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:

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. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Downtown Littleton

There was snow in the White Mountains of New Hampshire earlier this week ~ not a lot of snow but the ground was white.  It was cold when I arrived in Littleton yesterday afternoon.  By last night it was well below freezing and the wind was blowing.  I was glad I thought to bring a warm scarf and had gloves in the pockets of my wool coat.

Today was sunnier and warmer.  The conditions were perfect for a trip downtown to check out the local yarn shop and a renowned candy store.  Everyone I met was helpful and friendly.  I am enchanted with the town of Littleton.
Welcome to Littleton, NH
The Yarn Garden is under the red awning
A warm welcome and colors galore in the Yarn Garden
I headed for the Coffee Pot for lunch
I sat at the counter in this cozy diner
Chutters claims to be the world's largest candy store
I would be hard pressed to disagree
The chocolate counter was a feast for the eyes
A New England town I can heartily recommend for a visit
Littleton ~ a notch above

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Get Lost

Last week Ken started a job in a hotel at the base of Mount Washington.  He invited me to come over to New Hampshire to stay a couple nights.  It took no persuasion for me to say yes.

I like to travel.  I consider myself an adequate traveler.  I envision a day where I will pack a bag and be ready to go in under an hour.

Today was not that day.  I finished loading and ran the dishwasher; I cleaned out the coffeemaker; I gathered all the clean, dry laundry to fold and put away; I cleared the kitchen counters and organized the desk; I checked blogs, sent emails, and found directions before I turned off the desktop computer; I unplugged everything I could and set the thermostats at 60 degrees; I finished packing, loaded the car, went back into the house for Luna bars, and was finally ready to leave.

Three and a half hours.  Not my personal best but not my worst time either.  I am beyond needing every surface to be dust-free before I leave on a trip.

I had detailed directions, a mishmash of secondary roads strung together to head west across the state of Maine and into the  White Mountains of New Hampshire.  I have traveled most of the route before but not often enough to remember all the twists and turns.

My first stop for verification that I was on the right track was in Bryant Pond, which wasn't specifically named on my list of towns and route numbers.  Turns out I was where I needed to be.

I made it all the way to Bethel, almost to the New Hampshire line, when I took a wrong turn.  At first I thought I could pull out a save by catching the road west further down the line but a look at the map showed I was on my way to southern Maine.

Backtrack, stop to ask for directions, make course correction, and proceed to destination.

Oh well.  It goes without saying that "get lost" is on the to-do list for any trip I take.

With that out of the way, tomorrow I will see what the town of Littleton has to offer ~

Monday, November 11, 2013

Song For Autumn

Song for Autumn
by Mary Oliver

In the deep fall
don't you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind?  And don't you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come - six, a dozen - to sleep
inside their bodies?  And don't you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first 
tuffets of snow?  The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows.  And the wind pumps its
bellows.  And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way. 

(from New and Selected Poems Volume Two, Beacon Press, 2005.)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Life On The Edge

Two years ago I started reading Mark Nepo's The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have (2000).  There is an entry for each day of the year that includes a title, quote, essay, and meditations.  This year, with a few exceptions, I've pretty much kept up with reading each day's entry before I turn out the light at night.  It's interesting to note how the day's entry relates to what I'm feeling and thinking at the time.  This is the reading for November 10 ~

Life on the Edge
You are that which you are seeking.  - Saint Francis

When I feel lonely, my first thought is that you hold the key to my loneliness.  When I feel confused, my first thought is that you (or someone neither of us knows) is more clear, if I can only find them and get them to speak.  When wanting respect, my first thought is that it is waiting on the other side of some mammoth achievement I must devote myself to.  I try so hard to find what I need or want outside of myself, certain it is waiting for me somewhere just over there.

In the end, seeking only brings us to the edge of knowing ourselves.  If we never look inward, we tend to become experts at life on the edge, while seldom unlocking what all our seeking means.  We can become masters at climbing the mountains of the world instead of breaking trail to the center of our woundedness.  We can become masters at driving fast cars through the night instead of moving through the dark corners of our mind.  We can become masters at seducing strangers in the name of love instead of embracing the softer, less perfect aspects of who we are.

Seeking in the world has always been a way to mirror to us where we need to work inwardly, but seeking danger outside has always been a way to divert the soul's cry for us to take a genuine risk inside.

Meditate on something you are seeking.  It may be love, power, wealth, or the thrill of jumping out of a plane, or the recognition of being famous.

Now imagine that what you seek already lives within you, and as you breathe, hold what you seek before your mind's eye like a door you must enter if you are ever to be whole.

Inhale deeply, and feel what you seek as a part of your spirit that needs attention.

Exhale deeply, and though you may not know how, give yourself this attention. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Long Way

There is a popular saying in Maine:  You can't there from here.  Literally, there are rural parts of the state that are not on major roads so a person has to piece together a route to get there.  For instance, there is no main road that travels east to west so you have to drive north or south and find connecting secondary roads to travel across Maine.   Some places are so far off the beaten track that you need every route number along the way and mileage from one turn to the next.

While this situation can make travel challenging, it can also make it interesting.  On the way from one place to another a traveler has to pass through other places not on the itinerary but necessary for the journey.  You don't always know what you might see along the way, and it's possible that you will get lost.

In my family we also use the phrase when something seems impossible.  You can't get there from here   does not mean that the thing will never be possible, but that it feels that way  ~ because the leap is too long or the distance is too great or too much needs to happen in the interim.  Sometimes we say it with a chuckle.  Sometimes we say it with a sigh.

This phrase came to mind as I thought about today.

This afternoon there was a baby shower in California.

Today, physically, I couldn't get there from here.  It would have been nice to be there, but it's a big deal to go.  It's a long trip each way, about 3000 miles and 12 hours of travel by car, bus, and plane.  It takes planning to go and time to travel.  It can be expensive.

Emotionally, the distance is great.  My son and his wife live near San Francisco.  He calls at least once a week to catch me up on what's going on at home and at work.  I miss him as much now as I did when he moved more than four years ago.  That will never change.

What will change is that in six weeks my son will become a father.  Peter is excited ~ he will be a good dad.  Claudia is excited ~ she will be a good mom.  I am excited for them because they want a family.

The distance is great.  It's so hard to see how I will be a part of their lives, a real living breathing part that matters, not a once or twice a year visitor who is but a voice on the phone or a face on the computer.  It's hard to know how to be a presence when not present.  It's hard to plan how to be a place to come home to and not just a vacation destination.  

I can't see how to get there from here.  I am trying but I can't see it yet....   

Friday, November 8, 2013


Oh November sky, you had me at hello ~

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Time For A Haircut

In the past three years nine different people have cut my hair.

The stylist I had for years didn't hear what I wanted once my hair was longer ~ she kept trying weird layers that I couldn't do anything with once I got home.  I had some luck at the Beauty School but students graduate so it was someone new each time, which meant I was taking my chances.  I got a good cut while I was in Keene, New Hampshire, but that's a four hour drive.  I tried three stylists recommended by friends, but each one tried a style that looked ragged and took forever to grow out.

I wanted someone who would listen to me about how my hair grows and how much trouble my cowlicks are and how I don't want my bangs too short.  It takes thirty minutes to cut my hair.  It's not complicated, but I couldn't find anyone who could do a simple haircut.

Then a year and a half ago Ken heard that there was a new barber in Richmond.  Technically we live in Bowdoinham, but shops in Richmond are closer and where we do most of our local errands.  Karen has been a barber for many years.  She set up shop in one of the old mill buildings, and I stopped in one day to see what her hours were.  I liked her and asked if she would cut my hair.  She said she doesn't do anything fancy, so I knew we'd get along fine.

Karen has been cutting my hair, and Ken's hair, ever since.  She has an easy-going way about her.  We talk about our families and what we've been up to.  Her room is only big enough for one at a time, so anyone waiting sits in a little room next door or returns in a half hour.  I like that it's just she and I for that amount of time.  I like that we will pick up where we left off next time I see her.

Her shop is located in a building on the Kennebec River ~

Complete with awning, sign, and barber pole ~

Her shop is cozy and warm, with a real safe in the corner left by a previous tenant ~

Down the street on the corner is Annabella's Bakery & Cafe, where I buy local eggs ~

Around the corner and up the hill is our favorite diner, the Railway Cafe Restaurant and Lounge ~

True Value Hardware and Main Street Fuel are across the street ~

Next door to Pierce's Grocery Store, where I buy milk ~

And home is just three and a half miles away.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ruby's Cottage

My friend Ruby lives in a cozy cottage.  It is a converted garage, set up like a studio apartment.  She has a kitchen, bathroom, and living/bedroom/dining area that's comfortably heated with a wood stove.  She has a two-year supply of wood cut and stacked on her side deck.  Her front deck is for sitting a spell.  The back deck is her dog's domain, fenced in and safe for a dog who jumps several feet in the air when she's ready to come inside. 

Ruby shares eight acres with her daughter, who now lives in the farmhouse where the family of three children grew up.  Ruby and her dog Kelly have their independence and lots of outdoor space for walks, gardening, and soaking up the sunshine.

Ruby owns her home and has no debt.  She's very proud of that fact.  She had planned to always live in her cozy cottage.

The plan has changed.  Ruby's daughter is selling the farmhouse.  Ruby has every legal right to maintain her cottage and surrounding property per the agreement drawn up when she sold the farmhouse to her daughter; and in the beginning she was going to stay put.

Then the realtor explained that it would be difficult to sell the larger house with an independently owned cottage just across the driveway.  Upon consultation with her daughter, Ruby has decided to allow her cottage to be part of the total sale.

A future that was secure is now uncertain.

Ruby has no idea where she and Kelly will go.

Since I heard the news I have had several conversations with Ruby about what comes next.  Her cottage is a refuge for me, where we have had many long talks about life and living.  She gets out her 4-cup coffeemaker to brew the coffee she keeps for when I come to visit.  We share news of our families and tell each other our deepest joys and concerns.

At the end of our visit yesterday we said to each other that things will work out.

I pray that's true. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Back In Harmony

The back of the Harmony Quilt came together in stages.  I had two dozen nine-patch squares I'd sewn together at the beginning of the project with no plan for how I might use them.  I was playing with colors and patterns and wasn't sure they'd even make their way into this quilt.  Luckily I was able to make them work with rectangles cut from larger pieces of fabric left once all the quilt pieces were cut.  The end result was a pleasant surprise ~
Nine individual squares came together
to make a nine-patch then bordered with blue
and alternated with rectangles of prints
to create larger rectangles that fit together in harmony

Monday, November 4, 2013

On The Radio

Ken asked me this weekend if I want to renew the subscription to satellite radio in my car.  Without a moment's hesitation I said yes.

I first experienced satellite radio two years ago in a rented car.  What a great invention!  I couldn't get over the number of stations and the variety available.  My go-to favorite station for those few days was Acoustic Coffeehouse. 

So I was delighted to find that a three-month trial subscription for Sirius XM came with the Subaru we bought in 2012.  Coffeehouse music all the time was my plan.  Then Ken got hold of the menu of stations and plugged in the three available NPR stations for me, for which I still thank him.  Then I found Oprah Radio and MSNBC.  When it was time to pay for a year-long subscription I was hooked, so Ken "gave" me satellite radio for Christmas.  I foresee that becoming a tradition..

Sometimes I plan my time in the car around what I can listen to on the radio.

Today I was running errands, in and out of the car, listening to a variety of news shows and interviews.  I often change channels and follow three or four story lines at a time.

Sometimes something grabs my attention.  Today that happened with an Oprah interview where the topic of forgiveness came up, which is a familiar theme in her interviews if you listen often enough.  She shared a definition that catches my attention every time I hear it:

Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.

Before, when I've heard Oprah say it, I thought about forgiveness in relation to forgiving other people.  I like the phrasing.  I like the positive implications of moving past what's over and done with.  The message is to let go of what might have been.

Today I remembered that I can forgive myself, too.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Yarn Harlot

Last evening my daughter and I drove to Rockland, on the coast of Maine, to hear a talk by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka the Yarn Harlot.  Stephanie knits, writes books and blog posts about her life as a knitter, and travels the continent telling stories about her knitting life.  She is hilarious.  I haven't laughed that much in a very long time.

The topic of last night's talk was "Your Brain on Knitting."  There is a fair amount of research, carried out at Harvard and Princeton and MIT and Cambridge, about how repetitive visual-spacial tasks enhance brain function and aid the brain in repairing and building neuropathways.  While most of the research doesn't specifically list knitting as a repetitive visual-spatial task, the process of creating items out of yarn with needles meets all of the criteria.  I plan to track down the research because I want to know more.

I am a beginner knitter of the basic knit and purl variety.  Thirty years ago I made a few simple sweaters.  More recently I've knitted scarves and small cotton dishcloths.  While I was visiting Martha's Vineyard I bought yarn to make a scarf to ease my way back into the craft.  My daughter is encouraging me to pick up my knitting needles again.

She has good reason to ~ knitting helped her get through medical school.  I showed Kristen how to knit simple squares when she was in elementary school, and she made doll blankets.  Years later she picked up needles and yarn again because she said keeping her hands busy helped her concentrate when attending lectures in medical school.  I don't know how she knew to do it, but the research bears out what Kristen knew ten years ago, that knitting makes your brain work better.

And I'm all for more brain power ~  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

First Saturday In November

The day started with a bang.  Literally.  Loud.  Close by.  Early.

It was the first day of deer season, and there are those who take hunting very seriously.  There have been trucks parked up and down our road for weeks, men with orange hats and guns [bird season comes in October] scoping out the area.  There are rules about starting after sunrise and ending by sunset.  Those times are sacred.  No matter the weather or how dark it is, it's the official start and end times that matter.

Ken used to hunt, as a kid in Maryland and later when we first moved to Maine.  Then we had children, and none of them wanted anything to do with hunting.  Ken lost interest in going out on cold and/or wet mornings on the off chance he might bag a deer.  The one year he got one we ate well all winter.  If you are fortunate enough to get a deer, you don't waste the meat. 

Now we live right in the middle of prime hunting territory.  There are rules about how far hunters have to stay from houses and roads.  Private property is a gray area; our land isn't officially "posted" though I put up No Trespassing signs.  I've not seen hunters near the house, but I wear a red hat when I'm outside.

It's hard for me to think about the fate of animals that eat our acorns and sleep in our leaves when the weather gets cold.  I like having deer in the yard, even if they do eat my hostas. 

We need to get through November.  Then we can all peacefully co-exist until next year. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Again With The Needles

I had an acupuncture appointment today.  It's been three years since my last visit.  The woman I see, Brett, welcomes me back each time and starts from wherever I am.  I told her I had hoped to feel better before I came to see her.  She smiled.  Maybe that's not the first time she's heard that.

I told her about my clogged sinuses and dry eyes and the tightness in my chest.  She nodded.  All are connected to my liver...blood...chi...something...something.  I really don't understand all of the biology.  Basically my liver is gummed up and I need help to get things moving again.  She put needles in my hands, feet, ankles, and right ear.  Then she covered me with a metallic space age blanket, and I rested for a half hour.  I felt a bit better after that.  I have some herbs to take and will return to see her in three weeks.

It is time to feel better.

I have been sad this year.  I have given up on where I thought my life was going and given into my feelings of sadness.  I have taken a long hard look at where I am.  I needed time to come to terms with the reality of my life, a good life but not the life I was working toward.  

It is time to accept what is.

Two weeks ago Kira at kiwords wrote a post about her wish to know how to be happy.  She wrote that she used to blog to capture her kids' childhood.  She has decided to blog now to recapture her own adulthood.  Her words have stayed with me.

My daughter posted today at her blog for the first time in four years.  She reminded me that this is NaBloPoMo, a month where bloggers commit to publish a post daily for thirty days.  I haven't ever made such a commitment...until now.  I've never thought I had that much to say, or that people would be that interested that they would stop by more than a few times a month.  This year I've gone for long periods of time without posting for a myriad of reasons. 

It is time for a change.

I have lots of thoughts rattling around in my head.  It's time to get them out into the open so I can bring some order to the chaos and make a plan.

See you tomorrow ~