Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Tapestry Weekend

Ah, Sunday!  The end of another fun crafting weekend with family.  It is always sad when it is over, but the memories linger.  We sure do have fun.

My cousin working on a tapestry project.
This weekend was themed as a weaving weekend.  My sister and cousin are avid weavers.  By 'avid' I mean weaving is their primary craft over things like knitting and spinning.  And between the two of them, they have a large sampling of small, table top and floor looms.  The fabric they create is amazing.

My own tastes fall more to knitting as a primary hobby.  While I have tried weaving on a rigid heddle loom, I can honestly say it didn't 'stick.'  I still have my rigid heddle looms (3 of them) and I may return to that craft at some point, but my focus has always been knitting.  And lately I have been doing more crocheting - a craft that seems to be growing in popularity.  More on my crocheting efforts in another post.

My tapestry efforts for the weekend.
But a new craft has capture my attention over the last few months: tapestry.  It is a kind of weaving, but on a different scale than traditional looms - and it produces a different product.  Traditional weaving creates wonderful pieces like shawls, towels, blankets, and rugs.  Tapestry is more like painting a picture - except with yarn.  The 'picture' above is the beginning of a sampler designed to teach you tapestry techniques.  It will never be a true picture - just a sampling of various stitches.

The loom my sample is on is a table tapestry loom that I purchased about 5 years ago.  Something back then appealed to me about the craft.  I remember the seller had a beautiful - partly woven - picture of a tree and the sky - a landscape.  The whole tapestry process was reminiscent of my years doing needle point.  I enjoyed that as well.  But the loom sat idle for some time.  The last 5 years have been too busy to devote much time to learning a new craft.

Following along in a book to build my knowledge of tapestry techniques.
The picture below is the piece my cousin is working on.  It is a different sampler design, but it gives you a feeling of the lines, curves, and colors that can be achieved by this craft.

My cousin's sampler.
While tapestry can take a great deal of time to create, I find it relaxing and creative.  I will have to find a way to squeeze it into my available time - tapestry, knitting and crocheting.  That should pretty much fill up any left over free minutes in an already busy life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Maryland Monsoon

View  from my deck.

Yep!  That is what is happening in my 'neck of the woods' and surrounding areas.

Everyday 4 or more inches of rain, like for weeks, but it has probably only been one week!  Flood warnings and flash flood warnings sprinkled throughout the state.  Very swollen creeks and tributaries spilling over and flooding areas.  Passible roads covered with inches of water because the drains can't handle the run off.  I heard this morning that a tornado touched down in a town in a near by county yesterday.  Tornados aren't common in our area but a tornado in July is rare, rare, rare.  Big trees 2 feet across or more falling over because their roots have been loosened and saturated severely.  In fact it was reported yesterday that a woman lost her life when a large tree fell on her house.  Drivers chronically drive into standing and fast moving water on the road - get stuck - and need rescue - despite the fact that it is report daily on TV and radio to avoid doing exactly that!  On the radio yesterday, I heard an example of total stupidity.  A driver got out of his, moved the road block cones put there by authorities to alert drivers to flooded roads ahead.  Then he got back in his car and drove into the water.  I say if you are THAT stupid, the sign on the road block should also include that no one will be rescued that ignores this road block!!

Weather has been crazy for some time, but this month, July, it has been particularly unusual.  But here is the kick!

Standing water in my parking lot.

I LOVE rainy days.  I really do.  Even monsoon days.  I remember walking in the rain barefoot when I was in college - soaking wet and just enjoying the whole experience.  That was years and years ago when my feet didn't need orthotic support to work properly.  They would complain greatly if I attempted that now.  And, of course, there are the worms.  I don't walk on worms now and they seem to love this weather as much as I do - squiggling out of their holes to meander around the side walks.

But ... oh the freedom of just walking in the rain.

My plants love this.
Although I can't walk barefoot anymore, I still don't mind getting wet.  My hair, clothes and shoes can be completely soaked and it wouldn't bother me.  I am lucky to have a partially protected deck and can generally sit on and enjoy weather events.  And I respect the power of water - and wouldn't drive into standing or moving water - whether there was a sign or not.

Last night I tried to sit on the deck and write this post while the rain was pouring down in sheets.  Just listening to the sounds of the rain as it was hitting the ground (in torrents, really) but the direction of the wind was perfect for rain on my computer, and it isn't as fond of rain as I am.  So I opted to only take pictures and write the post inside.

It is predicted that we will dry out by Friday.

The only thing that would make the whole experience perfect ... would be if I could share some of it with other areas of the country that are experiencing droughts and horrific fires.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Vacuum and The Nasal Spray

You can always count on me to address most pertinent issues of the day!  
Last month it was refrigerators.  
This month it is vacuums.

I am not a vacuum snob.

Really, I am not.

Well, maybe I was a vacuum snob at one time.

But I am not now.

Ok, maybe I was a vacuum snob a few many times in my life
over several years ... like maybe 30 years.

But no more.
I have evolved!! 

Kirby Vacuum - 1980s
Photo credit:  Ebay

It started with the Kirby Vacuum.  The Kirby was a monster machine.  Big, heavy and strong.  Heavy because the shell and interior parts were made of steel, strong because it could to suck the life out of your carpet and big against other vacuums on the market at the time.  A vacuum on serious steroids.  It also increased your muscle tone, because it was a bloody effort to use ...  suction so great (no adjustments) that it gripped the rug in a kind of tug-of-war.  AND it was very expensive - something like $700 or more back in the 80's (expensive by today's standards, very expensive by 1980s standards.)  It was sold by a door-to-door sales man.  That is how I got mine - except he didn't knock on my door - he sold my friend one, and she shared her enthusiasm with me, and I chased him down so I could write that guy a check too!  *sigh*  Yes, I did that.  Hunted down a door-to-door salesman to pay him money!!  And then I told my sister about it, and he made yet another sale!  The things we remember from our past! I wish I could remember other things like curing cancer or making world peace.

BUT, with the purchase of the Kirby, a vacuum SNOB born.  After all, I had a muscle machine now and I would never need to buy another vacuum again - never (per the salesman).  My house would be cleaner than my neighbors, as well.   Woo Hoo!!  (Today I would have asked if the Kirby also cleaned toilets and washed windows.  I would inquire ... if I never turned on the steroid vacuum would my house still be cleaner - because actually using a vacuum ... turning it on ...  has always been my real problem.)

That Kirby lasted a long time, maybe 10 years - even had it repaired once, but in the end it began to fail and nothing could save it - so I was once again in the market for a vacuum cleaner.  

By then I wanted a less expensive unit.  I think a bagless Hoover followed the Kirby.  Bagless vacuums were all the rage then (maybe the 90s??).  I had to have one.  Good for the environment, cheaper because there were no bags to buy, etc. etc. etc.  New technology, you know!  Except that since this was new technology - it was not really very good.  A few sweeps of the rug and the unit lost suction.  I lost interest fast.

Then the next Hoover used bags - and I bought bags for several years.  Hoover was an ok brand, but I really felt like I needed a muscle machine again to clean 3 levels of a carpeted townhouse that had 2 adults, 2 kids, 4 cats and rotational move-in and out family members.

Enter the Dyson!  By the end of the 90s Dyson had mastered the bagless technology and was beginning to take on more market share.  I had to have one.  I was dedicated to that brand for about 15 years.  Dyson makes a fabulous piece of equipment.  I have previously owned 2 upright Dysons, a canister Dyson and a stick Dyson.  They are very pricy, but they perform as advertised - they never lose suction.  But 'never' doesn't actually mean never as I discovered with the Kirby.

That brings me to the present.

For a few months I suspected that my current Dyson, a canister unit, was not picking up as well.  I blamed the condo carpet as difficult to clean.  After all, I had just spent over $2,000 for yet another new refrigerator so I wasn't eager to buy anything else.  But last week I got pretty frustrated - so I searched on Amazon - reviewed the comments and prices - and purchased an upright Shark.  It was less expensive than Dyson.  The living space I have to clean is less, so a 'muscle' machine just isn't needed.

The head on this Shark isn't very wide.
 The plus is it fits in almost all my tight spaces!!
The Shark was delivered.  I put it together, and it was a snap.  Literally a 'snap'.  No screwdrivers needed.  It all snapped together.  That was a first for me.

And then I turned it on.  (We are getting to the nasal spray part of the story, I promise.)

I started in my guest room.  The Shark worked like a dream.  Easy to push and pull, rotates easily, adjustable, quieter than the Dyson.  I was halfway through cleaning the first room and I glanced at the collection container!  It was FULL.  To the top!!  Are you kidding me, I thought.  I just vacuumed few days ago.  I emptied it, and moved on.  By the time I finished the 1,375 square foot condo, I counted 8 full containers of mostly cat hair.  Gray cat hair.   Gray cat hair on a gray rug that apparently the Dyson did not pick up.  Yikes.

I guess I should be grateful that my cat's hair matches the color of my rug - it never looked THAT dirty.  Sooo .... the Dyson wasn't working well for some time.

I am not a clean freak.  The Dyson was doing a good job at 'fake' cleaning (to use current cultural terminology.). And animal hair has been part of my life for so long - I consider it as normal as dust.  BUT apparently it was affecting more than just looks.  At my husband's last doctor's visit he mentioned that he has been sneezing a lot over the last 6 months.  The doctor suggested using a nasal spray for allergies!

Nasal Spray??  
What we needed was a new vacuum!!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

An eyeball popping discovery

After a year of recovering from a 'broken' knee (torn meniscus) and a month of 'the cold from hell,'  I decided that another 5 pounds on top of what I was previously hauling around was a problem.

Curiously, my doctor has held that opinion for some time.  😁 Go figure!  I guess you could say that I treat medical advice like a buffet - pick out what I like and ignore the rest.

As age has crept up on me, I have a better appreciation for the gift of good genetics I inherited.  Elevated blood pressure and cholesterol are my only real issues (along with most elderly Americans,) and I could make a case for me personally that those two are caused by my life style choices.  (Ok, ok, my doctor said pretty much the same thing.). But a new 'player' has poked its ugly little head on my radar in the last few years ...  'pre-diabetic.'  Yikes.  While not diabetic now, I know that this is one condition I really don't want to manage.

Have I been good to myself?  Yes.  I have been building up my endurance and flexibility with exercises classes, gym time and at home routines since early spring.

Have I been bad?  You betcha!  My diet is the "Retired Knitter's Whatever I Feel Like Eating" diet (with the justification that life is short - and no one gets out alive.  If you need more information on the RK diet - just re-read the title!! 😋)   But sneaking in a McDonalds Big Mac or a candy bar has done me no favors.  Truthfully, I am amazed that my body has handled the RK Diet as well as it has.

Sadly exercise alone isn't the answer.  Darn.  So what else is there!!

Photo credit:  Weight

As always ... waiting in the wings for me has been Weight Watchers.

I have used Weight Watchers several times in the past to bring down my weight or to just feel better.  And every time I go they have changed their program (improved it based on current science actually.) This time was no different.

I am not good at the online memberships - I need to be kept accountable by going into the center, stepping on the scale in front of another person and receiving the written update from their computer.  I don't attend meetings.  I don't need hand-holding, cheering, or instruction.  What I need is another human being staring into my face as they inform me of my success or lack of it.  (They all have nice faces and they are low-key about it - BUT someone else knows my status and type A personalities like me need that.  We believe in winning, even if we have to lie about it!  Truth!!)

So a week ago, I rejoined.

Of course I had to buy a cook book.
But their online library of recipes is robust.
Also, another very good online resource of excellent low cal recipes
is  She includes WW Freestyle points for all recipes.
The program is pretty simple.  Well ... not as simple as the RK diet, you understand, but simple as far as traditional (and medically approved) diets go.  Ha!
  • You can have anything (I love diets like that - no no-nos - so when you slip and have that candy bar you haven't broken your will to live diet!  Ha)
  • All fruits and almost all vegetables are allowed without limitations.  Yes!  That includes beans and bananas and some traditionally high calorie fruit choices. You can have lean proteins like fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, beans, and no fat yogurt without limitations.  Yes!  Everything else has a points value and you can scan the points with your phone on to an online tracking data base.  So easy.
  • Basically - it is a low carb, low fat diet.
The first week was an eye-opener for me in how my body responded to this new regime, (or as Weight Watchers describes it) a new life style choice.
  • As long as I wasn't hungry - I didn't crave my chocolate or my Pringles or my Big Mac. I still think about sugar cookies.  Apparently they mean more to me than that other stuff.  Who knew!
  • I wasn't hungry because the diet rests pretty soundly on lean proteins.
  • When I did I want some 'unspecific something'  having a fruit seemed to do the trick.  Win-win so far.
Photo credit: The Tropes Wiki - Fandom

Now here is the BIGGEST eye-opener of all  - to the point that my eyes could fall out of my head ... the regular thirst that I have lived with for about 5 years (thirst that prompted me to carry a water bottle literally everywhere) - THAT thirst - gone!  In the first day of the diet - GONE!!

VERY STARTLING.  And I suspect know the reason.

Remember that pre-diabetic state I mentioned earlier?  Well I did a little research.  With diabetes or pre-diabetes that is not controlled - thirst is one of the warning signals that something is not chemically right with your blood values - specially your glucose or sugars.

Ok - I get it.

A little message from my body sent by way of my mouth -  eat more sensibly.  Since I ignored that little thirst message for years - I guess I was lucky that diabetes didn't jump all over my ignorant self and add condition #3 to my treatment plan.  If I am lucky - the new diet choices may also impact blood pressure and cholesterol.

As far as weight -  down 2.8 pounds.  Pretty painless weight drop as well.  My knees will probably thank me a few more pounds from now.


Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks!!!

Fine print for anything I wrote here:  Nothing I have conveyed in this post should be accepted as medical advice. NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING!!  Remember I am the creator of the RK diet - and I assure you that the RK diet has killed a bunch of people.  I am just lucky I am not dead.  I have no medical training.  Do not take anything in this post as medical advice for you.  Consult with your doctor - and if you choose medical advice like a buffet (like I did), you might want to reconsider that decision.  Cheers.  Now I am covered legally.  😇

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Accidental President

Harry Truman was my dad's favorite President.

Why is that note worthy to me?  My dad didn't express much interest in anything, but his job.   He mentioned very little about his past.  But he was a World War II vet as were most men of his generation.  He was with Patton's 3th Army in Europe, and he thought President Harry Truman was a great man.  He mentioned that more than once.  Seriously ... he had little to say about anything in his life so this repeated comment was something that remained with me.

Photo credit: Amazon

When I saw this audiobook, The Accidental President by A.I Baime, I couldn't resist downloading it.

Here is the Publisher's Summary:
  • Heroes are often defined as ordinary characters who get thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and through courage and a dash of luck, cement their place in history. Chosen as FDR’s fourth term Vice President for his well-praised work ethic, good judgment, and lack of enemies, Harry S. Truman--a Midwesterner who had no college degree and had never had the money to buy his own home--was the prototypical ordinary man. That is, until he was shockingly thrust in over his head after FDR’s sudden death. During the climactic months of the Second World War, Truman had to play judge and jury, pulling America to the forefront of the global stage. The first four months of Truman’s administration saw the founding of the United Nations, the fall of Berlin, victory at Okinawa, fire bombings of Tokyo, the first atomic explosion, the Nazi surrender, the liberation of concentration camps, the mass starvation of Europe, the Potsdam Conference, the controversial decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the surrender of Imperial Japan, and finally, the end of World War II and the rise of the Cold War. No other president had ever faced so much in such a short period of time.
Truman followed in the footsteps of FDR who was and is a much loved and revered President.  Most citizens today know who lead our nation during WWII -  many Presidents had no major event during their tenure to mark their time in office and test their leadership skills.  At FDR's sudden death, Truman was thrust into a fire storm of world events that would try the abilities of any individual.

I think that anyone who knows history would agree that Harry Truman truly did face more challenging times than most Presidents.  As I listened to this book I began to see the scope of the events that Truman wrestled with using only his common sense and practical approach.   

President Truman has his haters and his supporters.  Haters to this day point to all the Japanese people killed by the Atomic bombs and the introduction of a new and fierce technology that would change our world  forever.  My dad was a supporter ... because in his words, Harry Truman saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers from a certain death in an assault on the Japanese mainland.  Japanese people of that time, even civilians, would fight to the death in defense of country and the Emperor.  My dad was one of those soldiers scheduled to be re-assigned from the European theatre of war to the Pacific theatre.  My dad felt that Truman's decision to drop those Atomic bombs and end our war with Japan saved his life.  President Truman, the common man, was his hero.

Listening to this account of all the juggled considerations that went into President Truman's decisions - well, I am now a fan as well.  I would also argue that the development and use of the Atomic bomb was the goal of many countries at that time.  We just got there first.  President Truman inherited that Atomic bomb - and it was going to be used by somebody if not the US.  He took steps in its use that will always be controversial.  But he made the tough decision.  He truly was the common man - a regular citizen - thrust into history against his wishes - and who made a huge difference in the world.

I have read a lot about FDR and his wife Eleanor and now I have taken the time to get to know Truman.  I believe that history has shown over and over again, that the right person comes along ... at the right time ... to do the job that needs to be done.  As different as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman were, FDR was the 'right man' to lead us during WWII and Harry Truman was that 'right man' to finish the job as we exited the war.  

Now we find ourselves facing different threats - external and internal and many self inflicted - but all just as serious and game changing as an Atomic bomb.  Sadly that technology has not stood still and our human ability to create destruction has grown to frightening levels.  I kind of hope there is someone 'waiting in the wings' - ready to step in and be the right person for our country and the world now - someone who will do the right thing at the right time - do the job that needs to be done.  Our current President is not that man.

I am hoping history doesn't fail us now.

I recommend this book.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Beating the odds ... maybe!

Remember this beautiful plant! 

And then it was this plant - something going wrong!

Eventually it looked like this.  
But I let it go
 because of one lone tomato hanging on and getting red.  
I knew its days were numbered, however.

This evening I went out to pick the tomato and discard the plant. 
 I noticed - new green growth!

New healthy leaves!!

So I trimmed off all the dead leaves and branches.  
I left the tomato there as a reminder
of what its goal is - once those green leaves fill in.


There's a new game player at the table!

I think I previously mentioned that my husband and my son
 are part of a gaming group that meets once a month at our house
 and has been meeting to play games for over 30 years.  
In fact, my son, who will be 45 this year,
 started playing with the group when he was 7 years old.

Over this past weekend, we had another game.

Below are some special pictures of my son and his daughter, Esk.    

The next generation!
I love this last picture.  
I love the people in it more than I can say.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Approaching Another Anniversary

Next month we will have lived in this condo for 2 years.  
Hard to believe that much time has passed.

As long time readers know, the transition from our townhouse of 30 years to a 55+ condominium community was very hard for me.  If my husband was not disabled, we would probably still reside in the townhouse.  It is where the most important experiences of life happened and almost half my life was spent.  We made improvements that were long overdue.  It was pretty much the way we wanted it to be - except for the steps.  We couldn't improve away the 20 steps from the parking lot to our front door ... not counting the flights of steps between floors.  I couldn't ignore the falls my visually impaired husband had on those steps.  His falls were like little warning bells in my brain - better find a safer place before something more serious occurs.  Circumstances dictated that our time there had come to an end.

The condo finally feels like it belongs to me - and not me living in someone else's space.  The pluses of this condo remain. It is safer, easier to maintain, cheaper and exactly the right amount of living space for 2 retired folks in their 70's.  When I think of what it would be like to return to our townhouse today ... I can't wrap my brain around how it would work.  We are in the right place now.

Looking back I can see that we timed our move just inside a critical window of energy and ability.  Each decade of life seems to have its own defining characteristics.  They are usually not discovered until you are living through them.  I believe my 60s could be described like the month of March except in reverse.  "In like a lion, out like a lamb."   Without detailing all the many tasks involved in buying and selling property or the scope of sorting, downsizing and moving all your worldly possessions ... simply stated, moving takes an enormous amount of energy when you are 69 facing 70.   With each passing year, that effort gets only harder.  It's like ramping up the effort of living into high gear when nature is downshifting your body so you can "go the distance."  Opposing forces for sure.

From 2 years out - I am grateful we did what we did ... when we did it!  Because I was in the driver's seat for all that move, I was drenched with uncertainty, anxiety and fatigue through all of it.   I am so thankful that I can look back at that experience and know that there are no regrets.  

approaching the second anniversary of our move to this condo
 is filled with peace and confirmation. 

You can't ask for more than that!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Liberation, sort of

I know this post is just a justification for my enormous stash of yarn
 amassed over the 21 years as a knitter!  

Truely, over those 21 years, I have chastised myself, inventoried, organized, chastised myself again, knitted with some, gave away some, bought some more, and collected some just because I couldn't walk away and not have a little of that beauty be mine ...  AND again chastised myself for this extravagance.

I am done with all that now! 

I own yarn.

I own a lot of yarn.

I will buy yarn again.

I own yarn that will outlive me
 because I can't possibly get it all knitted up before I die.

 to paraphrase our First Lady ...
I don't really care.

I have been liberated from all that self reflection and self criticism by a simple little book called A Stash of One's Own: Knitters on Loving, Living with, and Letting Go of Yarn, An anthology edited by Clara Parkes.

The synopsis:
  • Anyone with a passion has a stash, whether it is a collection of books or enough yarn to exceed several life expectancies.  With her trademark wry, witty approach, Parkes brings together fascinating stories from all facets of stash-keeping and knitting life.  Whether the yarn stash is muse, memento, creative companion, career guide, or lifeline in tough times, the deeply engaging stories take a surprising and fascinating look at why we collect, what we cherish, and how we let go.

Yes, this is the book for me.  I think I can safely say that we are all collectors of some sort.   Some collect books, figurines, china, silverware, tools, jewelry, stamps, experiences, wine, steps (walkers with pedometers), kitchen equipment, music, games, baseball cards, travel mementoes, home canned veggies (admit it, you love seeing all those jars of canned tomatoes lined up), even beer cans!  Yes, beer cans.  During the 1970s we had a friend who had a wall display with all kinds of beer cans.  I don't think they even liked beer!

I think it is human nature to collect.

I have the actual book (not digital) in my small personal library of books.  I am the kind of person who writes in her books, uses stickers to find stuff again, dog ears pages and so on.  Some book collectors think that is a sacrilege to mar the book in anyway.  I hold a different opinion.  It shows this book was read, used, loved and important data highlighted for future reference.  It shows the book has function and value.  Isn't that what books are supposed to be?  A tool for knowledge.

Here are some quotes from this book that struck me (and my comments, of course.)

Essay: Stashers: Who the heck are we? by LelaNargi
  • "What's the largest number of skeins anyone has tucked into their Ravelry stash? You will be either glad or very sorry you asked -- regardless, the owner is doubtless someone you'd like to cozy up to.  She or he is the proud stasher of 11,839 skeins of yarn; the next stasher in line has a still impressive 11,522 skeins in his or her collection."  
  • I feel better all ready!  😁 I am no where near that level of collecting.

Isn't that beautiful yarn!
Well, let me tell you, it is a bear to knit with.
I have tried.  Now it is display/inspiration yarn!
Maybe someday I will find out exactly what it wants to be.

Essay:  Triptych by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
  • "Most of my yarn is for knitting, but some of it has a more complicated destiny as support staff: It is there to make me want to knit.  You bet I've had it for ten years, and I completely admit that it's a yarn pet.  I have no intention of every knitting it, but it's earning the real estate it takes up with how it makes me feel about knitting.  It is the textile artist's equivalent of a painting hung on the wall.  It's there to be beautiful and to help me dream of possibility."
  • This is so true.  The artistry of some fiber dyers and the technique of blending fibers to create a yarn can be truly genius by some mom-and-pop fiber vendors.  It is like going to a farmer's market and seeing the perfect tomatoes - all plump and red and without blemish - and you can almost taste them - and they wind up in your basket costing you more than the ones in the grocery store - but ... oh, so much better.  Same with yarn.  The yarn I sometimes buy costs more than what you get at Michael's or Joanne's, but it is oh so much better.  
One of three book cases!

Essay:  Fear Not by Sue Shankle
  • "I am a mental health clinician.  Let's get this out in the open right away:  I do not think having a big ol' curated stash is a problem.  Does anybody believe that Michelangelo just decided to carve the David one day and went out and bought a big slab of marble?  Heck no.  He had that thing sitting around for a long time before he even started.  Because he had to look at it, play with it, and possibly sniff it before he started work.  He planned that stuff.  That's what we artists do."
  • I so love and agree this comment.  In fact, I am contemplating a rather large crochet project right now (probably 6,000 yards of yarn) using materials from my stash - that I previously purchased for sweaters.  Loved that yarn on sight, never found the right sweaters, never had the time, but now this new project calls to me and this yarn has the potential of being perfect for the task.  (More on that project another time.)
See?  Art!
I haven't tried sniffing it yet. 😏

I haven't finished reading this book - only halfway through.  It is an easy book to pick up and put down because it is devided into essays of a few pages each.  But so far it has been worth the time, marked all up with quotes I thought meaningful to me and will remain in my library as a reminder.

What reminder?  
I am normal!!

Monday, July 9, 2018

It doesn't take much ...

... to lose physical conditioning when you stop moving!

I read somewhere that a 3 week break from aerobic exercise drops physical conditioning down to pre-exercise levels.  WHAT!!??  How unfair is that?  Seems like if I devoted 3 months to improving this old body, it should take 3 months to tear it down!! 

In March I devoted two days a week to a senior exercise class (aerobics, strength training and minimal stretching). and another two days to the gym for strength training.

Then I got sick ... 

Walking from the bedroom in the morning to the kitchen and back again required a nap before lunch.   My afternoon exercise was runs to the grocery store to buy ice.  

Lots of inactivity.  

Earlier this week I decided to go for a walk.  Best to get moving again.  It wasn't too bad, and the walk was slow and steady on a cool evening - with no effort to track distance or speed or steps.  Still, I did ok.

The first exercise class of the new session started on Monday.   I feel like raising a flag 'cause I survived!!

On the upside - all this unavoidable sitting and napping made my 'surgery knee' feel almost normal.  It struggled with stiffness and soreness prior to the cold - that seems to have disappeared.  On the downside - I have gained some weight.  Boo!

So I once again begin the struggle up hill to regain some endurance, strength and flexibility.  And I am considering going back to Weight Watcher's to get that weight down.

Fitness is like marriage.
You can't cheat on it
expect it to work.

Used Book Sale


I used to be an avid book collector.  You know, the actual hold-in-your-hand book, with pages and print and all bound together ... 😀 !!  One of our favorite things to do over the years of our marriage was to go to books stores or used book dealers and leave with arm loads of books.  There is nothing like the smell of a new book or an old book.  I always felt that old books that were 75 years or older were like little old men - a bit wrinkled, maybe yellowed, old man smell, stuff written in it showing it was valued by somebody at some time.  And they had to be handled with care - just like a little old man.

Ahhh ... old books.  I miss those adventures.

When the Kindle and the Audiobook craze was born, I couldn't imagine giving up the 'hold-in-your-hand' book.  Years went by and I watched peers shifting over to digital technology for their reading pleasure.  I shook my head in disbelief and knew in my heart I would never get caught up in that trend.

Ha! Famous last words.

Today I have a Kindle Paper White full of books (many free, some borrowed) and a iPhone with many Audible titles - AND a tiny library of actual books (most reference books) enough to fill maybe  2 boxes.  I could do a whole post on why I enjoy my digital technology even though we were sort of forced into it.  My husband downsized his large library about 6 years ago when reading became too difficult, and I did the same with my books moving into our condo (a move required for my husband's safety.)  It is amazing how his blindness has changed our lives.  I do miss going to book stores - especially used book stores.  Sometimes I stop at Barnes and Noble to look around, but it isn't as much fun without my husband.  I usually leave empty handed.

About two weeks ago, our senior center had a used book sale.  I stood in the doorway peering in wondering should I bother.  Then I was cheerfully invited in to look around by one of the volunteers.  It would have been rude not to enter.  All the paper backs were 3 for a $1.  Wow, a bargain.  So I started to poke around.  No little old man books on the tables but lots recent popular stuff.  I found these three books that just seemed to want a new home.

I haven't read them yet, but I thought I would share the titles and brief descriptions to see if anything catches your fancy like it did mine.

Recipes from the Dump by Abigail Stone - really, how could anyone resist a book with that title.  Here is the book cover synopsis.
Dignity Divinity (recipe)

1 father, deserted
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 heaping tablespoons children
1 father, disappeared
1 indulgent or disinterested town
1 woman with a weight problem, shabbily dressed
1 or more public embarrassments
  • Put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well, and savor this hilarious, heartfelt chronicle of life with Gabby Fulbriten.  A single mom raising three kids next to the Leadbelly, Vermont town dump.  Gabby is tirelessly searching - for a man who knows there's more to a relationship than candlelight and clean laundry, for the thin person the Diet Center promises lives inside her, and for the missing ingredient that will bring order to her cluttered existence.  A mock cookbook of our culture, Recipes from the Dump will warm your stomach, fill your soul, and, like an afternoon spent trading laughs and recipes with an old friend, leave you hungering for more. 

The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw - a true story of drama in small-town life and a celebration of family and community.  I am a sucker for true stories of people who live very different lives from my own and this one takes place off the coast of Maine - a win-win for me.  The synopsis.
  • After seventeen years at sea, Linda Greenlaw decided it was time to take a break from being a swordboat captain.  She felt she needed to return home, to a tiny island seven miles off the Maine coast with a population of seventy year-round residents, thirty of whom are her relatives.   She would pursue a simpler life; move back in with her parents; become a professional lobsterman; and find a man and settle down.  But almost none of this works out as planned, and soon she is forced to reevaluate everything she thought she knew about life, luck and lobsters.

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier - a book made movie and described as an 'American Odyssey.  The synopsis.
  • Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, Inman, a Confederate soldier, decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge Mountains and to Ada, the woman he loved there years before.  His trek across the disintegrating South brings him into intimate and sometimes lethal converse with slaves and marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malign.  At the same time, Ada is trying to revive her father's derelict farm and learn to survive in a world where old certainties have been swept away. 
There is little doubt that these books will not go the distance to make it to 'little old man status.'  And paperbacks seldom last anyway.  But they appear to be interesting and fun stories.  When I am done, I will just pass them on to others.

Happy summer reading, all.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Doing the Aunt Thing ...

More pictures ... this time with my daughter - my very beautiful daughter ... who is sharing the stage with Eskarina in these pictures.

The first two pictures I took with my camera.

While I was taking those two pictures, my daughter was taking these.

The things you can do with Smart Phones now-a-days!!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Doing the Grandma Thing

Since I can't whip out my wallet and
force you to look at pictures of the most beautiful baby in the world ...
the love of my life ...
I am placing them here.


All decked out in her 4th of July duds!

There is something about this look that says
 ... ok, I am done with having pictures taken of me
 and I am done with this hat!!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

4th of July Memories - and a shadow legacy.

I did a whole series of posts on my mom. 
I seldom speak of my dad.  
But the 4th of July always triggers memories of him.

New York City, NY
 My dad and mom on a date before they married.

His birthday was July 3, 1917 - so if he had lived, he would 101 today.  Not sure why every 4th of July triggers memories of him.  Father's Day doesn't do that.  Our family didn't do anything special on the 4th of July.  In fact, our family seldom did anything special.  Guess it is just that his birthday fell so very close to the holiday.

Hyattsville, Maryland
My family - probably the only picture I have of us as a family.
I was 7 years old.

Memories of my dad for the most part aren't happy ones.  He suffered from alcoholism - for as long as I knew him.  Sober he was a wonderful person.  Drunk he was just the opposite.  In the 1950s  the disease of alcoholism was not well understood.  It was seen as a personal failing ... or even as a choice you could simply choose to do differently.  It wasn't talked about - it was something to keep hidden.  We hid it well.

I am not silent about it now as an adult.  There are limits I have set in my personal life with regards to alcohol and one of them is speaking out.

I think I have a better grip on what addiction is, but I also have some rigid expectations due to my formative years living with an alcoholic.  Alcoholism is black or white for me .  You have it, you get help.  You don't get help, I limit my exposure to you.  If you don't treat the drug alcohol with respect for the risks it poses ... then I can't be around you.  There are no shades of gray for me being the child of an alcoholic.  I spent 21 years of my life forced into situation not of my own making - and I won't waste one more day of my life coping with it if you won't help yourself.  I know that is a hard stand to take - sounds heartless even as I re-read my post, but for even the closest of family ...  it is a line in the sand that can't be crossed for me.

It is the shadow legacy my father left for me.

These are some of the thoughts that fill me up around the 4th of July.  But it is not all bad.  I saw glimpses of the man my mom fell in love with.  I saw the love he had for his family - when he was sober.  I saw the father who loved his children in many small ways.  So I try to balance the bad with the good when remembering.

Dad left behind next to nothing of himself in life, sadly.  But I do have one very precious document he hand wrote to me when I was about 12 years old.  Dad was not a writer.  He did not have a way with words.  He had only a 9th grade education.  He worked with his hands, and they were rough and thickened from years of hard work.  Managing a pen probably wasn't entirely comfortable.  But on one early summer morning before he left for work, he wrote this letter to me.  It brings tears to my eyes to read it even this day 60 years later.  I was preparing to go on a Girl Scout camping trip and would be gone for a few days.  (I bet that trip was in July.) He wasn't going to get a chance to say goodbye before I left.  So he wrote this letter.  (note: Lucky was our dog at the time, and Canada Dry was where he worked.)

So, although my memories are filled with many darknesses, there are some shining lights he left behind for me.  What a wonderful father he could have been if addiction had not entered his life.

Not all shadows are sad.

(The top image header of my blog has a picture of dad and I at the beach. I don't remember this picture, but it does make me smile - happier times were rare.  We seemed to be enjoying ourselves.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Air


I've lived in Maryland since I was 6 years old.  It can get very hot and very humid.   Now we are not talking jungle levels of heat and humidity.  But it is distasteful enough that folks from other states sometimes comment "what's the deal with your weather?"  I think the issue is this - if you aren't living by the ocean, or on a mountain, or on a farm, or in a forest, anywhere that makes the heat manageable - you are just meat cooking in the sun.  That's what it feels like here this week.

I was raised without air conditioning and lived without it until I was married - so I know it is possible to live without it.  And with time I know I would adjust to no air conditioning again.   But in my area - high heat and high humidity creates another problem that I can't just "get used to."  Poor air quality!

I didn't always understand about air quality.   About 10 years ago on a hot humid day,  I went out for a walk.  I had been walking regularly.  I was in pretty good shape.  The report said the air quality level was Red.   I couldn't see anything wrong with the air ... and besides ... air quality alerts were for the elderly and for people with chronic problems.  So I headed out.

I got about 1/2 mile down the road, and I couldn't seem to take a deep breath.  My lungs filled but the exchange of gases just wasn't doing it.  My energy lagged and I began to feel sick.  I slowly walked home wondering if I was coming down with something.  I got back into our air conditioned townhouse and sat down.  Almost immediately I began to feel better - like I had an oxygen mask on!

And it happened again today - that "can't catch my breath" feeling - only I was just out running some errands.  While I was in the air conditioned car I was fine.  I was fine in stores.  But trips through the parking lots - not good.  I don't know what the air quality was today, but my lungs said it wasn't good enough.

What is crazy about this is - I am not an ex-smoker.  I don't live with a smoker.  I don't have a history of chronic lung disease like asthma or repeated bronchitis.  I am older so maybe age is contributing to my struggle to breathe in these conditions.

I am not knowledgeable about the topic of air quality and weather.  But I know the way we live has caused most of these problems with our environment.  That topic has been well researched and proven.  Makes me sad that the air which we breath is tainted at times by our own actions.

But on this day, and at my age, I am grateful beyond measure to the invention of air-conditioning.  I might be able to adjust to warmer temps, but I need to be able to breathe.

So how is everyone else doing?
Extreme heat in your little corner of the world?  
And has your air quality been acceptable?  
Do you live in an area where air conditioning is needed? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Immigration - Worth the Read

Found this on Facebook.  Its rather long, but it puts more facts to our current immigration issues with the US American border.

Facts are always good!

Mike Harlos
So I have almost completely avoided political posts for over a year now.
Today, I take a break from that. 
Tornillo, TX is on the US/Mexico border. There is a “tent city facility” setup there. The facility is housing 326 children (312 boys, 14 girls). 
Of the 326:
162 are from Guatemala
117 are from Honduras
40 are from El Salvador
4 are from “other countries”
3 are from Mexico
(And apologies, I would love to post a Fox News link but they don’t seem to be trying to get into these facilities to release these kinds of statistics, but if it happens someone please let me know!)
I think it’s a fair assumption that the percentage of children would also be fairly close to the percentage of adults that came to the border. 
So if less than 1% are from Mexico, what exactly is happening?
The reason that 98% are from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala is that, out of 195 countries:
El Salvador has the 2nd highest rate of violent deaths.
Honduras has the 4th highest rate of violent deaths.
Guatemala has the 17th highest rate of violent deaths.
I’ve included a map for those unaware of the locations of each of these countries.
We are being told that all these people “pouring into the US” are Mexican drug dealers, rapists, murderers, “bad hombres”. 
But it just isn’t true. 
Think about when a major hurricane comes to Florida and people pack up their vehicles and evacuate, out of caution, especially those with children... just in case. Depending on the situation, people typically traveling 50-500 Miles (driving to inland Florida or Atlanta/Tennessee) 
Now imagine it’s a hurricane that is firing bullets randomly and people are dying all around you in your neighborhood every day. And you have children. 
To quote President Ronald Reagan, from his final Oval Office address to the nation: 
“The past few days when I've been at that window upstairs, I've thought a bit of the "shining city upon a hill." The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we'd call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.
I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.”
The VAST MAJORITY of the people coming to the United States are coming, in the ways discussed so much lately, are seeking refugee status or asylum. 
US Legal Definitions of both “refugee” and “asylum”:
Stop getting caught up in just agreeing with everything someone says or does because you voted for that person and if they do something wrong, it’s human nature to defend the choice you made in that voting booth. 
Don’t put pride and ego ahead of intellect. 
Every situation should be judged based on fact, not on who is saying it or doing it and not just because it’s “your team”. 
Parents aren’t taking their children and leaving everything else and everyone else they’ve ever known to walk, raft, swim, hide in vehicles, etc for ~2,000 miles to get to our border and request refugee or asylum status just to “get free hand outs” and “take our jobs”. 
(1 little sidenote, if “Mexico” (And we’ve already established it mostly isn’t Mexico) is really sending their worst (no one is sending these people, and I can’t imagine that most people that really care about their children this much are “the worst”) that are “murderers, drug dealers, rapists” and you’re worried about one of these people taking your job, what the hell is it you do for a living?)
Yes, any time you have a large number of people, there will be some bad apples. But there’s a reason you’ve never been shown actual statistics that show that someone coming here as a refugee or seeking asylum is any more likely to commit a crime than anyone else. Because it isn’t true.
MOST are doing it for the same reasons people evacuate. 
They’re doing it to protect their loved ones.
And they’re doing it in a way that is consistent with the United States Refugee & Asylum laws. 
I can explain it to you
I cannot understand it for you.