Mark Twain

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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Who are you ... really!

So who are you .... really!

I mean really,
where no one sees but you!

The real you!

It is the kind of question that some people find difficult.  They spend their lives being someone else because -
  • they don't like who they really are,
  • or they were formed by parents to be one way and find breaking those habits too hard,
  • or they don't know who they are because they are so busy just "fitting in."
One blogger I follow, Chatty Crone, addressed that question in a recent posting called  Thursday Thoughts.  As I read her post I thought - wow, I could have written some of this!  I wonder how many people can relate to that feeling after reading her words ... or after reading my words.

So I decided to answer that question about myself - because I am not the same person I used to be just a short time ago.  Please check out Chatty Crone's posting to see if it rings any bells for you.

My first 60 years can be summed up in one word: conform.  Raised in the 50's (a conforming period) and the 60's (a non conforming period), it was a confusing and changing time.  But by the 60s, I strove to fit in and to not challenge. Some of it was in deference to my mom and the dysfunctional family we lived in.  I wasn't into causing her any more headaches.  Some of it was because I am (was?) an easy going person.  I was also raised within a religious tradition that was big into conforming.  If you didn't conform, if you questioned, there was guilt.

Self esteem, independent thinking, trusting your instincts, questioning, self direction ... were not ideas that held any meaning for me growing up.  I grew into adult hood, selected my professional path from the narrow range available to women at the time (secretarial, nursing or teaching) and married the weekend after my college graduation.  I followed the path that was expected of me.

It wasn't all bad.  Luckily my selection of a husband was good.  We are in our 43rd year of marriage and we have 2 wonderful kids.  I wouldn't change any of that.  But so many other decisions over the years were tempered and limited by my learned response to conform.

When I look back on that point in my life, I despair at my lack of vision and independence.

When I was 60 the transition began.  Mom moved into my home when I was 59.  The years between 60 and 64 were increasingly difficult years:  growing care giving responsibilities, constantly increasing demands, changing roles, and, at times, unsupportive and challenging attitudes from unexpected places.

Those years changed me.  It was like a baptism by fire. I learned to speak my mind, to question authority, to take definitive action, and most importantly, listen to my gut rather than the opposing chatter around me!  I learned to set aside previously important relationships.  I learned to put myself first, finally.  I learned to question even the most basic truths of my religious upbringing without guilt.   I am not saying any of this is easy.  Sixty years of habits are hard to overcome.  But the change is now solidly established within me.  There is a different me!

For my mom, I still do the same things she has always expected.  For her and her alone, I can set this "new me" aside as it would only cause her stress ... old age is hard enough without expecting her to adjust to a "different" daughter.

And so Chatty Crone opened a flood of realization.  I wonder if my care giving years had never happened, would I still be cruising through my life living the expectations of others and seeking to conform.

Just like the zebra in the picture above, I look the same on the outside, but on the inside - I am facing in a very different direction.

Note:  I think my butt is smaller than the zebra's.  At least I hope so.  :-)

(Gosh, is that a cultural conformity that I need to shed?  Most certainly!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Better today ...

... because

  • My husband only had a medicine reaction causing his blood pressure to drop which is easily corrected by adjusting meds. He is not dying from any dreadful disease - which, OF COURSE, I immediately assumed and which raised MY blood pressure and pulse rate off the charts. (Excuse me while I go take my own blood pressure pill.)
  • Both cats are now on meds for their coccidia infection.  And Wally's butt has been shaved with excellent results.  We can now see his little butt, but more importantly, we can see no poop or poopy mats in his hair.  Yeah for vet groomers.   AND we discovered Pill Pockets, a tasty cat treat that totally disguises to offending pill hidden within.  They both swallow those Pill Pockets down their gullets without a wrestling match.  (All those Internet jokes about what happens when you give try to give a cat a pill are TOTALLY AND UNDENIABLY TRUE - and we have 2 cats to pill each day for 14 days, so "All Hail to Pill Pockets"!!)
  • The retail store was adequately stocked with Bissell rug cleaning solution so I can get my carpets back to their normal dirty state without cat poop smears.
  • Mom is now adequately stocked with all those un-named items she needs everyday. She was also happy with the surprise visit on a non-visit day.  She enjoyed all the stories of my last 24 hours.  Glad someone enjoyed them.
  • I will be getting my dear Meathead and Grimace today so I can see for myself how they are doing (which reportedly is just fine), but you know how grandmothers are.  They need to see for themselves.
  • AND, I got my hair cut today.  I consider my hair cut my "face lift" day!!
See, Wednesday is better.

PS - I am sure this was way more information than you wanted to know.  But I feel better getting it out of my head and into my blog!!  Hope your day is as good as mine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

You know you are having a bad day when ...

.... when

  • Your husband almost passes out, gets gray and clammy, and falls into his chair so he doesn't fall down.  And you take his blood pressure and it is low, low, low.  And he is on blood pressure meds for high blood pressure. Not today!  So off to the doctor we go.
  • Your cats are diagnosed with Coccidia and you wake up in the morning to stool smears all over your floors and rugs because one of them had diarrhea.  And he is a long haired cat so it is alllllll over his beautiful long hair as well, and you can't get it clean without being bitten.  And you take him to the vet so they can shave his beautiful hair off his butt because it is the only way the poopy lumps are coming off. (Trust me, he tried all night long!)
  • And you are almost out of steam cleaning fluid for your rug cleaner. Timing is everything.
  • And your mother, who was running out of a vital item (don't make me name it here) on Sunday is still running out today, because you forgot to bring her more on Monday.  So a trip back out to Assisted living must be made this afternoon.
  • And you discover your grand dogs, Meaty and Grimmy, had a troubled night.  Meaty also had loose stools and Grimmy dug away at his ear till it bled.  Their papa is taking care of them today, but still it upsets me.
Tomorrow will be better.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Not an Empty Nest - the way it is supposed to be.

Sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say.

Then I read a post on another blog and I find I am commenting with more than just a few words.

That is what happened this morning.

One of the blogs I follow is called A Simple Happy Life.  She posted about being a new empty nester  and the emotions of that state in life.  It sparked a realization in me.

I was an Empty Nester a while back with all the emotions of that state.  I don't think I am now.

That was a new idea for me.

Both my kids moved home separate times after moving out the first time.  It seems to be the way of it in this economy.  But now they both have property that they live in and one is married.  I doubt either will move back home again.

I remember when they both moved back home and I was joyful.  But I also remember after a few months feeling like this was not how they should be living their lives.  And I began to want independence for them again, while still enjoying their company at home.  When they moved out I was happy for them.  The house was quiet again and I was sad, but this was how if is supposed to be I thought.

Now they are in their 30's.  Although they both have their "adult wings", they would still always be welcome if needed.  They will always have the option of a roof over their heads in my home as long as I live, but I enjoy my own separate life now, and I am slowing down so live-in family under my roof would be a stretch for me.  I know that they are supposed to be on their own, and this is the way it is supposed to be.

Now as I approach my older years I take care of myself - and must focus doing a good job of that because I don't want them to have any responsibility for me ... I have lived through that with my mom.  It is a very hard path to travel and I don't want that for them.  It is not the way it is supposed to be!!

My nest is empty only if I expect one of them to move back home.  I don't.  My nest is perfect the way it is.  So it is not empty.

Life is a cycle - so it is said.

Funny, I don't think we truly know that in our hearts until we live through it.

Guess I still have something to say.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another one of those dog days

It is now 6:45 am and I am checking my email and blogs.

Need to get my walk in before beginning my day.

Today will look a lot like this:

  • Leave to go pick up Milo about 9:00 am. No, the last time I left at that time it was too late.  That darn DC traffic!  Must leave earlier, maybe around 8:30 am.
  • Get to Milo's around 9:30 am.
  • Pack that dear little boy into my car and head out to see mom - probably around 9:45 am - if I am lucky.
  • Drive north through city traffic to Sandy Spring, MD where mom now lives - get there around 10:45.  Last time I did this I pulled into mom's around 11:15.  No joke. DC traffic sucks.
  • Visit with mom for an hour - leave around 12:30.
  • Get home around 1:00 pm.  Walk that cutie, Milo. Eat lunch. Sit on the couch with the boy for 30 minutes or so.  Try not to fall asleep.
  • Leave the house around 3:00 to pick up Meathead and Grimace.  Get there around 3:30.
  • Walk those cuties at their house.  Load them into my car and get home around 4:00 pm.
  • Quickly run in the house to retrieve Milo and walk all 3 dogs - who all resist walking together in a single direction.  grrr
  • It is now 4:30 pm.  Dinner time for the mutts. Stand guard over Meathead who is the slowest eater of the 3 and make sure no one else eats his food.  
  • Meaty always needs to walk right after eating.  At 4:45 pm it is harness time for the 3 again, and do the walk-poop-pee thing. 
  • It is now 5:15 pm. Time to start our dinner.  Cook, eat, clean up.
  • Meaty is at my front door again at 6:30, because the end of my dinner marks his 3rd walk of the day.  Yep, we all harness up again.  Out the door.
  • Around 7:00 pm we return.  Time to sit on the couch and snuggle.
What the heck happened to my day?

Enough blogging.  Need to get moving.  Dogs await!

New Steps

I really liked the look and feel of these steps in my neighborhood.  Years and years of high school students climbed them to reach their school ... my kids included.  They were there for more than 30 years.  They had character.

Guess they didn't fit the look and feel of our "planned" city, because yesterday I walked by and I saw this.

Why is it that less than perfect stuff must be "replaced"?  Those old steps were there for over 30 years.  Yes, the wood was a little uneven because the ground had shifted over time, and some steps were worn, but they worked just fine.

Oh well, guess these new steps will be safer!

Here's hoping they won't be cement!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Knitted Wheel Cover

uhh ... 

I guess this makes a statement!

And the license plate says CJ Knits.



One of a kind.

Coordinates well with the vehicle, don't you think?


I took this picture about 2 weeks ago when I went to the Mannings. 
 I am still trying to decide do I love it or hate it.

How about you?

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Beautiful Orange Mushrooms

Sometimes the colors of nature are so brilliant, so striking ... that you just have to stop your car by the side of the road, get out, walk across with your camera in hand, and take a picture of it (even if people are slowing down to stare at you.)

That was the case today.  I was on my way to see mom, and along the retirement village drive I spotted this absolutely striking patch of orange color.  It was just radiant in a sea of green.

I couldn't believe my eyes.  Remarkable.  And, of course, I looked them up on the internet.

There were a number of different kinds orange colored mushrooms (who knew...), but the Jack-O'-Lantern Mushrooms seemed to be the closest in description.


Jack-O'-Lantern (Omphalotus olearius)

This bright-orange mushroom is well named. Not only is it pumpkin-colored and found in the fall, but it also glows in the dark. Fresh specimens sometimes give off a faint greenish glow at night or in a darkened room.
These common mushrooms have caused many poisonings because they look, smell and even taste good. They cause mild to severe stomach upset but are not life-threatening to healthy adults.
Jack-o'-lanterns have a pleasant, fruity fragrance. They are sometimes mistaken for the edible chanterelle, which is the same color and also has a pleasant smell. Chanterelles, however, have flat-edged, interconnecting ridges or wrinkles instead of knife-like gills and grow on the ground. Size: 3 to 10 inches tall, cap 3 to 8 inches diameter.
These mushrooms are found in summer and fall, in large clusters at the base of trees, on stumps or on buried wood.


The only difference is that these were not growing at a base of a tree - they did appear to be just growing on the ground.  Maybe there was some buried wood I didn't see.

I think they are just beautiful.

So, does anyone know what these are?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Talk the Walk - Virtual Appalachian Trail Hike

Some people have a "bucket list" ... stuff they want to see or do before they die.  I don't have that kind of list.

But over the last 10 years or so, I have had a small voice inside me that whispers a nagging message.

"Too bad you never hiked the Appalachian Trail."  

Yeah ... I know ... that sounds like sort of a mid-life crisis reaction ... something you do because you fear advancing age and you gotta squeeze in just one more thing ... hoping to slow down the march of time.  Some people buy a red sports car, some have an extra marital affairs, some take up running, some live in house boat and sail off to see the world.

Me? ... I would have loved to walk the Appalachian Trail.  

Well, I am past my mid-life now at 65.  But the AT hike idea did pop into my head around 50.  And although my husband and I discovered light hiking late in life (our 50's), our later years have been filled with family responsibilities for me and increasing visual impairment for him.  So even light hiking now is out unless you considered the walk from the kitchen to the living room a "light hike".  We weren't campers, or hikers, or outdoors enthusiasts earlier in life.  The preparation for so strenuous an adventure wasn't there. 

But it doesn't stop me from reading about people who have taken long hikes.  Currently I am reading Walking Home, A Woman's Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail by Kelly Winters (publication 2001).
Does she look 65 years old to you?
Maybe in my next life.
It is one of many books I have read about people who have thru-hiked this 2160 mile trail on the eastern coast of the US.  I recommend it if you enjoy arm chair travel books that share an adventure you probably would never take.  I think it is out of print, but my library had it. 

Then I got to thinking.  I can't actually walk the AT trail, but wouldn't it be fun to virtually walk it.  This trail has a long shared documented history with many pictures.  Wouldn't it be fun to periodically apply my milage to the Appalachian Trail (AT) map and see where I wind up each time.  What are the sights I passed and the typical challenges of that trail, what can I expect going forward, and how long would it take for me to virtually walk the entire distance?  Yes, I am not making sterling progress on my current 1,000 miles a year goal - although I am picking up steam (and distance - with more on that later).  But, heck, it is a virtual walk and I am actually walking the steps anyway so why not see how they play out on the AT map.

This new posting series will be called The Virtual Appalachian Trail Hike.  And I will do my first post at the beginning of September.  It will give me time to get organized.  I will apply my total August mileage to the AT and report on what I passed with pictures.  (I will try to avoid waxing on about my virtual blisters!)

I am also looking for an online map of the AT that will allow me to post a little marker on it - sort of a visual that shows where I virtually am.  I haven't found anything yet.

I would welcome company - either with comments on my "adventures" or with reports on your own progress should you care to join me in this walk.  Hey, come on!  2160 miles sounds like a big number, but ... really ... it is just a walk in the woods!

Oh, you should also check out A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson! (My review here.) It is my favorite book of all time!  It is the story of the author walking the trail.  He is so unprepared at first that he makes me look like an AT veteran!  Great fun.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Talk the Walk - The Big Picture: Age Well

Keeping the "big picture" in mind is very important to me.

It is easy to get distracted by breaks in exercise, times when the pattern of activity gets interrupted by life in general.  It is then when the temptation to take the easy road (the couch) is the strongest.

For me - I have really only one goal - my big picture:  age well, age comfortably, age with enough energy and flexibility to do what I want for a long time.
Aging well - guess that means different things to different people.  So often in our culture aging well means: keeping up with the younger generation, wearing a size 4 or 6 pair a jeans, using the advances in medicine to "correct" the signs of a aging, applying more make up to look younger.  Sometimes those things just point out your increased age - not how "young" you are.

I wish our culture wasn't so shallow in their judgements of its older citizens.

Well, I can't change that.  But I can march to my own drum.

All the really "young at heart" people I know are active.  They are moving.  And they are interesting people who have active minds and bodies.  They are interested in living, thinking, creating.

I believe aging gracefully includes respect for the limitations of the aging body (that isn't supposed to live forever), and making the most of what body and mind are left to you at any given time of life.  It is accepting the limitations that nature has hard wired into you at birth while using the rest as best you can.

For me - walking is the key to the "big picture."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

So far so good

The Vomiting Queen seems to have missed this little bug that showed its ugly head in my house Monday night - at least so far.  One night I felt queasy, but it is hard to know if I was fighting off a virus or just talking myself into being sick.

I hate that kind of GI upset - it makes you just want to lay down and die.  So hopefully I haven't jinxed myself by talking about it.  If I get through tonight (72 hours), I will consider that I missed that bullet.

I did, however, make some really interesting discoveries since Monday night.

Because no one wants to be sick or around someone who is sick ... or might be sick soon, I cancelled my life - trying to stay away from people and waiting out the incubation period.  And big chunks of my days opened up.   Wow, it felt odd.  I kept thinking - is this what if feels like to be only responsible for me?   I discovered I had time for things like walking, picking up my house, cleaning, weaving, reading.  I struggle getting that stuff into my day at times.

Next week I will joyfully return to my regular schedule (hope my dear grand dogs don't forget who grandma is.)

Old picture of the boys - Milo on the left is at least as big as Grimace on the right.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Waiting my turn.

So we are sick!

Well, at least my husband is.  I am waiting my turn.

You know the drill!  One person starts vomiting and everyone else thinks it is such a fun idea that they start doing it too!  (Not!)

Anyway, as soon as he got sick I could see the writing on the wall.  At some point I would be next, laying in bed wishing for death.  So I ran out to the store while I still could, got stuff needed to weather this bug, and then came home and made chicken soup.  I paid mom's bills that had been waiting.  I picked up around the house. I cloroxed all the surfaces he touched.  I washed my hands dozens of  times.

I am ready!

I am sticking pretty close to home right now.  Maybe I can get caught up on my blogging and my reading.

Just hoping I didn't bring this bug out to mom on Monday when I took her to a dentist appointment.  The last time this bug hit our family she wound up in the hospital on IV fluids and stayed 4 days.  It was the beginning of a very bad year health wise for her.

Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Love it, hate it, love it

You know, every aspect of weaving for me is such a mystery.  
First you pick the yarns.  I love the lime green Tofootsie yarn.  It is such a cheerful color - bright and sunny.  And love the purple and green yarn that is wrapped on the shuttle. 
 The colors compliment each other so well.  
So I knew these beautiful colors would look great in a scarf together
 and beautifully match my winter coat.

Love it!

So I warped up the loom and started weaving!

In my mind's eye I saw this coming out differently.
I think I imagined there would be more purple showing.
I think I envisioned something else - something I liked more.  
once the warping is done and the weaving begins, it is alittle late to say "ugh".
Better to keep on weaving.  Better to see the finished project off the loom.

Hate it! (sadly)

Scarf is done!  It is off the loom.  
Off to the closet to dig out my winter coat!
Put the two items together!

Love it!!

Weaving is a mystery to me!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hard day for step count

12,925 steps for today!

It was a tough day to achieve a big number! 

I got a phone call at 2:30 am this morning.  And, as is typical, I didn't get back to sleep until 4:30 am.  I think my age is catching up with me.  Sleep interrupted is sleep lost!  When I was younger I could go back to sleep with no problem.  Not now.

So when I got up this morning, I skipped my Tuesday Morning Knitting Group.  I decided to spend my last precious energy of the day in a morning walk.  It was productive.  I felt pretty good while walking.

But later ... when not walking ... slump, slump, slump!!  I tried to nap!  Never happens.  I am just not a napper! I did spend some time just laying on the couch!

So the fact I made over 12,000 steps today is a miracle!

Tonight?  A "benedryl and Advil cocktail" to ensure good sleep.  

Tomorrow?  A morning walk! Yeah!!!

Knitting Update

I am so close to finished on the sweater - it is almost hard to believe.
  I started the project in October 2011 and want it done for that winter.
  Silly me. 
 Here is hoping it is done for this winter.

 All the actual knitting is done.
  I have to sew on these pretty buttons - a perfect match for the color of the sweater.
I have to tie in all the loose ends.

But the button holes are not satisfactory.  I always make terrible button holes.  I actually got out my books to look for new options in creating these holes.  I'll try to put an edge on the holes to neaten them up some.  If that doesn't look good, I will sew up holes and put loops on the band opposite the buttons.  That worked well on another sweater.

The real question is ... how long will it take for me to do that!  
These are not the fun steps that are left!

The fun steps were making these beautiful cables.

One note: the color looks orange.  It is not. It is red.  
I couldn't find lighting that would show the colors correctly.

I am also making some dish cloths.  I love knitted dish cloths. 
They do a fabulous job as cleaner-uppers in the kitchen and they are mindless, fun and quick to make.  Instant gratification.  
Well, instant as in a day or two as opposed to 11 months for a sweater!!

I will also get back very soon to a crochet wrap I started for my daughter.  
Another project that I want done for this winter!!  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Juicer

I am a big believer in the idea:

"If you can buy something as good or better than you can make,
 buy it.  
Save your precious life moments for something that can't be bought."  

Since my favorite room in the house is NOT the kitchen, I amend that statement to describe food:

 "If you can buy something nearly as good as you can make, 
buy it."

Now ... meet the Juicer!

This piece of equipment doesn't make something that is nearly as good or better than good.  It makes something that is so much superior to what you can buy, that the name "juice" shouldn't be used to describe it.

Just like the "juice" from grapes is called "wine," this produce fluid should have its own name.

During a recent visit my cousin brought along her Juicer.  This piece of equipment is part of her new focus to eat better and to feel better.  Every morning she produces this wonderful fluid for her breakfast (I won't call it juice because that label is just so misleading.)

It takes some time to prep the vegs and fruits, but once that step is done, it is quick work to produce the most yummy beverage that is amazingly filling and tastefully satisfying ... and healthy as well.


Oh, and colorful!  Something that colorful has to be good!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sizing Down

Yesterday I stabbed the Evil Clutter Fairy to death.  I have done this many times in the past.  I guess fairies are immortal.  The Clutter Fairy most certainly is.

I get the feeling to reduce my stuff probably once a year.  The "stuff" around me becomes too much.  It seems to close in and make my living space smaller and smaller.  And then the "need" hits and I start the down sizing cycle again. Sometimes my efforts center on one room - like the kitchen.  Not this day.

My one extravagance in life is my yarn and fiber crafts.  Tools, yarn, fiber, equipment, patterns, books ...  it has taken over one whole room so you know it is serious.  I like this room to look organized.  I live with the impression (not the reality) that I can find what I need in that room because I just reorganized it this spring. The room is small, only 8'x10', so if I need something, it most certainly can be found.

Yesterday that impression was tested.  I tried to find a knitting pattern.  One pattern.  It was probably 5 sheets of paper clipped together.  No luck.  Ridiculous!  I was just using it.  It is right in this one little space - a small book case - in this small room.  No luck.

This book case has about 40 books and five binders - filled with patterns I have clipped over the years - all categorized for ease of use.  But still. No pattern. On top of this book case was a stack about 18 inches high of patterns I had yet to file away.  Eighteen inches is a lot of patterns.  I looked through the stack.  No pattern.

Then the thought hit.  Even if I lived another 25 years, I wouldn't knit all the patterns in that stack or in the binders.  Time to thin this space out.

I went through every single pattern.  My God!  What ever was I thinking.  Some of those patterns were butt ugly.  Some patterns would look good if I was a size 2. (Not!)  Really ... that pattern has no shape.  Holy Moly!  I would go crazy with boredom knitting that pattern!   And so it went.

Four hours and a huge bag of paper recycling later, the patterns were thinned out and all were filed.  And the one pattern that I wanted still wasn't found.

I guess it truly wasn't there.

You know, I feel so much better.

But I can feel the Evil Clutter Fairy rising from the dead again!

Looking around!  Yep, time to clean out another spot!