Mark Twain

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Grand Master Plan for 2020

This is the time of year for
 goal setting,
 project development,
 and resolutions!  

Newspaper, magazine, blogs ... all seem to have some version of those elements displayed in their recent issues/posts.  All provide inspiration and sometimes guidance for making next year count!!  Make it the Best Year Ever kind of thinking. I have been guilty of all those year-end activities in previous years!  And I have relished reading about others goals as the clock rolls over to a new year.  In fact, I built a successful professional life around being organized and goal-driven.

This year I have a **New**  Grand Master Plan for 2020.  It is a brilliant and daring idea - and a 'first' for me!!  Potentially life changing and yet simple.  It belongs on a magazine cover!!  Drum Roll, please.

There is no Grand Master Plan.  
No goal setting.
No project development.
No yearly to-do lists. 

No nothing!!

Deep breath!  Trying to wrap my brain around that single idea.

But saying and doing are two different things.  What does 'the doing of nothing' look like?

Since I have never done this before I couldn't help wondering if there were guidelines for such a decision.  You know ... a "how to" for planning nothing!!  I have never seen anything that comes close to implementing that course of action.   With no guide or sample of how to do nothing successfully, how does one get started??   And once started, how does one keep it up?

Of course, my brain is having trouble imagining such alien concept and it was looking for a crutch!!  Go figure.  It takes a type-A personality like mine to look for  the "right way" of starting and doing nothing.  Ha!

For starters ... I am pretty sure that doesn't mean the death of daily to-do list, or weekly menu planning, or shopping lists, or weekly calendar management.  I am all for breaking out of my rigid mold a boldly following a new direction, but a 72 year old brain still needs some structure after all.  To me it means I have no overlying goals or "special words" or New Year's resolutions or lists of major projects ... to achieve for the next year.  None!!

Summed up in a single sentence:
I am not layering on top of my everyday life
any more expectations than I currently have to get through each day. 
(I wonder if I should write a book about that.) 

While I glory in the newly minted feeling of freedom that planning nothing for the new year provides, I have a sneaky suspicion that some people have approached the New Year with this attitude for a long time.  For me, however, it is ground breaking.  It might even be another level of maturity or increased confidence!  Maybe just a new way to live my life.

Me ... without a plan! 
Will anyone recognize me?

Since I am not breaking out in a sweat or trembling or hyperventilating ... it must be the right course of action for me!

No goals, no problem!
2020 is lookin' good!!!


Sunday, December 29, 2019

Pictures, pictures, pictures.

As promised - pictures from the second family
 Christmas gathering!!  
Nothing but pictures.

Another Cover Girl Shot 

She is a beauty!  
Back shot of the dress!!

Gift Opening Time - Esk and Will

Will's sweater - my niece checking it out.
She is pregnant with her second child.
A girl!!

The sit and spin was a hit!

Grandma will definitely get one of these for the condo!!

And now for some "grand parents" shots!

My sister and my brother-in-law trying to set up
an indoor tent!  Too funny to watch real time.

Ah - the challenges!

Still more effort!

Finally!  A rocket ship tent!  The kids loved it.
My Christmas tree at home on Christmas Eve - waiting for Ms. Esk.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas and the finished objects pictures ...

I have finally ... 
(this is the most recently 'finally' ... )
sworn off knitting Christmas gifts.  

This year was a busy year for planned knitted Christmas gifts.  I knew I had to start early.  Is April early enough?  I knew I had to remain focused on the goal.  I did.  And I knew I must not knit right up to Christmas Eve ...  early December was a good deadline!  Why?  Because knitting Gods are quirky and can place obstacles in your way to finishing on time.

The last time I had such a heavy knitted gift list was 2003.  I planned 8 projects.  EIGHT!!  I started in October!  OCTOBER!!  For the non-knitting readers out there, that is insane!  Who does that??? But I made my deadline in 2003.  How?  The knitting Gods stepped in - this time with 'help.'  In early December my gallbladder blew up putting me in the ER - followed by a surgery, and 3 weeks off from work with the instructions to lift nothing heavier than knitting needles.  Done!!  I had to give up a body organ, but I made my deadline.  That year I swore off Christmas knitting forever.  I only have so many disposable organs!!

Forever came and went however ... and here we are in 2019!

I didn't plan 8 projects this year - only 3.  A dress and sweater set for my grand daughter and a sweater for my grand nephew.  A reasonable number in 9 months.  What I didn't plan for was how much knitting thin yarns and small needles really is or how time consuming (and thumb injuring) some fancy knitting stitches are to old thumbs.

Grand daughter's dress and sweater (Projects 1 and 2)

I am very pleased with how cute this set turned out.  Items knitted in fine yarns (fingering weight) with small needles have a wonderful finished look and drape.  Of course, I moaned and fussed about how long it took.  I probably won't go that thin with yarn again for a child's garment - it takes too long, they grow so fast and the use of the item is limited.  But it was an effort of love for a child who holds my heart in her tiny hands.  I'll knit fine yarn items for her again one day when she is older and her growth isn't so dramatic.

Grand nephew's sweater (Project 3)

It took me a long time window shopping through Ravelry to find this sweater pattern.  I loved it the moment I saw it.  While this yarn was thicker (sport weight,) the stitch creation was slower and it just about robbed my thumbs of fixability.  The basket weave stitch in the body is interesting with a density that speaks of jacket weight verses sweater weight.   But I was forced to switch to stockinette stitch for the sleeves - out of the desire to avoid injury.  When I purchased this uni-sex pattern, I planned to make one of these sweaters for my grand daughter too, but those plans went out the window quickly.

Five cowls (Project 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)

I made 2 of the silver gray cowls.
The thick yarn cowls were a knee-jerk reaction to so much thin yarn knitting.  The fat yarn captured my eye in Joann's weeks ago and I purchased enough for 2 cowls - one for my daughter and one for my daughter-in-law.  They turned out so well, I returned and got another color for me.  Fast, fast, fast.  One evening and one cowl is done.  I have seen others wearing cowls made of thick yarn so I suspect this is in vogue right now.

The other two cowls were thinner yarns.  Larger cowl loop designs that are meant to wrap around the neck an additional time.  The red cowl was a Mobius design, but I twisted it an additional time so that the front of the stitch would remain outward.  Not sure it achieved what I was going for, but once wrapped around the neck, it is a non-issue.

Son's hat (Project 9)

My son has never requested anything knit.  He did ask me to crochet matching Viking helmets for him and his daughter which I did.  Esk has outgrown hers, and I need to make the next size up for her (January project), but I thought I would make a quickie hat for him.  After all, I had more than met my deadline.  And he shaves his head - so cold weather needs more than a ball cap.

I finished his hat with 2 weeks to spare.  I briefly considered looking for one other project (crazy thinking).  Then I got sick and so did my husband.  The knitting Gods had stepped in and smack me across my head to bring me to my senses.

If anyone is counting ... I knitted 9 projects - exactly one more than in 2003.  And I only meant to knit 3 projects.  I wasn't trying to break any records and I sure as h*ll didn't want to give up another organ ... so next year we are aiming for moderation and no deadlines.  That should keep the knitting Gods happy.

Onward to 2020
 and the freedom to knit whatever!

PS - Looking for pictures of Christmas Eve??  There are none!  Can you believe it?  It was crazy bedlam here with 5 adults, an almost 2 year old and 3 dogs in our condo (two who do not get along and have to be gated separately!). But it was fun. Take it from me, next year I won't make this picture mistake again.  We are attending another extended family Christmas party on Saturday. It is at my sister's so the pressure is off me and I can focus on pictures.  Promise.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Begone December 2019

That's right!
I want December to be gone from my sight!
Call me a Grinch!  
If I remember correctly,
he wasn't all bad.

It has been a hard month health wise.  It started with a cold for me - minor, but still a bug that weaseled its way into my body.  I think I called it Cold Number 1 in my December 3rd post.  No sooner did it leave me, then my husband started with a GI bug that got into his body.  You know the kind ... nausea and other unmentionables better left unsaid.  But his GI bug was accompanied by a fever, and then losing consciousness, (a new twist on an old problem for me), and then a call to 911, and then a visit from the nice EMTs.  He recovered his consciousness and refused a hospital visit, but was sick with this bug for about 4 days total.

During that time my daughter needed my assistance with transportation to a dental appointment that might have ended in conscious sedation for a procedure ... it didn't, thankfully.  Small blessings.  But no sooner did I return from that then my husband's bug jumped ship and decided I was a good candidate for further havoc.

Nine ugly hours after it started with me - I finally began to feel human again. - no fainting and no fever, but me and my toilet .... well, we are 'buds' now, and my ribs still hurt 48 hours later from trying to empty my stomach that was already empty when I started.

In between all that fun and frivolity I was busy making appointments for my husband for lab work, a CAT scan of his brain, a new patient appointment with a Neurologist and the EEG that doctor wants him to have, and a new patient appointment with a Cardiologist.

Losing consciousness gets everyone's attention!

Here we are on December 22 and my daughter calls.  She feels sick.  I am desperately hoping that while I was helping her with the dental appointment I wasn't also infecting her with whatever that GI bug that might have been hiding in me when we were together.

Oh, and did I mention that my cat, Wally, was diagnosed with a hyperthyroid condition last month?  He stopped eating the prescription food for this condition this month, which had the condition under control, and he isn't been interested in taking the medication no matter how I disguise it.  Cats are so particular.  So we are at a stand off at present - but that is only for this month.  Untreated hyperthyroidism kills if not treated.  I may have to force feed that pill down his gullet to save his darn life!!

And to add insult to injury, I am not a big fan of Christmas anyway - my dad died 2 days before the holiday and my mom died 3 days after the holiday. I struggle at this time of year.

Probably the only thing that is keeping me from totally checking out of this whole terrible month - is my dear grand daughter, Eskarina.  She has reached the age where the wonder of the season puts a sparkle in her eye, and this grand mother would rather die than snuff out that light.  Those tiny little 20-month old shoulders shouldn't have to carry even an ounce of burden because of my bad luck.

My husband's GI bug is gone but he thinks he is starting with a cold.  I am better from my GI bug.   With any luck Cold Number 2 will hit me around New Years.  My daughter is still an unknown as of this evening.  My daughter-in-law mentioned that Eskarina seems to be starting with a cold as well.  She awoke this morning saying, "Buggers in nose."  (Buggers!!!  Who taught her the word 'buggers'??).  But day-care is just one big cold-virus factory, so the fact she has a cold is not too shocking!

So everyone ....
Happy Holidays!!
(Aren't you glad you aren't anywhere near plague central?)

PS - I promise to stop in again before the end of the year to provide pictures of my finished projects (shots are in the camera), and a few pictures of Christmas Eve with Eskarina.  And to provide proof that I participated 'joyfully and fully' in Christmas - despite everything!!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A Journal Of A Different Type

Weeks ago I became aware of a type of journaling that I never considered.
Like a seed, it got planted in my brain and has bloomed into a new possibility.

Years ago I wanted to keep a traditional journal.  You know ... the hand-written kind using paper and pen.  I think of it as an analog version of blogging - but a private one.  Five days into the process, however, I decided it was too cumbersome for me.  My brain did not engage with my pen well at all, and when it did, the first words would be not quite right, crossed out, erased, edited, ending in ... a mess.  I wanted to be neat and clean, but my writing is neither neat nor clean.  I deeply edit over and over until my brain narrows things down.  Blogging on an electronic platform allows all that massaging I need and is why it has been such a consistent practice for me - even if only episodic as of late.

But recently I discovered a journaling method that won't leave my brain.  It is called 5 Year Journal.

A 5 Year Journal typically presents as a normal diary that assigns each day of the week to a full page, but each page is divided into 5 equal sections - one section for each year.  As shown below - all the journal entries for January 1 are shown on one page.  The first year of this journal you are writing only in the top section.  Then when January 1 of the next year rolls around again, you return to the January 1 page once again drop down to the second section for your entry.  Obviously these are short sections - usually only 5 lines. It is just a short snap shot of what is on your mind on that day.  Brief, concise, specific entries.

Doesn't sound like me at all, does it!!  Ha!

In my research of these journals, I discovered that some versions offer a one sentence prompt per day.  I was intrigued by that idea as I don't feel my personal life is all that eventful or interesting.  Then I drifted into the possibility of only one word prompts - something to comment on as it relates to your life.  The choices of journals are beyond describing.  Some of the books are leather bound creations of great beautiful.  Some books' pages are stitched into the book while others can be refilled or switched out.  There are small books and large ones.  There are expensive and cheap ones.  Believe me - if you have problems with choices, don't Google a topic - it can be overwhelming.

But still it attracted me.

I tried to determine why this type of journaling was haunting my thoughts and why did I feel like I must begin one this January 1.  It was hard to put my reasoning into words - maybe a sign that I was attracted to the materials rather than the practice of a 5 year journal.  So I Googled "Why keep a 5 year journal" thinking maybe someone's words would capture my thoughts.  Hahaha.  Like Googling something EVER made anything more clear. NOT!

So after much thought, here is what I have come up with from my own brain!

If I looked back over my last 5 years - if I had started writing a 5 year journal in 2014 and I was writing in the 5th year of December 2019 section today - I could look back at all the Decembers - specifically I would see that in December 2014 I struggled with mom's last days, facing her death, struggling to do the right things for her.  I would find it interesting to see what my mind and heart were dealing with at that time 5 years ago - the things I felt important to put into words.

Over the last 5 years other changes have happened as well.  Big ones.  We moved.  I became a grandmother!  I reconnected with a childhood friend.  I lost 2 dear friends.  I had knee surgery.  The list goes on.  My life was eventful in many ways.  I think as time passed, and I approached this book to post another entry, I would find interest and remembering of things that happened to me on those dates a year or more ago.

I sort of wish I had that book today.

But looking back is only half the story.  My next 5 years will also be filled with events - some sad and some joyful.  I think about the next decade or so - and at 72 it is a daunting thought.  My brain shies away from what the future might actually hold at this point.  Might it be a good idea to put pen to paper now in an abbreviated way to capture these last important years for myself?

Why doesn't the online blog do this?  Well, for me, the blog is a public forum, but a written journal is a place where only I will visit - a private thing.  I seldom look back in my blog to past entries, but in a 5 year journal that snap shot entry would be evident every time I opened the book.  Is that important? I am not sure - but I wish I had the previous 5 years recorded in a useable way.

I think if I were younger and had the expectation of many years ahead of me - I might not see a value in this kind of journaling.  But time passes by very very fast the older you get and sometimes the brain starts to stutter a bit.  Somehow putting pen to paper puts more stability and continuity into my daily living than launching a blog post into the great electric unknown of the web.  I will still blog because there is a social interaction in that type of journaling that is good for the soul.  But once the post drifts into the distant past ... it fades - no matter how important the topic was.  The 5 year journal seems to fill a different need.

Will I still have problems putting pen to paper?  Probably.  I guess it is time to exercise a 'mental muscle' that hasn't been used since the 90's - 'from brain, to hand, to pen, to paper.'  It will be hard at first - but new skills are good for old folks like me.

So I think I am going to start this for 2020 and hope it goes to 2025!

The journal is ordered.  Leather covers, but mid-priced and refillable as opposed to pages stitched in place.  I might change my mind on that after I see the book in my hand.  I loved some of those leather imprinted covers.  I have opted for blank pages - knowing I can set up the dates and the years easily.  I might change my mind on that as well.  I may use one word prompts for each day of the year  - but who knows, I might ... you know, change my mind on that as well. :-)

Have you kept a paper journal? 
Have you heard of 5 year journal?
If so ...  
how has traditional journaling worked for you?
And why did you keep a journal?

This 'journaling mind' wants to know!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Little Discoveries

You would think after 72 years on this earth
I had these simple discoveries under my belt!

#1 Medicinal Milk Shakes

Yes, there is such a thing!  While I was recovering from my first (and shortest ever) cold of the season, I made a wonderful discovery.  Medicinal Milk Shakes.  I am sure that any flavor would do but for me it was a Chocolate Milk Shake at my local Chick Fil-A drive thru.  I was on my way home from shopping for Christmas and decided to pick up some grilled chicken nuggets - no sauces or breading - just the grilled chicken nuggets.  Yum!  Waiting in line I decided to "balance" my healthy choice by adding a little treat. Small Chocolate Shake.  My head was stopped up tight and mouth breathing was what was left to me - so to reward my mouth for doing double duty with at milk shake!

Photo credit - Chick Fil-A

Discovery - the cold of the milk shake against the roof of my mouth suddenly shrunk my sinuses cavities enough that I could breath normally!  Wonderful discovery - worked wonders.  Try it!

You're welcome!
I am thinking of experimenting a little further ... using milkshakes to ward off head colds!  I believe that in a world filled with useless studies (just listen to the news most nights), this question has never been explored.

I am willing to "take one for the team."

#2 Fatter is better!

This discovery is a little more troublesome.  You would think after 20+ years of knitting, I would intimately understand the importance of gauge and needle size.  Apparently I felt after you passed size US10 knitting needles ... fat is fat no matter what the pattern says.

The third color is a cream and
 not available for pictures as it is on the blocking board.
I finished all the "tiny-knitting-needles-and-skinny-yarns" knitting for Christmas projects. While I was adding buttons, care labels, and sewing all the loose ends, I got the desire to "go-fat."  (And this has nothing to do with the milk shakes, in case you were wondering.)  Weeks ago I picked up two skeins of Bernat Mega Bulky yarn in cream and silver gray at Joann's ...  I was drawn to the big stitches, the softness of the acrylic (they have really made great strides with acrylics) and the desire to have instant gratification project in my near future.  The 'near future' had arrived.

Silver Gray and Plum
Colors are truer to the actual colors.
This yarn is so thick the pattern calls for size US 19 knitting needles.  The largest size I had was US 15.  No matter ... 15 or 19 .... both are fat!  (Knitters and crocheters - I give you permission to cringe right about now!)  I charged into a one skein cowl pattern in this squishy soft wonderful yarn!  So fun!  And as expected I had a finished a cream colored cowl in a matter of a few hours.  Boy, I needed that!!  Start to finish in one sitting.  I tried it on!  Hmm ....  Seemed a little tight. Go figure!  Gauge counted!!  Ha!  A fatter needle was needed, I returned to Joanns to purchase more of the cream -  I would just add to the cowl till it fit better.  Of course, the cream was sold out.  I wanted 2 cowls for gifts so I decided to buy yet a third color (for me) and the (very important) US 19 knitting needles.

This plum one is for me.
What a difference it makes to use the right size needles!  The cowl fits as it is supposed to - with the right amount of ease and drape.  I decided to take the lazy man's way out on the cream cowl and try to block it a bit bigger.  The jury is still out on that effort.  Blocking acrylic usually is not suggested but since THIS acrylic is "hand wash, lay flat to dry" (unusual for acrylic), I am hopeful that blocking adds the needed positive ease.

So lesson learned.  Fat is good.  Fatter is better!
How I wish that was true in my body one other area of my life. 

#3  Learning from my experiences is not my strength!

This fall while racing to complete my Christmas knitting projects, I fretted internally that I would not meet the deadline.  Retired to me means - a deadline is 'four letter word.'  Deadlines are meant for other people who live their lives by the clock - as I did for so many years.  I cursed my deadline setting.

All that frantic knitting and worry meant that I was done earlier than I expected.  Hence the interest in knitting a cowl, then 3 cowls, and if that wasn't enough ... a man's hat!  This hat is for my son who wears his thinning hair military style - shaved close to the scalp.  He isn't one to wear a hand made sweater, but maybe a hat.  I can get that done before Christmas, right??

The color is called Blueberry! 
And if I am reeeaaallly fast, I have enough yarn for a scarf ... before Christmas!!!

*sigh* Some people just never learn from their own experiences!

The yarn used is one of my all time favorites called Waterlily by Classic Elite Yarns, an extra fine merino wool made in Italy.  It was discontinued years ago, but before it left the market I stocked up and my sister stocked up.  Then my sister moved to mostly weaving.  She traded all her Waterlily to me for my most of my weaving yarns since I am not weaving - well .... not at the excellent level she weaves.  My Waterlily stash is now huge and making this hat has reminded me just how much I love this yarn.  It is soft, easy on the skin for wool and has a lovely bounce back when squeezed.  Stitch definition is perfect.  It boarders on an Aran weight, but can pass for Worsted Weight.  And it has subtle colorations - reminiscent of a kettle dyed yarn.

Why this yarn was dropped from production baffles me!  In all my years of knitting, I have never found a yarn I loved more.


My next post will be all the knitted projects I did for Christmas - before they are wrapped.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Head Cold

So ... let the winter 'bugs' officially begin their romp through my immune system - (even though we are technically a few weeks away from the first day of winter.)


Last year I had a grand total of 5 colds of various descriptions.  It was a record number for me for one season.  And just to top things off with a grand flourish, in April I got the flu despite getting the senior flu vax.  Spring was in full swing, sun was shining, flowers blooming, temperatures exquisite - and I was down with the flu.  Not a touch of the flu either (is there such an 'animal'?) but the full-blown 2 to 3 week variety that actually landed me in the ER at one point so we could get my swollen throat under control and avoid airway obstruction kind-of-flu!!!

Yeah ...  believe me, I was glad to see the end of that cold and flu season.

Fast forward to this merry month of December!

Symptoms began on Sunday and I chalked it up to allergies.  By Monday I was sure it wasn't allergies but the beginnings of a head cold.  Oh Joy!  It isn't even winter yet.  No fair starting early.  I kept going with my to-do list - except I cancelled my night out with friends.  Friends don't make other friends sick - especially when the friends you are seeing are all around your own senior age!

Today, Tuesday, I got up at my normal time and decided... hey, this head cold isn't advancing - it is just stuck in my sinuses.  It is pretty much the same as yesterday.  Great news!  Really!! I had breakfast and then decided to lay down for just a bit before getting dress.  I awoke at 12:30.  Yikes!  I got up, got dressed, had lunch and answered some email, and before you know it, it felt like nap time again!  Literally I was standing for about 15 minutes and sitting the rest of the time.  Another nap was ridiculous.  I cancelled today's activities.

I did think b*tching about this cold was not ridiculous.  So here I am.  I cancelled tomorrow's activities.  Being pro-active.

This minor cold counts officially as Cold #1 of the season.
One down, four to go.  
I think I will skip the flu this season. 
I wish I had thought of doing that last year!!

My 2019-2020 goal: Skip the Flu.