Remember brooches>

When is the last time you wore a brooch?  Can you even remember women used to wear a brooch on their blouse or on the lapel of their jacket?  Who has a lapel anyway?  Ten years ago I would see all these discarded vintage brooches and had to collect them, of course.  Eventually I had a drawer full of them and started trying ways to use them.  I put them on hair clips; I grouped them in necklaces; and I used them on needlework.  

The two black brooches on this necklace were very old. I combined them with two necklaces, and now it is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.  As I found pieces that might be compatible, I slipped them into a Ziplock bag and set them aside. 

Recently I ran across a bag that had three necklaces, none of which I would wear by themselves.  But they seemed to be so compatible, and it was about time that I did something with them.


The beads were large enough and had distinct shapes that I thought I would be able to string them using a beading wire.  I couldn't  finish the ends, but I had a friend I know would help me. So I spent a few days trying to figure out how I could do this, and I think I have the plan if it works. I have several other bags with groups of vintage jewelry that I would love to do something with.  Even if it doesn't work, it will be a pleasant few days just trying, and certainly beats vacuuming or cleaning baseboards. 


I need a change in attitude

When I awoke this morning my first thought was that  the pears I bought last week would be ripe enough to make a sour cream/pear/almond tart. My second thought was that there were enough leftovers from last night to make corn fritters and poached eggs for breakfast this morning. Maybe I would wear  my favorite blue apron  as  it looked like a cookery day.

I would be doing something creative, the house would smell good, and my husband would be happy.

 find most days long and boring   I will probably not die from a heart attack or a stroke; I will die from boredom.  But that would be totally unlikely, because with a slight change in attitude--well, maybe a major change in attitude--I should be happy and busy  all day, every day.

There is no reason why I can't clean house for hours  and like  it just as much as I do cooking or working in the garden.  I know there are women who luve  to clean house.  I have a neighbor who, every time she answers her door, has her rubber gloves on  and is scrubbing away. I have another friend who loves ironing and  irons absolutely everything.  But she hates to work in the garden.

I could vacuum twice a day, first going north/south and then east/west.  I could also  wash the windows every day.  Going vertical and then horizontal.  I know it is hard for you to believe, but I've lived in this house now for almost 4 years and have never scrubbed the base boards.  


My cleaning the other day included taking out a kitchen drawer and washing everything in it and putting it back.  And then I cleaned and polished the handle on the refrigerator.  What next? I know it’s hard to believe, but I have been in this house four years and have never cleaned the baseboards. 

Luckily it is mid-February and spring is just around the corner, and I will soon be able to “keep yard,” which makes me happy.  

I did get down on my knees and check the baseboards and, sure enough, when I ran my finger along the top, they were dusty.  One positive thing about losing your sight is you don't see the dirt.

 Until spring does arrive, I will  wear rubber gloves and hold a sponge when I open the door and announce I was just going to scrub the baseboards.



A friend in deed is a friend indeed....

Friends say, “Just call anytime and I will come.”

Calling too often  would be taking advantage of their kindness. So I have given a lot of thought to help from friends.


After a friend leaves, I  invariably think of something I should have asked them to do for me.  I need to keep  clipboards handy, with one for each friend.  And also an  ongoing  “quick” list of  things that anyone can help with. So if someone stops by, I can get something off the list quickly.  Things like thread a few needles, help with filing something, or just look for something that I can't see. I always have something lost.

 I want to keep in mind the the strengths my friends have.  One friend is very   computer savvy; another is a gardener and needle worker; and another likes to shop at thrift stores.  So I can pick something that a friend may enjoy. as well as being a help to me.

 One of my friends who has the busiest life has set aside one to two hours two days a  month on Wednesdays  just for me.  I can plan on it and she helps with online tasks such as mail orders,  banking, etc.  We can whiz right through when she comes.

Another friend goes to nurseries, Trader Joe's, and the Asian market. She will call and invite me along. Since she's going anyway, I feel I'm not imposing.  

 When I lunch with my sister, I try to work in a stop at a drugstore or a dollar store   to pick up the little things. I always seem to need.  She is also my go-to person for reading cards.  It's hard to have someone willing to stand there and read a dozen cards aloud until you find the one that is just right.

 My daughter-in-law comes twice a year.  I count on her to help me with things not so easy for other people.  Last spring she helped me shop for a recliner. This fall we shopped for my new mattress.  Already I know when she comes in the spring that we will be shopping for tiles for the back splash in the kitchen,  and also advertise some things I want to sell.  

 The most precious help I get from my friends is lifting my spirits.  There is no antidepressant like love, laughter, and lunch with a friend.    


About to embrace the mixes

When my older son was a preschooler, his friend Mikey used to come over and bake with us. He went home one day and told his mom that Steve's mother was so cool that she could make a cake without a box.

 I've always loved baking and it's a good way to pass the time.  So using a cake mix to save time really defeated the purpose.  I mostly bake pie and yeast breads for my husband.  I hardly need a recipe for these and they're pretty difficult to mess up.  I like a cookie or a piece of cake when I want something sweet.  These require more finesse in the preparation.  I try to memorize as many recipes as I can or write them out in large letters. Sometimes I keep a  special magnifier at hand in the kitchen and also have my husband measure things.  Even still I have many disasters and need to do something different at this point.

 I know that a large section  of the baking aisle are mixes of all kinds.  I think they're probably just what I need at this time.  Something with   few ingredients.  So the next time I'm at the grocery store, I'm going to have my husband read the labels and find out just what's offered.


I did have one cake mix that I used for quite a few years.  When my second son was about six, he went to a birthday party and fell in love with the cake.  I asked the mom for the recipe and she told me it was a Betty Crocker cherry cake mix.   She used a can of cherry pie filling for between the layers.  The can of pie filling had very few cherries and was mostly thickener.  She covered it all with a can of pre-made frosting.  The whole thing was neon pink and bursting with artificial flavoring and coloring.  But every year I bought that cake mix for Scott's birthday.

 When he was in his 30s, they stopped making the mix.  I dreaded telling him that it was unavailable after all those years.  He said, “Don't worry, Mom.  I really didn't like that cake mix  anymore anyway.”  ally didn't like that cake mix  anymore anyway.”  










Help from strangers


It used to be embarrassing to ask for help from anyone  as I want to do everything myself.  But in fact I know I not only need help, I need lots of help and I need it often.

At one point I realized that I'd better give it some serious thought, especially on how to ask for and accept help from strangers.  Over and over I had to explain “I have vision problems.”


Often when I‘m in a crowded or strange place, I get disoriented.  I just  need to stop and stand until I feel safe. But I know when I do this, people think I am scary or demented.



One deciding difference that I made is wearing a button which says, “Vision  Impaired.”  It immediately does away with repeatedly having to explain what is wrong with me.  This one small thing has made getting help from strangers so much easier.


Now it does not bother me to ask someone where I am or where I need to go. I even ask people to read my list to see if I have everything in my basket at the store.  And I have no embarrassment   asking someone,   “Can you help me?” because they read the button and immediately understand. 


I’ve shopped at the same store for decades and  know genearally where most things are.  For instance, I know pumpkin is in the sixth aisle on the bottom shelf on the right hand side. This is fine until they move it. Then I have to ask someone. 


I recently had  to cross a street by myself in Seattle.  

I asked  a stranger if I could hang on to their elbow to cross the street.  I also need help from strangers with elevators, as I have had several  problems with elevators since I can't see the panel.  Now I wait at the door for someone to get on.  Or I grab someone who is getting off and have them push the buttons for me.


I ask strangers to read price tags for me, write down numbers for me, and tell me how many steps I have left to go when descending stairs.


Asking for help from strangers now is just second nature and not so  embarrassing    Wearing the button is instant communication and has made all the difference.   The buttons are available several places on the internet.  I bought a dozen and keep an extra in my purse.  

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