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, November 29, 2017

My Happy Place

This is a beaded shawl I finished for my daughter as a gift for this Christmas.
 I don't think she follows my blog so this picture should be safe here.  The pattern is called Cathedral Windows.
And she lives directly across the street from the National Cathedral
with beautiful cathedral windows.   

I began knitting officially in 1998.  I say 'officially' because I sort of knew how to knit back in the 70's, but the hobby never took root then.  I was self taught.  I was terrible at it.  I wanted immediate gradification.  I had no patience for long projects, problem solving fit issues, learning to correct mistakes, or accepting the fact an item might 'perfect' even if I was the only who could see the error.  In 1998, however, I left a life sucking management job and had learned that imperfection was ok.  I decided to 'recover' from that profession by learning to knit at a yarn store.

The time was right.  Knitting became a life-enhancing hobby that I would be lost without.

Over the years I tried to expand my crafting horizon beyond knitting to other related activities. 

Some Merino and Silk fiber that is waiting for me to
spin it.
I learned to spin.  There was, of course, the initial excitement and purchasing of equipment.   First I spun yarn on a spindle and then quickly bought a full size spinning wheel.  I looked at the end product of spinning - yarn.  I realized pretty quickly that I am a product spinner rather than a process spinner.  I wanted the finished yarn (the product) more than the effort (the process) to get the yarn.  The yarn I created was nice, interesting, unique.  But I have no desire to create one-of-a-kind yarns.  I am happy to purchase beautiful yarns - owning it NOW - rather than participating in the dream of owning it someday.  I gave my spinning wheel to a cousin.  I kept my spindles and sometimes they 'call' to me.  I will return to this hobby at some point - casually dipping my toe back in the water of spindle spinning - because I have some wonderful fibers that I just can't part with.  But can spinning ever replace knitting?  Never.

Here is a woven shawl I treasure.  It was created by my cousin
using hand spun yarn.  The amount of effort for a shawl like
this is enormous.
I learned to weave.  Again, my initial interest in weaving sparked excitement ... and new equipment, new skills, new jargon.  I had active weavers in my family.  My Pennsylvania cousin is an amazing weaver with several floor looms and a wide variety of table looms.  My sister was bitten by the weaving bug and is in hot pursuit in the 'loom acquisition contest' she has going with our cousin.  And it is great fun to watch them.  They both create beautiful items.    And I own three table style looms, a tapestry loom and several pin looms.  I plan to keep all those - especially the smaller looms.  I can see myself weaving projects on my pin looms at some point, as well as the tapestry loom.  And maybe I will return to my table looms.   Maybe.  But I am a product weaver - wanting the end item more than wanting the process of weaving.  Although this hobby did make more inroad in my crafting time and wallet, did it tramp down my enthusiasm for knitting?  No.  Not even a close second.  Too much equipment to juggle for me.  Not as portable as knitting, and while the product produced can be breath taking when finished, it requires a pretty decent commitment of time to learn the craft at that level.  Desire must be present.  I think I am missing the desire.

And then there is knitting, the craft that started it all.  Knitting never left my side during my side trips into other crafts.  After 20 years of knitting, I can accomplish most projects at an acceptable level even to my critical perfectionist eye.  Yes, knitting takes more time than weaving or spinning.  It is an argument I have heard more than once.  Since I am a process knitter rather than a product knitter, time is not a negative.   And knitting is so much more portable than the other two crafts: simple tools can be carried anywhere.  Finally ... the most important positive element of knitting that trumps all other craft considerations - is the calming effect it has on my brain.  No need for drugs.  Knitting is sort of my happy place.  The missing element in spinning and weaving - desire - is abundant in knitting for me.  But it should be said ... finding your calm place can happen with any craft.  Weavers and spinners say it all the time - how relaxing their craft is ... and I believe it because I experience it with knitting.

Here is a shawl I made for myself
to wear to a wedding.   
Another shawl I made for myself.

I love that knitting graduated from the 'rocking chair grandmother' status into an activity that is loved by all ages.  In fact, weaving and spinning has also experienced a resurgence in popularity.  It could be argued that this resurgence is because of knitting.

Knitting, it seems, is the 'gateway drug' to many fiber activities like weaving and spinning for a lot of people.

If you don't knit and are considering learning this habit forming activity, don't say I didn't warn you!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Milo's sweater

I haven't done a good job of documenting my finished knitted projects.  Years ago I took pictures and then posted them on a knitter's website called Ravelry.  But I didn't keep that up for long.

This fall, however, I finished a bunch of stuff that I am pretty pleased about.  (It is amazing just how much you can get done when you are laid up with a lame leg from surgery.)  I thought I might show them off on my blog.

The earliest finished project was Milo's Sweater.  That was finished in September.

When he was a much younger dog, I made this exact same pattern in the same yarn but in green.  He wore that sweater a long time.  After years of faithful service, the sweater turtle neck began to fray.  I stitched it up.  But the repairs started to fray.  There was no doubt, this old guy needed a new sweater. from his grandmother.

I used a yummy Merino yarn called Water Lilly from Classic Elite that is no longer being produced.  It is closer to an aran weight yarn than a worsted weight.  It is soft and softens more with use - and it is the kind of wool you can wear close to your skin.  It is also a kettle dyed yarn - with very subtle changes in hue.  Some kettle dyes are so striking that they compete for attention with patterned knit stitches.  Water Lilly kettle dyes are soft and add depth to a piece without competing with knit stitches like the cabling in Milo's sweater.   It is my favorite yarn ever so far and I wish they were still making it.

I have a rather large collection of Water Lilly - because I bought sweater lots when I realized it was discontinued.  So did my sister.  Since that purchase years ago, my sister has become more of a weaver - and I have become less of a weaver.  We did a trade last spring.  I gave her a bunch of my weaving yarns, and she gave me all of her Water Lilly!  Score!!  In the trade I duplicated many colors I had (which was great), and I got a few new colors like this cream (which was greater.)

Finding the exact pattern I used about 5 years ago was a struggle, but thankfully I throw very little away when it comes to knitting.  This second sweater actually fits Milo better than the first one.  I had Milo with me for a full week in September - so while I was knitting I could make frequent size checks adjusting the pattern as needed.  I could also create a slot on the back where his leash connects to his harness - in exactly the right spot. You can see the slot just below the turtle neck on his back.

I love it when a project comes together perfectly.  The perfect yarn, the perfect color, the perfect pattern and the perfect size.

Monday, November 27, 2017

All Decked Out

A quick peak around the Christmas decorations in place for this year.

It starts with the Christmas Tree.  It always starts with the tree.  This artificial tree is about 2 years old.  It  is a smaller slim line tree that works good in small spaces.  It is pre-lite and simple construction.  It holds about 1/2 the ornaments I have.  My goal:  some time in the next two years get a table top model tree.  My perfect three would be a about 3-4 feet high that would sit on a table by the window.  It would be on a stand that maybe plays music and rotates.  Pre-lite would be good.  I keep looking and nothing seems to be just right - so until it is - this tree will be part of my Christmas.

The tree decorations are all meaningful.  The little gold house in the picture below is the a miniature replica of the old time train station located in historic Ellicott City.  About two years ago Ellicott City was assaulted by a major flash flood - devastating the small town and killing one person.  Having withstood many floods in the past, many historic, the town has come back.  The gold tree ornament is a way to support the rebuilding.

The Pug Cookie Jar holds my grand dogs' cookies.  My dear grand dog Grimace, a pug with a heart of gold, has long since passed away.  I miss him every day.  But he is mentioned when I give out cookies to the grand dogs who replaced him.  "Who wants one of Grimace's cookies?  Only good dogs get one of his cookies."

The small lighted Christmas Tree beside the cookie jar was made by my mom during her 'ceramic painting' phase.  This kind of lighted tree is dated compared to more stylish decorating options available today.  But this little tree will always be a part of my Christmas.  It reminds me of her every time I look at it.  And I miss her every day as well.

This little collection of lighted houses belonged to my mother-in-law.  
It has been some time since I had them out for the holiday, 
but this year I wanted her represented in our celebration.

The other side of the lighted house display as it faces the kitchen.  

This pug ornament, a gift from my daughter, demonstrations
 so truthfully the fun loving nature of Pugs.  

My daughter and her fearless companion, Milo, 
(in the tan sweater that I made for him this season), helped with the holidays lights on the deck.  

Our tree is a mix of dog and cat ornaments. 
The two dog ornaments below show Meathead (left) and Milo (right).
Meathead was my first grand dog.  He was such a dear dog.  

This final ornament was made by my mom.  She loved crafts.

This is another of my mother-in-law's lighted houses.  
It sits in a naturally dark corner of the kitchen counter.

This final picture shows just two Santas from a large collection of Santas I once owned.  Collections became a thing of the past when we downsized.  But I kept a few of my favorite Santas.

When the kids were young, I used to decorate the whole first floor of the townhouse.  All the rooms. Regular knick knacks got packed away and everything was Christmas themed.  That was a major chore.  The decorations filled many many boxes when stored during the year and filled an entire large basement closet.  And my efforts were modest compared to some people I have known.  My neighbor below me pays for storage for her Christmas decorations.  I am sure she is not the only one who does this.

When the thrilling rush of the season began to fade during my mom's care years,  Christmas decorating faded too.  My heart wasn't in it.  Many of those items were finally downsized out of the house - holding onto only those items that had real meaning.   I could never to back to the Holiday Wonderland-style of decorating I once aimed for.  Now I am content with much less.  And because there is less, I appreciate each item that survived the purge so much more.

So how do you celebrate the season ... if you do celebrate!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Anticipating the Christmas Season

For anyone who is paying attention to the 'rules' (ok, my rules), it is now officially ok to decorate for Christmas. We are passed Halloween and Thanksgiving.  

I have to say it.   No rushing the holidays, folks.   To me that means prior to this weekend - NO Christmas stuff in the stores, no Christmas music on my favorite radio station, no Christmas themed TV commercials, and no decorating anything until after the turkey left overs are history!  And yet, the exact opposite happens every year.

Obviously I need to get these rules published somewhere!!

This year was especially frustrating.  My favorite radio station began playing 24/7 Christmas music 2 weeks before Thanksgiving.  Really, folks.  Is anyone really going to want to listen to Christmas music for 6 weeks??  Isn't that a method of torture somewhere in the world?  I have switched stations.

Several years ago I made several changes to our holiday rituals.  I stopped sending greeting cards and yearly newsletters.  Lordy that took a lot of time.  I stopped making dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies.  I had enough inches on my hips.  I stopped decorating the house like a Trim-a-Tree shop!  Two years ago I downsized all my Christmas decorations.  Moving was in our sights and some items hadn't been displayed in years.  Those changes made a BIG difference in the quality of my life around this time of year.

I kept a few traditions - Family Christmas Evening celebration with dinner and gift giving is the center piece of my holiday.  The family sleeps over and stays for Christmas morning breakfast.  I still decorate a tree but I may downsize the size of the tree in a year or two.  This year I added back in a few more house decorations - just a few - and for the first time ever, my daughter and I put lights up outside.  My deck is now festive.  Nothing fancy, but fun to look at.  And we host a Christmas party for friends the weekend after New Years.

I still struggle with the fact both my parents died within 3 days of Christmas.  The holiday lost a lot luster for me when mom went into Assisted Living - also in December - and was not able to come home for any holidays due to her disabilities.  But it has been 3 years since she died - 3 years on December 28 - and while I still miss her especially during the holidays - the intensity of that sorrow fades with time. She suffered too much to wish her back.

My decorating is finished.  My shopping is about three quarters finished.  And I will begin wrapping gifts in a week or two.  Meal planning for special events will follow.  I might even catch a few Christmas specials on TV.  On that schedule I can enjoy the holiday and find time to think on the real reason for the season.

Next up ... a few pictures of our decorations - followed by a few pictures of my finished knitted projects.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Be A Tortorise

I have one basic rule!  If it doesn't work ... cut it out!

I used that rule with my tonsils, and with my gallbladder, and with the cloudy lenses in my eyes.  Yep!  If you aren't pulling your weight in my body, you must go.

The problem with rules is there are always exceptions.  Always!

My knee is one of those exceptions, I guess.

I am still in PT.  Still.  The knee continues to improve ... slowly.  Ever so slowly.  My left knee has good days and bad days.  Bad days are shrinking in frequency ...  sort of.  And (I guess) Medicare wouldn't continue to pay for the therapy if I didn't need it!  So the glass is half full ... I guess.

Today I had a therapy session.  The therapist did a mini update in advance of my next Ortho.  She said the flexion in my left knee (the knee with the surgery) was within normal limits.  Sounded pretty good until she said the flexion in my right knee was amazing for a person of my age.   All I could think of was ... both knees were once amazing!

Ok, ok, ok.  Keep icing the knee, because I still am struggling with some swelling, keep exercising because my leg muscles are still not really strong, and stop comparing my left knee with my right knee ... 'cause comparing 'siblings knees' never comes to any good.

This evening I received a wonderful piece of advice from a cousin in an email.  "Be a tortoise."  Thank you, Susan.  Sometimes the obvious just needs to be said.

Monday, October 23, 2017


I have never been one to be patient with my own illnesses.  I guess that is a result of having pretty decent general health.  If you don't have a lot of things to recover from (or live with chronically) you never learn the art of personal patience in healing.

My earliest memory of facing a serious illness was a breast lump I found 6 months after the birth of my first child.  I was 26 years old.  I remember looking in the bathroom mirror into the eyes of the new mother I was standing there and thinking ... This . Can . Not . Be!!   A visit to the doctor confirmed my deepest desire - you are so young, chances of this being cancer are slim, we will do a needle biopsy just to confirm that fact, nothing to worry about.  Driving home after that appointment I remember thinking ... he said the word 'cancer.'  I was stoic.  I was in control.  To the casual eye - that day looked no different than any other.  But I really didn't hear anything else he said. I just heard the word 'cancer.'  That night I crumbled under the possibilities as I told my husband.  As I reached the word cancer, I started to cry.

The needle biopsy was not definitive. I was scheduled for a lumpectomy.  I was admitted to the hospital - appearing calm and resolute.  The night before surgery I had to sign away my breast - consent to removal of all breast tissue and lymph nodes if cancer was confirmed - that step would be taken while I was still under general anesthesia (remember, this was 1974 when your options were limited.). The pre-op nurse arrived right before lights out and she asked me how I felt about the possibility of losing a breast.  In that split second my mantra of life erupted from me without a second thought:  "If it is cancer they can take the whole right side of my body - just as long as they get it all.  I have a son to raise."

It wasn't cancer.  I have never faced the possibility of a fatal illness since.  Oh, yes, I had a c-sections, gallbladder removed, tonsils removed at 30, and I had early onset cataracts in my 40s.  Thankfully I was born during a time when these things didn't result in death or disability.  And none of them made me feel fearful of dying or resulted in extended healing.  I have been blessed.

But I still remember that terrible feeling of wondering in the hospital the night before - maybe I won't recover if this is cancer!

Now at 70 I recognize that my future years may be filled with more physical ailments or illnesses that cannot be fixed or cured.  I can't use my default response to failing body parts -  "If you don't work properly - I will just have you cut out."  Ha!  That method worked quite well for a gallbladder and tonsils.

And so we come to the healing of my left knee - the reason I have told this story.  It goes without saying that if my knee wasn't fix-able - I wouldn't be able to just cut it out.  So I patiently did all the right stuff - doctor visits, tests, physical therapy - and STILL it didn't improve to normal.  A cane became my companion.  My former Tai Chi instructor calls walking with a cane - walking on 3 legs.  Nope!  That was not for me.  Surgery was the next step.

And surgery confirm my problem was very fixable AND that I had young knees and connective tissues for someone who is 70.

OK ... now we are talk'en!! Expectations rose to nose bleed heights!!

Now for the healing (and the patience) part of the story  I am now 6 weeks out from surgery.  I am ready to be done with the healing part.  I want to go out and do my regular stuff without pain.   I gave it 6 weeks.  This left knee should be as strong and flexible as my right knee by now.  I am DONE DONE DONE with this!  In fact, I find myself having occasional conversations with my left knee (don't judge ... ) that go something like:  "Get over yourself left knee.  Six whole weeks, for gosh sakes!!  You need to get stop with the complaining.  Just go ask the gallbladder and tonsils how I dealt with them. Oh wait, left knee ... you might notice they are both GONE!  Ha!  So stop the swelling.  Stop popping.  Stop aching.  Stop, stop, stop."  And then I share my frustration with my physical therapist - and she calmly and quietly reminds me - "Elaine it is only 6 weeks from surgery.  Be patient."  oh ...

See??  I have learned nothing about patience in healing over 70 years.  Nothing!!

But I did learn a very important lesson when I was 26!  I won't die from this knee problem!  I will live to see and enjoy a new grandchild.   So I guess the most important lesson has been learned after all.  And knowing me - I am only good at one lesson in a lifetime! :-)

Healing just tests my patience.  I can live with that.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The RBG Workout

A new book hit the Amazon shelves this week - one that caught my eye over the summer while I was wallowing in self pity about my stupid knee.  I pre-ordered it and it showed up in my mail box yesterday.

The RBG Workout
 by Bryant Johnson

For readers who don't know who RBG is - she is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a US Supreme Court Justice.  She is 84 years old and a much admired woman in our country.

This very charming book was written by her personal trainer.  It is small but very inspiring.  The back cover says it all:

How does Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the Supreme Court's favorite octogenarians, stay so active and energetic?  She owes it in part to the twice-weekly workouts she does with her personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, a man she's called "the most important person" in her life (after her family, of course).  Now, with The RBG Workout, you can exercise alongside Justice Ginsburg and Bryant.  Whether you want to keep up with one of America's most admired women or just reach your own fitness goals, this book is for you.  Case closed.

The book holds no surprises or short cuts - many of the recommended exercises are ones recommended by my physical therapist.  And the exercises are graduated in difficulty as you would expect allowing reasonable start.  They are designed to fit within an hour.  It all seems like typical common sense stuff - stuff that you have heard before.

But stop for one moment and think about these facts ...
  • She is 84 years old!  I have known a number of folks in their 80s - and they aren't able to do even 25% of the simple exercises in this book.  After nursing a knee since May, I can't do most of them either!!  She is 84 - I am 70!  hmm ...  That fact alone makes my head spin.
  • This woman can do full push ups AND planks!!  Even SIDE PLANKS.  I bow to that achievement.
  • She wears a sweat shirt when she exercises that says "Super Diva!"  How can you not love some one their 80s - mid 80s!!! -  who struts a sweat shirt like that! 
  • If you think she has exercised all her life - you are wrong!  She began this program slowly in her 60s - after surviving a bout of colorectal cancer.  After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation her husband described her as looking like "Auschwitz survivor."  And now, folks, she can DO PLANKS!  
The illustrations are all drawn.  The exercises are well described with suggestions for frequency and repetition.  
She is proof positive that there is no bad time for taking control of your own life and making a difference.

I hope you will check out the small but powerful little volume that is dedicated to not giving up on yourself no matter what your age or condition. (Of course, checking with your physician is recommended before starting an new exercise program.)

These last 6 months have been frustrating for me ... limited by a lame leg despite weeks of PT and still walking with a cane.  And the journey to regaining 2 normal legs is not quite finished.  At 70 it doesn't take too many months of inactivity to reduce you to a person older than your biological age.  I feel that way everyday now.  But the words of her trainer in the Introduction rang out very true for me.  

"You may have an appointment to the most powerful job in the world, 
but your body will still have veto power over you.
  And you're the only one with jurisdiction over your body, 
so if you don't use it, you will lose it."

Thinking of putting that quote on my fridge!

One last observation - I received 2 copies of this book.  This was not intentional - I think my brain experienced a hiccup!  *sigh*  So many parts of my body need attention! :-)

Happy Thursday all!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hello Again

Without trying to sound trite, 
time just seems to fly past me.
 It is actually the middle of October!!

It feels like last week when I last wrote.  I opened the blog to find it was June!

It is about this time when I start thinking about how well the current year has gone.  And certainly the last 4 months have had ups and downs.

The stellar highlight of 2017 has to be the announcement that I will become a grandmother sometime in February 2018.  I sort of gave up entirely on that idea, as my 'children' lead successful happy lives with no indication of having children of their own.  Giving birth to a child is a very personal choice and the choice to not reproduce must be respected.  But I did hope one day have a grandchild of my own.  And that hope could only be made reality by one of my own children.

A less stellar event was my left knee.  One day in May I awoke to pain and swelling in that joint.  I got medical help, participated in 8 weeks of physical therapy only to discover that what I had was a torn meniscus and it would only be fixed by surgery.  Surgery in September followed by more PT through October brought me to this day - the knee is improved but still not as flexible or as strong as it needs to be.  I am forced to learn patience - my therapist reminds me frequently that healing a knee takes time because it is a joint that doesn't get much down time.

The condo was a great blessing to me during this last 6 months.  No stairs and a smaller home 'foot print' to maintain proved to be worth all the effort expended in 2016 to get there.  It took a full year but I have finally move away from thinking of my much loved townhouse as my home.  Now when I think about it, those 30 years and that townhouse seem just like a different stage of my life that I have moved past.  Which, in truth, it truly is.

I am eager to return to a more active life style after so much sedentary living since May.  A return to regular walking is eagerly desired.  And when I don't need to favor the healing in my knee, that exercise will be on my daily schedule.  I did drop The Y - membership.  I am very fortunate to live not too far from a fully equipped senior center that has a full exercise studio as well as a pool.  Of course, it also offers a huge range of other activities as well (book clubs, lectures, lunch service, located near a beautiful library with all their own offerings, etc.) All that for the cost of $75 a year vs $600 a year at The Y.  Hard to argue with those figures.

And my knitting life has been very very full.  I finished a shawl for my daughter, a shawl for my daughter-in-law, a sweater for my niece's new baby, and a baby blanket for my new granddaughter.  In the next month I need to finish a sweater for my granddaughter and a matching set of father-daughter hats in the Viking theme (a suggestion from the new dad.)  Yes, I have had a lot of forced sitting time.  The only thing that got a work out since May were my fingers.  Pictures of these project will follow.

After long breaks in blogging, I often wonder if anyone will return to read anything I write.  But if I really wrote for an audience, I would have stopped writing long ago.  Writing is something I do for me.  But if you did stop by and you read all the way to this point, I would be happy to hear from you.
Image result for fall leaf
Happy Fall Everyone!!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Book of Questions - Question #005

Series: The Book of Questions by Gregory Stork, Ph.d

A brief reminder of the guidelines for responses to the questions.
  • The questions are about personal "values and beliefs."
  • There are no right or wrong answers ... "only honest or dishonest ones." 
  • "Accept that conditions are as the questions describe.  Suspend your disbelief if you can."
  • "Pay attention to which ones you're drawn to and which you shy away from.  ... a question you want to avoid might be the very one you should focus on.
Question 005

Would you rather watch an Olympics that 
outlawed performance-enhancing drugs
one that embraced them and let athletes use medical pit crews
 to jack up their performances?

I am a big BIG supporter of the Olympics being free of performance-enhancing drugs.  This event should be a true expression of what human beings are capable of achieving based on training, self-discipline, goal setting, rising above limitations, desire,  and ... well, pure grit! Setting aside the health issues of tampering with our natural performance, how would we know the true limits of our God-given talents, if we muck about with human-made "performance-enhancing drugs?"

In fact, the words "pit crews to jack up their performances" sounds very negative to my ear.  In my heart I like to think of the Olympics as a demonstration of what lies within an individual - and not what can be done to an individual by external sources.

A very easy answer for me.

Waiting ... waiting ... waiting ...

No little voice to interfere with my choice??? 

THANK GOD.  I guess threats in my previous post made an impression!! Ha!

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Book of Questions - Question #004

Series: The Book of Questions by Gregory Stork, Ph.d

I will include guidelines with each post ... the premise for this exercise.  Once we are further along in the 291 questions, we might forget the points in answering.  This is especially important for me when I answer and doesn't fit comfortably in my belief system (like question #003.)  Thank you to those who choose to join me in answering a question (which I sincerely hope you do.)
  • The questions are about personal "values and beliefs."
  • There are no right or wrong answers ... "only honest or dishonest ones." 
  • "Accept that conditions are as the questions describe.  Suspend your disbelief if you can."
  • "Pay attention to which ones you're drawn to and which you shy away from.  ... a question you want to avoid might be the very one you should focus on."
I accept these criteria and to keep me honest, I'll keep the numbering system.  No skipped questions. (I'll probably regret this decision.  Ha!)

Question 004

Ignoring all financial considerations, would you rather
spend the next 5 years confined to an urban mecca like New York City,
a beautiful, isolated town on the California coast?

Ahhhh!    Finally.  A simple question for me.

No equivocation.  No expanded explanations in an effort to make my final answer more acceptable - in my eyes, at least.  If you are confused by what I am saying ... check out the previous posting when I attempted to answer question #003.  (Gosh, that was a hard one but it did spark a few good comments.  Thank you to those who responded.)

So here is my answer to #004.

I choose, hands down, "a beautiful, isolated town on the California coast."   I love the peace and quiet of town life - "beautiful" town would be an added benefit.  And "on the coast" would make it heaven for me.  I don't get much "coast" time now.  And "isolation" is a HUGE plus for me.  I often prefer my own company to that of others.  No negatives.  Easy-peasy.  End of discussion.

(little voice rising to the surface)

But I am 70 now.  What about health care, what about access to a good quality hospital, what about the ability to seek out social stimulation when I want it, what about .... what about .... what about ....   Isn't the word "isolated" the limiting factor?  I could be within a few years of not driving.  Then what?  How much public transportation does this "isolated town" have?  I bet not much.  And my family and friends ... where are they?  I live in Maryland now.  They live in Maryland now.  The question only offered California, not isolated small towns like in California.    Yikes!!!  What about my grand dogs - how would I see them???   You can't scratch a Skype dog image behind their ears!

Shouldn't I provide a more responsible grown up answer that shows I recognize my current life needs and limitations?

Crap!  This was supposed to be an easy answer.

Think, think, think.

Ok - this still is my answer.  It is only for 5 years.  I would only be 75 at the end of that time - a 'spring chicken' really.'  :-)   My children could visit me - drive across the country with their dogs!!   Monthly!!!  Ok, maybe not monthly - quarterly would do.  They would do that if they REALLY loved me.  And all those "what abouts" are important - can be very important at times.  But when I try to picture myself living in an "urban mecca like New York City" ... No.  Never.  I am not a city girl in the slightest.  I wouldn't live another 5 years even with quality health care if I had to live in any big city!  I would HATE it.

My decision for  "beautiful, isolated town on the California coast" still stands!

Aren't there ANY easy questions in this book???
Glad I don't have to really make this choice!

Just for the record ... I have peaked ahead at question #005.  It looks like an easy answer!   Famous last words. :-)

If I can silence that (little voice rising to the surface) with a hammer, (jump up and down on it a few hundred times) ... (shoot it from head to foot with a machine gun and bury 1000 feet down) ...  (cover it with gasoline and then light a match) ... THEN it might be easy.  

Which would be your favorite place to spend the next 5 years. 
 I would really like to know.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Island

As most of you know, I am a knitter.  Knitting is my passion.

Last year I saw the cutest crochet pattern called The Island Playset.  I fell in love with it.  The design was charming because around the far edge of the ocean is threaded a ribbon that can be pulled together to contain all the little animals and the island into a self contained bag.

But it was crochet and I didn't have any children in my life to make it for.  And I hadn't done crochet in such a long long time.  And I didn't know where my crochet hooks were and I didn't have the right yarn - and on and on!  So I saved the pattern - but never forgot about it.

Then it happened.  This year my niece is pregnant and I whipped out that pattern again.

The self talk began.
     Me 1 - "Hmmm, I could make this."
     Me 2 - "Nooo, it is crochet."
     Me 1 - "But you saved this pattern for a year."
     Me 2 - "I know, but ... "
     Me 1 - "Oh for heavens sake - get a grip!  You want to make this pattern."
     Me 2 - "Well .... maybe just a little bit."

     Me 3 - (Yes, I have a split personality.) "Me 1 and Me 2!!!  Shut up!  Both of you go find the
                 crochet hooks and get hooking."  Or whatever they call it.

My goal was to finish it in time for the baby shower which happened last weekend - which I did.  Sadly I had to  miss that joyful event, because that was also the day my Max died.  My daughter delivered the Island Play set on my behalf - with 3 little summer outfits (for next year), a dapper  little man sun hat, sun glasses, a fishing pole and magnetic fish,  and some plastic sea creature that squirt bath water - all in a white basket.

The picture above was taken by my sister who reported the Island Playset was a big hit.  I meant to take my own pictures - but picture taking was the last thing on my mind that weekend.  Thankfully I do have a picture to share however.

And now I can tuck away Me 1, 2, and 3 until the next time I dither about something.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Book of Questions - #003

Series: The Book of Questions by Gregory Stork, Ph.d

Question 003
If you had to be obsessed with money, sex, sports, 
religion, or food,
which one would you choose?

You know, I look at these questions and I almost always think, "Oh this question isn't too hard."  And then I try to answer and I realize - not so easy!

I spent a few minutes trying to pick one I would be happily obsessed with.  My eyes kept scanning the short list discarding one after another looking for ... I am not sure what!  AMAZINGLY - knitting wasn't on this list. Go figure!  :-)

Since once again I seem to struggle for an answer, we will start with the ones I wouldn't pick.

Sports - Last Place
The only time I am only remotely interested in sports is during the Olympics and when the home team is playing in some sort of final competition - like King of the Sports World.  Nope, not sports!

Sex - Very Near Last Place
Holy cow, when I think of someone who is 'obsessed with sex,' I think of someone who has a mental illness.  No, and why would anyone choose to be obsessed with an illness.

Religion - In the middle of the pack 
(remember, this is my personal position and the question asked for total honesty.)
Religion placed low on my list because they included the word 'obsessed' in the question.  Really ... being obsessed with religion has gotten the world into more trouble than any other thing.  History is littered with folks who were obsessed with religion and caused great havoc and sadness to the human race.  I truly believe that even God doesn't want man to be obsessed with Religion - especially organized religion - ANY organized religion.  I think God is obsessed with people living a good life - no matter what your religion.  

Doesn't sound hard, does it.  Only humans make things so darn hard.

You might ask ...with that opinion why isn't Religion in last place.  For me religion implies an organized way of thinking about the Creator - a way to structure the unknowable.  Not a bad thing.  Raised Catholic my belief structure leans that way.  But I have grown to be more spiritual than traditionally Catholic. I don't support 'the one true faith' theory.  If there is a heaven, it will be filled with all who have lived a good life.  Yes, I check the Catholic box when asked for my religious preference (it is what I know best), I occasionally find comfort in entering a church (an empty church is best) but I can get that same feeling by walking in a forest, and I firmly believe there is a God and that thought gives me comfort especially for all the family and pets who have passed from my life.  I want to experience them again in whatever passes for an after life.  

But does that count as obsessed with religion?  God help me - that would be my idea of a nightmare.

Well ... I hate to cook.  And the question didn't say anything about eating food.  I love to eat.  Really, 'food' is pretty vague.  I suppose a chef could be described as 'obsessed with food.'  But it might be argued that a chef is obsessed with the process of food preparation and presentation.  They probably enjoy eating their creations, but obsessed with eating food?  No, it must be the act of cooking.

Regardless - food keeps me alive.  But it can't be in the top spot. 

Money - the winner by process of elimination
Boy, having Money in the top spot sounds so ... so ... shallow!

Why couldn't they have included knitting!!!  :-)

This choice, money, is the one I am most comfortable.  Obsession with money sounds harsh but when I think about that choice - I also think about what money can provide.  Beyond the basics of a comfortable life for myself, money can make a huge difference to family and friends, charities and scientific research, education and third world countries.  The list is endless.

So 'money' wins.  (Hopefully spending it wisely redeems me.)

 to hear your choice and why you picked it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A loss


We knew this day would come.

Max for short!

This dear soul clothed in the skin of a domestic cat was always the sick one.

Max (left) with his brother Wally (right)
Yes, from the age of 3 years, he lived with degenerative kidney disease.  When we heard the news, we were devastated.  That is not a good diagnosis in a young cat.  But the vet offered us a life line.  If we fed him prescription food and were willing to give him subcutaneous fluids every other day, we might extend his life a few years.
Well YES!! We would do that. ANYTHING!! And they trained us in the technique.

And so began the journey of nursing a 3 year old cat with a bad diagnosis for years and years.

When he died, 5 days ago, he was 11 years old!  ELEVEN YEARS!  No one would have guessed that a "few years" would extend to 8 years.

In March he began to lose weight.  The vet confirmed his kidney lab values were dropping.  His appetite had dropped off dramatically.  We continued the fluids every other night, and then every night at half dose to even out his hydration.  We scoured the stores for foods that would tempt him to eat.  We fed him several times a day.  We carefully monitored him for quality of life issues.  We enjoyed every moment because we knew the moments were rapidly disappearing.

He tried and he tried and he tried.  But by the time we reached June, we knew we were losing the battle.  The time had come to make that terribly tough decision - the one where you put the needs of your pet ahead of your own desires.

Time to say goodbye.

You are missed, dear Max.  So very very much.  Rest in peace with all the other dear souls that have gone before you.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

My Dad

I rarely write about my dad - and that is for a lot of reasons.  He died at 54 years of age in 1970.  The picture was taken on my wedding day in 1969.  On this Father's Day I want to honor him as well as share a bit of our troubled history together.

My memories are all colored by a father who was two people to his family.

The sober dad was the man my mom fell in love with.  He was kind and loving.  Pictures show a good looking man and one old movie of him reflected an appealing charm.  Not well educated having left school after the 9th grade, he had other gifts that made up for his educational short fall.  He was a hard worker.  I remember him occasionally telling me that my mom was beautiful.  My mom was a beautiful woman.  I think he loved her until the day he died.

But that love could not overcome his alcoholism.  Alcoholic dad was a nasty drunk.  Alcochol released a hidden anger and frustration.  Those emotions were vented at his family.  I never knew what caused those unhappy emotions but I suspect they came from his own troubled childhood.  As a child and young woman I never understood why my mom stayed married to my dad.  But at his death I got a glimpse of one of those reasons - she worried that he didn't know how much she loved him.  Love can be a powerful motivator.

Now that I am 70 - time and distance from my troubled upbringing have softened the hurtful edges of my relationship with my father.  I understand better how he struggled with an illness - one that consumed him and eventually contributed to his death.  The memories of his hurtful behavior towards his wife and children have faded somewhat and the love has emerged - and understanding.

The header to my blog has a picture on the right of me at around age 5 with my dad at the shore.  I don't remember this time - we looked happy.  But I do remember my wedding day, when he struggled to stay sober until my 1:00 pm wedding.  That struggle he made for me warms my heart even 48 years later.  I know now it was a kind of gift - the only gift he could give me.

He died a year later and never lived to see the birth of his grandchildren.  Sober dad would have been a wonderful grandfather.  And he would have smiled ear to ear at having a grandson.  This August my sister's daughter is having a baby.  A boy.  I hope he is smiling now from heaven at the birth a a great-grand son.

Happy Father's Day Dad.  

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Book of Questions - Question 002

Series: The Book of Questions by Gregory Stork, Ph.d

Question 002

What would you do if your 6-year-old daughter's favorite toy,
 a talking doll, started trying to convince her that she needed a new friend
 -- the next doll in the company's line?

I didn't think this question would be difficult, but I changed my answer a bunch of times.   To answer honestly was hard.  I had my 'public' answer ready ... one that was filled with idealism - taking the opportunity for a teachable moment to explain the power of advertising to my off spring - guiding her away from that kind of influence - writing letters to the toy manufacturer expressing my outrage at that kind of manipulation.  You know, all the 'right' answers.

But truthfully?  I would do none of that.     
  • If she was really young I would encourage her to put it on her birthday or Christmas list.  She would have to wait.  In my experience, waiting or delaying the impulse can stop the need for the item or other things may take the focus away from the desired doll.  If she waited and still wanted it, in the end, I would get it.  After all, if I really wanted an item myself - I would get it.  So it would be hypocritical for me to expound on doing the 'right' thing if I wasn't doing it.
  • If she was older, I would have her earn the money for the doll.  Again, that may result in a delay and the delay may reduce the impulse. 
  • I would be annoyed at the manufacturer, sure, but I doubt I would start a petition or even write a letter of complaint. Life is too short.  There are too many really serious issues to get worked up over in our world today then to waste time on a toy manufacturer who would probably file my complaint in their circular file (trash.)
I am curious about your response to this question.  I am betting the responses will be very different based on each person's individual value system.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Book of Questions - Question 001

Series: The Book of Questions by Gregory Stork, Ph.d

Question 001
Technology has become a part of us.  
Would you rather lose the use of all motorized vehicles, 
all telecommunication devices and computers, 
or one of your hand?

I had trouble with this question the moment I read it.  So initially I skipped over it.  My reason for skipping ??  Well, I really didn't have to choose between these things, I wanted ALL of them, I had all of them and the way life goes, I really don't get the a choice.  Life happens and you could lose the use of any of them if the fates are against you.

But that wasn't the point of the question.  The point was to evaluate your own values and beliefs.  

From the introduction:  
"Suspend your disbelief if you can.  
Ignore the paradoxes of time travel, the limits of our knowledge,
 the impossibility of magical powers. 
Accept that conditions are as the questions describe, that odds are accurate, that promises will be fulfilled, and that you know all of this when you make your decisions."

So based on all that here is my answer to this question.

I am not giving up a hand willingly.  I need all my parts.  Even the ones that currently reaching their expiration dates.  Besides, one handed knitting is pretty darn hard.

I can't imagine giving up my electronic devices.  At our stage in life we have so many limitations - computers, TV, phones - they are our contact to the world at large.  They are informative and entertaining.  And they are our safety net when help is needed.  No phone ... not happening.

So that leaves motorized vehicles sacrifice.  I realized the way this was worded may actually gave me an "out" on this difficult choice.

"Would you rather lose the use of all motorized vehicles ..."

In reality I may have to give up driving at some point in the not too far distance future anyway.  But would this statement allow me to 'use' public transportation like a taxi - or ride in the car of one of my children. Would I be limited to just walking or bikes or horse drawn buggies!   
When I picked this condo location I wanted to be sure I could walk to most places - grocery, doctors, donut shop.  Ok, no on the donut shop - although there is one near enough to walk to.  But I can walk to most things.  I guess I could even still ride a bike.  Think, think, think.

The right answer for me was there all along ... motorized vehicles would have to go.  

I will say, I am really glad I don't have to pick. 

Now it is your turn if you want to share.  I would love to hear what is the right answer for you!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Inspiration and a new series of posts

Series: The Book of Questions

Inspiration is a quirky thing.  It can happen in a nano second and erupt from the most unexpected sources.  And writing inspiration is notoriously elusive at times - it has its own famously coined phrase - "writers block."

Writing for a blog is no different.

I have had my long stretches of silence in the last year - inspiration to write played a role.

Imagine my surprise when I was sitting in a dentist's office yesterday - waiting for my turn in the chair - when I causally notice a book on the table beside me.

The Book of Questions: Revised and Updated by [Stock, Gregory]
Add caption

The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D

Since my dentist doesn't stock his waiting room with the latest popular magazines (how will I find out how Prince George and Princess Charlotte are doing??), I picked up this book and started to page through it.


It was filled with questions that had no right or wrong answers.  They were thought provoking questions and some of them were difficult to answer.  I randomly looked through the book. Some I had easy answers to - some not.  The 'nots' I skipped passed.  No need to answer those questions.

I flipped back to the introduction.   As luck would have it, the page I flipped to said this,

"Pay attention to which ones you're drawn to and which you shy away from.  
We react to questions that touch issues that are unresolved for us,
 so a question you want to avoid might be the very one you should focus on."


I paged back to the first question I had chosen to skip because the answer didn't spontaneous flow out of me.

Technology has become a part of us.  
Would you rather lose the use of all motorized vehicles, 
all telecommunication devices and computers, 
or one of your hands?

And then the dentist called me to come into an exam room.  Well, darn!!  Couldn't he run late just this one time??

I thought about that question through my whole appointment.  

As I left the office I realized that a new series of blog posts just might have been born in the waiting room of a dentist!  I went home and ordered the book.

After much mulling over this question I finally have an answer.  It is the right answer for me at this stage of my life.  It might be a different answer for you - the right answer for you!

My answer?

Next time.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

When the container drips

Have you ever had a feeling, a thought that keeps returning ... that seems to grow in size until action spills out?

Well, once again, I feel a need is growing.

When we moved into this condo all our worldly belongings fit!  Just fit!  I was amazed at the time that I 'guessed' correctly in downsizing from a large townhouse into this condo.  The decision of what would fit in a new abode was like trying to determine exactly which plastic food container to use when storing the chili that half fills your cook pot - and discovering the food container you picked held your chili perfectly - down to the last drop.  When I guess correctly with a food container, I feel like doing a fist bump with someone - except that the available  'someone' usually is my husband who would roll his eyes if I asked him to fist bump over chili in a Tupperware container!  Ha.

Now we are settled into the condo and every last drop of our stuff still fits despite increasing some of our things ... but the thought keeps growing that maybe we moved stuff we didn't really need to keep.

Yesterday my metaphysical food container - i.e. condo - tipped and dripped - the lid suddenly would not fit!

What started the drip?  My yarn.

I have a fairly large inventory of yarn.  It has been a 20 year collection in the making.  And I have loved every minute of it.  I moved all of my yarn from the townhouse to the condo.  I got rid of a lot of other things to be sure I had enough room for the yarn.  I don't separate easily from my yarn.

One yarn I purchased about 10 years ago.  It is a pretty nice acrylic with a small amount of wool.   I am not generally a fan of acrylic yarn, but these were very nice colors to my taste, machine wash and dry, and good for garments without looking cheap.  I purchased 4 complimentary colors  ... a total of 16 skeins (I don't do anything half way).  I didn't have a project in mind (always the kiss of death for me.)  Anyway, I started several projects with this yarn over the years but nothing stuck.  The yarn lingered in my stash.  The week I started (multiple starts actually) for a child's sweater in this yarn.  The yarn was perfect in weight, gauge and durability.  But no matter how I mixed and matched the colors - I didn't like how it was evolving.

The photo doesn't represent the problem well.
The brown and yellow sample
 - well the yellow reminded me of urine against the brown.
  I couldn't get passed that.
The rust color make the brown strips look green.
  Icky green.  How brown could look like green was beyond me.
And then the light dawned on me.

I began talking to this yarn - why do you look better wound up in the skein than worked up, why does everything I try with you fail, wouldn't you be happier with someone else, why am I keeping you????  It is time to set you free!!! (It is ok for you to roll your eyes now.)  I walked into the guest yarn room and put all 16 skeins of yarn in a bag for a charity donation.  It wasn't in a fit of frustration that I did this.  I was calm and deliberate. And I am ready to see if other yarn that resides with me would be happier owned by someone else.

Then I will start the process again to thin out my other belongings until the condo lid fits comfortably once again.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The knee bone is connected to the stomach bone is connected to the ....!

I think I am due for a Rant!!  

Exactly one week ago I awoke with a left knee that was talking to me.

And by 'talking' I mean yelling.

Both knees talk to me and have done so for years.  You know what I mean - popping and clicking and sometimes little pains.  But yelling - that is a very different kind of talk.  I looked up a blog post that I did on my left knee (Yep!  Only the best bloggers do blog posts on their left knee.  Ha!) and it was November 2013.  That was the last time my left knee did any yelling.  I had ignored the yelling for quite sometime in 2013 before I was forced to seek medical help.  

And by 'help' I mean switching one problem for another.

During the 2013 knee episode I saw my general doc and he sent me to an ortho doc and then I got handed off to physical therapist and eventually the knee pain resolved - after approximately 4 months - and lots and lots of Advil.

And by 'resolved' I mean back to only talking ... not yelling.

Talking I can live with.  But now my stomach was talking (ok, yelling) at me because Advil is hard on the GI system.  So the saga of the cranky knee continued through a visit to a gastroenterology who did an EGD (tube with a camera down the throat) to take a look around.  It was simple reflux that was caused by the Advil.  So I was put on a high end reflux drug that after about 4 months I stopped because ... wait for it ... it was adding to my leg cramp problem.  (Jeez!!)  It took a few years but just recently I got the reflux manageable with over the counter drugs and life style changes. 

So now three and half years later - that left knee is yelling at me again.  AGAIN!!!

I am not waiting another two months for it to go away before seeking medical help to resolve this issue.

And by 'help' and 'resolved' I mean going to a rheumatologist who is better trained to treat possible arthritic conditions and management without the treatment taking out another organ system. 

So how many of you have problem knees?
And what do you do for them?
And is it fair that my expiration dates are various body parts 
are starting to come due??

Rant over.  Back to being a rational human being.  (ok, 'rational' is a bit of a stretch 😊.)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Mom

Left to right: mom, my sister and me!
On this Mother's Day my mind continues to float back time and again to my mom and the last years of her life that we spent together.  They were the hardest years of my life, but they were also the closest years to my mom.  She needed so much help during that time and I gave my heart and soul to her needs.  I don't regret a minute of it - the hard, frustrating, and sad minutes, hours days - no regrets.  I wish I could  have her back for just one hour now to tell her how much I appreciated everything she did for me during the years she was raising her two girls with an alcoholic husband!  The years I gave to her at the end of her life do not begin to equal the years she gave me during the beginning of my life.

Readers who have been with me for a long time may remember a long series of posts I did on my mom.  They are found under the label of Through My Caregiver Eyes (just click on that title under Labels on the right side of my blog to bring them up sequentially)  I started that series in August 2010 and my final post for it was in January 2015 - she died in December 2014.   This series documents our time together and my growth into the caregiver role.  If you or anyone you know are heading into care giving for an elderly person, reading about another's experiences can be helpful.  Care giving can be a very isolating and sad struggle.  It helps to know your story is not so much different than many others.

If you are lucky enough to still have your mom, love, care and appreciate her - not just on this day - but on all days.  Some day in the future, she may not be around.

Happy Mother's Day
 to my readers who are themselves mothers!
It is the most rewarding experience of your life!

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Living Room / dining room / den - Condo Tour

 A series of posts on my new home.
As I go about my day in this new place I call home
I frequently think ...
"I like this (xyz) so much better."
Maybe I should write about it."

I held up writing this last post because I was waiting on the instillation of 2 light/fan combos for the dining area and the den.  Since moving into the condo 8 months ago, we have replaced many old and outdated items.  These light/fan combos are the last of those changes to be done this year.  The light fixtures that came with the condo were pretty ugly to my taste - and, more importantly, we wanted ceiling fans so we could reduce our need for air conditioning.  Electric can be expensive.

As you enter the condo - the dining area is to the right, living room to the left,
and den straight ahead and center.
Entering the condo you walk into a small foyer space with a view of the dining room, living room and den.  This open design works well in a condo with reduced square footage.  One space simply flows into another without the barrier of walls. So many condos had less square footage than this condo AND lots of walls. Walls shrink the feel of the space and place limitations on its use.

Dining area - kitchen to the left, main entrance
to the right just out of sight.

A good example of limitations is our dinning room table.  It is a bit large and can be made larger by another 4 feet of extensions.  In the townhouse we always angled the table from one corner of the room to an opposite corner when the extensions were used.  It worked mostly but was tight for guests getting around the table. I always said ... if we could just push the walls out another 18 inches it would be perfect!  Ha!

In the condo the dining table fully extended spreads into the adjacent living room space a bit and can be moved around easily by guests.  No need to wish the walls out another 18 inches because there are no walls.

The dining room also displays 3 leather game boards we dearly love.  During more affluent years - when we were both working and had good salaries, we frequented craft shows.  These boards were several of the many items we purchased.  And we still love them as much as we did when purchased.  Still loving something after years of ownership is the sign of a good purchase.

The living room space is defined mostly by the arrangement of furniture.

In the fore ground is the back of a couch that backs up to the den.
It has a cover over it - pets, you know!!
Our living room chairs are placed fairly close to the TV so my husband has the best chance of seeing the TV.  You can tell which is my chair.  It is to the left, has a hand-spun hand-woven shawl over the back - which my dear cousin made and which is used almost every single winter morning.

A hand spun and hand woven shawl that I have
near me or on me all the time!

My chair, where I am sitting right now!!

My chair is surrounded by yarn - and it is located next to a display cabinet that houses even more yarn and my legos.  My little space.

The den has a more defined area because there are more walls but one corner is open with no door.  It makes for a very open feel when entering the condo.  I love love love that there are no sliding glass doors in this condo. After 40+ years of sliding glass doors, I was ready to return to a standard door for the deck.

So that concludes the tour of my condo.  We have made a number of changes and adjustments, and as a result, I have become at ease living here.  This condo was the first place in 45 years that wasn't new when we moved in.  That bothered me some.  But it had been maintained for 12 years by people with similar tastes. Now with the changes I made, this space is more mine.  Glad to finally feel like it reflects me - rather than someone else.