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

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Making Space #3

I am joining Beckie at

 on an informal challenge called Making Space. 

My ability to stick to any kind of schedule is near impossible so I have decide to forgo the idea of a regular schedule.  Don't know if it is stubbornness on my part or just a growing lack of discipline, but there you have it!  Despite few regular posts in Making Space, I am still working towards decluttering.  I just haven't shared my progress.  Of course, part of this event is blog sharing - so here goes.

A picture, 2 cook books, a cat and dog hair shaver, a set of 9 miniature metal vehicles, a canvas bag, a candle, a plastic Chinese carry out container (heading for the trash like it should have months ago).

A free standing floor fan by Casablanca that is beautiful but doesn't work any more and the cost to fix it was ridiculous ... and most importantly it was a very heavy fan and hard to lift ... so it is history.   

And a whistling tea kettle that has never whistled!  Not from day one!  And 4 days ago, I tried to use it for a cup of hot tea and promptly forgot it!  By the time I returned to the kitchen the water was all gone.  There was no damage to the stove or the kettle, but as a future safety measure this tea kettle had to go.  I love the look of it on my stove, but forgetting things seems to be a risk at 73 that I need to compensate for.  So I purchased a replacement.

My new tea kettle!

Whistles like a dream.  It took a bit of effort to find this replacement - the one I ordered from Amazon came broken.  I wasn't willing to try for a second delivery with the Christmas delivery rush now upon us and delays rampant.  So I went into a brick and mortar store to buy one - got in and out fast!   The choices were surprisingly slim.  Black was not my first choice, but it looks fine with my black appliances - and it whistles!!   Fire hazards I don't need.   Now I won't burn down my condo - or other condos - at least not with a tea kettle!

That makes 18 items this time around that have gone on to 'other lives' with someone else (or were laid to rest in the trash), and with this post a grand total of 39 in 3 posts.  

Funny little mind game in the challenge:  Knowing the grand total of items decluttered since I started this challenge has resulted in an unanticipated positive realization.  Although I am not moving car-loads of items out the door almost everyday like I did in my major downsizing effort to move to this condo, the grand total reminds me each time of the full scope of items that no longer are in my way - items I no longer have to live around!  A good feeling each time that number grows.   

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Look of a Pandemic Christmas

We are all facing some version of a Pandemic Christmas!  

I thought I would share how mine looks this year.

As many of you know Christmas traditionally has been a hard time for me.  Some big and sad events have negatively colored my of enjoyment of Christmas.  Those sad memories center around losing my dad decades ago 3 days before Christmas and my mom in 2014 ... 3 days after Christmas.  And then there were the Christmases that my mom could not make it to our home - which had been her home for 5 years - forced by the circumstances of dementia - to stay in Assisted Living and finally in a nursing home during this festive time.  And let's not forget the military service families - my son spent time in the military and missed several Christmases with us.  That 'joy vs sadness scale' I struggle with every year always seems to tilt toward sadness.  

While there are those who can set those memories aside - like putting them into a box and sticking them in a closet, I cannot. It is part of my life experience.  Yeah ... the holiday is short on cheer for me.  Most years I would have just skipped the season if I could.  But family traditions pulled me forward even when I didn't want to go.

This year, however, was going to be special.  My grand daughter is 2 3/4 years old  (3 in February) and is now learning about Christmas in a way that will set the stage for many happy years to come!  She wrote her first letter (with her mom's help) to Santa and she decorated her own felt tree with felt ornaments.  Her letter was totally charming - asking for "a toy" for her and some treats for her dogs.  I knew that the joy of experiencing this Christmas would add some pluses in the joy side of the scale putting some balance back into this holiday for me.

Except - now we have this pandemic 

I won't be seeing my son, daughter-in-law or grand daughter this year.  I kind of expected that might be the case - with the virus surging.  So I prepared myself emotionally for that possibility.   Ok,  I told myself. I can do this Pandemic Christmas.   

I shopped on line for Christmas - no different from other years, so the Pandemic didn't change anything for me in that regard.  Ok, I told myself - no big change here.  

I usually have stockings filled with incidentals but not this year.  I shopped for those in person at a brick and mortar store ... but not this year, no stores, unless it is the grocery store.  Ok, I can let go of that kind of fluff.   

No Christmas sleep over with 3 dogs and one cat squeezed into a 2 bedroom condo with 5 people. Ok. I prepared for that as well - family gatherings being discourage while we are in the peak of this pesky pandemic.  My daughter and her dog, Milo, will be here (hopefully) and a scaled down celebration is appropriate.

My Christmas decorations are not out yet - decorations that are mostly just a Christmas tree.  We are waiting for a delivery date on our new windows and the installers need space to work.  Having the tree up - against the living room windows where I like it - would be a problem.  I'll give them until a few days before Christmas.  Then - that tree is going up, and they can schedule us in January.  Burr - I wanted to avoid January for changing out the windows. *sigh*

Gifts are wrapped like normal, but without bows.  I would have needed to go to a store for ribbon and it just wasn't a good enough reason to risk catching anything.  Besides ... the gifts will need to be transport to another house before Christmas and they will travel best without big puffy bows.  No biggie.

I was doing very well with the needed limitations for Pandemic Christmas this year, until ...

As I wrapped my grand daughter's gifts I could feel my eyes filling with tears!  Crap!! Her first real Christmas - the one where she discovered what Santa brought, the one where she experienced the excitement and joy of Christmas morning.  I wouldn't get to see that. I reached for tissues.  I was caught off guard by these thoughts.  I kept wrapping, faster now, because I needed to get past this.

Of course, the discovery that I really wasn't ok with all these changes could not be ignored.

As I moved on to wrapping gifts for others I got control of my emotions and scolded myself for such selfish self pity.  There are people who are missing family members for all Christmases into the future.  People struggling with the sadness of being separated from loved one in the hospital or nursing home ... loved ones struggling to breathe, maybe dying alone, and not even being able to be at their side to hold a hand.  And as I thought about those things I replaced my sorrow with anger!  

Some Americans have made this pandemic more serious than it needed to be because of their self-important opinion that masks and social distancing aren't necessary.  That no matter the number of deaths (in the US as of this writing - 300,000+ deaths), and no matter the number of pleas seen on TV and on social media from weary, overworked and emotionally exhausted doctors and hospital staff, their personal opinion and desires "trumped" every other consideration [quoted word used intentionally.]

I am pretty sure the replacement of sorrow with anger is not an improvement!  I certainly don't want to add anger to the catalogue of emotions I experience at Christmas time.

And then I saw on TV the first people - healthcare folks - get the new vaccine for Covid-19!  

I felt my eyes tearing up again.  Not in sorrow or anger, but joy!! We finally have something to be joyful about.  A first 'punch' back by the human race to fight against a virus that had taken so much from all of us.  My mind drifted then to all the truly unsung heroes -  researchers - scientific heroes who are faceless and seldom heard from, but sacrificed so much for 9 months to get to this point.  And the manufacturing entities and transportation teams that moved this virus from the laboratory to the patient with wartime speed and coordination.  And finally to all the doctors and nurses, who worked diligently under massive stress and sometimes massive sorrow - breaking at times to step outside and cry - but always returning again and again to their jobs!  

Ok, so now I am not angry anymore.  We all have a gift to be grateful for - every single human on this earth - and it came at the gift giving time when many of us honor the birth of Christ (Coincidental? I don't think so.)  It didn't come with any wrapping paper or bows, but I think we all got what we needed this holiday season - hope and a one-two punch against Covid-19. 

And just for the record ... this is a "Gorilla Size" joy -  may just have moved that lopsided 'joy vs sadness scale' in the right direction. 

I will have a husband and maybe a daughter with me this Christmas. I still have that amazing grand daughter ...  and she is the light of my life - whether beside me or not.  I still have all my family members even if we are not all together.  

I am blessed beyond words to live in a time when science can be heroic!


Sunday, December 13, 2020

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

If you are a Trump supporter, 

out of respect to your feelings, 

you might want to take a pass on this post.  

I am a very regular reader / listener of books.  But I rarely review them for my blog.  I enjoy reading the reviews of books in other blogs ... it is just not my thing to do.  Another thing I try to avoid on my blog is political lecturing.  This post is not really a review of a book, but it will have my political views rant.  In truth, it is an emotional release after 4 long painful years of frustration watching our government step away from our place in the world and from its responsibilities even to its own citizens.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

I should also probably admit, I am a huge fan of President Obama and his lovely family.  I was a "non-political" citizen for most of my life (except the last 4 years) - always voting, of course, but always putting more emphasis on leadership potential and personal values expressed instead of policy,  position and party.  I always supported whoever won the election regardless, because that is what the electorate decided. The will of the people is .... well, the will of the people!!   And everyone gets behind the winner for the good of the country.  For the most part all candidates in my memory had the best interests of the country in their hearts - they just saw the path to doing "the right thing" differently.  But these last 4 years have been an eye opener.  I have been sick to the bottom of my soul by the self-centered, selfish, uneducated, and unqualified man who followed President Obama into that prestigious office.  This mistake-of-a-man, who even in his defeat tries to overturn the vote (and thereby the will) of the people by saying the vote was tainted, - despite all the lawsuits that have been knocked down, the Supreme Court refusing to hear the case brought by Texas, all the vote recounts and the assessment by his own Justice Department that there was no fraud in this election - this ridiculous man continues to cry "fowl!"  

To this day - I don't understand the support he receives.

With that said I will also admit that I have a rather naive, "rose-colored glasses" opinion of our country.  It IS the greatest country on earth with the patchwork of it citizens coming from all over the globe, its experiment in democracy that is still a work in progress, and its desire to do "right" for all people because - all men are created equal.  Has this country lived up to all those wonderful "pie in the sky" words lately?  Nope ... but I do believe that despite occasional wrong turns, this country does right itself and moves forward with the desire to live up to those words.  

That is what is happening today in my country.  

We are correcting from a devastatingly wrong turn and attempting to right ourselves.

So where does the book A Promised Land fit into this post?  President Obama's book expresses exactly my same positive assumptions of America!  Word for word - he makes the point that we will prevail and the will of the people will succeed in the end.  This book is giving me such hope that my personal (and admittedly bias) perspective of my country is indeed the correct one.

President Obama's book focuses on how he was raised and how he got into public service and eventually politics and follows him through the first term as President.  He was not a career politician like so many think.  In fact, it can almost be said that with minimal experience in national politics -  he was the right person, to come along at the right time, to lift the nation emotionally and pull us from the brink of financial collapse!  The right person at the right time!  That is what he was, and that is how history will see him.  I won't live long enough to read that history, but there is no doubt.  Just like Lincoln and Roosevelt and Kennedy and several others ... their place in history was cemented by challenges they faced and overcame - so it will be with President Barack Obama.

Now you might think I felt the country was perfect under President Obama.  You would be wrong.  No President is perfect just as no political party is perfect.  But the atmosphere was more civil then. Less hateful and polarized.  Families didn't need to make rules about "No political discussions at the dinner table."  Friends could agree or disagree about current events without losing the relationship.  There was clear sense of fact vs fiction.  A desire to see each person as a fellow citizen and not an enemy.  Plainly stated - it was just a more normal time.   I believe that kind of "normal" starts at the top - with the leadership of the country.  At the top what we had was just not normal.

Listening to President Obama read his own story is very enjoyable.  Not all authors are good at narration.  But President Obama is an excellent and educated orator, and hearing that wonderfully educated voice once again felt very good.  The comparison to the last 4 years is hard to ignore.    Facebook circulated a post that said:  If a young person questions the value of education - have them listen to the speeches of Obama and Trump side by side.  There can be no question of the value of education.

Do I recommend this book?  I most certainly do.  No matter your political persuasion ... it is helpful to recall what public service really looks and sounds like.  It is not about the stock market or about "America First" to the exclusion of all other peoples on the face of the earth.  It is not about allowing the rich to get richer with the help of government to the exclusion of all other people struggling just to get by.  It is not about ignoring science and wishing away a pandemic and virus that kills - and constantly saying we are "turning a corner" when the science and data say differently.  It is not about treating our allies badly while catering to dictators and thugs.  Its not about dividing our citizens against each other and participating in name calling on a Twitter account, and lying so often that it is beyond anyone's ability to keep count.  And don't get me started on his much denied White Supremacy position ... because that is exactly who has been sitting in the Oval Office for 4 years!!

Read this book to remind yourself of what public service and "the common good" looks like!  Read it to remember where we were, understand how far we have fallen, and where we need to claw ourselves back to once again. 



Friday, December 11, 2020

Plant Babies

After 6 months with Aja, I noticed that she isn't what I would call a "jumper."  Our jumper cats had reached all surfaces in the house - even the top of the fridge and the kitchen cabinets.  Not all cats are interested in checking out items far above their heads, and so far Aja doesn't seem interested.  

So with that discovery, I decided to enjoy some potted plants.  It has been more than 40 years since I have had potted plants - mostly because I was forced to choose between having the plants or having the cats.  Cats win hands down.  And all my cats have been plant chewers.  So far Aja has shown no interest.

So far these are my plant choices. 

 I enjoy cactus because they are pretty hardy, interesting and hard to kill.  

One of my favorite is the Christmas Cactus - which produced a flower for me!  My

neighbor downstairs has a huge Christmas Cactus and it is filled with flowers.

Maybe someday.

I also love leafy plants - without flowers.  They tend to be hearty as well.

I have them right beside me on my desk so I can look at them regularly and check them for watering.
My den area is a bright spot naturally.  But I also got a snap on grow light for above them.

When I bought the two Christmas cactus, they were filled with little buds.

  I was pretty sure those buds would not survive.  

And they didn't.  Only one flower.  Plants tend to go into "shock" with lots of changes.  

With time these little guys will flourish, I hope! 

My one bloom!  There is hope!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

It is Aja Time!!

 It is time for an update on my favorite feline.  


She is doing very well.  She has been with us about 7 months and she has developed her own little set behaviors and habits that we can count on.

She enjoys sitting in the windows - of which she has 3 to choose from in our bedroom.  

This is a great profile shot of her.  Lovely.

My favorite picture of her so far!!

She is so beautifully marked!
She has also filled out a bit as she does enjoy her mealtimes.  She frequently
jumps on my lap, and we have even rubbed noses together.
She is also the 'door greeter' when we have both been out.
And during our dinner, she comes out and sits near by watching us eat.
I say she is visiting with us.  My husband says she is reminding us
that she hasn't been fed yet!! 

She is better now at accepting petting.  When we first got her I thought she
had a condition that causes a painful hyper-sensitivety in some cats when petting. 
 I have since changed my mind.  
She enjoys the petting so much that she simply looses control. 
(Sort of like me with pizza!) 
And how do I know when that reaction is coming?
She starts to drool!  (Me too, with pizza.)
And she starts to lick her lips!
If you keep petting after the lip smacking begins, 
she becomes so over excited she will hiss and bat at you - 
wanting you to stop and wanting you to not stop!  
Typical cat behavior.
Drooling and lip licking are her "tell."
We get along fine now that I know what to look for.

Again at the windows.  Lots to see.  She also loves that
cube she is sitting on.  It has an opening underneath on one end and often sleeps inside it.

Too bad the picture below is so dark.  It is really quite cute.  
She likes to sit on her scratching board and monitor the preparation of her meals.  
My husband does the water changing and the feeding - tasks designed to improve their relationship.
And she had become better friends with my husband!
I take care of her litter box.  


And she takes her meal times very seriously.  Loves wet food.

This is her position by the cedar chest that sits in the living room.
She likes to sit here and watch us while we eat.

She is getting better at letting me take her picture.  She is a beauty!

Yep!  I think we will keep her!
(not like that was ever at risk!!)

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Pandemic Winter Plan!

Winter 2020-2021 will be a "stay at home" winter.  Past winters were filled with regularly scheduled out-of-the-house activities - visiting my son's dogs done while everyone at work, visiting my grand daughter's daycare, trips into DC to get my daughter's dog, visit with groups of friends, shopping at 'brick and mortar stores' as needs demanded and so on and so on.  Most of that has dropped away or performed in a socially distant manner.

What is left after pandemic restrictions is grocery shopping (done quickly), pharmacy runs (drive up window) and doctor appointments done by Zoom or with excessive cautions.  Everything else, when it can be arranged, is at a distance.  The result is considerably more at home "me time."

"Me time" can default to "doing nothing time" if I am not careful.  Because I know me so well 😃, I decided to create my "stay at home" plan for Pandemic Winter 2020-2021. Beyond casual pursuits like puzzles, reading, lego kits, and the like ...  (none of which is productive but fun all the same ...), and beyond house cleaning, I identified a few projects and some other non-fun items that have been bouncing around in my brain.   I would like to stop the bouncing - and do them!   

Although this list looks suspiciously like a New Year's Resolution list - it isn't!  Resolutions are the "kiss of death" for me. If I want to fail at something, I label it a "resolution."  But I am very much a 'list person.'  If it is on a list - even if I put it off for a long time - I know it won't escape my attention forever!   To add just a little bit of pressure to this list, I have established a time frame:  December 1 to March 31.   Four months!

I can't resist lists and bullets.  Ha!  And as with all lists, my desires are probably bigger than my abilities and time, but no matter.  Here goes!!

Knitting and Crochet Projects

  • Esk's blanket - started and needs finishing.  I am moving along smartly on this blanket.  It is easy knitting and great for watching TV or talking with others on Zoom.  And it helps that I like this pattern AND I am using deep deep stash of more than probably 7 or 8 years old!  Win-win!

  • My scarf - started and needs finishing.  This yarn is called Sea Pearl by Briar Rose Fibers - 50% merino wool and 50% tencel - so it has a nice shine - better than the picture shows. The color is more gorgeous as well It is fingering weight.  And Briar Rose is one of those online venders that I love.  Her skeins are always a generous size. This is 800 yards.
  • My sweater - need to start and finish. Oh my! The saga of this yarn!  To begin with - it was expensive and I bought a bunch from Purl SoHo about 3 or 4 years ago for another pattern.  The original pattern was all cables. I decided I didn't like the first pattern after all, and I worked my way through selecting 3 other choices which were all vetoed before casting on. I have finally (hopefully) settled on THE pattern (in the second picture.)  This yarn is Cashmere and extra fine merino wool.  The color is more like the second picture. The first picture shows a lovely color which is totally false.  But the yarn does change depending on the light.  The color is called Tidepool -  designed to remind you of water - sometimes blue, sometimes gray, sometimes greenish.  

  • Queen's Crochet Blanket - start this winter and finish whenever ... Yep! This is the infamous 6,000+ yards of sport weight yarn I recently purchased for the Queen's crochet blanket pattern I blogged about in a previous post.  Color-way: Ruby. It is slightly compressed in this picture by the net packaging it came in, and I think I will leave it that way until I am ready to start.  It looks like less yardage than it is - so I feel a little less guilty.

  • Jacket sweater for Esk - need to start and complete for winter 2021-2022. I did no kid knitting in 2020. I am still working out which pattern and yarn I will use, but "ALL will be from stash!" announced by my Better Self - you remember her from a previous post.  The "self" I almost killed when I became possessed with the Queen's Blanket. 
  • Weave a shawl off the loom - started last year and here it sits taking up space - but will finish this winter. I am not really much of a loom weaver, but I totally resist giving away my Rigid Heddles - because I am totally tickled and may fall back in love with it at a later date.
  • Although I have done some loom weaving, what really calls to me is Tapestry Weaving.  I have two looms for this type of weaving and the reference materials and the yarn - just never the time.  Guess this is the time!! I started a sampler on the loom below.  Need to finish that project and then dig into my new Tapestry book in the last picture.

  • Don't buy anymore yarn!  (My 'better self' insisted I add this bullet!)

Condo Projects

  • Install new windows - We purchased new windows in October for our condo.  Our current windows are builder grade, which translates to cheap, leaky and hard to open and close. so a necessary expense that is scheduled for this winter.
  • Clean out all heat/air conditioning and dryer vents - After 18 years I doubt that this has been done.  This is scheduled for this month.  
  • Putty up and patch paint holes in walls from drapes and hardware that has been removed and thrown away.  I am not a curtains person.  The drapes belonged to the previous owner.  Even though the windows look kind of bare right now, I was glad to see them gone.  Once the new windows are in - come spring we will get better window treatments.
  • Clean out the pantry - and My.Dear.God - that little big to-do has been on my list for almost a year - this is part of my decluttering effort which will also continue.
Self Improvement (what kind of a list would this be without some improvements here.)
  • Return to my leg exercise program, so I stop walking like my mother in her late 80s.  
  • Get my step count back up to 10,000 steps a day - so my energy levels improve.  
While this list seems exhaustively long to me, I have never had so much open time on my hands as I will this winter, (thank you Covid 19, I guess) so it is hard to judge how much I can get done.  But having it all on a list - posted on my fridge - will be very helpful with keeping me focused.
So that is my 2020-2021 Pandemic Winter Plan! 
I feel more mentally in control having a plan for this pandemic winter. 
It makes the indoor time seem less constricting and more productive - 
almost like it is my choice as opposed to dictated by conditions!

What is your plan?
Do you even need one?
Hope we all make it out the other side of this winter ...
healthy and sane!

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Just for fun!!

My grand daughter calls me (with her mother or father's help and their cell phone) several times a week.  It is one of the highlights of my day.  It is always Google Video call so we can see each other on our cell phones.  One of the features on the video calls is adding fun cartoon features to your own image.  And recently I discovered you can take a picture of those images.  

So here are some video shots that we have done recently. 

Great fun! 


Yes - that is me as a Turkey!  Esk has a circus hat on.