Sunday, May 29, 2011

If a Blog is Written.....

...and nobody reads it is it still a blog?  (aka....If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it does it make noise?) I know that posts about blogging itself are the most boring of all.  And I know that towards the beginning of this blog when I was learning how to manage the task I had several blogs about my following, or lack there of and the total absence of comments. I've sort of put that to rest and have enjoyed chronicling various aspects of everyday  life. But.........I have to there anyone out there?  You know, blogspot automatically keeps track of visits to pages and I've noticed some occasional traffic.  I wonder if these are evidence of actual people reading a post or do they represent accidental stumbles onto my pages?  Or are they just automatically generated by search engines? 

So, if you're out there, raise your hand, give me a shout, send a comment, leave a note, ask a question or just tell me to be quiet.  Thanks.

Graduation #2 for 2011; #8 cumulative

Thursday son #3 graduated from Washington and Lee University.  It's a beautiful campus with a rich history.  In some ways it's a world unto itself.  He had a good four years there and truly benefited from the small close community.  He enjoyed fraternity life as a member of Sigma Nu and graduated with majors in math and science.  At the end of the summer he will be off to Ohio State for graduate school.
W&L holds their commencement outside so the weather is always a factor.  Thursday was HOT.  I had gone to the Baccalaureate Service the day before and sat in the hot sun until I finally decided to move to the shade rather than pass out.  Thursday we sat in the shade of one of the canopies.  It was still very hot but at least tolerable. The event is held on the lawn sandwiched between representations of their namesakes: the Colanade which has a statue of George Washington atop it and the Lee Chapel where General Lee is buried.

I didn't visit son #3 often during his four years at school but still I'm going to miss Lexington. It holds a special charm unto itself.  The tuition payments, however, I won't miss.  While this son graduated with twice the undergraduate debt of his brothers, he received a fellowship for grad school and should graduate with half the total education debt.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Graduation #1 for 2011; #7 Cumulative

Let me explain.  I have three boys and counting their high school graduations, yesterday was the seventh I've attended for them.  Don't get me wrong.  I love seeing them attain life goals and only illness, injury or death could keep me away.  But honestly, I've decided that graduations are probably the most tedious of life's ceremonies.  We think of them as solemn occasions, yet seldom have I experienced one that truly was able to attain that atmosphere.  The room or stadium is filled with excited people, many of whom had a difficult journey to the event and most of whom are armed with cameras trying to catch the moment forever.  If it's outside, it's often hot, especially for the graduates wearing dark colored robes, or rainy (several years ago we had a torrential downpour during one of the outdoor graduations).  And the event is always filled with speakers who are usually difficult to listen to or have little of interest to say.  Each graduate deserves to be recognized and we all are there to hear the name of our own loved one called out.  We are focused on our offspring, but honestly, that is the extent of our focus.  So if your name begins with A, you then sit through the entire rest of the class after your child has had their moment.  If it begins with Z, you first have to watch all the others before you get the satisfaction of seeing your child handed his diploma that probably cost you more than the price of your house.

Anyway.....all my complaints aside, I was delighted to see son #2 graduate yesterday.  The day was not without it's stressful events.  I had to drive into Richmond and a city driver, I am not.  When I made it to the location of the event, the parking garage was full, so this required yet more city driving to locate a parking garage.  We (myself and his fiance) found one about four blocks away.  This required a walk through a less than desirable city to get to the venue.  I reverted back to my NYC days growing up where the survival tactics were: don't make eye contact, walk like you have purpose and maintain a death grip on your purse.  The ceremony was all I've come to expect from graduations and afterwards we went out to eat to finish the celebration.  I'm very proud of all my boys and I love the opportunities life offers us to celebrate their lives.....even if it means listening to boring speakers and battling city traffic.

Son #3 graduates Wednesday and Thursday (a two day event to extend the opportunity for memorable occurrences).  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just Checking In

Life is progressing through the anticipated craziness of this month.  The first graduation is Friday and then events come in quick succession.  I've been trying to get the house and yard in tip-top shape both for guests and because I won't be able to care for the yard and house for several weeks during our upcoming graduations, wedding, visits, surgery and travel.

So, I've been busy and I've been able to maintain my walking schedule.  I think my eating is on track or close to on track, but the scale continues to refuse to budge.  I still weigh about 138 pounds (142 on a recent MD visit....but we've already discussed the scale discrepancies and my desire to continue to pretend that my scale is correct).  In any case I'm mainly looking for a decrease in weight and not particularly concerned about the exact number.  My clothes all fit better (some are even too big!) and I'm enjoying that.  But, truly, I would like to get back to seeing the scale register a bit lower.

I'd like to try to add an evening dog walk each night.  From now through the summer the days will be long enough to allow me to walk in the light.  But right now we're having a bit of a monsoon.  We've had almost two and 1/2 inches of rain in the past 24 hours.  Today I"m working on inside projects and being thankful that I'm able to just sit home and watch the weather.  I'm falling in love with retirement!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pirate Quilt

I decided to get this quilt done for a variety of reasons.  The recipient is in a "pirate phase" and I figured I should get it done before the stage passes.  He is also coming to visit in a few weeks and I wanted it ready by then.  The schedule is very full from now until July with: two graduations, a wedding (and all that goes with that), a surgery for my husband, a visit from his son and grandson and a trip with my sister.  I get tired just thinking about it.  So, I decided to finish this quilt and close up shop until this craziness is over.  Also, my sewing room becomes guest sleeping quarters, so half finished projects can't be left out strewn about.  Here it is:

I used a treasure map pattern for the back:

I had a lot of fun with this quilt.  I especially liked making the sailboat blocks and the quilting.  I started out thinking I would use the "Turning Twenty" pattern, but it didn't accommodate my center "flag" or the end size I wanted, so I have some blocks that follow that pattern and some just plain pieces.  Then I "stitched in the ditch" using a clear thread on top.  That didn't provide enough quilting for some of the blocks, so I put X's on the individual blocks.  Finally I did a diamond pattern on the flag.  That turned out to be SO much easier than I thought and in hindsight I should have just used that pattern all over the quilt in the traditional manner.  But, I'm not a traditional gal, so I have to do it my way first, I guess and then decide that the traditional way has merit.  What can I say??  I also made a bias binding for the edge...another first for me.  I didn't do so well at the corners, so I'll have to work on that next time.  I had some leftovers, so I made a pillowcase using the "inside out" pattern.  This pattern is all over the Internet, but here's a link (Is anyone really reading this blog?)  It was a lot easier than I expected and I liked the result.  In fact I'm thinking, "Pillowcases for everyone"  for Christmas!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Just Get Moving: Exercise is About When not How

Since my retirement I've been able to be more consistent with my daily dog walking.  The dog and I walk about one mile a day....every day.  I've come to believe that the consistency is the most important part of exercising for life.  It doesn't really matter if my walk is slightly shorter or longer than average, but it does matter that I do it as close to every single day as possible.  So, given that, I think it matters less what you do, and more when you do often.  You can walk, garden, dance, swim, whatever, but you need to do it regularly.

That brings me to part 2:  occasionally it is nice to push yourself beyond your every day activity level.  I like to hike and that accomplishes the extra push.  This past week I went hiking with my brother and sister-in-law and my dog.  The first day we hiked Big Schloss.  It was about 4.5 miles and about 800 feet of elevation change, but most of that change was in the first mile so it was pretty steep going at first.  I thought I was going to die.  But I didn't and then I felt rather accomplished when it was all over. The view from the top is fantastic. There was a strong wind at the top and my ball cap from Hawaii got sacrificed to the ravine.  I guess I'll just have to go back to Hawaii for another.  Shucks.

The next day we hiked to a Dark Hollow Falls in the Shenandoah National Park.  It was a shorter hike, but about the same elevation change.  Again, the falls were beautiful and very full with the recent rains we've had.  I couldn't take the dog on this hike since that trail is closed to pets. A fellow hiker told us of another way into the falls and I may try that trail with him the next time.  It was a nice way to add additional exercise, although I'm not sure it resulted in any further weight reduction.  I'll have to have another weigh in soon to find out.