Saturday, November 22, 2014

2014 in Review

Though I don't update this blog much any more, there have been a few things that happened in 2014 that I wanted to touch on. The first of these is something that I guess can be expected at my age, especially since I remain 50+ lbs. overweight. Specifically, as of around the third week of March of this year, for the first time, I now have a body part - my right knee - that, to one degree or another, hurts every day. It's not the severe pain and accompanying nausea that I experienced with the migraines I had for decades (which thankfully have become infrequent and much less severe) but has been bothersome nevertheless, especially when I get in and out of the bathtub or when I sit in the same position for awhile in my office chair without elevating my leg. In April, after an X-ray revealed no internal issue, I saw my new doctor (who I like very much) at my new insurance carrier, and I thought it was odd when he prescribed that I buy and wear "Superfeet Blue" insoles in my shoes at all times. I do feel the insoles have helped. But I don't feel the situation will change drastically till I lose weight and get in better physical shape. You would think this chronic issue would have been a great incentive to change, but I continue to struggle with my carb addiction, related to the need for comfort and stress relief, mostly due to continuing to have to work at a full-time job with constant multiple deadlines, and no way to retire for several more years (unless the Publisher's Clearing House people decide to come calling....).

I took another trip to Portland in May, and it was definitely the best trip there that I have taken. I hadn't planned to visit again so soon after just having done so in Sept. '13, but decided to take advantage of a Groupon discount coupon for an upscale hotel in Hillsboro, near the Max (transit rail) line. I rode the Max multiple times from one end to the other (the town of Gresham) and went to the Portland Saturday Market, Fabric Depot (probably the largest fabric and craft store in the western U.S.) and the World Forestry Center, and visited other neighborhoods in Portland via bus. The transit system in Portland is so extensive and reliable, and driving in that town is so stressful, that I will absolutely stick with public transit on any future trip to Portland.

(I considered concentrating on "staycations" in 2015 so as not to go into more debt. But that thought didn't last long, as I decided to cross two items off my "bucket list" at one time next April. I'll have more to say about that in my next entry.)

Sadly, we lost a pet in July, but not the pet we expected to lose next. As a follow-up to my "Goodbye, Secret Love" post from 2011, Terra, the second of the three lovely collies who came to live in our yard at the end of '09, suddenly passed away. She was only about 9 and had not shown any signs of being ill. Like her late "brother" Zane and her surviving sister Bella, she was the epitome of calmness and gentleness. Thankfully, Bella is still doing well, as are our other "furry kids", including our beautiful boy Archie who (God willing) will turn 13 on Dec. 11, an advanced age for a Great Pyrenees. (And I must also mention that yesterday, Nov. 21, was the 5th anniversary of the passing of our precious Heidi...) Also in July, we acquired 2 new furballs: "mini-Rex" rabbits Fred (all black) and Barney (tan and white), who we adopted at about 6 weeks old. They are very energetic and fun, though still skittish (Fred will let us reach in the pen and pet him, and can be picked up with some effort, but Barney is hard to catch and I've only gotten to hold him once so far, but hopefully he will get more acclimated before long).

Despite what I said in my '09 blog entry about "the 'K' Word", after receiving an offer for a discounted knitting lesson at a store in Lakewood, I decided to try one last time. So many thousands (millions?) of women can knit and love it, that I thought, maybe I had the wrong person teaching me. Maybe, just MAYBE, I can learn this time, and if I still can't, I'll finally accept that it won't happen. So...I signed up for a Saturday lesson, so that I could combine the trip there with a visit to Dianne. At first, she wasn't going to go to the yarn shop with me, but decided to. We waited...and waited...a half-hour past when my lesson was to have started, and the instructor still wasn't there. I asked for my money back, but the young woman who was watching the store said she would give me the lesson. She was a patient and very effective teacher and after several tries, I actually ended up making the basic knit stitch (the purl stitch was trickier). I was truly amazed and at the time, I felt that with practice, I would be able to at least make basic items. didn't turn out that way. Back at Dianne's house and then at home, I would knit a first row, then the next row somehow came out at a right angle to the first row! Whaaaaat? I could have gone to my local yarn store for help (or asked a new friend who both knits and crochets, who I commute with most days on my way home from work), but I realized something crucial: I do NOT enjoy knitting! I truly have no desire to find out what I am doing wrong, because I don't want to! I continue to truly admire (and be in awe of) women who have mastered this craft, but I am NOT going to be one of them. I will remain a passionate, skilled crocheter and am fine with that. Thus finally TRULY closes the "K Word" odyssey!

Next came my birthday in Sept. I took a few days off work as usual at that time of year, and Dianne and I planned to attend the Washington State Fair (or as folks around here still think of it as, "The Puyallup"), but we never got there. While I was on Highway 16 in Tacoma on my way to her home, my PT Cruiser began the same scary trembling motion that it had done 2 weeks after we had bought it (which was also on the way to her house). I pulled off the highway and onto a side street, and called AAA and my husband. It did again need the same small part, a "camshaft position sensor" (whatever that is), that was replaced shortly after we bought it. This is apparently a chronic problem with the Cruiser, which I wish I'd known before I got my heart set on having one. And inbetween these two fairly minor repairs, it needed its head gasket replaced in May, a large and expensive repair. So I am truly hoping there will be no more issues with this car for the foreseeable future, as we won't even have it totally paid for till Sept. 2017....

I'd remained at the small Lutheran church through 2014 that I returned to after much indecision, but am yet again trying to discern what to do long-term about the church situation. I continue to feel drawn to this church, but our much-loved pastor felt called to transfer last month to another church - and I continue to also feel drawn to the Methodist church I previously attended for several months and had almost joined. I hope I'll soon have true insight into where I should be permanently worshipping and serving, once and for all...

I'll end this 2014 review with a sequel to my '07 post about "three new things I love" (which at that time were Cook's Illustrated magazine, the movie "Elizabethtown", and the delightful but cancelled TV show "Pushing Daisies"). I haven't discovered a new magazine, but this year I did discover a new-to-me movie (from 50 years ago!) and a new-to-me TV show (which aired from 1990-96!), which I both absolutely LOVE, though they couldn't be more different from each other. The movie was one I had heard about due to the fact that figure skaters often skate to its beautiful, haunting theme. When I saw in March that this movie was going to be aired on Turner Classic Movies, I decided to watch. I was so mesmerized that I went on eBay the next day and ordered the DVD, something I don't think I've ever done. The movie was "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg". I'll never again be able to hear the songs "I Will Wait For You" and "Watch What Happens" without thinking about that quaint French village and that beautiful young couple separated by war and circumstances.

And the TV show was one I never had even thought about watching (though I had seen several of its star's movies over the years) - till I became drawn to one of its co-stars who (I hope) is about to (or should) win the current season of "Dancing with the Stars". The night he did his "signature dance" from that show, and I learned it was a frequent feature of that show, I knew I had to check it out. To my amazement, I immediately fell in love with the show and have thoroughly enjoyed catching up on the episodes that are aired on 3 of our cable networks -- and am also buying the DVDs! The show? "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" -- and the man whose engaging personality and fluid dance moves caused me to finally discover it -- Alfonso Ribiero ("Carlton").

I'll continue to update my crochet blog a few times a year and plan to do that either this weekend or next weekend. I'll update this blog after my April trip or if something major happens before then.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Highs and Lows of 2013

Even though I said I wouldn't be updating this blog unless I had something drastic to report, it's been my custom to include somewhat of a year end review. This one will be fairly brief, but I am looking to make 2014 an exceptional year. As indicated in my last post, major changes do need to happen with me physically and spiritually, and I am determined (with God's help) to make those happen. 2013 got off to a rocky start with the sudden and very unexpected passing of my all-time favorite guinea pig, Connor, the previous Dec. 30, and the year never quite got back on track.

Several weeks after we lost Connor, I was surprised and delighted when my best friend from 7th-8th grade friended me on Facebook in Feb., and we proceeded to share many fun memories over the next several months. I thought we would be back in touch to stay. But she was dissatisfied with my foggy recollection of many of those memories (most of which were 40+ years in the past) and the amount of time I was able to spend in touch with her, largely due to my job. So it did turn out to be what is referred to as a "toxic relationship". Though I am glad to know she (like me) is still married to the same man, involved (like me) in the Lutheran church, and a yarn crafter (like me, except her craft is knitting) and I will always wish her well, I sadly realized that in this case, it appears that the past needs to remain in the past.

The high points of the year were the milestone 12th birthday of our dog Archie on Dec. 11th (our first dog to reach that age), my 3-day trip to Portland, my acquisition of a lovely silver 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser ("Cassie"), getting into "The Pioneer Woman" (Ree Drummond) just a couple of weeks ago and looking forward to enjoying more of her new-to-me TV shows and books, and - after still more church hopping - again landing back at the small Lutheran church I keep coming back to, hopefully this time to stay. The other low points (other than again losing my friend from the past) were the passing of another sweet guinea pig, Patches, on Christmas Eve (so now we only have one left, "Pudding") and "achieving" a new all-time high weight, albeit by only about 2 lbs. Despite my almost overwhelming desire to travel (having had to postpone my Alaskan cruise last Sept.), I feel I again need to postpone that for another year (except for local trips in Washington and maybe Oregon) to work on getting in shape physically, developing a closer relationship with God and my church, and paying down some of my debt. Then hopefully at this time next year, I can revisit my dreams of seeing a Nascar race or even certain cities in Europe.

I'll continue to update my crochet blog at (overdue but will shoot for this weekend) and will report back here with any updates later in 2014. Here's hoping all who read this have the best year yet.