Tuesday, September 20, 2016


The 20 years of accumulation

I'm totally serious about this - we're moving and after 20 years of apparently trying to fill up every square inch of space in this old house. To make matters worse, we're downsizing. From an unmeasured number of square feet (let's ballpark it at 1200) to less than 500 of living space and another 300 of indoor storage with a bit of covered outdoor storage as well. Needless to say, there will be a purge. 

Actually, the chucking out has already begun but not feverishly yet, as well it should be. We've been meaning to go through our closets for a couple of years but now we truly must. I've already thrown away a few bags of stained, ripped, worn out garments and given another few to Good Will. I still have waaaay too many pieces of clothing. Especially for someone who goes out publicly maybe once or twice a week, three closet racks of dresses, pants and tops are just more than enough, am I right? Combine that with a dresser with a larger drawer of underwear, another of socks and stockings and bathing suits, and TWO of pajamas (yes, 2!). I do love PJs. 

But that's not the half of it. I also love books - paperbacks, hardcovers, and collectible sets. I have two bookcases full of them. I also have a large plastic bin with paperbacks - to my credit, I joined a book swap club some years ago and so, rather than accumulate more, I end up breaking even, but I still own too many books. I also am a collector of boxes - the kind that hold trinkets or jewelry. None too large, but a great many and each one unique and special. Luckily, they don't take up much room, nor are they heavy to carry, so they will, in all likelihood, be coming with me to the new house. 

Oh, but there is more! I do crafts, so I am a bona-fide hoarder of yarn and other fibrous materials. Also buttons, broken pottery and tiles, beads, wire, and the equipment one uses to construct projects made with such items. Mark down another two bins full of craft items that WILL be relocated. And don't forget the unsold, as yet, projects I've already crafted, crocheted, sewn, painted, pyro'd or otherwise cobbled together to make something new. I am currently having a sale in my etsy.com shop where some of these things can be taken off my hands for a deep discount. You should check it out:

Where there's a way, there's a will

My spouse, on the other hand, has a "spare room" full of his own collectibles. He has often verbalized that someday he will leave our offspring his collections and they will happily keep or sell them. While a magnanimous idea, certainly, I've rarely noted a descendant who was thrilled to be left with a bunch of "stuff" that they know little to nothing about and have to now get to know or simply get rid of it. But I didn't rain on that parade, so we have load after load of collectibles - myriad types of bakelite items, ceramics and pottery, knives, coins - that we are currently attempting to sell on eBay. Here's one such item: 

Then there's the kitchen. The kitchen we have isn't large, but I have a metal industrial rack that is 5' x 3' x .5' that houses all my baking essentials, cutting boards, pots, pans, lids, tins, racks, cast iron, and some Tupperware that you can microwave safely in (I was a salesperson for a while and bought some nice pieces for myself). So there's a lot of "cooking items" to be moved and then the big question is - will the industrial rack fit anywhere? The kitchen, proper, will be home to the washer and dryer, so that's a large part of the bare wall available to such a rack. We'll see. But, there's no way I am giving up what took most of my married life to accumulate in the cooking department, and I do love to bake and cook. 

Still, I believe we can do this downsizing without any remorse or despair. I fully expect to give away many things, but these will be things I did not really need in the first place. And we will be better off for it, I'm sure. As I've noticed, no one person NEEDS three full closet racks of clothing and two dresser drawers full of PJs; similarly, no one family needs three food processors (I never bought more than one, but have kept all three), two toaster ovens (one is a rotisserie/convection oven as well, but still...), 5 different sized muffin tins and three bundt pans. 

There's even a problem in the bedroom

You read that right - there is a problem in the bedroom. As I said, the square footage is sparse, our bed is a queen. However, we have figured out that without the frame (which I really don't care for anyway) the queen bed WILL fit. Are we going to sleep with mattress on the floor then? No, we plan to place our current (new, BTW) mattress upon 30 or so 5 gallon plastic buckets and a stout piece of plywood. This serves dual purpose: 6 inches of spare floor space plus plenty of vermin-proof (not that we're expecting any but one never knows in the rural, middle TN area) storage. My husband is a borderline genius about some things (the collection of Pigeon Forge Pottery, notwithstanding). 

The second bedroom, since we don't actually need a working 2nd bedroom, will become, you guessed it, storage! But, more than that, my sewing machine, our stereo and collection of CDs, vinyl records and cassettes will go there, too. It just never ends, does it? Oh, and likely a good many books as well - the ones I simply can't part with, at least (signed by author, collection of Shakespeare's writings, for example). And then there's that supply of yarn and fabric I mentioned. 

We are very fortunate to have a finished attic room that is really nice and roomy and will serve well to hang clothing that is not currently in season (because the closets are small), and will house a great many plastic bins (the large kind) of which I currently own about 15. Right now, I'm very, very glad that I accumulated so many of them; once the majority of them are cleaned out of what I know to be stuff I haven't seen in over a year or two they will very handily be a godsend for moving the stuff we feel we must keep. There are ways and I have the will. 

Go forth, my child,  and hoard no more

I am hoping that after we move, we will continue to "downsize" and stop filling our lives with unnecessary crap. I know we will think not twice but three times before bringing anything new or used into our "new" home. I hope we will find things to give away to someone that needs it more than us. I hope to sell a lot of the crocheted and crafted items I currently have so that I can make more with the yarn I currently have. Either that, or I will probably just start selling the yarn and fabric that I have on hand to someone else who is just getting started on their own hoarding foray. But, then, I wouldn't wish that journey on anyone. 

Peace, out! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

C's Crafted Creations: And It's Almost Independence Day

C's Crafted Creations: And It's Almost Independence Day: Reminds me of the state of the USA right now - wrecked!  It's nearly time for one of our most enjoyed national holidays - The 4th of...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

And It's Almost Independence Day

Reminds me of the state of the USA right now - wrecked! 
It's nearly time for one of our most enjoyed national holidays - The 4th of July - fireworks, music, family and friends, cook-outs, games, FUN! Really?? After the year(s) we've had here in this grand ol' country (young, really, not old, as countries go)?

I know what you Americans are thinking - hey! what's that got to do with the 4th of July? We're celebrating our independence and rightly so!

Founding Fathers were not radical new thinkers -- The Declaration of Independence was nothing new. Even Thomas Jefferson said it was"not about new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before, but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject."

{Oh, and speaking of Thomas Jefferson The DNA test actually proves that a male from the Jefferson family fathered Sally Hemings' children --that's a number of possibilities.} 

The pledge we now say was written over a century later than the Declaration of Independence was written and our country became the U.S. of A. Our Founders took their states rights very seriously and considered the U.S. Constitution to be a compact amongst the sovereign states so that any state could secede if it felt the federal government had become oppressive. So, if not with a pledge, how would our Founding Fathers begin meetings and celebrations? The answer: most likely with a prayer. In fact, the very first resolution brought before the First Continental Congress, and immediately passed, was the declaration that they would open every meeting with a prayer. (1)
Latest version of the Stars and Stripes - but how important is a flag, really?

The soldiers of the American Revolution fought under the American flag, right? Wrong! In fact, our Founders deemed a flag to be irrelevant. A bill introduced in 1794 to add two stars to the flag was considered too trivial to be given any attention. The matter was "a trifling business which ought not to engross the attention of the House, when it was their duty to discuss matters of infinitely greater importance" as stated by one member.  The Continental Army did still fight under flags, but these flags were all different depending on the regiment.  (1)


Now, we know that the British American colonies were economically well-off in the 1760s and did not, for the most part, feel especially oppressed by British rule. 
Well, first, go back to the War immediately preceding this - the French and Indian War. This conflict had been fought by British and Colonials alike, but paid for, primarily, by the British Crown. War, as we all should know, is costly, no matter who wins. The English were paying hefty taxes at home, the colonists, not so much. This caused a bit of "bad blood" back in England that began to fester and grow. English taxes were levied and collected on goods that came into colonial harbors, most especially, Boston. Many times, these taxes went uncollected, under-reported, pocketed by the unscrupulous, and thwarted by means more and more known to English taxpayers and their Parliament. 
With sentiment growing in favor of the American colonies paying their "fair share" to help pay for the war they had just helped to win, the call for increased enforcement of tax laws became louder and more insistent. With the Quebec and Ohio Valley land acquisition following the Treaty of Paris, came the Proclamation of 1763 by the King of England, forbidding colonial settlement into those areas west of the Appalachians and east of the Mississippi River. This did not sit well with those who had fought in that war, nor was it settling to those who had already made plans to head in that direction. 
This, and new Acts and Writs from the Crown, caused grumblings in Colonial America in the mid-1760s and beyond. Taxes on paper goods, stamps, then import taxes on glass, lead and tea, not only served to be burdensome but the collected revenues were to be used to pay Royal Governors' salaries. What this meant was that the legislative body who formerly paid the Governor's salary would not hold that salary hostage when disagreements ensued - the legislative body being chaired by colonial citizens. Colonials had Charles Townsend to thank for new and insinuating ways of making their lives much more oppressed, with the appointing of customs officials and a non-juried court to try cases. 
Congresses convened, joining together, somewhat, in their common outrage and eventually repeals were gained. Short-lived reconciliations were the norm, however, and soon, the Intolerable Acts were issued and imposed. 
British occupation expanded in colonial New England and farther south. Upkeep of these troops fell to the locals, who, understandably, were not pleased with that scenario. 
Congresses reconvened to discuss. 
In the meanwhile, groups formed (Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, who did so much to support boycotts on imported goods and use whatever influence they could to rid their communities of opposition to their stance), literature was circulated (Thomas Paine "Common Sense" sold 120K copies from Jan 1776 to April of that year) to give reason to the cause of independence from British rule, and representation coalesced into a trusted and trustworthy body of men. 
All this had to come together before a revolt could be conceived and carried out. As it stood, only 1/3 of the people agreed with open rebellion and fighting, another third was undecided. Even so, within a few months, men took up arms and formed militia groups to fight the British on their turf and in their own way. Much blood was shed before the colonists even began to have hope of success, but that moment did come. 

Major Battles of the American Revolution

DateBattleAmerican Commander(s)British Commander
April 19, 1775Lexington-ConcordCapt. John ParkerLt. Col. Francis Smith
June 17, 1775Bunker (Breed's) HillGen. Israel Putnam and Col. William PrescottGen. William Howe
Dec. 31, 1775QuebecGen. Richard MontgomeryGen. Guy Carleton
Aug. 27, 1776Long IslandGen. George WashingtonGen. William Howe
Oct. 26, 1776White PlainsGen. George WashingtonGen. William Howe
Dec. 26, 1776TrentonGen. George WashingtonCol. Johann Rall
Sept. 11, 1777BrandywineGen. George WashingtonGen. William Howe
Sept. 19, 1777Saratoga (Freeman's Farm)Gen. Horatio GatesGen. John Burgoyne
Oct. 4, 1777GermantownGen. George WashingtonGen. William Howe
Oct. 7, 1777SaratogaGen. Horatio GatesGen. John Burgoyne
Dec. 5, 1777White MarshGen. George WashingtonGen. William Howe
June 8, 1778Monmouth CourthouseGen. George WashingtonGen. Henry Clinton
Sept. 16, 1779Siege of SavannahGen. Benjamin LincolnGen. Augustine Prevost
March 29, 1780Siege of CharlestownGen. Benjamin LincolnGen. Henry Clinton
Sept. 28, 1781Siege of YorktownGen. George Washington and Gen. RochambeauGen. Charles Cornwallis
It wasn't until after the Battle of Saratoga in 1777 that the fight for independence turned in the Colonist's favor. Following that victory, the French became allies, bringing reinforcements and ammunition stores. 

After the war, seeds of change began to grow and blossom. Anti-slavery groups, which formed at the onset, gained membership and influence; women's rights groups, empowered by the inexhaustible efforts of the female population in support of the rebellion, came into their own; religious reform ensued, and by 1833, the state-supported church idea was virtually abandoned, led, in great part, by the displacement of the Anglican (King of Britian- headed) church. Thomas Jefferson himself was instrumental in Virginia's own declaration of religious independence.


Lessons to be learned and celebrated: 

A diverse group of people can be united when the situation becomes disturbingly dire enough.

Communication is key! Publications and opinion must surface and be seen that speaks to the sentiment of the population. 

Men must rise to leadership positions and put their differences aside to unite under a common banner both to win the trust of the people they lead and to conjure success.

It is more important to fight for what you believe than to fight against what you don't believe in, such passion often wins the day. 


(1) http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/07/04/10-things-might-not-know-about-our-independence.htm

Monday, December 28, 2015


First, take an assessment of yourself; If you are feeling an uneasiness within - be it general melancholy, feeling discouraged, or losing that sense of liveliness and connection you once had, ask yourself these questions :

Have I stopped following my body's need to move -dance, twirl, run, skip, hop or jump - and opted for relative inertia, only moving when necessary to accomplish some task that is required of me?

Have I stopped making music, either alone or in accompaniment with other people or nature's creatures, with my own voice or an instrument of some kind?

Have I stopped taking delight in stories, either by reading them, making them up, retelling them, or just imagining them?

Have I stopped allowing silence to embrace me? Do I, instead, find quiet and solitude uncomfortable?

Has it been awhile since I spent some time in nature?

Have I stopped speaking to or acknowledging people I don't necessarily know but that I meet in public settings?

When we stop doing things that we once enjoyed, we experience a break in the mind-body connection that keeps us balanced and feeling whole. We feel a sense of loss, even though we may not recognize that loss consciously. To put it simplistically, an infant loses its pacifier and cries; it doesn't know what a pacifier is but only knows it is not comfortable any longer.

Using our Physical Energy
Certain movements of our body help us express our feelings. Skipping down a path, or jumping over a small puddle, is exhilarating, and very likely as a child and young adult we enjoyed this type of movement. Routine movement is humdrum and boring. Those familiar with exercise routine mechanics have long realized that repeating the same calisthenics without changes creates those dreaded plateaus in progress. You've just got to change things up once in a while. The child in us misses skipping and jumping. Growing up, we left those behind and began to add dance movements to replace them. Some adults continue to dance, others never did or don't any longer. I have a marvelous Aunt who is in her 70s and still jumps around and dances at the drop of a hat. We, her nieces and children, in our 40s to 60s, marvel at her energy and obvious enjoyment of life. She says she has the energy of a bird. I want that, too, and who wouldn't?
Enjoying Music
Melodic and pleasant sounds, heard or made by us, are relaxing and calming, helping us release tension in our bodies and minds. Listening to any type of music, be it symphonies, orchestras, choirs or the rock band or country or pop singer of our choice is good for the soul. Truly, the phrase "music soothes the savage breast", is not an old wives tale. My Father is 90 years old and has always loved music. He played drums as a younger man. In his 70s he bought himself an electronic keyboard and learns songs to play from instruction books. He picked up harmonica, too, and can play a few tunes. My parents always encouraged their children to enjoy music, all kinds. They made sure I was able to be in music programs in school, buying me a clarinet and putting up with the squeaking and squawking of novice practice sessions. I went on the teach myself to play several stringed instruments and piano, too. But, even without the ability to play an instrument, we can all listen to beautiful music, music that WE like, and maybe some of us can even sing along. Music has the power to alter our attitudes, to inspire, uplift and gladden the heart. Ancient people recognized the ability of music to transcend the hardships of life. Use that power to help when you're feeling down, too.

Being Creative
Imagination helps keep our minds in a synergistic mode. Our brains are in a constant state of what we like to call "thinking" for much of our day. It is when we actively apply ourselves to reach a state that impels us to create some idea or image from nothing, that we achieve something greater than simply "thinking" and begin to be creative. Imaginative play, as a child, enhanced brain growth patterns; there is no reason to assume that employing our imaginations won't do the same for us now as adults. As a very small child, many of us learned how to color in coloring books. School teachers gave us assignments that incorporated our ability to draw to complete assignments, thereby showcasing our creative talents. Some, surely, were better at it than others, but all of us improved as much as we practiced the craft. Others were better at expressing creativity using words on paper, while others seemed to excel at manipulating materials to express theirs. Building with wood, sculpting with clay, or doing projects involving ideas and inventions were other forms of creativity in our peers. All forms of imaginative creativity exercise our brains and keep it functioning optimally. The act of creating something from nothing, whatever mode we choose, enhance our feelings of individuality and self-expression and we all need that in our lives.

Experiencing Nature
Connecting with nature keeps us connected with the world. We are all organisms on this planet and need to feel like we belong to the earth and everything that exists within it. Being a part of something larger may help us to feel grounded, or it may be that feeling part of nature keeps us "real" in our own minds. Many studies and surveys show that, whatever the "magic" may be, experiencing nature in a close up and personal way helps keep us centered within ourselves.

Quiet and Solitude
Enjoying times of silence in the course of a day helps us exercise our brains and cleanse emotional baggage. As a young child, I took naps. Sometimes I didn't sleep, but laid there thinking, since that what our minds naturally do. I'd about things I'd heard or seen. Such uninterrupted and uncluttered periods of quiet and solitude helped my brain process my experiences in life. Creating silence during a portion of your day could be a way to give your state of mind a tune-up. Many often go out of their way to avoid periods of quiet-and-alone-time because this is when regrets and other unpleasant things we've been pushing down below our consciousness often surface. Once we bring them up and face them, however, allowing ourselves to acknowledge and feel the emotions they illicit, we can choose to move through the unpleasantness that surrounds them. Sometimes the hurt is our own, things that have been done to us by others, and we may end up crying about it- crying, especially when we're alone, is a good cleanser, don't fear it. At other times we recall hurts we've caused or wrongs we've done, but it's then that we can decide to rectify, if possible, things from our past that are festering inside us. Then, and only then, can we can dispel whatever negativity or darkness is attached to past unpleasant memories. Eventually (and it may take many periods of quiet-and-alone-time to get there), happy experiences and delightful memories will come through for us, and we will yearn for those times of silence once again rather than avoid them.

Being Sociable
Fear of being unacceptable, in even the smallest of interactions, can make a person feel alone and unconnected to the rest of the world. When we interact with others, even strangers, we feel part of a whole - important rather than insignificant. Fear often keeps us from feeling free to speak aloud in public, even on a one-on-one basis. Feeling nervous and inadequate are emotions we've all experienced and they make us uncomfortable to the point where we might want to avoid them. We mistakenly label ourselves as BEING our emotions; we say: "I am shy", "he is timid", or "she is easily embarrassed," or worse. We may feel shy sometimes, that doesn't make us always shy. We may have been very embarrassed at one point, but that doesn't keep us perpetually so. Feeling the freedom to say something to another human being (while waiting in line at the grocery, for instance, or sitting on a bus) is empowering. Of course, not everything that pops into our minds is fit to share at any given moment in time - this is why our brains have frontal lobes - the synapses have been formed, hopefully, to help us react appropriately in social and public situations. It is a fact that some brains have an poorly functioning frontal cortex, leaving social skills somewhat underdeveloped in those so affected. This we must take into consideration whenever confronted with a person whose persona, actions and ideas seems a bit unusual or inappropriate. But these interactions, whatever course they take and however fleeting, may be what makes our - or someone else's - day, and can even, in a grand way, alter the path of someone's life.

Each and all of these are ways for healing that often illusive sense of un-ease within ourselves. Re-start doing one or more of them today.

Take a moment to move the way you did as a child, just once, then twice, then for a full minute. Kick your feet as though you were having a tantrum. Wave your arms as though you were a bird, flying. 

Whistle a tune, hum a jingle, sing a song in the shower. Change your usual radio station, if you have one. Surf around on the dial. Maybe find a classical music station. Give it a minute and see if you can hear the different instruments being played, listen to their tones and how they are being used in the composition. If you don't enjoy that, turn it back to your usual station and sing along whether or not you have a good voice. {Here's a challenge for you if you have never played an instrument of any kind: go to your kitchen, get out two spoons, place them back to back, holding them with your thumb and the rest of your fingers, and with your index finger between them. Take a seat and hold the two spoons back to back in your hand over your thigh and with your other hand, palm down,  slap the spoons first onto your thigh then up into your palm. You are playing a percussive instrument that also contains a tone  - enjoy it!}

Read a story book for kids. Enjoy the illustrations. Think about how you would have pictured it if there had been no illustrations. Get a pencil and paper and write a story of your own. Or get some crayons and coloring book, or some paints and canvas, or carve something out of wood, whatever it is you used to enjoy as a creative outlet, do it again. There are so many craft ideas out there; some involve recycling plastic bottles to use as decorative containers, or use old T shirts to weave a rug, or use magazine and newspaper images to convert a plain box into something beautiful with a little glue, time and imagination. If you lack for ideas, go to your local library and browse the Craft section of books. If you have an internet connection, go to YouTube and look for "crafting" videos, or put in a search for "things to do with old cards" or "DIY projects" or anything you can think of, really. 

Go outside and sit, listening to the breeze rustling the leaves of a tree, or a bird calling, Go for a walk in your neighborhood. Go to a local park and sit on the grass, watching insects as they come into view. Feel the bark on a tree, look closely at a leaf or flower. Enjoy the shapes of clouds in the sky. Watch the evening stars come to light and listen for the sounds only the night seems to have. Nature is so available to us, no matter where we live. And it's so refreshing to the soul to experience all the natural world around us has to offer. Take a child with you, too, if you can, because seeing nature through the eyes of a child can make the 'old' new again. 

Smile and say "hello" to the person you are seated next to on the bus. Nod to a pedestrian on the street walking toward you as you make eye contact. When you are buying groceries and find yourself standing beside someone else at the spice section, and find yourself wondering why cloves are so expensive, say "What are cloves made from anyway?"  I did that once and had a brief but interesting and pleasant conversation with a total stranger. Or at the frozen food aisle, wonder aloud, "Why do we need so many choices of ice cream?"  At worst, the other person might roll their eyes and walk away, missing out on what could have been a scintillating exchange of ideas and observations. In any case, there's no need, neither shyness, nor chance for embarrassment, to pass up a chance to connect with another human being, no matter what the outcome.  

Using our own brain power, thoughts and emotions and the time and space we've been given, can allow us to re-balance. Oh, and there is a physical exercise we can do, too. 

Set aside just 30 minutes - a day, every other day, once a week, even - and do something that you don't already do, and do it just for yourself, but do include others if you wish. Pick a creative idea from the above list, get closer to nature, go out of your way to get out of your comfort zone using any one of the ideas mentioned here. Just a small change in your routine can bring an entirely new and freshing outlook to your life, and if melancholy and boredom were bugging you before, maybe this will help dispel those feelings. If it works, then do it more often. 

There is a physical exercise we can do, too, that is said to help balance the brain's functioning. It's an exercise that is simple in concept and performance, but can be difficult, at first, depending on your current physical condition, and it may not be for everyone:

   To begin, grasp your right earlobe with your left thumb and forefinger (thumb in front, forefinger behind)       and the left earlobe with the right thumb and forefinger, crossing the right arm over the left one. (Note: this is   the stance I've seen, but I'm not sure that right over left is any better than left over right would be - I'd do       whatever is most comfortable) Standing upright (feet slightly apart to shoulder width apart) - holding the         arms crossed, earlobes held position - bend at the knees as low as you can go and then return to upright ,     inhaling on the downward motion and exhaling on the return to upright motion. Repeat this 15 times. If you    can, do several sets of 15 reps. Don't do it too rapidly; you want to breathe slowly in and out in time with  the repetitions.
It is not intended to be a fitness exercise in that sense, but it has been shown to improve brain function, balancing the right and left hemispheres in output as measured by PET scans. It does have the added benefit of working several large muscles of the lower body, as well as improving overall fitness and burns a few calories, too. 

If you try to incorporate all these things and none of them work to make you feel or function better, then maybe some time with a counselor is what you should consider. Often, religious organizations have counselors that operate for little or no money, or on a sliding scale, so consider that resource. A public health department may be able to recommend you to someone who can help, if you don't have a private physician you can talk to. If all else fails, try your local public library. The librarians are a wonderful source of information for just about anything a person can search for, and often underutilized. Don't give up - never give up, in fact - there are always people who care and are willing to help.  Remember, the unextended hand is rarely shaken. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Looking forward to winter and its many holidays? 

For those who live in the Northern Hemisphere, it will soon be winter. I have spent my entire life in that hemisphere, so November, December, etc. through March is winter to me, even though it doesn't officially start until Dec. 21st. November is often pretty chilly, like it was this morning; 19degrees is winter in my book. 

Since colors are high up on my sensory awareness list, I associate colors with seasons, as do a lot of people. Smells figure in to it all,  tastes, and certainly, sounds as well. To me, blue and white is a winter mix; white for snow, blue for clear, blue skies. This brings me back to childhood days spent outdoors playing in fresh snow under that never-ending vault of sky blue. 

Christmas (THE winter holiday for my family, after Thanksgiving) was always green and red to me. I suppose the red clothing Santa wore, his sleigh with its huge bag, Rudolph's nose, and red bows and lights created the association. Green was for the evergreen boughs, mistletoe and holly leaves. Wrapping paper and cards were often red and green, too. But to really elicit winter for me, it's still sky blue and white. 

I remember seeing my first artificial Christmas tree, which was silvery in color and made of aluminum. I heard adults comment about the audacity of such an invention, but I had no bias in mind about artificial versus living trees at my tender, young age. This tree with its silver branches was decorated with blue and white lights and balls, and I thought it was a spectacular thing!

It wasn't until I was much older, and had dealt with living trees as indoor decor, that I decided that artificial Christmas trees were a boon to mankind. Getting scratched by dry, dead needles and branches as I removed ornaments and lights was not my idea of holiday entertainment. I 'd say that pre-lit trees are my favorite thing about modern holiday conveniences. Next in line is the pre-lit wreath. (Note: That piney smell can be achieved using fragrant oils or a few real boughs on the mantle or in a vase or something.) I still love to see real wood-and-needle trees all decorated and lovely, but - like wild animals - only if they aren't in my home. 

New Years Day brought to my mind, silver and gold colors. Adults got dressed up to celebrate the eve and to ring it in, and that included sparkly gold and silver jewelry and sequins. And there was always snow and ice which glinted silver and gold in the lights of the stars and moon outside. 

But, still, the sky blue and white predominated during the remainder of winter. I'll even go so far as to say that the dark brown of wet dirt co-mingled with those two colors, and was held in as high esteem as the blue and white. When you saw that mud on your boots or your sled runners, you knew you were having some fun! 

Colors, smells, sounds, tastes - if we stop and think, we all have a sensory memory of certain seasons. I hope touch is in there, too. Hugs and the warmth of being surrounded by other human beings should be as much a part of the winter season as anything. If you can recall being hugged and feeling the warmth of loved ones during any of the winter holidays, consider yourself fortunate, because you are. If you can add smells and tastes of delicious food to that, you are extremely fortunate. If you can also add the sounds of singing songs together, walking amidst the chatter and laughter and bells of the season, taking in the lights and ornamentation with a light heart and feeling of joy, you are truly blessed. If I neglected to mention presents and gifts, that was not an error. If we have all the rest, that part is inconsequential and pretty much over the top, isn't it? Gifts and presents should be reserved for those who don't have the gift of family and friends to brighten their holidays. A warm meal, a warm coat, a warm hat, or a scarf and a pair of gloves is all it would take to bring someone less fortunate joy during the holidays. Imagine a world that contained a jolly sprite who picked up gifts from all the homes around the world instead of delivering them, and gave them out to needy people for us. I wonder why it isn't that way? I think someone, a long time ago, made a mistake about that.

      Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays, Peace on Earth and Good Will to All in 2016!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Crochet Patterns to Try: Free Crochet Pattern for Stunning Fall Winter Coat...

Here's a link to the loveliest coat pattern! As she noted, it's versatile in that the connecting method allows you to tweak it for a great fit. Can't wait to tackle this one myself. Fall is in the air and crochet hooks and knitting needles and looms will be more and more in my hands. Favorite time of year! ENJOY!

Here's what she wrote: Crochet Patterns to Try: Free Crochet Pattern for Stunning Fall Winter Coat...: Hello darlings in the first week of October. Oh…well… I guess by now you became accustomed with the idea of fall :) I kinda did....

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cutting Health Care Funding - again?

I just read a post on Facebook that concerns health care funding by the feds. The website is www.protecthealthcare.org and, of course, I'm being asked to sign a petition. I know what this means, or what it usually means - I sign a petition and now get hit on to give money so that this petition will carry some weight. It's always the same story, isn't it? 
But, I must say that having lived through the 1980's and the Reagan austerity era, I have a perspective that may help quiet any panic one might feel over this important issue. 

I began a comment citing a small bit from a study done in 1990 that looked back at those 1983 -4 funding cuts and its ramifications. It was within just a few years after the budget cuts that small hospitals in rural places of the country began to feel the pinch, cut services, staffing and some even closed. If you were a nurse at that time, you were keenly aware that you had more patients on your assignment list and less assistance from LPNs and nursing aides to help care for them. 
After the initial scare that your one, local hospital was not going to be around much longer, lo and behold, larger entities "came to the rescue," buying out the previous small group of shareholders (often local doctors and professionals sat on most small hospital boards). Hospital Corp. of America was our local take-over company here in central Tennessee, and elsewhere, I'm sure. Whether this scenario will again occur, I think it already has begun. Our own small hospital, once owned by HCA was again purchased by a coalition of local professionals probably a decade or so ago. Today, it is again owned by a large corporation, St. Thomas Healthcare. But to fend off fears regarding this change, large ads have been noted in the local newspaper saying the hospital will retain its former name. What a coup, eh?!

In short, this is nothing new. Our federal legislators always make choices which take away from the needy when they can get away with it. At the same time the aforementioned 80's budget cuts were put in place, the funding for mental institutions was so severely cut that thousands upon thousands of patients were turned out into communities with little or no follow-up care. I saw this myself in the mid-90s when severely handicapped people that formerly resided in institutions suddenly went to live with family members. This was often aunts, uncles or grandparents who knew little about how to care for them except for assisting them with hygiene, food and shelter. As Home Health personnel, we provided as much support as we knew how, but often this was only to oversee the patient's physical infirmities or illnesses as they occurred. I recall it was always a depressing state of affairs to deal with, for us and them. Today, there is still a grave lack of services for the mentally and psychologically impaired.

Not only was Medicare/Medicaid funding cut at that time, but payments for practitioners were capped and limited. Remember DRGs? Diagnosis related categories? This happened at the same time, too. This affected insurance reimbursements for "lengths of stay," depending on what category your illness fell within. The health care team no longer had the say-so in when a patient was ready to be discharged. This is still the way it is, although the medical profession as a whole has adjusted and managed to find a way (creative documentation, manipulating ICD codes, etc.) to take care of most patients the way they feel they should. It was also about this time that Home Health took to the forefront, providing the missing care that recently discharged patients still needed. Now, in 2015, many small, rural hospitals have no orthopedic care, no OB/GYN or Neonatal care, and many of them have been "bought out" by larger hospital corporations, thereby making a monopoly of sorts in many areas of the country.

So, again, this is not new, but it is "news" and we must do what we can to keep what little decent health care we have access to. Local, small hospitals will not disappear altogether, but they will change along with the funding cuts. Creative ways will be devised to deal with these set-backs. And like it did in the 90's, the pendulum will swing back again, following studies done about increases in hospital mortality rates, infection rates caused by staffing shortfalls, etc. and the ensuing public outrage. If the pendulum gets stuck, perhaps it's time to look into Holistic healing practices and healthier living alternatives. It couldn't hurt.