Crochet – What Does Enough Look Like?

The Car Guy retired permanently a few years ago. He thought we’d have enough money and he knew his body and brain were no longer interested in the work routine.  I sort of retired when he did, though my career as a stay-at-home domestic ‘manager’, wasn’t one I could just walk away from. (Well, I could ‘walk away’, but that would probably mean I was either dead, or The Car Guy had decided to replace me with a younger ‘manager’…)

I used to have some ‘staff’, but they left home many years ago – so I turned to The Car Guy. Turns out he was willing to take on the evening sustenance routine and culinary procurement duties – but he balked at any task that involved removal of foreign substances from hard and soft surfaces. His foodie help was great, but it still left me many hours and tasks short of a leisurely retirement.

That led me to ask and answer my own Retirement Question – what does Enough look like? What is the intersect between dirty enough and clean enough? Enough stuff or too much stuff? Enough or not enough exercise? Enough or too much news? Enough or not enough…

I don’t have all the answers yet, but regular rounds of rightsizing – belongings, tasks, routines, etc  – has given me the mental energy to carve out more free time and be more creative.

Which leads me to a new craft I started in November. Scrumbles  (Freeform Crochet). Apparently Scrumble is the word that describes a small crochet ‘patch’. When the patches are all joined together, they are called… I don’t know, maybe Many Scrumbles?

This was my first Scrumble. I started this one on the car trip we took last fall from Alberta to Arizona. Three days of sitting in a car, in the silence that comes when the other person in the car is not a talker… I call it “Snails lost in a Flower Garden”

Going on a trip. Need about 4 skeins of yarn. I’ve packed 152 just to be safe.
– thecrochetcafe –

Ta da! Crocheting is a bit like being a magician… you mumble to yourself and waggle a stick around and no one else has a clue how you did it!
– crochetnow uk –

This Scrumble took exactly  one ball of yarn. It was one of those yarns that changes colour every few yards or so. I wonder how they dye it so it turns out like that. I call it “Snails and Pacman with Octopus Tentacles”.

This is where the enough aspect comes in. It is hard to know when the Scrumble is done because there is no pattern. You just make stuff up as you go along and unless you run out of wool, like I did on this Scrumble, it is hard to know when it is finished.

Marry the one who gives you the same feeling you have when you enter the yarn store.
– hooked –

I should learn to crochet something I’ll actually use… like a martini!
– Maxine.com –

This is my third Scrumble. I call it “Denizens of the Coral Reef”.  I knew it was done when I found a new ball of yarn that I liked a lot and it didn’t fit with the colours of this Scrumble. A quick finish to this Scrumble and I moved on to the next.

Yes I’m Bilingual – I speak fluent Crochet! Ch6, DTRC in base of ch 6, SC in next cluster. Repeat from * around, join with sl st to first st.
– Author Unknown –

Crocheter’s Hourly Rate:
$20/hr minimum
$30/hr if it requires black yarn
$40/hr if you require it by tomorrow
$80/hr if there is no pattern
$90/hr if your example photo was knitted.
– Author Unknown –

What Say You – Have you asked, and answered, your questions of “What does enough look like”?

My 52 Friends Plan for Retirement

We lived overseas (UK and the Middle East) for 5 1/2 years. When  it was time to return home to Canada, we were entering a new phase of life – we were retirees! It was a leap of faith. We could only guess whether our new economic situation was going to be adequate in a country we hadn’t lived in for a while!

We had made quite a few friends as expats, so before we moved home I came up with a cunning plan. If in fact there was going to be more month than money, we could sponge off visit our friends, on a rotating schedule. If I could find 52 friends who would each host us for one week, we didn’t really even have to have a home. I called it my 52 Friends Plan.

The roll out of my plan took place at our Overseas Going Away Party. We invited lots of people. Many of them were going to be retiring to places we thought we might like to visit. When they arrived at the party, I handed them a flyer I had printed up. It read as follows:

The Canadian Visitors Plan
You can avoid Surprise visits from retired Canadians by applying for Membership to The Canadian Visitors Plan. Once your application has been processed, you will have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your Canadian Guests will only stay with you for one predetermined week each year.

ToonadayAre Canadians Hard to Look After?
Canadians are a hardy and adaptable bunch, with relatively few special needs. We’ll send you a short list of ideas about how to make them feel comfortable in your home, along with suggested menu plans and wine pairings. We then encourage you to correspond with your Foster Canadian prior to their first visit. This will guide you in selecting a good list of sights to send them off to, so they won’t be in your home and bothering you during the day.

Is This Like an Exchange Program?
No, you are under no obligation to visit your Canadian in their home environment. But after your Canadian’s first visit at your home, your Canadian will undoubtedly encourage you to come and visit them (assuming they are not really homeless…) You will want to ascertain just what part of Canada your Canadian lives in, and what kind of accommodation they can offer you before you accept such an invitation. And while it is totally untrue that you have seen all of Canada just because you went to Toronto on business, there are many parts of Canada that you might not want to visit if your Canadian invites you to come in February.

The Selection Process
We will select a suitable Canadian, based on the preferences you indicate when you fill out your application form. Once we have assigned you your Canadian, we will send you an 4X6 glossy to hang on your fridge. But, if you are eager to start your friendship with a Canadian today, we can assign you this lovely couple… (Then I inserted our name, address, phone number and e-mail address.)

52 Weeks in a year – 52 Friends. It just made so much sense to me. Unfortunately no one took my 52 Friends Plan seriously. Not a single person signed up.

Within a month of arriving home, we received a request for accommodation from one of those expat friends. They stayed with us for two weeks – and we were but one of several people they were staying with as they hopscotched around the country. They were living my cunning plan. Excellent! My good idea worked – just not the way I thought it would.

What great ideas have you had that didn’t work out the way you planned?

 

Saying Good-bye – James – Moving On (Video)

Extremely moving video, especially if you have lost someone close to you or are caring for someone who is near the end of life.

Moving On

Walking down this road
When my pulse beats slow,
Hope to have you close at hand.
When this cycle ends,
Will it start again?
Will we recognize old friends?

I’m on my way,
Soon be moving on my way,
Leave a little light on,
Leave a little light on.
– James Lawrence Gott, James Patrick Glennie, Mark Hunter, Saul Davies, Timothy Booth

‘Moving On’  is a song from the album La Petite Mort by James – an English rock band from Manchester.

The song was inspired by the death of lead singer Tim Booth’s mother as well as the loss of his best friend, Gabrielle. Tim described these deaths as also feeling like a potential for rebirth.

The Video animator, Ainslie Henderson explained the motivation for the video: “Some days later this [death-rebirth] conversation echoes around my mind while I’m listening to ‘Moving On.’ I walk past a typical Scottish woollen knitwear shop. My eyes flit over a ball of wool in the window while the word ‘unwinding’ is sung.”

Video Credits:

Directed by ainslie henderson
Animation by ainslie henderson, Michael Hughes
Model Making by Tobias Feltus

Upside to Absent-mindedness

For some reason there is a malfunction, some disconnect, between my imaginary hello and, well, my actual hello… Just know this: if you have ever passed me in the hall and I appeared to ignore you, it actually wasn’t like that at all…
– Stuart McLean, The Vinyl Cafe Notebooks –

An imaginary hello. Yes, that describes the greeting I sometimes don’t give.

It’s caused (they say) by a condition called absent-mindedness (also spelled  absentmindedness or absent mindedness.) Often, I don’t even know that I’m being absent-minded. On other occasions, it is quite apparent: I search for my glasses and find them on the top of my head or I walk into a room but forget what I came there to do.

I don’t think it is something to be stressed about. On the whole, my memory usually runs fairly smoothly and  I’m fairly adept at focusing when I need to. I see the shift into absent-mindedness as something that sets me free to think in abstract or creative ways – (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

What was your most interesting absent-minded experience?

When Do You ‘Put Your Affairs in Order’?

The Quippery

Unless your Doctor has given you notice that your ‘Best Before Date’ is rapidly closing in on your ‘Expiry Date’, you might not have thought about the most important thing you can do for yourself now AND leave for your loved ones when you depart this world.

This important thing costs no more than a sheet or two of paper, but it is priceless. It is a List of All the Things you know now – but might not remember later. It is a list of things the Executor of your Estate won’t know until they have rifled through your desk, file cabinet and all sorts of places obvious and obscure – so that they can wrap up your estate and deliver it to your rightful heirs.

Think about this: Do you keep your documents in obvious locations like your desk, file cabinet or a shoe box under the bed? Does your family know you also stash important papers in a fake cabbage (or lettuce) in the fridge, a former box for fish cakes in the deep freeze, a secret cubby hole, a hidden safe, behind a trap door, or in a plastic case under a paving stone in the garden?

The QuipperyOur Experience: The Car Guy’s Dad passed on to the Great Fishing Hole of the Beyond a few months ago – without making The List.  The Car Guy is the Executor of this relatively simple Estate and fortunately he knew that the Original of the Will was in a safety deposit box – but he didn’t know which Bank owned the box nor where the keys were kept. That was just the beginning of what The Car Guy didn’t know.

Fortunately, The Car Guys Dad kept just about everything in a desk and file cabinet (and a Safety Deposit Box that the Bank won’t release the contents of until some unknown date in the future). It  took weeks to sort through all the documents, make a list of  possible assets and trace accounts back to their source to see if they were still active. Multiple layers of Government, Banks and Financial Institutions had to be contacted. Each of them required a large number of detailed and correctly filled out forms.

The whole process is like doing a Jigsaw Puzzle, except you don’t know how many pieces there are and you don’t have the box lid to see what the picture is going to look like. This experience has been the incentive for us to make our List of Things our Executor will need to know. It has been a good motivational exercise that has encouraged us to reassess what we are responsible for, and what we can get rid of. If you are similarly motivated, here are some things for you to consider, roughly in order of when your Executor will need the information:

The Basics: Full Name (‘Fishin’ Fred isn’t going to be good enough); Birth Date and Place (somewhere ‘down East’ before the crash of the stock market’) is just a bit vague; Location of all government issued documents and the ID numbers.

Burial or funeral instructions – that aren’t in your will.

The Family: Names and Contact numbers for all Immediate Family; Parent’s full names, where they were born; Spouse – Full name and location of the original marriage certificate.

Government, Career, Financial Information: List Company Names, Policy or Account Numbers, and Contacts for: Employment, Pensions or benefit plans; Health and Insurance plans; Government Insurance and benefits; Income tax documents; Bank and Credit Cards; Investments.

Real Estate: Properties you own; Loans and Mortgages; Utility companies you have accounts with. If the deceased owned property in another country, the transfer of the deed could be difficult to do, and possibly costly.

Affiliations: Groups, associations, memberships, newspapers, magazines and all those things that will have to be redirected or cancelled.

Online: Internet accounts and passwords.

Final Tax Return: Keep previous income tax returns for the number of years your government suggests is advisable. A list of all sources of income and deductions will be needed. Also keep a list of items that will be subject to Capital Gains, such as property. Itemize when these items were purchased and or disposed of. Retiree’s should also list when they retired.

Wrap it Up: list all the places where you keep documents and valuables. Explain what is in those places. Summarize  your assets and liabilities.

That is it! It will take some time to gather this information, but it will be as valuable to you now as it will be to your family when you pass on!

Have you been Executor of an Estate? Do you have a secret hiding places? Have you made a List?

 

He said, “I Don’t Want the Chicken”

I’m helping my Dad downsize. He will probably be moving to smaller living quarters in the not too distant future. The ‘weeding’ process isn’t easy for him. He has a strong attachment to just about everything old in his apartment. His bonds to the distant past grow stronger, as the memories of the near past fade.

If he is willing to let me remove anything, it is only because he is very certain that a family member will take ownership of the item and treasure it as much as he does. Everything I have carted off so far is now safely stored in The Car Guys Garage, pending resettlement somewhere. The pile is fluid. Some of the things I put there last week must now go back to Dad’s place – a change of heart and mind.

As I was getting ready to haul another load down to my car yesterday, he suddenly said, “Take the chicken. I really don’t want that chicken.”

552-rooster-portugal-27

That surprised me. The chicken, (more accurately a Portuguese Good Luck Rooster, I suppose) sat in a place of prominence in his living room. I don’t know how he acquired it, but it was clear from the tone in his voice that he would be glad to see it go.

Since I know someone who might want the Rooster,  I put the bird on the handy catch-all ledge in my kitchen. A row of sharp knives is nearby – a rather appropriate reminder to the bird of the historical method of dispatching fowl, should the bird need to be kept in line.

As I look at all the ‘treasures’ that reside in my house, I think about which ones I would want to keep till ‘death us do part.’ What will be my ‘chicken’ when my children are carting some of my material memories out the door?

We all need some of the material things that provide continuity to our lives by always being there and always being the same.
– Andy Rooney –

Are you still in the accumulating stage of life, or have you started to downsize?

Give Me the Good Old Parking Meter, Please!

You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said ‘Parking Fine.’
– Tommy Cooper –

Parking Meters used to look a bit like Jelly Bean Machines.

I’ve become the family chauffeur since The Car Guy had his motorcycle accident.  I don’t mind driving, though it would be much more pleasant if all those drivers who never do a shoulder check would stop trying to occupy my car’s geographic location. Arriving safely at our destination, and finding a parking spot is always a relief.

The true challenge comes when it is time to pay for the parking. Gone are the days when I handed my ticket and money to a kindly attendant in a little booth at the exit or plugged my coins into a friendly machine that looked like it could dispense jelly beans. No, today I am faced with the pure evil of electronic ticket machines. They are the silent but efficient guardians of the place where I will abandon my vehicle in order to sit in a Doctor’s office for eternity plus a 3 minute consult.

There is no universal parking ticket machine. Each parking lot is the proud owner of a machine that was designed by someone who failed ‘your grandma might park here some day 101′. This means that each machine is unique in: the order in which you insert your ticket and credit card; the direction you insert said cards; the location where the pertinent buttons are; and the cryptic little symbols that replace a language I might understand. After three less than successful attempts to master three machines in three different lots, I figured out that the easiest way to pay the machine is to turn to the person directly behind me in line and say, “This will be much faster for both of us if you just show me how to pay this &%@#$ ticket.”

There was a time, not so many years ago, that I could board a plane in the Middle East – three layovers and 30 some hours  later, I’d be back at my Canadian home. All by myself, I could buy tickets, change planes, ride trains, even stay in a hotel.  Now I can barely negotiate a trip to the city if it means I have to park somewhere. How pathetic.

If your access to health care involves your leaving work and driving somewhere and parking and waiting for a long time, that’s not going to promote healthiness.
– Larry Page –

Scanning my Mind and Computer for Memories

Do I plug this into my left ear or my right ear?

Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don’t have film.
Unknown –

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could plug one end of a USB cord into your ear, the other into your computer, and download every memory that resides in your brain?  A nifty little software program, like an Access database but far easier to use, would sort the memories by year, topic and any other category you wanted. Then a Scrapbook program would create wonderful photo journals of your life.

I mention this because I believe the memory bank in my brain needs to be defragged. Bits of information keep getting mislaid. I found the date of my next Dentist appointment filed with the trip to Galveston in 1979. And The Car Guys office phone number is mixed in with the cost of my car in 1984. Retrieving information can be a challenge some days. It would be nice to have the contents of my brain on my computer – it has a much better search function than my head does.

I’m not just sitting idly by, though, waiting for the computer industry to fulfill my grand dream. I have piles and piles of other things that I can scan onto my computer. I won’t have to lug out photo albums, slide carousels and file folders full of wedding invitations and birth announcements. I’ll just power up my laptop, click on a year, and scroll down a page of memories.

The 35 mm slides and negs will be fairly easy to scan, as will old prints, cards, and letters. The 110 negs are going to be the challenge. Building my own 110 film holder isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I’m on Prototype 5, and it involves heavy card stock and my sewing machine…

Here are two of the photos I’ve revived in Photoshop Elements. The pictures certainly help me to retrieve the memories in my mind!

A small daughter was seeing life through rose colored sun glasses that day.

______________________

A successful launch sequence, lift off and landing!

Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.
– Henri Cartier-Bresson –

A Fiery Birthday Story

It would be quite all right for me to take the day off today and not write in my blog. It is my Birthday, and I believe a birthday should be a day of indulgence.

But I enjoy writing and I like my blog. It is akin to having a child that isn’t ever going to be a teenager. Or owning a cat that doesn’t shed or claw the furniture or choke up fur balls. Or a job I can do from home in my pajamas. Or a car that never needs gas… (Actually, I have a car like that. My  Spousal Unit, The Car Guy, is very good about keeping my car clean, serviced, and gassed up.)

So what else have I got planned for the day? I’m not sure yet, but it certainly IS NOT going to involve a birthday cake. The candles are getting so numerous that they pose a fire hazard.

I’m not going to talk about getting older either, because, there is no upside to thinking those kinds of self defeating thoughts. As Bernard B. Baruch said, “To me, old age is 15 years older than I am.”  Helen Hayes echoed that idea when she said: “Age is not important unless you’re a cheese.”

Most days, if I didn’t look in the mirror, I would be the same person I was 20 or 30 or 40 years ago. Except I am more sure of my opinions. Although, as Dave Barry points out: “I’ve been hanging around with people roughly my age for the bulk of my life, and I frankly do not feel that, as a group, we have acquired the wisdom and maturity needed to run the world, or even necessarily power tools.” So, although I might seem confident, you should be wary around me if I’m holding anything that is plugged into a wall socket.

Well, enough of that. I’m off to indulge myself on the next thing that pops into my head. I believe it might involve chocolate… 

Aging Woman and the Invisibility Factor

There was a column in the National Post this morning called 10 Ways to Make Canada More Senior Friendly. It appears that the piece was written by National Post Staff members Joe O’Connor and Jeremy Sandler.  It is a very good example of what the term “Ageism” means.  In short, the article is a derogatory depiction of a group of people based on a prejudice against that group.

The “10 Ways to Make Canada More Senior Friendly” is simply a list of  ten of the more common stereotypes that brand Seniors as being tired, broken down people. It isn’t a funny column. It doesn’t contain anything original. It is offensive.

These National Post Staff members were commenting on the fact that Statistics Canada is predicting that people over the age of 65 will soon outnumber children under the age of 15. No surprise here – the Baby Boomers are becoming senior citizens. While the young staff writers of the National Post are looking forward to a rapid diminishment of Baby Boomer power,  Baby Boomers will likely not oblige them. Baby Boomers have always considered themselves to be Change Agents, and as such it is unlikely their “Senior Years” will be anything like the ageist stereotypes that the National Post listed in their column today.

In addition to Ageist Stereotypes, women often become  to suffer from being Invisible.  Writer Susan Reimer explains: ‘As women age we begin to fade from view, moving from vibrant to translucent to invisible. To young husbands and little children, women shine like a sun at the centre of their universe. Soon enough, these same husbands only pretend to listen when we speak. Those same children dismiss us with a flip of the wrist. And the rest of the world, full of people who might once have thought we were pretty or interesting, does not even see us when we pass.’

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