Saturday, October 20, 2018

Lessons From Turtles and The School of Hard Knocks

turtles sunning themselves on a rock at the mall
People, I will just say here at the outset, I am not a reptile person. However, since moving to Florida, I have had to admit that some reptiles put a smile on my face. 

The crowd of turtles living in our neighborhood retention pond are so very predictable. Their eyesight is surprisingly good. They can see us approaching from at least 100 feet away and begin slipping off their concrete slab to paddle toward us. Although we offer them the stalest of bread pieces, they snatch them up as quickly as they can (unless, of course, the big greedy carp grabs it first). 

At one of our shopping centers, there are turtles who are into stretching their limbs while they bake in the hot sun. Take note, below: 

my gloved hand points to the outstretches hands, feet and toes
Their positions remind me of yoga stretches. That front arm on the left is even at an artful angle, although it's a little hard to see in the picture. These poses are held for minutes at a time and then they shift to a new one. Isn't this crazy?!!

Turtle talk is my segue into an update on my painful shoulder. I've been talking about it for weeks now and finally, thankfully, I have better news to report today. 

While learning how the game is played with getting an appointment with a specialist while waiting for medical records to be sent from out of state (which is a frustrating experience upon which I will not elaborate), I did more research on the Internet (at reputable sites). I came across a site referencing "frozen shoulder" where exercises were demonstrated, the same movements I used ten years ago in physical therapy after my shoulder replacement. I decided to add them to my daily routine, gently, of course.

Then the really big breakthrough came about when I saw for myself the amazing benefits of doing those exercises while standing underneath a long hot shower. Astonishing. Truly.

So I'm doing the exercises daily under a hot shower and although I still have some pain, it has reduced, and my range of motion is getting better. Thank You, Lord!

Now on to the hair update. I know, I know. I'm so vain. But this is real life. Women are made to care about their hair!! The tresses are probably 1/16th of an inch longer than they were last Saturday and I've been able to make friends with my round styling brush in such a way that I think the worst is behind me. 

Also, with the improvements in my bad shoulder, I can hold the blow dryer for longer periods of time. A hair dresser taught me years ago to bend over the counter, resting the elbow of the injured arm, hold the blow dryer, and then move my head instead of the arm to get the job done. Then use the good arm to fluff the hair and/or maneuver the styling brush. That is working for me. 

Using the curling iron on the back of my head is just about impossible, since doing anything behind my head with the bad shoulder is called physical therapy, but as the hair grows longer, even that will be less problematic. 

flu shot collage
While we're on the topic of medical matters, here is my collage about our flu shots. Beloved and I don't remember ever getting a flu shot in our adult lives (although I may have got one years ago when I worked in a doctor's office during the college years). We were advised by our family physician over the past twenty years to avoid them. However, we are both over 65 now and are able to spend a little more time with our grandchildren than in previous years, so getting the flu shot just seemed prudent to me. 

Beloved wasn't that keen on it, but I was insistent and since he's doing all the driving while my shoulder's been unreliable, he got the shot when he took me in. I posted about it on Face Book. Beloved's comment:

 I whimpered until Barbara suggested we go to DQ for a rewarding treat after those terrible flu shots!

Yes, bribery works for kids, grandchildren, and husbands!

Let's see. What else have I got to report?

swim top with separate swim shorts
The gal who said nobody needs to see her in a swimsuit any more... she has since re-thunk that and decided it would be nice to enjoy a hot tub from time to time with the shoulder issues. Besides, nobody expects a 60-something to look a perfect 10, right?!  (my blogging friend, Terri at Your Friend From Florida, set me straight on that one)

My eye caught a sale rack at Sears with swim  pieces priced at under $4. By the way, those strategically placed ruffles do a lot to improve a flawed figure.

completed Christmas carolers - the pattern did not include eye balls, just mouths

From the portable sewing caddie, this week I've got a couple of finishes to share with you, as well as a bit of wisdom from the School of Hard Knocks.

My faithful readers will remember that due to our business venture, I cannot spread out in my sewing room as I have in days of old, so I continue to work out of my plastic Recollections box that allows me to take my favorite hobby anywhere at any time. ("Recollections" is the brand name)

My limited work space presents problems for my grandiose schemes (i.e. can't get to my sewing machine easily); so I completed the Christmas carolers with a simple card, adhesive tape, and a careful trim and unraveling of the Aida cloth till it all fit nicely. Two strips of ribbon tied on finished it off. I may add a twinkle or two, or a black-ink stamp to say Merry Christmas, or I might not. (Sometimes I need to leave well enough alone.)

Now on to my lessons learned at The School of Hard Knocks. 

store-bought bookmark ready for cross stitch design
Those ready-made bookmarks (above) are not always put together on the straight-of-the-grain. In my enthusiasm to sew, I did not notice until I was well into the project that not only had I not been careful enough in centering my letters vertically (my bad), but the factory did not line up the lace with the straight-of-grain. 

I went on to complete that one so I could use it as a template for the spacing of the individual letters, but the outcome will be hid in my own books and not given as a gift to anybody.

watch out for sharp edges!

My other lesson from TSOHK (school of hard knocks) was to pay attention to the warning on the metal plate used to hold my pattern with magnetic strips. It clearly states in the corner, "WARNING: use caution when handling metal; edges may be sharp. Tape edges with masking tape and replace as needed for protection."

I've used this kind of product for many years in the past and sharp edges were never a problem. However, I bought two new ones recently and somehow did manage to scrape my right index finger TWICE on the edge, to the point of blood sacrifice, gnashing of teeth,  and needing a bandage. I am currently taking a short break from stitching so the sore places can heal. Bummer. 

Follow the warning -- put the tape on the edges. 

Q-snap frame

A more pleasant lesson learned is I really do like the Q-snap frame for some projects more than the traditional embroidery hoop. Tightening and releasing the screw on the round embroidery hoop can be tedious for arthritic fingers. 

a successful completion
My last lesson learned over the past few days has been a change in my Bible devotional reading every morning. A recently-deceased friend was greatly encouraged with the Daily Audio Bible. While I've been reading from the NIV version of the One Year Bible, the Daily Audio Bible reads aloud from that same version with the very same selection of verses. It also provides a journal section, so you can make notes while listening. 

For my personal learning style, I find this to be a helpful tool that fits me well. If this interests you, just click on this link:  to investigate it for yourself. It is absolutely free.
large bowl of palms outside of Dillards
I've run out of news and want to save time to read what you've been up to on your blog.

Thank you so much every one of you who has breathed a prayer for me with my shoulder. The Lord has been gracious to me.

Until next time ...

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Wednesday Medley

my brother-in-law's pumpkin patch

Today I am taking a quick break from my To Do List to respond to 
questions put out by Terri at her blog, Your Friend From Florida

If you want to participate on your blog, click here to see The Wednesday Medley.

1. My one very favorite pumpkin flavored food or drink is baked pumpkin bars with a cream cheese frosting. They are good any time of year, but enjoying them in autumn is best.

2. The one product I would probably stockpile if I found out they weren’t going to sell it any more would be dental floss brushes. I use them religiously twice a day, along with dental floss, and my gum problems have been non-existent for years.

3. The most interesting (and tragic) thing I’ve seen online this week has been the pictures of destruction by Hurricane Michael.

4. I prefer to be a small fish in a big pond. Small fish, when working with many more like them, headed in the right direction, can make a significant difference.

5. I don’t play chess. But I’m pretty good at checkers if my opponent is less than twelve years old!

6. Our weather is supposed to turn cooler after today. They are going so far as to say this will be our last 90+ degree day of 2018. I look forward to wearing my jeans more, even if it’s still with sandals. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Weekend Report

2 Impatiens + 1 Begonia = Autumn Color on our patio
Another week is wrapping up. Although we've been spared the carnage of words and protests on Capitol Hill, that storm has been surpassed by the shocking devastation of Hurricane Michael. Just a four-hour drive from where I'm now typing, people are stunned with the sudden loss of their homes, cars, schools, churches, grocery stores -- all necessities of life swept away in a few hours of turbulent wind and water. It's a little hard to wrap the mind about what has happened, in spite of the vivid scenes on TV news.

I am most thankful to report my people are safe, as we are, the storm having marched relentlessly between them and us. We pray for friends (including bloggers) caught in-between as well as the many we do not know but who need our intercessions so much. 

a new Freddy's opened up in our area
Current events serve up many lessons for those who are of a teachable spirit. I am reminded to not take anybody nor anything for granted. Even when we feel at odds with people, or our circumstances are not best, God is still on His throne. There are times, and this is one of them, when we need to trust Him when all around us defies His existence.

This "weekend report" blog post continues the pattern I've set for myself over the past month since changes have initiated less time for blogging. Nope, I'm still not sharing our business venture with my readers. The time just isn't yet right for that. But I can skirt around that topic and share some of what we've been up to.

Soap Opera Laundromat
Every once in a while we have to get acquainted with a laundromat to wash the king- and queen-sized quilts from our beds. While that venture tends to stress me out (be sure to take A LOT of quarters!!), it has always turned out fine. Beloved is a huge help with that. I really don't have to do anything except remember to bring laundry detergent in a small covered container. Lugging the heavy wet laundry is extremely painful for my injured shoulder, so Beloved takes over and I love him for that. He is my hero in so many ways!

Not looking my best these days
This, of course, is my segue into the shoulder and hair style reports. First with the hair: it's getting better (i.e. longer) but styling it is a genuine pain since my left arm can't help much with that. Beloved made my day yesterday with his comment that my tresses are looking a little more full, which was melodious to my ears. The unfortunate haircut was a full month ago now. The front looks well enough, but the back still has a distinctive boyish look to it, which I  greatly dislike on me. But yes, at least I have hair, and I am thankful for that. I can wear hats, but they don't suit my face shape and it's still too warm here in Florida to wear hats much.

Regarding the shoulder: THANK YOU for the prayers you've voiced on my behalf. This week the wheels turning toward a referral to an orthopedic doctor were turning mighty slow, so I nudged that and got some positive results. The orthopedic office has now requested the surgical records from my Denver surgeon and after those have been received, an appointment will be made. 

more of our flora and fauna, as seen from the back porch
In the meantime, I decided wearing the sling was not a good thing even though immobility is a comfort. I'm doing the gentle bend over and swing the arm exercises several times a day  to keep everything in there moving. I read about a condition called "frozen shoulder" and wondered if I might be headed in that direction. Keeping it moving seems to be prudent. But I'm not overdoing it. If I did, I'd be passed out on the floor from the pain. 

So much for the whining part of this report. 

My "traveling cross stitch studio" has served me well, with even enough space to tuck in a fun book when there's no time (or table space) to spread out the sewing project. 

That book, by the way, has a plot centered in Colorado's High Country, which I miss but not enough to pack up and move back. Beloved has said as recently as just the other day that he does not miss shoveling snow. 'Nuf said on that.

the bicycle collage
My last weekend report featured the nearly-done bike project which I then pedaled over the finish line while sitting at Panera Bread. I did not do the lettering above the bicycle, preferring to leave it wordless. I am undecided how I'll finish it off (frame, make into a pillow, etc). Our current business venture prohibits me from pulling out the sewing machine to do something grand with it, so it's tucked into a drawer until my limitations are removed.

pumpkin from the Internet
My next project was done almost before it was begun, so to speak; it was that quick. Only 4 colors of DMC floss were required. It was a nearly mindless design as I contemplated the next enterprise.

one of my favorite reads of late
Right here I need to put in a plug for my public library. Would you  believe I have checked out this same book THREE times since August 1st?  The patterns are just right for me, so cute, not too challenging and cheerful. I'm all for cheerful, aren't you? Yesterday I finally ordered the book off of Amazon. It should be here in a week or so. In the meantime, I'm holding onto the library's copy.

carolers collage
Christmas carolers. As you can see, I enjoy snapping pictures of my progress. One of the many pleasures of counted cross stitch (this means there are no pre-printed x's on the background fabric) is to watch the design appear with the progression of stitches. 

With my current state of things, I need to keep my these projects small, so I'm thinking this design may end up on a greeting card. I'll show you the finish when it happens.

"Watching the design appear with the progression of stitches" ... I'm thinking that's what we are doing when we wait for the Lord to unfold His will for us. 

God did not design us to handle worry well. If left unchecked, it can wreak havoc with our mind and body. Choosing to wait with calm is helpful. (and it is, indeed, a choice!) 

Attention to change helps us to appreciate the process. Eventually it all begins to take form and we are able to see how the length of the process was important for a good outcome. 

Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, 
with thanksgiving, 
present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

Blessings to each of my readers. Thank you for your prayers on my behalf. I pray for you that my blog posts are at the very least wholesome, enjoyable reading, and even more so, an encouragement for wherever you are in life's journey.

Until next time ...

Friday, October 5, 2018

Friday Afternoon Check-in

Jacksonville Beach
Lest  you are tempted to think I am thumbing my nose at you who are in the northern regions with my beach photos, let me assure  you that is not my intention at all. The fact of the matter is, most of you are writing of your delight with the advent of Autumn with the warm and tender quick breads, seasonal lattes, all things pumpkin, and unpacking the wooly sweaters. Don't think for a minute that I'm not just a bit envious.

large white waves crashing with rip tides below the surface of the Atlantic
I'm just reporting how it is here, now, in northeast Florida. Yes, we are rejoicing with the coming of Autumn here, too. Our nighttime lows are just now slipping below the 70-degree mark, and the number of highs in the mid-90s are decreasing!

sea oats with the Jacksonville Pier in the upper right hand of this photo
This is our second Autumn* in Jacksonville, and I think I'm more in tune with the local flora and fauna this year. Take for instance these sea oats we saw today. They are either drying out due to the change in seasons, or (more likely) nearly cooked to a crisp from the unusually hot September we've had, even for Florida. At any rate, they aren't nearly as pretty as they were the last time we were at the beach.

*Those who know me are aware I don't use the word "Fall" for this season because there can't be a happy FALL. Unless you are falling in love, of course. A very serious fall I had nearly ten years ago has given me a physical disability. There's an update on that later in this post.

new shoes by Earth Origins from DSW
Another sign of Autumn is that I felt compelled to buy for myself a warmer pair of sandals. Warmer, you say? Yes. I have discovered that some of my sandals are for the hottest of weather because others in my closet do not keep my feet cool enough when the temperature is way up there. 

I heard there was a good sale on at DSW (Discount Shoe Warehouse), however, these were most decidedly not on sale -- a further indication to me they are appropriate for this season and not summer leftovers. But I was in search of closed-toe sandals and these were among the very few I found. They now reside in my closet.
the view from our deck table at Joe's Crab Shack
But back to the subject of the beach. As I have said in previous posts, when life gets to be too too much, one of my recourses is to invite Beloved to take me to lunch at the beach. We don't even have to walk in the sand. My psyche just needs to dine within view of the crashing waves and my sense of well-being is enhanced.  Today was one of those times.

Beloved with his burger; I ordered my usual Coconut Shrimp
and Sweet Tea, of course!!
I was finally able to see my family doctor today about the worsening pain in my shoulder (the one with the nearly ten-year old partial replacement). And at that, this was not my usual doctor, who had called in sick today. So it was a very capable other doctor on staff and I was thankful for him.

Xrays revealed that the bone and metal part seems to be intact. However, since my shoulder is a complicated matter and X-rays don't show muscle damage, this doctor is referring me to an orthopedic man and gave me a high-powered anti-inflammatory prescription to tide me over in the meantime. I expected no less but a trip to the beach was still appropriate.

me at a public library
Our business venture (still not to be revealed; sorry) is progressing very well, demanding travel, late nights, early mornings, and sometimes we just have to sit and wait. In the past two weeks I have been in public libraries in two states, biding the time in a secure place that provides free rest rooms, free WiFi, relative quiet, and excellent lighting for my cross stitch. 

my own cross stitch niche
While I am immensely thankful for a sewing room where I can spread out all of my fabrics, threads, tools, and watch TV, this current stage of my life requires I consolidate my stitching into a large handled plastic box so I can take it with me just about anywhere. I got the box for something else a year or so ago, probably from JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby, or Michaels -- not sure which.

cross stitch kit from Walmart
As you can see, I'm making progress with my bicycle. As so many of you have said to me, cross stitching is relaxing. It's been another stressful week with the national news. We pray, wait on the Lord for answers, and busy ourselves with absorbing projects. 

Flosstube personalities
Have I said anything yet about Flosstube? If you love cross stitch, then you simply must check this out. Just use your browser to search Flosstube and you will be overwhelmed with all the people who have felt the need to talk to you about their projects. I mean, it's overwhelming how many people want to sit in front of their little cameras and talk for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour about their sewing, their lives, their problems, and on and on. 

Whereas I have wondered countless times over the past 9+ years as to why I feel the need to journal on the Internet via this blog, I don't have any desire to do it via live video! But to each their own.

These Flosstubers, as I call them, are my usual companions when I am stitching at home. I even talk back to them when I feel it's warranted. They each have their own personalities from funny, serious, and sometimes so rowdy that I have to turn them off. 

Update on my short haircut: thanks to those of you who have said such kind things to me. That helps.  You can't see the worst of it on the back of my head; but thanks all the same. It's always a blessing to see gals supporting each other instead of being snitty, as the carnal female tends to do.

It's been 4 weeks since the shearing took place, so I can now grab onto it a little better and soon might be able to style it with a round brush and/or curling iron. (I know, I'm so vain; but I'm not alone!)

Beloved and I are doing our best to stay in close touch with the Lord as we consider matters of late. One of Dr. Charles Stanley's devotionals struck a chord with me this morning when he shared Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

And then this from J.I. Packer's book, Knowing and Doing the Will of God: "Wisdom will always be given if we are humble and docile enough to receive it." Docile enough to receive it. Yes, Lord. I'm listening.

Until next time ...


Charles F. Stanley, page 292 of Into His Presence.

Friday, September 28, 2018

A Summary of Recent Weeks

staying alert on the road with java
Although my current personal schedule and commitments are seriously restricting the time I can devote to blogging, I do miss this creative outlet. A week without writing is about as long as I can stand. You who are my sister bloggers understand this.

Me 'n my Mama (aka The Cook on Fifth Street)

My visit with The Cook on Fifth Street has gone very well. She always welcomes guests although I am pleased to note she has more friends in her new neighborhood than she lets on. 

Mama and Beloved
You see, we moved her into an apartment nearly a year ago and she's been unhappy with the change, necessary as it was. She is in the best of hands with servants at her beck and call, a chef to cook all her meals and pleasant waitstaff to bring the delectables to her table. Laundry, housecleaning, assistance with medications and drying off after a shower -- all are included in the rent, allowing Sister and me to carry a lighter load in the grand scheme of things.

PLUS, she was finally convinced (after some mishaps) to wear an  emergency call button around her neck, should she ever find herself "down for the count" (if you know what I mean).

Internet photo of a Cockatiel 
And back to the subject of friends, she was insistent that I meet her neighbor across the hall who has her own Cockatiel to keep her company. He was a pretty boy and looked so cheery with all that yellow feathery plumage atop his nostrils. And how 'bout that cheek blush?

walking the halls to the dining room provides good exercise 3X daily
Mama and I had some quality time together as we attended a nutrition class (with a focus on the benefits of yogurt in the geriatric diet). We played with fashionable scarves while she sat in front of a mirror. A large photo scrapbook album provided us with good memories one afternoon, and then there were the long conversations.

visiting with Buddy the Therapy Dog

Her love for animals still runs strong. A Morkie (part Yorkier and part Maltese) visitor came earlier this week and put a smile on everybody's face. 

reversible pillow: a gift from a shop at Disney Springs (Walt Disney World)
She doesn't always remember the people and places I bring up, but then, there are some memories that she does recall. I am happy to report she still knows all of us, our children, her TWENTY great-grandchildren and she loves to hear stories about their adventures.

my brother-in-law's garden
The Great Pumpkin Patch is alive and well again this year in Sister's yard. This year they did not plant their usual full garden, but pumpkin seeds did germinate so local family and friends could choose however many they want to decorate homes, porches and even school rooms. Charlie Brown would be glad to see this!

a close-up in the Pumpkin Patch
On to other things. I am still dealing with the @#$%&!!! of this very short haircut but I rejoice to report it's grown (by my estimate) about a quarter of an inch since the unfortunate style change was forced upon me by a flighty hairdresser. Sometimes we have to look close to find the blessings, but they are there!

crossing the Ohio River
Our frequent conference calls and travel to meetings continues. The myriad of decisions have caused us to lose a little sleep over this venture, wondering if we are heading in the right direction or are we out of our minds?? We find ourselves lingering in prayer a little longer these days.

my current project purchased at Walmart
I still choose to remain mum on the details, mostly just in case it all falls through and we look like fools.  Please do pray for us that we are listening to the Lord's leading. We're too old to do anything unwise on a grand scale.

accomplishment thus far
My shoulder. (did I mention it in my last post?) I've somehow injured the one with the replacement part and it's become quite a nuisance. Advil, ice packs, and deep heating rub, along with resting it as much as possible -- all seem to help when I do them routinely. So with that amount of success, I am hopeful it's just a strained muscle. I'm giving it more time to heal before I call the doctor. Getting old (and injured) isn't for sissies!
cross stitch on-the-go in a travel case
Thankfully I can still do my cross stitching through everything. Several of you have written to express how sewing helps to calm and center the mind when times are rough.  

Hasn't this been just one of the ugliest weeks, politically?!! While quiet sewing helps to settle me down, I find my greatest refuge during turmoil is to sit quietly by myself with open Bible and just read. When I am in God's Word I KNOW I am doing the right thing and will be calmed with His love. It really works!

Until next time ...

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee.
Isaiah 26:3