Monday, January 31, 2011

Knitting

I started a project from One Skein Wonders edited by Judith Durant (Storey Publishing).  It's the floral mesh shawl on page 196.  I may have bitten off more than I can chew.  It's a lace pattern with a chart.   Patterns are mathematical and I am not very mathematical.  Knitting charts--and this is quite a small one besides--make me break out in a cold sweat, but even the verbal instruction seemed beyond me on this one. 
The first attempt was a disaster so I pulled that out.  At least I had only completed the tedious collar and only about seven or eight rows of the pattern.
The second attempt went better for the tedious collar but there were problems as soon as I started on the body.  For one thing, it clearly was not going to be a shawl  but a poncho. A poncho I could live with, but too many other mistakes have led me to unravel twice now.  I got thirty-nine rows into the pattern before completely messing up one of four sections.  I could not figure out what I had done wrong let alone attempt to correct it.
I may not be be a natural born knitter or pattern understander, but I am stubbornly persistent.  So...I have started take three.  Once again I got through the tedious collar.  I managed to make the transition to the body of the shawl without turning it into a poncho.  I have made some progress on the pattern now and--lo and behold--the pattern seems to be actually speaking to my fingers.  I stopped trying to wrap my head around the project and am trusting the spiritual knitting guides.  I may actually get a shawl out of this!
Good thing I don't do this knitting so I can sell completed items, because no one would be able to afford a handmade shawl that takes sixty thousand hours to knit.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Hunting Life

Mike was an avid hunter in his youth.  Later in life, he put whatever instincts, honed senses, and eagle-like eyesight he learned from those early experiences to work--he hunted old and obscure  parts for the surprising number of individuals who care about restoring antique American motorcycles.  Now that he has retired from that business, he still indulges his hunting passion.  Now, he hunts sharks' teeth and other fossils on the beach...And, he is one of a regular crew who are out there early each morning hoping to scoop up the best find.  It's usually a friendly kind of competition.


I just can't beach comb with that kind of focus  so I mostly walk and scan the sea and sky.  Plus which, I don't care to get up before dawn. Mike does  indulge my gathering habits with his hunting skills--finding some nice shells for my collection. 






I did make a major find myself and I just have to boast about it, though.   Clearly it is the fossilized skull of an alien life form that visited the earth millions of years ago.  You can see that, right??  Because some people are just fossil snobs and feel the need to pooh-pooh this marvelous find.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Teacher Look

A post about teaching social norms by Retired English Teacher reminded me about the "teacher look."
(not me!)
For me it is all in the cock of the right eyebrow, the slight degree of narrowing the left eye, and the proper amount of pursing of the lips.  I had it down long before I was teaching, because my younger brothers used to say, "Oh, no, she's giving us the eyebrow,"  when I was being displeased with their shenanigans as kids.  That look earned me those "smoker mouth" wrinkled lips without the smoking, but say what will, the teacher look is effective communication.

Now, when we were working, we got in the habit of taking a winter vacation to a warm spot--most often the Bahamas.  This involved a flight from Burlington to Pittsburgh to West Palm Beach to Marsh Harbour.  Since we travelled during school vacation, there were always lots of families with young children on at least the first leg.  While waiting for boarding, Mike got pretty good at picking out the exact crying infant or back-of-the- seat-kicking toddler would end up in the seat behind him--one of those fun games you make up to amuse yourself while waiting in an airport.

One time, a long stop over in Pittsburgh on the way home, I noticed two boys--maybe 12 and 14--running amok through the food court.  They were racing luggage carts up and down, screaming and laughing, knocking into furniture and people without any awareness, just generally giving the ADHD full tilt.  I said to Mike, "You know how you pick the infant most likely to sit behind you?  There's my worst nightmare right there."

Oh, sometimes dreams do come true.  The two brothers, a 15 year old sister, and their grandmother were not behind us, but filled in the seat next to us and the three across the aisle.  The grandmother had tried to separate the two boys by seating one on the aisle next to us and the other by the window opposite, but the window sitter screamed bloody murder and threatened to puke if he was not allowed to sit in the aisle seat next to his brother.  He wore the grandmother down pretty quickly and seats were rearranged.  Before the plane took off the two boys were going at it, using rolled up in flight magazines as swords slashing at each other.  Grandma's quiet "Now stop that"s were ignored.  When she got swiped in the eye with a paper sword she just sat there and cried.

Honestly, at one time, the pilot would have put them off the plane for their behavior, but it was obvious that while everyone around them was uncomfortable, no one was going to intervene.  The flight attendant was studiously ignoring the whole scene.  Clearly, it was time for teacher action.

I tapped the boy sitting next to me and informed him we would be switching seats.  He was now between Mike and I.  I gave the younger brother the look and informed him that if the sword wasn't gone in an instant, he would be next for the torture seat.  He protested once that he would puke if he sat in the middle.  I gave him the look ramped up a notch and let him know he had not invented the make-yourself-throw-up technique.  Blissful silence for the rest of the flight.

The grandmother never once even looked at me.  I did get several subtle thumbs up from some passengers sitting in front of us on both sides of the aisle.  As we were deplaning in Burlington, one man asked me what I had said or done that was so effective.  Mostly a look.  A don't mess with a middle school teacher on vacation kind of look.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More walking...


The sign warns against trespassing.  Okay, I'll stay out.
I forgot my jungle clearing machete anyway.

Lining up for the golf course.
The crowd will really grow in the next few weeks.

The beautiful live oaks are on the golf course.  This particular walk
took me on a loop around the course and a nearby airport.

Caspersen Beach walkways have all been refurbished.
No more splinters!


Last night an impressive thunderstorm rolled over the area, ushered in by equally impressive winds.  Well, it was impressive to me although nothing like the extremes Mother Nature has been known to deal out around the world.  We sat on the lanai and watched the show.  This morning there is a whole new crop of oranges fallen off the high branches. 
Now, see, a Vermont snow storm is beautiful to watch from the vantage of a window in a cozy room, but the next morning it is out with the shovels and snow thrower.  The appeal wears off rather quickly.  Picking up oranges after a storm--I can live with that.  And the juice--oh, my, so good.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On my walk...

Roses blooming in January in Venice, FL.

The Venetian Waterway--rarely this deserted looking.


Every fisherman is issued a heron to guard the bait bucket.*


Hard to believe I soak in these colors on a daily basis and still struggle with keeping the blood pressure down.
The salt air maybe??
 * Sorry, Patti, the herons are not for hire.  This is a generous volunteer effort on the part of retired herons.  At best, the might get a small stipend or a free snack on some bait shrimp.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Useless

Has anyone ever successfully mashed potatoes with a plastic potato masher?  What is the point of such an object?  This one didn't even come from the dollar store.  It wouldn't necessarily snap in two if you tried to use it, but it wouldn't mash a  potato either.  Hence, I suppose, "smashed potatoes." 
I suppose that these are meant for use with those pots that have the stick-free coatings that you have to baby or they might give you serious medical problems.  Maybe no-stick is not entirely useless, but I prefer my cast iron fry pans and my two All-Clad pots. 
With a good seasoning, cast iron pans are pretty stick-proof.  I do clean mine with salt and hot water once in a while and re-season.  They are heavy and they can leach some iron into food (which may be good or bad, depending).  All-Clad is expensive, but I pretty much use two pot sizes so that's all I invested in AND I got the larger size at a deep discount because it was scratched.  Everything I own is scratched or marred in some way eventually so I wasn't about to be fussy about that.
It sounds like I am missing my home kitchen, but not really.  If I were home right now, I would be baking up a storm--just to keep the kitchen warm since the roaring of the wood stove does not quite reach that particular corner of the house.   It was six degrees below zero at our VT house this morning.  No, a brisk walk on the beach and a fresh salad for lunch is a healthier, happier way for me to spend the winter in my old age.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Footwear


I read recently that the expensive walking shoes actually are hard on the knees.  This gave a slight bit of vindication.  I do have walking shoes that I wear out on a regular basis.  I have always hated spending the money for somethng that just does not last very long.
Part of the problem, perhaps, is the shape of my feet.  With narrow heels and wide forefoot (Hm, sound duck-like), something is always rubbing or pinching.  Holes wear into the shoes OR (worse) into my feet.  In either case, out those shoes have to go.
However, a couple of years ago, I bought these Speedo brand flip flops.  They are by far the most comfortable things I have ever had on my feet except warm, cozy socks.  And I can wear them while walking, even a brisk exercise walk, if the weather permits bare toes.  They cling to my feet--no rubbing, no pinching.  There is enough cushion on the bottom and a quick swish in sudsy water and a rinse off keep them fairly clean. 
The problem is that I have worn them so consistently that they are starting to fall apart.  I can't quite bring myself to throw them out.  At least not until I find another pair that are just as comfy.
These "toner" style sandals are not too bad, but they do take an adjustment.  I get a pain running up the nerves in my right foot when I first wear them after a long break.  They do have the high set strap that I like, but I do have to say that they have not reshaped the butt in quite the way the ads on TV would have you believe.  True, the ads on TV feature twenty-somethings. 
Aging is all about adjusting expectations.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oysters

From the Global Gourmet:
Oysters are not only delicious, but they're also one of the most nutritionally well balanced of foods, containing protein, carbohydrates and lipids. The National Heart and Lung Institute suggest oysters as an ideal food for inclusion in low-cholesterol diets. Oysters are an excellent source of vitamins A, B1(thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), C (ascorbic acid) and D (calciferol). Four or five medium size oysters supply the recommended daily allowance of iron, copper, iodine, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and phosphorus.

Read more: Little Known Facts About Oysters here.

We grilled oysters for supper the other night and they were delicious.  We thought they looked kind of pretty sitting on the plate with lemon slices and fresh parsley sprigs, swimming in their sauce of butter and olive oil, but that is probably one of those really subjective things--the look only the cooks could love.  We slurped them all down before taking a picture, so I cannot solicit objective opinions.

Of course the very next day I got an alert from the Nature Conservancy about the threat to oyster beds and the importance of saving these mollusks and their habitat.  Why does every little thing have to be guilt producing?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recycle ... Neatly

Recycling and reusing were topics of Tabor's One Day at a Time blog Sunday morning.  I encourage any and all recycling efforts myself--and have for a long time.  We used a lot of space for bins--one for cans, one for clear glass, one for colored glass, one for newspaper--under our cellar stairs long, long before there was any kind of mandatory recycling.  I can remembering cringing when work mates tossed paper (special educators can generate a lot of paper) into the wastebasket instead of the recycle bin, and this was after mandatory recycling.  I believe this is the source of my high blood pressure, actually, not the other stresses of the job.

Here in Florida, we still have to sort recycles--paper in one container and bottles, cans and plastics in another.  The city picks up yard waste, but not compost.  In Vermont, we have had all in one recycle for a number of years now.  We can take yard waste to the transfer station, along with compostible garbage that cannot go in a backyard cold compost container.  That includes paper towels and tissue, hair, laundry lint, meat scraps, bones, greasy pizza boxes, actual grease, wax paper.  Very little actually goes into our garbage can at home anymore.

So there is still sorting to be done and now we have two recycle bins, a backyard compost bin, a "hot" compost bin, a returnables bin, and a garbage can.  Guests have learned not to try to help me clean up until after the sort...or, like my son, to ask where things are meant to go before just raking off a plate into the kitchen trash.  We keep all this stuff contained and neatly out of sight, by the way.

What Tabor's post made me think about--aside from my compulsive nature around handling the trash of everyday life--was the first time my daughter came home from her college dorm.  Her comment was, "Mom, do you realize that there are people who do not recycle?"  She had been flabbergasted to see a roommate through a shampoo container into the wastepaper basket.

This, in turn, reminded me of the time she came home from a friend's house where she had witnessed the friend's mother opening a drawer in the friend's bedroom and tossing in a pile of unfolded underwear.  "Mom. do you know that not everyone keeps their underwear drawers the way you do?"

I mean, seriously?  Who doesn't fold their underwear and stack it neatly in a drawer? 

You think you are doing your best to raise your kids right and then they go out into the world.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Two for one

Mike gets himself off to the beach early most mornings.  I am not so much of a morning person.  I like to linger in my pj's over a cup of coffee and putter around the house a bit.  When I'm ready, I walk the couple of miles to the beach, walk up the beach a mile or a bit more where I meet up with Mike out on his saunter.
I usually walk back with him and get a ride home, although if he is too involved in beach scavenging, I have been know to walk home again.
Yesterday was one of those impossibly gorgeous days. I realized after walking along the beach road and down a nearly deserted stretch of beach that I had been in a blissful, zoned out state for some time.  The sun was nicely warm and the air at the beach was so soft on my skin.  The sounds of gentle waves and birds calling had an  almost hypnotic effect.  The light sand, the blue sky, the expanse of aqua water--the colors were soothing to my soul.  The smell of the beach and the nearly tangible taste of the salt air, the scruff of sand on my bare feet--every sense had been alerted.
It occurred to me that I was getting double benefit from this walk--physical exercise and the spiritual blessing of meditation.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

For Sale?

My little portable garden had to come inside Wednesday and Thursday nights.  After Mike talked to a friend who lives near Boston, we can only be thankful we are able to have a garden this time of year!

We took a ride down to Naples on Wednesday and visited our land at the eastern edge of Golden Gate Estates.  It is still there--a massively overgrown patch in what is now a fairly well developed neighborhood with paved streets and electricity and everything.  When we bought the land years ago, there were only two or three houses there.  Even now, to go just a half mile further east is to be in acres and acres of orange groves and tomato farms.  Most of the houses are built within the last five years--although I'm pretty sure no new houses were put in in the last three years.  The house on property right next to ours, however, has been there for over twenty years.  The family that owns it built way, way out in the wilderness at the time.  There were no paved roads, no electricity, no nearby grocery stores or schools, no cable.  So I am pretty sure that there is one family in the neighborhood that is not completely distressed by our wild patch.

On paper, we have made and lost a couple hundred thousand on that land.  We bought the land for relatively little money; it went way up in value;  now it has dropped back down nearly to what we paid.  We thought we were well set for retirement with our wise investments and our land holdings.  Of course, right when we thought we could start using the interest, the market did a belly up.  Still, it is kind of true that you don't miss what you never had.  But, hey, anybody looking for 2.7 acres of southern Florida swampland OR ten acres of northern Vermont swampland, I mean woodland, call me.  We'll talk!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Diet Foods

This list of eleven foods to eat when you are trying to lose weight is stolen from realage.com:

  1. yogurt
  2. eggs
  3. pistachios
  4. grapefruit
  5. avocado
  6. mushrooms
  7. olive oil
  8. whole grains
  9. red peppers
  10. fava beans
  11. rice combined with vegetables
AHA!  Now I know.  All I have to do is start eating fava beans and those few pesky pounds will just melt away.  How easy is that?

I was reading about Dr. Oz and a "new" "miracle" diet.  It seems we must avoid obesogens (Does that sound like a made up word or what?  Good grief.)  Obesogens (Hm...apparently I misspell it because spell check is just not recognizing this word.  Go figure.) are sugars like high fructose corn syrup, highly processed foods, and chemical additives.  Gee, that is new and exciting!  Get over yourself, Dr. Oz.  Really.

We went out for lunch today at Robbi's Reef.  We were surprised by the limited menu, but, boy, was the food good.  I had fish tacos with rice and beans on the side.  Excellent.  So fresh--which you'd expect on the gulf, but don't always find to be the case.  They must favor fewer selections in favor of fresh ingredients, and I have to say it seems like a winning strategy.

We bought this Weber tabletop gas grill last fall to bring with us.  We have really used it a lot in the not quite two weeks we have been here.  It reminds me of how much my parents liked their little hibachi grill in their retirement years.  But we know from experience charcoal and humid weather make for more trouble than it is worth.  This works great.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Books Worth Reading

The last three books I have read:
  1. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
  2. The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak
  3. Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History by Kati Marton
If you are not depressed enough from watching the news in this present climate of hate and intolerance, they are all worth the time.  If you are depressed enough, or you just don't want to be reminded that history goes on repeating itself, give them a pass.

The Lacuna examines the impact of America's political climate on artists during the McCarthy era.  It is far reaching and thought provoking historical fiction.  A NYT review can be read here.

The Book Thief  (reviewed here) is intended for maybe a high school audience.  It deals with the Holocaust and is set in Germany.  It can be brutal and somehow hopeful and affirming at the same time.  I thought it was intriguing--written with Death as the narrator.

Hidden Power examines the relationships between presidents and first ladies of the past century.  I found it interesting, but it really is about relationships and not necessarily very detailed with history.  It did give me a few new insights, though, and reinforced my cynicism about politics in general.

I think I will look for a good old Janet Evanovich sugarplum for my next read.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Settled In


Every day feels more and more like we are home for the winter now.  I bought herbs, a pepper and a tomato plant to stick in the garden.  The woman selling plants at the Saturday morning Farmers' Market told me it was much too cold to plant basil.  Good grief, we would never have basil in Vermont if it was really such a hot weather plant.  I found a small basil plant at Lowes, where I went to get some potting soil, and planted it anyway.  I can always drag it inside if a frost is warned.  I brought this garden bag from home--picked it up at a clearance sale at Gardener's Supply.  So now my little garden is planted and we shall see how this little experiment goes.
Not only does Mike do windows, he rakes the yard.  Nice that the city picks up yard waste.  I did discover a yard pet--a black snake.  I describe it as huge, but Mike calls it just a baby.  It is very shy.  We have not named it yet.  We're open to any suggestions.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Be a Beautiful Woman

These tips on beauty are attributed to Audrey Hepburn:

  • For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
  • For lovely eyes seek out the good in people.
  • For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
  • For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
  • For poise, walk with the knowledge that you do not walk alone.
  • As you grow older, you will discover you have two hands--one for helping yourself and one for helping others.
Lovely advice.  And then, of course, being born with the kind of random genetic cocktail that produce an Audrey Hepburn probably helps as well.

Wikipedia

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How Are You?

In my catch up blog reading, I have noticed a lot of painful experiences.  Accidents, illnesses, deaths, relationships, jobs, any of the stuff of everyday life can cause pain--physical or emotional.  We all cope in different ways, but, for those of us accustomed to writing, the very act of writing things down can be a tool for dealing with whatever life throws at us.  It seems that writing a blog brings us into contact with a supportive, like-minded community of individuals we might otherwise never have met.  This may not necessarily be a substitute for the support of family and friends in "real life," but it is certainly another source--and who doesn't need a little extra support or an added prayer at some point?

Another thing, I often note is that we tend to apologize because we are not "supposed to" mention our aches and pains, examine our trials, expose our emotions in public. Perhaps this is a generational thing.  I remember bursting into tears at the wake of my father and my mother apologizing to those who were there by saying, "She was always the emotional one in our family."  That really says volumes--and not necessarily about me.

Again, blogging plays a role.  It's such an odd combination--personal and intimate thoughts and experiences out there for all to see.  I find it is instructive to read about other's lives and the bumps and bruises make the reading real, even compelling.  I like to read the funny stuff, but I like to read the hard stuff too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Arrival Story

This is a copy of most of the e-mail that Mike wrote and sent to family about our arrival in Venice last Saturday:


Good Morning Everybody,



We are finally here and settled in. Had a nice uneventful trip down with only a few miles of driving through some light snow in upper NY state. We only had about 8" of snow as a result of the big Christmas weekend storm so the roads were pretty much cleared before we left.


The house we are in was a complete disaster when we arrived on Saturday. The previous tenants were a crew of construction workers who had been in the house for three months and promised the property manager that they would leave the house in spotless condition. The house was filthy to say the least. The beds were covered with piles of damp bedding, everything was covered with dust and grime, all the furniture was in disarray, used towels in the bath, four trash barrels overflowing with trash, it went on and on. Olga was almost in tears.


We spent the first few hours washing the bedding and cleaning a few surfaces so we could eat. Eventually things started to clear up, had a cleaning lady come and spend four hours working, rearranged the furniture, we also spent 3 hours the other day raking and picking up 9 large garbage bags of yard debris. We are finally starting to see the light at the end of tunnel. Even with all the hassle we really like the house and can only hope that this is a one time episode.
So, the property manager did have a good cleaner come in on Monday.  I had wiped out the closets and kitchen cupboards so we could at least unpack stuff over the weekend.   I woke up at 4 A.M. on Sunday morning feeling compelled to swab out the refrigerator so we could get some food for the day.  The kitchen was pretty much grease encrusted on exterior surfaces--all brand new appliances.  I fear for the long term health of those young workers if the grease and number of take-out containers is an indication of their typical daily diet.
Yesterday was cloudy, with thunder storms and rain in the morning.  Mike started washing the bedroom windows because he said one of his favorite things about Florida is waking up to the sunrise and the palm trees and the windows were dirty enough to obstruct his view.  Now that was a first, since I have never seen him wash a window before.  HA!  Now I've learned something new about him (isn't it amazing how you never fully, fully know another person) and will never have to do windows by myself again.
Anyway, sun is pouring in today.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fresh Citrus

We have settled into the new house.  Our neighbors came over with a ladder and picked oranges and lemons from two trees in our back yard for us.  The oranges are not the pretty navel oranges one finds in the supermarket but they are great for juice.  Fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast...yummy.
I think that I will make some lemon curd with the lemons and serve it over a puff pastry for dessert on Saturday.  I went to the grocery store to stock up yesterday, but now I remember that I did not buy any sugar...
It is in the 60's today, but we could not ask for a prettier day.  We spent three hours walking the beach this morning.  It was a low tide and the beach was littered with shells.  This little house could use some decorative clear bowls or vases filled with shells so I got right to work on that.  We ran into the "gang" from the beach.  Things are getting back to normal.
Yesterday I explored a new park that was in the works last year and has now been completed.  It will be a great place for a picnic lunch one of these days.  It has tables and benches overlooking the sand dunes.  There is also an alligator habitat pond in the center.  I did see very small alligators and a couple of turtles.  There is a protective fence around the pond--for the protection of the alligators or the protection of humans is unclear--but it's good that it is there.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Left Behind


This was the view out our front window at home the day before we left.  As we pulled out of the garage early the morning of December 28, the car's temperature reading dipped to minus 9 degrees--nine below zero, Fahrenheit scale.  Five days later, as we passed the Georgia-Florida border, the temperature moved on up into the seventies.  I know it has been a cold Florida December, but just seeing the sun is a treat and they say the trend will be for a warmer season this year.
We stopped in North Augusta and spent a couple of days and New Year's Eve (including the trip to the fireworks store) with Mike's daughter, son-in-law, and the four grand kids--who are growing up way fast.  Funny how they do that.  As usual, we were treated to some magnificent feasting--steak Dianne on Thursday night, with mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus, and barbecued ribs on Friday.  Renee is one accomplished gal--we can't imagine having a better meal in a fancy restaurant--or one of those rib shacks we pass along the way here!
We are off to the beach now.  Is it hard to feel grateful about that?

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Resolution

"Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted--a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul."  Rabbi Harold Kushner


The year of 2010 is the year I became a convert to a belief in New Year's Resolutions.  I resolved to make one simple change toward a healthier diet--eating more fruits and vegetables.  Specifically, I resolved to eat at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal.  By April or May, I found that I had been actually sticking to that plan more often than not and I resolved to work a vegetarian day into every week.  As a result, I lost over ten pounds and lowered my cholesterol by my physical in late October.  The best part was, I never said to myself I was on a diet, and I didn't tell myself I was suffering and so "deserved" an entire bag of chips as a reward for my pains.  I didn't deprive myself either.  If I wanted a cookie, I had one or two without regret.
I have an occasional cheeseburger, but, honestly, given the choice I pick a lentil-walnut burger with an avocado slice nine times out of ten.

So I am convinced I can change for the better, that I don't have to accept that I am old and therefore set in my ways.  In 2010, I changed my eating habits and reaped benefits I don't want to give up.  In 2011, I have decided, I will work on changing some of my thinking habits.  I've been looking over the past year in blogland and the more recent real life dramas, and find that I have been a bit on the whiny side lately--a lot on the whiny side lately.  Now, I have read about the "Happiness Project" and I don't see that as the way for me to go--too many suggestions.    I'm intrigued by cultivating gratitude, though.  I can see some wisdom in reflecting on the positive--and I can always go back to complaining if it doesn't work out.

Well, okay, I am not going to go all Oprah-Pollyanna hybrid and turn the blog into a gratitude journal.  I am resolving to be more aware of what is good in my life and appreciate that rather than ruminating on what went wrong.

We made it to Florida.  The weather is warm and the birds are singing their little hearts out.  That is something to be grateful for on at least ten different levels.