopping" through the A to Z Challenge participants for this year, I am looking for "new blog friends" to discover and follow. And sometimes I discover a blog with something entirely different from my known lists of "likes" ... something I never even considered before ... something that broadens my world just a bit.

That is what is so great about this challenge - the "exploration!"

How do you decide which blogs to follow?
What are the things that draw you into another blogger's world?
How do you know when it is right to hit that "follow button?"

Monday, January 30, 2012

Opening Day

Today is the big day!

Sign ups open for the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Don't know what that is? Check it out here!

In its 3rd year, this blog challenge has taken on a life of its own.

It has its own blog.
It has its own history.
It has its own art work.
It has its own growing list of blog followers.
It has its own support team.
It has its own guidelines.
It has its own everything.

It is HUGE!!

If you are looking for me on that big list of participating blogs ...
I am blog #103.

But if you are reading this, you already know about me!

This challenge is about the hundreds and probably thousands that will be participating.

There are some real jewels out there! Wonderful inspiring blogs.

Check them out!

Huge - very very big!

Join up!

Be part of the fun!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Back Mostly ... But

So I am returned! Mostly.

The shingles eruption is mostly resolved. The shingles pain is reduced and mostly controlled.

So mostly I am better!

The lingering pain is tolerable - the skin feels like a sun burn and the underlying tissues feel like pulled muscles when I move. These symptoms may fade with time - or not. But if not, I think it is manageable.

So the lesson to be learned?

If you get shingles,
get medical help sooner rather than later
- like within 72 hours of the eruption.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Slipping off the grid for a bit

I think I will be going blog-quiet for a period. Not even walking to move my little person for a week or so.

A week ago I started with a some shingles on my torso. The last episode of shingles was about 30 years ago. As painful and itchy as this is, 30 years seems like a good span between episodes!! And now one week into this, the symptoms are pretty intense.

Anyway, I have been seen by the doctor who said I waited too long (you know, being a long suffering and stupid person that I am), for the meds they have to be really effective (even though I am on them now). Meds should be started within 72 hours of the outbreak and I waited a week!! So I am left with feeling miserable.

So no walking or blogging until I am feeling better.

If anyone knows of a way to lesson the symptoms let me know.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Are you hibernating?

This January seems slow.

Now I am not complaining. No, not at all. I am very happy for the lull. But I don't know if I have ever experienced the confluence of such quiet all in one period before.

For example:

I read quite a number of blogs. It is nothing for me to open my reader and find I am 70 or 80 blog posts behind. This week for the first time ever, I was up to date. And for days I have seen maybe 3 or 4 postings - not the usual 20 posts. Big drop. Bloggers have quieted down.

I listen to a whole bunch of pod casts. I usually can keep up with these because I listen while I am doing other stuff, but I am always behind. Always. And yet, for a few weeks I am current - nothing waiting for a listen. There is a lot of radio silence out there. And 2 pod casts are officially ending.

The weather is stable - not too cold - no big weather. So no excitement (or chagrin) about an impending snow storm or deep frigid cold. Just a flat repetition of cool to cold sunny weather. For a lover of snow, like me, this lack of winter zest is most disheartening. Listening to the weather on TV is just plain boring.

Groups that I participate with have been a little low on attendance. Pockets of illness must be keeping people holed up in their homes. Mom reports that her meals at Assisted Living are not well attended either. Out of the 16 residents who normally show up in the dining room, only 3 or 4 are coming to the table. Trays of food are being delivered to rooms. Folks are sick. Keeping them apart makes sense. (Mom's still well, thankfully.)

Has January always been like this? In previous years have I been too busy with the stuff within my own four walls to notice the world just slowing down this month?

Interview at Savage Mill

For those interested in the Knitting Behind Bars Interview

Here is the link.

It was an interesting interview.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nuts! Too soon over - the ride home

I knew this moment would come.


I delayed the trip until 3:00 in the afternoon. The roads were quiet going home. No need to take pictures. Nothing had changed from the ride out. But I had plenty of time to reflect on the weekend.

I had a great time. It was quiet, except for all the laughter, and the sharing, and to cooking, and the eating, and the crafting. Hmm .... now that I think about it, it wasn't a quiet weekend at all. :-)

I had taken a ton of pictures, but suddenly I realized I never got a group photo. In fact, I seldom took pictures of people. Panic! Maybe I should turn around, go back to Ocean City, and get that shot. No. The pictures I had were perfect as they were. We were not "groomed" for pictures at any point that weekend. My hair never got combed the whole time, often we just stayed in pajamas the whole day. But those images that never made it into my camera - the happy faces - are tucked away in my memory where they will be safely kept.

I also took a few other things home with me.

The weekend began with the distribution of Goodie Bags!
How cool was that?
My bag's message reflected the feeling of these three days for me.
I will think with joy of that weekend every time I see this charming bag.

I bought candy for mom from The Candy Kitchen.
She has such a sweet tooth.
My cousin, Linda, gave me an ocean side oil painting she created.
She sent it home as a gift for mom.
My cousins (both of them) are hugely talented artists.

This image says so much about the beauty of nature near the water's edge.

As I approached
The Bridge
I realized that I was going to be provided one last beautiful image.
Sun Set
Soooo out came the camera once again.
And the snapping began.

As I took pictures traveling over this previously feared bridge,
I realized just how much I changed this year.
It is going to take more than this bridge to make me fearful.

This year I faced down some hard personal situations.
I came out the other side of a hard year.
I am different.

After the sun set, darkness quickly fill the sky.
By the time I got to my street, it was night.

Soon I pulled into my parking space.
I looked up to my living room window.
Do you see what I see?
There in the window.
A pair of ears silhouetted in the light of my home.
Those perky little ears belonged to just one dear dog.

Milo was expecting his grandma.
And she was thrilled to see him.

Thank you

We made a wonderful weekend.

Until next time ...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ahhh ... the Quiet-Side Walk

The bay side of Ocean Highway is considered the quiet side of the island/sandbar that holds several large ocean communities - Ocean City being one of those communities.

Saturday was sunny and a reasonable temperature so I went for a walk - over to see the bay.

Ocean City has a pretty thin geography. It is easy to walk from the ocean to the bay (I try to ignore just how thin the sandbar is that I was standing on. Being formed by a large hurricane in the 1930s, that sandbar could disappear just as fast as it formed in another storm ... but today - blue skys.)

I love walking the flat streets of ocean resort communities. Generally the houses are all different and many have ocean themed "names" on signs. All great fun!

Of course in January there aren't too many people around. The quiet of the bay side was more so because of the lack of occupants. But it made walking around and taking pictures much easier because no one wondered what I was doing.

The Ocean City neighborhood I walked through was called "Little Salisbury".
Just look at how blue that sky was.
(The sand bar I was standing on was safe from storms that day.)
It was a beautifully crisp day for a walk.

There were some interesting little structures.

A closer look.

Further down I took a side street and looked at the back yards!

Really, guys!
The back yards.
No grass to mow,
no dog poop,
no yards filled with kids toys
or rusted grills
or forgotten lawn furniture.

I could live like that!

Of course, at the end of the street is this ... the beautiful quiet bay!

Later that night we had dinner/lunch at Liquid Assets.
Guess the name relates to all the bottles that surrounded us,
but the food was sensational!!
And so was the company.

Tomorrow: The trip home!

Monday, January 16, 2012

ahhh ... the knitting, the weaving, the yarns

Very very cold at the beach!
January - is just a cold month in my little piece of the world.

But January is the perfect time to handle yarn and wear your furry slippers
... and that is what I did.

First of all, the view ...

The real view ....

Other things that filled our eyes.

Hand woven scarves - all done by my talented cousin, Linda.
Yarn ball winding.
Needle Point - this picture doesn't do justice to the brilliance of the colors.

This is my loom with a brand new project on it - started (shamefully) last May when my cousin visited. That little scarf is almost completed.

Knitting, of course, :-)

Crocheting, too.
Morgan, my cousin's dog. A most beautiful face to match and loving personality.

Talking and hanging out.

Reading - yes that is a yarn pattern book.
Weaving DVD on the TV

Ok, so not everyone thought the DVD was interesting!

And finally my yarn purchase! I saved this until the end.
I can hear those thoughts flooding through your brain
(well, maybe is is just my brain)

"What!! More yarn.
Have you looked in your yarn closet lately?
Have you looked in the baskets all over your floor?
Have you lost your mind?"

To the last question - well, maybe yes. Just a little.
BUT I have reasons in answer to the other questions.

Reason #1
I was at the beach.
This was vacation yarn.
All fiber artists know that vacation yarn doesn't count.

Reason #2
That yarn was kettle dyed and the color of beach sand!
Really ... do you need to know more?

Reason #3
They had the perfect buttons to go with the yarn. See?
How often does that happen?

Reason #4
The yarn shop owner's name was Elaine - just like me!!!

So the yarn was coming home with me.
It was just meant to be!

Tomorrow: My walk on the bay side of Ocean City.

Yours truly ... A to Z

Yours truly ... meaning me ... will write a guest post on Blogging from A to Z. The post is scheduled to publish tomorrow, Tuesday, January 17th.

I participated in The A to Z blog challenge in April 2011 and I blogged about the experience in October of 2011. That post can be found here.

ahhh ... The Ocean

I am home, but I want to share the joy of the weekend with you.

I am not sure how long it has been since I had a weekend away from home - shedding all the roles and responsibilities of my life. But it has been long enough that I just don't remember.

The trip to the ocean was wonderful.
So eager was I to depart that I forgot to take pictures until I got to The Bridge.
For me,
the Chesapeake Bay Bridge
The Bridge.
Over lots and lots of water.
Lots of water.

And I forgot to put the life vest on my Subaru!

It is long - over 4 miles.
It sways even in low winds.
It is high.
It turns a corner in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.
(Who thought that was a good idea!)
I have spent probably 30 years hating The Bridge, but not today.
No fear,
no anxiety,
no shallow breathing.
Just joy at riding in the direction of the ocean.
(I was even taking pictures, while driving The Bridge, for gosh sakes.)

The country side on the Eastern Shore of Maryland is very flat.
Much of it is filled with farms. Some are abandon.

Although a bit desolate, I love the look and feel of this picture.
It reminds me of a painting.

Three or four small towns dot the trip to Ocean City.
It used to be more common to see small family grave yards in the middle of open fields.
Many have sadly disappeared.

The trip takes about 3 hours when you do the speed limit. I guess I got a bit bored!
Yes, this is me smiling for the camera ... that is resting on my steering wheel.
(Trust me, there were no other cars near me!
Trees with big fat sturdy trunks
that might smash my new car entirely if they got in my way
but no cars. And no trees stepped out into the drive lane, thankfully.)

Love my new sweater (Pattern: The February Lady's Sweater) that I finished blocking the day before. Here is a shot of my sleeve.

Don't ask how I got this picture!
Dig those buttons.
Amazing color.
(Stop it! I am watching the road.)
I have taken other pictures of this sweater with the idea of putting it on the blog, but the colors were all wrong. Sitting in the car, going 60 mile an hour, I got the color perfectly.

Ocean City in sight. I can stop taking pictures of my chest and arm now.
Besides - my camera battery was nearly dead.
Crossing another bridge from the main land to the sand bar that is Ocean City!
Excitement grows.

So close! Just over the dune.
The condo and a reminder to treat our beach with care.

And my goal!
Just me and the beach!

How do you improve on this!

Tomorrow: the people and stuff we did when not adoring the beach!