Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How to generate ideas

Everyday I try to sit down and write10 random ideas and a 400 word essay.  Generally I write about whatever is on mind that day, but when I get stuck for ideas I try to choose a theme. I had a counselor once who would ask why when we were talking about a subject. Every time I would finish a thought she would ask why I thought that.  The whys would go on until I had exhausted the topic. It forced me to really dig deep and thoroughly investigate an idea or plan or even just a feeling.

Therefore when I am facing, what I call idea block, I stop and work through the same process as if Leah were continually asking me why.

Other ways to generate ideas is to ask question and try to answer the question. For example, why does it take a year to lose 40 pounds but only a month or two to regain the weight. If you start searching the internet, and you stay on topic, you can find hundreds of great sources and write a summary of them.

Naturally you can always write an opinion piece based on something going on in the news, the world, or simply your neighbor or life.  These are frequently the most interesting because what you find interesting and then commit to writing are often ideas or issues others are grappling with and want to explore. The mere act of writing things down makes you think more clearly and helps you sort out your thoughts on whatever topic comes to mind.  Our opinions can just be the cumulation of our experiences or they can be based on extensive research and then synthesized to make the most sense to ourselves.

Writing can be random or a way to solve a problem. The act of making myself write everyday requires a certain amount of discipline and adds some structure to a fairly structureless life. I think anything that makes me force myself to think is a good thing.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Rural Transportation

I’m on a semi-vacation, which is great, but with limited transportation options, which isn’t.  I don’t need a rental car the whole time i’m here just once in awhile. Now UBER would be perfect, but there are no UBER drivers.  It is a minimum of $575 to rent a car for 20 days, when basically I need the car for 5 days.

What to do….

Naturally start with Google, there were a few car dealerships but they are about leasing, so no luck there.  Then I moved on to UBER and Lyft, no one here drives for them.  Now there is always my mom and dad, but the idea is to visit them and not cause hardship for them and having to get us to the airport by 6 a.m. comes under my definition of hardship.

So I think our best bet is to take a ride into the airport early August and rent a car for a week before we have to leave.  Take the folks car, maybe John will go on to Grand Rapids from there and I'll bring their car home.  He can then do the Carlson thing, bring the rental back here and have it for the airport run on the 12th.  The other option is to go to the airport with our son when he leaves and just get the 20 day rental and eat the cost.  So few choices so much money...

We have also tried to keep a car here but you still have the airport problem. How do you get to and from the cottage from the airport.  Maybe $575 is not that expensive for the convenience.  I really don't know, it gives us the most flexibility so I bet it is the way to go.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Keep in touch

There are so many ways to keep in touch sometimes it is just a Facebook post that makes you feel connected or a tweet.  Those things let the world at large know you are around, alive, and have kept sort of current.

The kind of keeping in touch I'm referring to is a two way conversation. Used be with letters, then the phone, then more social ways evolved, texting, snap chat, Instagram, Facebook.  I am actually a proponent of social media. I think it makes us closer as a larger society. And it has both cut down on face-to-face interactions and facilitated them.  There seem to be many cases of people connecting on Facebook after years of no contact and then finding each other on Facebook and resuming an actual relationship.  There is also the case of being friends on Facebook and never actually doing anything more than "liking" posts.

What I like about FB and Instagram is that if you know a person who posts you get a glimpse of what is going on in their world.  Therefore, when you do have a conversation you have lots to talk about if you listen and ask questions about what they post.  They can no longer answer the, "What have you been up to" query with "Nothing."  You have evidence that they been somewhere, done something and documented it!  I think the hardest thing about talking to people is figuring out what they are interested in and asking questions without prying.  It seems  a topic is open game if they have posted on social media.  Instant conversation!

One thing I am working on is not taking it personally if people don't get back to me.  I have to keep in mind that I am not always at the top of their to do list, and that isn't a problem it is a reality, everyone is busy and that good friends and acquaintances will get back to me.  If it is important I can contact them again in a different way since there are so many ways to connect.

I have to tell you a personal message via a card or letter is still fun and no matter what e-means we have available a snail mail letter is still pretty cool!  Randomly sent postcards are fun and unexpected.

Maybe it is time to head to the store and get a card for...........

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


There is a lot of information out there about "downsizing", decluttering, cleaning your closets, tidying your world.  The three best books I have ever read on the topic are, The life changing magic of cleaning up by Marie Kondo, Clutter Control: Putting your home on a diet by Jeff Campbell and the Clean Team, and ____________.

The first books talks about only keeping things that bring you joy, and focuses on what you keep not what you get rid of.  The Clean Team book is one of the first I read about decluttering and it set me on the path of decluttering my life so that I didn't spend so much time looking for things. And the third discussed ways to organize that are not traditional, it was focused on the truly chronic "clutteree" and has some really good out of the box ideas for storage that works for people when ordinary files, drawers, and closets don't.

I am beginning to feel like an expert, having just moved twice in less than a year and sold one of the houses we moved from after 24 years.

Two of the most important things I learned are, first, unless it is personally created or an heirloom nearly everything can be replaced, and second, we had a lot of stuff that took more energy to store than we took pleasure in. Hard as it was to go through our vast amounts of stuff, going through it was like taking huge boulders off of our shoulders. It seems trite to say that but it really is true.

One other observation is that sooner or later this has to be done, and I frankly don't really want to go through my parents stuff, so I therefore don't want my kids to have to go through all of my things.  It is inevitable that we will have to go through my parents garage and home, as my kids will have to go through our home and garage, but I swear by all that is holy when my kids go through my life they won't say, "what in the heck did she save this for"?! They may say that about their dad's stuff, but that isn't my concern today.

When I have gone through and continue to go through my things and household items, the first question I ask myself, what is it? The second is, when did I last use it or wear it or look at it? Third, when do I think I'll use it, wear it look at it again? Fourth, do I plan to do anything of those things again? Fifth, does it make me smile? And finally, do I really want to keep it?

Those steps taken one at a time make the process easy for me, because I actually don't have to get rid of anything and when I look at it that way letting go is worth it!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Rules to live by

  • You have two ears and one mouth, use your ears more.
  • Paraphrased Sufi or Buddhist saying,"Does what you want to say need to be said, if it needs to be said, do you need to be the one to say it and if you have to say it say it as kindly as possible.
  • Never try to fix something after midnight, most things can wait until morning.
  • Live by the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you".
  • Failing to plan often turns into planning to fail.
  • One step at a time.
  • Don't run with scissors.
  • Don't say anything behind someone's back you would not say directly to them.
  • Dance as if no one is watching.
  • Take chances, make mistakes and get messy.
  • A messy desk, house, car ... Does not mean a messy mind.
  • If things are not going your way and you can't figure out what is wrong, write down or journal your days you may see a pattern that makes everything clear.
  • If you haven't worn it or used it in a year, throw or better yet give it away.
  • When you car first makes that funny noise consistently get it looked at, it might save you a lot of money later on.
  • Look at your child's diet especially what they choose, over the course of a two week period, not daily, I bet they cover most of the food groups in the right amounts.
  • Use your car's cruise control, it will save a ticket I bet.
  • The chances of winning the lottery are roughly the same whether or not you buy a ticket...but if you don't buy one you will never win.
  • Be the friend you wish you had.
  • Give compassion and understanding not advice.
  • Don't forget to take a garbage bag to a picnic.
  • Reduce what you use, then reuse what you use, and as a last choice recycle.
  • Smile whenever the opportunity arises.
  • Life is short; live in the moment.
  • Treat your family the way you treat your friends. Unless they really are miserable then treat them as politely as you would a stranger.
  • When wandering a building, a fair, a city always go right.
  • Fill your gas tank when the tank falls below 1/2, you never know when an emergency will occur.
  • Be prepared.
  • Humor goes a long long way in almost every circumstance. It often smooths over awkwardness and prevents fights.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Knitting a Sweater

What goes into a successful hand knit sweater?

First have a pattern that would fit and flatter the wearer.  Second, pick a yarn and make a swatch.  The swatch should be at least four inches by four inches, but bigger is better. If the pattern has multiple pattern stitches the swatch should have them too. A swatch for each pattern  stitch is best in that case.  If the pattern is knit in the round you might want to take that into account and knit the swatch in the round.  The swatch should be washed, dried and block the same way the sweater should be treated. In addition, the swatch stitches should match the gauge required by pattern to ensure that if you knit it up it will be the correct size when completed.  A step further would be to weigh the swatch and the yarn left on the skein. This will help you calculate the yarn required to make the entire sweater.  Third, make sure you have enough yarn to make the sweater.

Before you start knitting the sweater, if following a pattern, read through the entire pattern to make sure you understand what is required. I recommend making a copy of the pattern and highlighting the parts that you should watch for, for example, Sentences like, decrease X stitches at the outside edge, while simultaneously ... I have on more than one occasion missed the while simultaneously instruction.

If the sweater has multiple increases or decreases it can be hard to see where you made the last one, so put some kind of marker in the sweater or mark on the pattern with hash marker how many rows you have done, with a mark for each row. So if the instruction is decrease five stitches every four rows you make a mark when you decrease and then knit three rows even, when you have four marks you know it is time to decrease again.

Finally, take the yarn off the needles every so often and put it on waste yarn so that you can check your gauge to make a sure your gauge is still correct. And you can also then hold it up to a sweater you really like the fit of to make sure the size is close to what you are hoping for in fit.

It seems like a lot of work, but hand knitting a sweater takes a lot of time, you want to it fit at the end of the process. So the extra time these steps take will save you a lot of time when you don't have to rip out your work to get the right fit or fix a mistake because you overlooked an instruction.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Randomness


It is Friday, an overcast-pie making kind of day. Maybe a field trip day too.


Not sure what I would do without them, studies show that although the largest group of users of libraries have college degrees, other people use them too.  They use libraries for a lot of reasons not books related:

  1. To look for jobs
  2. To use the free computers
  3. For free story times
  4. For free lectures and free training
  5. For homework help
  6. For help with research, especially genealogy


I am working on Christmas presents already, finishing projects I started awhile ago, and planning a few new ones.  Ravelry is a great place for inspiration and listening to the Yarniacs Podcast is also inspiring.  I need to start something I can finish in a reasonable time, mostly to prove to myself I can.

And having a few gifts in the works will be a good way to think about the people I love, never a bad thing.  I'm thinking a few scarves, a couple of balaclavas, maybe a hat or two, and some texting gloves!


I really need to get some.


A new way of eating.  I want to find a sustainable weight loss program that leads to a happy weight maintenance program that does not make me feel deprived, short changed, or sad.  Is it possible?  I really, really, hope so!  I don't like feeling like I have write down everything I eat, or feeling like every mouthful of food is somehow cheating or just plan unhealthy.  I do want to like what I see when I look at myself, I want to have less achy joints because I'm carrying less weight and I want it sustainable.

New house thoughts

I want to set out some of the containers I have so that people walking by this weekend can help themselves, and have the added benefit of my backyard look a little less like a rummage sale in the making and the garage a bit less cramped.

I also want to keep working on the blind preservation project-i.e.clean the ones that are already here and make them less u healthy.

Finally, it might be time to plan the front yard plantings that will replace the grass.  I have a bit of shade and a bit of sun and it being me want whatever I plant to have a lot of color and low maintenance.

Ready to make this house a home.