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

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Through My Caregiver Eyes: Peace

My mother passed away this evening.

My sister and I were with her when she died.

She is finally at peace.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Through My Care Giver Eyes - Waiting

Waiting.  Thinking.  Remembering.  Sleepless.  Sad.  Numb.  Waiting.

Waiting while my mom takes that last step in life, by herself, without my help, to let go of life.

I wait so that I can take a last step as a caregiver ... and finally let go of this woman I call my mother who I have cared for and loved with all my heart.

I am not ready to let go ...

... but she is.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Prep work begins - the kitchen.

I have to get better at doing before and after pictures.  There are no before pictures in this posting.  Sorry.

In preparation for new floors and painting this month, I began a thorough clean out of all areas.  Decluttering of stuff has been a happy, positive activity for me.  I always feel lighter and more content when I am reducing the "stuff-layer" of my life.  Clear open spaces are less stressful. A related goal is to free up floor space by moving a few pieces of furniture out.  We have too many road blocks for a person with visual limitations.

With home improvement contractors arriving in 2 weeks,  the time is right to declutter.

I started with a small problem area of my kitchen.

Imagine a 3 foot high by 5 foot long shallow 3 shelf book case along this wall.  It was filled with cookbooks and animal foods.  The top held baskets of clutter-catchers.  Try to imagine why someone who does not enjoy cooking would have 5 1/2 feet of cookbooks.

So I emptied the shelves of everything putting it on the table and dragged the bookcase to the basement.  It will go to a new home or the dump - which ever comes first.  Now I have this lovely clear floor space.  And when the walls are painted, who knows what will hang on the walls.  Maybe nothing.

Of course, now I had a table full of stuff.  Hmm.... I gave half of the cookbooks to Good Will.

I then turned to the pantry.  A "pantry purge" was in order.  It is a small space, but once I cleared out the expired items, the duplicates and the stuff that I never use, 2 spaces were clear:  the top shelf and the floor.

The top shelf now holds my essential cookbooks. (Still considering if they are all really "essential."  I think not!)  I hate the stacking of books on top of books.  But the remaining books will need a more careful review before I get rid of any of them. The floor holds the animal foods (dog food and bird seed.)

Some canned and boxed foods are housed in our basement.  I don't understand why 2 retired people like us need that many food items.  But that is another problem for another time - food hoarding!  I am sure that "hoarding" is not quite the right term, but my habit of buying extra of things that I find on sale is counter productive if the items expire and I throw them away.

In theory, I love the idea of a nice large pantry close to the cooking area, but the reality is that I don't preserve home grown foods and I have easy access to a grocery store.  So the fact I even have a pantry is a luxury.  When I was growing up, we didn't have a pantry - just found space in the limited cabinets to hold canned and packaged foods.  I guess the expansion of large pantries and multiple kitchen cabinets is an extension of the growing sizes of houses in the 20th Century - and our habit of acquiring lots and lots of stuff.

I am very pleased with this one kitchen solution right now.  My eat-in kitchen is fairly small and adding a bookcase years ago was a bad idea.  It just ate up floor space and encouraged stuff gathering.

Of course the next step is to box all this up and move it to the basement - because the whole area will be painted - but that is 3 weeks off so I have time.

Monday, June 16, 2014

So it begins ... the carpet requiem

After almost 30 years we are finally replacing the carpeting in the main part of our townhouse.  The contract is signed and within the month, we will see this carpet ripped out and carried out the door.

Yes, this carpeting is 29 years old in July of this year.  It is the original carpeting that the builder put in and it was the best thing we chose when we selected options for our new town home those many years ago.

Many vendors who have passed down this hallway (carpet installers and professional carpet steam cleaners) have told us this is excellent carpeting ...  that you can't buy this quality carpet today no matter how expensive you go because carpet manufacturers don't want you to have carpet that lasts 30+ years!!  Planned obsolesces, they call it.

It is silly, but I get attached to "things" - things that have served me well and that I have owned and used for a long time.  And this stupid carpet is one of those "things."  I didn't shed any tears when we replaced the xyz things (refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, front door, glass door sliders, storm door, washer/dryer, water heater, roofing, deck, bathroom flooring, toilets, bathroom sinks, furniture ... it is an extensive list ), but for some crazy reason, pulling the carpet out makes me a little sad.

But everything wears out and this carpet is ready to go to "carpet heaven."  After all, it has been walked on, run on, spilled on, peed on, vomited on - you name it ... it has happened.  Even red wine.  It all came out - there is not one visable stain or wear path, but I can't get it really clean any more ... down below the rug surface into the pad where it really counts, and on humid days ... well, you get the idea.

The replacement?? ... No more rug for us.  Hard wood floors!  And it will be a dirty, noisy, intrusive  job for about 2 days.  Upstairs hall way, two and half flights of stairs and the first floor area - all hard wood.  No more hidden areas I can't clean.

And when they complete the flooring job, we are contracting to paint about 60% of the interior of the townhouse.  So the *#@%$ "fun" will just continue.  But it has been almost 20 years since we painted and that is also long over due too.  May as well get all the pain out of the way at one time!

I feel pressured to move forward with these jobs ... they are well passed due by many years and I now have this window of time without a mom-related emergency.  Really, for the last 7 or 8 years I stalled at doing anything ... couldn't handle "just one more thing, don't want to disturb mom, too tied up with her assisted living care, need to focus on nursing home transition, etc. etc. etc."

But now the environment of my house is causing me stress and it is a problem I can do something about.

All I need to do is write the check!

Oh, yes, the check!  There is another stressor!  These folks don't work for free.  But no matter.  It has to be done.

We are doing it this summer!

And I will be joyful at the end!  :-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


So here I am again, almost one month later.

Breaking a blog-silence.

After the recent "mom-illness-hospitalization-rehab-nursing home" episode, I have come to realize a few things about myself.

#1 - I don't know myself as well as I think I do. 

The rest of my story just falls like an avalanche out of #1!

I am not as resilient as I think I am or as I used to be.  Each set back in mom's situation is a set back for me personally and each of my set backs take longer to dig out of.  Sounds like a mom-related behavior!  Seniors taking care of seniors. Exhausting.

I still can "dive into" a mom-related crisis with the energy and the focus of someone half my age, but the personal price that is paid after the crisis gets longer and longer to recover from.  I can't seem to "dive out" with the same energy and focus and take back my own priorities without a long hard fight with myself.

Here I am 3 months later finally getting re-connected with my own needs ... but it seems like such an effort!

But I am trying ... really, really trying!  

Two weeks ago I prepared a blog post and pictures, but never posted it!  Does that still count?

I gained an all-time-high of body mass ... yes, too much weight!  I am back to watching my food intake and have thankfully settled back to my previous "all time high of body mass."  *sigh* Does that count?

I started walking and exercising but have missed the last week and a half.  Does the start of walking count?

I have started calling home improvement vendors to replace carpeting and flooring (long, long, dreadfully long overdue.)  But I dread the total upheaval that this kind of improvement will cause in my personal space.  No contracts signed yet, but will the effort of talking to someone about making improvements actually count?

I am knitting on a shawl for myself that I really don't care for - I bought the kits over 10 years ago.  Too bad I didn't make the shawl then when I loved the colors. No matter.  It came from deep stash and I thought I would come around when I got into it.  I didn't! I am almost finished so I can use it this fall in the house.  Certainly that finish object should count?

My other crafting lives are in another temporary limbo - that always seems to happen when I am in recovery.  Nothing there will count. (But ... I love walking into my yarn room and admiring my newly  assembled loom and stand with the newly started weaving project on it.  That counts for something.)

I returned to knitting group three weeks ago and enjoyed every moment, but felt like I was stealing time from other more worthy endeavors - like sitting on the couch and doing nothing!  Ok, now we all can agree that knitting group does count!!!

On the surface of my life everything looks under control.  But under the surface ... I am still struggling.  And I dread the thought that any gains I make will go up in smoke when mom takes her next downward step in living.

This "Recovery" stuff is hard hard work!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Through My Caregiver Eyes - Light

So yesterday my post seemed only to see the shadows of mom's mind.  Today I witnessed some of the light.  I thought I would share.

It was a beautiful morning when I arrived at the Nursing Home, and she was happy to see me.  She seemed more alert than yesterday.

She asked for ice cream, but what she really wanted was a glass of water with ice.  Swallowing fluids is generally difficult now and all liquid are thickened for her.  Icy cold water was what she wanted without the thickening so I got her exactly that.  She enjoys the simple things in life now ... and a large glass of water with ice sipped slowly through a straw was do-able for her today.

But I did notice that picking words and completing sentences was hard today (ice cream for ice water is a prime example.)

We had a perfect day so we went out the front of the community and sat in the sun.   She remained alert enjoying the warmth of the sun.  So different from yesterday.  Yet not so different as communication was a struggle.

Soon a priest emerged from the entrance.  He recognized us and stopped to talk with mom.  It was a bit hard for mom, but this priest is a regular visitor and very skilled at interacting with all ranges of cognitive ability.

He was from New York and so was mom, so we chatted about that for a few minutes.

At one point, he directed a question to mom.  "So, Mrs. Mesavage, how old are you?"  Mom continued to smile at him but did not respond.  I thought maybe she didn't hear the question.  I regularly repeat questions aimed at mom with a slightly raised voice - making sure she can see my mouth.  I began to repeat the priest's question.

Before I could get passed the second word, mom turned to the priest and said,

"Can I lie?"

What a hoot!!

Not only was she following the conversation, not only did she have an answer ... a spark of her personality and humor emerged in a blinding flash of light for me.  I felt totally washed in it.  She was connected for that small period of time.  She continued to give the priest a dazzling smile waiting for his answer.  He laughed right out loud.  "Sure, why not!" he said.

She responded, "I am 81."


She is actually 88 - and maybe she couldn't remember her actual age, but my guess is that she did know for those few moments!  Of course, she probably didn't want too big a lie to answer for in the next life so she just shaved her age a bit.  :-)  And seriously, if the priest said she could lie, should she need to answer for anything at all???

Too funny!

Now if it was me, and I was going to lie to a priest, I would have made it a whopper!

"I am 29!!!"

Thank God for the spots of light.  It makes her not seem so far away!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Through My Caregiver Eyes - Shadows

Today is Mother's Day and I would be remiss if I didn't recognize my mother on this day.  Her story has been so much a part of my blog and my life for years.

Mom struggling with her card.
I needed to open the envelope for her.
Today was a day for sun shine and flowers and cookies and a card!  Today was a day I had hoped the  shadows of her brain might clear a bit so she could enjoy this day.  But it was not to be.  She was happy to see me as I got a small smile on my arrival.  She briefly enjoyed the flowers I brought and she munched on a red sprinkled sugar cookie cut in the shape of a heart. But recognition of the holiday seemed lost on her.

We went outside to enjoy the sun shine - spending time in the center's gazebo is one of the things she likes to do.  But she promptly fell asleep.  Sleep seems to be her constant companion.  I have come to accept this.  It is enough that we spend time together.

Time to sit and think fills my visits.  My thoughts were interrupted by another family nearby.  They were sitting together with a grandmother in a wheel chair, and I could overhear them encouraging her.  She needed to work hard in PT and to eat all her meals and to not spend all her time in bed.  If she wanted to go home she needed to do these things ... otherwise she could not go home.

Such sadness I felt.  How many countless times I had that very same conversation with mom over our years together.  I tried to block out their voices.  Better to stay focused on the knitting I brought ... no sense in borrowing sadness when I had plenty of my own.

Shadows of the gazebo.
I looked up and saw the shadows of the gazebo about our heads.  How very much like the shadows of mom's brain that gazebo is - small spots of light and darkness.  When mom was admitted to the nursing home 6 weeks ago there were far more bright spots in her brain.  Lately the darkness seems to be gaining ground.

So on this Mother's Day I honor the woman my mother is!  She didn't have the easiest life but she raised her two daughters to be productive and caring members of society.  She held together her small  dysfunctional family when others might have given up.  She lived a long life with many satisfying and loved filled moments.  She might not remember any of this, but I do.

She does not suffer now.  She lives a calm life not disturbed by the loss of possessions and experiences.  For her Mother's Day is just like any other day.  It is as if her losses have been exhausted now - there is nothing more left for her to lose.

The Mother's Day card sat unopened on her lap.  She fell asleep while looking at the cover of the card.  I guess the warmth of the sun put her to sleep ... or maybe another bright spot is shrinking into shadow.

You are loved on this Mother's Day, mom.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Comments Moderation

Just stopping in to let you know I have enabled "Comments Moderation" on this blog.  Unfortunately I have starting getting spam in the last month.  So I have decided to place a filter on comments - shouldn't be a hinderance to you - but it is an easier way for me to delete these unwanted visitors.

If the people who like to cause this mischief focused their energies into something positive, maybe the world would be a better place!

And a short note to regular readers:  mom is doing better.  It is unknown if she will "graduate" from the nursing home, but for now she has recovered much of her own personality.

A better update will follow.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Coping Strategies

Personal goals go out the window at a moment's notice when you are a care giver.

But I haven't lost sight of them and now they are no longer optional goals ... some of them are coping strategies. 

The most important goal of all - walking.  My simple goal is to increase my daily step average each month.  
7112 average daily steps

7094  average daily steps

8502 average daily steps

April - first 8 days
9293 average daily steps

It is remarkable that March showed improvement.  I guess I was putting in a lot of miles the early part of March because once mom was hospitalized, I was only walking from my car to the hospital and back.  Oh, and let's not forget the steps I took from her bed side to the bathroom or the cafeteria and back.  But the real goal is the daily average - not individual day totals.

Now I am walking - sometimes twice a day - because I can't sleep.  And I am just so darn tired all the time.  Walking during the day is the only thing that helps me get through the night.  So this is Coping Strategy #1.  Walk, walk, and walk some more.  It does help, truly.

A special thanks to my Fitbit pedometer and its ability to track my steps when I really could care less, and automatically sync with the website capturing my stats until I am ready to look at them.  The only thing I need to do is keep the battery charged.

I had one knitting goal - to finish my daughter's shawl.  Thankfully I did that before mom's hospitalization.  Ironically my crafting life stalls when I am upset or worried.  I know that is the exact opposite of many folks who find escape in the act of knitting during tough times.  Not me. But I am knitting a little each day.  And when I do force myself to knit those few rows each day - I do feel better afterwards.  

This was a pretty simple goal - clean two closets.  It did not happen, and now the rest of the house is in a desperate state of dirty!  Usually when I am upset I become a cleaning machine!  Not this time.  My energy levels are very very low, so I am not going to fret about a dirty house.  

Blog more ... was my goal.  Blogging has always helped me - especially when things have been difficult with mom.  The story of my mom and care giving continues.  I did blog a bit more.  But I don't want this blog to become only my care giving journey - so I will try to broaden my focus going forward.  

Do more strength and stretching exercises.  This was the goal.  While totally worthwhile, it has been really hard right now.  No time, no energy, no immediate feedback - like walking gives - to make the effort right now possible.  I haven't lost my desire.  I'll be back. 

My April Goals!
Walk more!
Sleep better!
Settle mom in her new environment!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Through My Caregiver Eyes - Unfamiliar Faces

As I walk into the nursing center every day to visit mom ... (and it has been about 10 days now) ... I can never predict how the visit will go.  The face of my mother seems little different each day since the hospitalization.

Sometimes it is her contented face I see - happy to see me and other residents.  She gives a brilliant smile to everyone who addresses her.  At other times it is her sleepy face - asleep in her wheel chair for most of the visit.  She expresses no interest in her surroundings, no desire to eat, and only wants to nap.

Today another face greeted me.  She had rolled herself up to the nursing station and appeared to be looking around.  She recognized me as I approached, but the look was that of inquiry.  "Where were you?"  "I am ready to go home now."  "I think we need to go back home today."  "It is time go to see Walter."  (Walter is her brother who lives in New York.  She hasn't seen him for longer than I can remember.)

The focus today was "home."  It entered most of our conversations.  "Home" sometimes means her room - but not today.  "Home" might have been her assisted living bedroom or it might even have been my "home."  Regardless - the only home she has now is her nursing home room - and that definitely was not where she wanted to go today.

She was restless and irritable as the visit progressed.  At one point she stopped and looked around asking for me or my sister.  She wanted to know if we were still here.  I was sitting right in front of her.  She asked about home again.  She understood that she could not stand now without assistance from 2 people - but she couldn't make the logical leap to understand that her limitations made this environment the only choice for now.

It was a hard day.

And so I suspect I am seeing the many one-dimensional faces of advancing dementia -  unfamiliar faces that are rising to the surface as we discover what mom's new normal is.  And it is very apparent that she has both a new lower norm physically and mentally.

I miss the familiar face of the woman who raised me.  She was interested in her surroundings and the activities of her friends and family.  She was consistently friendly even when she was having a bad day.  She'd occasionally ask if she could go home - but she followed the logic that my house had too many steps - that her wheel chair would not work there - and she was safer in Assisted Living.    She had a multi-dimensional personality - even as she continued to decline.

I miss that woman more than I can express.

I fear that familiar face will not show itself again.

Another loss.

The losses never seem to end.

But I am thankful she is still in this life with me - no matter what face she is showing.  I know our days together grow few.  I will love all those unfamiliar faces that rise to the surface now - even the difficult ones ...

... because someday I might not even have those.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Through My Caregiver Eyes - Nursing Home

How to begin.

My mom was never one to express preferences in life.  She usually went along with life - adjusting to whatever was put in her path without much resistance.

With one exception!

She never wanted to be placed in a nursing home.

Today she sits in a nursing home - because her physical and mental abilities do no permit her to continue in an assisted living environment.  She is getting physical and occupational and speech therapies ... and it is hoped that this caring environment will help repair the damage to her dementia that that hospitalization caused.

It is hoped.

But as I look back over the last 7 or 8 years of being there while she aged - it breaks my heart to know she is now in a nursing home.

I console myself with the knowledge that this nursing home, Brooke Grove Rehabilitation and Skill Nursing Center, is an excellent facility.  This retirement community is number 1 in the county and in the top 5 in our state.  I have been there with her through several rehabilitations 2 years ago and during this admission as well.  The staff is very stable - with many of them remembering her from other times.  And since her hospital discharge she has improved markedly because the environment is very much less stressful.

When I am feeling very down, I remind myself of those facts.

But how do I overshadow some of the memories from the hospital ...

One memory is burned in my brain.  It brings tears to my eyes even now.  After one especially difficult and frightening hospital procedure my sister and I returned to the room and found mom quietly very upset - trembling.  We stood on either side of her bed - trying to be there for her.  I don't recall if she was aware of our presence, but she pulled the covers up and began performing the sign of the cross on her person.  She silently repeated the sign of the cross over and over again.

In her mind there was no other help for her except God.

I felt helpless.

My own belief in God is less traditional than mom's and certainly not as intense.  But in that moment I desperately hoped that the spirit of God was standing by her with us.  She deserved at least that much.

Today her medical record has an order ... no ambulence transports, no hospitalizations.

Finally I have found the silver lining of dementia  ...  hope that dementia has lost that memory in her brain.

Now I must find a way to cope with that memory in my brain.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Through My Caregiver Eyes - Hospitalization

Short note - she is hospitalized!

Mom's rash continued to grow and spread and generally make her miserable.  All efforts to treat seemed to fail.  Finally she was hospitalized last Tuesday with the intent that an Infectious Disease Physician take control of this condition and aggressive treatment started.

Carbuncles is the initial diagnosis.  IV antibiotics and a surgical lancing of one of the boils has been ordered.  She is on pain patches and morphine.  It has been a difficult time.

My days are now consumed with her care once again. I am with her from early morning until evening.  She is too weak to stand or even to adjust her position in bed.  She is too weak to feed herself.  Her pain medicine is a mercy but also a poison to her health.  Without the morphine she has bad pain, with the morphine she has some relief but sleeps the entire time which only continues to weakens her.  And even when she was healthy, she could not respond to questions of the doctors so I become her voice.

Although hospitalization is meant to focus and intensify the process of disease identification and treatment ... vigilance becomes the caregiver's main job.  Nurses are busy people.  They don't have time to meet every need.  They cannot note every change.  And they can't come when needed if the person can't remember to push the Nurse Button.  I become her hands.

And when ordered tests conflict with the current needs of the patient, you have to step in and say "no." Early in the admission mom's ability to void stopped.  A catheter was ordered - but not immediately done.  And then after a time transport arrived to take her for additional testing in the hospital - and I flipped.  The poor transport guy must have thought I was nuts when I said she wasn't going anywhere until her bladder was drained and I went to find the nurse.  I made her aware that everything - including testing would be halted until she put in mom's catheter.  She complied.  Mom's pain was reduced by half.

All these people mean well, but they only see their little part of the process.


My time is now not my own.  Blogging will cease for now.

If you are a praying person, I ask for your prayers.  Hospitalization, while sometimes necessary, often negatively impacts the patient who is 88 and can start a downward slide that cannot be controlled.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Through My Caregiver Eyes - a quick update

It is amazing to me that mom has been relatively stable with no serious issues for over 2 years.  It shows what good professional monitoring can do in an excellent retirement community.  True, it isn't home, but at home mom was hospitalized 4 times in one year with many rehabilitations ... all ending in admission to Assisted Living ... so they must be doing something right that I wasn't doing!

The last few weeks, however, have been worrisome.  She developed a rash on her left leg that increased in size and intensity very very quickly - despite several medical interventions.  When I say it is intense, the center portion is like an open wound.  And the whole rash is extremely painful.  Last week another similar rash started to develop on her right leg.  By mid-week, there was a place on her back that appeared to be cooking up the same rash.

I started making noises with the medical staff about what I thought she needed a week ago - before the spread to her back.  This community stellar in many respects, but ... they are a bit slow to family observations and recommendations.  I understand that they deal with many families who think they know what is best.  No matter.  This lady is the only mother I will ever have ... and I have been proven correct with regards to her medical care many times.

I think, however, we are finally on the same page.

Yesterday my sister and I took mom off site to a dermatologist for a tissue biopsy - in an effort to clearly identify the problem and make sure the treatment is correct.  It was an exhausting and painful visit for her.  It was exhausting and painful for me too.

Now we wait! Unfortunately results aren't instant and cultures take time.  But at least I feel we are taking the right steps.

AND, thankfully I feel confident in the Dermatologist we visited.  I know she must report back to the medical staff at mom's Assisted Living, but when I asked if she would call me back directly with results as well, she quickly responded, "I will be calling you first to discuss treatment."

This doc is a "keeper."

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Shawl

I started knitting in 1997.  In all those years not one project drove me as crazy as knitting this shawl did.  It was a challenge.  And when I got to the lace border (the one designed to go with this shawl), I finally caved.  I decided that the pattern provided was beyond my skill set and I picked something else.

This project taught me patience and perseverance ... qualities I thought I was generously endowed with ... but discovered were not sufficient to get to the end of this shawl ... it really did stretch my boundaries.

And so, here are the pictures of the shawl that I am pretty darn proud of ... and that snagged my interest in doing other lace shawls ... something that I thought was totally unbelievable just a few months ago.  I know another lace shawl is in my future.  I am hooked!!

These outside pictures show the true color of the yarn.

Same shawl but taken in doors one evening.  Amazing difference in color.

Draped over my daughter's arm the day the shawl came off the blocking board.

The cute model is my beautiful daughter.

Another option for how it can be worn.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Through My Caregiver Eyes - Are you paying attention?

It sometimes amazes me how much of life goes by unnoticed.

Oh ... I am not talking about the big stuff - big stuff is generally seen and sometimes promptly dismissed or forgotten.  But big stuff hits your personal radar - usually.

No, I am talking about the small, the inconsequential, the minor details that sometimes barely touch our consciousness.  The kind of little red flags that seem to grow slowly over the years, becoming common place and accepted ... and limiting.  

Here is an worrisome example in my mom's life and mine ...

Watching mom over the last 7 years, I realized the simple act of getting out of bed was getting not so simple for her.  In the final months at my home we had to install bed bars - not to protect her from falling - but to give her a hand hold for pulling herself up with her arms to get out of bed.  Now in assisted living, she has a bed strap that she grabs to help with rising or adjusting herself in bed.

Her torso muscles - those "core" muscles we hear so much about - aren't used for the function of rising out of bed anymore.  She uses her arms to do the work.  And last week, as I was sitting beside her - she in her recliner and reclined - she tried to get up but collapsed back.  She couldn't sit up.  She wanted me to lift her forward.  I reminded her she could adjust the recliner electronically with the touch of a button to help her sit up.  And she did.

None of this is news.  For her this is "normal" now.  Accepted. It didn't happen over night, however.  At some point in the past she must have noticed more of a struggle to do the simple action of rising from bed.  Or maybe not.  Maybe she wasn't paying attention.

But here is the "bone shivering" part of the story for me.

One morning about a month ago I was laying in bed and I started to sit up.  I promptly rolled back down. The first effort was a "fail."  On my second try, I was successful.  It took a bit of an effort and I didn't seem to remember that effort in the past.  

But as I sat on the side of the bed I thought, "Not good.  Not good at all."  Visions of my mother floated through my head.

I vainly tried to explain away the episode to myself as I looked in the bathroom mirror and brushed my teeth that morning.  Years ago I was instructed by a physical therapist to always roll on my side and push my torso up with my arms when getting out of bed.  And I dutifully have done that for about 10 years to help with back pain.

But what has that small action resulted in today?  What will getting out of bed look like in 10 or 15 years?  Will there be a strap hanging off the bed post to help pull me up?

Since that morning I added some core exercises to my routine.  At first those exercises just K*I*L*L*E*D me!!  Many unrelated muscles from my neck down to my knees tried to help with those core exercises to spare my abs from working.  Those lazy suckers just didn't want to work at all!  But I am nothing if not stubborn!

Recently the exercises seem easier to do.  There is an improvement in some things that abs are supposed to help with ... functions that were slipping and I hadn't noticed yet.   And now I can get out of bed without the use of my arms (unless the back muscles are cranky.)

I am not going for a flat belly or a "rack" ...  the usual goal of most doing core exercises.  I just want to get out of bed without help when I am 85.

We all share an aging journey.  But each of us moves through these years differently.  I am aiming for a different journey than my mom.  And the only way I can do that is if I am paying attention - to her and to me.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My first sweater

I follow a blog called Carolyn Knits.   The writer, Carolyn, is a knit designer and a friend of my cousin.  Stop by her blog for a visit.  You won't be sorry.

One of her posts looked back at older completed projects, evaluating the the pluses and minuses.  I left a comment on her blog about my first sweater.  I thought it might be a good thing to write about on my blog sometime ... and then promptly forgot about it.

Carolyn didn't forget!  And when I introduced my new yarn room, she reminded me of this topic.

So here we go with the story of my first sweater - a sweater that I would never ever give away, but can only wear in the privacy of my own home.

An indoor shot so the color is not quite right.
The sweater construction is simple.  Crew neck cardigan with drop shoulders created in pieces - meaning for this project there is a large back, a left front, a right front, and two sleeves - with an added button band.  Once all the pieces are knitted separately, they are hand sewn together.  Blocking usually is done before the sewing.  For my non-knitter readers, blocking means that the garment pieces are dampened, the items are than placed on a blocking board, spread out to fit the measurements, pinned in place and left to dry.  Blocking helps hand knitted items look more finished and assures that the sizes are correct before sewing.

The first thing you notice is this sweater is gi-normous!  Really, I could fit two of me into it.  The second thing - that probably only regular knitters would notice if they saw the garment in person - is that the right front and the left front don't match all that well.

Without rolling up the sleeves, they fall over my hands.
So what went wrong that this sweater is so wonky.  A couple of major mistakes caused this result.  First of all I didn't check gauge.  Gauge is making sure before casting on for the project that the number of stitches per inch and row made by the knitter matched the guidelines of the pattern.  If they don't match correctly, then bigger or small needles should be used until you get the right gauge.  Without the right gauge, you have no idea what size the finished garment will be.

Typical me - at that time - decided that I was using the correct yarn and the needle size they suggested so all would be well.  I also didn't measure myself to determine which size sweater I should knit.  I didn't check the measurements offered by the sweater pattern.  I remember thinking that I like my clothes loose so the large size would be just fine.

Famous last words.

I was a new knitter, I was eager to get to the actual knitting and the preliminary stages and planning just seemed so boring and unnecessary.   So I jumped in and began knitting.

Each piece began with a ribbed hem knitted on smaller needles.  Once the rib was completed you changed to larger needles.  All was well as I completed the back.  I charged ahead to knit the right front panel.  Still everything was going gang-busters!  Onward to the left front panel.   Before you knew it the second panel was done.  Looking at the sweater you can see that the body stitches are a lot of knitting - especially when you have chosen the large size.

At that point I stopped and held the back piece up to my body.  Hmm ... seemed kind of big.  I held up one of the fronts.  Yes, it was pretty darn big.  I began to rethink that skipped step of doing a gauge swatch.  But I had poured so much time into these 3 pieces, I had no intention of stopping now.

And then I made a terrible discovery.  The left and right front panels were not the same size.  Yikes!  What the heck happened?  Then I remembered that when I knitted the rib hem of the second front panel, I didn't change up to the bigger needle to complete the piece.  The size difference was considerable ... like about 3 inches in length and 2 inches in width.  Holy Crap!  Now what.

Well, the experienced knitter in me today knows the answer - you rip out the second panel and do it again correctly.  The inexperienced knitter of 1997 would no more rip out all that knitting than cut off her arm.

Then the light dawned.  I would block the second panel bigger to match the first panel.  Just stretch it out to fit!  Yes ... problem solved.

And it did stretch out to match length and width, but it made the actual knitted fabric thinner - giving one side more drape than the other.  Sort of a floppy side.

And, of course, when I put the fully finished sweater on - it was HUGE!

I really like the buttons.  :-)
Oh well.  It was a major learning experience.  I now always do a gauge swatch - sometimes several.  If I make a major mistake, I rip it out.  If I don't like it while it is being knitted ... if the error is visible or the quality not acceptable, I won't like it any better a year from now - and the item won't get worn.

Now I will say, I do wear this sweater occassionally.  It covers anything I have on. (I could probably wear all the clothes I own layered under it.)  :-)  It is warm and ... it is my first sweater.  It reminds me that the preplanning for a project really is important - and now after so many years, I really enjoy the prep.

And when I am not feeling well, it is the perfect sweater.  It seems to envelop me in warmth and it make me feel cozy.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The shawl that almost whipped my butt

One of my goals for this month is to complete one of the three very large knitting projects that are currently outstanding.  The story of this shawl is so typical of me ... but I will share it anyway!

Picture from Ravelry
In March of 2013 I let my daughter loose inside a knitting pattern book.  She picked a shawl she liked called the Lace Leaf Shawl.  I jumped in as I usually do and said, "Sure I can make that for you."  That very day I went on line and bought the same yarn as the pattern used - a fingering weight yarn (very thin) in a lovely color called Sea Glass - a pale green but in some lights a green-blue - just like the ocean.

And, then ... I sat down and read through the pattern.

(I can hear the "oh nos, are you crazy, what were you thinking" thoughts!
Too late for cautions!  The damage was done fast and furious.)

Any knitter or crocheter will tell you I did this phase wrong, wrong wrong.  First you read, then you decide, then you order the yarn!  (see the difference?)  *sigh*

My version - border in progress - before blocking.

The downward slide goes likes this:

The discovery of what I had done to myself.
  • First off as I read I noticed this was an Advanced Level knitting pattern.  Hmmm ... I am skilled, and experienced but advanced??  No, not advanced. But not to panic.  Everyone does their first advanced pattern at some point.  Right. This could be my time.
  • The lace pattern was all in lace charts.  Cra-a-p!! I hate knitting charts.  But if I had to write the text version of the charts, I would ... Yes, it would be huge headache but I could work around it.
  • Holy Cow!  This pattern uses 0 sized knitting needles.  In knitting 0 means next to nothing width.  They are the thickness of toothpicks - and some toothpicks are thicker.  They must be joking.  No body does a full size shawl on 0 needles.  I don't even own 0 sized needles.  Off to the internet again to buy what I needed.  I also bought size 1 and 2 so if I could size up the pattern I would.    
I decided to add some crystal beads to the border and the points.
The camera doesn't catch the sparkle.

Further investigation
 or looking for a way to reduce my panic!
  • Out to Ravelry - a world wide knitting web site - I went to see who else had done this pattern.  When first I checked - NOBODY had done this pattern except the designer.  (No one in all the world.)  Yikes!  Several weeks later one other person posted her finished project!  One!!!  THANK GOD.  Someone else to discuss this with.
  • I sent her a email message.  She responded.  She describes herself as an advanced knitter, who is experienced and comfortable with knitting charts.  She had problems.  She made changes so that she could avoid ripping the yarn out and giving up.
  • "gulp"
Another shot of the pre-blocked work.

The Journey (without swear words)!

So by the time I got this less than encouraging news I had already cast on the project and was knitting away with gusto.  I had decided that I had evolved into an Advanced Knitter without realizing it.  I was feeling pretty full of myself!  Things went pretty smoothly for about  ... 5 or 6 rows maybe.  (For the non-knitter - 5 or 6 rows is barely discernible in a project done on 0 needles.  Then I found a mistake.  I tried to fix it.  Couldn't. I ripped it out.  I started again.  My Advanced Knitter Crown tilted on my head.

Slowly the shawl progressed with the same pattern of moves: find a mistake, failed the fix, ripped back, knitted forward.  Mistake, fail, rip, knit.  Mistake, fail, rip, knit.  (I think you've got it now.)

Any reasonable person would have stopped, and used the yarn for something else.  Not me.  I have never been accused of being reasonable!  Mistake, fail, rip, knit.  I did that so many times I must have made this shawl in total stitches knitted about 3 times.

The whole project was 3 steps forward, 2 steps back. Over and over and over again.

Finally, through shear determination and hard-headedness, I got down to the bottom of the body of the shawl.  Now to knit the border - a beautiful lacy border with ... wait for it ... THE MOST INCREDIBLY HARD LACE DIRECTIONS IN ALL THE WORLD.   

I paused!  

I paused for like 3 months.  

And I gave up, picked another edging to add to the edge of the shawl and moved on.  I guess there is a reasonable part of my personality after all.

Now the shawl border does have 500+ live stitches across the bottom, and they all have to be picked up one at a time by a row of the lace border - which means about 1000 rows are needed to complete the border - but no matter.  They are short rows and it is progressing.

And just for the record.  You can insert swear words any where in this section post you like.  In fact, you could insert swear words for every other word and it wouldn't be too many!!!

But I spared you that.

Lessons Learned!


I do this all the time. Jump in and discover the troublesome issues as I get into it.  I have been knitting since 1997 and it is just what I do (with lots of swearing of course.)

But when it is done, it should be just lovely.  And my daughter will look great in it.

And I will have won this battle with this pattern.  My butt is not whipped.

Blocking will pull out the lace pattern and show off the design better.

And when it is fully finished and blocked, I will have my daughter model it and pictures will be taken.

That should happen the beginning of March because I am going to finish this sucker THIS MONTH!!

Signing off,
Retired Knitter
Intermediate Level
No Advanced Knitter Crown in sight ... and proud of it!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rooms with new names

I spent a lot of time thinking about selling our townhouse and moving to another smaller less expensive space.  Now that the old "homestead" houses just two old people, 2200 square feet of finished floor space seems way too big - especially when I am cleaning it.  After all, what do we need with 4 bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms - plus a family room.

But once we determined that moving from a fully paid for home to somewhere else would be more expensive, I stopped focusing on the goal of moving and started thinking about what the heck I would do with the space. It didn't take long to come up with a plan.

The Guest Bedroom
I have always wanted a guest room.  Our "guest room" has always been our pull out couch in the living room and a queen size blow up mattress.  Both are less than perfect for sleeping and very unacceptable for company.  But that was what I had.

I still have that but now I also have this:

Although it isn't evident in the picture, the room needs painting, but it is OK for now.
The maple desk was my desk when I lived at home

I am particularly fond of these lighted flowers.  My daughter-in-law had a set
that I just loved and I had to have my own.
They make a wonderful muted night light.

And what room would be complete without a bull dog.  At least this one
doesn't have to be walked.  :-)

This guest bedroom is located right next to a full bathroom in the lowest level of our townhouse.  This room has changed names so many times it makes my head spin.
  • my son's bedroom, 
  • my daughter's bedroom when she moved back home one time (paint choice was hers)
  • my son's bedroom again when he moved back home one time,
  • my mother-in-law's bedroom (briefly) while she was in hospice in our home
  • the downstairs den - with a treadmill and yarn stuff
  • ... and then finally my son and daughter-in-law's room for about 10 months.  
It now sleeps three guests in actual beds.

Yeah!  Finally!!

The Den
This small bedroom room has really never changed names unless you consider that is was more of a "junk" room over the years.  Most recently it was also my mother's den for 5 years, and then briefly a shared space for my husband and I - my yarn and his computer.  My husband now has a simple uncluttered space for things that are important to him.  Uncluttered is the operative word since open space and free passage are important to anyone with his decreasing vision.

The Yarn Room
This bedroom has a short but varied history as well.
  • Daughter's bedroom
  • A nothing room for many years - I don't even recall what we did with the space.
  • Mother's bedroom
  • Temporary guest room but still filled with mom's stuff
After 2+ years in Assisted Living, I have finally reclaimed the space that was mom's.  This was a hard hard thing to do.  I knew she was unable to return, but for some reason I couldn't change the space - it was hers and would be so until she died.  At least that is what my mind was stuck on.

Now I realize that it isn't a good use of space.  Her bed has been moved into the guest room.  Her things have all been boxed up and moved into storage in the basement.  The room still has her furniture in it, but now it is filled with my yarn and hobbies.  And it is perfect for this use as it is the brightest room in my house.

This room deserves a small tour.

You see I have a whole lot of fiber just waiting to be spun.

I have a teddy that wears my very first knitted sweater - the sweater I made
during my learn to knit class in 1997.

And the wedding flowers I made for my son and daughter-in-law's wedding ...
they had nowhere to live either.

And Max, the now newly installed Yarn Cat who lives in my yarn room - he
also was homeless (well, not really.  He lives part time in my bedroom.  But the
story flows better if he seemed homeless.)

And the bed I bought for the yarn room and the "homeless" cat.

And the yarn that fills BOTH SIDES AND TOP TO BOTTOM in this closet.  It
was screaming for a permanent home!! In its last room it was spilling out of the closet
and onto the floor.  Now if I can only show restraint and stop buying yarn ...
(a wish that I have already broken with a purchase this month and a second purchase this month is on my radar.)
The only thing that might work to "cure" me would be some kind of an "intervention."
But I will go down fighting with my pointy sticks if I have to!!!
You have been warned!!!

So now all these wonderful items now live in my yarn room.
I love my yarn room.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this crafty cluttered space that is just mine.

Hope you enjoyed the tour.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Let's Talk Healthy Me

January 2014

The Baseline Stats
220,482 steps
90.56 miles (not a long distance when you consider this includes 2:00 am trips to pee!  :-)
7112 average daily steps
5 exercise sessions

To help me stay focused on this basic goal I'll check in at the beginning of the month just to see what is up (and hopefully "up" will be the right word!)  LOL


I have a Fitbit Flex pedometer from last Mother's Day thanks to my lovely daughter.  I wear it religiously - even when I have been a total slug.  I know that sometimes people are disinclined to use a pedometer when they are not actively walking.  I believe it is important to have a baseline, to know the actual realities of your activity even if those realities are dismal.

Sometimes "dismal" is the only thing that gets me off the couch.

Fitbit has an outstanding support web site.  It is free and since the Fitbit pedometer automatically syncs to the web site when you are near your computer or phone or iPad, there is no extra effort to log your progress.  No extra effort translates to me as no excuses!  They also have a food tracking segment and it automatically adjusts your allowed calorie intake based on your activity level without losing sight of your weight loss goals - which is an awesome feature!  My focus is activity.  Weight loss is nice but when that is my focus I fail.  But that is just me.

No lie.  Walking last month was a struggle.

First of all it was darn cold - like around 0 to 10 degrees many days.  With the added wind and icy conditions, it was dangerous.  Then I managed to injure a muscle in my groin and leg area.  I lifted a 37 lb French Bull Dog (one of my dear grand dogs) twice in one day, carrying him across overly salty stretches of public streets and up my salty steps to save his little feet (what else would a good grandmother do.)  Little did I know that it was too much for one of my muscles.  That darn 2 week old injury still haunts me, but I am pushing through it gently.

Cold weather conditions aside, for some reason, my body wasn't bouncing positively into walking like it has always done in the past.  My legs felt heavy, I was winded, energy levels were low.  When I did go for a walk it wasn't the positive energizing experience I always had in the past.  Am I just too out of shape?  Has my age made "bouncing into exercise" less do-able?  Is January just a hibernation month?  I decided that whatever the reason, my body would eventually catch up with the demands of my brain.  I did slow the walk down in deference to my injury.  I focused on just taking the steps and movement.

Even with all those limitations, I was totally surprised to find my daily average for January to be as good as 7,000+ steps a day.  Wow, I would have guessed around 5,000.  I guess I had some very good days among the lousy ones.

I can certainly do better on my strength training and stretching routine as well.  Five times in one month is pretty poor.  But the routine has shown that I haven't yet lost any gains in my stretching extensions.

So that is my Healthy Me update for January.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Frosty February

So here we are all in February.  Another wintery - and probably snowy - month.

Goals are the focus for me this month.

I am going to announce them here - so I have some way of checking back and comparing my results at the end of the month.

Here we go:
  • Finish one of my jumbo knitting projects. I have three on the needles, but right now it looks like the finish-it project will be my daughter's shawl.  (a hard one) 
  • Beat my January step average in February. (an easy one)
  • Complete my exercise routine 4 times a week average. (should be do-able)
  • Clean out my bedroom and upstairs hall closets. (Only God knows what is in them.)
  • Blog at least one more time before the end of the month. (should be easy but ... famous last words)
That should do it for goals.  

February is a pretty significant month for two other reasons.  

The Winter Olympics start on February 8.  Yeah!!  I am a huge fan of the Olympics - especially the Winter Olympics.  And I am really excited about the venue - Russia.   I'll be spending a lot of knitting time watching the athletes of the world compete.  I hope the US does well, but really, it is all about excellence - human excellence - and I am totally human, so I am ready to cheer them all.   Just hoping we can have a safe event.

This month mom turns 88 years old on February 6.  It always stuns me when I think over the last 10 years.  I started worrying about how she was doing when she was 78.  She took 2 years to make any decisions about living arrangements.  At 80 she moved in with me.  When she was 2 months shy of 86 she moved into Assisted Living.  Now at 88 years old we have been on this rocky journey together for 10 years.  Ten whole years.  That is a big chunk of both our lives.  Mom has changed greatly during these years and surprisingly so have I.  Neither one of us has changed for the best I fear.  But I celebrate her upcoming birthday.  I wish it was a more active and healthy time for her, but long life is still a gift - no matter how it looks.

That is my February.

We are in the grips of Winter.  Even though I love love love winter, I am beginning to appreciate the values of spring a little better!  :-)  (Wow, I never thought I would say those words!)

So what does your February look like?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

January fleeting

My gosh!  January is over.  I wrote this post 2 days ago hoping to get pictures attached.  Then January just slipped way - all because I waited for pictures.

I am posting without pictures!

I haven't been idle.  Here is a fast update.

My new guest room and yarn room and husband den!
With the departure of my son and daughter-in-law in October, once again I was left with a town house that is too large for our personal needs.  And then I got to thinking.

"Self ... you aren't moving somewhere else because living here is cheaper than anywhere else."

"Self ... you always wanted a guest room where the beds were ever-ready for guests.  Why not do that now?"

"Self ... you are outgrowing your current yarn / craft space (because you can't seem to stop buying collecting yarn and fiber tools.  But you didn't hear me say that out loud.)  Maybe it is time to fix that."

"Self ... your husband needs to have his own space - his own den - because his wife is becoming less of a sharer as she get older."  (someday insert a grumpy picture here of an aging grumpy woman - maybe even my picture. LOL)

"Self ... you have the space now to spread out and get what you want.  What are you waiting for?"

"Self ... you aren't getting any younger and before you know it these stupid stairs will become a barrier for you and you will be forced to move.  Stop wasting time."

"SO Self ... stop talking and get busy."

And that is exactly what I did.  Here are the pictures to prove it.

(Ha!  My space saver for pictures!!  No pics!  Use your imagination here.)

Thanks to my son, daughter and daughter-in-law for helping to move all the big pieces of furniture around and make this move possible.  Now I can stop talking to myself!


Ocean City
And then there was the trip to the ocean that seems to be a regular event with the cousins - it is where we sit in the condo, look at the ocean, knit, weave, spin, laugh, eat, drink wine, and generally enjoy a weekend free of life's responsibilities all while never getting out of our pajamas.  I didn't take pictures this time, but pictures from the last visit would look exactly like this visit.  So here is the link to that post.


Staying active, walking and exercises, are going slowly.  A leg injury and outside temps near 0 have slowed me up considerably.  I am still wearing my FitBit pedometer and I will calculate my January step average this weekend.  My February goal will be to beat my January average.  Sadly the February goal won't be too hard to achieve because I suspect my January average will be embarrassing low.  But it isn't about today or tomorrow or next week.  It is about the long view.  The long view includes spring and I am getting fit for spring.  :-)  At least that is what I tell myself.  My back and knee exercise routine is created and sometimes done.  But again, not as regularly as I need to.  I have posted a calendar in my yarn room where I can easily see just how inactive I am.  The statistics should be posted in the local newspaper and tattooed on my forehead for maximum embarrassment, but I will settle on this simple calendar.  I will say that my arthritis in my knee is much improved.


I am back to knitting every single day.  I had fallen into a slump.  Not a good place to be when you have a room full of beautiful yarns.  But I had hit a skill-level barrier with one project and the stall trickled into all my knitting.   Until I figured out how to work around the problem, I had lost my knitting mojo.  Back on track now.  I have three jumbo sized projects on the needles and I need to keep moving.  Pictures??  Ha!  Not today.  Whip out the imagination one more time.


Lap Top
I got a new Mac Lap Top computer this month.  After 5+ years of excellent service and several falls, my old Apple started doing wonky things.  That darn thing continued to work, however.  In fact I thought I was heading for a new computer in November of 2012 when it fell from my kitchen counter onto my hard tile floor, and here we are in January 2014. It still hasn't totally failed but it was time.   I will never never never own anything but a Mac!  It is a work horse and it is worth every single penny of addition money it costs to own one.


She has had mostly decent days.  Winter is hard on the elderly.  Yesterday, however, was a bad day.  Her ability to provide self care is slipping noticeably on some days.  When I arrived she was sitting in her wheel chair, her hearing aide batteries were dead so she wasn't responding.  When I reached her I noticed that a bathroom accident was evident all over her and she didn't seem to be aware.  It had not yet  been discovered by the staff so she was in a sad state - unable to help herself and has long since lost the ability to consistently ask for help when she needs it.  It was a very hard morning.  When I left things were back to normal.  But I left with a heavy heart.


So that has been my January.  Although I haven't blogged a lot, I've been busy and I have been visiting with many of you.  You keep me inspired to put my fingers to the keyboard here.

I have some plans for February - but that is for another post!

And maybe even a picture or two!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My favorite month

Here is the post where everyone lines up on the opposite side of the fence from me!

My favorite month (and season) of the year.

Let's here it for January everyone!!!



Louder please!

Ok, for you non-believers out there, here are the facts.

January is typically a "sleeper" month for most people.  Time dig in and hibernate and recover from the November and December - traditionally two crazy busy months for most people.  January is also a low light month and that means short days, gray days ...

So unfair to January!  
January is a Great Month!

January is a new beginning, a New Year, New projects, New Goals - all shiny and, well ... New!
 It is the leader month of the new year - and who doesn't like being new and the leader.
  I do have a few new goals and new projects for 2014 - but more on that in another post.

Snow - there better dang well be snow this month!!  
Not "spitting" snow but inches of snow - even a few feet!  
Mother Nature and I have been on the outs for a few years.
  Apparently January isn't her favorite month either because she forgets to send snow. 
 Here is your reminder, Mother Nature!

The Beach - don't knock it until you have tried it - visiting the beach in January, that is.
  Think about it.
 The ocean is still there - just a beautiful as ever,
 all those pesky people are no where to be seen,
 it is not 100 degrees outside,
 and you don't have to wear a bathing suit.
Really, January at the beach is the best.

Hand knit sweaters
 - you finally can wear all those sweaters that you knitted.
  And those hand knit wool socks are worth their weight in gold.

Time feels like more.
After 2 months of no time in the day,
 January feels like a big gaily wrapped box of extra time.

No deadlines.
No deadlines.
No deadlines.
  I am becoming a big fan of no deadlines.  
And January never seems to have deadlines.

Now, don't you feel better about January?

OK, let's try this once again.

Let's hear it for January!  A big rousing cheer!



Some of you need to re-read this post!

Happy New Year - everyone!

(And just remember it is brought to you by January.)