Thursday, December 31, 2015

Let’s Start Over, Okay?

It's the last day of 2015.  This post will not be a detailed year-end review, but rather an impressionist view, in no particular order.

Our Tuesday group continues to be an important part of my life.  We joined together bonded by grief.  We stay together through understanding, caring and love.

I ventured out of my comfort zone and joined a group of women who meet three times a week in order to enhance our health through exercise.   Although I have been part of our community for nearly 14 years, I have been hesitant to participate in any of the activities.
At our last session, the woman who leads us had us form a circle.  And, while we squatted, and lifted we each took a turn relating expressions of  gratitude.  Most of the women were thankful, of course,  for their families.  I am too, of course.
When it was my turn, though, I  said I was happy that "After 14 years, I discovered this wonderful group of the nicest ladies."

My favorite time was our family vacation in Ocean City.   I think of the wrap around front porch and I smile.

There were too many losses.   I understand.  My heart breaks for you.

Two "young and in love" weddings.

Ross had a bit of a health scare which resulted in a trip to the emergency room.  He's okay.  He's good.

Oh my, Bella is so tall now.  Beautiful, yes she is.

That little one, Jax, he is a day brightener, yes he is.

Those four boys chasing each other from room to room.  Like stepping stones, one next to the other. Yet, each one so different.  Each one so unique.  Yes, they are.

Although I did not attend my fiftieth high school reunion, I was surprised when a few weeks after the reunion I received an invitation to a luncheon.  An opportunity to reconnect with a group of high school classmates.  True to myself, I wasn't keen on going to the luncheon.  Actually, I was quite anxious about going.  In fact, I called the night before to cancel.  But I had a strong uncanny inclination that I should  go.
It felt like a fierce tugging on my arm, a whisper over my shoulder, "Come on... come."
You were right, I did have a good time.  They are the nicest ladies, yep. You were right, sometimes it's good to step out of my comfort zone.

I happily knitted, a lot.    I made a scarf and hat for you.  Get better, okay?  

Two birthday shawls and another scarf or two along with a mermaid afghan is how I finished out the year.

My heel still hurts.  I went to the doctor.  He gave me a shot.  He said it wasn't going to hurt.  It did.  It didn't help.   I go back next week.

On Christmas Day Ross and I made sauce, meatballs and lasagna.

We celebrated Christmas on Sunday, December 27.
Everyone was here.  That would be Jen, Derek, Bella, Ryan and Jackson, Anne and Domani, Jimmy, Tara, Kenny and Ty.
Our house was suddenly wide awake filled with brilliant life lights.

I miss Joe.  He should be here too.  Yes, he should.     My heart hurts.

These past few weeks the weather has been unusually warm.   The temperatures have been above normal.  A few days in December have been in the 70's.  We have also had many days of rain.

Today is the first day in awhile that the sun has peeked out a little.

We took down our Christmas decorations today.  Strangely,  I felt uncomfortable with so much Christmas around.  I feel more like myself now that everything is back the way it was before.

Is it silly that after all these years of life, knowing what I know, having the experiences I've had I still wish for things like happiness and healthy, peaceful times for you?

I suppose that's what's known as hope.

So,  we start over, once again.

Happy Healthy Peaceful 2016.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

It’s Okay, Joe

December 5, 2015

My son Joe passed away four years ago today.
As I always do on this day, I find my way into the darkened space of my heart.  It is where my pain and anger has burrowed in.  It is deep and cleverly hidden.  Most of the time.  But not today.  Today I find it, grab hold of it and pull it out.
Yesterday was the four-year anniversary of Joe's last day here, with us.  I have flashing visual memories of the day.
I recall those of us who loved Joe wandering in and out of the room.  The room where he would find his final rest.  Or perhaps it was me.  Yes, it was me.  I was the wanderer.
My memories of that day are surreal.  I feel confused.  What is going on?  I don't understand what's happening.   I want to pick him up and carry him away from that room.  I want to take him away from death.
I close my eyes and I hear the day.  The football game is playing on the TV in the room where Joe lay, unconscious.  It's loud.   Unconsciously, I find myself putting my hands over my ears.  It should be quiet.  Joe was quiet.
The hospice nurse was sitting on the other bed in the room.  Right next to Joe.  She told me to talk to him.  "He can hear you," she said.
I was irrationally puzzled.  How can he hear me?  It's so loud in here. 
But I tell him, "It's okay Joe.  It's okay."
I'm not sure what I meant by that.   But it's what a mother says, you know.  It's what a mother says.
This one day is the day of my son' death.   There is no joy in this day.
But this day, this death day, was not the life of Joe.  Tomorrow I will remember the beautiful life that was my Joe.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Post Thanksgiving Day Review of “Give Mom a Rest. Let Us Do The Cooking”

Thanksgiving Day Dinner Review

Like a walk in the Park

This year Ross and I decided to have our Thanksgiving dinner catered by one of our local restaurants,  The Vincentown Diner.  

They claim on their website's homepage "We are not your average diner".

"The Vincentown Diner is NOT just another Diner! We strive to bring you the highest quality food and service at very reasonable prices. Our chef inspired menu incorporates premium products, the freshest ingredients and generous portions. We use Organic Eggs, all local, grass-fed beef or Certified Angus Beef, premium cheeses, and cooking oils that contain no trans fats. Our house coffee is roasted locally and ground fresh every time we brew.

Local food and products such as produce, fruits, wine, honey, bread and blueberry iced tea confirm that "Local Tastes Better". Loyalty Club rewards provide another reason to stop by and don't forget to visit Jersey Jim's country store."

We have eaten at the Vtown Diner many times.  That's why we were fairly confident about ordering a complete Thanksgiving dinner from them.
But, still, it was the first time we have ever done that.  By that I mean, having Thanksgiving dinner, which is supposed to be all about homemade cooking, done by, well not us.

Ross picked up our dinner at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday.  Everything was packed up in a large cardboard box.   Included in the box was a 20 pound fully cooked, still on the frame, turkey - all nice and perfectly browned; four large trays containing mashed potatoes, candied yams, string beans and stuffing; two large containers of gravy; a large container of homemade cranberry sauce; a large loaf of ciabatta bread and a pumpkin pie.
There was enough food to feed at least 15-20 people.

The price for all of that was $129.00

All of the food was fully cooked but cold.  There were explicit instructions on how to re-heat everything.  First the turkey went into the oven at a preheated temperature of 300 degrees for 2-1/2 hours.
The four side dishes were stored in aluminum, oven ready, trays.  When the turkey came out, we put all four trays into the oven, poured the gravy into a saucepan to simmer on the stove.

We planned on serving dinner at 3:00 p.m.  By 1:00 we had everything organized, the table was set, the bread sliced, serving utensils and platters set out.

And Ross and I?  We were relaxing.  He was watching TV and I was listening to a book and knitting.

We celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with my daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren.   Jen brought delicious macaroni and cheese, a pumpkin cheesecake and her famous chocolate chip cookies.

Did I mention there was a lot of food?  Once it was all set out on the table, I thought, Boy am I glad I didn't have to do all of that!

And then we dug in!

So the moment of truth.  Our review of the Vincentown "We are not your average" Diner's complete "Give mom a rest. Let us do the cooking for you" Thanksgiving Day dinner.

It    Was    EXCELLENT!

Yes, everything was delicious.  We couldn't have done better ourselves.  The turkey was cooked to perfection.  Moist and tender.   The mashed potatoes were real potatoes, creamy and tasty.  The candied yams were apparently good.  I don't do yams.  But everyone else said they were good.  The stuffing was very good.  Ryan even went for seconds.  The string beans were fresh, not canned.
The whole berry cranberry sauce had just the right mixture of sweet and tang.  Derek said the pumpkin pie was the best he has ever had.

There was enough food leftover to feed us all again and again and then perhaps if we are not too tired of turkey dinner, once again.

I would highly recommend it.   And I would definitely do it again next year.

By the way, Jen, thanks for the cookies.  After you left, and everything was cleaned up and put away, I was ready for one of those cookies.  They were nowhere to be found.  I asked Ross, "Where are Jen's cookies?"
He said, "I put them in the freezer."
He put them in the freezer, tray and all, covered in plastic wrap.
"No, no," I said.
I took them out of the freezer and had one.  They are even better half frozen :).

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

“Give mom a rest. Let Us Do The Cooking For You”

This month has been challenging for Ross and me.  He is experiencing a great deal of back pain.  I have plantar fasciitis. Heel pain.
I have had to cut out my daily 3-mile walk.  It's incredible how much I appreciate simply being able to walk, now that it is difficult to do so.   I see my neighbors walking by and I am hopeful that I will soon be able to walk along with them.
For the past 10 years, Ross and I would graciously accommodate our family's other commitments by having everyone over the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  And since we knew that they would probably be sick of turkey by then, we would make lasagna instead.  Ross and I would usually spend Thanksgiving Day, just the two of us.
However, circumstances have made it possible for us to be able to host Thanksgiving this year on the actual day.
It's nice that we are going to be able to get to do that this time.
A couple of weeks ago we ordered our fresh turkey from the local butcher.  But, just around that time, Ross' back went out. And, since I am still hobbling around with my foot, I began stressing out about whether we were going to be able to physically get everything done.
Since we are not getting around as easily as we usually do, I worried that we would not be able to cook a complete Thanksgiving day meal, with the turkey and all of the trimmings.   Just shopping for everything we needed seemed overwhelming and perhaps impossible.
Last week we were out to lunch at a favorite diner, The Vincetown Diner.  As they advertise on their website, "We're not your average diner".  They use all locally  grown ingredients to prepare their meals. The food is always delicious.
When I opened the menu, I discovered a flyer inside.
           "Give mom a rest this year.  Let us do the cooking"
I looked over the offering.  Their Thanksgiving menu listed everything we would normally serve right down to the pumpkin pie.  The price was quite reasonable.
 We spoke to the manager  of the restaurant.  He assured us that there would be plenty of food.  He said he does it every year and that the meal is excellent.
So, we decided it was the perfect solution.
Although I am hoping that our meal will indeed be everything Mr. Manager claims it will be, the best part for us is that we will be spending the day with all of our favorite people.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Be sure to check back on Friday to see how it all turned out.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

When I Knit For You

When I Knit For You
When I knit for you, I  meander the aisles, caressing and squeezing each and every bundle.  I carefully select the perfect one and press it lightly against my cheek, ensuring that it will be soft enough for yours.
 I see all of your colors, from the scarlet of passion, and the periwinkle of abandonment to the ocean of calm and the fog of sadness.
I explore the knit-osphere, seeking lace and cables, stockinette and ribs.
I untangle and wind, then plot and chart and track and count.
I settle in and settle down in my easiest of chairs, my legs tucked up and under.
I cast out old worries,  hypnotized by the rhythm of clicking sticks.
I drop one and miss two. I curse and snarl, tink and rip out before I stubbornly  begin all over again.
I fondly remember our time.  I think of you when you were young and when you are now and hope for your tomorrows.  I wonder if you will remember me.
I soak my pride.   I fuss and straighten, pinning my hopes of perfection.
I unabashedly stand back and admire my craftiness.
When I knit for you, fluffy thoughts of your being feather the nest of my daydreams.   I imagine you smiling, wrapped in loving warmth.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Until I was Numb

This is a difficult time of year.  Each of my most painful losses has happened in late November and early December.   Although there are years between each of them,  the anniversary dates of their passings are within weeks of each other.

The passing of time has not lessened my grief.   But time has kindly made it possible for the pain to burrow and hide and at times rest.

I've written several times about one of my biggest grief hurts, the feeling that I missed out on large chunks of Joe's life.  Mainly, the secretive teen years and the period of time when he left to live on his own.

I'm well aware of the normalcy of a child's need to explore just beyond the reach of his mother's watchful eye.

I've reflected that it clearly happened with the turn of my head.

One moment I held a cuddly toddler on my lap and seemingly the next moment, he or she wriggled to be free, beyond the reach of my protective arms.

I have revealed before,  that I believe a combination of circumstances, along with our mutually quiet and reserved personalities led to a period of a separation of sorts between Joe and me.  Perhaps it was perceived on my part, but probably not.

In other posts, I've talked about how Joe and I were just starting to get re-acquainted shortly before and most definitely after, we found out about his illness.  We were beginning to relate and communicate as one adult to another and especially as one parent to another.

I've mentioned that the grief, although mostly sadness,  insinuates itself in other ways.  I've said how it causes me to be more conscious and reflective.

I 've shared how a glance at a photo will trigger an agonizing loop of over and over again "why" questions in my mind.

I've expressed my anger at the unfairness of it all.

I started writing this particular piece a couple of weeks ago, but I keep coming back to the draft, re-reading several times and then I always get stuck right here:

 "I've expressed my anger at the unfairness of it all."

That's where my heart and mind shuts down.  For there is nothing more to be said, right?

It is unfair.

I can't seem to get beyond that.
But, I feel as though my story wants to lead me down a new enlightened path.
Niggling, fleeting thoughts whisper to me but disappear before I can grab a hold of them.

Frustrated, I wind up saving the draft and flipping down the top of the laptop.

As I meander on, I think about my mom, who passed away nearly six years ago.
I miss her.  I miss the way we shared each other's lives.   I miss how much she cared for me like no other person could.
I found out what that meant after I became a mom.

My daughter and I speak on the phone at least once a week.
This is an example of how our phone conversation always starts out:

Me or her depending on who calls who:

"What's going on?"

That little question will lead to an hour or so of catching up.

I find out how her job is going. I savor the latest, cutest thing my two-year-old grandson said today. I'm interested in how my grand-daughter is making out in her new middle school.  I want to know about my grandson's struggles and successes in second grade.  I want to hear about my son-in-law's food shopping trips, always with a kid in the cart, to give mom a break.  I admire their devotion to family time.

After I get off the  phone, Ross will ask, "So what's going on with the family?"
I'll say, "Nothing much."
Chuckling, Ross will say,  "Nothing much?  You were on the phone for over an hour."

It makes me think about the many hours I spent speaking to my mom on the phone.

My youngest son and I don't speak very often. That makes me sad.   It's not due to any type of estrangement.  I think it's just a mother-son thing.  Just, I guess as it once was with his brother.

This morning I walked around the pond under a brilliant, cloudless, blue sky.  I looked up and noticed that even the moon decided to hang out.  It was invigoratingly chilly and I moved at a brisk pace, swinging my arms as I pushed my face into the breeze until I was numb.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How To Be Idle

In a recent post on a blog in my reading list,  "Thoughts From A Bag Lady in Waiting", Linda Myers (the blog's author) refers to a poem by Mary Oliver called "The Summer Day".
The last two lines of the poem were the prompt for a writing group that Linda participated in.

       "Tell me, what is it you plan to do 
       with your one wild and precious life?"

In the poem, Mary Oliver paints a vivid image of a lazy summer day.  As she goes on to describe the day, she completely immerses herself in, not only the whole of the experience but even more so in the minutest of details.

I have little (okay, practically no) experience with poetry.  But, this poem touched me deeply.

I have had significant, heartbreaking losses in the last few years.        

However, for me the question about what I plan to do with my one precious life is not what grabbed me.  Nor was the reminder of how short life is.

"Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?"

Her message that it's okay to take the time to lay in the grass and do nothing but wonder,

         " to be idle and blessed"

followed by the question, "Tell me what else should I have done?" is what clutched at my soul.

Let me explain.  I don't know if it is specific to my generation, cultural background, gender or retirement, but I have difficulty doing nothing.   For after all there is always work that has to be done, right?
Something must be accomplished every day, no?
What if unexpected guests showed up at my door?  How embarrassing would it be if the house was not in order?

I have started to keep an online journal.  Or I should say, once again, I am attempting to keep an online journal.  I must point out that the security options on my journal blog are set to private.  There is absolutely no way anyone would be able to read or even find this blog.

But, as I read back through the entries, of my most private journal, I see it is merely a list of what I have done that day.  Funny, I apparently have to prove even to myself that I and my life are still worthwhile.
For after all on Tuesday:

"I started going through my closet and drawers to put away some of my summer clothes and to switch over to winter stuff.
I put together a give-a-way box."

There is no mention of the Blue Jay perched on the very tip top branch of the pine I stopped to watch on my walk, or not a hint of the elephant cloud I spied.

So, today when I am out for my walk, instead of checking my FitBit every few minutes to see if I am anywhere near my 10,000 steps, maybe I will stop and sit on the bench by the pond and wonder.

  "Thursday, October 15, 2015

Today, Jane called.  I invited her over.  And instead of rushing around to make the bed and wash the dishes in the sink before she arrived, I waited for her in the sunroom watching the pine branches sway.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Story I Am Compelled to Tell

Thoughts are playful in the dark wee hours.   They dart in and flirt with me.  They bob and weave,  teasing me with a mere glimpse as they dare me to snatch one of them.
In the very early of this day, I captured one.  I held it close so that it could not escape.  I closed my eyes, coaxing my muse to lead the way, promising I would follow without care.

I saw the girl in faded denim overalls and pink ruffled blouse.   She was the little one with large brown eyes and long dark curls.  I watched her playing in between the hanging wet laundry.   She would giggle, her arm raised,  as she jumped up to try to reach the top of the fluttering, brilliant, Clorox-white bed sheets.  
The girl spotted the woman watching from the window.  The woman shook her head back and forth, wagged her finger and mouthed the words, "No, No!"
She smiled and waved to her mother.   
The girl sat down in the tall grass, closed her eyes and lifted her face up to feel the warmth of the summer sun. 
She desperately wanted to go down by the woods.  She had stood at the edge many times.  She peered in, squinting to see what was beyond the darkness. She breathed in the smell of dank moss.  She was curious about the slithering, chirping, scurrying, tapping and caw-cawing creature noises from within.   
But, her mother warned her,  "Don't ever go into those woods!"  
She turned towards her house.  Her mother was no longer watching.   She would only be gone for a little while. 

I woke up this morning wanting to tell you all about it.   Urge shook my shoulder roughly, and it's gravelly voice snarled "get up, get up!"  Compulsion yanked on my arm until I nearly fell out of bed.  My fingers curled in and out, uncontrollably, until with a satisfied sigh, they hovered over asdf and jkl;.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Dear Cousin

I am heartbroken.  My cousin Joe's son passed away on Monday.  Kevin was only 35 years old.  We are all in shock.  Joe just lost his wife, Joanne two months ago.
Joanne was an invalid and Joe was her caregiver for many years.

My son was 34 when he died in December of 2011.   I understand that part of my cousin's pain.
When I heard about Kevin, I felt helpless.  I wanted to be of comfort to Joe.  After all, I should know what to say to him, to ease his pain, shouldn't I?

I read the condolence messages people were leaving on my cousin's Facebook page.   Of course there was the standard "Sorry for your loss."  There were several "There are no words..."   Many were keeping Joe in "their thoughts" and praying for him and for his family.

I remembered that the comfort I received was not in what someone said, but rather I felt cared for simply because they reached out to me.

Joe always had an upbeat  positive outlook all throughout Joanne's illness.  But losing his son so soon after Joanne.  I wondered how he was going to be able to get through this.

I then recalled a post Joe wrote a few months before Joanne passed away.  Here is what he said:
"How to deal with down & out problems in our lives.Inspiration! Every day! Wake up! Deal with whatever! Live your daily life! And make it work for you! And drag as many people as you can with you! The big word? Positive. The big phrase? Be the best as you can be for you! Starts with you & spreads from there!"

Joe, you once told me that I was an inspiration for you.   But, Cousin,  you are truly the one who inspires!

My heart goes out to you Joe.  I am so sorry for your loss.  And you are in my thoughts.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Rico fell off the bed at 2:00 a.m.  I heard the thump.   It woke me up.  It was unusually dark in the house.  Still sleepy,  I remember curiously thinking, It's very dark in here.
I couldn't see where Rico was.  I felt around the bed for him hoping that he was in his usual spot, which is right between Ross and me.   When I couldn't feel him, I reached over to turn on my nightstand lamp. Nothing happened.  That's when I realized the electricity was off.
I stumbled out of bed and groped my way over to my dresser, which is where I keep a flashlight.   I turned on the flashlight and found Rico sitting on the hope chest at the foot of the bed.  He must have rolled over onto it. He was whining a little.  As I picked him up, the electricity came back on.
The house jolted as it came alive with sounds and lights. The microwave chirped and the refrigerator burped. The treadmill display started to flash, and the lamp came on.
The red, blue and green LED lights on each of the many and varied electronic devices we have plugged in popped on and the bedroom lit up like a Christmas tree.
And I thought, No wonder I only get 4 hours of sleep a night.  
After Rico and I settled back down, I noticed the display on the Treadmill was still blinking.  I waited a few minutes, hoping it would stop.  It didn't.
I got up out of bed, hopped up on the treadmill and started pushing buttons.  The darn thing wouldn't turn off.   Finally, I remembered the safety key,  pulled it out and the blinking stopped.
When I tried to get back into bed,  Rico had commandeered my spot, with his head on my pillow.  I pushed and prodded him until he moved.  He growled the whole time.   We both eventually fell back to sleep.

When I woke at 7:30, Ross was just waking up.  He mumbled,  "Why were you on the Treadmill last night?"

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, Please!

Okay, it's been raining and blowing for two days straight.  If it were 30 degrees colder, well you know, we would be socked in with many feet of snow.

I've been recovering from a little bout of gastritis.  Details are not necessary.  Really, you don't want to know.   So, I've been taking it easy.  And after two days of no exercise, no walking and rain, rain, rain, I'm officially stir crazy.

From where I'm sitting I have a direct view of our entry door sidelights and transom windows.  I can see out to the front yard trees.  They are thick with still dark green leaves.  The branches are waving back and forth and bouncing up and down.  With each gust of the wind the leaves turn their backs desperately trying to hold on.
At times, the wind calms a little,  the foliage stills and I catch a glimpse of unrelenting sheeting rain.
The grayness makes me sad.  I pensively ponder what might have been as I desperately try to hold on. 

I have settled myself in front of the fireplace. No fire.  I have a few necessities around me. 
Rico to keep me company. He picks his head up every once in a while to whine because he's not on my lap.
My cell phone, to take photos, play Candy Crush and browse Facebook.  I rarely get phone calls on my cell.  Oh, and when I'm not doing any of those things, I listen to my latest downloaded book - "The Girl in The Spider's Web".  I just started it.  So far I like it.
My cordless home phone, in case Ross calls from the grocery store to ask, "Are you sure there is nothing else you want beside Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean (no fat, no sugar added) ice cream." (He called I told him, "No that's all I want, thanks.")
My laptop for obvious reasons, yes blogging.
My knitting, for when I get bored with electronics. I've been steadily working on my shawl and it's growing quite nicely.
Oh and there, in the corner of my ottoman, see it, it's the Franciscan Pottery, Desert Rose pattern, sandwich dish with crumbs from my no salt saltine crackers.

Ross has settled himself in front of the TV.  He's waiting for the Navy/Airforce football game to start.   He has his necessities around him.   His cell phone, to do whatever it is he does on his cell phone.   A nine-inch stack of magazines to read during commercial breaks and time outs,  and a snack of honey roasted nuts, crackers and hummus.

It's just that kind of day.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Knitting The Cane Bay Shawl By The Light Of the Red Moon

I was lucky enough to capture the Red Moon on Sunday, Sept. 27.  I took the photo at 10:17 p.m. EST.

We went up to Connecticut last weekend for my nephew's wedding.  Which was lovely, by the way.  Coincidentally, my favorite yarn store, WEBS, was a short 30 minutes from where we were staying.
There are lots of ways I can describe the feeling I get when I walk into that store.  "kid in a candy store" comes to mind.
Needless to say, I left the store with bags full of goodies,  adding a considerable amount of yarn to my already bulging stash.  One thing I know for sure is this addiction to yarn is universal among knitters/crocheters.
For example, a few weeks ago we were browsing around a local flea market when I spotted a fellow knitter.  She was one of the vendors. She was sitting under her tent with a lap full of delicate, cobwebby, glittery yarn.   I approached her, a little hesitantly, me being the shy one and all and tentatively asked her what she was making.  She said it was going to be a scarf and the stitch she was knitting is called Entrelac.
          Entrelac is a knitting technique used to create a textured diamond pattern. While the result resembles basket-woven strips of knitted fabric, the actual material comprises interconnected squares on two different orientations.

The stitch looks like this:

We chatted for a while.  She told me about a few websites she uses to find free patterns.  I admired the yarn she was using. She thanked me and talked about the number of bins in her closet which are filled with yarn  That's when she admitted her addiction.  I understood.

Anyway back to  WEBS.  They have a nice sitting area, right in the front of the store,  with comfy club chairs for the person who is not shopping, usually the men.  
Whenever we go to WEBS Ross brings his Kindle and settles himself in one of the chairs.   He invariably winds up commiserating with a fellow non-knitter (usually another guy).
Like many other yarn stores, WEBS displays many finished works.  One of the items on display was a shawl.  Actually, Ross pointed it out to me and suggested that it would look great with the dress I'm going to be wearing to the next wedding we are going to in October (my niece).

The name of the pattern is Cane Bay Wrap designed by Sarah Smuland.   

I chose worsted weight yarn from "The Fibre Company" called "Canopy", the color is crocus.  The content is 50% Baby Alpaca, 30% Merino & 20% Viscose Bamboo. 

I started knitting this on Sunday by the light of the Red Moon. 

The wedding is only ten days away so I’m getting’ busy.   I am one-third of the way done. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Doctor Will See You Now, Finally!

Yesterday I went for my annual eye exam.  It's one of my least favorite appointments.  Why? Because my introverted personal space is seriously impinged upon. I'm referring to that brief minute or two when the doctor leans in with her pen light and our faces practically become one.  I grasp on for dear life and hold my breath until it's over.
By the way, I also hate those eye drops!
Anyway, on the way home after my visit,  I thought about how many people I had come into contact with during my visit.
First, the woman at the desk.  The one you who signs you in. The Greeter.  The insurance card checker.  The one who tells you to take a seat because, "It will be a few minutes."
Person number two was the young woman who came out into the waiting room with my records folder in her hand.
I'm not sure what her title is.  She took me into a room, asked me a few questions, had me read an eye chart, which I looked at through a machine.  Then she took measurements of my eyes.  At least that's what she told me she was doing.  After we were finished she brought me into another room and told me that "Someone will be with you shortly."
After "shortly" the third person came into the room.  He was an eye doctor.  Anyway, he introduced himself as Dr. SoandSo.   He also had me read an eye chart through a machine.  "Is it better with one or two?"  Yeah, that guy.  He was the first one of the blue-pen-light-carrying-personal-space invaders.  And an eye drop administrator.  Once his portion of the exam was completed, he wrote my prescription.  My vision hadn't changed, "But, just in case you want new frames," he said.
Then, after waiting 30 minutes for my eyes to dilate, I saw my eye doctor.   She's the one I actually had my appointment to see.  The woman whose name is on the door.
She is the other personal space invader.  She determined that I needed an additional test, which required more eye drops and more close up and personal attention, and another attendant, the eye photographer.  Another fancy machine that I had to stare into and not blink.  "Don't blink!  Don't blink!"
So, the eye photographer became the fifth person I had contact with.
No, not done yet.
On the way out, I met with the person who scheduled my next appointment, which will be one year from now.
So, in case you haven't been keeping track, by the time I left that office, I had interacted in one way or another, with six people.
I wondered about this.  I wondered what effect the employment of these six people might have on the cost of my visit.
The most important question, though, is "Should I go for the over-size red frames

or the sparkly cat eye ones?"

Of course, that will entail interactions with at least one or two more people.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Gracefully Inspired

Like small puffs of dust being shaken off a throw rug, taking flight to destinations unknown, I have scattered bits and pieces of my life out to the blogosphere.
Perhaps, I think, that could be one of the reasons I have been encountering longer periods of blogger's block.  Could it be possible that I have revealed it all?  Do I really have nothing left to say?

A couple of days ago I decided to broaden the scope of my bloggy neighborhood.  It's time, I thought, to wander beyond the safe boundaries of my tried and true reading list.  Exposure to new blogs might be inspiring.

With millions of other blogs available, though, I wasn't sure how was I going to navigate past the comfortable familiararity of my corner and venture out onto the Blogabahn.

Blogger, which is the app I use as my blogging tool, has a search feature which allows you to view the "next blog".  There seems to be an attempt to narrow the blog selections down to what "Blogger" thinks may interest the searcher.
The search box displays at the top of my personal blog's home page.

It looks like this:

Most of the blogs that came up for me were about knitting or sewing. Five out of ten "next blogs" were not kept up to date.  A few had not been updated in years.  I am a knitter but, I don't sew.  And anyway, I already follow several knitting blogs.   

I can't specifically or even generally explain why one blog will attract my attention over another.  I do know that I most likely will take a pass on "mother's of young children" blogs,  blogs about video games or posts in which the author reviews movies or books in infinite detail.

So, then I tried a generic google search and after several layers of links I actually did manage to find a couple of new blogs to add to my list. 

One of the blogs which I found addicting was Margie's Musings.   Her posts are written in the style of a daily journal recording her mundane daily activities.  I suppose it's a little like peeking through the neighbor's window.  I wondered who Bob was and why he didn't come to dinner last night.  I hope Margie is feeling better today, she had a stomach thing last night. 

The most unusual blog I happened upon was one titled "Phil In The Blank".   His "About Me" was certainly intriguing.

For sure it was the "how to draw camels" that drew me in.   

I did leave a comment on two of my new blog discoveries and got a reply and a return visit from one, titled “Grace Found Daily”.    


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

The Fitbit Challenge
In the over 60 age group standings on August 9, 2015, I ranked #289 out of 847 members in total number of steps - 67,529 - for the first 9 days of August.
I was #342 in miles -26.02 - Hey isn't that a marathon?  A nine day marathon :)

 Here is my final ranking for all 31 days of August.  Although I didn't quite catch up to Joe M.  I did move up quite a bit in the standings.
From  #289 in total number of steps to #151. (wow 369,300 - averaging 11,963 steps a day)
I went from walking an average of 3 miles a day to 5.

So, if I had walked continuously for 140 miles, I could have visited whoever lives (?) at 6597  Big Stone Beach Rd in Milford Delaware.

I, of course, would have to stay for dinner before beginning the trek back.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What To Do With Old Buttons

I have a button collection.  It's quite large.  I have thousands of buttons in fact.
Well, actually it's not really a collection.  I mean I don't go out of my way to collect specific buttons.  For example,  I am not on the lookout for that rare vintage antique Japanese Satsuma "Cat with Fan and Hat" button to finish out my Japanese Satsuma Series.   Which, by the way, a pair of these just sold on eBay for $100.  That's right $100 for two old buttons.
I would have to classify my buttons as more of an accumulation rather than a collection.
I used to be an eBay seller.  I sold vintage items.  In order to acquire vintage items, one must be on a perpetual treasure hunt.  That means constantly attending garage and estate sales along with sitting through hours of estate auctions.
I must have gone through a button phase because I apparently and frequently needed to be the top bidder on old sewing baskets filled with buttons.
Yes, I remember,  I did have a fascination with old buttons.  I think it satisfied some obsessive-compulsive tendencies that I may have a tinge of.   By that I mean, I could immerse myself in a tin of hundreds of buttons, sorting through them, grouping them together by color and size, two hole or four hole, metal, plastic or glass.  I would scoop up handfuls and then let them slip through my fingers. They felt smooth and silky.  Before I knew it, hours would have gone by and I would be surrounded by stacks and piles of buttons.
But, in addition to my slight OCD urges, I was aware that there are serious button collectors out there who will pay big bucks for just the right button.   The thing about buying buttons at estate auctions or garage sales is that you most always have to buy in bulk.  And you never know what you might find in grandma's old Christmas cookie tin.
Now, in order to find out if I had any of the rare ones, I, of course, had to have a means of  identifying the buttons and determining the values of the buttons I now possessed.   There is a bible for button collectors.  It's titled "The Big Book of Buttons" by Elizabeth Hughes, circa 1981, now out of print.
Because it is out of print, it too goes for big bucks.  But, sometimes you have to spend money to make money.  Isn't that what "they" say?
Yep, I am the owner, no make that proud owner,  of the rare and out of print Button Bible.
It's now years later.  My button phase has passed.  I did sell a few unique ones on eBay.  I probably even recouped the cost of the Button Bible.
But I am now left with hundreds and hundreds of plain old ordinary buttons.
And what does one do with plain old ordinary buttons.  After all, I've already sorted them.

Today, I am feeling quite sad.  Grief.  Interesting, I started out wanting to write about grief.  Suddenly, however,  I found myself thinking about my button accumulation. It's easier to talk about buttons, though. Less uncomfortable for me and for you. So once again I immersed myself in my buttons, just like I've done so many times before.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

We Live in Paradise

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I'm sitting poolside.  Our community pool.  It's a blue and white day.  The sun peeks in and out of the puffs.  Temp is about 84 degrees with the slightest of breeze.
There are 1200 homes here, and probably over 2000 residents.  Interesting that there are probably only about 50 people around the pool.  It's children's swim time now.  There are about 10 kids in the pool accompanied by their grandmothers.  The grandmothers sit in a chat circle bobbing on their mesh floats, not paying much attention to their charges.
Where we live, there are many different groups and activities to participate in.   We moved here 13 years ago.  I never joined any groups or had much interest in any of the activities.  This means I haven't met many folks.  For the introverted shy me, that's okay.
I started going to the three-times-a-week aerobics classes about six months ago. I've met some nice ladies there.  I just spotted one of my fellow exercisers.  She's sitting all the way on the other side of the pool.  I'm sure she doesn't recognize me with my shades and baseball cap.
We also have an indoor pool.  I think I might take a dip there.  No kids allowed.
I just overheard one guy say to his buddy, "We live in Paradise.  What could be better than this?"
Ross in Paradise

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Purple Snazz

FitBit Challange

I've been wearing a fit bit for probably about one year now.  A couple of months ago I upgraded to the Charge HR.   I chose the pretty purple one.  This snazzy model keeps track of my life, including constant monitoring of my heart rate and sleep patterns.  It even sends me encouraging text messages.
"Come on, you can do it, only 1,249 steps to meet your goal!"
FitBit Charge HR

I joined the FitBit community 60+ Group.  There are 847 of us in the group.  According to today's current  stats I was ranked #289 for last week's total step count and #342 for total miles. 
I had 67,529 steps which converts to 26 miles or an average of 3 miles a day. 

Yes, you see Joe M. there?  He's at the top with 359,291 steps last week.  He averaged 42,000 steps a day.  That converts to 20 miles a day. 


In addition to a Fitbit, about six months ago I started going to Aerobics/weight training three times a week. 

I am astonished at the results. 

I've gained 7 lbs., increased my body fat by 2%.  YAY!  HUH?

Okay, so here's my thinking and obviously my downfall.  I figure since I am wearing the Purple Snazz, it must be okay to have my three scoops of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup and rainbow sprinkles every night, right?  No?
Okay, obviously, FitBit has to have an upgrade to include a "spoon to mouth monitor".  And maybe it needs to change to a more stern parental persona.   
Like a loud "NO!"   "I said NO!"  "NO, means NO!" 

So, the bottom line is, I guess I have to "step it up".   Make that "I'm going to step it up!"

Watch out Joe M.  I'm coming for you!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Y.M.C.A - There’s No Need to Feel Down

Normally I am at my aerobics class on a Wednesday morning.   Yesterday afternoon I had a tooth pulled.  I couldn't imagine jumping around this morning.  Especially, since Wednesday's class is "Dance Music" day.  We never know, though, what genre our perky instructor has in store for us.   I didn't want to take the chance that it would be Disco day.

 ♫ Y.M.C.A! ♫
♫ It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A! ♫

I never could figure out those hand motions. 
Yesterday's experience was traumatic for me.  In addition to my normal fear and apprehension of all and any dental procedures, I also had an emotionally psychological reaction to the idea of losing a tooth.
I experienced a similar feeling when I had to have my gallbladder removed.
It's hard for me to explain, but I would probably liken it to a feeling of loss.  Is it possible to grieve a tooth or body part?
Perhaps it has something to do with facing the idea of an aging body.
Modern science and technology have extended human life expectancy.   For an American woman, it is 81 years old.  I suspect that by the time we reach that age, we will have acquired some form of a bionic body.
New knees and hips to keep us walking.  Repurposed veins to keep the blood pumping. Pacemakers and defibrillators to make sure the ticker keeps ticking.  Lens implants to clear our vision.  Yay, I will no longer need the glasses I have been wearing since turning 40.
The no longer needed parts, like the appendix or gallbladder, gone.
Our female plumbing, at the very least, probably will have been cleaned out or discarded.
Then, there is the kitchen counter or bathroom cabinet filled with plastic vials of pills.  Who won't have a list of medications taken on a regular basis by the age of life expectancy?
I was fortunate to be born healthy; everything intact and in working order.  I don't take my continued good health for granted.  Hence, the Y.M.C.A routine.
So, actually, now, that I have reflected on this, really, how can I possibly complain about having a tooth pulled when my son didn't even get the chance to experience the need for reading glasses?

Writing - It's like hindsight - 20/20.

I never really paid attention to the lyrics of the song Y.M.C.A.   It really is about the Y.M.C.A. organization.


Young man, there's no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, 'cause you're in a new town
There's no need to be unhappy.

Young man, there's a place you can go.
I said, young man, when you're short on your dough.
You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys ...

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel...

Young man, are you listening to me?
I said, young man, what do you want to be?
I said, young man, you can make real your dreams.
But you got to know this one thing!

No man does it all by himself.
I said, young man, put your pride on the shelf,
And just go there, to the Y.M.C.A.
I'm sure they can help you today.

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys...

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel ...

Young man, I was once in your shoes.
I said, I was down and out with the blues.
I felt no man cared if I were alive.
I felt the whole world was so jive ...

That's when someone came up to me,
And said, young man, take a walk up the street.
There's a place there called the Y.M.C.A.
They can start you back on your way.

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys...'ll find it at the Y.M.C.A.

Young man, young man, there's no need to feel down.
Young man, young man, get yourself off the ground.'ll find it at the Y.M.C.A.

Young man, young man, there's no need to feel down.
Young man, young man, get yourself off the ground.

Y.M.C.A....just go to the Y.M.C.A.

Young man, young man, are you listening to me?
Young man, young man, what do you wanna be?