Saturday, January 30, 2016

Organizing My Mind

January was my self-gifted Take-Off month, and I did pretty much nothing, just as I had planned.   February is my month to start to organize myself a little, and - because I was getting bored of Nothing - I have already started.   I am beginning to sort through all those old photos, separating them into Keep, Give Away, and Toss piles.  It looks like an endless job, but I've made a start and went through several hundred photos this weekend.     Only another 10,000 or so to go before I give up.
I sorted through my search and rescue and fly fishing corner, and got rid of the definite Don't Needs, which reduced (but did not really organize) the pile.   I haven't figured out yet exactly how to best organize that sort of hobby stuff.   There are lots more corners to go in my old 2-story farm-style house -- my hospice corner, and my printing corner, and my wedding officiant corner, and my radio corner, and . . . . -- but my Fantasy Goal is to be in shape to have a Realtor walk through at the end of February to give me some data to use for further decision making.   And as I've been telling people, I can hardly claim to be ready to move if I can't even get myself to do this first bit of organization. 

I've written a few letters this month, too, to catch up with people who I'd been out of touch with for quite some time.    A letter to a family-by-someone-else's-marriage woman who I haven't seen since her dad died over a decade ago.   A letter to an old co-worker from a couple of jobs ago.   I still need to write a letter to a law school classmate who I haven't seen in years and to a former sister in law.   And of course my regular pen pals can't be neglected either.   Although letter writing is certainly no hardship, it does take some time.

I've done a little (very little) internet research on some 'job' or volunteer opportunities, looking for ways I could hone my skills if I decide that I want to pursue some formal activity.   Too soon to tell, really, because I am enjoying the low stress, flexible time I am having so far.    I am sleeping til 8:00 am regularly, which seems to me very self indulgent, but I have to admit I like not waking to an alarm.

And I did my taxes, although I am not ready to finalize and send them in yet, to give myself a couple more weeks to watch the mail, just in case I've forgotten something.   My earned income gets smaller every year, so they get easier and faster to do.   I guess that's the silver lining.

So January has been a slacker month, but not a TOTAL slacker month.     Hopefully I can keep up my little bits of momentum and make February a month with a lot to report!

For those of you who have asked, Barbara at Three Cats Ranch gives a good overview of Redwork embroidery in one of her blog posts.    I don't know the origin of the needle nanny (I bet Barb does!) but I will look into it on one of my internet breaks.   The one thing I DO know is that I wanted the one shaped like a bunny because one of my screen names is Bunny Queen, but it was no longer available!    

Friday, January 15, 2016

It is definitely winter here.   Dreary and glum.   I started working on my first redwork embroidery.   I have not embroidered in years (and years) except for the occasional bit of whimsey, and had never even heard of redwork.   While working on the embroidery, I am using my new needle nanny, a gift I gave myself.   I had never heard of a needle nanny, either.   Both redwork and needle nannies were introduced to me by Barbara at Cat Patches.  I haven't started on the (many) French knots yet, but am hoping her direction is going to make them possible for the first time in my life even though they have never worked for me before!  Bloggy friends open up whole new worlds to us, my years of blogging have brought so many amazing blessings, so many unexpected joys.
It has been cold this past week, and I have continued to be a big sissy about it all.   The days with snow are not that bad, it is generally a little warmer when it snows and shoveling the fluffy stuff always lifts my spirits.

My son and his sweet wife bought me a new coffee pot for Christmas to replace my well used French Press.  I like a slow drip, low tech coffee.    The coffee I am drinking now is fabulous -- the filtering system removes a lot of the bitterness, but maintains the strong, deep flavor that gets me going.  Perfect for these snowy days.

I hope you are enjoying whatever gets YOU going!  Stay warm out there -- I am sure trying to.  :)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Slowly, Slowly Getting My Groove Back

I am still having fun and still having trouble getting back on track diet and exercise-wise.    A friend of mine got one of those veggie-'noodle' cutters and said that she and her husband really enjoyed them so I ordered one this week.   Maybe lasagna with veggie "noodles" will be on my menu when it arrives!  And I think those bacon-wrapped dates will be my new "candy" indulgence.   They are made of actual food, not sugar or fake stuff, and are very sweet-tooth-satisfying.  Unfortunately, as is true for me with any "candy," I am prone to over-indulge, so I will need to make them just a few at a time.  I learned that lesson the hard way!   I can easily make a meal of them, but I guess it isn't as awful as some of the high-cal and bad for me meals I've had in the past.

I spent one day this week driving Way North to take my brother into the hospital for an out-patient procedure.  Everything went well and I had the chance to spend time with him.   We saw a bunch of deer - I had to stop to allow a group of four cross the road in front of me -- and I saw a huge bald eagle feeding just off the side of the road.    A lovely day for a drive and family time.
I have been wearing my favorite bracelet a lot lately, made for me by my friend Kim at Snug Harbor Bay -- she made it with my name and (amateur radio) call sign -- I like that it was made by hand and that there is no other like it -- and I like wearing it with my fitness band, it helps me remember the fun hobbies I have that make me want to be fit.  :)    Seriously, how cool that you can pick what you want your bracelet to say, whatever it is that inspires you  --  check out her etsy shop. 

I packed away my Christmas stuff, but I wasn't ready to give up the lights so I added these, both on timers, as permanent additions.     I filled one of my conch shells with little fiber optic lights and put up another magnetic flame candle.  I love my candles, all on timers.  It feels good to come home late at night to a house lit with twinkly lights and candles.

And, thinking of all the gifts I DIDN'T make this year, I ordered a couple of kits to start for next year's gifting.     I hope to get started on some crafting soon.   Right now I am enjoying watching some Netflix -- I'm working my way through the series Jessica Jones right now and enjoying it.  I am keen on sci-fi and fantasy.   A good way to spend a cold evening.  :)

I hope you are keeping warm and busy, wherever you are.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year New Attitude - We Hope

So far so good.   I've already done a sewing project, a good start to 2016.   I made a (reversible) table runner for my son and his wife -- just an assortment of scraps with no plan or pattern, but I like it.   One of these days I should make one for myself!  Unfortunately I also gave it to them as soon as it was done, so my plan to get started early for NEXT Christmas is already off track!

Yesterday was the first Sunday of what has become a tradidional Dominoes Season.   Three or more of us -- there were 5 yesterday - gather for supper and a spirited series of games each Sunday evening until early Spring, when total scores are announced, prizes are awarded and my dominoes sugar cookies are baked and eaten.   What may be a simple game nonetheless leads to a bunch of smack talk and a lot of laughter.    We all look forward to it all summer and fall.

In honor of the Dominoes gathering, we had lasagna and, as an appetizer, I made a new favorite recipe -- bacon wrapped dates.   They were easy, they are relatively healthy in comparison to my usual favorites, and we all loved them.  That combination of candy-sweet dates with a crispy bite of everything's-better-with-bacon.    Yum.   I stuffed them with walnuts, although any nut or cheese would be just as good.
I am still adjusting to not having a work schedule, which continues to be harder than expected.   After decades of getting up before 6:00 a.m., always always before 7:00 a.m. even on Holidays, I am suddenly snoozing away until as late as 8:30.    It shocks me every day and I keep  hoping I will adjust back -- of course, as you might guess, I am also staying up late in my first thrill of living Like A Grown-Up, and that might be the real issue.     That isn't my only new lazy habit, though.   I am also exercising less, if such a thing is possible.  There were more stairs at work, and more walking back and forth than my new slacker schedule requires.   And of course it's way past time to shake of the carb-licious days from the past weeks of Holiday gatherings.    Changes gotta come.

I hope you are having a great start to the New Year, and that all your changes will be good ones.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Done Scrooging

Maybe I am not a Christmas Person.   It always ends up being a sad, or at least pensive season for me.    I am generally pretty good about letting things roll off my back, I do not usually take offense easily and I am quick to excuse people when I feel hurt.   I spend more time worrying about the feelings of others than about my own.   

But this time of year, especially the time leading up to Christmas, my feelings are easily wounded, even over things I know are silly or at least unintended.   I feel unimportant to the people in my life and, more than other times of years, it matters to me.     It's as if, instead of fairy dust, I have been sprinkled with hormones.  And trust me when I say that, at this stage of life, being sprinkled with unexpected hormones is not a good thing!   This is the time of year that, when a friend calls and invites me to 'a family thing,' I am inclined to decline, because I am not part of their family.    I feel more lonely, less worthy, less loved, than usual.      

I know it is childish.  I see it happening, but it always takes me a little time and a lot of effort to shake it off.   And this is the time of year when being a lone wolf makes me especially raw.   It is an awkward time to be the third wheel, to feel as if my forehead is stamped with red block letters saying 'reject.'   And I am finding that being old and unattached is even worse than being young and single was.    And of course, being old and single and retired just gives me more time to dwell on it it all.    

Eventually, of course, even I have to laugh at myself for being so pathetic, and my good humor does return in spite of the hurt, just because of the ridiculousness of it all.   That won't always stop the tears, but it does remind me that this will pass.   I know that I am blessed beyond reason, even if it doesn't always feel like it.

So I do the things one does when silliness overtakes us.   I try to put others first, I push myself to accept invitations and hope I won't be a wet blanket when I get there.

I baked cookies to take to my search and rescue group, to the 911 operators and to the police officers who are on duty.    (Cheat admission:   I promised myself I wouldn't eat any, but I dropped a whole tray of them on the floor when I was taking them from the oven.   I was was able to catch two of them but they broke in my hands.  Everyone knows that broken cookies don't count, so . . . . )    Even so, and despite the lack of exercise this past week, I am happy to report that my post-Christmas weight is 2 pounds less than my pre-Christmas weight was.  
And I started sewing last-minute projects with scraps and orphaned socks, hoping they would work out well enough to give as gifts but knowing that they might well end up in scrap heaven or as dog toys.   Some of them worked, some of them didn't.

And, in fact, Christmas ended up being lovely, despite my self pity.   I saw the new Star Wars with the Littles after thinking I would never see it at all, I spent Christmas Eve with precious friends, and was surrounded by people I love, and a few who love me, on Christmas.  

I hope you all had a more joyous and grown-up Christmas preparation than I did, and hope that Christmas itself exceeded your expectations!   Mine definitely did.

And by the way, the Goole-plus warnings given recently by Cat Patches are spot on -- please don't lose me in the transition, and don't let me lose you, either!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Ties That No Longer Bind

 I am retired!  Again.   It was an ordinary (gloomy) day, I saw very few people and there was no drama, but when I exited the building for the last time, there was a huge rainbow over my car.   Since money has never been my primary motivator, maybe retirement is my pot of gold.  :)  I hope so!

Now that I am a lady of leisure, I have no more excuse to not do some of the things on my endless To-Do list.   Today I cleaned out my work bag -- an item that has been on the list for nearly 5 years (don't judge me) - and tossed the bag into the pile of dirty laundry.   Laundry is clearly not on today's list.     I also answered a letter -- something that never slips far on the list since I enjoy that task -- and got an overdue blood test drawn.   I need to take out the trash before bedtime, and really, that seems like quite enough for one day.   There's no rush for the rest of it.   After all, I've only been schedule-less for half a day.  :)

Friday, December 11, 2015

No Place Like New Orleans

I've been to New Orleans lots (and lots) of times, because I have had family there, both before and after the Storm.  There are things about these trips that are difficult for me, but no question it is a place unique in my experience, and so I decided on this trip to focus on the quirks and qualities that have made memories over the years.   Here are just a few of the things I have found fun or charming or just plain New Orleans-y.

The mechanical toilet seat covers in the airport.  
     These make me smile every time I land in NOLA.  Toilet seats are covered with a sheath of clear plastic, which rotates from a fresh roll and into a trash receptacle (or so I hope) with every use.   All you need to do is wave your hand in front of the button on the wall before you sit down.   I've never seen these anywhere else, so they clearly say New Orleans to me!
     This is where I first tasted them, at the famous Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter, open (I'm told) 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.   Since my grandson was born in NOLA, I make them every year for our Christmas brunch, but I try to stop by the Cafe du Monde and order them once every trip, purely for research to be sure I'm doing it right.
 The "horse" (mule) drawn carriages.   
     These wagons line up all along Decatur in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, waiting for customers.  You need to be careful because the price you are quoted is rarely the price you will actually be charged.
     I have never ridden on the famous "Desire" streetcar, which is of course named after Desire Street, although I am told it is up and running again after a long 'down' time.   But I ride the St. Charles streetcar at least once every trip.  It is inexpensive ($1.25) and very noisy, the cars run about every 10 minutes but sometimes they get backed up and you can wait for half an hour or more, and you sit along with tourists and locals.   A definite must.
     Look closely.  Along parade routes, the trees are filled with beads from previous Mardi Gras parades.    The beads, like strings of berries, are there all year.   Once in awhile a strand will fall down on the sidewalk in front of you like ripe fruit.
Red Beans and Rice.
     This is another dish I make myself as a reminder of where my grandson was born, but I still try to order it every time I visit New Orleans.   Just because.   I've got plenty of photos of it but it isn't all that photogenic, so I'll spare you  :)
The best bread pudding in the world.
      I try to have bread pudding one time on every trip.   It is so decadent, and not at all like the bread pudding we get in the north.   Filled with butter and brown sugar and whiskey, even once a year seems like a sinful indulgence.    I know I could make it at home but I'm afraid to, because there would be no one to limit my intake.   I meant to take a photo, but the hot, sticky goodness got my spoon moving so quickly that I forgot.
Street musicians.
      Some are just okay, some are good, and some are great.   On a good trip, there are fiddles, clarinets and lots of brass.   On this trip there was all that AND a (bag)piper.  
Street sign tiles.
     I just love these.   Old ceramic tiles mark the names of many streets.  You find them at corners.
Bourbon Street.
     filled with Too Much Information about people's private lives and activities, and freely flowing booze.   The French Quarter area is the one place I know where you can buy your alcoholic beverage at a sidewalk stand and then carry your drink into every store, even "mall" type shopping areas.    I generally try to have one old traditional drink on each trip.   Last year it was bourbon and milk, this year it was a sazerac.    My sister tends to the sweeter options, like the hurricane and yellow bird.  
       So, for those of you who've never been, or those of you who have, those are the usual highlights of my NOLA adventures.   It is far from my favorite place to be, for a whole stack of reasons.   I understand its charm, but frankly, I'm glad to be home.  :)