Monday, December 30, 2013

Twenty Fourteen

Resolution is such a definitive word: to resolve oneself or to resolve to do something. Anyone who has made a New Year's resolution knows that it is also a word that gets carried out for a few days or perhaps several weeks at best. Rather than making resolutions, I prefer to have New Years reflections. No, it doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but it sets me up for much less failure.

Twenty fourteen, how do I want to spend thee? Upon reflection, I'm going to focus on several areas and set some definitive goals. Here goes.

Fitness- not really something new for me since I exercise regularly, anyway. For 2014 I'm going to switch it up a bit and pay special attention to upper body strengthening and stretching. Twice a week with the weights and at least 3 times a week with yoga, including the 9 month teacher training that starts in a few weeks.

Finishing- I have a number of uncompleted projects in my closet. Some are mine, some are my mother-in-law's. I will consider 2014 a year of finishing: 2 quilts, a hand appliqué square, an antique silk quilt repair and my MIL's cross stitch. No new fabric will be purchased in 2014. Nobody said this wasn't going to hurt.

First- for the sake of alliteration, I wanted to come up with another F word. I'm going to be mindful to put myself first this year, set limits to ensure I have time for treatments and be honest when I'm unable to do something because of health limitations. No more vague excuses: if I don't have the energy then that's what I'll say.

Bring it, 2014. I'm looking forward to the start of a new year and anticipate that it will be a full and rich one, whatever life sends my way.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hey Rusty

At the risk of stating the obvious, I'll say it's been a long time; nearly 9 months.  Much has happened, yet nothing has changed, which sounds funny but is true.

A CF friend that I've known for probably 10 years and I have reconnected and talked about being in closer touch, something that makes me happy. Over the past year, I've found myself missing the close online connections we had back in the mid- to late-2000s.  There was a group of adults who frequented a CF forum and became friendly. We chatted, answered each other's questions, researched, laughed, cried and started blogs together.  Sadly, all but a few of us have died and those that remain don't have the same chemistry or meaning for me.  It is impossible to recreate something special like that, I know this in my heart, but it doesn't stop me from missing the group and the camaraderie we shared.  I am happy to have L, who is a link to this group and with whom I have a lot in common other than CF.

I do have a local close CF friend that I'm in close touch with by text and I'm so thankful for her. We're in touch several times a week and often daily if one of us has an issue going on. It's wonderful to be able to share anecdotes from clinic or a bit of gossip from an inpatient stay; having someone local who is the same age is a huge blessing and the support is beyond anything a non-cystic can ever provide.

My bestie moved back to MA in September after 11 years away and amazingly lives within walking distance of our house.  Although difficult life circumstances prompted the change, she seems to be happy to be back in New England. It's such a treat to be able to walk to each other's houses, and I get to have my canine fix with her dog, Oscar.  Having her close by has been a wonderful addition to my life.  It's incredible that we've been friends for ~27 years, more than half my life.

All this is apropos of nothing. I'm very much out of the writing habit and feeling a bit rusty; in fact, as I reread this I'm cringing.  I am going to let it stand and hope that with time I'll get my mojo back. No promises!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Impermanence Revisited

Theory is wonderful.

Nearly everyone is able to accept an idea, concept, situation or construct in theoretical terms. Pontification is easy when speaking of something in the abstract.  We may tell ourselves we've accepted something and then: Surprise!  Life gets the last laugh on us and throws us a real  situation, something our egos have told us we are "ok" with -- and suddenly we're not as ok with it.  In fact, we can be downright thrown for a loop by it.

When it's summer and perennial flowers are everywhere, of course it's easy to say "oh yes, I understand they'll only be here for a short time. I'm ok with that and look forward to seeing them next year". What if they never, ever came back? Hm.. that's a completely different story.

I think it's a part of human nature to be resistant to change, particularly if it's not something we've initiated ourselves, or can't control.

Maybe the lesson here is not so much to attempt to master any of the tough theoretical concepts but to realize that we shouldn't be lulled into a false sense of thinking that we have. There are always issues that are going to cause us discomfort; the best we can do is to sit with them and the sensation of discomfort each time they come up and be grateful for the humbling reminder that we are only human.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Yarn to Fabric

Sometimes while on antibiotics my taste buds will change; I'll lose my taste for coffee, something I usually adore in the morning, and will actually develop an aversion to it.  Same for certain foods. I don't worry about it, things always end up coming back into favor after a time, but this time antibiotics seem to have switched my knitting fever to that of quilting. 

Oh, I"m still working on a pair of socks, albeit much more slowly than usual. I've had a lot of energy for quilting and below is one of the products. Two more are in progress... Depending upon my mood I will work on one or the other. Feeling traditional? The Double Irish Chain. A little more funky? Definitely the Blooming Nine Patch in vibrant colors. It's nice to be able to switch back from one to the other depending upon my mood. After all, it's a a woman's prerogative to change her mind. 

Thanks to Joe for being the quilt hanger :-)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


TGIF. Thank goodness it's fall.

Even as a kid I never loved summer, not the way most kids did. Like it? Sure. No school, lazy days at the beach or on vacation with the family. But I never felt great with the heat, even as a youngster.  When all my friends and I took tennis lessons at the town rec center everyone else was able to sprint effortlessly after the ball.  I found it to be a huge effort to muster the energy, let alone the enthusiasm.  My tennis instructor told me I was lazy. Maybe I was.

The lack of routine was also unsettling. Now I have no trouble keeping busy from dawn 'til dusk, but back then all those free hours - how to fill them? One can only play so much.

I remember a conversation with an acquaintance one late spring day while we were waiting for our kids to be released from elementary school. Her: "are you looking forward to summer?"  Me: "yes and no. I love the lack of routine (what a reversal!) but really don't like the hot, humid weather".  Her: "What? You don't love summer? I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't love summer!"

Clearly, her question was merely a rhetorical one and she really didn't care whether or not I was looking forward to summer, nor did she have any interest in getting to know me better. That was the first time I stopped to think about summer and maybe that I am a bit different in that I don't love it.  Fortunately, since then, I've met quite a few people who also share my sentiments so I stopped feeling odd long ago.

I do love the long days of summer and I try not to wish the months of July and August away. Each year, though, when September arrives I feel as though I can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Aaaah, another one over, and now for the gorgeous weather of fall. Warm days, clear, cooler nights. No more air-conditioner, we can sleep with the windows open and enjoy the fresh air.

 I can feel myself perking up day by day. Exercise, which had been a big challenge for me during the summer, becomes easier. I can get back into shape.  Treadmill? Check. Weights? Yep, gotta start again. Yoga? At least I can muddle through the summer with yoga. Joe and I will resume our walks on weekend mornings, definitely something to enjoy.

I feel like cooking again and my appetite picks back up. Rich, hearty soups, stews and casseroles. The smell of a chicken roasting in the oven. Mmmmmmmmm. Barbecue and salads are nice for about a month, but after that I get a little tired of the lighter fare and long for the cooler weather when food and its preparation becomes more of a pleasure for me.

Another reason to love fall: quilts! Not only is it nice to be able to put our many warm coverings to use, but I get the sewing bug again. Creative energy stirs and I have more ideas than I have time to create.  The neglected sewing machine gets brought back out and used almost daily when time allows. No matter that I have 3 quilts in line to be bound, that's what winter is for: sitting on the couch with a warm quilt on the lap, doing the hand-binding. After all, I never said I loved winter.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Never Let it be Said

This week I met with the pulmonary hypertension specialist who reviewed the exercise test I had done way back in June. Practically a distant memory, that, since the summer has been a very hot/humid one and I have had a viral infection for the past few weeks, both of which have taken quite a toll on my exercise tolerance. I'm in far worse shape now than I was when I had the testing done. Sisyphus has nothing on me; time to start rehabbing yet again and pushing that boulder back up the hill.

The test results were similar to the two previous ones in 2010 and 2011. My exercise tolerance is impaired, not just by the damage to my lungs, but also by my cardiovascualr system. Basically, my heart's ventricles don't contract properly while at exercise and the pressure in my pulmonary artery rises above normal. The combination of these things is what causes my need for supplemental oxygen when I exert myself.

My doctor asked if I'm happy with how I'm doing. I had to answer yes, but also asked if there was anything else we could try. There is an inhaled drug that would need to be nebulized three times a day which might have more effect; however, there were no guarantees. After weighing the time that would be necessary to add three additional treatments to my current 5, I decided that it wouldn't be worth going down that road until it's necessary. The oral medication is working well enough; sure, I'd like to be able to exercise without oxygen, but if the trade-off is more nebs, I'll pass.

The doctor did mention that I had put forth a great effort during the test, which was affirming.  Never let it be said that I didn't try my hardest, whether at an exercise test, being compliant with my treatments, or working hard to rehabilitate myself. At least there's that!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Life's Rich Pageant

Life is such an incredible journey. Everything we have experienced in the past leads us to where we are at the present moment, and these moments will, in turn, shape our future. Things that don't seem to be relevant at the time can help us down the road in ways we would never have dreamed. There's always something 'round the bend, just beyond our line of vision. At times we may get a glimpse of it and at other times it may come into full view, so clearly we will wonder how we had never seen it before.

Things seem to be coming together in an interesting way. Single events fit together like puzzle pieces and feel right. Past experiences that seemed unremarkable have taught me things that prove useful in current situations. I feel blissful and at peace. Amen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Appreciating Impermanence

 Each one of the flowers pictured above is a perennial, meaning that it will return and re-bloom each year, for a few days to perhaps a week. Annuals, on the other hand, bloom for an entire summer, although they only last that one season.  Each has its benefits: the annuals provide reliable, long-lasting color whereas perennials return yearly, but only for a fleeting time.  

There are a few annuals in my garden, some nasturtiums and marigolds in the veggie garden and several pots with lobelia, alyssum and impatiens.  Annuals are nice, but my passion has always been with perennials. Such a stunning assortment of forms and colors! The trick, one I've yet to master, is to have a mixture of perennials that will provide constant bloom throughout the season.  Every year I learn more about each plant: where it will be happy, what other plants complement it and when it blooms. Eventually, I hope to have color everywhere in the gardens from spring to fall, using only perennials.

When each flower appears with its colorful beauty it would be easy to feel disappointment at the short time we are able to enjoy it, or frustration at the fact that it doesn't last longer.  Over the years I've learned that it's important to appreciate them while they are blossoming, but realize that they'll never last as long as I'd like. Nothing does, whether it be something good or something bad, a lesson that is important to keep in mind.

Monday, June 25, 2012

For Comparison's Sake

Compare and contrast the two below photos:

I'm not calling anyone obese, or even overweight, but I'll let the photos speak for themselves. 

How long will it take for Dexi to fill out? Millie has been with us for nearly 4 years and look at her.  Sure, a lot of it is fluff, but there is plenty of substance under the fur.  I'm sure Dex will fatten up, especially now that he has lost his hormonal........urges.  Sorry Dexi! 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Finished Table

The finished result of the table refinishing project, it's being put to good use.
(Note the coaster under the water glass; Thanks Wilson, you're the best!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Kitty Porn (aka Dexi's First Photo Shoot)

He'd been hanging around the neighborhood for weeks, scrounging a meal wherever he could.  I fed him as often as he came around, against my husband's wishes. Each time, he'd appear with a new ear injury or fresh wounds on his nose from a battle. I decided his life would be much easier if he was neutered and took measures to make an appointment for him with the local spay/neuter catmobile.  They insisted on a name before they'd neuter him and Dexter was all I could come up with on the spot.

Naturally, we couldn't just put him back outdoors immediately following the surgery, so he was confined to the 3-season porch. The girls were quite unhappy about this interloper and there was a lot of growling and hissing going on through the glass door that kept them apart.  Once his feline leukemia and FIV status was determined to be negative it seemed appropriate for them to meet; the hissing and growling was replaced by slinking and skulking around after him as he explored the house. He's a respectful house guest and keeps to himself. The girls keep an eye on him from a safe distance. 

He's very thin, weighing in at 4.5 kg (9.9 lbs) before he was neutered. We'll fatten the boy up in our house! Both Gracie and Millie, though considerably smaller in stature, weigh at least a couple pounds more. Dex is light as a feather to pick up, but I'm sure that won't last long. 

He's full of personality and I'm sure as he becomes more comfortable around the house he'll develop even more antics. For now he's a catnip junkie, eats everything in sight, loves to have his tummy rubbed and has the tiniest meow for such a big boy. The family is once again complete. <3

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Next on the List

A college graduate has very different needs than a younger student, particularly one who has worked in the IT department at school. Much more sophisticated computer equipment comes home,  and with it,  the need for more desk space. After many months of browsing Craigslist for a new desk, it became apparent that it wasn't a desk that was needed; we needed a table.  Preferably something older and a little funky.  No MDF board or veneer, something solid that would stand the test of time and be as good looking as it is useful. 

A table finally appeared that would fit the bill. It was located in Salem and the price was right: $40. Yes, it needed a little TLC, but it was solid wood, had a small leaf for expansion should the need arise and was in decent shape. Nothing a little sanding and urethane couldn't fix. 

Above are the "before" photos. The sanding turned out to be a bit more work than anticipated, but what's a few extra hours on something that will be so useful? Fortunately, the trestle-style bottom part of the table was unblemished and only needed a light sand and some oil. The top needed to be taken down to bare wood, but once it was, it looked amazing. The best part, for me anyway, is oiling the wood after the sanding is complete, when the grain stands out and looks so beautiful. After the oil sinks in for a day or so comes the urethane to protect the surface against moisture and spilled drinks. 

Forty dollars and a weekend later we have a beautiful multi-purpose table that will  be a useful as it is nice looking.  Perfect for computer equipment, sewing machines or as a kitchen table, I know it will see many years of use.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rock the Boat Radio

I remember seeing the advertisements on TV when I was in high school, living in the middle of the state. It was the early '80's, a time of weird hairdos. Disco was dying and rock'n'roll or cheesy soft rock were the choices.  WFNX burst onto the scene offering alternative music, something I'd never heard of and wouldn't be able to tune into until I moved north of Boston a few years later for college.  It was a small radio station, located in a small city on the north shore, but it gave a voice to anything and everything deemed not mainstream.

An eclectic mix of music and radio programs, in it's earlier days there was a wine buyer who would discuss wines, a radio show called "1 in 10" discussing LGBT issues long before they became as mainstream as they are today, and the music was a mix of new artists and new wave/alternative rock. The Ramones, The Smiths, Nirvana, The Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins all were on WFNX before one or 2 of their songs made it to the rest of the stations. It was how I found out about new music for many years.

 I was hooked and it became my first choice radio station from college until today.  Sure, I'd flip around the dial when there was a song I really couldn't stand, or a long string of advertisements, but I'd always return.  Sadly, WFNX announced this week that they are shutting down, all the djs have been let go and they are being sold to Clearchannel.

I understand the business decision; along with everything else, radio is changing due to the digital age and the internet. Why listen through advertisements when you can create your own personal radio station on Pandora? I'm sad because it's the end of an era, a goodbye to djs I'd listened and become attached to over the years. One more small, independent company going the way of the dinosaurs.

I suppose as one gets older life is full of these changes. Progress brushes the things that are obsolete aside to make way for new, more efficient and exciting things. I understand that is the way things work and know there is reason for things being this way. And I think it is a good lesson to appreciate things they way they are today, for we have no idea what tomorrow and the day after tomorrow will be like. That's what keeps life exciting, interesting and new.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rain, Rain, You're Ok

Many years ago I read  that it was better to take outdoor photos on a cloudy day, rather than a sunny one. The less intense light allowed the colors to be more true and less washed out. It had never occurred to me and seemed counterintuitive, until I actually tried it. The colors really were more vibrant. Since then, I've tried to get garden photos on cloudy days and just this spring found how beautiful things can be after it rains. 

It's true everyone loves a sunny day and after a week of rain our moods certainly do suffer. It's good to be reminded that even rainy days are good for something, even if it's just getting a few photos to be looked at on another, brilliantly bright day.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Good Morning, Sunshine

Show me a cat and I'll show you the best place in the house to sit. They always know where the warmest, coziest, most comfy places are. 

All that research is exhausting. Yawn.

A stretch, a few turns and back to doing what cats do best. Time for some serious zzzzzzzzzzzz's.