QC Blog: December 2008

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I'm sitting here at my computer listening to a LIVE concert of Daryl Hall and John Oates who are performing at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut tonight. How cool is that? I don't have to be out in the cold or fight the crowds but I get to hear my favorite group singing a personal concert LIVE to me here at home. (P.S. It will be rebroadcast Jan 4-12pm ET on Sirius Radio Ch 2 - The Blend - make sure you stick around for the encore.)

So it's New Year's Eve. A new start on the calendar. A new slate. Once again I resolve to live a healthier lifestyle and exercise more. I promise myself that every year. I feel a bit like Bridget Jones at this point - one of her diary entries was a negative for the year's total weight loss. Can you believe it - my total weight loss for the year is 2 pounds? To be honest, I haven't done much to move that number. I have a couple of goals for this year. My exercise goal for this year is to walk more, lift weights, and lose weight. I'm aiming for 5,000 steps a day and I'm not saying how many pounds. My creative goals are to quilt each day, and maybe write something each day. I also want to improve my photography skills (play with lighting more), and figure out a way to make more money with my photography (without doing weddings).

I want to nurture the relationships that are important to me and make sure people know how much I care about them. I want to keep our extended family connected. I want to cultivate my friendships and discover new ones. I want to travel more and enjoy myself. I'm making resolutions that are less about changing myself and more about keeping myself a happier person. I also want to find some small ways to help change the world. I'll let you know next year what I was able to do.

I'm resolving to spend less money and to get rid of "stuff" that is just cluttering up my life. I'm also going to read at least 5-10 books (aside from romance novels, which I love) recommended by Nancy Pearl (the librarian) in her books, Book Lust and More Book Lust.

Ah, an aside here - we're into the encore now - great concert. Now the second encore.

So to all of you out there Happy New Year!! I plan to be banging pots and pans (by myself this year) at midnight, as I have every year of my life. When I was going through my mom's apartment I pulled an old stock pot out of the kitchen cupboard that had big dents in it and it made me smile - there were many many enthusiastic New Year's Eve's hammered onto that pot. That's how I feel about my own pots and pans - they still work - so what if they have have divots in the bottoms and small dents and scratches?

Every one of those dents is a happy memory.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Time for joy and time for cheer

Ah, it's almost Christmas. I'm actually a little ahead of schedule this year, meaning my presents are wrapped, decorating is done, and cookies are made, so I have a moment to reflect on this Christmas season. Let's see, I hate shopping, and crowds, so do as little of it as possible. I love ordering online or order "a la my sons," who fight the crowds for me, so I don't have to go out. What a life, eh?

I realized the other day that I love getting cards in the mail. For one thing, I've always loved getting mail. It's just that no one sends mail anymore. Christmas is the only time you get a photo or a note from someone. What a shame! It used to be so cool to send and receive letters in the mail. Even if I do write someone these days, there is no answer - no one has the time, I guess to sit down and write a letter.

And yet, this year, my sisters and I received a most valuable gift. A friend of my mother's found some letters my dad had written to her (as my mom's friend, she was helping to get them together) during the War and gave them to us. It's three letters written in March, June and August of 1945. Having those words in my dad's handwriting, and reading his thoughts is so precious to me. My dad died when I was only 2 years old, so I never knew him. I imagine what he was going through while he wrote those letters. It's like a transfer of feelings, knowing he actually touched that paper and now we're able to touch it. It makes me feel OK somehow, knowing that he loved my mother and was looking forward to coming home from the war and marrying her. On this, the 6 month anniversary of her death, I feel comforted by thinking that maybe they are together. I hope they are proud of us.

If you want to give someone a lasting gift, write them a letter.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Slow down the pace

Well, here it is, almost the middle of December and I've not much to write about. I hate shopping and sometimes feel like I have brain freeze when it comes to buying things for other people. For myself, for the first time, I feel like I've reached a point in my life where I want to stop having so many possessions, (this doesn't include fabric, of course). I spent the first half of my life acquiring things, and now will spend the 2nd half figuring out what to do with them, and how to get rid of things.

Do you have any rituals during the holidays - something you do every year at this time? Not the trimming the tree type stuff. Every year during the Christmas holidays, I take out my VHS tape of Gidget (the original with Sandra Dee and James Darren) and watch it (by myself naturally, or the 4 guys in my house would just laugh at how corny it is). I just LOVE that movie, and it reminds me of my childhood and loving Moondoggie, and when just a kiss at the end of the movie was enough to sustain your dreams of true love for eons. I'm waiting for them to release it in the "movie box" format, so the look on Moondoggie's face at the end, when he stands up and first sees her, doesn't get cut off like it does on TV. I noticed that AMC has been broadcasting the movie (in the correct format) during the holidays. My hairdresser and I were discussing movies and she told me how her young daughter loves this really old movie - Gidget - and just finished watching it over Christmas vacation. I just started laughing and explained this was my Christmas ritual. Strange but true. Did you know that Jim Morel of CNN is Jame Darren's son? He does look like him at little. (His dad is cuter.)

I also have one ritual that I forget to do sometimes, but am going to make sure I carry on with this year. After the tree is decorated, we turn off the room lights, and turn on all the tree lights to admire them. My mom would go over to the front door and "knock, knock, knock" on the door, (waiting for someone to say "come in"), and then enter the room, exclaiming "oh, what a beautiful tree." It was a silly little thing, and I still do it, but I want to make sure I carry it on now that she's gone.

In our family, we always make Mincemeat Cookies from the Kay Neuman recipe of long ago. They are the best cookies. No relative ever got to taste them because we ate them all before company ever made it to our house during the Christmas season. These days, I've changed the recipe slightly, to make it trans fat free. (gotta be healthy, y'know, even when you're overeating.....)

Take a break, sit down, and have a cup of tea. Enjoy each other. Stop and absorb the moments you spend together. They may not come again.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Counting Steps

I spent part of the day yesterday on a Turkey Soup hike sponsored by Venture Outdoors. We were at Riverview Park in North Side, where, I'm told, they have more trails than any other park in the city. I'm an intermittent exerciser. I use a step counter daily because I'm ever mindful of the need to exercise and increase my steps daily. I wake up daily with good intentions. So off I went, with my sister, my cousin, and my niece on an "easy" 3.5 mile hike through the park. It was raining and cold, definitely not the most pleasant walk. But the company was good, and the turkey soup was delicious, eaten in front of the fireplace in the shelter. Unfortunately, by the time I got home the damp socks were cold and soaking my calves. I took a hot shower and dressed warm and then immediately felt the fatigue of all my muscles hitting me. Just as the Steeler game started up, I sat down and zoned out for about a 3 quarter nap. But my total steps for yesterday were over 9000, so that's good. I just need to find a way to do that without zapping all my energy.

Today is my nephew's birthday. Happy Birthday Adam! He's 32 today. This is the day I traditionally start to play my Christmas Carols. I have to admit, I'm apprehensive though. Every time I hear a line from "I'll be home for Christmas" or "Noel" or "It came Upon a Midnight Clear," I start to tear up. I know that it's partly my normal Christmas blues. I always feel sad this month missing my grandmother, who died in December in 1980, and missing my cousins who have passed away in recent years. This year, I can't even think about Christmas, without starting to cry because I miss my Mother. It doesn't matter that she wasn't herself when she died (Alzheimer's) or that I know she wouldn't have wanted to be here in that way. I just miss her. And I feel like a little girl who just wants her mama. Christmas Eve will be 6 months that she's been gone, and I want to just sit down and bawl my eyes out. It seems the numbness of her death has passed, and now there's just heart-aching pain.

I spent a couple days this past week, hand quilting on my oldest son's high school graduation quilt. He graduated in 1999. But I started hand-quilting this one and didn't really want to finish it on the machine. But he's bought a house now and is making moves in his life, so I'd like to give it to him before we reach the 10th anniversary of this graduation. My goal for the next few months is to finish this project. It's a lovely blue and white Jacob's Ladder quilt. I am such a better machine piecer and quilter now than I was when I started this, but I can't fix that now.

"Little Steps, Ellie." Mark always quotes that line from the movie CONTACT, when I'm impatient about getting something done. It's a good reminder for all that I'm trying to do. That goes for quilting, exercising, and getting through the pain. Little steps.

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