Mark Twain

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

Tuesday, 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
#005

Would you rather watch an Olympics that 
outlawed performance-enhancing drugs
or
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
#004


Ignoring all financial considerations, would you rather
spend the next 5 years confined to an urban mecca like New York City,
or
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!

*Sigh*
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
#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.

Food
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.)

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE
 to hear your choice and why you picked it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A loss

Maximillion

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
#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.

Fascinating!

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."

Jeez!   

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

#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 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.






Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Getting there.

I guess it had to happen sometime ... I am finally settling into this condo.

After 8 months, I feel like I am now living in my own space ... not someone else's place.  Oh, we have been settled physically for several months but furniture placement and pictures on the wall do not dictate how one feels about where you live.  The condo may never achieve the level of 'home' for me, but it has gained the status of 'mine.'

We upgraded and replaced a number of items to make it more comfortable and functional.  And our life experiences are starting to imprint on the 'condo ether' in a way that makes this more than just a place to warehouse my stuff.

Over time I have met a number of wonderful neighbors.  They are all welcoming.   In fact several weeks ago one neighbor was out taking measurements of the dumpster space for an upcoming project and I was out walking my grand dog.  He asked for my assistance holding the tape measure.  I was happy to help.  We got to talking.  One thing let to another, and this month I attended my first board meeting (annual owner meeting) of the community and was voted onto the board of directors.  Yikes!

Having served in this capacity previously, I know the frustrations and satisfactions of this position.  This board is friendly, welcoming and totally engaged in making this community a good place to live.   All are original owners (12+ years), and have a wealth of knowledge regarding the community.  I am grateful I was encouraged to run for a position.  I am honored to be elected.

All and all I think my personal adjustment is progressing.  I still feel a small sadness when I think for any amount of time on my old neighborhood and townhome.  Guess that will always be so.  But I am growing in a different direction now ... and looking forward.  No more checking my rear view mirror.  That view has changed greatly and is forever just a memory.

Next post - last entry of the condo tour!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A small life so dearly loved ...



Today we thought this dear little soul was going to pass from our lives.  He didn't.  We know his time is very near.  But today is not the day.

This beautiful face belongs to our cat, Max.  He is 11 years old and for 8 of those years he has lived with degenerative kidney disease.  Obviously being diagnosed at age 3 with this condition is not a good thing.  We sincerely thought he would only have a few years left.  We never thought he will live another 8 years.

During that time we fed him special prescription food and treated him with subq fluids every other day.  And every year we got his blood checked and he was always abnormal but stable.  In fact, during these 8 years the vets ALWAYS remarked on how well he was doing.  Typically degenerative kidney disease in a cat progresses a very fast toward the end of life.

About a month ago he started to lose weight.  A vet visit revealed that his previously stable lab values were starting to fall.  It was a warning alarm for us.  His unusual robust appetite began to fail.  Normally he would eat anything all the time.  Now he eats  infrequently and only small amounts.

Two days ago we noticed a total disinterest in eating.  He had gotten more thin.  We thought we had reached the time that all loving and responsible owners reach at some point - help your loved pet out of life peacefully.  We made the appointment for this morning.

Late last night he decided to eat a little.  And he was out and about this morning looking for more.  He did not seem in pain.  We cancelled the appointment.  I guess he still has a handful of kidney cells that are working.

Tomorrow we may face this same decision, or maybe next week - but today he is sleeping peacefully in my chair and I'll take every single minute we have left.

Today is not the day.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Never say never! The Y.

No matter what the topic ... never say never!

This past January I joined a gym!  In the past I firmly believed that I would never ever get involved in a gym membership.  The reasons are many:  dislike contracts, no interest in body building,  can't stand the gym culture that glamorizes the perfect body, not sure I would stay committed.  Nope! Not for me.

And yet ... this year I joined a gym.

After the effort of moving had died down, I noticed that my personal strength was dying down too. Condo living definitely takes less effort - 55+ communities are specifically designed to make life  easier.  Great and yet, not great!  'Easier' doesn't keep you strong.  And walking alone was not going to be enough.


About 10 minutes from the condo is a new Y.  I was curious.

In January I took a tour of this facility!  I found only good things there.  First off, no contracts, just a monthly fee.  Because it was a new year the 'joining fee' was waived.  The offerings were many:  swimming, basketball courts, cycling studios, martial arts classes, flexibility sessions, yoga studios, rock/wall climbing, circuit weight training - something for every interest.  The population, however,  was the biggest draw for me: all ages, abilities, and body types.  Many seniors, people with disabilities, and family groups.  I saw only a few serious body builders.  The rest were regular folks looking to improve health.  I felt totally comfortable.  I joined.

My own focus is strength training.  I need to maintain the muscles I have - and maybe build them back to a normal level.  I began with circuit weights - the machines.


Easy equipment to use.


Thankfully all the cardio equipment has TV.


The center provided 4 free sessions with a personal trainer to orient you to the equipment and to set the base line.  They set my base line fairly low at my request.  I needed only one orientation session - the equipment is easy to understand, adjust and use.  I never feel sore afterwards - only tired.


The center offers various cardio equipment - treadmills, stationery bikes, recumbent bikes, step climbers, etc.  Although my preference is to walk outside, my neighborhood is not walker friendly.  Having use of this cardio equipment has been helpful.





It has been 3 1/2 months since I started this membership and I can feel a difference already.  I have increased my lift weight slowly.  Small but steady progress.  I sometimes struggled with finding the time to go, but I always feel great after the workout.

Guess this is a successful start.  Best outcome??  Still doing this in April 2018!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

70

Today I am 70.

70!


A big number.

Of course, I can't help wondering how big that number will finally be.  Guess everyone thinks about how long they will live at some time or another.

For some reason my 60s weren't a big deal.  I seldom thought about just how long I would live while marking each birthday anniversary in my 60s.  Maybe the 60s were a big deal for our parents or grandparents, but with the state of medical care and improved longevity today, the 60s were just a bump in the road for me.  Looking at my family history - my mother and her relatives lived well into their 80s - some into their 90s.  I am my mother's clone.  But there are no guarantees in this aging path for any of us.

No matter how I wrap my mind around it, 70 is different.  To my ear, it sounds like I am talking about someone else's age - not mine.

It is right about here ... when well meaning people (usually younger people) whip out the common platitudes about aging.  You know the ones ... age is just a number, you are only as old as you feel, age brings wisdom, you should be grateful for the years you have, etc. etc. etc.

Make no mistake!  I am grateful for this 70th birthday.  Really!  Many people never get the opportunity to age - a few of those unfortunate folks were my peers.  So my feelings on this day are are filled with gratitude.

Regardless ...  sweep all those typical feel good statements aside ... 70 is a big number to me.  I really really want it to sound like a smaller number.

My guess is when I am facing 85 ... 70 will sound like a smaller number!  Ha!

I noticed recently on CNN that the oldest person in the world just died at the age of 117.  How anyone knows out of the billions of people on this earth exactly who is "the oldest person in the world" - is beyond me.  But 117 years of age is a HUGE number.  I wouldn't aspire to that age - unless I could be sure to be mobile and of sound mind.  Since I am not sure I am of sound mind now (ha!), I guess that knocks me out of the running to beat her record.  I bet this lady would think that 70 is a small number.  But 117 years of age would be too big a number for me.  My world presently would look entirely different at the age of 117.  For example: the age of my oldest child if he survived would be 91 years of age.  Gads!!  Worse yet - if he didn't survive and I had to live through that loss.  No, no, no.  I most certainly do not want to live that long.

That leaves me wondering which advanced age number would satisfy a desire to have lived a full life.  I couldn't begin to guess that number.  But I can confidently say that 70 is too young to say "I have lived a full life."
Hmm ... 70 .... too young.  I think I can live with that!!😛

Happy Birthday to me.


Friday, April 14, 2017

The Master Bedroom - 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."

Many months ago I began a short series of posts introducing the condo we purchased in August 2016.  This post continues that series with pictures and comments of the master bedroom.

Our master bedroom is about two thirds the size of our townhouse master bedroom.  But it is entirely adequate for our use - and in some regards, a great improvement.


To begin with this room has 3 windows creating a great deal of natural light to off set the smaller size.  Our town house master bedroom had only 2 windows.  In fact this condo has SO MUCH natural light that special window treatments are needed to block the light for sleeping or to reflect the heat of the day during the summer months.  The window treatments have room darkening shades with additional temperature controlling features.

The master bathroom is located down a short hall past and closets and is larger than our last master bathroom allowing for wheel chair access if that is ever needed.  It has a walk in shower stall with a built in seat.  Obviously this is designed for older adults who may at some point have special needs. Having taken care of an elder relative in my town home, I know just how important that walk in shower may be for us.  It also has double sinks and its own large linen closet which our townhouse master bathroom never had.

And the both closets are bigger than our last master bedroom closets.  I used to have a separate closet aside from the master bedroom closets for off season clothes which involved switching clothes twice a year.  Not so here. Everything thing fits in my walk in closet with room to spare.

So reduced bedroom floor space is a non-issue when other issues are considered.


Finally, as the pictures suggest, this room serves as a 'safe place' for my dear elderly cats, Max and Wally. Their litter is in our bathroom and their food bowls are in a corner.  Their my bed is their throne - and there are two sunny 'perches' - one for each cat, to watch the world outside.  This safe space is barred from all visiting dogs.  The cats are totally adjusted to their new home which has been a bit of a surprise to us at their senior age.   In fact, they have become more friendly and attached to us over these last few months - I guess the townhouse was an easy place to lead a solitary life and the condo, being smaller, makes them more connected to us.


We also LOVE the fact this room is located so close to our kitchen where the washer and drier is.  Doing laundry no longer involves climbing two flights of steps with loads of clothes.

All in all ... this bedroom arrangement has provided a much improved style of living.

Next up ... the living room and den!



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hello again!

Looks like I took another blog break.  I am not good at 'planning' the schedule of these posts!  They just seem to organically happen.

But to say nothing has happened in this period would be a stretch of the truth.  It has been and continues to be a soul searching time for me.  I think moving into a true retirement, moving away from caregiving, adjusting to my husband's growing disabilities, moving from our home to a condo, and facing my 70th birthday this month ... well, let's just say I haven't given all that stuff enough importance in its impact on my life.  Those transitions have not fully settled in my brain and soul.

One theme in my thinking that kept popping up was the future of my blog.  Did I still want to do this?  I guess I do off and on.  I can't seem to permanently pull the plug on this activity.   Although I don't feel the need to write like in more difficult days, I just can't hit the 'delete button' on the written record I have created in this space.  So I won't.  This blog will be my space for when the spirit moves me.  I guess it moved me today.

Another theme that kept annoying me (really annoying me) was the time I seem to need to get from one place in life to another.  I have always been a 'get to it' kind of person, with little to no patience for those who don't adapt well to change.  This is not an element of my personality I am proud of but it is the practice of my life and thinking.  Now that 'get to it' attitude seems to have failed me.  I am still adjusting and adapting to the changes in my life over the last few years.  This time has been filled with a number losses and grief.  I have read over and over again .. time to recover from grief takes as long as it takes.  I know it is all normal - but it is still annoying.

The final theme that has risen to the surface is that actions speak volumes - talk really says nothing at all.  So my actions have lead me to believe that I still am adjusting and grieving some, and still thinking about what is next ... now that all other avenues of my life responsibilities have reached an end.  I guess my actions say that I am great at completing the big tasks/stages of life, but I am not so good at moving into others.

My actions?  Exercise - not to look better but to feel better.  It is taking way longer to see results than any other time in my life.  Ha!  Everything takes longer now!  I am still working on getting settled in the condo and getting the space adapted to our needs.  I knit. Despite my desire and talk about spinning and weaving (and buying equipment and supplies, etc. etc. etc.), knitting is what I do.  I have regular contact with my grand dogs and my cats.  Pets provide a balance through example that life can be really simple!  And I read.  Although the days are full something seems lacking.

Beyond that ... I think and think and think.

Will I be back?  Only my actions will tell.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

GoodReads Reading Challenge for 2016 and 2017


GOODREADS
It's that time of the year again - how many books will you read this year? 
Can you beat last year's goal?


Last January I joined the GoodReads Reading Challenge for 2016.   It is simple, really.  Just pick a number of books you want to read in a given year, plug it into the Good Reads website, log your completed books, and see if you reach goal.

I had no idea how many book I read in a year.  Last year I picked a random number - 25!  Silly me.  I passed that number very early on.  The final 2016 total was 43 books.  The total was probably more since I don't think I logged every book.  And I know I started about 10 others that I lost interest in and abandoned without finishing.  My reading is a mix of Kindle and Audio.  It has been a few years since I have read an actual book.  I should give that a try once again.  I used to adore reading non-electronic books.

My total of 43 for 2016 is really pretty low compared to some readers on GoodReads.  It is not unusual to see a goal of 75 or 100 books for the year.  I find that reading level pretty amazing.  That is about 2 books a week!!

GoodReads sent out invitations again for 2017 and I signed up.  I think I picked a total a little closer to my reading history. This year -  45 books.  I probably should have picked a higher number because last year I had a gap in time (summer moving) when I wasn't reading much.  But I will go with 45 - you never know what the future may hold - and I do love reaching a goal!

Have you ever joined a reading challenge?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Reflections on 2016

Hello all and Happy New Year.

I know - gone again from blogging.  Not going to make excuses.  The spirit just didn't move me to sit in front of the computer and type.  But I still follow several blogs - one by my blog friend Paula inspired me to check in once again.  She reflected on the year 2016 - and I got to thinking - yep! 2016 is worth summarizing.




1. What did you do in 2016 that you have never done before?

My husband and I moved this year.  I orchestrated the entire process (downsizing 30 years of stuff, purchase of the condo, contracting the move, packing and unpacking, townhouse sale).  My husband's disability has severely limited his ability to assist.  There were times during those months when I thought the effort would kill me - but just like with previous challenges, I put one foot in front of the other and came out on the other side reaching the goal.  I kept reminding myself, if I was single I would be doing this same thing anyway.  I did have the support of family and friends towards the end when my health took a hit, but I survived the experience on pure stubborn-ness for sure!

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions? Will you make more for 2017?

I don't think I had a New Year's Resolution.  Obviously if I did the answer to this question would be No - I didn't keep it if I can't remember it.  I did have a word for 2016.  It was MOVE.  Ha!  I meant for that word to reflect more physical movement and improved health.  I didn't achieve that - but I certainly did MOVE this year.

For 2017 I have picked another word.  I wanted it to reflect what was lacking in 2016.  My new word for 2017 is CONSISTENCY.  I want better consistency in the key areas of my life:  exercise, improved diet/health, and, alas, blogging.  At times this past year I have considered closing down this blog.  I never seemed to do it.  So I am hoping to be more consistent in posting.

These are not Resolutions, however.  I think the word 'resolution' dooms the effort for me!  

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No.  But we certainly would welcome new life in our family. 

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes.  Sadly, my dear dear grand-dog Grimace died early in the year.  No pet (including all the other cats and dogs that have graced our lives) has found such a deep caring place in my heart as that sweet Pug, Grimace.  He is so so missed.

5. What countries or cities did you visit?

None. We don't travel much any more and I do miss doing that.  Maybe someday but it is doubtful I will travel out of the country. There are too many places in this country I would like to see first.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

Consistency.  Really.  2016 was consistently inconsistent.  In fact, the pattern of inconsistency started back in 2014.  In 2014 mom's health was failing.  Every week was a struggle and a sadness - and she died just after Christmas.  2015 was not much better.  The stability of my role as caregiver was gone and I didn't feel like I had another focus to anchor my life.  2016 was the height of inconsistency!  Uprooting our lives to improve them was extremely difficult and filled with many misgivings.  We are passed all that now.  2017 - looking for consistency.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

We moved after 30 years in one place.  Nothing else comes close.

8. What was your biggest failure?

I didn't move - at least not the way I intended to move.  Striving for exercise activity in 2017.

9. Did you suffer any illness or injury?

Generally my health is pretty good - although I do feel that as I approach 70 years of age (April of this year), my strength is lagging.  I did fall ill with a few colds and GI complaints - and I did spend one night slumped over the kitchen table because that was the only comfortable position my spasmed back would allow.  But all in all - I can't complain.  

That said - I think it is time to focus on boosting my health with better food choices and exercise.  You can't keep leaning on generally good health without putting in some effort - at some point that naturally God-given luck will give out and you better have put some effort into staying strong on your own.

10. What was the best thing you bought?

The condo.  Hands down - this was the best purchase we have made in years.  Although we lost about 1000 square feet of living space, we gained a hugh amount of convenience and freed up a decent amount of cash and time. I will finish the blog 'tour' of our condo in January.

11. Where did most of your money go?

This year the greatest expenditures were related to moving.  When the dust settled our bottom line financially had improved.  But money was spent and shifted at a enormous rate - all of it related to moving.   

12. What did you get really, really, really excited about in 2016?

It has been a long time since I got really really excited about anything.  I think I lost that ability during my caregiving years.  I worry that the experience may have altered my normally outgoing sunny outlook on life.  It certainly changed me.

13. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a)happier or sadder b)thinner or fatter c)richer or poorer?

I guess I am a bit richer.  I am pretty much the same with regards to emotion and weight.

14. What do you wish you had done more of?

Exercise.  And I have to stop thinking in terms of 'wishing' when it comes to exercise!  Wishing gets you no where.

15. What do you wish you had done less of?

Worry.  Second guessing.  Doubting.  The last few years have been filled with too much of that.

16. What is the best book you read?

Well, I read (or listened to) 43 books this year (thank you Goodreads for keeping track).  The count is actually higher if you count the books I started and quit because they just weren't worth my time. I can honestly say that none of them would be described as 'best.'  I look for escapism in reading.  So I pick books that are pretty similar (apocalypse, zombies, weird themed mysteries, unusual life styles.)  My current book is about a female doctorate level psychopath who is an expert in medieval torture devices who works for a special CIA/FBI unit to hunt down criminal psychopaths. See what I mean?  Odd stuff.  None of it would count as 'best.'

17. What did you want and get?

I wanted to find a condo that would make our lives easier and safer.  Got that.

18. What did you want and not get?

I wanted a more flexible and energetic body.  I didn't get that because all I did was wish for it.  Nothing is ever gotten by wishing.

19. What kept you sane?

Knitting is my sanity pill.  Something about the repetitive and creative nature of this activity feeds my soul. 

20. Who did you miss?

My mom and my grand-dog, Grimace.


Happy New Year Blog Friends!