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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Dropping a bottle of bubbles on a lap top is not a good thing!

Just in case anyone was wondering about that.

So my access to a computer for the next few weeks will be limited. I will be sharing my husband's iMac computer until Apple has a chance to look at my lap top. Maybe it can be fixed. At a minimum, I want them to retrieve my files. I would really hate to loose some of those pictures and documents.

I'll still be around, just not as frequently!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Meet Achilles

Yesterday's walk was topped off by a wonderful looking English Bull Dog called Achilles. I was on my way into the pharmacy and just ahead of me I saw this small - (no more than 100 lb woman) walking a magnificent English Bull Dog.

You KNOW I had to stop and love that fabulous dog. The lady said this was her second English Bull Dog. The first one was about 55 lbs - Meathead runs about 45 to 50! When the first dog died, they decided to get another one (of course), and they got Achilles - who didn't stop growing. He is about 70 lbs and 3 years old.

He was such a love. Affection personified - if you could avoid his crushing embrace. The owner warned me that he is a drooler and that I probably would need to change my clothes when I got home. I quickly assured her that we have an English Bull Dog in our family - so we are very familiar with the drool, not to mention the snoring, the burping, the passing of wind and all other bodily sounds!

"Ah," she said, "then you know!"

Indeed I do!

There is no breed of dog that has more personality or appeal!

You have to love a face like that.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lake Walk

The temperature was 62 and sunny! I had to take advantage of it.
But walking around my neighborhood would not be enough for me today.

As much as I hate to do it,
I got in my car and drove to Lake Elkhorn - a small lake near my home.
This lake is near enough to walk to if I could do 90 minutes
and didn't mind walking alone through some isolated wooded areas (which I try to avoid).

The lake was filled with people today.
All ages.
Including this old lady.
(Geez, you would think she could comb her hair and put on a little lipstick!!)

I especially loved seeing these 2 senior citizens sitting on the bench
that Meathead and I shared all the time when he was a puppy.

Seeing this lady with her little dog made me a little lonely for my grand dogs
who would have enjoyed a trip to the park
as long as it didn't include much actual walking.

I have always envied the folks who live in these townhouses
so close to the water's edge.
How lovely it would be to sit on the porch,
and knit or read a book,
while the world passed by.

This walking bridge has a lovely bench built into the side
where you can sit and read or just enjoy the view of the lake.
This man, it turned out, was doing neither.
He was playing a game on his cell phone.
Go figure!

This tree was filled with messages carved into the bark.
Hope L + R are still in love.

The walk today was worth the car trip!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Walking Sunday

Seems like my life has settled into a quiet and unexciting period. Nothing to write about.

I did take a walk today. Took pictures to prove it. It was 50 degrees but for some reason I felt cold so I wore my long winter coat. People were walking around in shorts and I was in my "Nanook of the North" coat! By the time I got back I had at least thrown back my hood. I sure feel cheated by this warm winter weather.

Walking just isn't a habit yet and it is happening way to seldom. I am even having problems with that "little walking lady" at the top of my blog. For some reason when I go to the site to register the mileage, it doesn't document the total correctly.

Oh well, as of today it should show 30 miles which isn't all that great. But hopefully it will auto correct as some point.

Anyway, the blog has been quiet for a second week in the row. I seem to be on auto pilot - just cruising. Reading, knitting, crocheting ... visiting with mom ... and dog sitting. Oh, yes, and flower making ... some flower making!

Talk again soon!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

I received this award from Doris from Hold My Hand, A Social Worker's Blog.
Thank you so very much Doris.

If you haven't visited Doris' blog yet, you really should. Doris is a nursing home social worker. I was drawn to her blog last year during a time when I really felt like I was running my own little nursing home. I could see my own life in many of the postings. And I also gained perspective and understanding with regard to the many aspects of aging.

I love the idea of sharing blog sites with other bloggers and I don't do that often enough. I have made so many unexpected blog discoveries from the recommendations of others. And I love the idea of giving this award to another blogger.

This is a new blog, and you will LOVE it. I know I did. Check it out. And say "Hi", and let them know that Retired Knitter sent you. And read the second post completely. It is about a wonderful bulldog, motherhood and the cutest puppies on the face of the earth!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Because it is Sunday ...

I took mom to church.

I have been taking her to church since about 1997. That year she was in an automobile accident and couldn't drive, but once she was recovered she said she enjoyed going to church with me so the tradition continued.

Now that she is in Assisted Living, we changed churches. We now attend St. Peter's Church - Roman Catholic. I believe I have mentioned before that I was raised Catholic, but do not actually practice my faith as an adult the way it was taught to me as a child. I consider myself a spiritual person with a strong belief in God. I have had many conversations with him of the last 5 years ... most of them being with the word ... "Why ..." :-) And I enjoy attending church on occasion, but my inspiration and peace hardly ever is obtained within the confines of a building.

But to mom, attending church on Sunday is very very important to her and so our tradition continues ... for her sake.

St. Peter's church is a very traditional church and new within the last 10 years or so. I admire its strong architectural features, simple lines and white uncluttered feeling. The congregation has been very welcoming in many small ways and it is evident there is sincere devotion among the parishioners. It is also about 5 minutes from mom. It has been a good choice for us.

Today I put on my walking shoes and took that walk I was moaning about several posts before. Here are some picture proofs!
My right foot!

My left foot!

I brought them both with me this time!

This walking habit I want to encourage has never been that big a deal to start - I have started it hundreds of times (as the old joke goes). Usually several simple tricks get me going: gimmicks to track progress, audio books, picture taking, etc. This time the problem has a different twist - it is logistics. I am simply never home. Now that mom lives outside my home I am on the road a lot with visits 4 times a week to see her and other activities that I put a halt to previously (because they took me out of the house away from mom), other activities have now exploded because I am not tied to the home.

But it is just another challenge - and I know with time all this will settle out.

I have a to-do list of things I need to complete today (church and walking can be marked off), so I am off to do the other stuff.

And so another Sunday passes! Hope yours has been good.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I struggle.

Here we are in February ... and I still have not been successful at taking back the habit of walking.

Although mom's needs no longer fill my every minute now that she lives in Assisted Living, my days seem to pass filled with every activity accept taking a walk.

And it frustrates me that this is the case. So, in true Retired Knitter Style, I tried to examine why I can't seem to take back this one activity that is so important to my health and future functioning.

I think the answer is buried in my recent life changes. For five and half years of care giving, I have felt like a tightly coiled spring, ready to jump, always on alert, in a state of anticipation. Looking back I realize that I used walking to release some of that energy. At times I needed walking to clear my head, to provide some equilibrium ... it had nothing to do with being healthier. And it wasn't done with enough frequency even then to attain any health benefits. But when I did walk, I did get an immediate release of stress and energy so it was a bit more easy to put on the walking shoes.

Like the pendulum on a clock, I seem to have swung in the opposite direction over the last two months. My coiled-spring response to life has relaxed. Activities that draw me in are more thought-filled activities. The "need to walk it off" just seems to be gone.

And the habit to walk for health and enjoyment is harder to start because there isn't an immediate feedback. Building that new habit - one that you know is good for you, that you know will make you feel better - is much harder to adopt when the "carrot" is months away.

So I think I know what is going on.

I wonder if that will help move that little lady on the top of my blog a bit more!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Period of Adjustment!!

I am SUCH a creature of habit!

So I get a few comments in my email to my most recent posting, I read them, and put them in Trash - because they are automatically posted to my blog ... right??


I go out and check my blog, and there are no comments posted.

(hand hits fore head in an exaggerated response to my own stupidity)

I go back to my email, check my trash and find my comments are still there (thank goodness) and then open one up - and there is the option to "Publish", "Delete", or "Mark as Spam."

None of which I did!

So there is a learning curve - LOL!!!

And there was a Spam Comment to a 2011 posting.
They sure didn't waste any time sending me spam!

No matter, the mental exercise is good for me!
This will work just fine.


Word Verification

... is apparently one hot topic among a few blogs that I follow.

For those "not in the know" ... Word Verification happens when you place a comment to another blogger's post and a grouping of poorly shaped letters pops up - with a request for you to type those letters into an open field - all in an effort to prove that you are a real person and not some spam machine.

I have always used Word Verification because on the few occasions when I didn't, I would get some bazaar unwanted comments that were obviously spam. But it is evident from some discussions that it is getting harder and harder to read those letters and thus type them correctly.

Soooo, I will drop that feature from my blog. I will install Comment Moderation!

All this means is that when you provide a comment, it will not show until I have had a chance to read and approve it.

The last thing I want to do is add frustration and barriers to the flow of comments in blog land, but I don't want to leave myself open to the idle shenanigans of a few crazy folks.

(The idle shenanigans of my few crazy friends are just Ok.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Craft Day

Weddings are exciting and busy events ... and the preparation is no different.

Recently we had another "craft day" ... led by the bride! So many details.

Food provided to keep up our strength!
Chili, crusty bread and a tossed salad.

I have made 109 paper roses - only 70 more to go!

And still more paper flowers in the making.

Dogs kept us company.
Milo and his mom - sharing a private moment.

Grimace waiting ... for who knows what!!

And Meaty
- not real obvious but very "present"
just incase one of these crafts includes edibles.

Oh, and wine
- you can't make all those paper flowers
without lots of wine!
Everyone knows that!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dear Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature,

I am one of your biggest fans! In fact, I love all your seasons including Winter. Winter is my favorite season so you know I am not exaggerating when I say I am your fan.

Speaking of Winter!

I don't know if you have looked down from your perch lately, but Winter in my little piece of the world has not yet started! And I don't know if you have checked your calendar, but it is February!

Think about that, February!!

I am sitting out on my deck - it is 61 degrees - I don't even have a sweater on.

61 degrees ... February !!!
Doesn't that seem wrong to you?

Although no one else will tell you this ... because they are NOT a lover of all your seasons like I am, you need to "get cracking!" Send some snow. Send a foot of snow. Do it soon, because ....


Sorry, I wasn't yelling. And I don't want to tell you how to do your job! But this is "sub-quality winter." This is below your normal standards! This situation is


No, not yelling! Just trying to get your attention! Don't want you to be embarrassed by


(Breathe, breathe, breathe ....)

Not yelling, really, not yelling .... but ....

(be calm, be calm, be calm ...)

Dear Mother Nature, I calmly request that you send some snow, and not just a spitting coating of snow on the grass, but something substantial that isn't embarrassing to you. A foot would be nice.

(counting backwards from 100 slowly ... and deliberately ...)

Just do what you do best - send winter! Now.

With Love and Great Affection,
Retired Knitter

PS - There will be comments to this post that request that you keep things warm this winter! They are not your true friends. Do not listen to them. Be true to yourself. Do what is correct. Do what you do best.

Send snow!

Monday, February 6, 2012


Happy 86th Birthday, Mom!

You are much loved!

Everyone Should Wear A Tux

My dear husband will need a tux for our son's wedding.

Measurements were taken, shoes were tried on, a mini view of the selections were displayed. While he was being measured, I took pictures. This kind of thing seems to happen .... oh, maybe only every 40 years or so!! I apologized to the staff for taking pictures, and they graciously recognized that I wasn't the first to take pictures of this infrequent event.

And in a blink of an eye - it was over. We were done. They will let us know a few days before the event when to pick it up. My husband said he couldn't remember the last time he wore a tux.

Silly man, I remembered!
He wore a tux at our wedding 42 years ago.
Now he remembers too!!

I have decided that EVERYONE should wear a Tux. The women too. Think on it!

I am the only one in the wedding party who DOESN'T have her wedding duds. And I am feeling the pressure of that fact. Where to get a dress, what to get, time going from one store to another, trying on multiple dresses, and ... (*sigh*) ... the wearing of it at the wedding! And then there are the shoes. I need to get shoes for this event. And hair - I need to get all 6 of my hairs done up!!! And I guess my usual solitary lipstick would be lost in the glittery sea of my dress, shoes and hair - so full make up is on the list of things I need to stress about - and not just any make up but the full deal done by a professional.

When all this is done, no one will know who I am.
I will be totally in disguise.
I could probably rob a bank.
No one would know it was me!!

Panic, Panic, Panic.

Men - they just walk in, get measured, pick it up 2 days before, run a comb through their hair, pluck a few nose hairs and maybe shave - or not! And DONE! And to add insult to injury ... they look good, too!

Everyone should wear a Tux!

PS - But for this wonderful woman who will soon be my daughter-in-law, I would do anything, including going in disguise!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Again ...

Well, I am back to walking again. It always seems like I am starting over ... again.

I had a troublesome start in January with that 2 weeks spell of Shingles. I felt very worn down and could hardly keep any clothing against the skin of my torso. Walking was out of the question ... except maybe walking from the bed to the couch! In fact, just moving was a challenge for a few days. LOL

But that has passed, thankfully.

So I am going forward with my goal of moving that little lady across my blog screen. I probably won't make 1,000 miles in 2012. That total was based on 3 miles per day - every day. It was an ambitious goal when I set it. But no matter. I am happy to just see how close I can get by December 31, 2012.

So for January 2012 - 15.8 miles.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Books in my ears

I love reading books, but now I prefer to listen to them instead. Since joining Audible, the "reading" of books has jumped a lot. I love that I can listen and do other things.

Briefly I want share some of my recent titles/authors with you. I won't share the story but I will provide links to Amazon where there are wonderful summaries and other reviewers. This listing is just my impressions and may point you to other authors you haven't read.

Also, I read a lot of different things. This list trends toward "escape" literature - no deep thinking stuff. Scare me, make me laugh, make me anticipate, make me care - you don't have to educate me. Right now - that is where I am in my life. Next year? Who knows.

Stephen King
Sadly, I am no longer a fan. Carrie, It, Needful Things, Pet Cemetery - just to name a few of his past titles that I thoroughly enjoyed. But now, his new titles ... not so much.

I bought the audio version of The Dome and listened to it completely. If I had borrowed this book from the library I would have stopped about 80 pages in and returned it. I just didn't care enough about the story or the characters. I guess I was just bored! Great idea though - a town that is covered by a clear dome - and what happens. But what happened didn't move me enough.

A recent release of Mr. King's was 11-22-63. This is a time travel book and was hugely hyped by Audible and Amazon. I know that other King fans were also excited by its release. I listened to about 8 hours - and stopped. I think I got bored. I know I didn't care about the characters. That is the death nell for me. After 8 hours of listening, I feel I gave this book a fair shot. I also know that I am in the minority in panning this book. You might enjoy it. I didn't.

I think that my Stephen King days are over. His writing doesn't seem to capture my imagination any more, it is dark in its focus without the icing of the "scare" factor, just depressing rather than interesting. So bye-bye Stephen King. You and I must part company for now. If you ever write something in the style of your earlier novels - I'll come back - eagerly.

(Note: if there is a King novel in the similar vein of his earlier works, please let me know. I miss the old-King.)

Diana Gabaldon - Outlander Series
I have blogged about the author and the series in a previous post (January 4, 2012). So I won't spend much time on it here - except to say I am a huge fan. I love big books, big stories, big characters - I care greatly about this pair - Jamie and Claire - and I will be sorry when this series finally end (hopefully not in my life time. LOL) I am up to the forth book - The Fiery Cross. This is a yummy series. Jamie and Claire are now my "friends." If you like adventure, love story, steamy love scenes, historical bits that slip easily into the history of the time ... this book is for you. I look forward to the next books.
A Cypress Hollow Yarn
This book, as well as 2 others, was given to me as a Christmas gift by my daughter and this is an actual book rather than an audio book. (Yes, I still do love to read an actual book, to hold it in my hands and feel its weight, to turn the pages, to use a real book mark or to dog ear the page to keep my place ... yes, I love real books, too.) How to Knit a Love Story is the first in the series of 3 books - stories that have only the town of Cypress Hollow as the common denominator. This series is definitely light fun reading, fast, and themed for those who are interested in fiber arts. And when I say themed ... I don't mean that causally - fiber arts is a major part of the story, at least in this first book. It is a love story that reads fast, I care about the characters and how they turn out, and I always look forward to returning to the story.

These are the stories that are filling my days. There are others sitting queued up in my night stand or in my Audible Library. As they rise to the surface, I will share them with you.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A knitter crochets - sort of

A crochet pattern caught my eye!
I loved it!
I had to have it!
I would have to crochet it!

But I have never been short on enthusiasm. I managed to entice a number of knitting friends to join me in making this lovely lacy-cardi-wrap-shawl thingy - featured on the cover of Interweave Crochet, Fall 2011 issue.

The fact that it is an advanced pattern, apparently not well written, and I had only rudimentary crochet skills didn't seem to be such a big mountain to climb! Pish-Tish! It was just a hook and some yarn! I certainly could manage this! How hard could it be?

(no laughing here, please)

So we launch a Crochet-A-long within my knitting group. I provided the pattern and the enthusiasm and everyone provided ... well, they provided everything else. As you would expect, all the crochet-ers, moved forward confidently and productively, many crochet discussions evolved filled with crochet jargon, various yarn comparisons were made, hooks sizes were discussed, gauge samples were shared, a luncheon was scheduled to launch the project and we were off and running!!

Well, most of us were off ... I was staggering way behind the pack - cheering folks on, of course, but displaying no idea whatever of what I was doing!

Yeah Team!!! Go, go, go ...

... ah ...
... excuse me ...
What exactly is a single crochet?
Oh yes, I remember now.
And how do you make a double crochet?
... hmmm ...
I think I can do that.
How do I "read" the stitches I have made in the first row
so I can do the second row?

Thankfully my knitting circle is made up of many generous folks ... talented knitters and crocheters who don't mind me sitting beside them each (and every) time I start another crochet row (questions, questions), who don't mind explaining to me for the umpteenth time were to put that first stitch in the row.

Friends are like that.

Now I am not relying totally on the kindness of my friends.

I have a book!

It has great illustrations.

I have yarn - great yarn!

I have brand new crochet hooks. Dig the fancy case.
And I have a gauge swatch - well it will be a swatch when it gets a little bigger.

And I have a magnificent helper!

He knows alllll about crocheting.

"Smells like good crochet to me, Grandma.
But you really can't tell anything until you lick it."

What I don't have is skill,
and experience ...
in crochet!

Now I know how it feels to be a beginning knitter.

Now I know how it feels to be in a foreign country,
and everyone speaks crochet
and you speak knitting.

Now I know.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Through My Care Giver Eyes - Survivors

A chapter is closed on my care giving journey and another one is opening.

Mom has successfully moved into Assisted Living. She thinks of her new space as "home." Staff and residents all report that she is a happy and pleasant person. She seems to enjoy her life, her activities, and her visitors.

She is settled.

I am settled as well. Her successful adjustment made my own adjustment so much easier. It is another little gift my mom gave to me - adjusting well so that I could finally let go.

And so I am closing out this thread of care giving blog postings with a reflection on Survivors.

Thinking back over the last 5 1/2 years and even further back, I can see that Mom and I are both survivors.

Mom has survived and recovered from so much over the course of her life. Knowing that she experienced a difficult marriage for about 24 years, sensing her low self esteem and confidence at the time of my father's death, raising 2 daughters as well as she could - those early challenges created the mental fortitude of a survivor even before I became her caregiver.

The last aging years of illness, disabilities and difficult recoveries revealed much about her. Losses continued to slip away - physical mementos of a life actively lived, declining health, reduced independence, and the loss of memories - those losses run very deep.

Loss in Assisted Living can also be seen. Although I visit her about 4 times a week and she is more actively engaged in social experiences, she has less regular contact with her family. The risks in this elder setting are "out of sight - out of mind" for her family.

And let's not forget ... she has survived me! She has survived the reality of having a daughter become a care giver.

For myself, five years of care giving and dealing with the many extraneous stressors that surrounded that role - changed who I am, how I approach life, and, sadly, hardened my soul a bit.

I've learned a lot about myself in this passage. I have learned
  • to essentially listen to my own conscious - and shut out the voices of others who would do it different and who saw my path as somehow flawed. To know that my own experiences and decisions have validity and that there is no one right way to do anything.
  • to accept the natural losses of the very aged, to not impose my on agenda on the natural aging decline that always wins in the end. Yes, keeping fit and active are important goals for quality of life, but once the path of life is chosen by the very old, accepting that decision is an honorable and respectful choice.
  • to personally let go and change direction when all other options are exhausted.
  • to go from daughter to caregiver, and then back again to daughter.
  • to accept I am not always a kind and considerate person - something I valued in myself for as long as I can remember.
  • to accept the losses I have personally experienced - losses that are best left unsaid.
I suspect am not done learning either.

So this chapter closes for me now. The primary care giver has receded. I am once again a daughter. Our relationship has flourished with friendship. I see her regularly and we talk by phone. It is almost like it was before she moved into my house. Almost ... except that the litany of losses still remain for both of us, but so do the survivors!

And, Mom, you may be more "out of sight" than before, but you are seldom "out of mind" for me. You are much loved in my heart!

Retired Knitter