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, December 31, 2015

Increase, Decrease, Decrease 2016!

I am not much for resolutions!  In my experience a resolution is good for about 3 days and then it is broken.  I also hate starting anything on a traditional date when "everyone is starting something" - i.e. New Years Day.

It is just a trap, trap, trap!

But this year I am falling into the trap for 3 personal goals. Simply put - Increase, Decrease, Decrease.  I thought I would share them here, because a public admission (and a public flogging if needed) might help compliance beyond 3 days!  Ha!

Goals should be measurable.  Pledging to be a happier person is a wonderful life attitude to seek out, but as a goal ...  how do you measure improvement.  My goals are measurable and I have a tracking system set up.

So here goes with the public pronouncement.

Goal #1
I need to Increase my activity.  Man, I hate this goal.  I have started it over many many times on this.  But I keep trying.  The past year was my couch potato year.  I thought 2014 was miserable for me and 2015 was pretty much a loss as well.  2016 must be more active - mostly because this body I have must last me precisely another 38 years (more on that in goal #3) and at this rate it won't.

Goal #2
I need to Decrease the load my legs haul around each day.  Simply put - lose weight.  I hate this goal, too.  It is so trite and so common and usually so unsuccessful.  But my weight continues to creep up. Sitting on the couch in 2015 didn't help.  I don't care if I "look younger," but I want to feel more energetic.  And if I have another 38 years, it is a long time to feel this way.

Goal #3
Finally, this goal will make some of you smile.  I need to Decrease my yarn stash.  (the operative word is decrease.)  I don't actually hate this goal.  It is clear, however, that my yarn is secretly reproducing while my back is turned  I could not possibly be guilty of contributing to this obsession!  (I am going to have to answer to God at some point for all these lies!  But for now, lying works.)

Here is where the '38 years' comes into play.
  • About 5 years ago I did a yarn inventory, noting type and yardage on an excel spreadsheet.  I owned about 140,000 yards of yarn.  Using a typical measure of knitting up 5,000 yards a year - I could knit for another 28 years without ever buying yarn!  I was appalled!!  Embarrassed actually.  I went on a yarn diet in that moment.  
  • A few years later I updated my inventory and I was bouncing about 170,000 total yards of yarn.  Gads!!!  Epic yarn diet failure!!!  (That was when I decided that I should be buying only male or female yarn.  No more mixing up the sexes.  The yarn was showing no control!!)  I could now knit for another 34 years without buying yarn.  Unacceptable.
  • This fall I updated my inventory - (and by now no one should be surprised) the total was up again.  I now own about 191,000 yards of yarn - and this is with regular knitting and giving away yarn since the last inventory.  Now everyone, all together ... how many years can I knit without buying yarn???       "38 years!"   Correct!  You all are so smart.  :-)    
But ...
Let's get real.
For the record
 I will be buying yarn again!!
  I have a love affair with the stuff. 
It is a hobby that lights up my life. 

I want my yarn stash numbers to decrease or at least stay the same.  This goal will be the hardest one of all.  Like all 'addicts,' I am reducing my yarn temptations. I stopped all knitting magazine subscriptions, I have 'unsubscribed' from all on line yarn vendors, and I am avoiding yarn stores. It is going to be tough, but my hobby should not take up one whole room in my house - and it does!

So welcome 2016!
The year of Increase, Decrease, Decrease!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year, New Hobby ... Adult Coloring

I don't need a new hobby... craft ... past time ... creative endeavor!  You can use any label ... I don't need it.

But this fall a new past time captured my attention and apparently I am hooked.  And it seems that I am late to the game on this particular activity.

My first completed coloring page.

Adult Coloring

Come on, guys.  You remember coloring - coloring books and wax crayola crayons!!  For me coloring last happened about 60 years ago.  A new coloring book with a fresh box wax Crayola crayons and I was set.  By the time I was 12 years old I had moved on to Barbies.  I never considered for one second that I would cycle back to coloring books and colored pencils at age 68.

My second work in progress

To start with ... these are not your childhood coloring books.  These adult versions of coloring books are works of art in the form of line drawings.  Beautiful drawings ... almost a shame to add anything to them.  As most articles on the subject mention, adult coloring books were not on the merchandising radar 3 years ago.  Now all the books stores, craft stores and even some gift stores carry them.  This holiday season, the adult coloring book displays are mostly empty in my area.  Totally amazing to me.

Prismacolor Premier Pencils.  This isn't the largest set.
But someday I might spring for their biggest selection.
Then there are the coloring tools.  Yes, you can use Crayola crayons if you want, but these adult coloring books are generally not designed for stubby wax crayons.  Color pencils are preferred, or color markers.  As you can see from the samples I have posted here, the pictures are filled with small details.  You need a point to fill them in and wax crayons won't work well for that.  So color pencils or gel markers are almost as remarkable in the complexity of offerings as the coloring books.  And let me tell you, some of those colored pencils sets can be pricey, pricey, pricey.  But oh so pretty.

Johanna Basford's Enchanted Forest
You are seeing the face of the slip cover for this book.

Of course, there are many extra tools that can be used - like blending pencils, and special erasers, and pencil sharpeners and fancy cases to carry your tools.

Here is the actual book - the brown cover with only pen art work on the cover.
Under the book is the inside of the slip cover.
Every detail of these books are beautifully executed.
They are very appealing without adding any color.

And, yes, I have outfitted myself with everything.   I am the "tool queen" when it comes to any hobby.  Anyone who knows me personally will not be surprised.  But you can get started with very little in investment and have a satisfying experience.

But the real question is "Why?"  Why color?  Well, there is a psychology connected to this past time. You can read more about it here in this link.  But from my perspective this is what I know:
  • The most often heard reason is that it reduces stress.  I can confirm that is true!  Just like knitting, mediation or any mindful activity that refocuses and/or distracts your brain - it relaxes the mind.  I can also pick up, do a small bit and easily put it down again. 
  • I love the artistic part of selecting colors and blending them without worrying about the quality of the underlying drawing - I am happy to leave that to the professional artist.  And I am challenged to improve a beautiful artist's black and white rendering by adding color. 
  • Playing with color feeds that area of my brain that I always felt was deficient!  My artistic efforts were always limited to pencil or charcoal.  I could produce a level of realism in a drawing using line and shading.  But when I attempted to layer color onto my own work, it was an epic fail.  This activity allows me to play with color once again.
I struggle with the question of what to do with the completed colored page.  For me a hobby or craft is satisfying when it results in something I can enjoy - a product - something beyond the process of creation. Would I sit down and look at my colored books once they are filled?  Would I frame and hang something I colored on the wall?  The answer is most likely no. 

Recently, however, I came upon some coloring books that seemed to answer that question.   Beyond the simple pleasure of coloring with a child, a fully colored adult book would be a great thing to look at with child - sort of like sharing a picture book.  For example:
  • Coloring books by Johanna Basford - (Secret Garden, Lost Ocean, and Enchanted Forest) have hidden items in each picture.  Kids and adults enjoying hidden object picture books and games.
  • Coloring books by Daria Song - (The Time Chamber, The Time Garden) actually tell a story in pictures - with a small amount of words to flesh out the story.  The artist's pages tell the story of a tiny fairy that lives inside a cockoo clock who has adventures.  A very charming idea presented in a high quality publication - that just happens to be aimed at Adult Colorists.
So I am prepared for a year of coloring - to go with all my other hobbies.  

In fact, coloring is one of two new hobbies for 2016 - beyond knitting, spinning, weaving and coloring ... but that is for another blog post!

So what fun things will fill your new year?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

This Christmas

My Christmas decorations are up, 
much reduced over previous years - part of my less is more style of living.  
The gifts are all purchased and wrapped - and sit prettily under my tree.
Holiday cooking began in earnest two days ago - as well as a house clean up.

  I feel on schedule, 
in control, 


My Christmas tree with gifts this year.
Just like every other Christmas for at least a decade
it feels like I am going through the motions.
Checking off my to-do list.
Preparing to make the holiday grand for the folks I love.
But it has been many years since the holidays
have been grand in my own heart.

Christmas is a hard holiday for some folks,
and I count myself among them.  
The Christmas season is filled with too many sad remembrances for me.  
I have spent years of Christmases just trying to get to the month of January!

This is the oldest ornament on my tree.
It was a decoration one of my Christmas gifts from my future mother-in-law in 1967.
My dad died on this day, December 23, in 1970.  He always comes to mind during this season. I have long since moved on from that loss, but it still left small sad memories for me.  

This metal flag bow was put on the tree the year my son went into the military in the mid 1990s.
It was the first Christmas my son was not home with us.

In more recent years, the Christmas season has been especially difficult.
In early December 2010, mom was hospitalized with a terrible stomach flu that landed her
in rehab on discharge.  The year was a race to get her home in time for Christmas.
And all the traditional stuff (tree, gifts, cooking, decorations) were held off till December 23.
But it was one of the most joyful Christmases - because she made it home.

  Mom moved from my home into Assisted Living in early December 2011.  A fall in October and extended rehab November did not help her. 
That was the first Christmas when she was not with family.  

Mom made this lighted ceramic Christmas tree.
I am sure most everyone has one of these!
But I am just as sure that this one is the loveliest one of all.
The elder care community she resided in was exceptional.   Always beautifully decorated for every season.  A festive holiday reception was held for residents and family with delicious food and wonderful entertainment.  The staff was gay and engaged with the residents.  But it never fully compensated for the fact she was not home.  She always asked to go home, especially during the Christmas season.  It was a conversation that always left me sad.

A Christmas angel made by my mom during a more  joyful time.
Not sure how I feel about the concept of 'heaven', but if there is one
she most certainly is there - wings and all!
Last year mom died on December 28.  Another difficult Christmas.  She had been markedly failing the previous months - and last Christmas was just one long sad goodbye as I sat by her bedside day after day watching her slip away from this world.  The cheer and decorations of the season seemed to be a cruel artificial shell that surrounded my intense sadness.

This Christmas is the first anniversary of her death.  I have completed a year of "firsts without mom." Now I feel that circle is finally closed.  She officially slips into my past, but not out of my heart.

I miss her - especially this Christmas.  I have been caught totally by surprise this week when I find tears are falling.  Sad images of our last Christmas together are common this week.  Loss is a lonely a feeling when it seems like the world has moved on and memories persist.   Although this memory will never be totally gone, the intensity will fade with time.

So this will be a pensive Christmas for me.  Christmas Eve will be filled with our small immediate family - our traditional dinner, gift exchange and a sleep over at our house.  Christmas morning will be our family breakfast.  I will go to Mass and then visit the cemetery, while my son visits with his in-laws - who also are mourning the death of a loved one this past fall.  The rest of my time will be quiet ... maybe a long walk ... maybe time spent with one of my many hobbies ... maybe a distracting activity like planning out my January 2016 calendar.  Once again, I look forward to January.  I just need to get to January.

I think 2016 will be a positive new beginning for me.  
In fact, I know it will be so!  
Christmas 2016 will be better ... 
because it won't be
  this Christmas ... 
the first one without mom.

I wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas.

"Somethings in life cannot be fixed.
They can only be carried."
Megan Devine

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Past

It is the season for good will and cheer for all.  

Being Christian, I celebrate Christmas.  Of course, in recent years it seems like the word Christmas has been replaced by the word Holiday.  Merry Christmas is now Happy Holidays ... to be more inclusive of all the celebrations that occur during this season.  Sad.  I wish political correctness hadn't evolved to such a meaningless point.

Back in the mid 1990s I was the supervisor of a large medical department.  We always celebrated with gusto.  There was no focus on the religious elements of Christmas, just the Santa theme.

Santa would arrive bringing good cheer for the employees, we had a pot luck lunch in the department.  The supervisory staff (there were 4 of us) dressed as Santa's elves for the whole day.  I remember that time with great fondness.  Nothing speaks of Christmas as much as bringing smiles to the faces of the employees and patients.

Recently one of my former employees found a picture from that time that she shared with me.  In the spirit of good cheer, I share it with you.

Hope your holidays (whatever they are) are filled with joy, smiles and good will towards all.  And remember, the best thing you can do this season is to pass all that cheer on to others.  There seems to be a deficit of good cheer in our world today.

Don't forget!  Pass it on.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Planner-Calender, Bullet Journal, Commonplace Book

I spent my whole adult working life tethered to a planner/calendar of some sort.  I always used a commercial option to keep all the balls of my life from falling to the floor.  It worked pretty good.
And as a caregiver, I kept copious written records - since I was managing two lives for 8 years.

After my mom's death I entered official retirement ... I dropped all tracking methods keeping my to-dos on short daily 3x5 cards.  Things were simpler now.  Simple life ... simple tracking.

After months of using that approach, I discovered it wasn't that simple.

When a 'vacuum' occurs - the void fills with other things.  Lots and lots of other things.  The 3x5 cards system failed for a lot of reasons.  And I began to wonder if my mind was slipping.  Stuff fell off my radar with frightening frequency.

In truth, my mind probably is slipping.  I guess it retired when the rest of my body did.  So ... with that as a concern I needed better system.

My Bullet Journal - of course, I had to purchase a nice cover.
Enter the Bullet Journal.

I mentioned Bullet Journaling in a previous post.  I purchased a simple plain bound book specifically designed for bullet journaling - but really - the method could be used in any blank book.  I launched a 'test'  journal (which is no longer 'test').  Being a bullet list kind of person, this kind of time management fit me perfectly.

It is very individualized including all those bullet lists I put on 3x5 cards, as well as future planning, wish lists, habit trackers, future shopping lists, favorite quotes, and all my brilliant ideas (smile).  Some people do traditional journaling or diary entries in this book and decorate it with art work and colored pens.  I like mine plain, neat and productive.

I am getting a whole lot more done.  Less things fall through the cracks of my life.  In fact, checking off those little boxes is sometimes the main reason I do the task!  (Ha!)  I still use a wall calendar for distance planning and to prepare my Bullet Journal each month, but my Bullet Journal holds all the details.  And, as they say, the devil is in the details!

Another kind of book has recently hit my awareness.

A Commonplace Book.

For those who are well versed in historical figures or various kinds of old style literature - you might already know about Commonplace Books.  But for me, this was a new idea.

Here is the link that describes the Commonplace Book.  This book is not a planner or a journal.  It is  a place to capture and save those bits of knowledge, quotes, art work, doodles, clips saved from magazines or newspapers and ideas from others that are meaningful to you.  It is a place to house them so that they can be found again should you want to hold that information in your life.

Laura Bethmann
Photo Credit: Link
The practice of a Commonplace Book is apparently very old ... used during times when knowledge found in books was not readily available to the general population - books were rare and very expensive.   Over time this kind of book was used less because books became more common and ownership more likely.    It appears now - in the electronic information age - a more modern version of the Commonplace Book might be returning.

We are now bombarded with information from every direction and multiple sources often passing at what seems like the speed of sound.  When nuggets of interesting information, a great quote, an impressive idea or a beautiful picture comes to our attention - it can be easily lost with the next thought, or email, or phone call or demand on our time.   The Commonplace Book might be a good place to safely store those eclectic things ... so it is not lost by our memory.

This is an idea that appeals to me.  It feels like a creative outlet, an unstructured storage chest for fun quirky things that catch my fancy.  And although my Bullet Journal is a pretty plain Jane bound book - a Commonplace Book could be a beautiful, colorful bound book - special just for itself.

Thinking, thinking ...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

One wish ...

If you could have one material wish
 (no wishing for world peace here ... )
 what would you wish for?

That was the question posed by a blogging friend called Paula at Smidgens, Snippets and Bits.  That question seemed to resonate like a huge gong in my brain.

And it made me instantly sad and pensive about life.

My one wish is as impossible as world peace.  My husband has a degenerative eye condition that over the last 10 years has robbed him of his vision.  Today he is legally blind and at some point in the future, he will be totally blind.  His condition has no cure!

My wish would be sight for my husband.

In fact, if it was medically possible (it isn't) - I would happily give him one of my eyes.

While this statement sounds self sacrificing on my part - it is not!  It is the fatiguing result of watching too much loss around me.

I spent the last 8 years watching my mom slowly lose all parts of a life she had independently built up  ... lost through age and dementia ... until finally she was left with only her daughters standing by her beside waiting for the end.  She did not even have the comfort of knowing we were there.  Total and complete loss.

Now I watch my husband slowly shed a life time of cherished hobbies.  First to go was some of his independence - no driving.  Then his substantial library of books, followed by his enormous  American Stamp Collection,  and now on the chopping block is his beautiful and valuable toy soldier collection.  TV is now mostly a radio show for him.   Even pouring a cup of coffee without spilling it has become a challenge.

The gift of one of my eyes would be a small sacrifice to make to improve his life.

But wishing is a waste of time.

How easy it is to focus on all the troublesome problems in life.  If problems go on for years and years, it becomes a habit to view life through the lens of loss.

This year - the first year of my mom's passing and the first year of increasing disability in my husband - I have allowed my emotions and point of view to settle on what is missing - what is lacking - on loss!  It has sapped my energies.  Fatigue best describes my internal mental state.

I need to change the lens I am looking through!

So I am pushing myself right now instead of wishing.
  • Organization.  The Bullet Journal has been helpful in putting some control back in my hands.  
  • Gratitude.  I need to write down all the positives - they are many.  Bullet Journal - make room.
  • Adult Coloring!  Yes, coloring for grown ups - and I am not talking about porn coloring books!  I didn't need a new hobby but apparently I have one.  Coloring is apparently a new (old?) hobby - one most likely relegated to children in the minds of many.  But now it has become quite the adult past time to help reduce stress and increase relaxation.  Who knew?  I have new coloring books, new color pencils and I am off and running - well, off and coloring at least. Maybe I will post a picture or two.
  • Legos - opps!  See a theme here?  I will blog more on that later.
  • Knitting - nothing replaces the satisfaction I get from knitting.
  • Walking ... enough said.
If I have one strength  ... it is my ability to adapt and change.  Lately, however, it is harder than normal.  Fatigue is a powerful enemy.  But I have little patience for people who sit and say "poor me" and do nothing about it.

I have lost patience with poor fatigued me!  Working on a different description.

How about you?  
Any wishes?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My kids ... My soldier

I am always warmed by pictures of my two kids together.  They turned out to be such wonderful and responsible adults.  This picture is from the 1990s - when my son served in the military as a Marine.

This post is to recognize that service.  I wasn't the best 'service mom.'  Our family does not have a history of military service.  It is not part of my life experience.  While I am a strong supporter of our military, their families and the sacrifices they experience every single day, I don't do separation well. Separation from family is part of the deal when you join the military.  I wish now I handled that time better.

And now I recognize the short comings of those feelings.  I am not proud of them at all, but I am very  proud of my son's choice and his service.

Happy Veterans Day, Matt.

Here are my two wonderful 'kids' today.  

How lucky can one mom be!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

A journal of a different kind.

Over the years I have had almost every kind of calendar / planner you could name.  They were always paper - never digital.

This year I went "rogue."   With little structure in my life - no job or caregiving duties to wrap my days around - I assumed my simple life could be reduced to a simple bullet list on 3x5 cards. Each day a new card.  Undone tasks transferred to the next day's card.  Completed cards - thrown away.

Well ... it hasn't been pretty!  Not pretty at all.

First off the cards would be prepared and then ignored.  Opps!  That's a fail!  Then cards got lost.  Great.  Now I have to rely on my 68 year old memory.  Another failure in the making.  Finally, if the cards were completed, they were trashed and the information was lost.  Mostly that wasn't a big deal because things like ... clean toilets, do laundry, and take a walk - aren't huge losses if they aren't saved for posterity.

But other lost details were sometimes important.  It is nice to when your last mammogram was done, when that specific bill payment was sent (since the post office lost 3 pieces of our mail in the last 6 months) and did you send that birthday card/anniversary card/wedding gift?

So the 3x5 cards had to go!  I searched and searched for a planner - finally bought one.  But it was totally ignored.  I was back to the 3x5 cards (the writing, the ignoring, the losing, the pitching.)

Enter the
 Bullet Journal.

I learned about bullet journaling from a blog I follow called Assortment.  The blogger just started using a bullet journal and I followed her link to a Bullet Journal site to watch a video.  It all clicked in my brain.  Then I watched some videos of other bullet journaling folks.  I learned that your journal can be as minimalistic or as elaborate as you desire.

Here are the pros from my perspective (I think I will use bullets ... Ha!  )
  • It is analog - just the kind of planner/journal I prefer. 
  • It has a stitched bound spine - not loose leaf or spiral bound.  Yet it lays flat. 
  • Pages are not printed with a manufacturer's organizational structure.  Pages are dotted - sometimes a grid.  You create your own structure and boundaries. Simple or complex. 
  • No wasted pages (like financial tracking, or telephone lists, or exercise logs - unless you add it in.)
  • I am less likely to lose a book - not like those illusive 3x5 cards.
  • There is no fixed end date - like December 31.  Use up the pages then move onto a new journal.  
  • Structure can be customized on the fly.  Reduce or add more as needed.
The cons (and there is only one for me):
  • You build the journal - that almost sounds like a pro statement, but it does involve some time to set up.  I think I can off set that by keeping my journal simple - it doesn't need to house my whole life.  
That is it.

I watched several YouTube videos on this topic and it is interesting to see what folks include.  Shopping lists, weekly menus, recipes, reading lists ... you name it.  Some journals include decorations like a scrap book and a place for actual journal writing (not bullets.)  Some include tabs, others include add-in pages that are preprinted to minimize set up.  All are stored safely in a simple book.

Or it can simply house an organized bulleted list of tasks using the Bullet Journal techniques described at  Check out the link to get a quick sense of how it is set up if interested.

My new bullet journal was delivered today and I am off to set it up.

I love lists and bullets and keeping on track to get things done.  Keeping my fingers crossed that 3x5 cards are history ... and this tool helps make things "pretty" again.

Friday, September 11, 2015


Every anniversary of this terrible day the TV, the blog-sphere and social media is flooded with 9-11 remembrances.

And I support remembrances.  We must remember.

What I don't support are the images that emotionalize, sanitize or minimize the truth of that attack.  Beautiful waving national flags, a tearful statute of liberty with the smoky towers behind her, the struggles of the heroes to save lives ... those images do not show the terror, the desperation and the horror experienced by the innocent lives trapped in those burning buildings.  To remember that day with vanilla patriotic images fades the stark truth.  It separates us carefully and gently from the actual ugly event.

I don't think we should do that.

This is the image
 we should hold in our minds.

 this man!

 that some people jumped to certain death
 rather than stay in the inferno of those buildings.

 that as our innocent citizens fell from the building
  they knew with certainty that these were their last seconds of life on earth ...
approximately 10 seconds ...

 that those on the ground below
 will never forget the terrible thudding sounds of bodies hitting pavement
one after another - over and over - about 200 times.

If this post makes you upset, uncomfortable, angry, or sad, then I have achieved my goal.

We must never forget the real images.
This is how we do honor to those who died in that attack.


Post Script:
  • My last blog post on 9-11 was September 2012. The title was Jumpers.
  • From the reading I have done - it appears that the New York chief medical examiner's office does not consider these people "jumpers."  Jumping indicates a choice and would imply suicide.  These people did not have a choice probably because of the force of the explosion, the fire behind them and the lack of breathable air.  Because of these conditions the deaths were ruled homicide.  It is a small but merciful distinction.   They most certainly were murdered.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Knitting Life

I am truly blessed to have a rich crafting life with friends and family who share similar interests.

Knitting started for me back in 1997 - before the current knitting craze took root in our society and the out shoots of spinning and weaving pulled me into their influence.  Almost 18 years ago - amazing.
My first sweater - that is large enough to fit two people.  Lesson learned about the value of  gauge swatch.
But this sweater will always be mine.  Comfortable, warm and will fit over absolutely anything
I have.  AND it is my first sweater, so it holds a special place in my heart.
Same pattern that I made for mom.
It fit mom perfectly.
I still have this sweater. It will always
be with me and it will be worn by me.  

I learned to knit as a reaction to a stress filled management job of 7 years.  Those years were filled with long days and long long weeks.  It got so crazy that it would take me 3 work days to prepare for vacation, and 3 vacations days to unwind from work.    Oh, most of that crazed life style was my own doing.  But you know it is bad when you are living and breathing a job - no hobbies, no reading for fun, friends and family time shrinking, lists upon lists of things to remember and do - all job related.

So it probably is no surprise that in 1997 it all came to a screeching halt.  I quit that job without having another job in place.  Oh, I was professional about it ... giving them four months notice, but I had an end date ... a light at the end of the tunnel ... and I was making my escape.  Thankfully I had a husband who understood.

And then I found knitting.

Actually I asked my husband about maybe taking a 7 week "learn to knit" class at my local yarn store and it was a pricey class.  He agreed with the statement, "Why not.  It is cheaper than therapy."  Hmm ... guess he saw that I was reaching critical mass in that job too.

A special picture of mom, my sister and I (L to R.).
And my sweater is the Central Park Hoodie - a
fun sweater to knit and wear.
And a knitter was born.  Knitting filled a need that nothing else could do.  It occupied my hands and mind in a meditative way - my soul needed that.  It had a beginning, middle and end - my type A personality needed that.  And it was a creative activity that produced with a beautiful item - well, maybe not beautiful the first year when my skill level was that of "rookie."  But from then on many lovely projects have emerged.

The start of my current shawl project with beads on the ends.
Knitting not only healed all the broken parts of me in those early years, but it sustained me during some of the hardest years of my life taking care of my mom.  I made several beautiful things for her during her time with me and she was buried in a shawl I made for her during the last year of her life.  It gives me comfort to know she is wrapped in something right now I made for her.

A cable and lace poncho I knitted for my daughter.
It was an great design starting at the bottom of the
poncho and decreasing your way up to the neck.
And now knitting is still giving.  This year I find myself at loose ends. Mom is gone.  My husband is becoming more or more disabled.  That "caregiver mantel" I so carefully set aside at my mom grave site is slowly and persistently finding it place back on my shoulders once again.  Knitting fills a void and allows some escape.  Nothing else is capable of keeping the edges of my life all glued together in a sane way like knitting - not even blogging.

Rigid Heddle Loom - a cozy kind of activity.
I enjoy the process and will do this again and again.
Just not right now - the knitting needles call.
I have been pulled into related crafts.  I can crochet, I do weave on occasion, and spinning fiber tugs at my desires now and then.   I love my looms, my spinning wheel and my spindles, but they will never replace my knitting needles.  Knitting is the activity my hands reach for when I need constancy, escape and peace.

A lace and bead shawl I made for my daughter that almost killed me with frustration.
I swore more during this project than any other in 17 years.
And I pledged I would never do anything life this again.

But the end result turned out beautiful I think.
And I decided in an absolute instant ...
I think I could knit something like this again.

Just like childbirth!!
Knitting can hurt like the devil and you swear "never again"
and then you forget and are just so pleased with the
object completed and you think ...
oh that wasn't so bad.
I think I could do this again!

The knitting life for me!

Monday, August 17, 2015


I live in a neighborhood that was built about 30 years ago.  My husband and I are original residents so I remember a time when all the growth was young and not very big.  I love the maturity of the vegetation and how it provides a cool and shaded space to live and walk.

Really, there is no excuse for not walking in my neighborhood.  It is safe and well maintained and comfortable.

But for some darn reason finding time for walking is always a struggle for me.  This spring I started out so well with a routine of regular exercise.  Then the house renovations started.  Three weeks of painting, and a week of kitchen renovation ... and all those weeks and weeks to prepare and clean out and recover.  No walking then.  And some days the heat was more of an assault than even these lovely trees could cope with.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

That is all those barriers were ... just excuses.

Last week I began again to establish a walking routine.  And I kept thinking about the why and how of my struggle with this simple habit.

And then I saw it.  The example of what happens to you when you don't keep active.  I saw it on my walk and it is a picture I just might put on my fridge to motivate me.

This is an old road way that was closed to through traffic over 30 years ago.
It ends at a creek where the bridge was washed away in a long-a-go hurricane.

Do you see it?

It is so obvious that you might miss it if you are looking too closely.  The side walk suddenly narrows.  Oh, the side walk is still there - hiding under the overgrowth of nature, but the path shrinks remarkably when not tended.

I live just to the left of this picture.

Here is the view with me standing on the narrow path.  And literally, this is where I feel like I am looking at my walking life at present. Standing on a narrow untended path.

You would think the example of inactivity in my mom's life would put the fear of God into me.  And it did for a time.  But images like that fade from memory.

I am a very visual person.  I do best with graphic examples.  My visual memory is petty darn good as evidenced by road trips when I could find my way back without a map - because I had "come this way before," ... even it is was years and years ago.

And so, in my walking world, I have come this way before.  I am standing in a place that is not well tended and I see where I want to go.   Aim for enough activity to broaden the path - my life.  This image also accurately shows how quickly you lose stamina over 60.  When I was 30 I could hold onto energy without much effort.  Now if there is no effort, the path narrows very very quickly.  Nuts!

This aging process certainly is a whole lot of work.  No wonder so many folks just give up and sit!

Out of respect to the body that got me this far - I am a bit more reasonable about expectations, but "reasonable" is not my normal mode of operation when it comes to exercise.  I am wired to be a competitive person - always looking to do more - be the best - aim for the lead.  And because of that exercise has always been "all or nothing" thinking.  After all, you can't be competing all the time.  Competing means there is a start and a finish - and someone wins.  This less younger version of me has had to readjust that thinking.  Walking doesn't have a start and finish as a habit.  The goal is not to be a winner, just physically a more active version of me.

Now my goal is to just move!  It isn't important that I beat last month's time, or walk more miles than I did last week.  The goal has slipped comfortably into what makes sense now - keep moving - and hold onto 10,000 steps a day average.  Those steps don't have to be fast, they don't have to be all at one time - but they should happen ... just happen!  As far as goals go, this one couldn't be more simple.

So here I go again.

Pedometer says today I have only 525 steps - at 8:23 am this morning.  Only 9,500 more to go!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jacket Sweater Done!

The picture above is the bodice of my green jacket sweater I made for myself back in 2009.  It is called the Faery Ring Jacket by Mary Scott Huff and it is a free knitting pattern on Ravelry.   I fell in love with it the moment I saw it.  I will say that this jacket sweater is an enormous project - the hem falls mid thigh, there is a hood, and the bodice is all cables.  It is a whole lot of knitting.  I would guess the number of stitches in this sweater are equal to knitting two sweaters.  It took me almost a year to finish my jacket.  But the finished product is lovely.  Love at first sight for me.

And apparently it was love at first sight for my cousin, who saw my jacket one visit in 2013.  She tried on my jacket and offered to pay me to make her one.  Well, I don't knit for pay and I definitely don't knit for pay for family.  That afternoon we sat down together and she picked a color for her own jacket ... this beautiful blue.

I am sorry to say it took me two years to finish her jacket, but as my other cousin (her sister) reminded me ...  "you had a lot going on these last 2 years."  Yes, I guess I did, but this spring, I decided that this jacket had to be finished.  And I finished it in July.  And here is the proof!!  

And as far as accepting payment ... I did get compensated!  Look at that beautiful smile.  

Love you very much dear cousin.  Wear that jacket in good health!!

Other knitting projects that have waited patiently behind this one are now in the works.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Wisdom from an unlikely source!

George Carlin was a American comedian of the 70's and 80's.  My husband and I were big fans of his stand up comedy and his observations of life.  But I understand that Mr. Carlin was a controversial person and not admired by many.

Some of the descriptions of Mr. Carlin include:  social critic, actor, author, philosopher and satirist.  He didn't shy away from difficult topics like religion or politics, and he addressed taboo subjects with gusto.  One of his best and funniest bits was called "Seven Dirty Words."  Google it if you are not familiar with his work, but be warned - they really are words not used in polite conversation.

I don't know when this piece was written by Mr. Carlin, but I believe it is representative of the worth of this man.  It shows that he was more than just controversial ... he was a many faceted individual and seeing life in this piece through his eyes is worthwhile even if you did not like his comedy.

I wanted to share this piece on my blog so that I could find it again when I needed a reminder of what is crazy and is important in life.  So much of what he writes reflects some of my own evolution in thinking over the last year.

It is a long piece but well worth your time.  Hope you think so too.


"The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints.  We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less.  We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.  We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much and pray took seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.  We Talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life.  We've added years to life not life to years.  We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.  We conquered outer space but not inner space.  We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.  We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.  We write more, but learn less.  We plan more, but accomplish less.  We've learned to rush, but not to wait.  We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.  These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are the days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.  It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.  A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it.  A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak!  And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Time Machine

Recovery from care giving is taking longer than I thought.

Not recovery from mourning a loss - although I still miss mom every single day.  No, this particular "recovery" is more related to my current life ... more of a constant discovery of where I am in the aftermath of care giving.

Don't get me wrong ... I can't imagine making different choices for the last 10 years.  Nope!  I would do it all again.  But I must have naively thought when all this care giving stuff passed into my personal history, I would just pull up my "big girl" panties, square my shoulders ...  and move on with  life exactly as I planned when I was 50.

Reality has been different.  It is more like a time machine experience.

When I stepped into the care giving time machine I was in my late 50s.  I was working and looking forward to all the free time and activities of a planned retirement.  Now I have stepped out of the time machine. I am ten years older.  The landscape of my life has changed - inside and outside.  My previous plans seem to have drifted away like a puff of smoke.

And strangely that is ok!

I suspect that this is nature's way of slowing down the "busy-bee mentality of living" and making space for a more mindful life.  Instead of running around checking off my retirement list of to-dos, I find my days naturally shifting in a different direction.


I can hear the comments rattling around out there.
"Huh oh!
She has lost it.
What the heck is she talking about?
Did she read this in a book somewhere?
Is she drifting into a esoteric space?"

In my defense I guess this is what happens when you have the time to think about things.  Weird stuff pops out.  :-)  But stick with me a bit longer.


Looking at the arc of my life from the 30,000 foot perspective - it looks like this:

Rocky childhood
Good health
Stable marriage
Wonderful kids 
Professional success
Good friends
Nice abode
Dedicated care giver
Good health (still)
Family Longevity

In the grand scheme of life, I am one of the luckier individuals on this planet.   Other than my early years and my care giving experience,  my life followed a predictable and satisfying pattern.

So the real question is ... what now?

I thought I had the answer to that question - I had retirement nailed!  Topping the list of activities was travel, volunteer work, a fun part time job, hiking .... just to name a few.  But I don't have this period nailed down at all.  My retirement plans seem jumbled and not in sync with where I am at right now.  And I think I know what happened!

 Mother Nature stepped in while I wasn't looking and said ...
 "Hey you, listen up!
You have slipped into the arc of your life
where things are processed differently
 in your mind
 and in your body.
You need to respect that.
So get over yourself!"

Ahh, thank you very much, Mother Nature, for that in-your-face reminder!  I didn't build any of that into my retirement planning.

Now my retirement has a more realistic focus:

Stretch those muscles every night so you can walk upright every morning.
Gently greet the new day and don't expect too much before coffee.
Keep walking so you can stay on your own two legs.
Eat carefully so your stomach doesn't punish you.
Drink water - dehydration is not your friend.
Simplify. Simplify.  Simplify.
Enjoy friends and family.
Gracefully accept the gift of a long life by respecting the body that got you there.
And thank Mother Nature.  She really does know best.

If I could still have a wish list ... it would have only one bullet point:

  • Live in a world where the elderly are respected and relevant.

(Hmm... thinking, thinking)

Balder Dash!
Get rid of wishes.  They are a waste of time!

 I don't care about what the world thinks.
Respect your self, I say.
Don't see my worth?
Good riddins to you!
Your loss!
Step aside.
 You are in my way!

Yep!  That time machine has changed ALL my landscapes!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Silly Season - A Rant!

I can't believe we are approaching the very early stages of another election season.  The "silly season" is what I call this time of year, but I won't bore you with all the reasons why I picked this label. Elections are a necessary function in a representative government, even if our particular process is flawed and frustrating.

In fact,
 this post is going to be
 "A RANT!!"  

Sorry, I don't rant here very often.  Actually my only other rant was October 2010 - same topic.  Guess two rants in 5 years isn't too bad.  But if you want to skip this post, I don't mind.  However, when a blogger warns that their post will be a RANT, I find it hard to turn away.  Like a car wreck ... I feel the need to slow down to see what happened, but I really don't want to see what happened, but I look anyway, but I wish I hadn't, but I would do it  ... and so on and so on.  Oh well.

You were warned!
Here I go.

OH . MY . DEAR . GOD!!

How I totally hate the circus our political election process has become.  Lost are things like civility, fact finding, balanced and fair exchange of ideas, comparison of issues,  respect for different positions, intelligent research, and polite debate.

All of the above have been replaced by insults, belligerent name calling, and slanted opinions that slip into outright lies about political figures and their positions.  Enormous sums of money are wasted on attack TV ads, hand outs, and campaign signs that end as litter on our roadways.  Really??  Does anyone make up their mind on who to vote for based on a card board sign with a name on it??  Let's not forget the invasive political robo phone calls that squeeze themselves into our lives between with other unsolicited calls.  I don't even understand how the huge TV spectacles of conventions promote anything useful beyond whipping up the electorate into a frenzy.  All that money and time wasted just to draw attention.

It is a nightmare to me.

On top of that, even when the election is over, we have become a nation of disrespectful, finger pointing citizens who seem to take joy in saying simply awful insulting things about our elected leaders.  It seems in the eyes of some of us, our current leaders can do absolutely NOTHING right.  If we don't agree with their political positions, then they must be wrong about EVERYTHING.

That particular national trait makes me nuts.

I am not a Democrat or Republican.  I proudly identify as an independent because I don't believe one political party has all the answers just as I don't believe any one person is all good or all bad.  All of us are shades of gray with some sterling moments tossed into the mix.  Sure, there are a rare few elected officials who get caught putting themselves above the law or in unethical situations.  But generally people enter public service with good intentions.  At least I like to think so.

Another frustration for me is social media.  Wow.  How entitled and free some people feel as they slam our leaders in the "Public Court Room of Facebook."  Some postings are so unbelievably ridiculous.  Comments generated are completely appalling!  All that poison get shared with thousands of people, usually bringing out the worst in us.  How can reasonable thinking people identify a sitting president as an "SOB, hateful, Evil, the worst president ever," just to name a few terrible labels.  Come on, folks!  These are completely unacceptable labels for a person who was elected to the office by us, the citizens.  You may not have voted for him or her, and you may not agree with the current leader's ideas, but "evil?"  Really?  And as for "the worst president ever," I doubt the general public knows enough presidential history to make an educated guess at who is the worst.   While I do recognize that some elected officials have been caught in discretions that are wrong or shameful, the vast majority of our elected officials are citizens just like us doing the best they can in impossible situations.  So Social Media folks - back the heck off - and use words that don't make you look ignorant.

I try hard to keep my own personal criticisms of the Presidents limited, as being President is probably the hardest job ever.  I don't have access to all the relevant facts on many decisions to qualify me as expert enough to take cheap shots at the person we have put in charge.  Staying on top of and coordinating all the details of national decisions is a full time job that most of us don't have the background or time for.  That is why our government has a full time job for doing just that ... it is called "President."  And if you don't think this job is difficult, just look at each retiring President as they leave office.  They age considerably doing what we elected them to do - that aging didn't happen because the job was easy.

And how about all the criticisms we send towards our elected Congress!  I will agree that they have become stalled along party lines and really aren't earning their salaries.  But how can we expect congress to come together and work for the common good if we, the people they represent, have become stalled and derisive, and don't feel committed to working for the common good either.  Sometimes I wonder if Congress is just a mirror image of us.


Maybe it has always been like this ... but to my eye, it seems to be getting worse with each year.    Maybe the curmudgeon in me is coming out.  I don't know.

But I do know this ... if we don't find a way to be civil and work together effectively during and after an election - then our country is mostly bluster - not substance.  And "bluster" cannot be the leader of the Free World - at least not for long.  It will be our Achilles heel as a nation.

I know I have painted a sad picture in very simplistic terms.  Not everyone behaves as badly as I have described.  Otherwise I would consider packing my bags and moving to Canada (Canada would let me in ... right, Delores??)   :-)  But the "badly behaving individuals" are the loudest.  They overshadow the quiet majority.

I think I am done now.
Rant is over.
It didn't change anything, but 
I feel lighter!
Everyone needs to do that once in awhile.

If you stuck around to the very end, thank you.  Feel free to vent back, agree or disagree, etc.  This post was my personal opinion and I know opinions vary.  I would love to hear yours.

While you do that - I will be building my virtual hibernation hole until the "silly season" passes in late 2016!

Monday, July 20, 2015

July 20 - A Five Year Blog-a-versary.

Today is my 5th Blog-a-versary!

Gosh.  Five years!
Has that much time passed
 since I sent a first post out into the blog-a-sphere??

I recently paged through a few old posts.  I changed a lot inside since those early days.

A bit of naval gazing seems appropriate now.

My blog was launched in 2010 during a busy and sad time of my life.  I was buried deep in elder-care issues for my mom having slipped into that role in 2006.  But by 2010 I was drowning in it.  Solitary  full time elder caregiving can devour you in a way that is hard to put into words.  It is a slow depressing slide down hill for the senior and the caregiver.  In 2010 I felt I was waving a white flag in the battle to maintain both our lives.   I was looking for a safe place to hold the "me-things" that were slipping off my radar.  This blog was my life preserver ... literally a preserver of a life I was putting on hold.

And it worked.

I wrote about everything including things important to me - not me, the caregiver, - but me, the "used-to-be" working professional, wife, mother, crafter, walker, friend ... the me who was still interested in everything life had to offer ... but had to put it most of it aside to be me, the caregiver and daughter.  That receptacle of "me" was this blog.

But even with that goal, in 2011 my mom started to take center stage here as well.  I felt compelled to share the struggles and the emotional turmoil I was holding inside.  I needed to let go of some of it in a controlled bleed rather than an explosive eruption.  That slow controlled bleed of pressure was a  series of blog posts called Through My Care Giver Eyes.   Writing allowed me to put some space between me and the life I was leading.  It helped me to look at things through my mom's eyes and see that all this struggle was ours together.   It cemented my love and commitment to her even after I had to let let go of her primary care to Brooke Grove Assisted Living.  I felt closer to her in the writing process.  We were walking this path together ... to the end.

In hindsight, I am glad for other reasons that I wrote about that journey.  Now that she is gone ...  those posts and memories serve another purpose.  The blog holds the story how I changed as a person because of her.  It also holds those precious life experiences that would fade from memory with time unless they were written down.  What started as a coping mechanism, became a tribute to the woman who was my mom.

The decision to bring mom into my home have far reaching impacts to this day.  Some of life's opportunities have passed beyond my reach because of that decision. Delaying things so many years at my age does not allow much wiggle room in achieving bucket list accomplishments.  But I don't mourn that loss.  Some life goals we choose for ourselves are frivolous with no real value.  The role of caregiver that I naively adopted with an open heart ranks up there for me with motherhood.  I made a difference in the life of someone else.

And I learned like never before about myself.  The world did not end when I pushed back on authority, when I let my rough edges show, and when I walked away from unsupportive relationships.  A black hole did not swallow me up when I fired a physician, demanded accountability and questioned medical opinion.  I am now more results-driven, less worried about what others think, stronger in relying on my own decisions,  and more reflective on what is really important.

Did all these changes make me a more like-able person?  Probably not.  I still have trouble filtering the comments that escape from my brain.  I have less patience and understanding for some people.  But I am more at peace with myself - because my life has value in my own eyes.  My life had value to my mom especially towards the end when she had lost everything else.  

This blog holds all that for me.

In other five years, what will be housed here, will there be another evolution of me tapping on the computer keys ... hard to know.  I might not even be blogging.  I don't focus as much on the future.  I try to live in the "now."   But I am so grateful to have captured a small important part of my past in this space and a small part but important part of my mom's past resides here with me as well.

Something to cherish.

Happy Anniversary, dear blog.
Thank you readers for being there.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Love runs deep ...

... when you give your heart to a pet.

On this day a year ago, we lost a piece of our soul ... our family's soul.

Meathead, my son's English Bull Dog and my grand dog, passed away at his home a year ago.  He left such a big hole in all our hearts.  To this day we still mourn his death.

A looker!!
Meaty as a younger guy - charming, yet a stud muffin even from day one.
A few pictures of a short life well lived as a devoted family member.  

Cared for.
Struggled with bath time, but don't we all.

His grandmother always made sure there was a pillow to rest his chin on.

Recovering with his Papa from a near death illness
one year before he died.
One of my favorite pictures.

Tucked firmly away in his Aunt's heart.
Such an old old guy in this picture.

Dear Meathead,
Rest in peace my sweet grand boy.
Your time with us was too short.  
But I know you stuck around as long as you possibly could,
  even though the last years were hard for you.
  Although I have many questions surrounding the afterlife
 I never doubt for a single minute that you are there waiting somewhere
for your family
 in whatever serves as a "heaven."
The thought of anything else is just too painful to bear.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ten on Tuesday - Home

I follow Paula on Smidgens, Snippets and Bits.  She participates in a few writing prompts blogs.  I enjoy reading these but seldom feel inspired to participate.  This Tuesday was different.

Ten on Tuesday is found at  She knits.  :-)  So do I.  She also is Photographer, and so am I, except she is good and I am just a point-and-shoot kind of girl.  She is a Photographer and I am a photographer.  (see the difference??)  hmmm ... me neither.  She is a Photographer.  Period.

Anyway, on Tuesdays she hosts Ten on Tuesday and this week's topic is home.  I was hooked.  I recently blogged a lot about my home.

So here is my entry for why I love my home.

View from my living room window.
I love ...
  1. that I have lived here for 30 years and so much of my life history is tattooed on the walls of this abode
  2. that my townhouse sits up from the street - on a terraced hill that gives beauty as well as space from the road - unusual for a townhouse - and that my townhouse backs to woods - again, rare for townhouse living.
  3. that my townhouse is in a well maintained quiet community with good neighbors
  4. that my kitchen is small by current standards - small but big ... functional
  5. that my mortgage has been paid off since 2002 - that saved us when both my husband and I got laid off from our jobs at the same time in 2003 - hows that for timing
  6. that after 2 years of effort - the house is painted through out, hardwood floors put in (heaven) and majorly decluttered creating space and peace in my brain - YES!
  7. that my back and front yards are small - mulch, no grass - so no mowing either.
  8. that my townhouse was big enough to provide temporary shelter to 5 family members at separate times when they needed help
  9. that my townhouse has a room totally dedicated to (and filled to the brim at times) my passions of knitting and weaving and spinning. Ok ...  spinning is more of a future passion but you get the idea.
  10. that my 68 year old legs are strong from climbing all the steps inside and out for years and years and years.  I hate the steps on grocery day, but when I am 80 I will hopefully be able to stand on two legs - not three (cane) or four (walker) or no legs (wheel chair.)  I think of it as a personal gift from my house to me
So, there you go.

That was fun!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sons of Anarchy or The Tale of a Biker Family

Tonight I will be watching the the finale of The Sons of Anarchy.

I typically "watch TV" using Netflix, which means I hardly ever watch shows when they are aired.  I love to just sit down and watch 2 or 3 episodes of a TV show for an evening's entertainment while I am exercising or knitting.  And then repeat the next night and the next, until I am done.

Typically I seek out series that run for multiple seasons and have 4 or 5 stars in the rating system.  I figure if a TV series has been renewed over and over again - it must have some kind of drawing power, quality, high entertainment value ... and so far using the criteria of high ratings and long runs has not failed me.

But back to The Sons of Anarchy.

I am not into guns or motorcycles or violence. And I passed over watching this show several times because I am just not into stories that focus on an outlaw motor cycle gang/club family.  I couldn't imagine that it would be anything I would want to watch.

BUT, I am here to tell you this series has been totally absorbing.  Last night I was up until 11:30 and would have watched the final episode - but I was just dog-tired.  So I saved the finale for tonight.

The cast is amazing.

Katey Sagal (Married with Children fame) plays Gemma Teller Morrow and is phenomenal in this part.  She plays the matriarchal biker mom to a "T".  A very beefy role for her.

Charlie Hunnam
Charlie Hunnam plays her son, Jax Teller.  He steps into the role of leader over the course of the series.  He starts out very normal-ish for a biker club member with the goal to make the club more legitimate, but he eventually evolves into a violent, sad and tragic person.  He is also extremely extremely handsome, don't you think?  :-)  Ron Perlman plays, Gemma's husband, Clay Morrow, and is the club leader at the beginning of the series.

I am not upset by blood or violence or nudity or sex - if you are ... this is not the show for you. But the drama and story are incredibly compelling and those elements are totally fitting in this story.

On the up side, there is talk that there will be a prequel to The Sons of Anarchy which would be great!  But right now it is just in the planning.

So now I am looking for future viewing suggestions from you.

I have already seen all of (or all that is currently available:)

House of Cards
The West Wing
The Walking Dead
Breaking Bad
Game of Thrones
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Sopranos

As you can see, my interests are very very broad.

So let me hear what you think is good.