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

Monday, June 27, 2016

My Life List - Monday, June 27

I am joining the blog Smidgens, Snippets and Bits in sharing "My Life List."

What am I thankful for ...
Crazy but I struggle with the public gratitude thing.  I'm thankful for so many things in my life, but it sometimes feels ingenuous to carry on about it in public.  Of course, this opinion is not in vogue.  Advice frequently is ... you would be happier only if you kept a gratitude journal or if you 'practiced' regular thankfulness.  While I agree, I think it is the private reflection that provides the most peace for me.  So next week I will find something else here.

And I am thankful I can do that!  :-)

Discovery time ....
This weekly snap shot - My Life List - is a great way to keep connected on the blog.  I get to chat about a variety of topics in a brain dump style.

Outside my window ...
Hot, moist, sometimes stormy.  In fact, last week when I took the puppy out for his first walk of the day, something had hatched a bunch of wormy things on my sliding glass door.  Gross!  I could never live in the tropics.

Inside my window ...
Air conditioning!!  No worms on the outside (or inside) of my sliding glass today.  Life is good.  Ha!

What I am reading ....
I am reading the second book in The Olivia Series by Yael Politis.  The first book was called Olivia, Mourning.  The second is called The Way the World Is.   And the title certainly fits. This book picks up the Olivia story with no gap in the action and includes a bit of the Underground Railroad prior to our Civil War.  The underground railroad was a secret effort by abolitionists to rescue slaves from the southern slaves states to northern territories in Canada.   Thankfully I was never raised with prejudice against different races so the attitudes of the pre civil war era seem terribly foreign to me.   It can certainly be said our country has made large strides in race relations, but I believe it will be many generations (if ever) before the human race is color blind.  Until we stop handing down our prejudices to our children, the theme of this book, The Way the World Is, will sadly continue to ripple through our human experience over and over again.  This is a very good series.

What am I watching on TV ...
This past week I re-discovered America's Got Talent.  There are some remarkably gifted people.  What appeals is that you never know what is coming out on the stage next.  Each audition is entirely different.  Singing, dancing, magic acts, circus style acts, even some that defy categorization.  And the exceptional talents are balanced by the hysterically funny but terrible 'talents.'

And I am still watching Nurse Jackie on Netflix.  There are 7 seasons and I am in season 4.  Happy One, one of my friends and readers, said she stopped watching when it got too depressing.  The story line has had serious and humorous elements, but I can see now the serious side of this story is starting to monopolize the episodes.

What am I creating ...
I started a new shawlette pattern this week called The Holden.  No pictures of my work to show yet because I am in the early stages.  Maybe next week.  But here is a picture of someone else's finished project.

I will say that this kettle dyed yarn shows of the beauty of the pattern probably better than the yarn I picked.  I am just not that good at matching yarn to patterns.  My yarn is a gradient - going from a dark greenish turquoise to a cream with the cream being used in the lace areas.

I love this pattern.  I am hoping the lace edging is not to challenging.  The shawl can be made in several sizes - this picture shows a full shawl size.  I plan to make a shawlette this time - smaller scarf-like version.  But I have several yarn choices lined up for larger versions of this pattern.

What I am pondering ...
I love, love, love knitting.  I have dabbled into related fiber pursuits like spinning and weaving. They fall in the "like" category.  Not in the "love, love, love" category.  I often wonder why it is that some hobbies bring great joy to one individual while other individuals find great joy in something else.  Guess it is the beautiful part of being complex creatures.  To bad that "love, love, love" feeling we have for various activities doesn't spill over into our interpersonal relationships with other human beings who are different from ourselves.

A quote I quote ...

“Properly practiced,
 knitting soothes the troubled spirit, 
and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.” 

My week - a Peek ...
More dogs, more knitting, more walking, and more downsizing.

In the continued search for a place to move, the common theme is - the space we move to will be small.  My desires have crystalized over the last few months.  Location and condition are everything.  Size falls further down the wish list.  Downsizing efforts now will make that move easier whenever to happens.

What keeps me awake at night .... 
Actually I am sleeping a little better lately.  Ha!  So nothing is keeping me awake - except for some restless legs between 3:00 am and 6:00 am - and even that is much reduced!

Word of the Year ... Move!
Getting my step count up has been a challenge, especially coming off a week of puppy watching.  Yes, I was moving, but it wasn't always the kind of movement captured well on a pedometer.

But I have a new 'mind trick' to keep me moving.  Here is a picture of my Bullet Journal tracking system - the method I am using in June to document my progress.  Simple, easy to maintain and visual.

I have a ways to go to reach 10,000 steps consistently.  Without intense focus on the daily numbers, however, this method shows the trends - the big picture -which is all that really counts for me right now.  At my age, it isn't about the distance, or the time or the speed ... it is about moving.

I know electronic devices can provide this history with fancy grafts far better than my simple efforts, but I am not so bitten by the electronic bug that everything is better on that platform.  I prefer the analog methods.

My initial goal continues to be 10,000 steps a day.  But 12,000 to 13,000 steps a day would be better.  I believe the health benefits will be more remarkable in that range.

One step at a time.  I will get there.

Monday, June 20, 2016

My Life List - Monday, June 20

I am joining the blog Smidgens, Snippets and Bits in sharing "My Life List."

What am I thankful for ...
My daughter turns 40 years old this week.  40!!  I have always had more trouble with my kids birthdays than my own.  But I am so thankful to have lived this long a life to see them grow up to be strong and successful adults.  They make me thankful and proud.

Discovery time ....
I am taking care of my son and daughter-in-law's two dogs this week while they are on a cruise.  I discovered that I can go to sleep around 10:00 am and get up rested at 5:30 am - the dog's normal rise and shine time.  And they are so chipper at 5:30 am.  Me ... not so much.

Outside my window ...
It is heating up this week.  We are at the beginning of summer and things will be getting hotter and more sticky.  After all, I live in Maryland, the capital of the world for humid heat, other than the tropics, and maybe Florida (ha!).  Air conditioning is such a wonderful humane invention!

Inside my window ...
My days are busy busy busy with a puppy who is only partially potty trained.  I am beginning to read his body language well enough inside so I can get him outside in time.  But this potty training of a puppy is hard work!

What I am learning ...
Nothing this week! Ha.  I guess my 'smart container' is all full up.  :-)  Famous last words.

What I am reading ....
I am reading on my Kindle an absolutely wonderful book called Olivia, Mourning by Yael Politis.  I am about 50% into the story and it is very very good.  Here is the book description offered by the publisher.

Historical Fiction.  Olivia wants the 80 acres in far off Michigan that her father left to whichever of his offspring wants to stake a claim.  The problem: she's seventeen, female, and it's 1841.  Mourning Free knows how to run a farm and Olivia has complete trust in him.  The problem: he's the orphaned son of runaway slaves and reluctant to travel and work with a white girl.  Not without qualms, they set off together.  All goes well, despite the drudgery of survival in an isolated log cabin.  Strong willed, vulnerable, and compassionate, Olivia is a compelling protagonist on a journey to find a way to do the right thing in a world in which so much is wrong.

I generally do not enjoy historical fiction, but I do enjoy stories of survival in circumstances that are beyond my experience.  This is Book 1 in a trilogy and I am planning on picking up Book 2.

What am I watching on TV ...
I have started watching Nurse Jackie on Netflix.  I am into season 3.  I enjoy medical shows but for some reason I kept passing over this one until I ran out of other options.  It is really very good.  It took me a few episodes to get hooked, but now I am loving all the shows.  It is the story of an emergency room nurse who does everything she can to provide her patients with the best care possible while navigating the waters of a crumbling health-care system.  But she has a secret that is increasingly difficult to keep from people - she relies on Vicodin and Adderall to get her through high-stress sifts at a New York hospital.

What am I creating ...
This section should be called what I have created.  Here it is.

What I am pondering ...
How long will it take for my hair to grow back?  My hairdresser's shop closed suddenly, and I was unable to reach her for about a week.  So I went to a local uni-sex barber shop - and oh my - did I get chopped.  So short.  I will say it is cooler this way.  But I prefer a bit more hair on my head.  I am scheduled for an appointment with my regular hairdresser later in the summer, but I am hoping what little I have grows back in enough for that visit.

A quote I quote ...
Handle every stressful situation like a dog.
  If you can't eat it or play with it,
 just pee on it and walk away.

My week - a Peek ...
Dogs, dogs and more dogs.  And more 5:30 am mornings!  Glad it is at least light outside when we open the door.

What keeps me awake at night ....
My hips and my bladder.  I sure am tired of it.  Does anyone know where I can get some replacement parts?

Word of the Year ... Move!
I am sure falling short on my 'move' goals.  More on that another time.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Authenticity Shawl - Blocking

The knitting for the Authenticity Shawl is done and the blocking is underway.

As I mentioned in a previous knitting update, the progress of some lace projects are hard to assess until they are stretched out and blocked.  Until that step step is taken, the project looks pretty much like a knitted mess as it sits in your lap.  This lace shawl was knitted mostly on faith.   I had to trust that this pattern was coming out correctly and that the size would be big enough.  I am not a big fan of that kind of knitting - surprises at the end are not always good surprises.

But now that this shawl is stretched out on the blocking board, I can see the pattern well.  I can confirm that there are no hidden errors.  It all turned out as pictured in the printed pattern.  Thank God!

This shawl is for my daughter.  Although it is not a birthday present, I will save it till her birthday later this month.  It is a 'big' birthday.  The big ones can be hard.  Best to offer some distractions.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Prepared! Ready!

Who says you can't teach an 'old dog' new tricks?
  The 'old dog,' who is me ... 
is being taught by a young dog, 
who is Ragnar - or Rags, my new grand pup.

Ragnar - Rags
My son and daughter-in-law will be out of town for a week starting next Thursday.  Rags and Liv will be with me.  In preparation for this week long event, I suggested that Rags spend this weekend with me - just so I could do a dry run and be ready.

So Rags came to my house yesterday afternoon.  The day-before preparation looked a lot like this:
  • Vacuumed the whole first level - so that no small objects, or leaves, or dust bunnies, or anything that could be found and swallowed.
  • Strategically positioned paper towels and Nature's Miracle Pet treatment around the house for puppy accidents.
  • Covered couch with crib pads.
  • Set out chew bones for a small teething mouth.
  • Arranged pet gates.
  • Planned easy heat up left overs for 2 dinners - no elaborate cooking.
  • Cleared to-do lists of everything - except Rags duty.
I was prepared.  I was ready.  

The first day went fine.  So fine, that when I reported back to my son after about 6 hours his comment was ... "So you get the calm sleeping puppy and I get the hound from hell."  Ha!

Last night.  Peaceful Pup!
Secretly I thought ... I am prepared.  I am ready.

Publicly I said ... oh, there is only one dog here, and Rags got a chance to play with the neighbor dog  so he is tired, and it is all new so he probably is just off his game a bit, and ... and ... and ...

BUT secretly I was thinking ... prepared and ready. (insert smug tone of voice here.)

Even as early as 6:00 am this morning I was thinking ... this will be a piece of cake.

Prepared! Ready!

Then I opened the crate door and let the fully rested happy puppy free.

Honeymoon was over.

A partial play-by-play:
  • Out the front door for pee and poop.  Good dog.
  • Puppy eyes noticed a yard full of cookies (mulch) - yikes!  Not good.  Much digging in his mouth to remove stuff. 
  • Back in for his breakfast (eaten with breath taking speed!  So much for my own potty break.)
  • Opps.  Poop on the rug!  Lesson #1 - always, always, always take puppy right out after eating.  Always! No matter how much they pooped and peed outside in the last 10 minutes, always!
  • Out the door to pee!  Another mouth sweep for mulch cookies.  Another poop!  (wow, 3 poops).  Clean bottom of shoe of poop. *sigh*  Bright side, however, pooping done!
  • Back in for more play .. and water. 
  • Play with Grandma as she closes the sofa bed and covers the couch.  Puppy eyes - New game!!  tug of war with couch cover.  Lesson #2 - crate the pup if you want to do something that normally takes 10 minutes but with 'help' ... takes 60.
  • Squat to pee on the rug - Lesson #3 - set the timer for 15-20 minutes reminders to take the puppy out. 
  • Ding!  Timer goes off.  Out again.  Pee again. Poop again. (AGAIN! - this little dog is all colon.) Mouth sweep - AGAIN!
  • Back in for more 'games."  Re-set the timer.
  • Puppy Eyes - New Game!! The 'attitude adjustment spray water bottle' ... never assume it will be taken seriously.  Lesson #4 - EVERYTHING can be a toy, even a spray of water in the face.
  • Barriers are no barriers for big bull doggie paws.  *sigh* Lesson #5 - wedge barriers firmly - and hope that visually impaired husband doesn't trip because he forgot about the gates.
  • Ding!  And we are off and running again.
Those are big doggy paws.  I wonder about them!
All that before my morning coffee!

Later, nap time on the couch with Grandma!  It is 10:30 am.  Busy, busy morning for all.

Playing with a toy that no one has played with for probably 2 years.
Just like child birth, however, you forget what a pain he has been when he sits at your feet and looks up at you with that sweet puppy dog stare and that stubby tail shake.  He follows me all over.  Loves to sit or play touching some part of you.  I suppose he might take me more seriously if I wasn't laughing the whole time.

He loves to stay glued to your ankles.
It has been just a wonderful morning!  


Puppy love.  It isn't forever.  Enjoy the ride.

Nothing says "I love you Grandma" than those eyes!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Becoming Minimalist


Most people are influenced by inspiration.  They are exposed to an idea or an example and they find themselves drawn into a new path of awareness or action.  That has been my experience with downsizing and decluttering.  My personal journey towards less has been shared here in my blog - and several wonderful readers have let me know my sharing has inspired them.  Thank you.  I think that is how some movements are started - inspiring each other and passing it on.

I do not aspire to become a card carrying minimalist, but I do find inspiration in that movement.  I do strive to free myself from the weight of things for very selfish reasons.  I am freeing myself from extra work of maintaining stuff (sadly no hired help in my future,)  reducing stress (which I seem to have more than my share over the last 10 years,) and reducing distractions (the ability to focus seems to be the first mental ability to fail as we age. *sigh*)  In addition, it makes my visually impaired husband's life just a little less frustrating.

So let me share with you a blogger who has inspired me.

Joshua Becker is the writer of Becoming Minimalist and he is the author of the book The More of Less.  I love the title of his blog because it suggests that minimalism is an ongoing process not a final destination.  His blog was born from a place where we have all "visited" in one way or another:  dedicating precious time to the management of stuff rather than to people we love and experiences we desire.
He had the typical life filled with a happy family, a satisfying job, a normal house and an all too familiar over abundance of stuff.  His story begins one weekend when he decided to clean out his garage.  His 5 year old son also wanted a piece of his time to play in the backyard.  With promises to play when the cleaning was done, he proceeded to empty the garage onto the drive way to approach this task in a thorough and logical way.  Soon he was overwhelmed by the enormity of the exposed stuff and the effort it was going to take.  It was then that his neighbor casually commented: "Maybe you don't need to own all this stuff."  From that simple statement he quickly realized what mattered was time with his son and not the stuff in the driveway.  Inspiration in its most infantile form!  That experience sparked the beginning of a new way of living that he shares in his blog.  I don't have a garage or a 5 year old child, but strip away the window dressing of that story, and his sudden realization was mine as well - it just took me a little longer.  I encourage you to visit his blog and see if his experience could also be yours.

Recently he hosted a guest post from Sarah Peck.  Her story is titled:  The Story of Enough: Giving Up (new) Clothes for One Year.  Although I have never been into collecting clothes I took time to read her story.  The clothes saga is the window dressing of her story.  The underlying truths can be nailed down to a few words -  I have enough.  I am enough.  And "enough" is different for everyone.

Yes, that is EXACTLY what I believe.

I have captured a few of her quotes below.  I encourage you to check out her post on - and maybe spend some time visiting with Joshua Becker.  I don't think you will be disappointed.

Sara Peck
The Story of Enough: 
Giving Up (new) Clothes for One Year.

"Our world is filled with messages that tell us we don't have enough space, enough stuff, enough clothes, enough fitness.  We're never skinny enough or pretty enough or good enough or rich enough."

"...the idea of minimalism isn't about reaching a goal or checking off a box, or reaching a certain destination.  To me, minimalism is realizing that what I already have is enough, and that adding clutter to the pile won't make it any better."

"Stripping away the excess lets us get to the bones of what really matters.  Get to the heart space.  Get to the pieces that are important.  And that level can be different for different people."

"Untethering from the need to consume was surpassingly easy.  It was the attitude change that made the most difference: looking through my things and realizing I already had enough. ...  It was relaxing and reassuring to know that what I had was okay.  What you are is already good enough."

"Sometimes a subtle attitude shift or a small sacrifice can make a big difference.  Like taking the time to appreciate that what you already have is enough.  And your effort?  It's enough."

Saturday, June 4, 2016

My Life List - Monday, June 6

I am joining the blog Smidgens, Snippets and Bits in sharing "My Life List."

Thankful for ...
Pod casts and audio books.  I discovered the joys of audio entertainment when my husband start to lose his vision and was forced to transfer his personal library into auto formats.  Talk about a silver lining to a dark cloud!  Although there are times when reading (and owning) an actual book is preferred, mostly I am happy to listen to the audio version allowing freedom do other things.

Outside my window ...
No rain!  Sun.  Finally.  My world is very green at least for now.

Watching this ...
I have been watching a TV series called The Sixties.  This 10 episodes series can be found on Netflix and covers the turbulent and changeable decade of the 1960s.  I recommend it.

Here is a brief listing of what that decade contained.
TV comes of Age, The Berlin Wall, Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuban Missile Crisis, Assassination of JFK, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, The Beetles and all the British music groups, The Space Race and the man on the moon, the RFK/MLK assassinations, riotous Democratic convention, Nixon's rise to power, social change sparking feminism and the legalization of birth control and gay rights, culture changes with relation to sex and drugs, and Rock and Roll.    

Wow, that was a full 10 years.  Those were my high school and college years and I remember all these events.  But it wasn't until I watched this series of episodes that I realized just how big a decade it was.

Pondering this ...
Why is it necessary that I MUST lay down sometime between 1:00 and 3:00 to "rest my eyes" every single day, even after I have slept well at night, even after I have had plenty of water to drink and not dehydrated, even when I have had a relatively quiet morning.  Why, why, why!!  Three years ago I didn't need to do that!!

Quoting this ...

I am a fan of Mark Twain's outlook on life.

My week - a Peek ...
This week started on a high note and a low note.  On a high note - We enjoyed lunch with good friends.  We don't get out as much as we used to - my husband's limited vision makes these kinds of excursions a bit more of a challenge for him - but they are still important.  Friends are one of the gems of life.  On a low note - we found a wonderful condo that we almost placed an offer on.  But when saner heads prevailed over the weekend, we decided to pass on it.  It was located about 30 minutes north of our current location.  Although 30 minutes doesn't sound all that far, when you are as close as 10 minutes to your family support system, adding another 30 minutes to that commute is not appealing.  Oh well, we will be patient and hope that the summer will produce another condo possibility.  The rest of the week is uneventful.

What keeps me awake at night ...
I worry (mostly between 2:00 and 4:00 am) that moving my visually impaired husband out of this townhouse (a home he knows intimately) is a mistake.  We both agree we should have a residence that would allow us to live on one level.  At a minimum, we should live in a place where we could reach our front door easily with a walker or wheel chair.  Sadly, this town home is not that place.  But right now, in this minute, we are able to live here comfortably.  Is it an over reaction to move before the need is there or is it the adult thing to do before we are forced by circumstances?  It is easy to talk yourself into staying in a home you love and can manage now.  It is the comfortable and simple choice.  But just when you have yourself convinced that it is ok to stay ... your husband misses the last step on a flight of steps and falls on his hip.  And that is exactly what he did on Sunday.  He is ok, but ... guess it is not ok to stay here.

That is it for this week in my little corner of the world.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Put the Skids on Time

What the heck!

It is June 4 already!

Does anyone else feel like it shouldn't be June already - it should be more like March, maybe April, but definitely not June.  Although it is still technically spring, it will soon be summer in my little area of the world.  SUMMER! Unbelievable. I feel like if I blink, I will miss summer entirely, skip fall and be facing winter ... again!

I willingly admit that as I age I have a love hate relationship with time.  I love that I have more free time day-to-day than at any other point in my life.  I love that I can do nothing for a day - pushing planned to-dos into the future, because there is more time in my future than ever before (hopefully.)  I love that through the passage of time I have learned to be more respectful of the time gift I have been given ...  'retired time' when I can do mostly whatever I want.  I love all that.  You don't get to 69 without knowing that some folks never get that gift.

But there is a hate side to this equation.  I hate that my future time can be counted in mostly years and not in many decades.  I hate that at 69 I don't have 69 more years ahead of me.  In fact, in just one small decade I will be 79 - a time when the chances of living another decade are considerably smaller.  I hate that because of time my mortal body is starting to have problems - that my 'retired time' will be shared with an aging body that has a built in obsolescence.

I need to put the skids on time - slow it down.
  But how is the question.

Think, think, think ...

I've noticed that when you aren't paying attention to time, it speeds up and slips away.  If you are paying attention and are more mindful of the moment - time seems to slow down.  I may have read that somewhere.  In truth,  that is just a 'mind game' as time never slows down or speeds up - just keeps ticking away - totally irregardless of what individuals do.  It is only our perception of time that may change with attention to it.

Maybe time is like a fortune of gold coins.  The quantity of time or gold coins is a fixed number - unknown and different for everyone.  Each minute spent is a gold nugget that cannot be replaced.  How each golden minute is spent is in our control - not much else is within our control.  But can that approach put the skids on time?

Maybe trying to slow down time is the wrong approach.  Maybe the best way to handle time is to see it through the eyes of a dog.

My dear grand dog, Grimace who passed away this spring ... who never pondered time,
who lived in the moment, who spent his golden nuggets of time
making others happy.

That face says, "This is the moment that counts, Grandma.  Not yesterday, not tomorrow.  Just today.  Now can I have that treat you are holding?"

I am still learning Grimace.  
I am not as smart as you.