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

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Book of Questions - Question #005

Series: The Book of Questions by Gregory Stork, Ph.d

A brief reminder of the guidelines for responses to the questions.
  • The questions are about personal "values and beliefs."
  • There are no right or wrong answers ... "only honest or dishonest ones." 
  • "Accept that conditions are as the questions describe.  Suspend your disbelief if you can."
  • "Pay attention to which ones you're drawn to and which you shy away from.  ... a question you want to avoid might be the very one you should focus on.
Question 005

Would you rather watch an Olympics that 
outlawed performance-enhancing drugs
one that embraced them and let athletes use medical pit crews
 to jack up their performances?

I am a big BIG supporter of the Olympics being free of performance-enhancing drugs.  This event should be a true expression of what human beings are capable of achieving based on training, self-discipline, goal setting, rising above limitations, desire,  and ... well, pure grit! Setting aside the health issues of tampering with our natural performance, how would we know the true limits of our God-given talents, if we muck about with human-made "performance-enhancing drugs?"

In fact, the words "pit crews to jack up their performances" sounds very negative to my ear.  In my heart I like to think of the Olympics as a demonstration of what lies within an individual - and not what can be done to an individual by external sources.

A very easy answer for me.

Waiting ... waiting ... waiting ...

No little voice to interfere with my choice??? 

THANK GOD.  I guess threats in my previous post made an impression!! Ha!

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Book of Questions - Question #004

Series: The Book of Questions by Gregory Stork, Ph.d

I will include guidelines with each post ... the premise for this exercise.  Once we are further along in the 291 questions, we might forget the points in answering.  This is especially important for me when I answer and doesn't fit comfortably in my belief system (like question #003.)  Thank you to those who choose to join me in answering a question (which I sincerely hope you do.)
  • The questions are about personal "values and beliefs."
  • There are no right or wrong answers ... "only honest or dishonest ones." 
  • "Accept that conditions are as the questions describe.  Suspend your disbelief if you can."
  • "Pay attention to which ones you're drawn to and which you shy away from.  ... a question you want to avoid might be the very one you should focus on."
I accept these criteria and to keep me honest, I'll keep the numbering system.  No skipped questions. (I'll probably regret this decision.  Ha!)

Question 004

Ignoring all financial considerations, would you rather
spend the next 5 years confined to an urban mecca like New York City,
a beautiful, isolated town on the California coast?

Ahhhh!    Finally.  A simple question for me.

No equivocation.  No expanded explanations in an effort to make my final answer more acceptable - in my eyes, at least.  If you are confused by what I am saying ... check out the previous posting when I attempted to answer question #003.  (Gosh, that was a hard one but it did spark a few good comments.  Thank you to those who responded.)

So here is my answer to #004.

I choose, hands down, "a beautiful, isolated town on the California coast."   I love the peace and quiet of town life - "beautiful" town would be an added benefit.  And "on the coast" would make it heaven for me.  I don't get much "coast" time now.  And "isolation" is a HUGE plus for me.  I often prefer my own company to that of others.  No negatives.  Easy-peasy.  End of discussion.

(little voice rising to the surface)

But I am 70 now.  What about health care, what about access to a good quality hospital, what about the ability to seek out social stimulation when I want it, what about .... what about .... what about ....   Isn't the word "isolated" the limiting factor?  I could be within a few years of not driving.  Then what?  How much public transportation does this "isolated town" have?  I bet not much.  And my family and friends ... where are they?  I live in Maryland now.  They live in Maryland now.  The question only offered California, not isolated small towns like in California.    Yikes!!!  What about my grand dogs - how would I see them???   You can't scratch a Skype dog image behind their ears!

Shouldn't I provide a more responsible grown up answer that shows I recognize my current life needs and limitations?

Crap!  This was supposed to be an easy answer.

Think, think, think.

Ok - this still is my answer.  It is only for 5 years.  I would only be 75 at the end of that time - a 'spring chicken' really.'  :-)   My children could visit me - drive across the country with their dogs!!   Monthly!!!  Ok, maybe not monthly - quarterly would do.  They would do that if they REALLY loved me.  And all those "what abouts" are important - can be very important at times.  But when I try to picture myself living in an "urban mecca like New York City" ... No.  Never.  I am not a city girl in the slightest.  I wouldn't live another 5 years even with quality health care if I had to live in any big city!  I would HATE it.

My decision for  "beautiful, isolated town on the California coast" still stands!

Aren't there ANY easy questions in this book???
Glad I don't have to really make this choice!

Just for the record ... I have peaked ahead at question #005.  It looks like an easy answer!   Famous last words. :-)

If I can silence that (little voice rising to the surface) with a hammer, (jump up and down on it a few hundred times) ... (shoot it from head to foot with a machine gun and bury 1000 feet down) ...  (cover it with gasoline and then light a match) ... THEN it might be easy.  

Which would be your favorite place to spend the next 5 years. 
 I would really like to know.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Island

As most of you know, I am a knitter.  Knitting is my passion.

Last year I saw the cutest crochet pattern called The Island Playset.  I fell in love with it.  The design was charming because around the far edge of the ocean is threaded a ribbon that can be pulled together to contain all the little animals and the island into a self contained bag.

But it was crochet and I didn't have any children in my life to make it for.  And I hadn't done crochet in such a long long time.  And I didn't know where my crochet hooks were and I didn't have the right yarn - and on and on!  So I saved the pattern - but never forgot about it.

Then it happened.  This year my niece is pregnant and I whipped out that pattern again.

The self talk began.
     Me 1 - "Hmmm, I could make this."
     Me 2 - "Nooo, it is crochet."
     Me 1 - "But you saved this pattern for a year."
     Me 2 - "I know, but ... "
     Me 1 - "Oh for heavens sake - get a grip!  You want to make this pattern."
     Me 2 - "Well .... maybe just a little bit."

     Me 3 - (Yes, I have a split personality.) "Me 1 and Me 2!!!  Shut up!  Both of you go find the
                 crochet hooks and get hooking."  Or whatever they call it.

My goal was to finish it in time for the baby shower which happened last weekend - which I did.  Sadly I had to  miss that joyful event, because that was also the day my Max died.  My daughter delivered the Island Play set on my behalf - with 3 little summer outfits (for next year), a dapper  little man sun hat, sun glasses, a fishing pole and magnetic fish,  and some plastic sea creature that squirt bath water - all in a white basket.

The picture above was taken by my sister who reported the Island Playset was a big hit.  I meant to take my own pictures - but picture taking was the last thing on my mind that weekend.  Thankfully I do have a picture to share however.

And now I can tuck away Me 1, 2, and 3 until the next time I dither about something.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Book of Questions - #003

Series: The Book of Questions by Gregory Stork, Ph.d

Question 003
If you had to be obsessed with money, sex, sports, 
religion, or food,
which one would you choose?

You know, I look at these questions and I almost always think, "Oh this question isn't too hard."  And then I try to answer and I realize - not so easy!

I spent a few minutes trying to pick one I would be happily obsessed with.  My eyes kept scanning the short list discarding one after another looking for ... I am not sure what!  AMAZINGLY - knitting wasn't on this list. Go figure!  :-)

Since once again I seem to struggle for an answer, we will start with the ones I wouldn't pick.

Sports - Last Place
The only time I am only remotely interested in sports is during the Olympics and when the home team is playing in some sort of final competition - like King of the Sports World.  Nope, not sports!

Sex - Very Near Last Place
Holy cow, when I think of someone who is 'obsessed with sex,' I think of someone who has a mental illness.  No, and why would anyone choose to be obsessed with an illness.

Religion - In the middle of the pack 
(remember, this is my personal position and the question asked for total honesty.)
Religion placed low on my list because they included the word 'obsessed' in the question.  Really ... being obsessed with religion has gotten the world into more trouble than any other thing.  History is littered with folks who were obsessed with religion and caused great havoc and sadness to the human race.  I truly believe that even God doesn't want man to be obsessed with Religion - especially organized religion - ANY organized religion.  I think God is obsessed with people living a good life - no matter what your religion.  

Doesn't sound hard, does it.  Only humans make things so darn hard.

You might ask ...with that opinion why isn't Religion in last place.  For me religion implies an organized way of thinking about the Creator - a way to structure the unknowable.  Not a bad thing.  Raised Catholic my belief structure leans that way.  But I have grown to be more spiritual than traditionally Catholic. I don't support 'the one true faith' theory.  If there is a heaven, it will be filled with all who have lived a good life.  Yes, I check the Catholic box when asked for my religious preference (it is what I know best), I occasionally find comfort in entering a church (an empty church is best) but I can get that same feeling by walking in a forest, and I firmly believe there is a God and that thought gives me comfort especially for all the family and pets who have passed from my life.  I want to experience them again in whatever passes for an after life.  

But does that count as obsessed with religion?  God help me - that would be my idea of a nightmare.

Well ... I hate to cook.  And the question didn't say anything about eating food.  I love to eat.  Really, 'food' is pretty vague.  I suppose a chef could be described as 'obsessed with food.'  But it might be argued that a chef is obsessed with the process of food preparation and presentation.  They probably enjoy eating their creations, but obsessed with eating food?  No, it must be the act of cooking.

Regardless - food keeps me alive.  But it can't be in the top spot. 

Money - the winner by process of elimination
Boy, having Money in the top spot sounds so ... so ... shallow!

Why couldn't they have included knitting!!!  :-)

This choice, money, is the one I am most comfortable.  Obsession with money sounds harsh but when I think about that choice - I also think about what money can provide.  Beyond the basics of a comfortable life for myself, money can make a huge difference to family and friends, charities and scientific research, education and third world countries.  The list is endless.

So 'money' wins.  (Hopefully spending it wisely redeems me.)

 to hear your choice and why you picked it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A loss


We knew this day would come.

Max for short!

This dear soul clothed in the skin of a domestic cat was always the sick one.

Max (left) with his brother Wally (right)
Yes, from the age of 3 years, he lived with degenerative kidney disease.  When we heard the news, we were devastated.  That is not a good diagnosis in a young cat.  But the vet offered us a life line.  If we fed him prescription food and were willing to give him subcutaneous fluids every other day, we might extend his life a few years.
Well YES!! We would do that. ANYTHING!! And they trained us in the technique.

And so began the journey of nursing a 3 year old cat with a bad diagnosis for years and years.

When he died, 5 days ago, he was 11 years old!  ELEVEN YEARS!  No one would have guessed that a "few years" would extend to 8 years.

In March he began to lose weight.  The vet confirmed his kidney lab values were dropping.  His appetite had dropped off dramatically.  We continued the fluids every other night, and then every night at half dose to even out his hydration.  We scoured the stores for foods that would tempt him to eat.  We fed him several times a day.  We carefully monitored him for quality of life issues.  We enjoyed every moment because we knew the moments were rapidly disappearing.

He tried and he tried and he tried.  But by the time we reached June, we knew we were losing the battle.  The time had come to make that terribly tough decision - the one where you put the needs of your pet ahead of your own desires.

Time to say goodbye.

You are missed, dear Max.  So very very much.  Rest in peace with all the other dear souls that have gone before you.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

My Dad

I rarely write about my dad - and that is for a lot of reasons.  He died at 54 years of age in 1970.  The picture was taken on my wedding day in 1969.  On this Father's Day I want to honor him as well as share a bit of our troubled history together.

My memories are all colored by a father who was two people to his family.

The sober dad was the man my mom fell in love with.  He was kind and loving.  Pictures show a good looking man and one old movie of him reflected an appealing charm.  Not well educated having left school after the 9th grade, he had other gifts that made up for his educational short fall.  He was a hard worker.  I remember him occasionally telling me that my mom was beautiful.  My mom was a beautiful woman.  I think he loved her until the day he died.

But that love could not overcome his alcoholism.  Alcoholic dad was a nasty drunk.  Alcochol released a hidden anger and frustration.  Those emotions were vented at his family.  I never knew what caused those unhappy emotions but I suspect they came from his own troubled childhood.  As a child and young woman I never understood why my mom stayed married to my dad.  But at his death I got a glimpse of one of those reasons - she worried that he didn't know how much she loved him.  Love can be a powerful motivator.

Now that I am 70 - time and distance from my troubled upbringing have softened the hurtful edges of my relationship with my father.  I understand better how he struggled with an illness - one that consumed him and eventually contributed to his death.  The memories of his hurtful behavior towards his wife and children have faded somewhat and the love has emerged - and understanding.

The header to my blog has a picture on the right of me at around age 5 with my dad at the shore.  I don't remember this time - we looked happy.  But I do remember my wedding day, when he struggled to stay sober until my 1:00 pm wedding.  That struggle he made for me warms my heart even 48 years later.  I know now it was a kind of gift - the only gift he could give me.

He died a year later and never lived to see the birth of his grandchildren.  Sober dad would have been a wonderful grandfather.  And he would have smiled ear to ear at having a grandson.  This August my sister's daughter is having a baby.  A boy.  I hope he is smiling now from heaven at the birth a a great-grand son.

Happy Father's Day Dad.  

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Book of Questions - Question 002

Series: The Book of Questions by Gregory Stork, Ph.d

Question 002

What would you do if your 6-year-old daughter's favorite toy,
 a talking doll, started trying to convince her that she needed a new friend
 -- the next doll in the company's line?

I didn't think this question would be difficult, but I changed my answer a bunch of times.   To answer honestly was hard.  I had my 'public' answer ready ... one that was filled with idealism - taking the opportunity for a teachable moment to explain the power of advertising to my off spring - guiding her away from that kind of influence - writing letters to the toy manufacturer expressing my outrage at that kind of manipulation.  You know, all the 'right' answers.

But truthfully?  I would do none of that.     
  • If she was really young I would encourage her to put it on her birthday or Christmas list.  She would have to wait.  In my experience, waiting or delaying the impulse can stop the need for the item or other things may take the focus away from the desired doll.  If she waited and still wanted it, in the end, I would get it.  After all, if I really wanted an item myself - I would get it.  So it would be hypocritical for me to expound on doing the 'right' thing if I wasn't doing it.
  • If she was older, I would have her earn the money for the doll.  Again, that may result in a delay and the delay may reduce the impulse. 
  • I would be annoyed at the manufacturer, sure, but I doubt I would start a petition or even write a letter of complaint. Life is too short.  There are too many really serious issues to get worked up over in our world today then to waste time on a toy manufacturer who would probably file my complaint in their circular file (trash.)
I am curious about your response to this question.  I am betting the responses will be very different based on each person's individual value system.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Book of Questions - Question 001

Series: The Book of Questions by Gregory Stork, Ph.d

Question 001
Technology has become a part of us.  
Would you rather lose the use of all motorized vehicles, 
all telecommunication devices and computers, 
or one of your hand?

I had trouble with this question the moment I read it.  So initially I skipped over it.  My reason for skipping ??  Well, I really didn't have to choose between these things, I wanted ALL of them, I had all of them and the way life goes, I really don't get the a choice.  Life happens and you could lose the use of any of them if the fates are against you.

But that wasn't the point of the question.  The point was to evaluate your own values and beliefs.  

From the introduction:  
"Suspend your disbelief if you can.  
Ignore the paradoxes of time travel, the limits of our knowledge,
 the impossibility of magical powers. 
Accept that conditions are as the questions describe, that odds are accurate, that promises will be fulfilled, and that you know all of this when you make your decisions."

So based on all that here is my answer to this question.

I am not giving up a hand willingly.  I need all my parts.  Even the ones that currently reaching their expiration dates.  Besides, one handed knitting is pretty darn hard.

I can't imagine giving up my electronic devices.  At our stage in life we have so many limitations - computers, TV, phones - they are our contact to the world at large.  They are informative and entertaining.  And they are our safety net when help is needed.  No phone ... not happening.

So that leaves motorized vehicles sacrifice.  I realized the way this was worded may actually gave me an "out" on this difficult choice.

"Would you rather lose the use of all motorized vehicles ..."

In reality I may have to give up driving at some point in the not too far distance future anyway.  But would this statement allow me to 'use' public transportation like a taxi - or ride in the car of one of my children. Would I be limited to just walking or bikes or horse drawn buggies!   
When I picked this condo location I wanted to be sure I could walk to most places - grocery, doctors, donut shop.  Ok, no on the donut shop - although there is one near enough to walk to.  But I can walk to most things.  I guess I could even still ride a bike.  Think, think, think.

The right answer for me was there all along ... motorized vehicles would have to go.  

I will say, I am really glad I don't have to pick. 

Now it is your turn if you want to share.  I would love to hear what is the right answer for you!