Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's a wonderful life

I am amazed that it has been nearly two months since I blogged last.  I'm not certain the phrase "time flies when you are having fun" really applies in this situation because I would not describe the past two months as fun in any way, shape or form. It has been a time of challenge and growth for me.

In less than two weeks, this semester will be over. "They" say that this is the most difficult semester of the cardiac ultrasound program. I hope that is true because I am not sure my brain can handle another semester like this one between now and August 13.  The reality of it is... I'll be a vital component in making life-saving decisions. I don't expect this course to be easy. If it was my family member being evaluated, I would want highly trained, competent technologists.

Autumn came and went and I am sad. It is by far my most favorite season and I spent most of it admiring the leaves and trees from inside at the desk studying. Occasionally we loaded up the car and took the dogs to Rocky Ridge. Scott hiked with them while I sat at one of the picnic tables and studied. It is amazing what fresh air does for my mind...  learning seemed a little bit easier out there.

Scott has been my hero and my motivation throughout the semester. He has worked diligently to allow me to remain a focused college student and not have to work. He has never complained when we had spaghetti several days in a row for lunch and/or dinner. He has never once asked why the laundry piles were three feet high. He has walked and played with the dogs, gone to work, maintained an "A" in his college class and found time to do home improvement projects... all while I study cardiomyopathies, congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease, etc.

The transition to "winter break" has begun. I have no more full-day lectures, one evening class, a few scanning appointments, a chapter test and three final exams. On December 12 it will all be finished until January 9.

I am blessed to have found a seasonal job with Strathmeyer's selling Christmas trees at the York Fairgrounds. I owe a huge thank you to Doug and Laura Smith for their help. I always dreamed of a job where I could get paid to be among the trees, wearing hiking boots, Smartwool accessories, heavy sweaters and jeans.

The biggest change for all of us will be early January when Katie heads to Norman, Oklahoma, to continue her education as an University of Oklahoma Sooner. So far I have been successful in keeping it all positive and being happy that she is able to pursue her dreams. She loves an adventure and isn't afraid to embark on new journeys. She's got this.

My life really is wonderful.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


First order of business is to ask you to please ignore the woman on the ladder in a skirt in high heels. 

Second - this photograph isn't my ideal bookshelf but in the interest of time, I simply chose a picture. Otherwise, this blog would never get written. Which is exactly why I am writing this blog...  because I don't know how I could ever choose a bookshelf.

A childhood friend of mine now lives in NYC... not a place I would necessarily want to live but she does make it so inviting in her social media updates. She posts pictures of her dining experiences and delightful yard (yes - she has a yard!) and I long to take a trip to THE city to see her. 

This morning she posted a picture of her new bookshelves. My mind raced....  new bookshelves? The possibilities are endless! The best part of this fantasy is that just last week I mentioned to my husband that I would like to have floor to ceiling bookshelves when we do some more remodeling and he agreed. 

Game on!  This morning with the sharing of a picture from NYC by a lady I haven't seen in 30+ years, the urgency was renewed and I have now spent no less than 45 minutes looking at pictures of bookshelves online. 

Where do I want these bookshelves? Not just which room, but which wall? Do I want people to be able to see them and their contents or should my arrangement be more private? I saw one photo of bookshelves (floor-to-ceiling of course) covered by drawstring curtains.  That is a novel concept and just might help keep some of the dust off my displayed items. 

Items? What do you think is acceptable to put on a bookshelf? Books only? A photo frame tucked in here and there? Mementos from vacations - shells? shadowboxes? Attractive storage bins and boxes? If I choose a photo frame or mementos, do I need access to an electrical outlet for a digital frame or an accent light to show off my treasures? 

How will the books be arranged? By genre? By size? By spine color? There was a photo of books arranged by color -- not sure that is even remotely appealing to me.

What is on a bookshelf and how those items are displayed is an art. I saw home improvement shows talk about rules for bookshelf displays... something about an odd number I believe? A messy bookshelf can cause more stress and clutter in a room and give off the aroma of a pack rat. (Did I mention I saw a bookshelf covered by a beautiful curtain?)

Should all the levels be traditional shelves or should some areas have doors behind which I can hide clutter or keep my "excess" so I can change the display occasionally? 

How tall will this masterpiece need to be? All the way to the ceiling? Let's face reality - I am 5'2" ...  anything taller than 6 foot will require me to get a ladder or step stool for access. 

How will the shelves be arranged? Dress-right-dress? I have often been told I am too linear.... Shelves of different heights and lengths to accommodate some of my favorite coffee table books as well as my favorite tattered paperbacks? Special cubicles for treasures? 

Where do I even start? Graph paper! I know it is a great tool for design projects like this.  Are there people at the home improvement stores who can help me design this like they do my kitchen? Scott is taking a CAD class now. I am certain a bookshelf is not a challenge that requires 3-D or layered design, but it might be fun to use it. 

I am certain I am not the first person to face this dilemma! But - it just occurred to me... perhaps there are very few of us left. How much space does it take to store thousands of books these days? My Kindle is approximately 6" x 8".

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wandering Aimlessly

Since July 19, I have been on a semester break from college. My next semester begins August 22. I had big plans for my "time off". I had foot surgery and was determined to be back on my feet, stripping wallpaper, sewing curtains for the new camper, painting, and walking a few miles every day with the dogs. I would spend quality time with my husband, keep the gardens weeded and all flowers dead-headed.

Yet for some reason, I accomplished very little. I can blame it on the foot surgery which is still not healed to allow for miles of walking or long periods of standing. And to be honest, it is a huge part of my dysfunction.

But - I know myself well enough to understand that I am drowning in a lack of routine and consistency. It consumes me and sets my entire world in a quagmire of wasted time. When my world lacks structure, I wander aimlessly through each day saying, "I have time to get to that later"... because I do. I have way too much time.

When I take into consideration that during this time period my daughter has been home for college for two weeks after her two summer sessions in New Jersey and my husband has been on "standby" for jury duty for  two weeks, the little bit of normalcy continues to be chipped away.

I've got ten days remaining in this break. I need to develop and implement a schedule and/or routine.

Do you have a routine or schedule? Do you clean certain rooms or do certain chores on specific days? Do you combine your errands and do these on a certain day? To break it down even more, do you have a specific sequence of events during the day? When do you allow yourself to break away from the routine? Do you thrive on routine or do you prefer to be spontaneous?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Do you belong?

"Are you a groupie?" was going to be the title of this blog but then I decided that perhaps I should find out how a "groupie" is defined.  Well...  let's just say the blog title changed because apparently a "groupie" is a woman who just wants to have sex with a musician with little regard for his music.

What I really want to talk about is "groups".

With a presidential election on the horizon and the Penn State scandal in the gutter, I started noticing that there are definite groups forming very publicly, with very deliberate and intentional choice.

Driving to class I see bumper stickers on cars that identify people belonging to certain school groups, or green movements or human rights organizations.

I began to wonder... what groups am I a part of? Well I it all depends on what/who I am and how I "label" myself.  I am a college student. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a dog owner. I am a cat owner. I am a veteran. I own a Ford. I like to hike. I don't watch television. I like "Life is Good" optimistic t-shirts. I do not like to wear dresses. I prefer the beach in the winter. For the most part, I chose membership in all those groups.

But - what about the groups I am a member of by default? I am  5' 2" - that kinda puts me in a "short people" group. I have gray hairs. I am almost 50 years old. I am the oldest sibling of three children. I am female. I have hypertension. I have astigmatism. I am the parent of a college student.

Are there groups you are a member of that you regret? I regret that I am a member of the only child club until I hear about these poor parents with multiple children running in so many directions. I regret that I am a member of that group of women identified by Oprah a few years ago who probably wear the wrong sized bra. I regret that I am a member of that group of people who probably do not have enough money saved for retirement based on where they are in life.

I suppose most of our group memberships are transient. I guess we even go into and out of groups in the blink of an eye and give it no notice.

Is it necessary to belong to groups? Is that why people pick their favorite NASCAR driver?  Or become college football fans even though they never stepped foot on the specific campus? I think Facebook has created groups where they were never imagined before...  people who like Skinny Cow ice cream...  :O)

Are there groups you would like to belong to? Are there groups you would like to no longer be a member of? Are there groups you avoid at all cost? Is there a group you would like to belong to secretly? (I think they might become societies if they are secretive.) Are there groups you want your children to avoid? Groups you want your parents to avoid?

Do you put other people into groups?

How do your groups define you?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What will be important in twenty years?

This morning on there was a link to a video on Youtube about a creative videographer. The man is now 32 years old and has a creative conversation with himself when he was 12 through the use of technology. I sense a tidbit of Billy Crystal in the adult actor. I like Billy Crystal, but that is another blog entirely...

I started thinking about how much fun this could be.  It doesn't even really have to be this same agenda... just videotaping ourselves (which very few people like to do) or videotaping others (with their permission of course).

What would I say if I was making a video today to watch in twenty years? Today I would probably talk about how stinking hot it is because that is all anyone seems to be able to think about. In twenty years I would wonder why there wasn't something more important to say about the day. But what is important? The price of gas? The upcoming presidential election? The unstable economy? What will you want to know about this day, July 7, 2012, in twenty years? Or maybe more important, what will you want help remembering? But I am not sure what I talk about is most important... it will be me...  and that is the focus as far as I am concerned because you can read all about all of those other topics in archives around the world.

What would I have said twenty years ago if I was making a video? I am certain I would have said that I was more than a little uncomfortable being pregnant in Oklahoma in the middle of summer and probably couldn't wait until October for the baby to be born. I had no idea that the twenty years would go by so fast that it nearly makes me feel faint.  Yes - Kate will be 20 in less than three months.

For many years, moms and dads have taken annual pictures of their children on their first day of school, Christmas morning in front of the tree, birthdays....  Why not step it up a notch and do a video? I believe high school yearbooks now have an online video component...  How cool would it be to make one for your own child? I am sure they still sell those "memory books" to keep track of friends, teachers and activities with a pocket for report cards, etc. if you need a format guideline. Thinking  your older kids wouldn't want to participate?  Let them do it on their own...  it might tell you way more about them than anything you could come up with.  It doesn't have to be serious or even perfect.  Who doesn't love the "blooper" clips out of movies?

Most cameras have the ability to do video and I think all laptops have a webcam now... you've got this... go ahead and have fun with it.  It is going to be 103 degrees outside today... stay in the house and record history.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

To do or not to do the to do list...

Saturday morning.... 0751 and I am stalling. I've got plenty to do. I've got so much to do that I really think I should be making a list of what needs done.  

If I make a list, I won't find myself realizing at bedtime that again, for the bajillionth time, I didn't scoop the litter box. (Before you go "EEEEEWWWWW"....  it is out in the shed so it isn't like we can smell it or anything.)

If I make a list, I can cross off what I have completed and have a sense of accomplishment.  However I had a friend  who told me that when he finished a task on his chore list, he circled it instead of crossing it off.  I kinda like that idea.

If I make a list, do I add the tasks to it that I complete but weren't on the original list so that I can really see what I did? You know the drill...  cleaning out the freezer leads to baking a casserole because you can use that last little bit of chicken but you need to go pick up some chicken broth so you might as well get all your groceries which puts you at forty cents off a gallon of gas and today is the last day to use it so you get gas at the grocery store and while you are out, stop at the drugstore to get that prescription refilled and the local hardware store to get a spare key for the shed .... 

If I make a list maybe someone will see a chore on there they really like to do and they will say, "Hey - let me take care of this chore for you."  Oh wait... I guess when I started dreaming that I would EVER have forty cents off a gallon of gas, the fantasy never stopped...  (In all fairness - Scott really does help with the chores around the house and I rarely need to even ask for his help.)

If I make a list, I can stall even a little longer to make sure the list is complete, perhaps even re-writing it a time or two so that I can do it all in order with the most efficiency, organized by time of day and minimum sun exposure for outdoor duties.

If I make a list, should I include things like "shower, eat, walk the dogs"? Those are every day tasks but sometimes I forget to do them when I get so focused on a list.

If I don't make a list... well - no one will ever know what I had hoped to get done and with my ADHD, that includes me. I'll simply never remember what I wanted to do today.

What's on your list today?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Celebrate solitude or loathe loneliness

This past weekend my favorite daughter found herself virtually alone on her college campus. She didn't like it. She sent me a text early in the weekend that said she thought she was going to go crazy. The gym, library and dining hall were all closed. The halls were silent.

I responded with some suggestions for activities...

1) look at lavishly expensive apartment rentals in Manhattan online
2) listen to music
3) watch movies
4) study ... hahahahahahahaaaaaa
5) call her Gakky
6) take photographs of items that start with the letters in her name
7) make a bucket list
8) look up exercise videos online and change up her workout a little

Apparently none of them were very exciting because within 24 hours she told me she was at her roommate's house in the Hudson River Valley.

Scott and I were traveling to Summit Point to the race track and had the opportunity to discuss the social stigma of being alone, the loss some people feel when they are not surrounded by others.  We acknowledged the fine line between solitude and loneliness.

I thought about people I know who are afraid to be alone.  The people, both male and female, who have made very bad relationship choices because they are afraid to be alone. It made me sad for them. If they cannot celebrate, or at least be comfortable with, who they are when they are alone, what do they have to offer a relationship? Do they immediately develop a dependence? And should they be unfortunate enough to find another who fears being alone, the symbiosis can be tragic. Are the two of them happy to be alone together?

The irony to this post is that Scott and I left Summit Point early because we were surrounded by other people. These people felt it was okay to run a generator to power bright lights until 2:30 a.m. and that everyone within two miles wanted to hear Alan Jackson's greatest hits.

Does the picture with this blog make you say, "aaahhhhh" or does it make you think the rower is a complete fool?

If you could be alone for 72 hours, what would you do?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Third time's the charm....

Today I realized I want to open the front door, open the back door, and tell people to come in and fill a bag with whatever they would like.  I will collect $5.00 for each full bag they have as the exit through the back door.

This will be my third cleansing in the past 5 years.

I purged when I moved because of my divorce.

I purged when I moved to Scott's house when we got married.

I am ready to do it again...

Each time I clean out "stuff" I find the emotional attachments are weaker and weaker. There are items sitting on shelves and in boxes in the attic that I am ready to let go of.  Some I thought I might need and others I kept simply because I didn't want anyone else to have them.

The clutter is weighing me down and I feel like I am drowning under the weight.  It is making me unhappy and that is a clear indicator to me that it is time for this stuff to go.

With just one week between my last day of work and the start of my clinical portion of my schooling, I am not sure I can get it all cleaned out, but I am sure going to try.

So keep an eye out... there might be several mini-yard sales over the next couple months.  I think it will be incredibly freeing!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wandering daughter....

I knew the time would come, hoping for later rather than sooner, when Kate would ask to drive back to college. Her latest persuasive speech really is legitimate.  If she drives back to Kean this Sunday, she can drive home for Easter. That means I don't have to drive down on Saturday before Easter and return her the Monday after Easter, following at least four hours of driving on Easter Sunday.  Essentially she will save me seven hours of driving on a holiday weekend.

Scott and I talked about it and he reminded me that Kate has risen to every challenge she has been given.  She has had a very successful first semester at Kean University.  She has never given us reason not to trust her.  But, as moms know, it isn't her I don't trust.  It is those other idiots on the highways and byways...

So, the preparations began.

1) We decided she must leave before noon on Sunday.
2) We reminded her that Cabela's is not only almost exactly in the middle of her journey, but it is also a very convenient place to stop with food and fuel and plenty of people.
3) We reminded her the last exit in PA is NOT a good place to stop, with the gas station down a gravel road in an industrial area and both two-legged and four-legged mongrels lingering around the dumpster.
4) We handed over about $20.00 in quarters for tolls.
5) We scheduled the truck for an oil change on Friday.
6) We signed her up for a AAA membership.
7) We had her drive to her grandparent's house yesterday which is about half the time/distance to Kean and includes some considerably congested traffic patterns.
8) Scott called to see if her "college student" insurance coverage would cover her having her car on campus for two weeks.

I will check her GPS before she leaves.

I'm not sure there is much else we can do.  Oh wait... call my doctor for some sedatives to get me through the day on Sunday.  :O)  She's got this.  I've raised her to be a strong, independent, capable young lady.  She has to get out there to continue to grow. But, she knows if she changes her mind, we'll load up the new Ford Escape and give it a test run on I78 and the Garden State Parkway.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wondering what I was thinking...

This evening I sat here and wondered... "what was I thinking?!".

In the past three weeks I have:

  1. started tearing down wallpaper to paint a hallway and stairwell
  2. helped Scott start to tear down a fence to facilitate a shared fence between our house and the neighbor
  3. adopted a dog with the attention span of a toddler
  4. felt compelled to pack a lunch for Scott that causes lunch envy at least twice a week when he opens his meal at work
  5. started to declutter and reorganize drawers and storage spaces
  6. attempted to alleviate Scott of 95% of the household chores so he can focus on his trigonometry class
Is it any wonder that I came down with a miserable cold on Sunday? When will I learn that I really do not have to take on the world each and every morning?  How old does a woman have to be to stop multi-tasking?

Yet somehow, in the midst of it all...  the more I have to do, the more I manage to get done.  Am I the only one?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rich White Girl

I went to Jersey to spend a day with Kate on Saturday.  She needed some art supplies, some cleaning supplies and some food that didn't come from the dining hall or a microwave. It can be a long day, driving there, shopping and then driving home.  I decided to stay the night.  There is a hotel in Parsippany that has become our favorite. It is elaborate on the outside and tastefully elegant on the inside.  The weekend rates are outrageously low because their big money comes from corporate clients during the week.

Kate posted a picture of our room on Facebook.

Her friends from college responded that she was a rich white girl.  

Hmmmm...  if they only knew that we:

1) live in a semi-detached house with a 37 x 100 foot yard
2) have no television cable
3) only buy used cars
4) usually camp when we vacation
5) rarely go out to eat
6) have only calling and texting on our phones - no internet - no smartphones
7) eat store brand foods most of the time
8) we rarely spend full price on any of our purchases, waiting for sales
9) think a perfect Friday night is going for a walk in a heavy snowstorm with our dogs 

How does that make her a rich white girl? 

We make choices about when and where we want to spend our money. 

Would she and I have slept as well in a cheaper hotel? Maybe, but maybe not. 

The bed was perfect. 

The room was immaculate. 

The service was extraordinary. 

We had no worries...we could simply enjoy our time together.  That, my friends, is priceless...   money cannot buy that. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

First frat party

"Hey Mom!  I'm calling so you don't freak out.  I'm just tellin' ya I'm goin' to a frat party with the girls tonight."

"Um... okay."

"I just need a break. I won't drink or do anything stupid."

"Um...  okay."

"I wanna go dance and hang out with people."

"Um... okay.  Will you text me when you get back to your dorm?"

"I guess. Hey.... can I call you back in like two minutes?

"Um...  okay.  I love you."

And somehow, after that short little conversation, all I could think about was John Belushi. 

I did get a text at 1:00 a.m. that said she was back in her dorm and she was smart. I don't know if I'll get any further explanation on the  "smart" comment. 

This morning I wondered...  

How street smart is my child? 

Did she only drink bottled water that had a sealed lid or a soda from an unopened can? 

Are there pictures out there somewhere with her holding a "red solo cup"?

Who is learning more during this college experience?  It just might be me....

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

White, bright, to shine...

We will be adding a new star to our blog.  I am pleased to introduce Birka.  Her name means "white, bright, to shine."  It is the root word for the word Birch.  She is at the SPCA waiting to be spayed.  We hope to pick her before the weekend arrives.

While Scott and I were on our honeymoon we enjoyed the white birch trees in Maine.  The birch tree is a symbol of renewal, new beginnings.   

So, here is to new beginnings with Birka our latest addition to the family. 

Stay tuned for more wandering and wondering ....

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wander in Michaux State Forest

We packed lunches, including cooked carrots for Otter, and headed out the door before noon last Sunday to hike the Sunset Rocks trail in Michaux State Forest.  

The boys were eager to get moving. They take off like rabbits on date night.  I prefer to meander and take in the sights and sounds, or lack thereof. We witnessed very little activity on the trail but the wind was whipping and the trees made mournful sounds.

The description of the trail in the guide book said it would get steeper and rockier as we climbed.  They were right on the money.  It was a short hike but a good cardiovascular workout.

Otter and I posed at the summit but we didn't hang out up there for very long. It was very cold. We did run the ridge a little while, in both directions from Sunset Rocks.

Back down along Tom's Run, we took a little walk on the AT. 

 Otter was fascinated by Halfway Spring. That water had to be so cold. We really didn't think he would get in.

Our walk on the AT brought us to Camp Michaux.  Neither Scott nor I had any idea it was formerly a POW interrogation camp.  We did some research on the site and will be visiting again with a self-guiding tour book we were able to download. 

Another good day in the woods.  For some people, I suppose going out for a hike now and then satisfies the occasional urge. For us, an afternoon in the woods feeds and fuels the perpetual desire to go out and do it all again....   the sooner, the better.  The guidebooks and maps are on the bar as I type... Scott is already planning the outing for this weekend.  Life is good!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Muir motivation today...

 “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown,
 for going out,
 I found,
 was really going in.” 
~John Muir. 

In a few hours we will pack lunches, load the car and head to Michaux State Forest for a hike.  Our plan is to hike the Sunset Rocks trail.

Before we have even made a single peanut butter & jelly sandwich, I am already certain that while we wander I will wonder:

  1. Should we sell the television now that we cancelled cable or will Kate want it? What about the Wii and the TV stand?
  2. How long will it take to remove the wallpaper in the hall and stairwell?
  3. When will the volunteer call us to schedule a home visit so we can move forward with the dog adoption?
  4. Will Otter like having another dog in the house? How will the cat react?
  5. What do we need at the grocery store today to be prepared for the week?
  6. Should I keep the paper coffee filters now that I bought a reusable coffee filter? Do they even take up enough space to warrant thinking about it?
  7. What are we going to plant in the front garden this summer? 
  8. How can I rearrange the living room to make maximum use of the space only using the furniture/shelving we currently have?
What I really want to do when we get on the trail is concentrate on:
  1. how quiet it is
  2. the smell of fresh winter air and its sting in my lungs
  3. the rhythm of our footsteps
  4. the beauty of the exposed winter forest
Today will be a lesson on focusing and living in the moment. I always feel like I can tackle questions like the ones above after a day in the woods. I can rest my mind while I work my body.

Where do you go when you need time away from constant questioning/evaluating/assessing? Do you meditate?  Practice yoga? How do you calm your mind?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wings are wings.... right?

Straight to the point in today's blog....

Question #1: Would you pull the wings off a butterfly for a 12-month trip around the world?

I don't really want or need to know your answer, but before you continue reading, think a moment about how long it took you to come up with your answer......   Now...  please continue reading because there is more to this post (of course).


Question #2: Would you pull the wings off a cockroach for a 12-month trip around the world?

And so my friends....   this metaphorical situation makes me wonder about where we draw the line....  

Because cockroaches can carry microbes that exacerbate asthma and cause allergic reactions in some people, is it okay to kill them?  Because they are not as pretty as butterflies does it make it "more okay" to kill them?  How do you determine what makes it okay to kill the cockroach?  Because you don't like them?

Until I wander and wonder again...  would love to hear your thoughts....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Summoning staircase in twelve words or less

The staircase to our second floor summons me to leave the public places in our home and escape to the more private pockets of our lives. Each day I climb the stairs numerous times, much more often on laundry days than any other day of the week. Until this weekend I really hadn't give much thought to this physical passage from first to second floor.  I'll start at a logical spot to share more of these thoughts....

Gradually we are making changes to the house, but not wanting to invest a large amount of money until I have graduated from college (again) and am gainfully employed.  (It is a possibility that we will relocate but that is another story completely.) For now we will continue to make cosmetic changes to change it from "his" to "ours".

Saturday morning, while Scott was still mostly asleep, I was wide awake but trying to be still so Otter wouldn't want to go outside.  From my side of the bed, I see the top of the staircase. I began to think about what we could do to transform this space.  I will confess that as he slept, I began a dialogue about the process with him. I am certain his responsive grunts were affirmations of everything I had proposed.

The chore list looks quite simple. Four steps...

  1. wallpaper stripped
  2. walls painted
  3. carpet removed
  4. stairs/hall floor painted
The manual chores (1 & 3) are no-brainers.  I have no decisions to make, just effort to apply.

Fortunately I have an artistic daughter and an agreeable husband so choosing the paint colors really isn't going to be that hard either.  In fact, Scott and Katie seemed to agree immediately on a general color decision.

Logically one would think that there really isn't anything left to do or decide.  Just get busy.  But I need to add one more element... something to make it a space I am proud of. (Our bathroom has galvanized metal roofing for the shower stall -- unconventional, efficient, practical and economical.)

While I was a young adult, I visited a friend, Karen Marie Louise Farrell Treon, at her parents' house.  Her mother had artwork of children in the stairwell to the second floor. I am trying to remember the additional element... they either had pets with them or books...   sorry I cannot get that detail from the depths of my memory, but you get the gist.

When I lived in the one-room schoolhouse I always wanted to decorate the stairwell to the second floor with  art of sheep, pastoral oil painting reproductions like this.

Scott didn't really seem to leap at the sheep so...  my mind continued to wander.  After a few internet searches for "staircases" I remembered those words people have on their walls.  There are all kinds of quotes and sayings available. They are pre-printed and allegedly easy to apply and remove.  So I browsed a few of those websites but nothing really captured my attention.  Why not just choose random words... words that encourage or inspire?  

Now this has me wondering... how encouraged or inspired does a person really want to be when they are climbing the stairs to go to sleep at night? Perhaps calming and soothing words would be best?  Who is this message really for? 

So here is a challenge...  what 12 words would you want on your summoning staircase?

Friday, January 13, 2012

What makes you Google or Bing?

Today is Friday, January 13, 2012.  Why is this a day of superstition?

It is raining this morning.  Why is it raining and not snowing at this temperature?

Certain paint colors make a room look larger. Why does this illusion occur?

How many times a day do we accept a situation or event without knowing why they occur?

What events make you stop and think to yourself, "why did that happen"?

Take it out one more step.... what events make you investigate why they happened?  What sends you to the computer to "google" or "bing"?

A few topics that have sent me on a quest for information:

  1. how to grow cinnamon
  2. what is trigonometry
  3. duck penises
Don't just sit there!  Google or Bing today!  (I am not sure that anyone Yahoo's anymore.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wandering to the top of High Knob Vista....

Friday evening we loaded up Otter and some hiking gear and headed to Gakky and Pappy's house.  We spent the night there and as the sun was coming up on Saturday morning, Scott, Otter and I headed to Sullivan County to hike from the Hillsgrove Ranger Station to High Knob Overlook/Vista.  

The day began a bit on the chilly side and gradually warmed, but the sun never touches some parts of the mountains in Sullivan County this time of year and we had some great chances to see winter landscapes.  

The trail is a 2.5 mile trek from the ranger station to the vista.  The initial ascent is a mile long and steep.  Through some beautiful white pine and thick mountain laurel it levels out.  The final climb is through some old hardwoods and just shy of an "all fours scramble" for the last 100 yards. 

The hike to the summit was uneventful.  When we got to the vista there were two guys in a car taking pictures. Another guy showed up while we were eating our lunch.  We saw no one on the trails other than a hunter at the trail head who was not too thrilled to see us waltz past him with a dog.  Did we ruin his day?  

The jaunt back to the car was new trail for me.  We tied together a small piece of the Loyalsock Trail, Old Bark Trail and then Dry Run Road back to the Ranger Station. 

Our first surprise was a bunch of deer parts and guts a poacher must have thrown over the guardrail along the road as we started our descent on the Loyalsock Trail.  I have hiked a few sections of the Loyalsock Trail and have never been disappointed.  The Alpine Club of Williamsport does a fabulous job maintaining this trail.  

We left the LT for the Old Bark Trail.  The beginning of the trail was a bit concerning as we had to navigate through several blowdowns and the blazes were difficult to locate.  We took turns standing at the last blaze until the other one found the next blaze.  There were times when we had to let Otter off the leash to move from one of us to the other because the terrain was just too touch to navigate with him on a leash.  He was in his element and obeyed like a pro each time.  

Old Bark Trail led us back to Dry Run Road and I was afraid we would be disappointed having to hike a road for a few miles but I couldn't have been more wrong.  The sun didn't shine into that valley often and the creek was winter wonderful!  The waterfalls were running rapidly and roaring like ocean waves.  

We spent quite a bit of time at Dry Run Falls because Scott took his glasses off and then forgot to pick them up.  So ... we were looking for silver-framed, wire rimmed glasses on a cloudy day in the snow and leaf cover.  We did find them and moved on.  

Since we made such good time on the trail we went for a little drive on the way home, going through Hillsgrove, Forksville, Worlds End State Park and Eagles Mere, through Tivoli and Picture Rocks and then back on 180 to Norry.  

Alas... we got back to Gakky and Pappy's house and they weren't home!  But no worries... I knew the code to get in with their keyless remote for their garage.  EXCEPT... the battery was dead.  No worries again!! Gakky has a cell phone....  EXCEPT... she doesn't turn it on unless she is making a call.  So...

We headed to Sunbury, picked up subs at Marlins and took them to the Marina to eat.  

Everything turned out fine and Gakky and Pappy were soon home.  We worked on cleaning out Gakky and Pappy's fridge of delicious desserts and slept a sound sleep. 

The sun was just barely coming over the mountain when we began hiking at 8:30.

The sun was soon high enough and strong enough to create shadows.  I would like this rock formation to be my living room wall when we remodel someday. 

Otter and Scott patiently waited for me.  I was busy meandering and taking pictures. 

Occasionally we saw pockets of snow like this. 

The mountain laurel started to get thick....

then prohibited side-by-side hiking.

The vista.  You can see seven counties from this summit.

The village of Hillsgove is in the center of this photo.

Even though it got warmer as the day went on, the wind made it rather crisp at the vista.

Instead of an out-and-back, we hiked a loop, connecting trails.  We were fortunate to be able to include a piece of the Loyalsock Trail.  It is absolutely beautiful no matter what time of year I have been on this trail!

Scott tested Otter's response to one of us falling on the trail.  Sad to say, Otter really didn't care.  He kept his nose to the ground and just wanted to move forward. 

A few minutes of rest on the LT. Otter has no patience for these photo sessions.  He wants to get moving and keep moving.

Otter at Dry Run Falls.  

Dry Run Falls.

How could I pass up a photo with a dog at "Old Bark Trail"?!

Back at the van.  We all had a snack before heading home.

Otter pulled Scott's clothes out of the open suitcase and proceeded to attempt to curl up in it to sleep on the way home.

When we got back to Gakky's she had hot apple pie, hot tea and ice cream for us!...  Eventually

One very, very tired dog.
Otter sleeping with Gakky on the couch.