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

Friday, December 28, 2018

Eyes on 2019: Crafting

Did you make crafting plans in 2018?
Did you check back to see how much you completed?
Or are you a spontaneous soul - that likes doing things on a whim?

Really, either approach has its pluses and minuses!

I am a planner.  I start thinking about the next year in November - not intentionally - but my brain starts percolating.  Plans firm up more in December.  By January I usually have a fleshed out list - a map for the New Year.  Do I get it all done?  Nope, but it gives me satisfaction to see the road ahead.
After all, January is kind of a natural beginning.

This post is focused on my crafting life.  I looked back at my plans for 2018 and here is what I found:

  • Red hoodie for grand daughter (Done - and I did a pink shawl collar sweater and matching hat so it counts as 2 sweaters.)

  • A cable sweater for grand nephew (Done - No cable sweater but a sweater and hat combination for this Christmas.  In fact, I did 2 sweaters for him ... could anyone forget the first defective sweater I ranted on about? I think this counts as 2 sweaters.) 

  • A knitted toy for grand daughter (Nope)
  • A summer something for my grand daughter. (Nope - decided she was growing too fast to aim for this summer)
  • Baby blanket for my grand daughter.  (Done - The Zookeeper's Blanket.)

  • A sweater for myself (Nope!)
  • Shawl - with beads - for my daughter-in-law. (Nope)
  • Shawl - with beads - for my daughter. (Nope). 
  • Amigurumi toy (Started, but ... will finish in 2019)
  • Spindle spinning (Nope)
  • Select canvas and yarns to ending in a finished project some in 2019.  (Nope)

See what I mean ...
a road map of sorts.


2019 projects are firming up.

Knitting and Crochet

(All sample pictures below are pulled from Ravelry)

Joyal - Dress by Taiga Hillard.  Dresses for grand daughter

Joyal by Taiga Hillard
I love this little dress: simple, feminine and practical.  It can be worn in the summer as shown, or in cooler weather with a long sleeve shirt under it - and as the child grows it can be worn as a tunic with pants.  I have two yarns chosen by 29 Bridges Studio of Maryland:  Coral Reef - a cream with speckles of red and rust and Prue - a solid red.  This is a Super Wash Yarn.

Spring Garden Tee by Alana Dakos

Spring Garden Tee by Alana Dakos
This garment is a feminine tee perfect for spring and summer. I have Cascade yarns Sunseeker yarn, cotton and acrylic - that is machine wash and dry. Two colors:  a light orange and a light green (two tops) with very subtle sparkles in the yarn.  Perfect for a child.

Three sweaters for me.

This goal seems a little indulgent.  Three sweaters?  I have hand made sweaters and I seldom wear them.  There is always something that is not quite right about them.  But ... ever hopeful me, I will find the perfect pattern for me.  Here are my choices.
  • Shibui Knits - Cirrus by Nancy O'Connell.  This is described as a poncho.  It is poncho-like.  It has a cowl neck, wide sleeves and a curved hem.  The pattern was a bit pricy ($10) but free if you purchased the Shibui Knits yarn.  Unfortunately that yarn was well over $200 to purchase and I was pretty sure I had just the right yarn in my stash.  Obviously, we shall see.  I usually get into trouble when I substitute yarns.  *sigh*. The yarn I have chosen is Brooks Farm Yarn Mas Acero in a black/gray/dark lavendar color ways - the colors have very short runs. 
Cirrus by Nancy O'Connell
  • Harley by Jenny Williams.  I purchased the yarn this pattern for different sweater 2 or 3 years ago and discovered before I made the whole darn sweater ... the first pattern would not be right for me.  I picked this new pattern.  The yarn is by Purl SoHo and is 75% Extra Fine Merino and 25% Cashmere and it was expensive so I don't want it sitting in balls in my stash.  The color is called Tidepool and is not far different from the color in the picture - except that the Purl SoHo yarn color seems to look somewhat green in certain light, blue in another light and gray in yet another light. Interesting yarn.
Harley by Jenny Williams

  • Lady Jane by Susan Mills.  I set my sights on this sweeter probably 10 years ago.  I am going to make it this year!  It is perfect for every day use.  Yarn choice still under consideration.
Lady Jane by Susan Mills

Mignon by Justin Lorkowska - Sweater for my grand nephew's August birthday.

I found this pattern for him before he was born and just loved it.  Originally on my 2018 list, I decided to wait to make a bigger size - 2T - so he has time to wear it longer for winter 2019-2020.  This is a top down designed pullover with Honeycomb panels.  The yarn I have is Cascade Yarns, 220 Superwash Sport in a seafoam blue.

Mignon by Justin Lorkowska

Create 3 cowls - one for me, my daughter and my daughter-in-law - I have made many shawls but don't wear them as much as I thought I would.  No shawls this year - just cowls.  No patterns or yarns picked yet - but I have plenty of both and just need time to make decisions and put both together into kits ready to knit.

Gnomes - these are so darn cute.  I have no choice but to make several of them.  Nothing but the pattern picked so far.


I started a basic 'learn-to-do tapestry' sampler from a book in 2018.  I enjoyed it, but got swept away in children's projects ... and so the incomplete sampler sits idle.  I'd like to finish it and do an actual tapestry picture this year.

So those are my plans for 2019!  I think the scope of the projects is probably way to large but oh well.    I have stopped looking at all pattern websites and yarn companies.  The more I look, the more I think I would like to do.  It never ends.

Do you make craft plans?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

HELP - A Study in Frustration


I have reached the tipping point in frustration
 on commenting in a number of the blogs I follow.

It has become so frustrating
 that I often visit a blog and pass on without stopping to chat!
  And that just kills me!!

So here is the problem from my end:

  • If the comments setting on your blog is set to "Embedded" - (meaning that when I select the comment button, I don't get a "pop up window") ... your blog with embedded comments does not recognize me as signed into Google and it does not let me comment without a going through many many steps.  
  • The first step offers me 3 options to sign in to comment with minor frustration:
        • Google Account - this option shows me signed as signed into Google on only one blog and her blog uses the Pop Up window designation - all other blogs do not give me the ability to sign in - even if I am already signed in to Blogger and Google!  In fact, I also get a prompt to log into Google before my comment is posted, because it is a better way to manage comments.  And if I choose the Google Account option - post my comment - and hit Post - it acts like it is posting it, but it never shows on the blog.  Sooo Frustrating.
        • Name/URL - which I now use most of the time:  Elaine (Retired Knitter) and then I key in my web address.  This is OK - but not preferred.
        • Anonymous - which I don't use - I don't want to be anonymous and some blogs don't accept that 
  • The second step - Prove That I Am Not a Robot - is where things get very frustrating:
        • I get dumped into reCaptcha that shows me pictures after pictures after pictures of Crosswalks, Buses, Cars, Fire hydrants - over and over again.  I took notes - the average number of screens I am offered is 4 - that means that sometimes I get 6 or 7 screens before I am accepted.  And those screens are small and grainy and just hard to see.  That is NOT OK!


Yes, I know some of this is a Blogger Platform problem!  

How many readers leaving comments on my blog have had this same problem?  

Does anyone have a suggestion or a fix for this problem that I can do from my end? 

Here is what I am doing on my blog:
  • My blog uses "Pop Up Window" commenting.  Please, please, please, consider changing your blog to "Pop Up Window" commenting.  For some reason it is less problematic for the commenter.  "Embedded Comments" have more problems.
  • I have removed the reCaptcha and the Robot Check from my blog.  Yes, this is a risk.  I am going to give this a try for awhile to see if it makes things easier for visitors who want to comment.  
If you are reading this post (follower or not), 
please, please, please, 
leave me a comment and
 then let me know what happened. 

I may need to put Moderation back on my blogs to protect it from Spam, but for now I will just "fly without a parachute" and see what happens.

Finally, if I can't find a work around on this problem, I will stop trying to comment on blogs that have Embedded comments.  Sorry, folks!  This is is supposed to be fun and it definitely isn't.  I will still swing by and read what you are up to - but no commenting.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Rocky Point Disappearing

Rocky Point, Long Island, New York
An Interesting and Beautiful Place

This is one of many cross stitch pieces given to my mom by her long time friend
from Rocky Point.
They were very good friends.
In my recent visit to see my mom's life long friend in October (story here), I learned about Rocky Point, Long Island, New York, her chosen home. It has a dynamic and surprising history.

A *Nor'Easter storm was coming through on the
day of our visit.  The winds were blowing
and it was very wet.  This street where my mom's
friend lives was beautiful just the same.
At 93 years of age mom's friend has many wonderful memories of Rocky Point.  During our visit she shared what Rocky Point was in her youth and what it is today.

Her home - updated and expanded over the years from
the original cottage of the 1930s.
On the surface this community has a wooded 'settled' feeling with long established year round homes nestled within its boundaries.  Initially filled with summer cottages in the 1930s, now it has a mix of updated year-round structures and a few of the original summer cottages.

This path leads down to the Long Island Sound.  At the path's head, the sign said
"No Tresspassing" but my sister and I decided it didn't apply to us. 😆.
If we hadn't taken the path, we would have missed the amazing views of the sound
during angry weather.
But the 'settled' feeling is a false one.  Time and nature is making dramatic changes to this land.

We were almost at the water's edge at this point.

The picture doesn't do the angry waves justice!  They
poured over that bulkhead.  The bulkhead is important.
It holds down the erosion of the coast for the house located above the cliff.
Right beside the bulkhead the erosion is huge.
Walking back up the hill - my sister ahead of me.
The wind was strong.
During our visit we noticed a picture mounted on the wall.  It was a kind of map of the Rocky Point.  Shown in dark blue background with light print, it had the look of a surveyor's document.  Individual plots of land, roads and the shoreline of the Long Island Sound showed the scope of the area in the 1930s.  Our host explained that this picture showed Rocky Point as it was when her great aunt purchased the cottage (now a winterized and expanded home) we were standing in.  She pointed out exactly where we were figuratively in this map of the area.

Now for the big disconnect.

Standing at the front door of her home I could see a row of houses across the street that runs parallel to the rugged cliff coast line beyond.  Those houses back yards' end at the cliff's edge that drops off sharply into the Long Island sound.

But standing looking at the long ago map of Rocky Point, I see that my current location is many parallel streets away from that cliff. All the land shown was divided into many many individual plots where houses resided.  That land, those roads, and those cottages are all gone!

In fact, several houses just across the street were already considered 'Condemned' by the State.  And one house was gone .... off the cliff.  All that remained was the front yard and a road side mail box.

In the fore front - the road my mom's
friend lives on.  Behind that is a
solitary mailbox.  Behind the
mailbox is a fence located in what used
to be the front yard of a house.
The house is gone.
Yes, my mom's friend lives in a house that used to be be far from the coast ... and now is exactly one street and one row of houses away from being cliff side.

The supports of a house
 that fell off the cliff into the Long Island Sound.
It was  Geology 101 for me.  Geology 101 talked about land changes in terms of hundreds of years - even thousands of years.  But changes demonstrated so dramatically and stunningly within the span of one life time ...  that chapter was not covered in my class.   When my mom's friend inherited the Rocky Point property in the 1960s she had the foresight to check with a geologist.  His assessment in the 1960s was that her property would last until the end of her life - but maybe not until the end of her children's lives.
The story of a fast disappearing coast line - is hard to ignore when recognized over a very short period time.  Yes, this coastline has probably been receding for hundreds of years.  But would it have been so easily measured if man had not built right up to the shoreline back in the 1930s?  And would there actually be less erosion if accelerated global warming was not whipping up violent storms to pound on this coast?  And could man do something - like sand dunes seen in beach communities to slow the march of this destruction?

The next day was BEAUTIFUL.  Fall colors still held on
to the trees despite the winds that whipped at it.
The pictures of this beautiful area do not do justice to the beauty and drama that is Rocky Point, Long Island. I am glad I got to see the splendor of this place - and the drama of it as well.  During our visit the area was experiencing a *Nor'easter.  This strong storm was churning the Sound and chipping away at the shoreline as it has done hundreds of times.  Even once the shoreline claims our host's home, there will still be many properties behind her that will still stand.  But as time passes each house will take its turn at being 'beach front' property ... until they aren't any more.

The sky and the sea was beautiful.
Just beyond the white fence, the cliff drops off.
I am standing in a back yard of a condemned house -
condemned because it will take its turn to fall into
the Sound.

The quiet of the next day!
Future years may not be quiet for this little house.
But today, all is well.

One last look at a yard - and property behind
the fence that is disappearing.

It is just nature at work- relentlessly!

Nor'easters are usually accompanied by very heavy rain or snow, and can cause severe coastal flooding, coastal erosion, hurricane-force winds, or blizzard conditions. Nor'easters are usually most intense during winter in New England and Atlantic Canada (definition from Wikipedia.)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Quiet Holiday - A Gentle Reminder

As we approach the Christmas season, it is time for a gentle reminder.  

Amidst the flood of holiday cheer and good will, there are those who may desire to skip the merrymaking.  The reasons are many.  A first holiday without a loved one or friend, serious health or money problems, and some, like myself, have memories around this time of year that are like scars over a wound.

Of course you can't miss the commercial signs of Christmas.   The festive decorations in red and gold and green that cover shopping malls, homes, even cars ... seasonal music pouring into our ears, trees gayly decorated and beautifully wrapped gifts.  TV shows with charming holiday stories that all have a happy ending.  The societal prompts are everywhere - "Be Happy!"

And yet ... Be Happy ...  Well, it has not been my response for many years to this holiday.  I make an effort to keep those sad reflective feelings at arms length around others in December.  But I feel the need to remind all on behalf of the "Less Than Happy Club" of which I am a member, that Christmas is not always a joy filled.

My memories ...
shared with you as a one example of the struggle some have
this time of year. 

Old memories ... as an elementary teacher pulled suddenly from my students,  .... standing in the school secretary's office decorated in reds and greens and golds, hearing mom's voice say over the phone the words "dad just died,"  tears,  confused faces of my second graders as I left them with a substitute in the middle of their holiday party ... waiting outside for my husband to pick me up, disbelief, seeing another staff member, arms filled with holiday cheer for a staff party, smiling and happy, and seeing the smile fade as I said the words ...  and within days standing at mom's side in a funeral home that was decked out with the reds and the golds and the greens of the season, helping to pick out a casket while Christmas music filtered softly through the speakers, hearing her whisper, "I hope he knew that I loved him."

The date was December 23, 1970.  
I was 23.  
I remember it like it was yesterday.

Years pass.  The holiday subtly changed.  Bad things do happen when the world seems happy.  New to me at age 23.  Children were born, memories were put aside with purpose and with determination.  Some joy seeped back in.

Fresher memories ... the same music, the same reds, the same golds, the same greens of the season, the same joy in the air ...  except it was December and my 85 year old mom moved in assisted living.  Christmas was hard.  And the next year was harder, always harder.  I began to dread the signs of the approaching happy season.  My mantra  ... I will get passed this - then 'normal' can return.

Until Christmas 2014 came.  The same of everything was back.  Again.  Music, greens, golds and reds, decorated trees, gifts.  All the same - except three days before Christmas a new image was added ... a nurse sitting me down ... the words "your mother is dying."  Regrets expressed, only a few days left, comfort drugs for her, can I do anything for you or your family.

Truly, what little joy of the season in me was sucked out.

December 28, 2014 she died.  
I was 67.  
I know that was 4 years ago,
but it is really only yesterday in my mind.

Scars upon scars.

The 'happy' season is different for me now.

I accept the memories now.  They are a part of who I am.  Not something to be swept aside.  It is an anniversary of a sort that two important people passed from this life during the happiest time of the year.  And one life, mine, changed because of it.

My experience isn't unique.  Nursing homes report a high incidence of death at Christmas.  And the troublesome problems of life continue - missing a loved one, financial problems, health problems, emotional upheaval - despite the constant unending message of December to "Be Happy."

So remember as you move through this month some folks are struggling.  They may still smile and laugh and appear to be engaged in the wonder that is the Christmas season.  But they may be wearing a mask.  I know that I do.
Be kind.  
Be understanding.  
Be tolerant of their need for space from the season.  
Be happy yourself.  

But remember, sometimes 'happy' is not the goal for some - 
sometimes just a quiet peaceful holiday is all that can be achieved.

And that is ok.