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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday Snow! And, Can You Identify This House Plant?

We are forecast to get quite a snowfall today. I went out at six-thirty this morning to walk and the wind was blowing hard, the snow was falling fast, and the going was adventurous. Funny how a little inclement weather turns my ordinary daily exercise into a battle of me versus the elements, and I just love it. There is something about being bundled up, hunched up to fend off the blowing wind and driving snow, tromping through the drifts, be wary not to slip, everything becomes a challenge in a good way, a fun way.

I usually walk a mile in fourteen minutes, today my average speed was seventeen minutes per mile, a significant slow down, but I feel like it was a good work out, it was more like hiking. When I got back to the house I filled the bird feeders and shoveled the front walk. Right now the temperature is just below freezing, but by tomorrow morning we are going to be down to two degrees and we will remain sub-zero for several days, brrrrr.

Now, can anyone tell me what this plant is? I "won" it in a silent auction at a family reunion this past September. The plant sits on a table in front of a west facing window and seems very happy where I have it. In the past weeks it started to blossom, the first blossom to appear has now turned a reddish/pinkish color. The leaves are some what serrated, thick, but not like a succulent, and the stem is quite woody. The plant is about a foot tall. I really like it but wish I knew more about it.

Monday, January 14, 2019

January Life

Well here we are almost halfway through January. So far a busy month. The weather started out very mild for this time of year, we had a few days of almost fifty degree weather, it was very enjoyable. Winter arrived this weekend with five inches of snow on Saturday, and this morning when I left for work it was eleven degrees outside, brrr.

New Years day we celebrated with our children and grandchildren, Dave prepared pork shoulder and sauerkraut for everyone, and for sides I made roast potatoes and cabbage au-gratin. I had a delish bowl of vegan goodness :) In our family pork and cabbage is a New Years tradition, supposedly bringing good luck for the new year. I had red cabbage in my vegan bowl of goodness!

Last week we celebrated our youngest daughter and her fiance Joe's wedding, it was a simple affair with a fun reception afterwards at our home. Everyone had a good time and we wish Joe and Emily a long and happy life together.

This coming Friday our eldest, Matt, will turn thirty-five, I don't feel old enough to have a child that old, time really zooms along. One minute you are busy with babies and toddlers and school age children and the next they are all grown, married and have children of their own.

I am keeping a reading list for 2019, so far I have read just one book, Beartown by Fredrik Backman, initially I liked it, but liked it less and less as I progressed through the story. I have the sequel out from the library but have decided I don't want to read it. I am now on my second book of 2019, The Aloe by Katherine Mansfield, it was written in 1916 I believe, so far so good. I am not sure what will be next up, I think I am going to have a good peruse of my bookshelf and find something there.

I didn't make any resolutions for the new year, last year I did, for the most part I stuck with them, but struggled with the not buying things as the year progressed. I do feel an urge to talk less and listen more, to be slower to anger, to be more patient, it is a struggle. And I feel a strong urge to limit television viewing. In the past I have entirely stopped watching television for months and months at a time, but I don't feel that extreme. Sometimes watching a good movie is just the ticket, and there are several YouTube vloggers I subscribe to, they post short videos perhaps once a week, occasionally more, and I enjoy the content so will continue to view.

YouTube channels I enjoy:

Happy Healthy Vegan - a fifty something married couple based in Long Beach, CA, Ryan and Anji are long time vegans, who post a lot of informative, interesting, entertaining vlogs. They camp on Catalina Island each year and have uploaded some beautifully filmed travel vlogs, their trip to Hawaii for Anji's fiftieth birthday is so relaxing to watch, like you own personal mini vacation.

Hench Herbivore - another Vegan, a body builder from Norwich, England, he is a vegan nutritionist, body builder, personal trainer, vlogger. Paul is larger than life, entertaining to watch, provides a lot of good information, and his partner Jemma is an excellent cook.

Jane Esseltyn - another Vegan, based I believe, in Cleveland, OH - she is the daughter of Dr. Caldwell Esseltyn who is a huge proponent of whole food, plant based eating. Jane and her mother Ann demonstrate recipes from their cookbooks, they are short videos, fun, light-hearted, and I really enjoy the rapport between mother and daughter.

All of the above Vegans are huge proponents of whole food, plant based vegan eating. I find their channels supportive, when you are vegan you can feel a bit isolated as most times you are the only vegan in the room, their vlogs provide encouragement and support, I know I am not a crazy lady and I am not the only person who is into of whole food plant based living with exercise for optimum health.

Not too much going on for the rest of the month, more snow is tentatively predicted for Saturday, and the colder temperatures are to remain for a while, but the sun is shining and the snow looks beautiful and life is good.

Peace be with you,


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

What Stories Could This Tree Tell

Dave and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm January weather this past Sunday to take a hike through Pokagon State Park near Angola, Indiana. We did a little over 6 miles, up and down hills, through woods and open spaces, around ponds and past creeks, enjoying the scenery and the walk.  We made a slight alteration to our normal route and  at the top of a steep hill came upon the tree pictured. What happened to this tree? How did every branch get broken off? What type of tree is it? What I do know is that even in  death the stark beauty of the tree still gives pleasure. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

My Mom the Amazing Knitting Great Grandma!

My Mom spent the weeks leading up to Christmas on a fantastic knitting project, nine sweaters for her nine great grandchildren! Don't they look splendid. (The sweaters and the kids).

Monday, December 31, 2018

Books Read in 2018

Here is my list of books  read in 2018. Some I will read again and some I have read at least once before.

My 2018 Favorite Books

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
Symposium - Muriel Spark
The Bookshop - Penelope Fitzgerald
The Bell - Iris Murdoch
Farther Afield - Miss Read
Angel - Elizabeth Taylor 
A View of the Harbour - Elizabeth Taylor
The Keeper of Lost Things - Robin Hogan

I would be hard pressed to pick my absolute favorite book for the year, any of the above would qualify.

My 2018 Least Favorite Book 

The Rotters Club - Johnathan Coe

I persevered and finished it, but did not enjoy  at all.


Fall of The Giants - Ken Follett
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
The Stories of Muriel Spark - Muriel Spark
Symposium - Muriel Spark
Tales of the City - Armistead Maupin
Mr. Pye - Mervyn Peake
The End of The Affair - Graham Greene
A Few Green Leaves - Barbara Pym
The Bookshop - Penelope Fitzgerald
O Pioneers! - Willa Cather
A Far Cry From Kensington - Muriel Spark
Cider With Rosie - Laurie Lee
The Bell - Iris Murdoch
The Girls of Slender Means - Muriel Spark
Summer in Fairacre - Miss Read
The Fairacre Festival - Miss Read
The Martian - Andy Weir
Marker - Robin Cook
Changes at Fairacre - Miss Read
Farther Afield - Miss Read
Kim - Rudyard Kipling
An Unsuitable Attachment - Barbara Pym
The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford
Love in a Cold Climate - Nancy Mitford
The English Major - Jim Harrison
Animal Sanctuary - Sarah Falkner (didn't finish)
Angel - Elizabeth Taylor
A View of the Harbour - Elizabeth Taylor
The Private Patient - PD James
The Mistletoe Murder and other short stories - PD James
Alternate Side - Anna Quindlen
Black And Blue - Anna Quindlen
The Keeper of Lost Things - Robin Hogan
The Lido - Libby Page
A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman
The Blood of an Englishman - Agatha Raisin
Fiction Can Be Murder - Becky Clark (didn't finish)
The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion
The Clear Light Of Day - Penelope Wilcock
The Rotters' Club - Johnathan Coe
Dashing Through the Snow - Mary Higgins Clark/Carol Higgins Clark
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson
Down To Earth - Faith Addis


Seasons of My Life  - Hannah Hauxwell with Barry Cockcroft
Island Home - Tim Winton


The Little Book of Vegan Poems - Benjamin Zephaniah

What did you read in 2018 that you really enjoyed?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Book Review - Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I really enjoyed this book. The premise is quite different to most novels, the main character, Ursula Todd, dies and is born over and over again. But do not be fooled by my description, it is not science fiction, it is not a ghost story, rather it is a story of second chances.

The story begins at the beginning of the 1900's and moves through WWI and WWII. Ursula is the third of five children in her upper middle class English family. Ursula comes into the world one cold and snowy winters day, the cord is around her neck she is dead. Ursula comes into the world one cold and snowy winters day, the doctor has made it to the house he snips the cord around her neck she lives. Throughout the book Ursula is born into the world one cold and snowy winters day, each time the telling is a little different, did Ursula herself manipulate the changes? This is something I have pondered upon since finishing the book.

Ursula lives many versions of her life, most are very similar versions, yet each version is different. Sometimes her life gets so awful you are glad she is able to die and essentially start from the beginning again. We are never quite sure how much Ursula realizes she is living and dying the same life over and over, except there is an awareness that she is different, felt even by those around her, particularly her mother and father. In one life she visits a psychiatrist, in another she has sort of deja-vu moments and takes decisive action to change the course of events.

The big take away for me is that no matter what choices we make in life and the consequences that occur because of those choices, life is not perfect, bad things happen, people die unexpectedly, good things happen, our only choice is how we chose to cope with the life that happens to us. Ultimately I think it is a very positive message, we are here, we should do our best to live our best life and that is really all anyone can do.

I look forward to reading more books by this author.

Peace be with you,


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas 2018 and A Look Back At 2018

Another Christmas has come and gone. Christmas 2018 was very nice, a fun day with our family. Dave and I started the day by going to Mass and the for the rest of the day it was good food, fun games, gift exchange, and a good time just being together - really the best part. Now we look forward to New Years Day and all that 2019 will bring to us.

We had planned to go to Midnight Mass but I was struck down with a stomach bug on Christmas Eve and spent the day on the sofa sipping Sprite, and headed off to bed early.  The stomach bug, thankfully, was fast moving. Granddaughter Alivia started throwing up on Friday evening, her Dad and sister succumbed to the bug on Saturday, and her Mom on Christmas Eve. Daughter Amber and four of her boys got it on Sunday, and her husband and oldest son got it on Christmas Eve.  Yesterday our son Ben came down with it, so it will be only a matter of time before his wife and son get it. The bug only lasts about twelve hours, but for several days after you have no appetite at all, at this time of year we are all likely to over-indulge food wise, so it is perhaps not a bad side effect!  Anyway, for the most part everyone is feeling well again.

Looking back over 2018, it was a sad year, we lost my father-in-law in July, Ralph was 88, he lived a good life and was a good man and we are thankful that he had a peaceful death surrounded by family. It was a year of fun, lots of birthday celebrations, holiday celebrations, a big party when my husband turned 60. Job changes for some of our children and their spouses, all for the better. A wonderful visit with my parents at the end of September when they drove to Indiana to visit all of us, before heading off to Colorado to visit my sister and her husband, and then on to Arizona to visit my youngest sister and her family, then back to sunny Florida. A long road trip for two seventy-nine years old, young at heart, people to make.  All in all it was a good year.

For myself, I feel as if I have come out of a tunnel, I mentioned in a previous post I was struggling with my upcoming birthday, I will be fifty-five. I seem to have resolved my negative feelings about it. Since turning fifty I have been through a lot, and perhaps now feel as if I am in a good place. Firstly I lost a lot of weight, a hundred and ten pounds and have kept it off. I can tell you it is life changing to lose that much weight, of course it is a very positive thing, but it takes a long time, years to pass, to mentally accept that you are no longer obese. It is weird, I don't think I can really explain it, it just is a huge mental adjustment. People treat you differently, most are very positive and encouraging, a few (and only a very few) disparaging and hurtful. The adjustment of moving from losing weight, it took just over a year, to maintaining the weight loss, a rest of my life job is scary at first. For me the weight loss brought with it a sense of freedom and a new lease on life and a sense of loss all at the same time. After three plus years of maintaining the weight loss I am  finally feeling a bit of confidence that I can do this for the rest of my life and not obsess so much about gaining back all the weight. I had some personal struggles through the past five years, but never did I give in to comfort food, I did succumb to wine for a while, but seem to have nipped that in the bud. I have learned a lot about self-discipline over the past five years, I exercise most days, and eat a very healthy diet, this has strengthened other areas of my life, I don't procrastinate, I keep things organized, I like a tidy house. And I think most importantly my faith has increased, I find Mass to be so very comforting, I walk into the sanctuary at our church and feel as if I am home, in the right place, I feel peace, I feel calm and focused. For a while, a year or longer in the past five years I went through quite a dry period in my faith, now I look at it as the "Footprints" prayer, as I see that God carried me for a long time, he never left my side, I strayed from him. I am glad that now there are two sets of footprints! So, I am looking straight ahead into 2019 and am ready to deal with all the ups and downs, the good and the bad, the happiness and the sadness that it is bound to bring and know that whatever happens, with God on my side I will be able to get through it.

Peace and best wishes to you all for 2019.