Thursday, July 13, 2017

Moving is No Fun

We spent five days in Boise and bought a house:

There were a few I liked better, but the prices have skyrocketed in the past 6 months, so this is our 3/2 in a great neighborhood.  We're working out the details now after the inspection turned up some not serious things, but things that need to be fixed nonetheless.  

Now that we're back in Florida, we face the rest of the considerable packing up and selling this house.  My husband is 64 and I am 61, so it is slow going, but we're making a dent every day.  

I have to say, though, that at times we get discouraged by finances, time limits, our physical limits, and what sometimes feels like an impossible and endless task.  

I keep imagining where I am going to put the various things I am packing, so that helps.  The weather in Boise was quite hot, but dry so it felt much better than South Florida hot.  We were able to stand it better and the skies were blue as blue could be.  We went up to Bogus Basin, the road winding up and up and around.  At the bottom of the mountain, it is dry and desert-like, but lovely.  There are plants I have to learn all about, but I already know Sagebrush.  I picked a small bit of it and the smell was more powerful than pine from a Christmas tree - and delightful.  As we traveled farther toward the top, we entered the National Forest which is almost 100% pine.  The bushes and flowers along the roadside were different from the ones below.  I love the outdoors and learning all about new flora and fauna.  I saw what I think were House Finches with their pretty song outside our hotel window.  

Summer is beautiful and it doesn't get dark until well after 9pm, and I have missed autumn for 38 years, so I am very much looking forward to that.  We won't discuss winter yet since it is probably going to be tough for us, especially knowing how beautiful it is in Florida when it is so dreary elsewhere.  Winter will be a good time for me to visit my mother who is 2 1/2 hours away from me now in Central Florida.  Once good thing about our new house is the fireplace.  My first fireplace and we are going to put in a gas insert so that it is easier to use and safer for the environment.  Boise has rules about wood fireplaces that inhibit their use on the dreariest of days, when an Inversion takes over the valley and it is dark and foggy and cold and everything is black and white except the pines.  I will need the fireplace at those times the most.

So right now we are living amidst boxes and boxes and filling up ever more boxes.  But this, too, shall pass and we will be in a new and delightful place. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

New Life

I have retired from my career of 28 years as of yesterday at 3:00pm.  I started working again when my daughter entered 1st grade.  She is now 33 years old.  One day followed upon another for all that time - and here I am!

I am taking the pleasure of uninterrupted-by-work life to get deeply into projects that I attempted in the past, but never had the energy or time to finish.  I'm planning.....going over years of photographs and combing them for the REALLY good ones that I could enter into contests, frame or sell on Etsy or somewhere else.  

I will be putting some time into my Etsy store, which I have never linked to because it has nada in it right now.  Once we are settled in Boise I will work on the Etsy store because, in the meantime, there will be LOTS of packing and culling and discarding. You could say we'll be a little busy, but happily so.

We will be flying to Boise to buy a house very soon.  Of course I wish we could afford more - doesn't everyone except the very rich?  I have an ace in the hole that many people don't have - my Heavenly Father, who I am confident will provide the perfect house for us.  I have imagined it and we have been looking for months at homes in Boise online.  

Now when I say, "perfect house for us", I don't mean perfect like the world means perfect.  I mean that God will find us a house that has the special little things that mean the most to me - perhaps some bushes or flowers that are already growing that are lovely or maybe I will discover that there is a family of squirrels nesting - hopefully nowhere in or on the house!  He knows the nooks and crannies I like, what would constitute a favorite corner or view.  The house might be older and it might need some painting here and there, but as long as there is a back yard, even a small one, I will be happy. I can't wait to see what He has for us.  

The last five years or so have been difficult, sometimes we felt trapped, too tired to continue the hamster wheel of full time jobs in a busy city.  They have been tough years, but throughout He has always blessed us through friends, nature - oh what a back yard I have had here in Florida - and we have never lacked for anything, even though we have grumbled from time to time. 

I haven't written on this blog on a regular basis in forever - and that is another thing I want to do.  I'd like to quilt, crochet, knit, write, photograph anything and everything, decorate my new home bit by bit as we can afford......and take the time to dive into the Bible more than I have in the past.  

And Boise?  It is 100% opposite to Florida, both in location (you can't get much farther apart in the same country than from the tip of Florida to Boise, Idaho) and in climate.  I'm SO looking forward to Autumn again, and even a bit excited about snow.  I'm not as enthusiastic about that, though, because I lived with long winters until I was 23 and I never cared for the dreariness or the dead tree look.  Not to mention I have NEVER driven in snow.  I'm hoping that, unlike last winter, Boise has its' usual mild minimal snow winter coming up.  

Most of all, I'm excited about what is ahead, what God has for us, the changes, the scenery, the discoveries, the mountains......I have a melancholy streak so I know there will be culture/climate shock, homesickness for Florida (a place I hated when I first moved here 38 years ago) and longing for the familiarity of old ways.

I'm going to take you along as we make this change in our lives. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Moving On - My Sanity Projects and Sort of a Bullet Journal Attempt

I know myself well.  I often read recipes and then somewhat follow the directions, tweaking here and there, usually not for the best outcome, unfortunately.  If it has onion, surely it must have garlic, right?  Not always.  I do the same although I fight myself (fun to watch) with crochet and sewing and knitting.  

Does it not strike you that knitting is more "high class", more "artistic" than crochet?  If one knits, one is creative; if one crochets, it used to be for toilet paper holders that were the giant skirts of dolls that look like Scarlet O'Hara and Granny Squares forever.

Actually, the little Scarlet O'Hara dolls are kind of cute and the colors are nice.  I am SO not a fan of pink of any kind.  Salmon-yes, coral-yes.  When pink light rays hit me, they drain all the power out of my body for the will to live.  I just don't like pink.

To tell the truth, I like Granny Squares, but then I never pretended to have class or be elegant in any way.  Look at these colors on Pinterest - and this is only half a page.  It makes me want to end this post and sit surrounded by hundreds of balls of colorful yarn while I crochet one square after another.

I think crochet has "graduated" to the same status as knitting, or almost has, anyway.  And then there is Tunisian crochet and Motif Crochet and more.  There is always more crochet and more yarn.  And occasionally knitting.  If I want to try to be elegant.

So, without further ado, and no more wasting time on the deep subject of the artistic legitimacy of crochet vs. knitting, here are some of the things I have been working on burying myself in to retain my sanity.

This above is a pattern called, "Bear's Blanket", and while I did not buy the "kit" to make the $700. (WHAT??!?) big blanket (I value my life), I am SURE I have not spent nearly that much on trying to buy similar colors of cotton DK yarn over the internet.  Right, honey?  Don't ask hubby to tell you the story about the car battery we really needed, and lots of yarn came in the mail that week instead.  Just don't.  But it never added up to that crazy amount.  Yikes!!  My idea of a good time?  A book of 500 granny squares and me making one of each in a different color set.  This could take the rest of my life, and I'd be happy.  Please ignore the icicle Christmas light - I have a disease love of color and things that light up, so combine them and I am in Heaven; so yes, I have Christmas lights permanently on my giant wood THING with cabinets.  That huge cabinet IS coming with me to Idaho, though.  I love it to pieces and got it at a garage sale for $50. years ago.  My husband and his friend nearly killed themselves trying to wedge it into my 10' X 10' yarn hoarding, book collecting, sewing, safe place office.

I've got lots of squares made that might not match the colors I need for the blanket - just a little too much enthusiasm on my part, but one can always use another Granny Square.  The "blue thing" is an almost finished scarf that will have buttons when I have completed it.  Hopefully it will look somewhat like this:
Finally, I found a pattern for the type of doily I like - square with block holes in it.  I didn't realize this is all just a pattern of double crochet.  But get that pattern wrong, which is ever so easy for me - and it just doesn't look right.  I also had a ball of discolored cream thread from the1930's that belonged to LaVerne, a friend of mine that passed away some years ago.  She was my Christian mentor, and I got her Bible study books, old wooden spools of thread, letters, old photos and the ball of cream thread left over from making her wedding dress.  It was still in the braid shape that you have to open up and roll into a ball or it will get hopelessly tangled.  I unbraided it last Friday night and wrapped it around the top of my desk chair to keep it straight, and then took a solid 2 hours to roll it into a ball.  Since the yarn is discolored, some darker, it looks like it is multi-colored now in several shades of cream.  It has a history and I am not letting it go to waste.  

Here is what the doily pattern looks like in light cotton yarn versus the cream thread from 1930's.  I have never crocheted thread before and it makes me half blind, but I love the outcome even as I squint at the stitches under the strongest light I can find.  Doesn't it look cool with the dark and light all mixed up in the pattern?  Even if you don't think so, I LOVE it.  So there.

And not to get boring, but here is a knitted, yes I said knitted, wash cloth in purple.  I love it and probably will never use it, but it's purple, and it's a square, and it's knitted.  Enough said.

Last, but not least, the Bullet Journal.  Sort of.  This was invented by a man called Ryder Carroll to keep orderly bulleted lists by date and page number in one carry-everywhere book that encompasses to do lists, events, appointments and life.  I'm afraid mine is a little messier than his, but as we are all told, we must make it "ours", and it is ok to be weird  different.

Since, in addition to a yarn fetish, I also have a pen and paper and notebook hoarding tendency (every year when school supplies are on sale, I have to be physically restrained from office supply stores and the sections in other stores that suddenly have SCHOOL PENS AND PAPER).  So over the years I have bought - let's just say many - various types of notebooks and - let's just say a lot - of pens of various types, including fountain.  Yes, I'm that kind of person.  Sigh.  So, being prepared for the creation of a journal by having every type of notebook known to man, I chose 3 1 and got to work preparing it with page numbers, index and calendar pages.  Then I ruined it by having an "Idea" page not attached to a date, but it DOES have a page number, hence it is findable.  Whatever.  I love it. And my pens are ready.

Do you think I have enough pens?  Don't, whatever you do, look in the top drawer of the desk.  Just don't.
Also?  Don't look in the bottom cabinets of the huge wooden THING in my room.  My sister did when she came to visit and promptly burst out laughing uncontrollably.  I very rightly protected the vision of my Collections from her eyes and shut the cabinet doors. 

The colored paper tubes holding the various groups of pens?  Those are ex-toilet paper cardboard rolls that have been covered with colored paper in my favorite colors and glued, cut and folded.  It's just another facet of my insanity creativity.

I hope you enjoyed this look at my projects, my calming devices and what makes me happy. 

The Great Move (West?) of 2017

My husband gave his notice of retirement in September 2016.  The agreement is that he will work until June 30, 2017 and that he will then receive 6 months additional salary and the worth of benefits for the same period.  Since the day I met him some 26 years ago, he has wanted to move to Boise, Idaho where his brother's family live.  I have tried to talk him into other places - North Carolina which is much more like my native upstate NY, but not as cold in winter, Tennessee, Georgia, North Florida, Central Florida where my mother still resides and I absolutely love it there.  But he has resisted all other places.  Not Texas, not Oregon (at least not the west side of the mountains), not the midwest (I'm not in favor of living with the threat of tornadoes either, so no loss, although parts of Missouri and Arkansas are like North Carolina and so I know I would like them).  Nowhere on God's green earth can we go but Boise.  Not even anywhere else in Idaho.  Sigh.  Did I mention he is stubborn?  Have I mentioned he has never lived outside of Florida?  He has visited his brother tons of times and stayed there and traveled through Idaho and other parts West with them, and he has seen and experienced all the seasons.  I remember what winter in upstate NY is like.  The year I was 23, in January, I came down with bronchitis that somehow became a liver infection that put me in the hospital unable to keep anything down, even a teaspoon of water.  I was nauseous all the time and very depressed.  I thought I was dying.  I would look out the hospital windows and see nothing but low, dead gray skies full of snow and black tree branches.  No. color. at. all.  When I recovered, I had anxiety attacks for quite a while.  I am somewhat leery of the winter blues since I know all too well how the lack of light, the fact that it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon for some weeks, and during the day it is often cloudy, grey, foggy and dreary can affect one severely.  I don't mind the cold I don't think - after Florida summers it will be refreshing, but everything else?  Plus western Idaho is desert.  The hills outside of Boise?  Not green or covered with trees.  In the summer they are brown humps surrounding the city.  They call summer "Fire Season".  So I have some misgivings, just as I did when I moved to Florida with my first husband.  His family was here, so here in Florida we moved.  I hated it at first - and when I say "at first" I mean for the first 5 or 10 years.  But I am older and wiser and I have faith in Jesus Christ now, which I didn't have back then.

So, to make a long story even longer, since September I have been on a crazy roller coaster emotionally and on a crash course in trusting God.  One week I am SURE beyond a doubt that I CANNOT move to Boise, Idaho, and the next I am eagerly and impatiently awaiting new adventures in the totally-different-than-Florida out of doors.  I have gone so far as to announce to my husband that I will not be going to Idaho whether he is or not, and then, of course, I calm down.  The next day I am so excited that I will get autumn back, my favorite season always, and I want to move NOW.

ALL of this is tied to my spiritual life.  I am absolutely learning in fits and starts, about trusting the Lord.  Period.  Not "what-ifing" myself to death, (except when I am stuck in Fight or Flight/Fear mode.

I won't go into details, but there are a number of crucial things that must all come together at the same time, and if I dwell on them I head for Bonkersville.  This is not the normal-for-Americans planning for a restful and fun retirement.  This is totally, "can we even afford to do this?" and "WHAT are we doing???!!"

It is time for my husband to leave his job, which has changed so much, not for the better, over the last 10 years - and he IS 64 years old (how the heck did THAT happen???).

It is also time for me to leave my job where I have been on easy street for far too long.  Since I am overweight and 61 years old, and I have been through 4 principals in my 28 years there and not all of them were happy experiences, no one expects anything from me at this point.  I can come to work, sit back and read blogs all day if I want.  Yes, I do have work, but it doesn't take all of my time anymore, and I could do more, but the motivation is totally gone.  I COULD take up my entire day learning new software, helping the young guys who are techs with me do work orders, come up with new and exciting ideas for our web page, etc.  But I know from my years of experience that if I do that, no one will care and that new ideas are frowned on unless they are thought of by someone who has the power and backing of power to make it happen.  I've tried to jumpstart myself a number of times because I feel guilty about my work ethic.  Since I have been there 28 years and I am the same pay "grade" as the other techs, I am making much more than they are, yet they know far more than I do about setting up and managing servers, and the latest and greatest hardware.  I take care of mostly software problems and issues, managing a few of the packages we have.  I also do orders for the school for Technological items and I keep up with updating our web site.  I make sure all our software is renewed on a yearly or whatever is necessary basis and there are other things, but hopefully once I'm gone, they will digitize the whole group of things so that each employee can take care of what they need themselves.

Anyway, for me, it's time.  I don't like feeling guilty and one or two of the techs have a certain amount of understandable resentment against me for making so much and doing so much less than they do.  It is the way the government system works.  We don't make the big bucks, but we have such a wonderful time both working and playing.  This is probably why people want government jobs - once you are "in" you have to be really bad to get booted out, or you have to be tremendously unliked, and there is a process for firing someone that takes mucho time and effort and signing of documents by both boss and bad employee.

As far as personal life at work?  I love the techs I work with and the other lady in the office.  They are all like my kids and it keeps me young to banter with them and laugh with them.  I like to think they feel similarly about me, at least most of them, and it will be very hard to leave them.  I hope we can keep in touch on Facebook, maybe even still texting.  But I do know that everyone moves on, and if the fires of relationship aren't kept kindled by being close physically to coworkers, they often grow cold and go out. 

I have stayed sane by suddenly becoming an avid crocheter and knitter, not to mention I made a quilt, but not well.  Yarn.  I MUST HAVE YARN.  All colors of yarn, mostly cotton, mostly DK weight because the feel of the thread is what I prefer rather than bulky yarn.  But that hasn't stopped me from getting on Ebay and buying pretty colors of worsted weight yarn to make all the scarfs, mittens and hats as well as afghans I can handle for my New Home.

The real reason I have stayed sane is faith in Jesus Christ.  I am learning by experience (and there really is no other way in the spiritual life) that He is not only real, He is there, He cares and He is in charge.  He can and will take care of me through everything, even if I don't like the outcome.  I have eternal life in Him and I know that when I die, life goes on, and there are hints of not just being His Bride (the whole Church of believers), but ruling with Him.  I'm not really interested in ruling, but that can encompass everything from cleaning bathrooms, cooking and taking care of animals to sitting on a throne and making big decisions.  I like the taking care of animals part.  I like the behind the scenes part.  And I hope beyond hope that there will be crochet, knitting, weaving, shearing of lambs and other yarn bearing animals, and dying of wool.  Not to mention sewing, fabrics of all get it.

Just a few days ago I was deep in depression, feeling like this whole experience is going to kill me, feeling like taking off in the middle of the night for parts unknown, when a little voice whispered to me, "trusting in the Lord doesn't encompass dread, fear, resulting anger and depression."  And it just hit me.  

There are two sides to the spiritual life, especially when you are "going through something".  One side is the safe side with Jesus, trusting in Him, feeling His presence, concentrating on His Word and promises, and the other side is so opposite it can barely be described.  It is like black and white, like life and death.  When you are on the "other" side, every fear assails you, you feel SO sorry for yourself, you know you are old and useless, you are angry that all this is true.  You have no love for anyone, least of all yourself or God, and you are just plain miserable.

It is amazing that you can be on one side of this chasm one day and on the opposite the next.  You are truly Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hyde at that point.  Doesn't James talk about being "double-minded"?  I think I know what he is talking about.

Stay tuned for pictures of my yarn projects as well as my attempt at a Bullet Journal.

Friday, January 13, 2017


When I was about 9 years old, my 2 older sisters were the first and second lead in the play Carousel at their high school.  They both had beautiful singing voices;  the oldest played Julie, the lead female character and was a senior that year, while the next, the middle sister, played Carrie, the girl that has a safe, normal life.  That sister was a sophomore that year.  

I must have been in 3rd or 4th grade and witnessed the flurry of year long practice to learn lines and vocals.  We already had lots of classical music and show tunes for our record player, and Carousel with Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae was one of those records.  The tryouts were in September at the beginning of school, and the play was probably in April toward the end of the year.  I think both sisters lost weight from nerves, especially the oldest.  I was in awe of both of them.  I would stare at the pictures on the album cover and think how beautiful Shirley/Julie was, and how handsome Gordon MacRae/Billy.  They both had two of the most beautiful voices on Broadway, or anywhere for that matter.  Gordon MacRae reminded me of my dad in looks and voice, and Julie was the heroine.  I was so romantic at that age, so pulled in by the story and so disappointed at the unhappy ending.  I literally cried when I saw my sisters on stage because they did such a tremendous job that they became those characters to me during their performance.

If you don't know the story, it is about 2 young girls who work in the New England cotton mills on the Maine Coast in the late 1800's.  One girl is very intense and thoughtful and quiet - Julie, and the other, Carrie, has a beau who is in the fishing business and has great plans to marry her and have a fleet of boats and become rich.  One evening in the summer they go to the traveling fair that is in town and they ride on the Carousel.  Billy Bigelow, a rough, but handsome and charming barker works at the carousel.  Julie falls for him immediately, and although he fights it, he falls for her.  Carrie goes back to the mill house before curfew, but Julie stays out with Billy and that means getting fired from her job and getting a bad reputation.  Billy marries her, and doesn't think twice about slapping his wife, or cheating on her.  Julie's loyalty and steadiness draw him in, but irritate him at the same time.  He knows he isn't good enough for her, and, when she gets pregnant, he begins to fantasize about his son.  Suddenly he realizes it could be a girl, and reality hits him.  It is one thing to marry a willing girl and give her a bad life, but to bring an innocent child into a tawdry life is another.  He vows to provide for this daughter and get money any way he can.  He falls in with a criminal, Jigger, who has a plan to rob a large amount of money from someone carrying it to the bank.  Billy is desperate and goes in with Jigger.  Of course they get caught, Jigger escapes and Billy gets shot by a policeman and dies.  Julie is now alone, and the story skips ahead to her grown daughter, now a teenager.  Carrie's children are smug and pretentious, they know they are rich and spoiled.  They make fun of Julie's daughter, and she is an outcast because of her father.  She is lonely and intense like her mother, but she also has her father's sass, which makes her unpopular with adults.  Billy is in heaven and wants to come back to tell his daughter that he loved her, and is given one short day to somehow get this across to her without her seeing him or knowing he is there.  She senses his presence and is changed by knowing she was loved and that her father wasn't a creep.  Julie had always told her about him in loving terms, but she knew his reputation and why he died, and felt betrayed.  The movie ends with her graduating from high school and going out into the world with confidence in herself instead of the shame she had carried all her life.

The tragedy of a man who was raised badly, had lived unscrupulously and wanted badly to become legitimate and to be a good father, but doesn't know any way to accomplish this in time for the birth of his daughter, was so unbelievably sad to me.  It seemed so, well, tragic.  And then he dies in his attempt to make good, albeit robbing someone is not the best idea.

That play has never left me, especially the music that Rogers and Hammerstein crafted.  The songs are beautiful and haunting, and sung by Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae, they were the epitome of beauty to me.

I can still recall all the words to the songs to this day, and I am now 61 years old.  My favorite song from the entire production is Billy's "The Soliloquy" where he walks along the ocean shore and fantasizes about his relationship with his son, and how he won't let Julie make a sissy out of him.  And the whole tone changes when he stops suddenly and realizes it could be a girl.  "My Little Girl" is the second part of the Soliloquy and is unutterably beautiful.  I can sing that right through from beginning to end and see Gordon MacRae in my head in the scene from the movie.  

That story, that play, that music, and my sisters, both beautiful, playing and singing the female leads was magical to me, and it has engraved itself on my heart and my memory.  I can still feel the pathos of poor Julie making such a sorry decision as to fall in love with a roustabout, and that roustabout trying to beat the odds of his whole life to be a better man and a father.

Below is the song Carrie sings about her beau followed by "If I Loved You" with Billy and Julie, and "Soliloquy":

Billy and Julie fall in love:

  The Soliloquy: