Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week End-ing

My sugar addiction caught up with me this week and gave me a swift kick in the butt.   I check my blood glucose levels every few days because one test, a long time ago, suggested that I was pre-diabetic.   You know how that goes, it gave me a scare, and I cleaned up my diet and exercise life.   But times goes on and this one gets lazy again, and when you top off my bad habits with some recent personal stress, this week my spot check revealed seriously high numbers.   I was able to bring them down by exercising, but it is still too soon to know whether I have the levels under control again.   If not by the end of the week, I'll high tail it into the doctor's office to beg for forgiveness and help.   Thank goodness for farmers markets and lots of fresh produce.    It is so much easier to eat healthy when there are beautiful healthy foods to choose from.   And nice weather makes it easier to get out and walk.

Last weekend I officiated at the wedding of a young couple.   I won't lie, this was not my favorite wedding.   Most couples are so sweet and happy and hopeful that I can't help but love them.   This one, not so much.    Even so, I hope they will be happy with their difficult little selves.  :)   There is, after all, no accounting for relationships. 
In another wedding related event, I got to help a friend put together a wedding cake for a couple of his friends.   Although he does pastry work on his job, this was his first try in a home kitchen, with home equipment.   What a lot of work!   Honestly, I had no idea the labor that is involved.   It gave me a whole new appreciation.
My kids had some landscape work done on the pond and abandoned pool at their new house.   There was one adventure after another, as the landscapers discovered mud puppies in the pond and 3 dump trucks-full of vegetation in the pool.   The guys we hired worked SO hard.   We did what we could to feed and hydrate them,  and they kept a great attitude as the job kept getting harder and longer.    They will have to come back at least once more, but we are all hoping things will be in place sometime next week.   No more surprises, please.
I went shooting with a friend on Thursday and had tons of fun.   Or as much fun as one can have and still be a big loser.   I lost our usual shooting challenge by SIXTEEN points, how humiliating.    Worse of all, I lost one of my prettiest marbles to him.   A turquoise blue 'shooter.'  I need to get more practice so that I can win it back, or another just like it! 

I had planned a canoe trip on Friday but that fell through.    My friend was not feeling well.   Hopefully we'll get another chance before the summer is over, but his health comes first, of course.

Meanwhile, at home, I am trying to get estimates to replace one side of the fence on my city lot.   The stockade fence, which technically belongs to my neighbor, is collapsing into my yard.  The neighbor, a young man who works most hours of the day, is exhausted when he gets home, and at one point his back lawn had grown as high as my armpits.    I feel bad for him and make no judgment on his yard, but I want the fence replaced and I know he can't afford to do it.    I don't know whether I can afford it, either, since I'm having so much trouble getting estimates!    So far I have one estimate for $1600 and another for $3600, so I need a few more to discover what's really reasonable in our area.    

The weekend is nearly over and I haven't had nearly enough fun, or done nearly enough work around the house.    So one more cup of coffee and I'd better get to it!   I hope that things are all good in your world, wherever you are.  :)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

So Much Fun

What a nice week!   I played hooky one day from work and went canoeing with a friend.   What a fun day, made all the sweeter by his insistence that he would paddle and I should fish.   I didn't catch a thing, of course, because that is the kind of fisherman I am.   But we saw a deer and her fawn drinking at water's edge, a juvenile eagle hanging out on a branch that overlooked the river, and a billion little turtles all piled up on a sandy bank.   It was warm but not too sunny, there was a small hatch on the river but it was not too buggy, and there was an occasional breeze but it was not too windy.    A perfect, perfect day.

This weekend I didn't have any work to play hooky from, so I just slacked off of everything I usually do, even the fun stuff.  I cannot remember a lazier weekend.  Instead I got together with a friend for a two day marathon of Netflix, which included watching the whole series of Sense 8   It took awhile to wrap our heads around the story line, but we both really enjoyed it.

The month of June continues to be a good one for me.   I got a surprise call from an amateur radio friend who wanted to give me a very cool radio.    A friend of his is ill and wanted his gear to go to people who would continue to use it, and one of his radios found its way to me.   It is something I could not have justified buying, and it came out of the blue.    Another occasion for gratitude.

So it's been a good and busy few days.   But today was rainy from beginning to end, which is probably just as well since it made it less tempting to go out for more fun.    Instead I (sort of) caught up on the tasks that needed to be done to make the work week easier.   Laundry and shopping and such.    I did not get as much done today as I had hoped,  because it all came to a screeching halt when I accidentally succumbed to the lure of the rainy day and took an afternoon nap.  Of course, when you stay up til 1 am for two nights in a row, watching movies, that sort of thing is not totally unexpected.

Tomorrow it's back to work.   But I will be skipping out again Wednesday (maybe I am practicing for retirement and so far I am liking it a lot), to hand out brochures at a conference that will focus on volunteer efforts.     I will be there representing the search and rescue group, and it is sure to be a lot of fun because some of my peeps will be there.   I spent a little of my rainy day time today working on a story board for our table, and buying candy to tempt people to stop and visit. 
I hope your weekend was as good as mine, and that your coming week will be even better than the one's that have gone by.   Life is short, find reasons for fun and enjoy those little blessings.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

No Whining Allowed

What a lovely place Michigan is!   The world is lush and green right now, and I am enjoying the view.      It is really too beautiful to complain about anything!

I led a graveside service this week in an old cemetery in a small city, just off a main road. The widower, we'll call him Pat, was there with the deceased wife's son, who called Pat by his first name, leading me to believe it was a second marriage.    Although I did not know anything about the family history,  I knew that Pat had suffered greatly from his wife's death, and the son, too, was weeping openly.   I read some scripture, and said a few prayers.    Just after I said the prayer of committal, commending her spirit into God's care, two deer ran across the lawn behind me, playing and dancing as they went, and not in any hurry at all.   The cemetery staff, waiting to fill in the grave, exclaimed out loud, later telling me that they had never seen deer there.   We finished the service, I hugged the family and went on my way.    But I couldn't help but wonder whether the wife had gone to meet a first love who had gone on before her. 
I finally planted my window boxes and hope they thrive.   The boxes do not drain well and I neglected to fix that problem (as I had promised myself I would) before I planted them again. And we seem to having a lot of rain this year.   Except for a couple of cherry tomato plants and a few herbs, flowers are all I planted this year.  

My bird bath is getting popular with the local avian population.  Nothing fancy in my neck of the woods, but I do have pretty yellow and purple finches and lots of robins.   I have friends who get hummingbirds, woodpeckers and my son's family, who lives near by, was visited this week by a tri-colored night heron -- memories of Sanibel!   Nothing so exotic on my little city lot.  Of course, I do have several generation of bunnies -- you can just barely see the head of one peeking out of the grass by the shed in this photo.    I use them as an excuse to leave patches of weeds and growth all year in my yard.    I can't claim it is 'landscaping,' so I call it 'habitat.'    The critters appreciate it, even if the neighbors might not.  :)

One of the hopice volunteers made me some of her amazing spicy peanut brittle this week.   She doses it with cayenne pepper and who knows what else.   She invented the recipe herself and will not share it, and I don't blame her a bit.   All I know for sure is that it is HOT, and leaves a satisfying burn in the mouth.   No other way to describe it than addictive.   I ate this little baggie the day I got it.    If anyone knows where I can buy some will power -- Amazon? -- please let me know.

Our Training Team spent days last week planning our June search and rescue drill, tromping through puckerbrush to find a good place for us to practice our search skills, setting up a course, planting clues.   When we did the monthly call out, only two people responded that they would be there so we had to cancel.     The lack of searches has sapped people of their willingness to give of their time, and it is very disturbing.   I hate to think this really important organization might fail for lack of interest.  But change is inevitable.   There's no point in worrying about what will happen or whether the group will survive.   I do, of course, but it's still good to remind myself that there's no point to it.  :)  The sun is shining and life, while not perfect, is good.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Jumpin' Into June

What a nice month it's been already!   I've been in the woods, I've gotten presents, and the sun has been shining!
The day in the woods was lots of fun, and I'll be back in just a few days for a drill in the same area.   Too many mosquitoes and deer flies, but beautiful all the same.   And a friend brought his dog Blue along, with his sweet disposition and beautiful tri-colored eyes.
My bloggy friend Kim, from Snug Harbor Bay, sent me the most beautiful bracelet!   She made it for me with my name and call sign, so it is uniquely mine.   I love it to pieces.   I have been blogging for just over 8 years, and have met the nicest people, like Kim, that I would likely never have met otherwise.   What a wonderful world!
And another friend gave me a gift today of socks, since he knows how much I like brightly colored footwear.    I am rocking the pink pair tonight.   I love No-Reason presents better than Christmas!   Basking in the knowledge that people I care about have been thinking about me.  :)
Here is my thought for today -- I consider it my summer homework.    I hope your lists are filled with happy things!  

Sunday, May 31, 2015

End of May

We don't know here whether summer hasn't started yet or if, perchance, it's over and we missed it.   I finally bought a few plants for my window boxes but before I got them home, another freeze warning had been posted so they are waiting inside by the patio door.    I am not complaining, or I am only sort of complaining, because I generally like it cool.   But a little sunshine would not hurt.
There's not much yet to buy at the Farmer's Market; a few people have asparagus and rhubarb, which is especially nice since my plants all died over the winter.    The only signs of Spring in my yard are the lilacs and the chives, both in full bloom.

Although we are all crazy busy, I see my grandchildren for at least a little bit most weekends.   They are, as all grandmothers everywhere must know, an endless delight.   I especially take pleasure in how close they remain and how they respect and rely on one another.   Yes, they bicker, they break each other's hearts, but they are also the best of friends.   I love to watch them walking arm in arm or listening carefully to the other's advice.
I ended the month by volunteering as a radio communicator at the Big Fish Triathlon a few counties away.   It took about an hour and a half to get there and rained throughout the drive and the event.   I ended up as a sort of assistant -- no need for me to ever use my radio, but I kept a tally of all the bicycles that passed our station so that I could count them on the way back to be sure everyone made it through the very rural route.    I spent some time outside in the rain, which I enjoy, but was mostly warm and toasty, with my hot mug of coffee, so it was a pretty glorious day.   For me, anyway.   The athletes went from their long swim to the bike stage, where I worked, before moving into the final run.   With temps in the high 40's, it was a wonder that only one of them had to be removed from the course with hypothermia.    And of course I was warmly dressed and with a friend, too, so for me it was a morning of laughs, a nice contrast from the sadder things that took up the part of my weekend when I worked at my hospice job.

And tomorrow we move into June.   It is amazing and a little frightening to realize that the year is half gone already.   I plan to hang on tight to every minute, and have fun, and I hope the same for you.  :)

Friday, May 22, 2015


Last weekend a friend and I drove 5 hours south and went to the Dayton, Ohio Hamvention, a gathering of all things involving Ham Radio.   Most of the amateur radio operators I know have been there several times since it was first held in 1952, but I am a fairly new Ham and so this was my first time.  I borrowed my son's Jawbone activity tracker so that I could log the 14,000 steps we did each day.    I took only a couple of photos, but I brought back a million memories.
I had so much fun!   It was a low tech/high tech trip, beginning with the picnic we ate in the parking lot of an abandoned Sears store where shuttles took us back and forth to the decrepit Hara Arena.    There were  many flowering trees in the area -- perhaps some kind of locust from what I've seen on line -- so despite the run down appearance, the smell was heavenly.
Inside and outside the arena, every kind of old and new electronic, radio or digital item was on display or for sale.     Literally thousands of displays.   Sort of a combination garage sale and expo, with many thousands of happy Hams, overwhelmingly male.     I bought hats embroidered with my call sign, sent radiograms to my family, drooled over the beautiful begali (morse code) keys, grabbed free pencils and buttons, and stocked up on anderson connectors and another mobile antenna for my HT radio.    It's a little hard to explain to a non-radio person, and certainly there are many in my circle of family and friends who thought I was crazy, but it was the best time ever.

We met Hams from India, Norway, and Scotland, as well as too many of the United States to count.   We met Antenna Hair Girl and saw several people with creative outfits and antennas, and several children younger than ten who had earned their licenses.    
One of my favorite things was my certification in QLF, a tongue in cheek award where I had to send a Morse Code message with my  left foot.    I, who still have terrible stage fright doing Morse Code on the air, had NO trouble showing off my skills with my left foot!   I am still laughing, and everyone there was laughing right along with me.    I can now say that I am fully certified, and they gave me a CW Op button to prove it!   
 This is one award that will go on my wall for all to see.  Not that anyone will have any idea what it means, lol.
Ham Radio is not something that I ever expected to do.   I would not have predicted that I, who had never touched a wire or a soldering gun before, would, at 65, own 3 radios, a Morse Code key, and be operating in voice, CW and digital modes.   I would never have guessed that I would have two soldering irons  a budding understanding of resisters and capacitors, and a growing list of projects I want to build.   

How on earth did this happen?  I got here through a challenge I took on with one of my grief groups, when I told them that they should try new things and that simply doing that would open new doors and relationships.   They argued back that it was not that easy, so I told them that I would take on the next new idea that came up in conversation outside the group.    Soon after, someone joked that I should learn Morse Code, so I did.   Since there is no other way to use that new skill, I took the exams for my amateur radio license, and earned my Extra class credentials.   All of which lead to last weekend's trip to Dayton, where I had SO much fun.

Has it changed my life?   I guess it has, more than I would have expected.   And amateur radio was not the only new thing I've tried that I did not expect to enjoy, I also started fly fishing and kayaking and target shooting on the same theory, and I am still doing those, too.    I've met dozens of new people,  gained a couple of new close friends, and joined a Search and Rescue group and emergency communications groups as a result.     All as a result of trying things I knew nothing about and had no interest in.

As I tell my groups (and as I constantly preach to myself), trying something new is a win-win.   Either you will like it, or you will be able to cross it off your list of things to try.   Some of the things I tried in the past year or so were interesting and fun, but did not hold my attention long enough to blossom.   I did not go back to beekeeping, at least I haven't yet, or cheesemaking, and I only did lampworking once.    But I'm glad that I did all of those things.  

I am grateful to my grief groups for forcing me to walk my talk.  Now I am a huge believer that the only thing that stops us is the inner voice that says "I can't do that" and "I won't like that."    It is no easier now than it used to be for me to ignore that nagging negative voice in my head, but now I know for sure that it is worth doing.

Friday, May 8, 2015

May I?

The May flowers have finally arrived!   I love Michigan this time of year!   There is no prettier place to be.  :)

After months of complaining about the cold and snow and ice, the last couple of weeks here in Mid Michigan have been absolutely beautiful!  There are spring flowers everywhere I go, and the sun has been shining.    I am loving it, although I know the time is quickly approaching when I will begin to complain about the heat!  :)   I am, after all, an all-weather complainer.
Our May drill for Search and Rescue involved a night search in a local forest.   I was 'stuck' in the Planner's Chair while the rest of the kids got to tromp out in the woods and look for clues.   Teams reported their find and the UTM locations by radio and I marked them on the map.   Later I uploaded the GPS tracks onto the map to show the area that had been covered by the search.   It was not very well attended but was a lot of fun.
We held our first Death Cafe at the hospice where I work this week and it was a disappointment to me.   Interestingly, it was NOT a disappointment to the three people who showed up.   One of them told me that he surprised himself by opening up about things he had never discussed before, and all three shared moments of tears and laughter.   And so for me the "take-away" was a lesson about my own expectations and how I too often lose the benefit of the moment by comparing it to the moment I had imagined.    Something I will think about a lot, I suspect, as I consider how much of that approach I apply to other situations in my life.

There is lots of stuff to do lately, if only I weren't so lazy.   Tomorrow is a marathon to raise money for MS research in Frankenmuth, and they are looking for amateur radio operators to volunteer to help with communication.   My plan, if I get up early enough, is to drive down there to help.  Tomorrow evening there is a local concert at a tiny venue nearby, Girls With Guitars, and maybe I will go.   This evening I also heard about a community play in a nearby city, but they are talking about thunder showers and by evening my chronic laziness almost always kicks in, so I will likely hang around the house instead.    With any luck, I'll at least complete a few of the endless household tasks.

This weekend is Mother's Day, and I expect it will be a quiet day for me.   My own mother is dead, my daughter is in New Orleans with a bagful of troubles of her own, and my son and his wife are extremely busy with young children, rare time off, a new house of many needs, and two other mothers besides me to attend to on this day.   My sister and best friend are both out of town.   So I am sure I will see or speak with my kids, as I hope to do every weekend, but I will have some time to appreciate the many blessings of my own life and my own strengths, too.    I have a long Task List that I  hope to check off that day, and I have adventures to look forward to later in the week.

I am planning a pedicure and a manicure (a very rare treat) on Tuesday.    I hope I won't wreck my nails on my way home, as I often do, which is why I treat myself so rarely.   And next Friday I am going to my first Dayton Hamvention, a journey that is seen by ham radio enthusiasts as a necessary pilgrimage at some point in their amateur radio career.  There will be nearly 2000 booths to visit in the two and a half days so I'll be taking my walking shoes and every penny I can find under the couch cushions!   Lots of fun to be had -- embrace every moment!