Monday, December 31, 2012

Well, Hello 2013, Glad to Meet You!

Happy New Year to all who might happen by here.  I no longer stay up until midnight to see the new year in so I am doing my well-wishing now.  I hope 2013 brings all of you good health and much happiness -- if you have those two things you have everything!

I am not sure why the idea of a new year is so intriguing -- seriously, I don't expect tomorrow to be vastly different than today but the new year is like a new beginning, a chance to start over, to right wrongs, to new towels at the January white sales!

I don't do resolutions anymore.  I never keep them and they usually involve sweets and soda and weight loss and, by now, we know that isn't going to happen.  I am usually breaking the resolution as I write it down!  This year I am just thinking in terms of doing things better, being more focused in the things I do, trying to make my little part of the world a better place.  I am also thinking a good deal about how I spend my time.  Over the last several months I have been thinking about being more discerning about doing things I really want to do and not what the world thinks I should do.  These thoughts have also lead me to think about who I am and how I am and how I am fortunate to have gotten to the point that I can pretty much be comfortable with who I am and not feel like I have to meet some sort of society driven expectation of what I should be.  Isn't it a shame that we have to wait until we are old to be happy in our own skin.  I guess that falls under the heading "20-20 Hindsight".  Ah, well, I look forward to the next year being one of contentment.

I have spent a good deal of time in 2012 researching minimalist living and frugal living.  This all began with our rather abrupt retirement a year and a half ago.  I wasn't prepared emotionally for the changes in our life and, as things like this usually do, I was sent into a tail spin.  We made quite a few changes to our life style -- some good that we retained and some not so good that we discarded.

One of these best things we did this year was change our cell phone plan.  We are not "smart phone" people -- I even went back to a basic flip phone -- so when our children decided to go out on their own we decided to give up our "family plan" and opt for pay as your go plans.  Hubs has 1000 minutes that he can keep for up to a year -- whatever is left over can be rolled over as long as he adds to the plan before the 1000 minutes is used.  He isn't a phone user so it will take him a long time to use that 1000 minutes.  His plan is $100 which isn't bad considering his minutes will last him quite a while.  My plan is $30 a month for 1500 minutes and a small amount of data.  It is more than I need and I have it set up to be renewed each month by credit card.  The minutes don't roll over on this plan, however.  All in all, though, we have saved over $100 a month on our cell phone bill which I thought was pretty good.  My next goal is to dissect the cable bill -- I see a Roku in our future.

I still line dry some of our laundry and I still prefer to make my own laundry soap.  I cut my hair into a minimal care "pixie" because of the health of my hair and, as a result, I find I am saving money on product and time spent on messing with my hair.  My hair is looking much better as well even if a "pixie" isn't the most flattering style on me.  Neither is bald so I needed to pick one -- I think I made the right choice.

I have turned off the tv more which has resulted in less electricity spent, less aggravation over the news and more peace -- I have learned to love, even crave, a home that isn't polluted by sound.  Of course, turning off the tv has aided my ability to read much, much more.  I have also learned to enjoy some programming on my computer on sites like Hulu.  That enables me to really choose what I want to watch, not sit zombie-like at a lineup that somebody  else has decided for me.  My, I am becoming a cantankerous old broad, aren't I?

All in all 2013 was a good year.  No major illnesses, minimal family drama, a good deal of time spent just watching the miracle of a child grow (there is nothing like it), waking up realizing that I had survived the retirement and relishing in the fact that we, in fact,  woke up, we are healthy and we are thankful to God for all the blessings, big and small,  that he has bestowed on us.

My plans for 2013 include much the same with more time spent watching, enjoying, "smelling the roses" so to speak, praying, loving and being grateful.

Happy New Year All!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Booking Through Thursday -- December 27, 2012

What are/were your favorite book(s) of the year?  Bonus points if you know how many books you read.

Well, since I participated in the 2012 Reading Challenge, I know how many books I read.  My goal was 25 books and I completed 22 and am still working on 23.  I may or may not get it finished by the end of the year.  I did  better this year than last year but I don't think I will be participating in any more challenges.  I feel like the goal to finish a certain number of books sort of lessens the enjoyment of reading so my goal for the new year will be to read books I really enjoy, take the time to really enjoy them and write some nice reviews.

As far as my favorite books of the year are concerned, I have to say I enjoyed all the books I read.  I really enjoyed getting into the "Aunt Dimity" series and plan to continue with the series this year.  There are fifteen in the series and I am about half done, taking breaks between books to read other things.

I have to say that "The School of Essential Ingredients" was a favorite contemporary work.  The setting drew me in immediately -- I  love being able to visualize where/when a book is set.  If the setting is well developed, I am caught.

I think my favorite "period" novel was "The Forgotten Garden".   For me it was a page turner that I couldn't put down.  I read it on my Nook and then bought a hard copy for my library.  I had never read any of Kate Morton works but several other titles of hers are on my list for 2013.

I enjoyed "The Little Stranger" by Sarah Waters but it wasn't as scary as I was hoping.  It was more sad than scary and when I read it I was in the mood for scary but it was still really good -- I am a big fan of Sarah Waters and hope to read more of her works in the new year.

So, yeah, that's about it!
Random  Thoughts --- AKA Another Boring, Photo-less, Post

Since I am completely engulfed in a severe case of Cedar Fever, I am doing a lot of sitting which is getting really, really boring.  My cabin fever is centered around my chair in front of the tv -- awful.  Anyway, I am sitting here, not feeling like doing  much, but I am thinking about the year to come.  I am not a good one with resolutions.  I don't like making them because I generally forget about them immediately and they aren't very inspiring anyway.  It isn't like I resolve myself to do some good, charitable work or somehow change mankind.  I usually resolve to lose half my body weight -- right after the current cookie! So, I don't do resolutions.

However,  I am thinking about how to do things better this year.  Not big things, just little things and how to make time for the things I love to do but generally let go because of the things I HAVE to do.  Another thing on my list is how to lighten up my stress level.  I don't have a lot of stress.  We are retired and are reasonably secure in that status.  I don't have a lot of pressing things to worry about but I tend to worry a lot about things that I can do nothing about.  I need to work on that.  Maybe some exercise would help with that.  I have to think about it.

The one thing to change that sticks in my mind is joining reading challenges.  I find them stressful.  Last year I joined a couple and found myself rushing to read a certain number of books -- I didn't enjoy the books, it was just an exercise to see if I could meet my goal and see how fast I could read. This year was a bit better even though I didn't make my goal.  I didn't worry about that so much so I enjoyed my reading experience more which tells me that maybe reading challenges aren't my "thing".

Another thing I am going to try to get involved in again is genealogy with the goal of adding more ancestors to my DAR roll.  I have run across a lady in Del Rio -- a cousin -- who has just had one of our relatives approved for the first time and I am looking forward to working with her to add him to my list of ancestors who fought in the American Revolution.

As far as crafts, sewing, etc. go, I haven't had much time for that plus my hands seem to be giving me arthritis problems so quilting and such isn't much fun.  However, I have three quilts promised that I need to work on and a mound of cross stitch patterns to do.  I don't know that I am going to do the cross stitch with any particular project in mind -- just for the joy in doing it.  I do have a couple of bird charts that I would like to do so that I can frame them -- I have a nice place to put them and think they would look good in my house so that will probably be a goal.

So, like I said, this post is just a bunch of random thoughts.  I am just trying to figure out how to be happy, to do what I enjoy and let go of what I don't without guilt!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas All!

Yes, it is Christmas Day, 2012 and a mighty odd one, I might add.  I am glad I have gotten old enough to just accept that things aren't always going to turn out the way you planned and to just get on with it --  the whole lemons/lemonade thing.

I didn't feel good all last week and, actually several days prior to that but I was busy and didn't pay much attention.  Bad move.  I have lived in Texas (aka Mountain Cedar Hell Hole) all my life and all my life I have been a mess from December to March.  Whatever made me think this year would be different?  I usually start looking at pollen charts around Thanksgiving so I can get a heads up on the progress of the little yellow blooming buggers but I failed to do  that this year until day before yesterday when I was hit like  a ton of brick with raging allergy symptoms.  The mountain cedar count was at the very top of the published chart and there I was outside actually breathing! I started with a cough, day before yesterday, and then yesterday I was a complete disaster but went ahead and attended church and went to my daughters for Christmas Eve dinner which was lovely -- our traditional Tex-Mex fare.  However, I was miserable and couldn't wait to get home to swallow some Benadryl and Mucinex and go to bed.

We were supposed to get up early this morning and head to daughter's house to watch Bean open her gifts.  However, that didn't happen.  We were awakened in the night by a thunderstorm complete with severe lightening and hail.  Dear daughter phoned me at 5:45 and said not to come, it was pretty treacherous out there which was fine because it took me three hours to get the allergy symptoms under control.  In that three hours we went from thunderstorms to sleet to snow.  It snowed all afternoon and has finally stopped but the temperature is below freezing so it is now an ice rink outside.  I am just thankful that nobody has to go to work tomorrow.  They were reporting that the sanding trucks and snow plows were ready to go but the first thing that happened was one of the sand trucks turned over.  Let it suffice to say that Texans don't do ice and/or snow well.  At all.

We missed out on Christmas dinner with Dear Daughter tonight.  She  and her British hubby had a traditional British dinner complete with Yorkshire pudding, thanks to her mother-in-law who is visiting.  They enjoyed the traditional crackers and, the last I heard, the new stuffed Mickey Mouse doll was wearing a paper hat out of the cracker!

We had a lovely dinner ourselves, though.  We had grilled steak, baked potatoes and sauteed spinach and mushrooms.  We didn't have any dessert because Hubs did a lot of damage to the Welsh cakes that I made and his blood sugar was just a bit elevated -- a big bit.  So, now we are watching "The Bourne Legacy", the new Bourne movie which he received as a gift in his little gift bag.

I don't like being sick and I really don't like having my plans changed but all in all we had a nice holiday.  I guess the snow was a nice touch and, since I don't feel well, I won't be getting out anyway but a little sunshine would have been nice.  Oh well, they say that will be tomorrow so I plan on a nice sleep and hopefully waking to a less allergy-ridden me.

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday and look forward to a happy New Year.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

There are no words.  There is no reasonable explanation.  I don't know how this was allowed to happen.  God help us all because we certainly don't seem to be able to help ourselves.  This makes me physically ill.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Musing Mondays

Today's question is "what is the last book you could not finish and why?".

I don't usually start books that I don't think I can/will finish but that did happen to me with "London" by Edward Rutherford.  It is an outstanding book full of genealogy which is right up my alley but it is long and I got distracted.  I have full intention of finishing it and continue to read it from time to time -- it is sort of a work in progress so to speak.  It is slow going but I will finish it.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Calm Before the Storm

It has been unseasonably warm here in Cowtown, Funkytown, Fot Wuth, whatever you want to call this little burg.  We have been enjoying shorts and t-shirt weather for weeks but later today, according to the meteorology  gods, all of that is going to change.  We are going to have a strong Canadian cold front that promises much colder temperatures and flirts with the promise of a few fluttery flakes.  Sounds lovely, doesn't it?  Well, not so much.  

I don't know about anywhere else in the world, but  our news reporting here in North Texas has become quite the media circus with much hype over nothing.  They start reporting these sorts of events several days in advance with the urgency escalating proportionately as the event draws near.  By now we should all be going out and emptying the stores of all manner of foodstuffs and duct tape (duct tape?    whatever for?).  For years, we all did just that and, of course, nothing happened.  After a while nobody paid any attention anymore  -- well, except maybe for the purchase of the occasional extra package of toilet tissue and carton of milk.  I was one of those.  I poo-pooed  all news reports and was pretty much correct most of the time.

However, three years ago I learned my lesson.  It was reported that we would have a few flurries -- I did my regular grocery shopping and figured we would just take some nice photos if anything actually happened.  Well, happened it did and and what a mess.  My daughter was pregnant and teaching school down the road -- they didn't close the school and she couldn't get all the way home to her house so we went to the school to rescue her and bring her to our house.  It was warm, dinner was on the stove, it would be fun.  WRONG! The trip from the school to our house was pretty uncomfortable as we were maneuvering an interstate --- trying to stay "in the grooves' which we have learned to do.  Bear in mind -- north Texas has no snow removal equipment -- and we have much more ice than snow and it usually happens first. So, off we go -- me and the heavily pregnant daughter in her car -- Hubs in ours and we trudge home.  We get here.  We have dinner, we watch movies -- pregnant daughter is missing home - I tuck her in for a long, well deserved sleep.  Then, the unthinkable happens.

We. Lose. Our. Power.

The next morning we packed up freezing, pregnant daughter and manage to get her home.  The snow was melting at a nice pace and she didn't have a lot of trouble.  We headed to Target for battery operated lights, more necessities of life and we came home to huddle in front of our gas powered fireplace for three days of absolute powerless misery.  The power came on momentarily one  of the nights, long enough for the heater to come on and warm the house, but it was gone again for another day.  

One might wonder why our power was off for so long -- so did we.  I can't begin to tell you how livid I was when I found out why.  Seems that ice on trees hanging on the power lines was the culprit -- no surprises there -- but what was surprising was the fact that the fancy schmancy neighbors down the road refused to let the power company trim the trees off the lines so we were left in the cold and dark for three days.  I guess the upscale neighbors found it quaint to be cold or they all took refuge in one of our very nice downtown hotels.

I understand that for a lot of people up north, this doesn't sound major but for people who are used to shorts and t-shirt weather most of the time, it is jolting and, honestly, we aren't usually ready.  However, today I am getting ready.  I don't really think I will need it but I am definitely checking out the batteries and the pantry and the toilet tissue and making a quick run to the grocery store.  I babysit tomorrow and I am taking a change of clothes and some pajamas.  Better safe than sorry, I would say!