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

Monday, November 30, 2020

The Near Death and Resurrection of my "Better Self."

During the early days of the pandemic I was forced to accept many changes, one of which was that  my favorite knitting activities were going away for an undetermined amount of time.  Fiber fairs and knitting groups came to a screeching halt.  But I put my "big girl panties" on and vowed to not whine about. After all it is a world wide event.  

Just make the best of it my "better self" advised.

After a few weeks of making 'the best of it,' I decided to find the silver lining the cloud that is pandemic isolation.  It was the perfect time, after all, to focus on and reduce my current large yarn stash rather than finding ways to add to it.  Knit and crochet more, give away more and stop buying more!  

(I would like to see a show of hands of those who listen to their "better selves.")   

In April I thinned out stash resulting in several grocery bags full of yarn delivered to a local thrift shop! Excellent.  I began and finished a simple garter stitch blanket of doubled Caron Simply Soft acrylic - of which I have gobs!  But I couldn't rid myself of the idea that "pandemic feelings"  had been knitted into that item.  It's going to the thrift shop.  

I dug deep in my stash again to finish a scarf in silk sport weight yarn for my daughter.  The scarf is with my daughter now and the left over yarn is going to the thrift bag.  

I started a second blanket using more Caron Simply Soft in a simple yet interesting design.  I like it better.  And I don't have any bad feelings being knit into it.  The skein shown will also be included in the stripe pattern.

Yes, all signs say I am going in the right direction.

Then the dam burst - well ... not a sudden explosion, but more of a trickle that grew into a flood and then an explosion!  

In early May Maryland Sheep and Wool went Virtual on the web.  I told my "better self" I should support the small business yarn vendors who were taking a HUGE hit from cancelled fairs.  I shopped!  I purchased enough yarn from Briar Rose Yarns to knit 2 good size afghans in chunky wool and 4 chunky wool cowls.    Having done my patriotic duty I put the breaks on once again.  (Notice how I slipped in words like "patriotic duty" to characterize an increase in my stash.)

This summer the Michigan Sheep and Wool festival went Virtual.  I got an email announcement from Briar Rose Yarns that she was participating and offering a discount.  Patriotism isn't a one time event, right?  In deep diving into my yarn stash in April, I found a shawl pattern and yarn I purchased years ago from Briar Rose and I wanted to start that project.  But I discovered the pattern required 2 skeins of Briar Rose yarn and I had purchased only 1 at the time.  Feeling moved to do my patriotic part I "attended" the Michigan event and got my two skeins. 

But I felt the slippage.  Corrective action was needed.  The brakes were on.  Don't open any emails that boasted of fiber festivals.  Done!!  Don't open any emails from yarn vendors.  Done!!  Temptation controlled.  I was feeling pretty noble. 

Then I came across a random blog post (not one of my regular blog friends) where the writer had just finished The Queen's Blanket CAL (Crochet A-Long.)  (I should have backed away from the computer immediately.  I didn't). 

At first I thought I was looking at weaving, and then I discovered it was 'mosaic crochet stitch' design.  Seriously, it was stunning!  I visited the instruction video by the blanket's designer on how to do mosaic crochet - and I was hooked ( ... sorry!).  You need only 3 stitches to do this blanket: chain stitch, single crochet, double crochet! (I could feel the water beginning to trickle over the top of the dam!)

I could DO THIS!

The pattern on Ravelry came in two sizes: small and large.  The CAL was over, but the pattern was available for purchase AND the instruction videos that accompanied the CAL were also available. I purchased the pattern.  Surely I must already have the yarn I need for this in my stash!  I checked!  Nope.  Sport or DK weight was suggested (and a lot of it) and multiple complimentary colors were needed.   (You would have stopped at this point, right?  I didn't.)

I checked on line again. The CAL had been supported by pre-made kits in 3 color ways in each of the two sizes.  A long list of shops carried the yarn - but at first glance they were all in the UK.               ("Seriously, stop now." the voices in my head said as the flood waters began to race past.)  

I tried to order a large kit (yes, large, what the heck) from a UK shop and during the online purchase I kept getting blocked.  (A 'sign' from my better self that said don't do this.) I emailed the shop to find out why they blocked me from ordering.  The shop quickly responded saying "due to shipping problems and the expense, they were not shipping International orders of the large kit.  So sorry."  Well, darn!  Darn was not the word I used, but you get the picture.   (I am the Sign of The Ram - Aries, and once in motion, the Ram never stops.  I made myself busy by "planting" dynamite under my dam.)   

Then I googled the yarn limiting my search to only a US supplier - and I found LoveCrafts - a UK company with a US presence.  They had the kits.  YES!! It was not an International order.  I purchased that yarn - ALL 6,000+ YARDS OF IT!! (BOOM!! No more pesky dam! And I jumped up and down a few times on my "better self" just for good measure.)

Excitedly I "tracked" the package as it made its way to me through the postal system - except it didn't make its way to me at all.  You see the address I provided had a 20175 zipcode which is in Virginia.   My zip code is 21075 which is in Maryland.  So there it sat in Virginia much to my frustration for whole 3 days - not moving an inch.  I called the Virginia post office.  Yes ... they had had the package but it was on it way back to the sender as "Undeliverable."  (By now I was pretty sure I was being punished by my "better self" for purchasing another 6,000+ yards of yarn!)

I called LoveCrafts and explained the situation.  THEY WERE WONDERFUL!  The customer service rep confirmed with the Virginia post office that the first package was on its way back to them - and LoveCrafts immediately sent out another kit to me at the right zip code!  

They were so wonderful that I wanted to go right out to them AGAIN and order more yarn!

(Oh wait ... )

So I am rebuilding my "dam" and resurrecting my "better self" so I can survive this pandemic isolation.

Who knew pandemics had so many hidden dangers

 beyond getting a very contagious, life-threatening virus! 

 I sure hope this pandemic is over soon.  

Very very soon!

Sunday, November 29, 2020

A "Tool Lover" Shares

I have a lot of hobbies.  Knitter, sometimes weaver, crocheter, lego builder, Kindle reader, Audible reader and as of lately, jigsaw puzzler.  Hobby people know that the tools of a hobby often are as important as the action itself. I say all this to help introduce you to a new tool of mine.

And here it is - my new puzzle board!!

I know.  I know. 
 I can hear your thoughts.  
My . God . That . Thing . Looks . Big!!
I said the same thing when I saw the size of the box it came in and realized
.... ITS BIG!!

As you would expect, there is a story that goes with this new addition -  that stunned me at first, but won me over when I began to use it.

I previously blogged about the simple cloth puzzle saver roll.  Initially it worked pretty good - meaning the puzzle pieces stayed relatively in place and none were lost in this rolled state.

But as I began to complete more and more of the puzzle, there were problems.  More and more pieces to stabilize. Less and less stability as it grew in size.

Until finally I had 2/3s of the puzzle completed and it looked quite messy when I opened it up each time.

Many of the pieces had moved and a lot were ajar when I carefully unrolled the puzzle.  I would spend about 20 minutes getting everything back into place before doing what I really wanted to do ... adding new pieces.  Unsatisfactory.  It made me unhappy every time - and once or twice I chose not to work on the puzzle because I didn't want to spend time repairing my work.  

Obviously if I had a dedicated space where I could leave the puzzle out - no special board would be needed.  Now in this condo I don't have the floor space to set up a separate table somewhere and we use the kitchen table every single day so that could not be a permanent space either.  I needed another option.  I shopped around and fell in love with this tilt board option.  The transfer of the puzzle from the cloth to the board was time consuming.  This puzzle interlocks but not as firmly as some I have done.  Pieces came apart as I tried to lift them connected onto the board.  But finally it was transferred. I could tell as I did this part, the board assisted me with keeping pieces attached to the felting.  Nice!

This board was definitely not a cheap option, but it is a HUGE improvement in working on the puzzle!  Besides the fact it can hold larger puzzles up to 1500 pieces (this puzzle is 500 pieces), the surface felting grips the pieces in place even at an extreme tilt.  I love that it is made of beautiful New Zealand Pine wood - beautifully made.  

In addition it has a wood cover - felt on the puzzle side - that fits over the puzzle and locks in place.

The board then folds down and locks together.  It has a handle that makes carrying it easy.

And it can then be stored away for another time - not taking up any table space.
Other than its size - which still seems large to me - it is perfect!

Working on the puzzle is so much easier now than before.  It has several adjustable tilt angles and can swivel on its stand.  The swivel feature is not so important now - but who knows in the future.  

NOW THE BIG QUESTION WAS ... what will the puzzle look like when I open it up again!  So here it is the next morning - set up for puzzling.

No pieces are unlocked. No adjustment necessary.  Just as I left it - except that it might have slipped down the felting just a bit - but it did so as a solid piece.  Excellent!!

The puzzle was completed on Thanksgiving before dinner.

I made this picture big - so you can see what I didn't see.  At first I thought the puzzle had come with an extra piece!  THAT never happens.  A missing piece, maybe.  I showed it to my daughter, she was surprise as well.  So after I took the picture above, I threw the extra piece away.  I then returned to the puzzle to dismantle it - and discovered the open space.  Do you see it?  It is pretty obvious now looking at the full puzzle. Haha.  So I dug out the missing piece from the trash!  

So Here is the puzzle completely finished on my BIG puzzle board.

And BIG is good, right?  
I have heard size matters, right?


Friday, November 27, 2020


Here I sit typing away at my computer at 5:30 am the day after Thanksgiving!  It is peaceful and comforting to have this very quiet time today.  No "Black Friday" hub-bub for me.  Just the gentle beginning of a day filled with ... nothing. I love days filled with nothing!  They are so few and far between.

Our Thanksgiving yesterday was small. The food was traditional and functional if not entirely mouthwatering (remember: not the cook sitting here.) But it was a good Thanksgiving for many reasons.  Our daughter was with us - as she is most weekends and Milo, her dog.  We spent the morning finishing up a Halloween puzzle with a brand new tool that made the puzzling so much better (that post is scheduled for publishing on Sunday.) We watched the Thanksgiving Day parade from New York (fun but different with no on-sight attendees) and followed that up with the Dog Show - always great fun.  There was no audience there either - just cardboard cut outs of people and dogs in the stands.  As odd as it was to see no one at these two events - it was wonderful to see that precautions like this are being taken seriously. And we visited by Google Video and Zoom with family during the day.  Yes, that was a Thanksgiving to be grateful for in many ways.

While many were technically missing from our dinner table - no one was permanently missing as some families experienced this year!  So for that I am forever grateful.  The first holidays after someone has died are always so terribly hard.  Many lost family members this year due to Covid. 

Finally, what I am most grateful for is the fact that I have adapted to this new way of living without too much feeling of loss.  I know that many are still struggling with this, because you see and hear about it on the TV - big group events where no masks can be seen, people "taking a break" from the pandemic protocols - "just this once."  And later hearing the stories of how they contracted Covid with just one lapse in judgement!  It is hard.  Just plain hard for some to change the way they live for this long a time.  But I am grateful beyond measure that for whatever reason - I am content to ride this pandemic out safely - with minimal sacrifice - and hopefully come out on the other end well. Truly a reason to be grateful.

A belated Thanksgiving wish to you.

Stay healthy and happy with the season - just as it looks now!

Be thankful!


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Making Space #2

For some reason I am unable to confine myself to any kind of structure, rules or regulations.  It is a pattern that seems to be developing the older I get.  At 73 I am become more emboldened to miss deadlines and resist expectations ... finding them to be uncomfortable like wearing tummy slimming panty hose over a tummy that refuses to be slimmed.   

No, I am not at the "breaking the law" stage or anything ... at least not yet!  🤣 Joking of course.  Truth: I am not breaking the law, and Truth: I wouldn't admit it here if I did, and Truth: I might want to try that sometime - you know, like jay-walking or something. Ha!  But Final Truth: I am not going to do something really stupid.  I am not totally insane ... at least not yet! 🤣 !   

Anyway, back on topic - if there is a deadline I am definitely going to miss it - even if I made the deadline myself!  And that is what I am doing weekly with my Making Space posts. Missing the deadline. Going forward - I am participating but the posts will just be ... well ... a surprise!    

You see I had these decluttering items ready for a post for the last 2 weeks.  They sat in a bag near my table - technically still in my house but waiting for the "decluttering ax" to fall right after I posted about them.  

There are 11 items here mostly going into the trash but the children's cloth books will go to the thrift store along with the shorts that don't fit (for the same reason I don't wear tummy slimming panty hose) and a tee shirt that shrunk upon washing or my breasts grew or I gained weight.  (I like option #1.)

With this post 21 items total have been discarded.  


Friday, November 13, 2020

Addiction In A Box

So now I remember ... Addiction.

Almost a full day spent getting this puzzle sorted and prepared for when my daughter arrives to night ... so we can work on it together.  I thought I would start to get the borders in place to save time.  And sorting out some pieces into separate categories so they are easier to sort through.  And then just going a little further with some inside pieces because I couldn't find all the border pieces.  And when I looked up ... it was 3:30 in the afternoon.  I did nothing but work on this puzzle today.  


I should back up.  The past spring I got it in my head that I wanted to do some jigsaw puzzles.   You know, 'pandemic boredom' had set it.  So I started shopping on line and discovered this was not a new idea.  Apparently the rest of the world had the same idea.  The puzzles I was interested in were selling out at record speed.  I finally settled on 5 puzzles - 1000 pieces each.  Then I paused.  It has been probably  25 years since I did jigsaw puzzles.  So I purchase another one - 500 pieces to get into the swing of this with a smaller challenge.

AND because I don't have a dedicated space to leave a puzzle set up, I shopped around for puzzle savers.  I used to have a HUGE one that did not work very well.  You would close it up like a very large brief case.  When it was re-opened, everything was a mess.  I settled on an inflated roll and cover.

That all happened in the spring and summer.  I had not opened even one of them.  Life got busy and 'pandemic boredom' passed.  Then last weekend my daughter expressed an interest in doing a puzzle and I was thrilled.  But my procastinor self waiting until today - Friday.  By default - today is the day.

That's the back story. The front story is I spent the whole day working on it - couldn't set it down - although I tried twice and found myself returning again and again.  

Here is, 'little old anal me,' setting up the puzzle on my new felt pad.  Along with the puzzle saver roll. I purchased puzzle trays that allow you to sort your pieces by whatever method you choose and keep them neat and tidy between puzzle sessions.  This puzzle was 500 pieces and didn't look too hard.  In the end had an edge piece tray, an object piece tray (if I could make out the object on the piece it when into a tray), a letters piece tray, a blue piece tray, and a checker board floor piece tray.  All the other pieces were left together for now.

At 3:30 after sorting out the trays and trying to complete the border (which I haven't - I also remember swearing that pieces were missing years ago - they never were - but I am sure this time!! 😀) this is what got done. This is the only thing that got done today.

Holy Moly!!  

Does anyone else work on puzzles?  Do you have a method or are you just not as OCD as I am?  Is this progress typical?  Its been 25 years or more and I just don't remember, but I can tell you if you are trying to juggle a job and a family and house hold chores ... DO NOT TAKE UP JIGSAW PUZZLES!!  Of course if you are like me and your time is your own - give them a try.  They are great fun.  I just wish I could leave the puzzle out and put in a few pieces at time and then walk away.  I wonder if they have Jigsaw Puzzle Anonymous groups!

Anyway, I finally packed it up so we could eat at the table and here is how it looks.

And here are the other puzzles waiting in the wings to totally destroy any plans I have for things like laundry, cooking, food shopping, cleaning.  

Oh wait!  I hate doing those things.  

Ha!  So maybe this isn't a bad thing!

And, yes, I show 6 puzzles!  Forgot a few.  And they have a similar theme - Halloween-ie!  Guess I need to broaden by collection.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Memories of Halloween

Halloween 2020 was bound to be different from any previous Halloween of my memory.  It was my grand daughter's first Halloween - or rather the first one she would be able to participate in. 

Her parents planned a party at home for her - a small family gathering, just me and her grandfather and her Aunt.  We came done up in witch hats and blinking light necklaces and wrapped Halloween cookies for her treat bag.

My two beautiful ladies - Esk and my daughter!

Her mom made the cutest Halloween cake - from scratch, no less.  Cute as could be and very delicious. (Low in calories, too.  Not!)

Her parents had a Halloween blow up figure in the back yard, a scavenger hunt in the house for Halloween goodies and a yummy dinner of barbecue ribs. 

She was dressed as a ballerina! 

Even her dog Rags had a costume - devil wings - that he wore for only about 2 minutes because he was sort of terrorized by them and we couldn't leave them on when we saw his reaction.  Poor boy.  For such a big imposing bully (English Bulldog), he is secretly not imposing at all.

I love this picture of my son and his daughter. 

He is such a good guy and it warms my heart totally to see him gently nurturing such a beautiful child.  

And Halloween just wouldn't be Halloween unless you visited a neighbor and greeted them with a "Trick or Treat."  Their few neighbors live on 6 or more acre plots - just visible from their own property and trick or treating was a rare occurrence. No other children live on that lane.  

Esk came with a small bag of treats for the neighbors!!

But one neighbor - an elderly couple who seem to have struck up a neighborly relationship with the younger new comers on the lane (my son and his wife) invited this little person, my dear Esk,  to make a trick or treat visit to them.  So we all walked down the lane in the late afternoon to visit and get a piece of candy.   So much fun.  More fun than canvasing a townhouse development or apartment project where the neighbors are on top of each other and the candy haul would become too heavy for those little arms to carry.  

The candy dish was on the bottom step.

And how much fun it was to see the neighbors encourage Esk to take more candy (in fact take the whole bowl - of about 20 pieces) while she had mother's words of repeating in her head, "Esk, when you visit you take just one piece."  You can be sure Esk walked away with all the pieces!

And the adults got to visit for a short time while Esk picked candy one piece at a time.  It was so much fun.

Esk was not frightened at all by the images moving on her walls.  She loves the Halloween cartoons and stories so much.  

Some day things might go back to normal, but for now, making new memories (safe and socially distant memories) is what it is all about.

Her Trick or Treat bag!


Monday, November 9, 2020

Making Space #1

So yeah!
  I missed the first week of decluttering!  
Thank goodness this is a relaxed kind of challenge!  

I am joining Beckie at on an informal challenge called Making Space - Declutter 10 items a week - and if life gets in the way - you might miss a week, but the goal is to post 10 items weekly on the day of your choosing.

It wasn't hard getting 10 items together this first week.  These items are things I have kept for absolutely no good reason.  
  • Three magazines all from 2018 - that have been sitting on my end table in the living room.  It is 2020 last I checked! Never opened!  I should never buy magazines.  I never read them.  
  • A bag of red mechanical pencil refills.  I don't even own a mechanical pencil and I never write in red. I have no memory of when those refills came into our house.  
  • Two mayonnaise jars I saved for some really.good.reason!!! (Not!) Do you save jars?  Am I the only crazy person that saves that kind of thing ... and never use it?  
  • A fairly nice piece pottery for storing garlic.  Why would I get rid of that?  Well, I always buy my garlic in jars - already chopped and ready to go.  I did use it once or twice but kept forgetting it had garlic in it!! I threw away a lot of dried up garlic using that pottery.  Stopped using it years ago.
  • A pink bag clip that held absolutely nothing closed.  
  • And a jar candle.  That candle was used as a door stop in the condo and was left by the previous owner.  I couldn't throw it away because it was perfectly fine.  But I seldom burn candles and when I do I prefer soy candle wax because it leaves less soot on my walls.
  • A pair of drug store readers - from my husband when he could partly see.  They were #5s - they don't sell #5 in the store.  They had to be special ordered.

Some of this is going in the trash and some of it will be donate to my local church thrift shop!

Seriously, this first week has been a breeze.  I am sure it will get harder because I have done a lot of decluttering in the past.  But it gives me peace when I move stuff out the door.

Already have the stuff for week #2 collected.  I just need the discipline to sit down and do the post!!


Monday, November 2, 2020

Making Space For What Matters


I used to participate in 'blog challenges' when the idea of blogging was new-ish and I was looking for content to write about.  Over time I drifted away from that kind of activity - enjoying just reading some of the posts that others provided.

Over the month of October a few blogs I follow were participating in a decluttering challenge.  It was called 30 Days to Less or Minimalism is a Journey.  The premise each day's decluttered items matched the number of the date in October ... and you picture them on your blog before removing them from your home. For example: October 1 - one item, October 2 - two items, and so on.  At first I thought the idea was worthy but too small to make much of an impact ... until we got to the higher numbers of the month, like the 20th, the 21st, ..... the 30th and the 31st!!!  Then the impact got to be substantial and challenging because it was a daily activity with increasing numbers of items with each passing day.  In fact on the final day some bloggers totaled up the discard items to discover that during October they had decluttered close to 500 items.  I consider that very substantial.  I found this challenge about day 10 - and although I was tempted to join in, I didn't see the point of starting in the middle. (an OCD part of my personality that slips into perfection. *sigh*)

So here we are on November 2nd - and one of the participants (Beckie at decided to continue the challenge and less deadline driven stress.  It is called Making Space - Declutter 10 items a week - and if life gets in the way - you might miss a week, but the goal is to post 10 items weekly on the day of your choosing. That would play out to only 40 items a 4-week month as opposed to almost 500 items in a month!  Doable and also significant.  I will say the title of this challenge, Making Space, has always been the entire reason I have decluttered.  It is the positive stimulus at the end that motivates me to clean things out.  The older I get the more I feel the need for an uncluttered environment. I know that clutter for some is a mental stressor.  For me it is a de-motivator to everything else in my life.  

So I joined!

I am also hoping this practice - besides making space in my condo - will make me a more frequent blogger.  I certainly have fallen off the wagon over the last few months.  I blame it on the pandemic - but in truth - it is just plain laziness on my part.  It takes a certain amount of discipline to post regularly and that is what I have been lacking.  

Thank you Beckie for the gentle nudge resulting in a worthy effort! 

My declutter posts will be published mid-week - Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday - like Beckie's.  My mind is buzzing already with items on the way out.  Lets see how far this goes!