Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 In Movies

As I've read through blogs this week, it has become clear that 2013 was not a banner year for many of us.  It was a tough year for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons.  My hope is that 2014 is better all around for all of us.

My motto is "When the going gets tough, go to the movies."  This year was slim on my kind of movies at the theater, though I saw a few good ones.  A valid substitute in my house is Netflix.  This year my list includes more inspired-by-real-life movies and documentaries than usual.  I am serious about picking only the best of the best, so this year I have only nine movies that I highly recommend over all others.

In January I rented The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel because I wanted to see it again [I will own this movie someday].  This movie speaks to me about growing older and not settling for the way life has always been just because that might be easier than making a change.  This movie gives me hope that there's still a lot of living left to do.  Judi Dench is wonderful.

In April I watched The Intouchables on DVD.  I found it hard to understand the premise of the movie when I saw it previewed in theaters, so I passed it by.  By the time it was on DVD I had read positive press that sparked my interest.  It required a commitment of my total attention because it has subtitles, which was not an issue when I finally sat down to watch it.  Totally worth every minute, this is a unique story based on the actual life of a man confined to a wheelchair who hires an unlikely companion.  Their story is inspiring.  I immediately recommended the movie to a friend who swaps Netflix recommendations with me, and she loved it, too.

In July I saw The Way Way Back at the theater.  I have already raved about this movie here.

For our anniversary in September Ken and I saw Still Mine with a friend at an independent theater in Damariscotta, Maine.  I had seen previews of this film, which stars James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold, about an elderly couple who fight authorities so they can build a more manageable home in their town in rural New Brunswick.  The story is true; the grit and determination are to be admired.

From the first preview I knew I wanted to see James Gandolfini's last performance in Enough Said.  His co-star is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and the story is about first impressions, misconceptions, miscommunication, and how hard it can be to make things right.  I liked this movie a lot.

Stories We Tell is a documentary written and directed by Sarah Polley, who interviewed family and family friends to gain a deeper understanding of the life of her mother, who died when Sarah was eleven years old.  The story that unfolds on film is pieced together from a variety of perspectives because no one has the complete picture.  This is a mystery that is solved right in front of us...

As is the story titled Searching for Sugar Man.  I thought I knew what this documentary was all about and started watching it while I was sewing.  Halfway through the story took a turn I didn't expect.  Now I was paying attention!  I enjoyed the music so much that I'd like to have the soundtrack, and I was so interested in the details that I watched the DVD again with Ken.

Over Thanksgiving weekend my daughter and I watched Much Ado About Nothing - the black and white production by Joss Whedon released here in 2013.  It's the modern telling of a classic Shakespearean romance.  We give this movie two thumbs up.

I will finish my recommendations for the year as I started, with a movie starring Judi Dench.  The difference is that Philomena is a true story about a woman and the journalist who helped her search for the son who was taken from her when he was three years old.  Yet it's so much more than that.  This is a movie about faith and forgiveness and not giving up.  It's about searching for the truth, whatever that may be.  Have tissues handy.  I was the last one out of the theater because I had something in my eye.... 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter Weary

Baby Kenneth and his mom went home from the hospital on Christmas Day.  Both are doing well.

We were without power for 60 hours.  It returned at noon on December 26, which meant we had a different kind of Christmas this year.  The generator kept us in lights, heat, and running water during the day.  The silence at night complemented the total darkness.  Just one week after the solstice, we are already weary of winter ~
Snow on the roof of the shed
Ice-covered evergreens
Ice crystals gleam
Blue sky background
Sunday night the snow returns
The meteorologists say tonight's storm is fast moving and will drop several inches in just a few hours.

My youngest traveled back to Boston tonight, where the warmer temperatures mean rain instead of snow.  Before he left he asked if I was alright, that I seemed sad.  I am alright, and I am sad.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  It feels as if this year has gone on forever ~

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ice Storms And Newborns

The freezing rain started Saturday night and continued intermittently through Monday.  I took a few photos Monday, aware of the sound of cracking branches as I opened the door to look out.  The lights blinked throughout the day Monday, and I thought we had dodged a power outage until the house went dark late Monday night.  I was vacuuming and had a long list of things to do, including posting here, before I went to bed that were not possible in the dark without power. 

You see I was behind schedule because I've been preoccupied since Sunday morning when I got the call that my daughter-in-law was in labor.  I baked cookies and put lights on the tree and worked on Christmas presents but my mind has been elsewhere.  Time between phone calls was excruciatingly long.  That is life when you are three thousand miles away and events are moving more quickly than they can possibly be relayed to anyone who is not actually present.  So Ken and I waited, tried to keep busy, and forced ourselves not to think about what might be happening so far away....

The relief we felt when we got the call at 4:00, our time, Sunday afternoon is impossible to describe.  Kenneth Harold was here and he was okay!  He weighed in at 8 pounds and is 20 1/4 inches long.  Need I say how beautiful he is?  His entrance into the world was a bit rocky, but he is doing fine and he looks great in a hat.  His mom is doing well, too, and they expect to be home tomorrow or the next day.  Prayers answered.  Christmas wish granted.

Tonight we are still without the benefit of electricity from the power company, though we are fortunate to have a portable generator.  I managed for 15 hours before Ken got home from New Hampshire, who arrived bearing hot coffee and a strong arm to pull the start cord on the magic gasoline-powered machine that brings light and heat.  Certain electronic devices pull too much juice to be drafted into service, as in the stove, microwave, dishwasher, washer, and dryer.  So my daughter offered to make us dinner at her house ~ she made her own birthday dinner and it was delicious.  We hope for the return of power by morning but will get creative with the "electric" fry pan if it's not.

We are fully aware of our Christmas blessings this year.

I wish all the best of the season for you and yours ~

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rural Mail Delivery

Snow started fast and furious last evening and fell well into the night.  Ken was working late in New Hampshire and wisely decided to stay there instead of traveling the three hours home.  We have five new inches, which is a manageable amount....

Until I need to shovel out the mailbox.  That five inches turns into fifteen once the plow has cleared the road, and all that snow blocks the path to the mailbox ~

The mail carrier needs to access by car that buried mailbox ~

Which requires clearing the path on the way in ~

As well as the path on the way out ~

This is rural living.  We do have a snow blower, which I find unwieldy and difficult to control.  Ken likes me to leave the snow alone because I don't get the clean edges he does when he blows.  That plan works until he's not here and I want the mail to be delivered.

I have always been willing and able to shovel now.  At our old house I went to great effort and expense to have our cracked, bulging driveway excavated and paved.  It took two contractors, two years, and several thousand dollars, but that driveway was a beauty to behold that I could shovel in about the time it takes me now to clean out the path to the mailbox.  Ahhhh, rural living....  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Not A Moment Too Soon

The calendar has not yet turned to winter, but the weather has.  It's mid December and we have a fresh blanket of snow nine inches deep.  The covering of white suits the landscape just fine, and I'm glad the shed was buttoned up in time ~

Friday, December 13, 2013

Venture Capital

I ventured out of the stillness on Tuesday.  Our snow-covered dirt road was nicely packed down and easy to travel.

Then I hit pavement...what a mess.  The temperature hovered near freezing, so the sand and salt kept the middle of each lane clear while the slushy snow along the edges challenged the tires.  The main road was better in some places and worse in others.

I had a couple stops to make before I got on the interstate headed south.  I waited for the mail to be delivered before I left home so I was already two hours behind; I wasn't traveling on a deadline but I wanted to get where I was going before dark.

Then the skies darkened and big wet flakes started to fall.  I had stopped to buy a book in Brunswick.  I watched where I stepped on the uneven brick walkway and thought that this experience was good for me.  Too often I opt for the warmth and safety of home instead of venturing out.  I need to continue to drive in all kinds of weather to keep my skills sharp and my senses tuned to accommodate changing conditions.

The interstate was slick.  The speed limit had dropped to 45 and state troopers were a presence.  Most people were driving carefully, so I hunkered down for the long haul in the right lane.

Thirty miles down the road the snow stopped.  Night had fallen.  I had good directions and a general idea of where I was going.  I made a pit stop at a rest area and felt confident that all would be well.

It was.  I pulled into the hotel in Dover, New Hampshire at 5:00.  Ken was on a job and said I should come over for a couple days.  I hadn't been to that area of NH just across the Maine border, and I had no reason not to go.

Dover is another mill town that hit the same rough patch many New England towns did when the manufacture of textiles and shoes moved south or overseas.  I talked to a guy who grew up in Dover and has had a yarn shop there for eleven years.  He sees a resurgence.  I would agree.  I complimented his shop and took in the sights of Dover ~
Cocheco River flows through Dover
Converted mill provides commercial and residential space
Painted mural runs the length of this building
Shops in Dover
A variety of businesses
Looking toward downtown
I spied two policemen on horseback
Waiting for the "walk" signal to cross

Monday, December 9, 2013

Gently Falling

The snow started this morning, and by afternoon it barely covered the grass ~

Out each window I watched the gently falling snow.  I barely heard a car on the road all day.   I didn't have anywhere to go so I enjoyed the frosty silence.  It snowed all day with less than two inches accumulation.

Inside, the scarf I am knitting with antique yarn is almost finished ~

It's a simple knit two, purl two pattern.  I would like to learn to follow the pattern my grandmother used thirty-six years ago to make beautiful cables with the same yarn ~

The afghan is soft and warm and lovely still ~

Saturday, December 7, 2013


My back is better.  Before my massage yesterday, Ruth and I talked at length about what has been going on in my life and with my body.  So many things are shifting that it makes sense that my body is reacting to the changes in breathing, thinking, and being.  At one point she had her hand on the bone at the base of my spine, which was incredibly sore, and I said, "There it is.  That is at the very core of what hurts."

I am unable to find a way to make sense of or put into words all the feelings and ideas that have come unleashed.  They have lived deep inside for so long that they have become part of my foundation.  I have worked for decades to unearth where it all began, layer by layer, brick by brick.  The knowledge comes not when I ask but when I am ready.  The process takes patience and unfolds in its own time.

This evening I picked up the poetry book of Danna Faulds titled Go In and In (2002, Morris Publishing).  Her words come as close to an explanation as I can find right now ~

Foundation Stones

Here is my past--
what I've been proud of,
and what I've pushed away.
Today I see how each piece
was needed, not a single
step wasted on the way.

Like a stone wall,
every rock resting
on what came before - 
no stone can be 
suspended in mid-air.

Foundation laid by every
act and omission,
each decision, even
those the mind would
label "big mistake."

The things I thought
were sins, these are as
necessary as successes,
each one resting on the 
surface of the last, stone
upon stone, the fit
particular, complete,
the rough, uneven
face of these rocks
makes surprising,
satisfying patterns
in the sunlight.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Transition Happens

I paid a visit to Ruby today.  There have been several showings of the property that includes her cottage.  She has made peace with uncertainty - she may continue to live in her home into next year, or she may be asked to move at any time if the property sells.  Ruby is feeling healthy and strong, taking life day by day.  She is taking time to assess her belongings, deciding what to keep and what she can part with.  The main reason for my visit today was to take photos of a paper mache manger scene she made years ago and is now prepared to give away.  I was pleased she asked me and tickled to see the detail of the characters she created with her own hands ~

Isn't that great?  I will have the photos printed for her.  She says photos will take up less space than the actual scene.

It's not easy for me to think of Ruby living someplace else.  She loves her cottage, deck, garden area, and surrounding property where she walks her dog Kelly.  Today she raised a topic I have been able to avoid until now ~ she wants me to consider if I would take Kelly to live with me if for some reason the dog cannot continue to live with Ruby.  I sidestepped the issue and said that I would certainly work with her family to make sure Kelly was well taken care of.  Ruby said not to give her an answer right now.

I love Ruby and would do anything that I can to help her...but I don't want to be a dog owner.  Kelly is a sweetheart - I will have to take photos of her next time I visit.  Today she repeatedly sat at my feet and gave me her paw, almost like she knew what Ruby was saying.

Ruby has seen her doctors regularly since she was hospitalized this summer, and the latest reports on her health are excellent.  There is no reason to believe that Kelly will need to live elsewhere because Ruby has been clear that she will not move to a place where Kelly is not welcome.  Life happens, situations evolve, and over time minds can change.  Ruby and I are always completely honest with each other, so I do not want to give her the impression that I could take Kelly under any circumstances.  I am sure the topic will come up again.

Ruby is a brave lady.  She is willing to look at the changes in her life straight on.  I admire that.  In some ways she is handling the potential changes better than I am.  That's a subject for another day....

Saturday, November 30, 2013

30 Days Hath November

Thank you for the suggestions to help my back pain.  I am trying everything.  I have a massage scheduled for next Friday, and  I would like to walk in in an upright position.  I don't like to arrive in a state of crisis because that does not set the stage for relaxing body work.

Posting every day this month has been a successful experiment.  It has not been laborious.  In fact, it has been something to anticipate, plan for, and enjoy doing.  I didn't expect that, which is a better outcome than the other way round.

My entire life I have tried to not take up too much room.  I don't want to get in the way, be an imposition, or ask too much of anyone.  During the past year my massage therapist has said to me more than once, "Sharon, you can ask for what you need." 

New goal:  allow myself to take up space.

I will be here more regularly.  I doubt it will be every day, but it will be more than once a week.

December starts tomorrow.  I will end this year in better shape than when it started.  I really can't ask for more than that ~ 

Friday, November 29, 2013


My back....  I reached for something the wrong way days ago and wrenched my back, which has not been happy ever since.  I will feel better for awhile, sitting in a comfortable supportive chair or snuggled into bed.  If I spend too much time standing in one place or sitting for too long without getting up periodically, my back hurts.  I paid attention today and took it easy.  Sometimes that is the best thing I can do.

The antenna rotor....  With the wind and rain earlier in the week we were not surprised that television reception was not good.  It happens when the weather is inclement.  Yesterday dawned sunny and clear, and there was football on the schedule.  Huh.  Reception was sketchy on a channel that is usually reliable.  Under closer inspection Ken discovered that the television rotor is no longer rotoring.  It's too cold now to work on a solution, so it's time to pull the wrench out of the kitchen drawer to manually rotate the pole to change the direction of the antenna when needed.  That's what we did before Ken installed the rotor.

Two steps forward and one step back.  That's the way of life, isn't it? 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Good Day

Today was a day I didn't want to end.  The conversations flowed.  The food was delicious.  The time spent together was relaxing and fun. 

Everyone else is in bed but I am reluctant to let go of the day....

Throughout the day I visited Laura's 2013 Gratitude Quilt.  Tonight, reading words of thanksgiving from people around the world was the nicest way to end this wonderful day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Eve

I am grateful that today's precipitation was rain instead of snow.

I am grateful Ken made it home in the wee hours of the morning after many hours of work.

I am grateful my son is safely home from Boston, and he will be here all weekend.

I am grateful my daughter is tucked warmly in bed at her house tonight after a harried week of commuting in bad weather, and she will be here for dinner tomorrow.

I am grateful that there's food in the refrigerator, heating oil in the tank, and a car in the garage. 

I am grateful for the simple pleasures of everyday living.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Alotta Coffee Days

One of Maine's claims to fame is that people here know how to drive in snow...

except during rush hour on the day of the first snowfall.  There was an inch or two of snow early this morning, with light snow still falling as people were on their way to work, and traffic from central to southern Maine was a mess.  There were 100 accidents reported.  Ugh.

My daughter has an 80-mile commute with her new job.  She called just before 10:00 to advise that I put off errands until the afternoon when the roads would be clear.  Made sense to me.

Between yesterday and today I got a lot done.  I drank a lot of coffee, too.  Cold temperatures and lots to do are a combo that calls for many cups of coffee so my travel mug has been busy.

I donated cat supplies to the local animal shelter and books to a used bookstore that benefits a library.  I returned bottles to the redemption center; those nickels and dimes add up and treat us to dinner once a year.  I recycled worn out computer mouses and audio cables at Best Buy.

Periodically the clutter around here reaches a tipping point and it's time to load up the car.  Fortunately there are places to donate most things so that others can make use of what we don't need any longer.  This time of year especially it feels good to clean up and clear out.

I hope the weather is cooperating where you are.  More precipitation is due here tonight and tomorrow.  The prediction is for rain, providing the temperatures stay above freezing.

Winter weather has arrived just in time for the holidays.

Monday, November 25, 2013


I sat down at the computer all set to write a post.

I started listening to the Rachel Maddow Show on the laptop and looked over to see these words on the screen:  "We cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world's problems."  President Obama spoke those words today in a speech.

My heart swells with gratitude.

I am grateful that we currently have a President, Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, and other high level government officials who are finding ways to work WITH world leaders to address serious, complicated, long-term problems where the answers are not simple or easy.  It takes vision,  effort, patience, and compromise.    

We are all in this together.  We all have a stake in finding ways to live alongside each other.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Antique Yarn

In yesterday's post I meant to include a link to the site that includes a video on the Continental Cast-On.  This method allows some "give" in the stitches and leaves a really nice edge.  Here's the link: http://www.knittinghelp.com/video/play/long-tail-cast-on

My grandmother on my father's side taught me to knit.  My mother gave it a go but she was left-handed which made all explanations very complicated.  When I was 13 I spent a week in Peoria, Illinois with my grandparents and learned the knitting basics.  Last night I looked through a notebook of old patterns I've held onto and found the drawings my grandmother made to show me how to hold the yarn when casting on.  There is an accompanying typed page of simple directions on how to knit, purl, and cast on using the Continental Method.  My grandmother was a very good knitter and typist.  She liked things to be done precisely.

I have one piece of advice:  If you are refreshing your knitting skills or just starting out, stay with casting on until you have all the stitches you need on your needle.  I am embarrassed to tell you how many times I had to start over because I kept getting lost in the process.  Last night I realized that casting on the first two stitches sets the yarn and your fingers in position for the remaining work to be done.  When I stopped mid-stream and picked up the work later to finish I positioned everything as I did in the very beginning, which is different from the position used once those stitches are cast on.

My brain is certainly getting a workout.

The yarn for my current project is antique yarn.  [I was going to say "old yarn" but that may draw searchers who are looking for stories no one would believe.]  When Ken and I were married my grandmother knit us a beautiful afghan that still rests on the back of our couch.  She included an extra skein of the yarn should repairs ever be needed.  Thirty-six years later the afghan is as soft and warm as the day she made it, so I have decided to use the yarn.  As things progress I will take photos - I need natural sunlight to get good pictures.

Each night I read a few pages in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's book Free-Range Knitter.  Two nights ago I was lying in bed reading and laughing out loud.  She makes no pretense of knowing more than anyone else or of having it all together, as a mother or a knitter.  Stephanie gives me hope that one way or the other the strands of life will come together and that whatever happens I am not in this alone, as a mother or a knitter.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Casting On

To cast out is to throw with force.

To cast about is to make a search.

To cast off is to set loose.

It's time to cast off my new scarf.  The colors were hard to capture.  I like this photo the best ~
It's not a perfect scarf, which makes it the perfect first project as I pick up knitting again.  It's soft and stretchy and will feel warm against my skin, which is really all a scarf is required to do.  I like that I bought the yarn on Martha's Vineyard and finished the knitting in the month of thanksgiving.

Today I cast on my next project.  To cast on is to begin anew.  That's what's special about knitting ~ there is always the chance to begin again.

Friday, November 22, 2013


I went for acupuncture today.

After I explained how my body has been over the last three weeks, she smiled.

"You're breathing," she said.  "Your diaphragm is working."

I told her I feel like I've been holding my breath my whole life.  She said that makes it hard for my body to work at its best.  Yes it does.

She suggested I think about softening, breathing into feelings that come up, nurturing myself.

I didn't know nurturing until I had children, who taught me how and what it meant to care about another human being.

Do it for yourself, she said.  Eat good food, take a bath, exercise.

Be gentle with yourself, she said.

I lay on the table, with needles all over my body.  The lights dimmed and the door gently closed.  Tears escaped, droplets of gratitude for my children, my life, and the grace I have been given.

Softening ~ a word to savor ~

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Set The Table

I finally have freshly made tablecloths and napkins to show you ~
This pink can be used when the table is fully extended
Waves of green will work when one leaf is added
One pink and one orange are for everyday use - I like these patterns reminiscent of the old-fashioned oilcloth tablecloths of long ago
Four sets of napkins don't necessarily match but they do "go" with the new tablecloths - the bottom right yellow is vintage material
This gorgeous orange pattern will be on the table for Thanksgiving this year
All the new bright colors and patterns tickle my fancy ~

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When A Tree Falls In The Woods

Does it make a sound?  Apparently not.  As I was backing out of the driveway this afternoon I noticed something was amiss.  Huh.  That birch tree fell over during the night ~

Later I looked more closely.  The inside had turned to sawdust ~

This was no small tree ~

It's sad because Ken and I like birch trees but they don't seem to live long.  He took down another birch, the remaining one of a pair, when we first moved here because it was obviously dead.  The remaining one here will need to go before it falls over...when the direction might not be so convenient.  The trees are right next to where I park my car ~

Another good reason for me to start parking my car in the garage ~

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sleep Is Free

I woke up this morning, grateful that sleep is free.  It costs nothing ~ no money, no calories.  Sleep requires no technology, no internet connection or streaming necessary.  The bed feels good and there is almost an air of weightlessness.  It has been a good month for sleeping.

Over the last weeks there have been a variety of technical difficulties in our house.  I don't think anything is permanently broken, but there have been lots of phone calls to our internet provider.  I have also talked several times to customer service at Netflix, with no resolution to the inability to stream through the "smart" tv.  Each call takes time and energy, and it's frustrating to spend hours on a problem that still isn't resolved.

The heating system is making all kinds of noise.  The people at the place that cleans our boiler every year think it is air in the lines.  When the guy comes to service the heating system next month he's going to "bleed" the lines and hopefully remove the air; they tell me the procedure is not always successful.

The kitchen faucet is leaking around the base, which means it needs a new gasket; the refrigerator is noisy, which means it needs to be vacuumed underneath.

I'd like to deal with last year's Christmas cards before this year's cards start rolling in.  I have a year's worth of mementos to put in scrapbooks and photos to print and mount in photo albums.

I don't have to deal with any of the day-to-day issues of life when I'm sleeping.

Thank goodness sleep is free.

It's time for bed ~

Monday, November 18, 2013

Holding It In

I have been holding my stomach in for 25 years.  

In my lifetime I have felt the best physically when I was pregnant or breastfeeding.  My body knew how to be pregnant.  Breastfeeding came as naturally, with the bonus of knocking off any gained "baby" weight lickity split.  I moved from regular clothes into maternity clothes, and then I went right back into regular clothes.  I have never taken that for granted.

Being able to maintain my weight has been the one bright spot in being me.  I am an average woman ~ height, size, build, looks.  There is nothing remarkable about me.  My dark hair used to set me apart, but that didn't come without its drawbacks, as in dark hair all over my body.  As a girl I wore knee socks with shorts, until I became a teenager and begged my mom to let me shave my legs.  I learned to pluck eyebrows at an early age - the unibrow had to go.  By my mid 30's my dark hair was streaked with gray so that one distinction came to an end.

I had my youngest son when I was 31, almost 32.  He weaned himself when he was not quite a year old.  I had heard stories about how women's figures started to spread in their 30's.  I was determined that would not be me.  It was at 32 that I made it a practice to hold my stomach in.  It became second nature so I haven't thought about it in many years.

I have always been active.  I don't sit for hours at a time, as I get up periodically, and I never pass up an opportunity to run up or down the stairs at home or anywhere.  I am a walker.  I'm also lucky that I have a metabolism that works well.  Or at least it did until menopause.

For eight years what I eat has mattered.  That I stay active has been necessary.  I have gained a few pounds but not so anyone else would notice.  My clothes still fit.  When pants get the least bit tight I back off the carbs and sweets, and until this year that has always been enough.  This year it has been tougher to stay on top of keeping my shape.  Part of it has been the accumulated years of changes in hormones, and part of it has been that when I feel down I crave sweets and carbs and a bit of wine at dinner sure does help....

This situation was part of the reason I returned to acupuncture treatments.  I know when my system is out of whack, and I am there now.  My next appointment is this Friday.

The other thing that has happened is that massage therapy has been working muscles deeper and deeper.  Ten days ago the target areas were my thighs, lower back, and hips.  Any changes in one area affect other areas, throughout the whole body really.  Last week my legs were sore, and all the driving didn't help.  The leg muscles are connected to the abdominal muscles....

This weekend I noticed how sore my abdomen was.  In the middle of the night last night I envisioned all kinds of mysterious things that might be wrong as I tried to get back to sleep.  I just had a physical and no red flags were raised, but that's a hard argument to make at 3 a.m. when your body can't get comfortable.  I had friends coming today for coffee so I had to get up and moving or I might have stayed in bed once I found an accommodating position.

My visitors today were the "Crafty Ladies," so  named because we get together every couple months to visit and work on our projects, knitting or embroidery or sewing.  We all live in Bowdoinham and met today at my house, the first time all five of us have been together for months.  The other four women are well into their 70's, still active and interesting and fun to spend time with. 

When everyone left I breathed out a sigh and realized I was feeling a bit better.  My chest has been tight for weeks but feels better when my focus is elsewhere and when I remember to breathe.  Apparently I had been breathing all day.  Then, for some reason I can't explain, I relaxed every muscle in my body, even my stomach muscles.

An amazing thing happened ~ my ribs opened and relaxed and my abdomen didn't feel sore.  I have been holding my stomach in for so long that I forgot what it felt like to relax those muscles.  I tried not to think about how I looked, stomach relaxed, but to focus on how I felt.  All evening I went back and forth - holding in and relaxing - and the relief from discomfort still surprises me.

It might have been laughing with friends, or being in the company of older women who are comfortable with who they are, or being tired of feeling sore ~ whatever it was that caused me to do it I am glad I was able to let go.

I think my body is tired of holding it in ~ 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Timber Frame: Doors

The doors are on the timber frame!  Ken used a pattern he's had his eye on for a long time from a Handyman magazine.  These were the first doors he's made ~ and they are perfect.  It won't take long for them to darken to the color of the siding.

Ken bought a pocket hole jig to make the frame for each door.  First he set the measurements for the depth of the board ~

Then he used a drill with a special bit to drill the pocket holes ~

The screws go into the special holes to conceal how the boards in the frame are connected ~

The result is a clean, flush finished frame on either side of wainscoting ~

The cross pieces behind the glass are from the old storm door from our old house.  We added a bit of Longwood to the timber frame at 512, seen more clearly today from the inside ~

Dark hinges and a dark lock finish the look ~

Pretty snazzy I'd say ~

Next weekend the garden bench goes in.  Stay tuned ~

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Two Movies

It's not that I don't have more than two movies to recommend.  I will plan to do an end of year movie review...I didn't do that last year.

For now I have two movies that I highly recommend, one from the summer that is just out on DVD and one I saw today.

This summer Ken, my daughter, and I saw The Way Way Back in a local independent theater.  I had seen previews and knew I'd like it with Allison Janney, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, and Steve Carell.  The movie was wonderful, about parents and kids and neighbors, growing up and growing into ourselves.  Toni Collette is a single mom with a teenage son who has little confidence in his abilities.  Allison Janney is hilarious and Sam Rockwell is insightful.  There are funny moments and sensitive moments.  The movie is more serious than comedic, much like life.  When it was over, the three of us agreed that we'd watch it again, probably more than once, when it comes out on DVD ~ high praise in my family.

Today with my friend Marie I saw another winner, just released in theaters About Time.  Again I had seen previews but wasn't really sure what the story was about.  It's written and directed by the same guy who wrote and directed Love Actually.  The only thing I think the two movies have in common is Bill Nighy, who is good in anything he does.  Rachel McAdams is delightful, as usual.  Domhnall Gleeson is adorable as the clumsy romantic male lead.  The story is premised on the fantasy of being able to travel back in time for do-overs. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  The relationships are believable, even if all the events are not.  As people and places and happenings were woven together I wanted things to work out.  Marie and I liked it.  I will watch it again for sure.

It has been a slow year for movies.  Some years are like that.  There were previews for a couple movies that show promise.  I hope to get to the theater a few more times this year.

I love movies ~ 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Saying Is Believing

Today I had to go to the grocery store.  This is a chore I sometimes put off until I can no longer wait, and today was one of the days I had to go.  Last weekend we ate most everything in the fridge because I knew we'd both be gone for a few days.  I scraped together a meal last night, but we were at the end of the line for dinner ingredients.

So I went.  I didn't intend to do a massive shopping spree but to buy enough to get us through the next few days ~ fruit, veggies, milk, juice, and bread.

I always start in the produce section.  I have tried to start elsewhere in the store but I feel disoriented and wind up backtracking.  I was selecting brussel sprouts when I spied a gentleman out of the corner of my eye.  I offered to move over but he said he'd wait and not to hurry.

This guy looked familiar....

I said, "Mike?"  And he said yes.  Then he said hello and asked how I was doing and if we lived in the same place.  Mike is the realtor who sold us our house.

He remembered the last time he saw me I was running for local office in 2008.  I had to explain how I lost the election, although I was the only name on the ballot, because the old- timers in town decided that a new community member could not be trusted to be elected to the select board.  They launched a clandestine write-in campaign and their good ole boy won.  Thank goodness I can laugh about it now.

Mike looks the same.  We chatted for a bit.  He asked what I'm doing now.

I wish I had a nickel for every time I've had to summarize "what I'm doing now" in the last six years.  I can now say in two or three sentences that I have not been successful in changing careers, I am planning to return to teaching, and I will start with substituting.

He asked where I was planning to start and I said close to home.  Turns out his wife works as an ed tech in our town's elementary school and has for some years.  She likes it.  I asked her name and told him I would introduce myself when I saw her.  He said he'd tell her to look for me.

Now I really do have to submit the paperwork....

Thursday, November 14, 2013

White Mountains

I ate well on my trip to Littleton.  Tuesday night we had dinner at Oasis, which is in the same building as the Yarn Garden.  I had a delicious bowl of chili made with black beans, pumpkin, chicken, and avocado ~

Last night we had dinner at The Little Grille, where Brazilian entrees are the specialty.  I had a lightly breaded haddock fillet on a bun with the most amazing cole slaw ~

Today I drove further up into the mountains to see where Ken is working.  He and Shawn have moved the machine room for the elevator in the Bretton Arms Inn from the cellar to a room on the first floor.  The Inn is charming and already decorated for the holidays ~

Just up the roadway is the Mount Washington Hotel, an elegant and exclusive place to stay since 1902 ~

The Hotel sits at the base of Mount Washington, the perfect backdrop with its own majesty ~

It was an extraordinary drive home through the mountains ~

It was good to go, and it's nice to be home again.