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, June 28, 2018

The Americans - TV show on Amazon Prime

I am a big 'binge' TV series watcher.  The only things I watch in real time are local news, Dancing with the Stars, and American Idol.  Everything else I pick up on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

My latest obsession is The Americans on Amazon Prime.

Here is an online description of the show.

Philip and Elizabeth Jennings are two KGB spies in an arranged marriage who are posing as Americans in suburban Washington, D.C., shortly after Ronald Reagan is elected president. The couple have two children, teenager Paige and preteen Henry, who are unaware of their parents' true identities. The complex marriage becomes more passionate and genuine each day but is continually tested as the Cold War escalates. As Philip begins to warm up to America's values and way of life, his relationship with Elizabeth becomes more complicated. Further complicating things is the arrival of the Jennings' new neighbour, FBI agent Stan Beeman, who is part of a new division of the agency tasked with fighting foreign agents on U.S. soil. The drama series was created by former CIA agent-turned-author Joe Weisberg.

I am most definitely not into spy movies, TV shows or books.  I  skipped passed The Americans when I was brousing at least 20 times, before I became desperate enough to give it a chance.  

Boy, I am glad I gave it a chance.  It is great!  I was sucked in on the very first episode.

Photo Credit: Amazon
The characters are well fleshed out and you find yourself caring about them even though technically they are the enemy (Russian) on American soil posing as normal American citizens - and we (the actual Americans) are wearing the 'white hats.'  But the 'white hat hero' label depends on whose side you are on.  If you are Russian, the Russians are wearing the white hats.  It is worth noting that we probably have our own 'plants' in other countries as well.  Right or wrong, I suspect it is how the intelligence community works on both side of the ocean.

The Russian spies are believable and likable - but, boy, are they skilled at what they do.   I love the fact that the wife doesn't need a man to defend her.  She is as dangerous as any man.  And they are patriotic to Mother Russia, just like are to our homeland.  

Other things I liked:
  • There are 5 seasons available for viewing - and the 6th season is set to be aired this year.  This kind of track record means the show has something going for it.  Crap usually doesn't go that many seasons.
  • It takes place in DC - and surrounding areas - which has been my home since age 6 - so it is fun to know the areas they talk about.
  • The show is described as a period piece ... the Ronald Reagan era.  I like period pieces. Fun, because I lived through that time and remember it well.  Not fun, because they called it a period piece and I lived through that time and remember it well. 😀
  • Although Phillip and Elizabeth are the enemy (from our point of view), they have values and a code they live by that is strongly influenced by Russia.  Just like we do.  They aren't so different from us.  In a time of political polarization - it is good to remind ourselves that Russia thinks 'they' are the good guys.   It is also interesting to see them secretly settled in our culture and how they managed it.

Things that I question
  • You have to suspend disbelief somewhat with their family life.  The children are age 14 and preteen.  They are good kids.  Both I think are young enough to need oversight!  When you are a spy - it is not a 9 to 5 job!  Many scenes take place with both parents out of the house overnight.  There is no sitter at home for the kids.  The fact that these children are not monitored well is a bit unbelievable to me.  What if one kid got sick over night?  What if there was a fire?  There would be no one there for them.  Really ... I don't see that part of the story entirely believeable.
  • Since many scenes take place at night - and they have day jobs, when do they sleep??
  • There is a fair amount of violence.  I don't mind violence in my shows if it is appropriate to the story, and I think this violence is.  While I think that being a spy leaves you open to those possibilities, I doubt it is as prevalent as this show portrays but my spy knowledge is pretty rusty - being I don't know any spies and I don't read many spy books.
  • (If you are squeamish, don't read this bullet.)  Some violence was actually informative.  A woman was killed in a hotel room.  Phillip and Elizabeth are tasked with removing the body ... but how.  You can't just wrap it up in a sheet and carry it through the hotel lobby.  Elizabeth brings in a suitcase - and she and Phillip break the limbs of the body down (on camera) into a size that can be contained in the suitcase.  Sounds gruesome but less than if the body was chopped up - and less mess too.
I am working my way through Season 2.  I give this show a Thumbs Up!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Houston, We have lift off!

... or refrigeration, in my case.

The GE fridge was delivered earlier than promised today which was a plus.  And it will be safe for storing food within 2-4 hours in the fridge and 4-6 hours in the freezer ... faster than I expected.  In fact it is making ice even as we speak.  It does everything the old? previous new one did - with the exception that this newer one actually keeps things cold!   Those are the up sides.

The downside - and there is only one if you overlook the fact I had to buy a second new fridge in such a short time - the downside is that it is not white.  Yes, I know, I am a dinosaur, I like white appliances.  But to get white I would have had to wait an additional 3 weeks (ha!) AND pay full price.  The stainless models were on sale for 4th of July.  So I just accepted the inevitable and bought the stainless.  We will be replacing our stove and microwave in the next 12 months - so they will also be stainless.  And I am told by everyone ... property buyers want stainless appliances.

So what are we doing for dinner tonight??   Delivery pizza.  There is no food in the house now until we shop tomorrow,  HOWEVER, tonight we will be able to refrigerate any leftovers, finally!!

In case I sound too sour grapes about the color, I am not.  The fridge has been here for about 3 hours - the stainless is starting to grow on me!  See ... you can teach an old dog new tricks!

And now this saga is OVER!  And the elevator in my building is repaired and working!!  And I have gotten no spam since changing up my blog!!!  AND lastly, I am getting better.  While all these things were going on I got sick with a fairly substantial chest and head cold, that I think I got from my darling little grand daughter.  She had a cold on my last visit and I cuddled her for about 4 hours.  You know how this goes ... child gets a cough - last a few days - grandmother catches the same bug - but going on 8 days and will linger for at least that much longer.  No problem.  The cuddle session was worth it.  Soon as I am well, I'll be back for more.

Things are looking up!!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Immigration - Thoughts to Consider

By now the firestorm of citizen feedback regarding our nation's actions at the Mexican border has changed some of the terrible practices we have witnessed.  How to repair the damage that has been done (i.e. returning over 2,000 children to their families) is yet to be determined.

But I came across this piece.  I know the immigration problem has many sides and it is complicated with many strong emotions, but this piece seems to narrow down some simple facts ... setting aside the fact we are historically an immigrant nation - unless you are Native American or were just lucky enough to be born here.

Thoughts worth thinking about.

”Post by Wyeth Ruthven
So, I did immigration casework for Senator Fritz Hollings, studied immigration law at law school under a former INS general counsel, and worked for a border Congressman in the district that included the Rio Grande Valley. So hear me out:

1. These people in detention have not committed a crime.
2. I don't mean that in a moral or a figurative sense. I mean literally. It is NOT a crime to ask for asylum.
3. These people didn't jump a fence, they didn't sneak into the back yard. They are knocking on the front door and saying "People are trying to kill me in my home country, will you let me in?"
4. Now, I didn't fall off the turnip truck. Some of these people are lying. That's why you have a hearing. And because they might wander off, these people are held in detention until the hearing.
5. This hearing is NOT in a criminal court. It's in an immigration court. Because these people have not committed a crime.
6. Immigration court is not like criminal court. You don't have a right to an attorney.
7. So these people are waiting around, separated from their children, with no attorney, until they get a hearing.
8. In 2015, the median wait for an immigration hearing was 404 days.
9. Here's where it gets even more twisted.
10. If people plead guilty to asylum fraud, they get their kids back and get deported.
11. So these people knock on the front door, which is perfectly legal, and we take their kids, and tell them the quickest way to get them back is to confess.
12. If someone committed a crime - shoplifting, armed robbery, murder - and you took their kids away to make them confess, that confession would be thrown out.
13. But these confessions are lawful, because this isn't criminal court.
14. Because these people haven't committed a crime.
15. Now some people think that if we make it so unpleasant for these people, they will stop trying to cross the border.
16. But the message this sends isn't "Go Home." The message it sends is "Sneak in."
17. If they go home, they think they will be murdered. If they request asylum, they are separated from their children.
18. If they sneak in successfully, they're safe. If they sneak in and get caught, they are no worse off than if they sought asylum legally.
19. And remember, these people haven't committed a crime.”

Saturday, June 23, 2018

What are the odds.

The repair guy for the fridge came yesterday around 4.  He was sure he had the right part this time.  He had spend 30 minutes on the phone with LG explaining the situation.  They assured him this part (the 4th one) was the right one.

He entered my kitchen and pulled the fridge out and then started to unscrew the back panel.  I whispered to my husband, "So far, so good!"

And then there was a whole lot of quiet.

Finally I heard him talking on his phone to his boss ... "Did you get the picture I sent?  Yea, I don't know what to tell you.  I talked with them at length about this."  The conversation went on a bit more.

But I knew - it would not be fixed.  Not now!  Not Ever!

I give BGE Home (our appliance repair vendor) credit.  They tried.  They were so apologetic.  They admitted they could not fix our fridge.  They suggested that if we called LG and have their technician come out - BGE Home would pay the cost of the labor and repair whether or not LG could fix it.  The technician also suggested that when some imports (LG is Korean) change their product line they also stop producing replacement parts for previous models.  Then the parts become impossible to find.  Sounds like us, doesn't it.

We decided to cut our losses.  

A new GE refrigerator will be delivered to us on Wednesday.

Five more days of buying ice every day and eating strangely because I can't really cook.

But the end is coming.
And if when the new unit fails (which with our track record is entirely possible)
 it is American made, so parts are available.

Remember folks,

Friday, June 22, 2018

Maybe today

.... the saga of the fridge!
What can I say.

Still not working. 

Today is day 22 of living in the 19th century (that is an exaggeration of course, because I do have air conditioning and indoor plumbing. haha!)

Readers who saw my post on June 15 know the story of an expensive fancy fridge that is only 19 months old and died on June 1st.

Since that time - the repair vendor has tried 3 times to get the correct part - each time the wrong part as sent.  Supervisory staff got involved.

Today, sometime today, the right part is supposed to be installed.  Will see.  It is a 4th try after all.

The drama wasn't over for this week.   You know, first it was the commenting problems, then there was the 'wall' I am building and don't forget about my tomato plant (if you don't know what I am talking about you need to go back and catch up).  So on Monday, the elevator in my building died as well.  While I don't mind taking the steps to the second floor, 30 pounds of ice hauled up the steps every single day - well ... it just added something - at a loss for words.  ("Joy" seems like the wrong word, don't you think? 😀)

BUT the fix for the elevator is promised also for today!!

So ... maybe today I can leave the 19th century and return to the 21st century with all of you fine people!!

Really, as crazy as this month has been - I am doing just fine.  There are so many more terrible things in life.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Red One

A red tomato is peaking out!  
Too exciting.

I have named my first red tomato Tomosita! 

She is a beauty! 

I feel just like a mother or something!  Taking pictures, admiring the fact I 'birthed' a tomato!!!  HA!

But I think I need help.
No ... not professional help ... advice!!

Some leaves on the tomato plant are beginning to look sick.

I am seeing more and more of this yellow leaf - and they finally turn brown.  That can't be good.

Here is the back of a leaf that is all yellow and turning brown.  Any ideas of what I should do?

I am getting new growth at the top and the bottom of the plant.  I do not see any little bugs.  Is it too much water, or is it missing some nutriment??

My 19 tomato babies are at risk, people!!  I need to turn this around before too long, I am sure.


Aren't you glad I am not a hobby farmer with an acre of garden!  
I've been told I could make a pet out of anything.  
Apparently 'anything' includes tomatoes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Rant: Time to build that wall!

Fair Warning 
to readers.
If you are a Trump supporter, please stop reading now.  
This is a rant.  It is my personal opinion.  
It won't be repeated in the future on this blog,
 but it needs to be said.

I am putting up my own "wall,"
 on the crazy and depressing political scene,
 on this day,
 with this blog post.

I have lived in a state of disbelief that Trump was elected President.   My gut said this man was wrong for this job.  But in the beginning - without a track record to measure against - it seemed unfair to judge him.

Over the first year, I have watched all the repeated 'political fire storms' of this administration on the news and in social media daily.  Every single day!  It never ends.  This President intentionally creates most of his own problems and seems to thrive on it.  He has made terrible picks for many of his most important positions.  He says things that have to be 'translated' by his staff, because the general population finds his words at times shocking.  This past week I watched "Trump: An American Dream" on Netflix.  The series followed him in his business and personal life up to the point he entered politics for the Presidency.  It highlighted the fact that his ideas, his words, his behavior,  has not changed a smidge since he learned to walk and talk.  Granted - you can argue that any sources of information can be slanted.  But I have heard enough words said from his own mouth on camera  over and over and over again to know that my gut was right all along.  This is the wrong man for the job of leader of the free world! (which, by the way, we are not any more.)

This month, in a string of upsetting stories (as if the threat of a nuclear war with North Korea and making friendly nations adversaries while admiring our historical adversaries ... if that wasn't enough), I saw a video clip where Trump was admiring the North Korean dictator's followers - all those people who sit up and take notice when their dictator speaks.  Setting aside the fact this dictator will kill you if you don't 'sit up and take notice,' our President (in his own words - on tape so that there can be no misunderstanding) wants "his people" to do the same for him.  The President's interpreters wanted us to think he was "joking."  Joking - no one with two brain cells would believe that after the last year.  Then the stories of immigrant children being separated at the border from their parents.  And from the UN yesterday - we have withdrawn our representation on the UN Human Right's Counsel.

And that, folks, was just this last month!

I am just done.

I can't continue to watch our country sink to a new low - every single week - for another 3 years.  I have all the information I need to confirm that my gut was absolutely correct in 2016.

So I am building my own wall - a virtual wall to separate me from the grim drama in our government and the man who creates it.  I am banishing all Trump information as much as possible - from my life.  I have seen enough to know that I will vote against him and against anyone who supports him.  I don't need to hear more.   I deleted all Facebook postings (including a few 'friends') from my newsfeed ... people who routinely push Trump stories.  I will not forward any more Trump posts on Facebook.  I just add to the stress of others by doing so.  I no longer watch CNN. I agree with their point of view, but it is Trump, Trump, Trump - 24/7!  Just can't have a steady diet of it anymore.

And I will take the only action available to me - I will vote!

It must look to some like I am sticking my head in the sand.  They would argue that all citizens remain continually informed and ready to fight against America's wanna-be dictator.  They believe keeping the electorate in a constant of agitation and frustration is the way toward change.  Maybe ... I hope so.

But for me personally, and for my own health and peace of mind, I must look at this situation through a different lens.  I will vote.  I will encourage everyone to VOTE.  My elected representatives already reflect my point of view.   They are doing what needs to be done: RESIST.  In fact, our Governor, Larry Hogan, (a Republican Governor in Democratic Maryland) has pulled our National Guard Troops and a helicopter from the Texas border until the current policy of separating immegrant children from parents is changed. Thank you Governor Hogan.  It isn't a large gesture because our commitment wasn't that big.  But it is a stand and a statement!  Governor Hogan has my vote.  I look for other states to take the same stand.

Voting - the only tool I have.  I leave all the rest to younger more energetic citizens.

VOTE is my mantra!

And as for my wall ...  for the record - I am not asking for anyone else to 'pay' for it or to join me in building one.  What I am asking of everyone is to


Stepping down off my soap box now.  I won't be tarnishing my blog with his name ever again.


An apology and a disclaimer:
My apologies to any readers who are ardent Trump supporters.  
It is not my aim to make your position somehow wrong.
  But, this is my blog, and my peace of mind has been negatively affected by this elected official
 and I have a right to express my opinion on it - on bended knee if I choose
because the Constitution allows it ... 
at least at this point it does.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Commenting Problems.

Since returning to blogging I have received a few emails saying they couldn't find a way to comment on the blog.  Obviously this is not a problem for everyone.  But I wasn't sure exactly what was happening.  I checked all my settings and everything seemed fine.  I send an email message about this problem to Blogger Support Forums.  Here is their response.


Your readers need to be identified, using their Blogger / Google accounts. Unfortunately, some readers security settings block their identity, inadvertently, from the commenting script.

Any filters are subject to update, by the creator.  If the problem started a few days ago, your readers may have to look on their computers, and find out what product or accessory was updated, a few days ago.

First, as individually possible, each reader should clear cache, cookies, and sessions (yes, all 3) - then restart the browser, and check again.

The Blogger / Google login status, and the ability to post comments, is sensitive to both cookie and script filters.  Your readers may need to enable (stop filtering) "third party cookies", in their browser and on their computer. And, have them check their script filters, too.

Third party cookies filtering, in a browser setting, is the most common solution, overall - but your readers may have to search for other filter(s) that affect their use of Blogger / Google.

If any security product has a "block" list, ensure that "" (and any variants, as suggested above) is not in the "block" list.

Trying a different browser or computer is a good diagnostic technique - though not always a permanent solution.


I had to read this message a few times because I didn't understand it all.

I have made one change. For a few years I had "Comments Moderation" checked in my settings. I did this because I started getting targeted with unrelated comments that sounded like a spamming computer created them. As comments came in, I could review and approve them and post them to the blog ... or delete them after I labeled them as Spam. One suggestion above was to remove Comments Moderation. I have done that ... for now. But I did add "Word Verification" - which will involve you taking an additional step before your comment is posted to my blog. This step usually filters out automated spamming as well.

I would appreciate a few of you checking out your ability to comment on this specific post. Let me know if you can post AND if the Word Verification step shows up. I have temporarily added my email address to the right side of my blog. Let me know what you experienced.

Thanks all

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Eaglet!

Look at that face!! 
Isn't it the most beautiful face ever!!

I am talking about Eskarina, of course, my beautiful grand daughter, but the post is actually the story of this baby eaglet!  This stuffed toy baby eaglet!  It has a story.

You see ... about 37 years ago I was walking down the isle of a grocery story.   Yes, a grocery store.  (Don't you love it when a story takes an unusual turn.)  I had both my children with me.  My son was about 7 and my daughter was about 4.  Grocery stores back then had a child's section of toys that was designed to snag a youngster's attention and increase sales on non-food items.  Really, it was designed to create an argument over buying this, that or another thing.   On this day 37 years ago, it fulfilled its mission.

I was about half way down the isle when my son called to me that "this baby eagle needs a home."  
I remember turning around still staring at my shopping list and eager to finish up.  I had no intention of being sucked into purchasing a bit of fabric stuffed with artificial polyester - because 'it needed a home.'

He did not throw a tantrum - that would have been the quickest way to defeat - he knew that!  I remember him pleading towards my sympathies.

There was no other eagle in the display.  
This 'baby' needed a friend.  
We couldn't just leave him there.  
Who would take care of him.   
And so on and so on and so on.   

He was so sincere and I could tell he was near tears over this obvious abandonment of a baby eaglet!  (Remember folks, this is a stuffed animal.  Just to hammer the point home - it is still a baby stuffed animal 37 years later!!)  But, no matter.  My son had instantly bonded emotionally with the plight of this poor baby eagle.

Now it should be stated clearly ... I am not heartless.  I bought that baby eaglet (stuffed animal) ... my son took good care of him AND, after my son had outgrown his stuffed animals, that baby eaglet survived my purge of stuff - actually several purges of stuff - right up to the move to the condo.

This past weekend we took our adult children and our grand daughter out to eat - celebratory for an anniversary and a birthday.  I brought the eaglet to the dinner for Eskarina!

And when I pulled it out of the bag, my son got a small smile on his face.


 Well worth the cost paid 37 years ago!

I do it again in a heart beat!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day Dad.

It has been 48 years since I saw your face.

You died about one year after this picture was taken.

An accidental fall took you from your family way too soon.

You missed so much.

You were a troubled man, but I remember the father who tried.  

You were not the best of husbands or the best of fathers
 because of alcoholism but the seeds of that 'best' man were there. 

I saw and remember those seeds.

I honor those seeds.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Eating out of a cooler - and a lesson for everyone.

So here is my beautiful newish refrigerator - dead!
That is why it is propped open.

And here is my current refrigeration system.  

Actually my current refrigeration system has shrunk considerably since June 1, when my 19 month old state-of-the-art refrigerator died full of food in all its compartments.  On June 2 we started with these two coolers, 4 styrofoam cold chests and two cooler grocery bags.  And since June 2 (14 days ago) we have purchased ice every single day - for a total of 45 bags of ice (10 pound bags or 450 pounds of ice ... so far!!!)  

Buying ice. 

Every day.

Changing out the coolers. 


What a chore!

I am so over it!

But somewhere around day 10 - after we threw away or ate most of the perishable items, I began to think on this experience as 'camping out' in my condo.  The upside - I have air conditioning, and there is no sleeping on the ground.  I don't get rained on.  No bugs.  I have cable TV.  Not too bad for camping.  And we eat some of our meals as take-out from restaurants.  Normally eating out is a plus.  But even restaurant take-out food is getting old.  

Just in case you think we aren't pursuing a fix for this equipment - let me assure - you we are.  The latest update on the repair - we don't anticipate any forward progress until hopefully next week.   It is only a hope now because the last 2 visits from the repairman resulted in disappointment.  There is an electronic computer board that controls everything (a very expensive piece that is covered completely by our appliance coverage) has come in twice - but was the wrong board.  What was ordered was right.  What was received was not.

The story gets more complicated because this unit is an LG - and was highly rated by consumers, BUT getting parts is way more difficult than a GE or a Frigidaire unit.  LG has 3 suppliers in all of the US - one is in New Jersey.  If the part you need is out of stock, you might have to wait for it to arrive from .... wait for it ... Korea!!  KOREA!!  I should have ask Trump to bring one back with him.
And the repairman suspects that the reason we keep getting the wrong number - an 07 board - is because LG refrigerators are built in Korea (except when they aren't) and the 07 is a substitute for the 01 which is what we need.  Ours was built in Mexico and just won't accept the substitute board of 07. If it isn't an 01 - it won't make our fridge run.  

Everyone still with me?

Actually the only thing that is important for you (and for us if we are forced to buy another unit), is that when buying appliances, buy brands like GE or Frigidaire.  As the repairman remarked - really, everything being produced now is trash - even if the consumer ratings are very high (like ours was), and it is better to get a unit where replacement parts are easy to get.

Yesterday we went food shopping.  It was a challenge an adventure.  Buy only enough fresh veggies for 2 or 3 days.  Buy only items that are packaged and don't need refrigeration.  Buy only the smallest  containers so that once it is opened, it is used up and doesn't need to go on ice.

For dinner tonight??

Hamburger Helper!  Yes, I am reduced to Hamburger Helper.  (My apologies to anyone who buys and enjoys this.  We used to have this when I didn't know how to cook.  It was pretty wooden then.  Doubt things have improved.)  This one is called Salisbury Steak.  We will have a tossed salad and some crusty bread with butter.

I am planning on topping dinner off with a stiff Vodka Tonic!  Over ice!!

Maybe two!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

49 years!

Today is the 49th Wedding Anniversary for my husband and me.

Sometimes I just can't believe what a big number that is.  Of course, we will be approaching 50 years married next year.  Yikes.  We met in 1967 - so I have known him for 51 years.

We have had our ups and downs - but we are still together - standing side by side - learning to live as two old timers who have changed greatly from the happy couple in that picture - and have created a great family.

An achievement.  

Happy Anniversary to us!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Zookeeper's Blanket by Justine Walley

I am a knitter!  

Not a weaver or a crocheter or a spinner ... 
although I sometimes dabble in those other crafts.

Sometimes non-knitting projects grab me ... and won't let me go until I have done them.

Crochet is one of those non-knitting project offenders.  The first project was called The Island Playset and here is the link to that project.  I owned the pattern for a year before I had a special little boy (a grand nephew born in 2017) that I could make it for.  When I started it I had to relearn crochet.  I had to put ice on my left thumb to stop the pain.  I had to have this project so I pushed on.

This year a second project caught my eye called The Zookeeper's Blanket.  My eyes said "Ohhh.  You must do this."  My thumb said "Hell, no.  I am warning you."

This is the Zookeeper's Blanket as created by the designer.
I have already identified 3 animals that I will not make
 because I think I can find better ideas.
But the blanket, even as shown, is darling.

"Caught my eye" is really downplaying its impact on me.  I purchased it right away.  No thought.  Must have!  Must make.  Must set my knitting aside (did I just say that??).  And a worthy recipient, my darling grand daughter, was already on hand.  Is this Kismet or WHAT!

Now here is what I objectively think about crochet ...
  • Love the look
  • Not good at it.
  • Hurts my left thumb.
  • Struggle with the instructions.
  • Not relaxing.
  • Hurts my left thumb.  
  • Able to make designs/shapes not easily made in knitting
  • Great for toys and blankets
  • Not so good for wearables.
  • Hurts my left thumb.
But I wanted this Zookeeper's Blanket -  I pulled out my hooks and my crochet cheat sheet and plunged in.  Low and behold - I found I was enjoying the process.  Actually excited about the blocks that were developing from my hands ... now I am looking for yarns to use that would add color and texture ... and ... pushing myself to develop some animals that weren't part of the original pattern just because I think I can.

My lobster block.

Feels like the Crochet Fairy dropped in and sprinkled me with her fairy dust!

My bear block.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures of my progress and where I am going with this blanket in the future.

My octopus block.

The down side of this project is there are lots of colors and shapes.  Lots and lots of ends to weave in.  Lots of sewing.  A very fiddly pattern.  I usually hate all that, but because of the fairy dust - I am not having a problem.  As others who completed this pattern noted:  The pattern has a lot of ends to weave in - but it is worth it.  I agree.

My cat block.

The blocks are so darn cute, when I finish one I can't wait to start another one.

Sample of another's interpretation of the project using all sheep and one dog.
So darn cute.

And what I love most of all is seeing the originality of others who have done this pattern.  Some used one theme - many sheep and one dog.  Very cute.

The sample the crocheter made up some of her own animals
not used in the original.

Some alternated animal blocks with plain blocks.  That is my choice because I don't care for some of the animals in the original pattern.  So unless I can find some replacements (which I have), the blanket would be too small.  And alternating with plain blocks allows for less ends to weave in - and a focus on the cutest animals.

My grand daughter's room is done in green.  My plain blocks are green.
This picture gives a sense of how I will put my blocks together.

Some crocheters suggest putting a backing on this blanket since one side is cute and the other side is - well, not cute.  I am actually considering that!!  Crazy but I always hated extra steps that didn't involve knitting - like linings and extra sewing.  That darn crochet fairy dust is powerful stuff.

An original design, a butterfly, created by a crocheter.
Hoping to copy this one.

 And my thumb??  I think the fairy dust has healed it.

I wonder if there is fairy dust for cleaning your house.  Or fairy dust for cooking dinner night after night after night!!  Or can I send that fairy off to my exercise classes for me - and bring back the benefits while I sit making this blanket??

If you think you have the answers to these question (and they involve common sense) don't bother saying them out loud.  Fairy dust has blocked any reality checks!

My deadline: - Christmas.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Rehabilitated Plant Killer?

My thumb is brown.

My history with plants is just awful.

I have left many dead plants in my wake

Once (long, long ago) I had an 8' x 8' foot space in a rented community garden.  My plot was a plant grave yard.  The plots around me flourished.  I took that as a sign - 'you are a plant killer.'

Our next townhome was surrounded by trees.  No sun ever.  When we landscaped our postage stamp size lot - I told the landscaper ... select plants that will live in spite of me.  He did.  We had to pay someone yearly to fight them into submission.  Those plants were not my success being chosen and planted by plant pros.  Plants on my deck never survived.  Not enough sun?  Not the right plants?  Too much water?  Not enough water?  The secrets of plants totally escapes me.

Now I am in a condo.  No rented garden space and deck so small that more than 2 people on it is a crowd scene.  BUT I have 12 hours of full sun on that deck.  I started thinking ... maybe, just maybe.

Despite my poor plant parenting ... I totally love nurseries.  All those flowering plants bursting with health and promise.  So off I went.  This time I was careful to read all the plant tags to get something hardy and that likes full sun  While I was there I noticed something called "patio tomatoes."  A vegetable.  hmmm ...

Not too big at this point.  'Patio' ... designed for small spaces maybe?  So along with some flowering plants - a patio tomato plant came home with me as well.  As we left the nursery, I felt like I needed to apologize in advance to these plants that they wound up with 'plant killer' me.  I promised to do my best - without mentioning that my 'best' killed other plants.

Soon I noticed this.

Flowers ... maybe (one) tomato was in my future.  Success!  The tomato plant is not dying!! But then I noticed peeking below the flowers  a green tomato!  Ok, maybe I will get two tomatoes.  Happy Dance!

Before I knew it, I had multiple green tomatoes and they had all gotten bigger!!!  Last count was 18 actual green tomatoes!  Holy Cow.  This is unheard of ... (small panic).  Its still early in the growing season.


Ok, the secret to growing plants - at least for me - is to apologize in advance!  They seem to love a penitent owner.  Well ... that and a sign in my kitchen to remind me of my responsibilities ...

Here are some other beauties on my deck - still living I will point out.

If all goes well this year ... I think I will plant some herbs in pots next year.  I love fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro and basil.

What other kinds of edible plants work well on decks?

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Pull of the Moon

Recently I have been cleaning out my Kindle of books I probably will never read.  Scanning the book summary of each book - and deleting a bunch of them.  Many were free and sounded interesting at the time I selected them.  But now they seem trite and repetitive.  Whatever was I thinking ... was the thought that passed my brain over and over.

And then I came to this title:

The Pull of the Moon
 by Elizabeth Berg

The publisher's summary read like this:

Uncomfortable with the fit of her life, now that she's in the middle of it, Nan gets into her car and just goes--driving across the country on back roads, following the moon; and stopping to talk to people.  Through conversations with women, men, with her husband through letters, and with herself through her diary, Nan confronts topics long overdue for her attention.  She writes to her husband and says things she's never admitted before; and she discovers how the fabric of her life can be reshaped into a more authentic creation.

This book has been waiting on my Kindle since 2015.  I read the summary and a little pull made me select it again - this time to read now.

As I read, I found myself relating strongly with Nan, the 50 year old woman who it seemed was having a mid-life crisis of some sort.  But early on I realized this was not a crisis at all.  It was a breaking out, a leap for freedom, a search of the self, ... a self she had ignored for so long.  Then a quote leaped off the page and pointed a finger straight at me.

"Most women are full to the brim.  I think we are most of us ready to explode, especially when our children are small and we are so weary with the demands for love and attention and the kind of service that makes you feel you should be wearing a uniform with "Mommy" embroidered over the left breast, over the heart. ... It wasn't that I was really unhappy.  It was the constancy of my load and the awesome importance of it; and it was my isolation. ... I see now, there were internal earthquakes wanting to happen all the time."

But, YES!  That was me.  Most of my adult life.  It was me.  Except the word I would substitute for the embroidered "Mommy" label would be "Caregiver."  Caregiver was not a life role I ever aspired to.  True ... I chose to be a parent - and wouldn't change that role ever!!  The reward for being a parent caregiver is the wonderful adult children I have today.  But the "caregiver" role continued to follow me.  First it was my husband's grandmother.  My husband was her only living relative.  Of course we would care for her.  Then it was my mother-in-law.  My husband had no other blood family but his mom, so yes I would care for her.  Then my own mother started to fail and she needed an advocate ... a caregiver!  A no brainer - my mom needed assistance and I could not turn away.  I never thought twice about that choice.  In fact, I never thought twice about any of those decisions.

Now I am 71, and I feel a 'short-timer' in my life.  Oh, I plan to live as many years as God intends, but to be frank and realistic,  I certainly have more years behind me - than ahead of me! In fact, my body tells me this is true.

My caregiving role, however, continues to haunt me even now.  My husband is now legally blind.  Going blind late in life makes becoming a 'skilled' visually impaired person, pretty darn hard.  He needs more of me now than ever.

The Pull of the Moon hit a major nerve for me.  I have actually thought about just getting in the car and driving away.  It has crossed my mind a lot more than I care to admit.  When the summary said Nan did just that ... drove away ... I thought - see, this isn't such an abnormal crazy thing to do.  Like Nan, I would not describe myself as unhappy.  But I do often feel that I am "full to the brim."  "Explode" also comes to mind at times.  In fact, I started this blog back in 2007 as a way to keep from exploding.  The words "constancy of my load" and "importance of it" and "isolation,"  ... well, folks, this book is me.

Do you ever feel the way Nan does?  Would you ever jump in the car and just drive off?  I won't, of course.  The hardship my absence for my husband and the worry it would cause my family would be too great a guilt for me to live with.   But I do fantasize about doing that. 

And that is all I would do - fantasize, because just jumping in the car at 71 and driving off is totally unrealistic.  Think of it - I would need to pack all my pills and eye meds, and ace bandages and cold wraps for my knee ... and my pillow. 😀 I would have to rent a trailer to pack all my knitting paraphernalia, of course!!! 😂😂😂  My computer, iPhone, Kindle and iPad need to come as well - with all the chargers. 😝😝😝😝😝. I can't eat a lot of restaurant food any more - heartburn, you know.  So I would have to pack a cooler!   😜😜😜😜😜😜😜 Ha!  Barriers everywhere!

Why didn't Nan have to do all that stuff?  Simple: she is only 50!!!!


Guess I missed my window of opportunity for this adventure.  So I am left with living vicariously through Nan.  My advice to Nan?  YOU GO GIRL!!!

I recommend this book.  Good writing, interesting story line, thoughtful observations and a really good  woman-to-woman book about our journey as females.

Friday, June 8, 2018

On Being A Grandma

It is still early days in this 'grandma' thing.  My dear little granddaughter is just 3 1/2 months old.  She is growing and changing really fast.  Too fast it seems.  While I want to slow down this precious time, I am so very grateful she is developing normally.

I cannot help but deeply love this child.  

She can now focus on faces and her deep blue eyes remind me of another set of blue eyes that stared back at me more than 40 years ago.  She has her dad's eyes, nose and forehead.  Seeing her brings back many memories of him as an infant - memories that I thought could only be triggered by our  still pictures.  Now I have this live little person who looks at me through the eyes of her father with an unknowing stare.  Time, experiences and love will put recognition in her eyes.  But that side-eye look she has in that chair with its own eyes is priceless.

For now it is enough to know and see how beautifully connected she is to her parents ... how she fits so comfortably onto their chests, how her eyes follow them when she is separated, how her head turns towards their voices.

Recently she discovered her hands.  She has these tiny little digits and miniature nails.  It is amazing to watch the awareness of herself grow within her.  And with that discovery ... her thumb ... that finds it way into her mouth when she is trying to comfort herself.  These small discoveries are so endearing to observe.

There is one small sadness that crosses my mind at times.  This dear baby girl has only one grandma - one grandma on earth, that is.  Her other grandma in heaven.  How much I would have loved to enjoy this child with her other grandma.  When I saw the sleeper below, I knew I had to get it.

"Handpicked for earth by my grandma in heaven."

And, of course, my hands have been busy.  Even before she was born, my son found this babyViking hat picture and forwarded it to me.  I researched and purchased the pattern, which included a dad sized version.  Her eyes say she is not sure about this hat or the person taking the picture, but she is in dad's arms so it must be ok.

Her connection between her and her mom is so strong that I can't help wondering if she knows that her mom is a separate being.  Guess that is something that will be learned at some point.  No sense rushing such a precious time of life.

This child can't begin to know what wonderful parents she has.

For now my role as grandma seems to be as an observer of this new little nugget of a person.  How did I miss all these small little observations of my own children.  Oh ... that's right!  I was busy making sure they were fed, and dressed, and clean, and safe.  I was sleep deprived and focused on their growth.  And I was growing as a parent with all the unknowns and second guessing.  Now as a grandmother I have the luxury of time and memory.  I have the joy of watching and holding and loving - until she is old enough to understand.

And what a JOY it is!