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

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.