Monday, October 3, 2016

Third Quarterly Check-in, October 1, 2016

Wow, can you see my golf ball?  I chipped it in from 6 feet off the green for a birdie!  (It's stuck between the flag stick and the side of the hole, one of the good pink balls you gave me, Sharon.)  I realize I'm not looking very slim in the photo, but what's that compared to a terrific golf shot?  That's only my first birdie of the year, but with the broken foot bone, I missed most of the season.  I'm glad to say it's better now.

It was a less active than usual three months - broken foot, four appointments' worth of dental work, and a seriously upset stomach - however, it's nice to look back and see I still had a lot of fun.

Since I knew I'd be spending time sitting down, I learned how to knit socks.  Here are my first three efforts, and the beginning of a beautiful 4th pair.  Ben and Melanie gave me that beautiful dark blue yarn for my birthday and I'm finally confident enough to use it.

 The first two and a half pairs were knitted from the top down, then I read that many experienced knitters prefer to knit from the toe up.  I made the second purple sock from the toe up - it's tricky - had to learn several new stitches and a new way of measuring where to start the various parts.  I also learned to get best-quality yarn.  The purple ones are of inexpensive yarn and itchy.  The red and green pair cost a bit more but feel wonderfully silky.  The gray ones are a heavier yarn - quick to knit but I'll only wear them on a very cold day.  I have several books from the library with many techniques and I can't wait to try some pretty patterns!

Melanie and Ben also brought a jigsaw puzzle - fun!  I hadn't done one in very many years.  A warning though - it's addictive!  Once I get started it's hard to quit and do something useful.  When I finished the butterflies I had to quickly go to Amazon and order a few more.

I read a lot of books.  A memorable one:  A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install - I loved this!  The robot's personality was really lovable.  Also watched some Netflix movies. Two we particularly enjoyed were based on true stories.  Young at Heart is about a singing group in Massachusetts made up of folks in their late 70's, 80's and 90's - a real "feel good" movie.  Bridge of Spies is about the Francis Gary Powers spy incident in the early 1960's and Tom Hanks was great.

Melanie and I have started scheduling a "Girls' Getaway" as an annual weekend for mother and daughter to spend together.  This year we invited Melanie's mother-in-law, Sharon, and had a great time in Manzanita on the Oregon coast.  We mostly walked and talked.  Mel and Sharon were patient with me as I limped along the ocean and through the town.  There were lots of cute shops, and we browsed through them all.  Our rented house had a deck with an ocean view and Sharon made us some delicious vodka collins each evening - a perfect opportunity for relaxation and conversation!

I haven't done too badly with my healthy eating...  with a few exceptions due to my birthday, Tyler's birthday, and other special occasions.  However, wine seems to have crept back in after two months of none at all, and gluten is back - mainly in the form of toast, and crackers with cheese.  How hard it is to be ever vigilant!! 

When I could finally walk without the boot, I went down to our pea patch for the first time in a couple of months.  I was surprised to find a pretty nice tomato harvest, and made a very tasty dinner.

Here are links to the chicken and tomato recipe and also the potato stacks.

We used that potato stack recipe for a big dinner at the end of September.  It was our first turn at hosting our investment club for the monthly dinner and meeting, and we knew we could have a crowd as large as 12 or 14.  It turned out we had 8, and it went well, but we were a bit nervous.  Stan made his delicious duck with poached pears and peas, and I made the potatoes and a lemon tart.  I think everyone enjoyed it, and now we can relax for another year  : )

I forgot to photograph the meal in the rush of serving everyone, so  here's what our leftover dinner looked like the next evening.  Not bad for leftovers!

I'll close with a photo of my two granddaughters, Mira, of course, and her puppy Evie.  Evie joined the family Memorial Day weekend and I was impressed with how well-behaved she was when I visited a couple of weeks ago.  After our first greeting, she didn't jump up and was quietly friendly.  Whenever I gave her my full attention and some petting, she rolled right over for a tummy scratch.  Her big Sissy is taking good care of her and training her well!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Second Quarterly Check-in, July 6, 2016

Well, here I am beginning my 70th year and I'm not in good shape at all!  I fell a couple of weeks ago and broke a bone in my foot - how dumb!  I rolled up the rug to clean the kitchen floor, then got distracted and tripped over the rug...  alarming on several levels...  short term memory going fast, and bones ready to break at the slightest stress  : (  There's an important lesson here, about how just a moment of inattention and carelessness can really change your life.  I'm fortunate mine is only changed for a month or so this time, but I can hear my mom saying "Pamela, you must keep your wits about you!"

We've been quite busy these past three months.  Here are some of our activities:

Stan's timeshare has a resort in central Oregon called Eagle Crest, where he used to enjoy spring break with his kids years ago.  He's been suggesting we go down there sometime, and Tyler mentioned that Bend, OR made a short list of smaller towns he and Alethea and Mira might want to relocate to, so we took a road trip to check it out.

This is a place where I could retire!!  I was surprised that I liked it so much!  There are homes, condos and apartments for sale and for rent, and all kinds of activities like hiking, golf, rental bikes and bike trail, horses, swimming, you name it!  There's even a community for over-50 folks with it's own activities.  I don't really expect we'll leave this house and Washington any time soon, but it sure made me think about what I want in my retirement years.  (Number 1 is having the kids close by, so no move as yet...)

 We stopped for dinner with Melanie and Ben in Portland on the way down, and I was invited to return and keep Wilbur company while he healed from a pretty serious surgery to remove a growth from his paw (and also one toe).  So, I headed back to Portland, and Wilbur and I bonded while lounging around in the beautiful weather while Melanie and Ben were at work.  I'm happy to report Wilbur is quite recovered now and ready to play again!

Rooftop dinner with Melanie and Ben

Wilbur's favorite spot (mine, too)
Ben grilled dinner after a long day of work - yum!

(I guess you can see my new wine-free lifestyle didn't carry over far into the 2nd quarter...  I backslipped for a month or two, but now I'm back on track.  Good thing, as now I'm sleeping pretty well in spite of the broken foot!)

I was barely home from Portland when it was time to pack and fly to Chantilly, Virginia for BINC - the Better Investing National Convention.  Since I'm a director of our chapter, they paid my way, and Stan went with me.  It was a great four days of classes and talks, and comparing investing notes with fellow investors around the country.  It motivated us to continue learning and experimenting with our investing.  As Stan said, "We can do better".

On Memorial Day I met my new grandcritter, Evie!!  What a sweetheart!  Mira has wanted a dog for a long time, and her parents found a way to make that happen with a puppy of the breed Lagotto Romagnolo, which doesn't bother Alethea's allergies.  Evie's still a baby, but we can already tell she's going to be cuddly and smart.  I enjoyed watching her gather a couple of toys and take them to her favorite corner - very purposeful!

The first week in June, my friend and co-grandma Charla and I walked eleven miles round trip to the Dungeness Spit lighthouse.   We did great!  Charla was a bit worried about a bad knee, but she got in her groove and walked strong and fast all the way back.  On the other hand, I had no trouble on the way out, but coming back my knee suddenly started hurting and had a fluid-filled lump pop up.  Charla lent me one of her walking sticks and I was fine, though pretty slow.  Anyway, we did it!

Then came the day of the foot!  Ouch!!  (I'm so sorry for people who have broken their hips!  Just a small foot bone hurt quite a bit!)  I didn't know it was broken, so just kept it up with ice for the afternoon, and headed off to Mira's orchestra concert that evening.

So glad I could go!  It was amazing!  I'd love to post a photo of Mira graciously fulfulling the role of concert mistress for her beginning orchestra (first violin!) but her director asked us not to post any photos on public media, and I will obey.  Mira's middle school is known for its music program, and I was surprised to see hundreds of kids in 5 orchestras, as well as several really great soloists.  ("Really great" doesn't even begin to describe how good they are.)  The whole family urged me to get my foot checked out the next day, so I did - good thing.

So, how to entertain myself sitting down for the next 6 weeks??  Reading, of course.  I put some books on hold at the library, so Stan could just zip in and pick them up.  (One was Host by Robin Cook - exciting medical thriller.  I'll get more of his.)  I also finished knitting my first pair of socks, that I had started when I visited the yarn shop in Cannon Beach last winter.  I already have more yarn on the way.

I also signed up for a class on   A terrific website!  There are many classes in all sorts of categories - Life Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Languages, Business and Data Science.  I chose to start with Business Analytics - for example, how Amazon knows which books to show me and how to customize for me  "people who bought this, also bought that".  Also, how Google decides which ads to show at the top of my search, and how much to charge for them.  Lots of math!  Not everyone's cup of tea, I know, but I'm finding it very interesting.  You can audit for free, or pay if you want to take tests and get a certificate.

Finally, my birthday was last weekend and both kids and their families came to help me celebrate.  We had a great time!  It was the first time the two doggie cousins met each other and they played nicely, with Wilbur teaching Evie a few manners.  I'm lucky to have such a nice family.

Photo by son-in-law Ben - I need to master the timer so all can be in pic!

So, with all those activities, did I stay on my eating plan?  Uh, no.  I have gained 4 pounds (make that 5 at press time), with probably more to come, as I won't be exercising for at least another 4 weeks.  I'm already vowing to get out there and walk more, and I'm off the wine and the Starbucks frappuccinos.  Stan and I watched a documentary called Fat and Sick and Nearly Dead, by an Aussie guy who went on a vegetable juice fast while driving around the US telling people about it.  He wound up helping a much fatter, sicker man who then went on to help others.

All that caused me to reconsider juicing.  I had bought a really nice (expensive) juicer a few years ago, shortly before reading that juicing was bad and that we should make smoothies in a high-speed (even more expensive) blender so as to eat the whole fruit.  I never did get the blender, and the juicer went up on the top shelf in the pantry.  Anyway, I'm considering getting it out again.  When I first had it, I had gotten fairly good at making a nice juice mixture that was as nutritious as I could actually tolerate drinking.  One of my books from the library is Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Juice and it has detailed instructions for a 3-day cleanse (not a juice fast, there's some food, too), and I may give it a try.  Will write about it if I do.

I also can't wait to get walking and hiking again, not to mention golf.  I'm so sorry I spoiled golf for Stan, too, as we had just started our once-a-week round at the community 9-hole course.  When I get back to my activities, I'll be so appreciative of my pain-free mobility!

Look who we ran into on our favorite trail.  Have a great summer!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

First Quarterly Check-in, March 31, 2016

Hi Readers - thanks for checking in to see what I've been up to in the first quarter of my post-blogging year!  It took a while to realize I no longer have to remember to photograph everything I do and eat, then I got pretty busy.

Here I am - still pain-free and I have stayed between 133 and 135 pounds.  I think I'll stop posting unflattering photos of me trying to suck in my belly - here's how I actually look most of the time.

The first thing I tackled in the new year was sleep.  I was tired of tossing and turning in the middle of the night, then sleeping later in the morning than I want to.  Here's what I did:
  • Bought more melatonin.  It helps adjust sleep patterns and was recommended by the naturopath I consulted to help me through chemo and radiation some years ago.
  • Bought and hung room-darkening drapes.  We just had blinds with a cornice selected by Stan's prior girlfriend - now we're redecorating the bedroom  : )
  • Thanks to son-in-law Ben, I now listen to the sound of ocean waves crashing on the beach all night.  It's a free app called White Noise Free and the waves are my favorite.  It's not very loud, but just seems to mask traffic noises and Stan's breathing.
  • And - are you sitting down? - I completely stopped drinking wine or any other alcohol.  Yup, did it.  I think this made the most difference.
Now I sleep well most of the time, and I've even been aware of dreaming, though I didn't used to remember any dreams at all.  It's a real pleasure to go to bed knowing I can expect a good night's sleep.

So, giving up wine was a pretty big thing.  Now I see it's true that when you don't drink alcohol, you crave sugar more.  (My non-drinking, candy-eating friend, Mary, always told me that, and I was skeptical.)  At cocktail hour I started treating myself to one of those bottled Starbucks frappuccinos, and guess what I now look forward to every day!  Yup, still having one almost every day.  However, one of those has fewer calories than three glasses of wine, so maybe it's not too bad.  It doesn't seem to affect my sleep as alcohol does.

My granddaughter, Mira, introduced me to The Best British Baking Show - if you haven't seen this, it's terrific!  (I found it available on Netflix.)  The contestants are lovely nice people and incredibly talented.  Both Stan and I loved it, and of course, it made me want to bake!  I used real, glutinous flour and lots of butter and sugar, and I think it will be okay to have a cake once in a while.

Yellow cake with chocolate frosting for our 5th anniversary (January 1st - last day of wine!)

Lemon loaf cake

Strawberry swirl for Valentines' Day

I also baked some bread:

Wheat germ bread with molasses - Mira liked this a lot

Whole grain bread from Whole Grain Bread in 5 Minutes A Day

Other than the cakes, I've kept to my eating plan fairly well.  Lots of protein and veggies!

Breakfast scramble
I've really embraced veggies for breakfast!
When it's my turn to cook dinner:

Stuffed Peppers
With my newfound energy and free time I've worked on some home improvement.  First I helped Stan clean ten years or so worth of mud out of the fish pond.  It was a good opportunity since last fall most of the fish were mysteriously gone one day.  We don't know whether it was a large bird or raccoon or something else, but it was a sad day for us.  We are very happy that Stan managed to catch the three remaining ones and they survived their week "at camp" in the wading pool while we dug a lot of mud and weeds out of the pond.  They appear to be enjoying their new home, although while it's still cold they mostly hide out and sleep under the rocks.

I also started painting our bedroom - and realized it is really big!  I've finished the sitting area with two coats of white on the ceiling and two coats of a sort of zen-looking warm gray on the walls.  Stan requested salmon-colored walls in the bedroom, and we agreed on an accent wall or two.  He'll help me paint the main part of the bedroom and it'll be exciting to see how the color turns out!  I'll post an "after" photo in a future quarterly check-in when it's all done.

(Can I take a moment here to explain, and brag a little?  Several years ago Stan was asked to go to Cambridge University - yes, the one in Cambridge, England - to be part of a panel for a PhD candidate.  While there, he stayed in a lovely old building and took many photos of his beautiful  room with salmon walls.  Our room at home doesn't have the same gracious lines and white moldings, but we'll see what we can do.)

I got to take a break and spend an afternoon with Mira - always fun!  She played her violin and let me try it out.  I went to her concert a few weeks later, and then we had a birthday party for my co-grandparents, Charla and Merv, and Mira played for us.  It's exciting to see her progress!

And finally, I discovered  What a great website!!  I am mostly interested in the quilting, but they have classes and supplies for other needlework crafts, cooking and baking, art, photography, jewelry and more.  I found a beautiful kit for a quilt with fabrics by my favorite fabric designer, Kaffe Fassett.  It was on sale for half-price, and I know I could never buy all the fabric individually for that little.  Then I signed up for some classes, and so far, they are excellent.  They're online videos with an opportunity to ask questions and have an online discussion with the instructor and other students.  It's fun to see the others' completed projects!

So, that's it for this quarterly check-in - you know where I'll be for the next several months!