Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 ends and a New Year begins

New Year  Edgar Guest
2013 has been an overall good year to us, and yet we look back and wonder, where did that year go.  Our health is good, we are aging well and are comfortable financially.  Jerry was dismissed by the pulmonary specialist who had been monitoring a now three year mysterious spot on his lung detected by a doc-in-the-box in North Carolina on our travels when Jerry  got a severe cold bordering on pneumonia.  Despite the tests, scans and careful watching, it remains a mystery to Mayo but has not changed and definitely not cancer, always the fear; the MD speculates it may have been a life scar after Jerry's childhood pneumonia but we wonder why the Air Force never detected it his years on flying status.  Nevertheless, he was pleased to not have any further follow ups.  

I have triumphed over a potential health challenge by getting onto the right track and restoring my heretofore good health.  As I wrote on this blog, in July at my annual, the doc cautioned me that my fasting blood glucose levels were rising and  I was carrying around some extra weight from travels over winter and that spring.  I enrolled in the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program and began to monitor and limit  my daily fat gram intake to 33 grams, while writing down everything I eat and drink in a daily journal, and added more physical activity every single day so have achieved success.  I've shed 28 pounds just since September and learned that the healthy way I thought I was eating was not so healthy for me. The calculations were that I lose 15 pounds but I have been known as an over achiever often and did so on the weight.   I have maintained the loss so far and not gained  over this feasting season of holidays, a first in years.  I am committed to maintenance. 

My doctor's follow up and retest in December left me a good to go from a very pleased MD who called me skinny and wished he could bottle my dedication for his patients who live in denial about their health conditions. I have met some new friends at the Y and learned a lot about nutrition, but the biggest revelation was that my daily consumption of  nuts and  cheese (which I love) was too much for me.  I still mourn my inability to consume all the cheese I'd like at one setting along with those delicious Wisconsin deep fried (melted) cheese curds, or my own gooey mac and cheese, any melted cheese is my weakness, but it's a small price to pay for good health.  I am better off than many who crave and eat sweets all the time or just over eat as a way of life.  I could continue with my daily wine or vodka consumption, no fat grams there, only calories which we really do not count daily, just consider. 

 I have actually enjoyed the weekly program meetings and although the scale will never be my "friend" at least I have accepted daily weigh ins, so much that we are purchasing another scale to take along in the motor coach on our travels. This from a woman who would avoid the scale every and anyway possible and monitor how her clothes felt.  Oh, more good news, Jerry suggested I do some shopping for  new clothes especially shorts for the skinnier me as we prepare to head south.  I have already purchased some skinny jeans and courds.  If I have any advice, it is accept and take action--lose the weight, live healthier, shed the tobacco....get out of the land of denial. Otherwise you pay the consequences  in the long run and are fooling only yourself.   Denial or the land of DABDA (denial, acceptance, bargaining, depression and acceptance)  is all consuming  and becomes familiarly comfortable for many. 

We had some travel adventures in 2013 and I learned that tours are not for me after our Alaskan adventure.  I have written about that on this blog all year and not much more to be said.

We will be home this New Years Eve and Day  as the doctor had one last assignment for me before we flee for the south and warmer climates, time for my 10 year follow up colonoscopy. Yuk, it is scheduled for 10:00 AM January 2 and the preparation remains worse than the procedure. So New Years Day while I take down the tree and pack away decorations, I will be fasting--clear liquids only all day preceding the early evening consumption of that dreaded, "Go Lightly" a misnomer if ever there was one. Why in this age of scans, lasers and high tech medicine must we endure this process?  Still, I anticipate  no issues and then will have another 10 years to go until the next one.  

We gained a great grandson this year in July but have only seen him through photos and Facebook, no idea when we will ever see him.  
Maxwell John Morrison 5 months
Maxwell John Morrison born to grandson Brian and wife Jackie appears to be happy and healthy and looks like his mom, especially in the face and chin.  They live in and are committed Californians, just like Brian's parents and tribe, they know no better having lived nowhere else just like that old saying, "mediocrity knows nothing above itself." We have no travel planned that direction. In fact for me, the longer I am away from California the happier I am. That part of my life was fun while it lasted but it is the past.  We thought we would always stay there but CA changed, became too crowded, hours long commutes, hours to wait in lines to eat out, hectic,crowds and crime, even in the northern part, just not how we want to live, so here in the Midwest, despite frigid arctic winter this year, we enjoy a high quality of life.  We can afford to keep our home warm and our house is built well for four seasons.  Where else do folks leave their cars running outside when they run into the grocery stores and the cars are still then when they come back out?  Where else can UPS deliveries sit on a doorstep for weeks and not be stolen when the folks are gone for  months?  That really happened here with our next door neighbors who were in Arizona, we thought their son would set them into the house but he never did the few times he came by their home to check on things. We had no way to contact him and considered picking up the package but watched instead.  

Some souls departed this earth this year beginning in April with Jerry's 96 year old mother who died a rough death as I blogged here.  December was a triple hit with a long time 98 year old father of a California friend, Carol--another friend suddenly without warning in California, and a contemporary a Pennsylvania classmate, Bev, who suffered ill health ravages for years.  May they all rest in peace.  

We are planning our January departure south, Florida and the Alabama gulf coast call; perhaps a reunion in Mississippi at the Bay St. Louis RV park where we spent last year.  Jerry is watching the roads and weather conditions because the mid part of the country seems to be experiencing far worse weather than here where we have only frigid cold, colder than any winter so far.  Sub zero temperatures a few times like last night.  Snow has been minimal and we are shielded from ice by the river bluffs.   

A Happy New Year ahead to one and all.  If I have any resolution it is to decrease my Facebook time and blog more.   Lord Alfred Tennyson sums it in his well known poem,  "In Memoriam"                                Ring out the old, ring in the new,
                         Ring happy bells across the snow:
                         The year is going, let him go;
                          Ring out the false, ring in the true. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sepia Christmas week 208 Dec 21--27, 2013

A very Merry Christmas and  Happy blessed New Year to all Sepian colleagues wherever you are in the world this season..finally a prompt that I just could not allow to go unanswered....

Every year with the postage increases, now at 46 cents, I consider "this year fewer Christmas cards to send out."  All the old folks who most enjoyed them are all gone now and today the people who keep in contact with us do so by text, email, Facebook or by cell phone. Sure the total number is down, yet annually, there are some with whom I  am compelled to exchange cards and this year a total 59 recipients indicates the number is growing again adding folks we meet on our travels and well, we live across the country from our many friends who have also moved around.  We are mobile in retirement. 

I have fully realized this year that our treasured friends are really our family.  This year we had a photo card pulled together to commemorate our Alaska adventure and our 46th year of marriage; really could not have done it without the expertise and software of a local friend, Ann who was able to crop out, edit and fix our photos to display just the two of us.  In every photo we took in Alaska, no matter how hard we tried to avoid it,  someone would be there, I suppose that happens on tours.  Fortunately, Ann has professional skills and software so she performed magic making our 2013 card just the two of us.  Because we only bought 40 of these at 90 cents each, some received another annual greeting card.  But here, Sepians is our 2013 greeting, which I share with you.   

Left to right starting on top, first  Jerry next to an Alaskan moose carved and assembled from trees, the two of us at the sign entering Alaska after a trip deep into the Yukon (Ann cropped 30+ others out of this), bottom it was raining in Anchorage when we arrived, middle is somewhere near Fairbanks (again Ann deleted all the extra people) and last is in Syracuse New York in May at the Good Sam Rally on our way to the rehitching ceremony where despite the thousands of couples renewing vows in a mass ceremony, we did not beat the Guinness records...ah well, this was 46 years for us and time to renew vows.  Here's my little secret, at our 1967 ceremony I was so fraught that I never said "I do"  and here in May, a potty call which was far from the seating was uppermost in my mind, so I did not say "I do" again..Jerry laughs and reminds me that the third time is the charm..

But there you have it a Very happy holiday season however  and whatever you do or don't celebrate, warm wishes....until 2014 Sepians.  The following is the link to our community of Sepians....warmest wishes, bloggers all.  http://sepiasaturday.blogspot.com/2013/12/sepia-saturday-208-christmas-new-year.html

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The secret to success: Never settle for being content

An all time favorite Christmas album

The quote in the heading is attributable online to Ray Coniff on a webpage dedicated to his music, 


This Conniff Christmas music is possibly my all time favorite and I am enjoying it this afternoon as I hem jeans and do other sewing related chores inside avoiding more time out in today's 9 degrees. I own this as a 33 1/3 album (very vintage stuff) and on a cassette (which is nearly worn out) as well as the newest a CD which my late closest  friend, Roberta found for me one Christmas because she knew of my fondness for Coniff music. Oh haw thrilled I was to get a CD of Conniff.  But the record album is also very special to me, my Grandma Rose bought it for me when she came to CA to help me in 1965-66.  She enjoyed the music too. She laughed that it was the first music she had bought since she did not remember when, maybe since their old record player became extinct.  I remember it like yesterday and I believe she is  still listening to it in the beyond as I am 48 years later.  1965 was in the time of the record stores where we could go in and pick up an album; there was one store near to where she grocery shopped with me in California; for an old Polish lady she was sneaky because I did not know what she was doing and later when we returned home she gave me the wonderful album with the biggest smile, so proud of herself for dodging and fooling me; it would be  the last Christmas gift she'd ever buy for me.  The music of our lives usually brings memories and I never listen to Conniff without remembering my Baba  and this album.      

Back of the CD shows Ray Conniff conducting.
I googled Conniff today and was pleased to learn that some Public Broadcasting Stations still feature his Christmas show, but today I wonder if he will be watched and enjoyed only amongst the likes of us vintagers...it makes me laugh, I would listen to Ray Conniff anything, much as  my late MIL did with Lawrence Welk, to our amusement. 

 Just a bit about him for those who are unfamiliar with this great musician.  The following is excerpted from Wikipedia and the Conniff webpage:  Joseph Raymond "Ray" Conniff, also known as "Jay Raye," (November 6, 1916 – October 12, 2002) was an American bandleader and arranger best known for his Ray Conniff Singers Singers during the 1960s.   After serving in the US Army in World War II, he joined the Artie Shaw big band and wrote many arrangements for him. Then Mitch Miller, Columbia Records,  hired him as their home arranger, working with several artists like  including Rosemary Clooney, Marty Robbins, Frankie Laine, Johnny Mathis, Guy Mitchell and Johnnie Ray. He wrote a top 10 arrangement for Don Cherry's "Band of Gold" in 1955, a single that sold more than a million copies. Among the hit singles he backed with his orchestra (and eventually with a male chorus) were "Yes Tonight Josephine" and "Just Walkin' in the Rain" by Johnnie Ray; "Chances Are" and "It's Not for Me to Say" by Johnny Mathis; "A White Sport Coat" and "The Hanging Tree" by Marty Robbins; "Moonlight Gambler" by Frankie Laine; "Up Above My Head," a duet by Frankie Laine and Johnnie Ray; and "Pet Me, Poppa" by Rosemary Clooney. He also backed up the albums Tony by Tony Bennett, Blue Swing by Eileen Rodgers, Swingin' for Two by Don Cherry, and half the tracks of The Big Beat by Johnnie Ray.  Now if those titles don't bring some memories to you, you must not be of my generation.  

In these early years he also produced similar-sounding records for Columbia's Epic label under the name of Jay Raye amongst them a backing album and singles with Somethin' Smith and the Redheads, an American male vocal group.

Between 1957 and 1968, Conniff had 28 albums in the American Top 40, the most famous one being Somewhere My Love (1966). He topped the album list in Britain in 1969 with His Orchestra, His Chorus, His Singers, His Sound, an album which was originally published to promote his European tour to Germany, Austria, Switzerland in 1969. He was the first American popular artist to record in Russia in 1974 when  he recorded Ray Conniff in Moscow with the help of a local choir. His later albums like Exclusivamente Latino, Amor Amor, and Latinisimo made him very popular in Latin-American countries.  In Brazil and Chile he was treated like a young pop superstar in the 1980s and 1990s when he was in his 70s and 80s.

If you have never heard Ray Conniff or have become nostalgic for the music after reading this, you can go to his webpage and listen to selections.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Made in the USA

When I hear laments  about how nothing is made here in this country anymore, or that all the jobs went overseas, etc. I often ask the people  what brand of car they drive, or brand of  TV or receiver, cell phone and how often they shop at Wal Mart, Dollar Stores, Target etc,  because there is part of the reason. We have become a country of over consuming whining commentators about the circumstance to which we have all contributed.  Consumer demands for more and more, bigger, better, newer and above all, Cheaper prices have led us just to where we are today.  Then don't even get me started on unions and their greed, demanding ever higher wages for less skills and less production and well, it does not take a genius to see what has happened.  

I try to buy Made in the USA (except for shoes made in Italy when I can find them) which means I buy fewer  things and often pay more for an item, but really in our retirement life, I need less so have diminished what was a big past time for me years back, shopping and grazing the aisles.  Of course online shopping can be done easily in the comfort of home and pj's but being an old school kind of gal, I like to see, feel, touch and observe what I might buy.  I use to excel at browsing, one never knows what they need unless they look.  I admit to purchasing frequently on Amazon, QVC and other online sites, but still get more satisfaction from the in person experience.  I like thrift type stores and decent craft shows, gravitating to "vintage" goods and or something made by someone with whom one can speak about the merchandise. While not particularly wild about goods, made in China, I have purchased them and sometimes the quality is amazingly good.  

Labels from new chair  cushions
When we are traveling we do a lot of shopping at Wal Marts which are handy with usually easy access off interstates and have ample parking for our big rig motor coach.  But here at home, I avoid WalMart.  However last Saturday, we were out and about and Jerry suggested we stop at Wal Mart because they carry the type of anti itch cream he uses at the cheapest price.  While there I decided to browse for new cushion for the new kitchen chairs.  I approached that aisle with my nose in the air, surely there is nothing, because I do not want "made in China."  I was astonished to see exactly what I was looking for, cushions with rubber gripper bottoms that do not slide and in color tones I liked.  Even more pleasantly astonished that the cushions were Made in the USA and of recycled materials.  And being Wal Mart the price was certainly cheap enough.  Victory, new cushions for the new chairs which are solid wood, that quickly tires the butt when sitting on them unless cushioned.  To find Made in the USA in Wal Mart was quite the deal for me.  Don't get me wrong, I am not anti Wal Mart by any means, they provide jobs and bargains  but I just try to support Made in America as much as I can. 

The temporary kitchen table and chairs
I am a fussy, very particular shopper, too which is why it took three years for me to find replacements for our kitchen table and chairs, but  find it we did at a new local furniture store to this area, HOM furniture. HOM handles a great variety of goods and some is imported as well as Amish made, imported from Indiana and  locally made. Criteria for replacement was fold down sides as it is in a small area and we liked that feature on the old set which we bought "cheap"  for something temporary in 2004 when we were still not living here full time.  Right, 6 years of "temporary."  I also did not like the bistro styles with high chairs and tables; I am short and do not want to use a step stool to climb up to a chair in my kitchen and then have my feet dangling.  When we bought the temporary set which has a mightily battle scarred top worn from Jerry there were many and plenty of these side fold down sets around. But today not so.  We use this seating for the two of us and it is just right, ala Goldilocks.  When we have others here we use the dining room table.  Let me introduce here the 2013 replacement, which has grown on me.....I would have preferred plain wood, not the painted black but all in all it is a substantial set and the temporary is downstairs right outside the door from Jerry's gym room and work spot, where it replaced an old card table that has been there since we moved in 2005.  
2013 new kitchen set