Saturday, January 3, 2015

So Far So Good

We had our first 'real' snow today and I started my day off by shoveling.    I love the quiet that snow seems to bring, and it was only an ordinarily cold morning, not bitter or windy or wet, and this first snow was soft and light, so I was glad to be out in it.
I have already had a few fun days in 2015, a nice way to start.   My family and I went on a tour of the Alden B Dow Home and Studio, an architectural delight.   I have rarely had "house envy," but I loved almost everything about this one-- of course, with over 16,000 feet of living space, there is a lot to love!   Most of all, it was fun to see the Littles respond to such a creative design, and to hear them talking about what they might do if they were designing a house.   Their parents have already signed them up for Architecture Camp next summer so that they can explore those ideas.

I have been enjoying my Chirstmas gifties, too.    My son's family gave me some cool tech-y lights that I can control through my cell phone, so that I can make the house look occupied even when I am away.   They turn themselves on when they sense I am nearly home at night, and turn themselves off when I drive away.    Coolest thing ever!  Someday everything in my house will be smarter than I am!    And my sister -- who is NOT supposed to give me anything because we agreed not to exchange gifts -- gave me this fantastic pair of Boggs boots.   I can't wait for muddy spring weather to slosh around in them!   These boots will brighten any dreary day, that's for sure!
 One little gift was a total surprise.   On Christmas morning, I found a pair of slippers on my back step.   A friend has teased me all year about being "queen of the bunnies" since I take so much delight in them, so I knew immediately where those slippers really came from, although the card was signed by my "lagomorphic friends." 

The same friend gave me (and his adult kids) a nano helicopter, and we had several Air Contests this week  -- as terrible as I am at it, they are not much better, so it's been a lot of fun.   The goal is to send the little drone into the next room, turn it around, and bring it back without landing or crashing.   Sounds simple, doesn't it?    And yet none of us have managed to accomplish it yet -- those little copters move a lot faster than my reflexes do!   I have successfully flown mine into the other room, landed it, and then flown it back, but no prizes until one of us can do it without stopping.

And, another gift of sorts,  I had a very unexpected phone call today from an old friend, the best boss I ever had, a retired judge who I haven't talked to in many years.  He is 89 years old and told me that his very best friends have all died, so it is time to cultivate his second best friendships, something so sweet and true that it made me laugh.    It was very good to hear from him. 

All in all, 2015 is off to a good start, with fun and friends.   About all that could make it better would be a cleaner house --  mine definitely needs a thorough cleaning, but so far I have done everything I can think of to avoid doing it.     In fact, I think I hear my sewing machine calling me now . . . maybe housework will happen tomorrow.  :)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Catching up -- December NewFOs

November was mostly a no-sew month.  But once my sewing machine was back from the repair shop, I got moving in December!   I had a lot of things to finish in time for gift-giving, so I not only started projects, I actually finished several!     I sewed 14 infinity scarves (one of the favorite gifts this year, quick and easy to make, and really appreciated by the recipients),
a tote or two and some zipper bags,
and I finished the grand-doggie jacket.
Then I started on a few kitchen towels out of scraps from my overflowing scrap bins.

Including this one for a Morse Code friend who invited me to lunch --- an embellished towel that says "dry" in Morse Code symbols (even though it is not a written language and is meant to be heard, not seen, I think it's pretty cool looking).   Towels might be my go-to gift next Christmas.   I am a fan of fun, easy and practical. 
I also made (and tested) two different styles of cozies for french press coffee pots at the suggestion of a friend.  They work about equally well, although the full cover kept the coffee about 5 degrees warmer after 90 minutes.   The person who received these as a gift uses the two of them together for coffee that stays hot as long as it lasts.

None of my projects were complicated or artistic, but for a slacker like me, I'm counting December a sewing success, and looking forward to a new year.  :)   I am linking up to Cat Patches NewFO party, as sewers and slackers alike celebrate our starts and finishes for the last month of 2014.   I hope the New Year brings us lots of joy, no matter what projects we use to move forward.  :)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Beginning the Annual Year End Review

I have been reflecting on 2014, a year of good times and disappointments, as all of them are.  For the past two years my New Year's 'resolution' has been to have ridiculous amounts of fun and the Best Year Ever.   It's worked pretty well for me and there have been lots of laughs.   But since my birthday this year when I turned Really Old, I have been more pensive about it all.   Daylight is burning, I can feel the heat, and I need to think about what things are still important to do.   I am content with who I am, thank goodness, and my life is a good one, but there are lots of things left to do to make it even better.   I realize, a little late, that I have been far too reclusive in my life, and it is much harder at this point, especially given my definite preferences in people, to find the kinds of friends who would fill the bill.   I have a family I adore and one friend who brings great joy into my life but I can hardly expect them to fill every minute and the bulk of my time is spent alone.   But it does no good to brood over what I would have done differently (more children! more friends!) if I had it to do all over again.  And besides, old or not, I am having more fun than ever before in my life.   So . . .

I don't want to get caught up in regretting the past or dreading the future.  What I have is today, and so I am thinking this week about where to put my energy going forward.    I want to learn some new skills and do some new things, and it would be nice if they added bonus friends to my life.  What could I get pretty good at in a year if I started now?   Learning something new is good for the soul and often leads to meeting new people.  And since I would like to quit working in the next year or so, I really need to build a structure that will enrich my mind and my time going forward.  

My brother suggested learning to pilot a plane, but I am deterred by cost and my own fears.  Scuba is a possibility - despite the cost - but my doctor insists that I  not consider it until I take a stress test, which I expect to do this spring.  I am thinking of buying a mountain dulcimer, an instrument I played in college about a million years ago, but that is also slightly pricey and (worse) would most likely end up being another solitary activity.   I will probably buy a new sewing machine at some point -- I'm still having too many tension troubles with my old one -- and there will be classes to take if I do that, to hone my pitiful sewing skills, but sewing is rarely a group activity either.    

Next year I will continue to find time for the things I already like do, amateur radio, search and rescue, Morse Code, sewing and crafting and cooking.  I will certainly try to fish and kayak and hike more, whether alone or with people, outdoorsy things are very satisfying activities, mentally and physically.   And I am thinking about planning a trip.   I would be a solo traveler and know I do not much like to travel alone so I am considering a tour of some kind.   If I could find an interesting place where I could also do or learn something interesting that would be a bonus.   I might just write whatever ideas I come up with and decide by a blind draw.   Because really, it doesn't make much difference what I choose, it just matters that I do something.

So I have much to look forward to.   But I am open to new ideas about things new to me, and hoping that someone out there will introduce me to thoughts that will lead me into uncharted territory --  Do you have any ideas to throw into the hopper?  What should go on my list?  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

November's End

I did very little sewing in November to show off at Cat Patches NewFO Linky Party, despite my best laid plans.    I'm not sure where the month went, because I felt like I was always busy but have nothing to show for it!  I started a charm-square tote but didn't have anything in my scrap pile that I liked for lining so it didn't go far.   I've ordered the lining fabric I want since I couldn't find it locally, and I'll get back to it as soon as my package arrives, along with the zillion other packages I'm expecting as a result of too-much-on-line-shopping!
And I started a dog coat for my Grand Dog, which also hasn't yet made it past the first step.   I did find a contrast fleece in my scrap pile and got a rough measurement on the dog, so this week I will hope to whip that little giftie into shape.
And that's all there is, folks.   (can you hear porky pig sputtering in the background or is that only me?)  I apologize to you and to the people who should have gifts waiting under the tree for this pitiful showing of what should have been the busiest month yet!   Hopefully I'll do a better job next time, very hopefully before Christmas.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Glad to be Home

I spent a few days in New Orleans, planning to spend some time with family.   In fact, nothing about the family part worked out, but I got to enjoy a little warm weather and sunshine.     Still, cold weather or not, I'm glad to be home.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Counting Blessings

My 8 year old granddaughter ran her first 5K race!    Her wonderful mother ran HER first 5K race because the little one needed a 'running buddy'!    The little one wanted to run the whole way holding hands, and so they did.  They both amaze me.

This week is Thanksgiving and my birthday, a big fat mind-battering birthday that I am having trouble feeling good about.    Yeah, sure, I know I'm supposed to be grateful, and -- working for a hospice as I do -- I am well aware of the alternative.   Even so, this has been a toughie.

A few ago, a friend at work made me a birthday cake, although she was not sure exactly when my birthday is.    I wished for years that some friend would acknowledge me that way, but this was not a year when I really wanted it noted.    See, my ungrateful heart again.   But the cake was delicious,  made with pineapple and walnuts, even though it was called a "granny cake," which made me feel even older.   To my surprise, another work-friend gave me a large piece of traditional fabric from her home country Zimbabwe.    About 5 yards of material.    So sweet of both of them.

As I have done most every year since my kids were small, I spent Thanksgiving alone.    I've kept busy, goodness knows there is more to do than I will ever get done.  I did a little cooking, a little cleaning, a little sewing, a little internet shopping, and put up my little fake tree as required under my Grandma Contract since the Littles generally come over on Christmas morning.   
 I had a surprise phone call this morning from a friend in another state,  a sweet way to start my day.  Later, I phoned my brother who was spending his day alone by choice,  and I made dog cookies (stars and angels) for my Grand-dog's Christmas gift to put in the freezer until then.   (And I am on Dog Duty since the pup is alone today, so I snuck one over for her to test to be sure she'd like them!  I was not surprised that she did -- they are actually pretty tasty!  She was not all that impressed with me before, but now she treats me like I am her best friend!)
She was so pleased with the cookie treats that she agreed to model the beginnings of her Christmas jacket, too!

Today I made a supper of leftover middle eastern food.  Tomorrow I will cook Thanksgiving dinner for my son's family, and the next day I will go to visit my daughter, so obviously they will have to take all the leftovers home, and my clean up will be a breeze.  Good planning!

Best blessing of all, my great nephew was born this week.   I haven't met him yet, but I can already see that I'm going to like him.  :)   Life is good.
Feeling old and eating leftovers might not be the gold standard for spending a Holiday, but I have no serious complaints.   There is a lot to be grateful for.    I hope it has been a very happy Thanksgiving for all.   

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Always Learning - Equal Time

I posted a comment on TripAdvisor after I was involved in the nature walk where I saw the trapped raccoons, and the trapper sent me a note.      This is what he said:

     "Hi, I am the trapper who's traps you saw in the refuge. I am very sorry to have ruined your day and just wanted to touch base with you and let you know the racoons were in no way in any pain and I do check my traps every single day they are out. I do my best to prevent any harm to the animal."
I answered him, thanking him for his reply, said that I am not opposed to hunting animals for human use but that I don't like to see them suffer, and I asked why the animals are trapped.   He answered me, 
    "I do my best to check in the morning hours as the raccoons tend to only move at night.  I'm certain I was there shortly after you had taken a walk.  There is still a very large fur market as well as meat market, everything I harvest is taken care of humanely.  I sell the fur and donate a lot of meat throughout the winter.  I don't want you to get the impression I or any trapper for that matter is just out to kill animals.  It is a very useful tool to help manage certain animals, raccoons in this case (especially in the refuge) can wreck havoc on turtle eggs, waterfowl eggs and young, and many other animals.   Hopefully this helps give you a little bit of peace of mind.  If you have any questions feel free to ask.  Thanks!"
    He also told me that he is taking precautions to keep the animals further away from the trails now because he doesn't want visitors to be upset, especially the young children we sometimes bring along.   Aside from making every effort to respond to my concerns, he has given me a lot to think about.    And as I told him, no matter where I end up on the issues themselves, I admire his willingness to  have the conversation.