Monday, December 31, 2018

WPSH: December Link Up

The Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt first monthly link up has been set up by Eileen at A Bracelet of Days.  Here are the photos I took in December:

No. 2: Pool of Light, taken in the afternoon, just after a rare shower of rain.

Pool of Light

No. 7: Horses; wrought iron horses on a fence panel, taken during a walk in my neighborhood.

Wrought Iron Horses

No 17: Orange, a bowl of persimmons, ripening on the table.

I haven't decided if this will be my final selection for this particular prompt, as I have some oranges ripening on my tree and I haven't photographed them, yet.

I am looking forward to taking more WPSH photos in January.

Is anyone else doing the WPSH?  Have you posted any of your photos, yet?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

December Monthly Balanced Life Goals and Resolutions Review

It's time to update my December monthly balanced life goals, even though there is one more day left in the month.

It is also that time of the year to review New Year's Resolutions and make new ones for the coming year.  They tie in together, because my New Year's resolutions were incorporated into my monthly goals to be worked on all year.  I reviewed my resolutions with my daughter, the other night, and we agreed that I've accomplished at least some of them, while others are still "works in progress".  The resolutions I made for 2018 are copied and posted below, along with how they tie into my monthly balanced life goals:

Resolution 1:  Continue to pursue good health - keep all medical appointments, eat a healthy diet, drink enough water and stay hydrated, increase my activity levels to build up stamina and strength,  get more sleep and rest, continue to climb the mountain (Health & Well Being Segment).

Resolution 2:  Procrastinate less - attend to things right away and get them done (Time Management Section).

Resolution 3:  Be more organized - declutter, have a place for everything and  make a habit of having everything in its place (House Section, and a bit of the Spiritual Section, as well, with the decluttering).

Resolution 4:  Be more positive - focus on accomplishments (Part of the Spiritual Section).

Resolution 5:  Maintain a balanced life (All the sections of each month's Balanced Life Goals).

So, here is my review of my December monthly goals and how it pertains to the resolutions I made for 2018:

Spiritual (8)(10):  The goal is to live a spiritually meaningful life
- Continue with daily prayers and gratitude; focus on being positive - On-going; prayers are being said, daily; I've been listing 5 things I am grateful for, daily; and I've focused on the positive aspects of my life.  My 2018 New Year's resolution #4 was to be more positive and I think I have managed to do so.

- Take time for meditation - add 5 minutes to the nightly prayers to meditate - This has been a successful exercise.  I've been able to sit still for 5 minutes to meditate as part of my nightly prayer routine.  It was also augmented with the weekly Pauses in Advent, which were meditations of sorts.  

- Almsgiving - scheduled for December 22 - It was held and, although not attended by many, it was quite successful, as everything was accomplished and the whole event proceeded smoothly.

- Cultivate non-attachment - focus on letting go of attachment to material possessions - declutter 31 items - I decluttered, but didn't keep a strict account of my declutterings this month, although I believe it amounted to at least 31 items.  However, not all of it involved letting go of items I had an attachment to!  Those items were few and not as many as I would have liked.  However, on the positive side, even one is a small step in the right direction!  All the decluttering ties into 2018 Resolution #3 of being more organized as it included decluttering.

- Attend the monthly rosary prayer gathering, if possible - Scheduled for December 8; I will attend only if I can get a ride; don't like night time driving, anymore - I attended the prayer gathering with my cousin and her daughter who gave me a ride.

All in all, this segment of my life was well plumped up with the almsgiving, the monthly prayer gathering, and the other spiritual aspects of this time of the year.

House (9)(9):  The goal is a clean, tidy, uncluttered house:
- Focus on deep cleaning and maintaining cleaned areas in preparation for the almsgiving -  I feel that I didn't deep clean quite as much as I wanted to, but I maintained the cleaned areas and, I did clean the house for the almsgiving.

- Declutter 31 items - , I didn't keep a detailed tally of what I decluttered this month, but several items were decluttered, including several pieces of fabric from the stash that were converted to holiday gifts in the form of pillowcases and table runners, several glass canning jars that were filled with jam and given as gifts, at least one set of Santa boxes, a bottle of wine that I had in the cabinet (paired with a new set of wine glasses), all the Christmas gift bags and some gift boxes I had in the stash, a few Christmas decorations (some broke after getting knocked off the tree; others were tied to packages as part of the gift wrapping/decorations), and the old washer and dryer (although they were immediately replaced with new ones).   That doesn't even take into account the huge trash bag full of clothes my daughter decluttered from her closet!

- Continue to sort out the 3rd bedroom, a.k.a. The Dump! (It is looking a little less of a dump, now, though!) - Well, more things got dumped in there, during the last 10 days of the month, as holiday gifts and extra large pots and pans used during the almsgiving and jam making were stored there (for easy access, rather than out in the garage, where I normally store them)!  It is still a bit of a dump, but it is getting better!

The house, as a whole, has been cleaned (dusted, vacuumed, toilets scrubbed, floors mopped, etc.) and maintained; there was even some organizing done, on a small scale.  Some areas are still cluttered and the bins with the Christmas decorations are still in the family room, but, for the most part, it is in a "company ready" state!  My 2018 Resolution #3 of being more organized ties into the House segment.  I feel I partially attained my resolution, or, at least made some progress towards it.  I've still a ways to go before I have a place for everything and everything is in its place!

Garden (8)(7):
- Maintain (water 2x per week; weed) - It's been a bit of a "hit or miss" with the watering!  But, we've had some rain, so that has been helpful.
- Buy and plant bare root fruit trees - at least 1 peach and 1 orange or tangerine - Did not happen
- Paint the front security door - buy paint - Didn't happen, either!

This was not a good month for the garden as I just didn't have the time or energy and my gardener friend took some holiday time off, as well.  However, it has rewarded me with fresh flowers (roses and paperwhites) and lemons and oranges, as well as curry leaves and lemon grass!  

Daughter (10)(10):  The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her
- Daily texts, phone calls, emails, and video chatting - Accomplished
- Enjoy her planned visit home for the holidays (Christmas and New Year) - I am enjoying every minute of it.  She helped with the almsgiving and Christmas gifts shopping.  Being able to spend Christmas with her was a blessing and we'll be spending New Year's Eve and Day together, too.  She'll be home for another week before she goes back.  We haven't planned when her next visit will be (perhaps in March, for her birthday?)  She's been able to meet up with most of her friends over the Christmas holidays, which is nice, too.  

Family & Friends (10)(10):  The goal is to keep in touch with various family members and friends.
- Regular phone calls and emails - On-going
- Invite family and friends to participate in the almsgiving - Invited them all, but all couldn't attend.
- Send out holiday greetings cards (Christmas and New Year) - Sent some
- Will be seeing several members of the family and friends at this month's prayer gathering - Accomplished
- Weekly calls with neighbor T - Accomplished; also, visited her for the holidays
- Visit neighbors for Christmas - Visited neighbor T
- Go out to lunch with friend R - Scheduled for December 2 - We needed to reschedule but had lunch together on 12/29, instead.
- Call and wish friend T for her birthday - DONE
- Call and wish niece for her birthday - DONE
- Celebrate Christmas with friends and family - Had Christmas dinner with friend A and her family; afterwards, went to aunt T's home to exchange gifts with the rest of the family.

Community (7)(7):  The goal is to become more involved in my community.
- Continue to participate in the blogging community - On-going
- Continue to make hats for the American Heart Association - Will be getting ready to mail them out, next week
- Visit my neighbors - Visited one neighbor; plan to visit another, next week

I have scaled back my expectations in this area, for this month.   Scaling back on outside community activities was the right thing to do, this month.  

Finances (9)(9):  The goal is financial security.
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully, with purpose - On-going 

- Keep track of spending - I kept track as I spent, and spent, and spent!  Eek! This month, I had a lot of expenses - the homeowners' and earthquake insurance was due, the payment for the new washer and dryer was due, I had the almsgiving and holiday-related expenses, and my co-payments for doctors' visits and prescriptions went up as a result of my new medical insurance.  All of it was budgeted and funded, and nothing incurred debt (the washer and dryer were put on my store credit card in order to get the free delivery and installation, free removal of the old appliances, and waiver of sales taxes, but it was paid in full when the bill came due).  But, for someone who doesn't like to spend money, it was a very expensive month!  

 - Review budget and adjust as needed - On-going.  I received my first regular pension check in December (the November check included the pay for the last two weeks in October and I wasn't sure how it impacted the tax withholdings, etc.).  I now know what my net pension is and I've sat down with a calculator and reworked my budget for the new year.  I will continue to keep an expense log and there might be some fine tuning, but, according to my calculations, I should be fine.    

Overall, I think I am doing well in this category, even if this was a rather "spendy" month!

Health & Well Being (6.5)(6):  The goal is good health.
- Attend the appointments with my various medical doctors
  12/14- Do lab tests - DONE 
  12/17 - Oncologist follow-up appointment - DONE 
  12/20 - Podiatrist appointment - DONE
  12/28 - Primary care doctor - Rescheduled for 1/11
- Continue to work on the following life style changes:
   - better diet - eat more vegetables, less carbs - HA!  Work in progress!
   - better hydration - drink 8 x 8oz glasses of water, daily - Yet another work in progress!
   - better sleep habits - get at least 7 hours of sleep/try to go to sleep before 4:00 a.m.! - Definitely a work in progress!
   - more exercise - walk 30 minutes 5 days/week - Another work in progress!
 - Lose some weight - I'll set myself a goal of 5 lbs. for this month - HA! HA!  I gained instead of losing!  

My 2018 Resolution #1 was to continue to pursue good health!  This is definitely a work in progress area for me.  On the positive side, I went to the majority of my doctors' appointments (one was rescheduled), the lab test results and cancer screening checks all came back good, and I received a medication to help with the osteoporosis.  I reduced the satisfaction level down a bit to reflect the fact that I didn't achieve all what I wanted to do on the life style changes and there is much room for improvement.

Time Management (8)(8):  The goal is to find a good balance between what I have to do and what I want to do.
- Be mindful of my time and how I spend it - On-going.  I have been mindful of how I spend my time and much of it seems to be spent "fretting" about things I should be doing, instead of actually just doing it! Some of it is due to my energy levels, but, some of it might be just sheer procrastination! 

- Plan my days/balance the "leisure" with "productivity" - A work in progress.  I am still trying to achieve a nice balance.  I'm afraid that there is too much "leisure" and not enough "productivity"!  However, I am doing everything I need to do, for the most part.  The almsgiving was held and everything proceeded in a timely manner; there were Christmas gifts for gifting on the correct day, even if some were readied and wrapped on the day of giving; appointments were kept and bills were paid on time. 

- Implement the schedule my daughter and I came up with (with slight modifications, as needed) - I struggled to implement the schedule.  The first couple of days went fine, but, after that, I couldn't maintain it.  I couldn't wake up at the scheduled time as I needed more sleep.  I found it difficult to get in my walk in the morning, so it got moved to the afternoon.  That sort of threw my schedule off!  I finally decided to wait until after the end of the year to try it, again, without the pressures of preparing for an almsgiving or the holidays.   I shall call this another work in progress.   

- Procrastinate less!  - Ah, yes!  When I get around to it, I am productive!  I'll spend all morning thinking I should do X, Y, and Z, and fretting about not actually doing it, then, sometime in the afternoon or evening, I'll get around to doing it and get it done in less time than I spent thinking about it!

2018 Resolution #2 was to procrastinate less, but I don't think I was very successful!  Yet another work in progress!

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time (8)(8):  The goal is to relax doing something I enjoy doing for the pleasure of it.
- Focus on holiday gifts and crafts - Did some!  I still have a couple of items left to do!
- Work on charity crafts - red hats for heart association (need to be mailed by end of December) - I've knitted as many as I am going to knit, this year.  They need to be mailed next week (or delivered in person, by January 11)
- Participate in a winter photo scavenger hunt!  I am looking forward to this!  I am not a photographer as such and I only have my cell phone camera.  But, I like the idea of going a bit beyond my comfort zone so, I am going to try!- I took a few photos before I got caught up in the almsgiving/holiday preparations.  I still need to do the monthly link up post for December!
Those were my goals for a more balanced life in December!  The entire monthly balanced life goals were part of my 2018 Resolution #5, which was for a more balanced life.  

Did you make any goals for more balance in your life?  If so, how did you do on them?  How about New Year resolutions?  Did you make any for 2018?  If so, were you able to keep your resolutions?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Just Another Hair Raising Evening at Home

Last night, my daughter was playing with my hair, as she sometimes does, and decided to put it up in a pony tail:

"Up" in a Pony Tail!
My hair apparently decided to take "being up in a pony tail" quite literally!  It stuck straight up!

Defying Gravity!
She didn't use any gel or anything.  We have no idea why my hair stuck straight up like that!  But she started laughing and took the photos to show me and I thought I would share them with you.    As most of you know, I lost most of my hair when I underwent chemo treatments and shaved off what was left.  This is the hair that grew back, after chemo.  I don't dye my hair, so, this is the natural color.

Today, daughter was woken up at 5:00 a.m. by the sound of Dancer throwing up near her bed!  We think he munched on the Christmas tree a bit too much (it is an artificial tree, but he doesn't seem to know the difference!)  I woke up when I heard her turning on the bathroom light to get the disinfectant wipes and asked her if she was OK, but went back to sleep when she said Dancer had thrown up and she was cleaning it up.  She said she couldn't fall back asleep; she was going through her closet and decluttering her clothes when I woke up at 9:00 a.m.

Friend R came over for a visit, later in the morning.  While I waited for her to come, I picked some fresh flowers from the garden and did my first "winter" arrangement, with a sprig or two from my pine tree:

"Winter" Flower Arrangement
At first, I was going to pick only the paperwhites, but I couldn't resist picking a rose, too!

Once friend R arrived, we exchanged gifts and then, went out to lunch.  At first, we wanted to go to the neighborhood Japanese restaurant, but, apparently, they don't open for lunch on Saturdays; only dinner!  So, we went to our favorite Thai food place, instead, and ordered food to go (it is not a restaurant as such, although they have a patio eating area; but, it was too cold to sit outside to eat, today).

After lunch, daughter and I dropped friend R off at her apartment and then, we  ran a few more errands.  First, we went to the pharmacy to pick up my medication refill.  Then, to the grocery store to pick up a loaf of bread ($1.99), a jar of peanut butter ($1.99), two trays of skinless/boneless chicken breasts ($1.79/lb) and two smoked sausages ($3.00 each).  My total came to just under $22.00.  I have invited friend A and her family to dinner on New Year's Eve (she had us over on both Thanksgiving and Christmas).  She hasn't confirmed if they coming over, or not, yet, but, I can make a chicken curry, in readiness, tomorrow.  Once she confirms if they are coming over, I will cook the rest of the dinner.

Our final errand was to the pet supply store to buy two buckets of cat litter refills.

After we came home, I did a load of laundry and ran the dishwasher.  Daughter, who woke up earlier than planned, took a nap!

Today, I am grateful for:
- Friend R's visit
- Thai food for lunch (with leftovers for dinner)
- A sunny, if cool, day
- Fresh flowers from the garden
- All what I was able to accomplish, today

Saturday's To Do List:
- Visit with friend - DONE
- Pharmacy - DONE
- Grocery store - DONE
- Buy cat litter - DONE
- Do another load of laundry - DONE
- Dishes - DONE
- Water the garden

Once again, I didn't water the garden!  That has to be the top priority, tomorrow!

Sunday's To Do List:
- Water the garden
- Cook the chicken curry
- Embroider the T-shirts
- Package niece's gift to be mailed on Monday

How was your Saturday?  Have you ever had your hair defy gravity and stand straight up? 

On the Last Friday of the Year

I spent a quiet morning at home.  It was another sunny, but windy, day (we are experiencing what the TV weather forecasters identified as an "inside slider" from Alaska, bringing cold air down with it).  Daughter's friend picked her up a little after 1:00 p.m. and I left to run some errands.

I drove out to the Auto Club to pay my homeowner's and earthquake insurance (due 12/30); I like to pay that in person, as I can get my receipt, immediately,.  Then, I drove to Michael's to exchange one of the two T-shirts I bought for a larger size.  I checked their Christmas items on clearance for 70% off, but I didn't buy anything.  Next, I went to WalMart, located in the same mall, to buy some of the tea one of my friends likes (it'll be part of her Christmas gift); while I was there, I also bought two more bags of cat food, so I am stocked up on cat food!  One of the store workers who was collecting the shopping carts in the parking lot saw me with my bags of cat food in my cart and offered to help me load them into the trunk.  I could handle them, but I gladly accepted his help.

Then, I put $30 worth of gas to the car to fill it up.  The last time I put gas to the car was on November 13, and before that, on October 12.  I am definitely going to reduce my budget for gas, next year, starting in January.

Finally, I drove to Sears to pay the bill for my washer and dryer (due 1/2/19). 

After that, I came home, had a cup of tea and some toast (it was supposed to have been hot buttered toast, but the toast got cold, so it turned out to be cold buttered toast, which wasn't quite as good!).  I put a load of laundry to wash and watched news.  Later, I called friend R; we are planning to get together, tomorrow, to celebrate the holidays.

Today, I am grateful for:
- I managed to get more errands done and bills paid
- I was able to exchange the T-shirt without any difficulties
- The helpful store worker who loaded the bags of cat food in the car for me
- Daughter had a fun afternoon hanging out with her friend
- A working washer and dryer

Friday's To Do List:
- Do another load of laundry - DONE
- Exchange one of the T-shirts I bought (wrong size) - DONE
- Pay the homeowner's and earthquake insurance - DONE
- Pay the store credit card bill for the washer and dryer - DONE
- Put gas to the car - DONE
- Water the garden (we had a little rain on Christmas Eve, but the garden needs watering, again)
- Finish wrapping the rest of the gifts - DONE

I didn't water the garden as it was too windy and cold. 

Saturday's To Do List:
- Visit with friend
- Buy cat litter
- Do another load of laundry
- Water the garden

How did you spend your last Friday of 2018?  What are your plans for the weekend?  What are your plans for New Year's Eve?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

New Washer and Dryer on Thursday

I woke up before the alarm went off, at 9:00 a.m., this morning!  I woke up from the weirdest dream - I dreamt that I was still working, had gone to the office at 10:00 a.m. and a former higher level supervisor was in the room with one of my former supervisors and he gave me an odd look for coming in so late.  A little while later, my supervisor called me aside and told me that my job is likely to be terminated due to a lack of funding, since the project I had been working on was coming to an end.  In my dream, I felt a moment of panic, as I wondered how I was going to earn a living if my job ended.  And then, I realized that I was retired and I informed my supervisor that it didn't matter if my job was terminated because I was already retired!  Apparently, I was volunteering my time at the office, even though I was retired, in order to finish up the project!  That, in turn, caused quite a bit of fuss with the HR people because I was not supposed to work after retirement and I was breaking all the rules!  That's when I woke up - when I was trying to explain to them why I was working after retiring!  LOL!

A short time later, I received a text confirming that the delivery of the washer and dryer was scheduled for this morning, between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.  There was a link to a "real time" delivery schedule to see when it was estimated to take place within that 2-hour time frame.  I checked at it said 11:54 a.m.!  So, I knew I didn't need to rush.  I had a cup of coffee, checked blog comments, and put away the load of laundry I did, yesterday.  It included the kitchen rug and I decided to sweep and mop the kitchen floor before I put down the newly washed rug.

When I next checked the "real time" delivery schedule, it stated 11:30 a.m.!  I took the kitchen trash to the bins, outside, and unlocked the back gate, in case the delivery people found it easier to bring the washer and dryer from the back door.  Soon after that, I received a phone call from the delivery person, saying he'll be arriving shortly.  He and his helper arrived at 11:30 a.m. and they removed the old washer and dryer.  I offered them a cup of coffee which they accepted and my daughter brewed them some coffee.  When they removed the old washer and dryer, I quickly swept the laundry room, but the floor under the old washer and dryer was dirty.  I tried to mop the area, but the delivery guy was very nice; he took the mop from me and cleaned that area for me and he wiped the floor and the wall with the old towel I handed him.   Then, they installed the new washer and dryer, ran them for a bit to check how they worked, had me sign the delivery receipts, accepted the coffee and cookies I served them and left, at 11:50 a.m.!

New Washer
I wanted a top loader, not a front loader.  The outside measurements are about the same as the old washer, but the tub, inside, is bigger:

Tub Inside
It has no central agitator and it has a larger capacity than my old washer, which would make it easier to wash my quilts and sofa covers, etc.

I did a load of laundry (table cloths, chair covers, and napkins used at the almsgiving), to try out the new washer, and it worked well!

Then, I dried the chair covers in the dryer to try it out:

New Dryer
It is the same white as the washer, although it looks more offwhite in this photo.  It is a slightly different model than the dryer that matches the washer, because I wanted one where the door opened down, rather than to the side, due to space concerns.  Plus, the matching dryer cost more!  I don't mind that the models don't match.  The chair covers dried nicely and several years worth of lint from them got collected on the lint screen!

The table cloths and napkins, however, weren't dried in the dryer.  Years of experience has taught me that these particular table cloths and napkins need to be ironed right out of the washer, while they were still wet, in order to get them properly ironed.  They are now hanging up to finish drying!  And I've realized that my next appliance purchase will be a new iron!  The one I have is about 26 years old and it has only one heat level no matter what the dial setting is, the steam vents are clogged, and it doesn't iron too well!

Daughter went to the engagement party of one of her friends, in the afternoon.  Prior to the engagement party, she and her special group of friends (friends since middle and high school) celebrated their annual holiday get together and exchanged gifts.  She's known the girl who is getting engaged since they were in 6th grade, and she's been best friends with one of the other girls since 7th grade; they started their tradition of a holiday pot luck/gift exchange with two other friends since 9th grade.   It's nice to see them making the effort to keep the tradition going.

After I did the laundry and ironing, I had a late lunch and did a load of dishes in the dishwasher.  Later, I wiped the kitchen counters and the stove top.  I cooked a fish curry to have with leftover rice for dinner.

I called one of my "cousins" today - she is actually the cousin of my cousins, so not a relation, but extended family of sorts.  Her mother usually hosts an annual New Year's Day luncheon/open house, every year, that I've been going to for years.  Her mother is in very poor health, but, apparently, insisting on having the New Year's Day lunch, saying it might be her last!  Considering how ill she is, it very well might be and that is the reality of the situation.  I asked my cousins' cousin if she'd like me to make a dish for the lunch or bring a dessert (or both); she thanked me and said that the lunch will be catered, but, a dessert would be welcome.  I have already called my cousin and offered her and her daughter a ride to the lunch on New Year's Day.

Later, I called friend R to check on her and chatted with her for a bit.

I feel that today was a very productive day.

Today, I am grateful for:
- All that I was able to accomplish, today
- A new washer and dryer - delivered and installed without any problems
- The delivery person cleaning the laundry room floor and wiping down the walls for me
- Daughter had a safe drive to her friend's party and back
- A sunny, if very windy, day

Thursday's To Do List:
- Have the new washer and dryer delivered and installed - DONE
- Have the old washer and dryer removed and taken away - DONE
- Do a load of laundry to try out the new appliances - DONE
- Put everything back in the laundry room - DONE
- Wrap the rest of my holiday/New Year's gifts - STARTED
- Put away laundry from yesterday - DONE
- Iron the table cloths and napkins - DONE
- Sweep and mop the kitchen floor - DONE
- Do a load of dishes - DONE

Friday's To Do List:
- Do another load of laundry
- Exchange one of the T-shirts I bought (wrong size)
- Pay the homeowner's and earthquake insurance
- Pay the store credit card bill for the washer and dryer
- Water the garden (we had a little rain on Christmas Eve, but the garden needs watering, again)
- Finish wrapping the rest of the gifts

How was your Thursday?  What are your plans for Friday?

Winter Joy List - 2018

Now that my almsgiving is over and Christmas has been celebrated, I thought it would be a good time to post a Winter Joy List.  I picked 15 joyful things to do to enjoy the winter days in January and February, until Spring arrives in March. 

Winter Joy List:

1. Greet the New Year with my daughter (and maybe some friends)
2. Hot chocolate - with whipped cream!
3. A warm house
4. Cozy knitted blankets and throws
5. Winter decorations
6. Homemade soup
7. Candle light in the evenings
8. Continue to enjoy the rest of daughter's holiday visit
9. After-Christmas sales!
10. The Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt
11. Reading
12. Afternoon naps
13. Relaxed days after the holiday rush
14. Afternoon walks
15. Winter gardening

I am looking forward to warm, cozy, slower paced days, once the holiday rush is over and daughter goes back.  How about you?  Is anyone else doing a Winter Joy list?  

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Day and the Day After

Christmas morning, my cousin's phone call woke me up!  She wanted to come over to exchange gifts, so I got up.  I was still brushing my teeth when she knocked on the door!  We exchanged gifts and wished each other for Christmas.  Then, after a cup of coffee, I finished wrapping and bagging up the rest of my gifts.

Daughter and I had a late brunch.  We decided not to make pancakes, after all!  Instead, she had toast with butter and her apple/cranberry jam and I had an egg salad sandwich.

Then, I picked a bag of lemons to take to my friend's house and got dressed to go to her house to Christmas dinner.

Santa Bearing Gifts!
This Santa consists of a stack of three nesting velvet covered boxes.  I thought that he would make an excellent container for the gifts I was giving my friend.  I put the inspirational journal I bought for her in the largest box at the bottom, I put a jar candle in the middle box, and a jar of my strawberry jam fitted nicely in the smallest box on the top (Santa's face).  Santa's hat forms the lid for the smallest box.  I tied the whole stack with ribbons to hold the boxes in place and put it in a large gift bag.  The container made as much an impression as the gifts, I think!

My friend had prepared Sri Lankan yellow rice and curries for dinner.  There was one other young Sri Lankan couple with their 7-months old baby, besides my daughter and I.  As I observed to my daughter, I have an almsgiving and my Catholic friends and family attend and my friend, who is Catholic, invites her Buddhist friends to celebrate Christmas with her.  After dinner, we exchanged gifts and then, it was time for my daughter and I to leave to join my Aunt T at her home for the family gift exchange!

At Aunt's home, we were joined by two of my cousins and their children.  We spent some time visiting and then, exchanged gifts.

After we came home, daughter and I relaxed and she tried on her gifts (she received mostly clothes,  some costume jewelry, and hair accessories).  I, too, received some new sweaters and blouses, a lovely shawl, bath salts and hand soap, costume jewelry, a set of monogrammed holiday towels, and a  picture frame with a selection of photos taken at my cousin's son's wedding, including one of the bride and groom lighting my brass lamp!

On Christmas Day, I was grateful for:
- My daughter being home to celebrate the day with me
- Friend A inviting us to her house to dinner
- Being able to be with aunt and cousins, later in the evening
- The lovely gifts we received
- Safe drives to and from

This morning, I was woken by yet another phone call, but it was one I could ignore, so I did.  I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn't, so I got up and had a cup of coffee.

Later in the morning, I went to the library.  I had a book that was due that I wanted to return.  It was a book I had checked out, along with another book, earlier.  I had gone to the library to return that other book and to check out this book, again.  I hadn't looked at the check out slip they inserted into the library book when I did that, but, when I looked at the check out slip on Christmas Eve to verify the due date (due 12/26), I noticed that the check out slip showed that the library had made a mistake and checked out that other book to me, as well!  The one I returned and which I no longer had with me!  I drove over to the library on Christmas Eve afternoon, when I realized that, but, the library had closed earlier in the afternoon and, of course, they were closed over Christmas.

So, this morning, when I went to the library, I explained the situation to the librarian.  I was able to locate the previously returned book on the library shelves, so they cleared my record and I checked out two new books.  I've gone online and checked my library account to verify that I currently have only the two books I checked out this morning, charged to me!

In the afternoon, my daughter went to visit one of her friends.  I started reading one of my new library books, put away some laundry, did another load and hung it up to dry, put away the last of the almsgiving dishes, and cleared out the laundry room, as the new washer and dryer are scheduled to be delivered tomorrow morning!  I pushed some of the furniture (living room and family room sofas, the family room table, etc.) aside to make room for the delivery people to bring in the new items and take out the old ones.  I am hoping the delivery and installation will go off without any difficulties or problems!

Neighbor T called me in the afternoon and asked if I could meet her at the side wall between our two houses; when I went over to the wall to see if she needed anything, she handed me a box of chocolates as her Christmas gift to me!

Later, I called one of my cousins and had a long chat with her.

Today, I am grateful for:
- The library book situation was taken care of without any problem!
- New library books to read
- Confirmation that the new washer and dryer will be delivered tomorrow
- Being able to clear the laundry room
- Being able to tidy the house a bit

Thursday's To Do List:
- Have the new washer and dryer delivered and installed
- Have the old washer and dryer removed and taken away
- Do a load of laundry to try out the new appliances
- Put everything back in the laundry room
- Wrap the rest of my holiday/New Year's gifts

Hope each and everyone of you enjoyed your Christmas holidays.  What are your plans for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day?

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas

Wishing all my blog readers a wonderful day.

May there be peace on Earth and may there be goodwill to all.

May all beings, whether feeble or strong, small or large, long or short, seen or unseen, dwelling near or far, born or yet to be born; may all beings, without exception, enjoy peace, happiness, and well-being.  (Adapted from the Karaniya Metta Sutta)

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve

O, Christmas Tree

It is Christmas Eve! 

Daughter and I spent a relaxed morning, today.  In the afternoon, we went to the grocery store to buy a frozen tiramisu cake ($14.99) to take to my friend's home as our contribution to the Christmas dinner,  one gallon of milk ($2.79), two 4-lb. packages of sugar ($1.69/4 lb), and a box of frozen General Tso's chicken ($5.69) for us, a 14-lb bag of cat food ($8,99 plus sales tax) and two boxes of 12 half-pint canning jars ($8.99 plus sales tax).  My total came to $56.38 with sales tax.

A little later in the afternoon, we went over to neighbor T's house to wish her for Christmas and to hand over her gift and some apple dump cake.

In the evening, after tea, daughter helped me to make a batch of cinnamon apple cranberry jam:

Cinnamon Apple Cranberry Jam

I used 2 lbs. apples, 1 bag (12 oz) cranberries, 2 lbs. sugar, and 2 sticks of cinnamon.  It made 8 jars and a little bit, which I put into a lidded glass container and kept in the fridge.  Tomorrow morning, I am planning to make pancakes for breakfast and we'll spread some of the jam on our pancakes.   Five of the jars are for daughter to give as gifts to her friends.  The other three jars will be given as gifts, too.   

We had leftovers from the almsgiving for lunch; dinner was the General Tso's chicken served over rice.

I still need to wrap some gifts and I plan to watch midnight Mass from the Vatican, as I do each Christmas.

Today, I am grateful for:
- A peaceful Christmas Eve
- Making jam with my daughter
- Chatting on the phone with my aunt, cousin, and friend
- Visiting my neighbor
- A card from my half-brother

Plans for tomorrow include going to my friend's house to share Christmas dinner with her and her family. 

I wish all my blog friends a joyous Christmas and happy holidays.

It's still Dancer's tree!

Holiday Gift Shopping on Sunday

Sunday morning, I was still tired from Saturday's almsgiving, so I rested and took it easy.  Later in the afternoon, my daughter and I went to the mall to do some shopping, as we both needed to buy some gifts for Christmas and New Year and an engagement, as well (one of daughter's friends).  I had made my list of people to buy for, what I wanted to buy for the majority of them, and at which stores.

I wasn't sure how crowded it would be at the mall at 3:30 p.m. on December 23, but, we set out prepared for long lines at the check out counters.  The parking garage was full, but, we got parking almost immediately, as someone else pulled out; we just had to wait only as long as it took the driver of the other car to pull out!  Inside the mall, it was busy, but, not too crowded!  I had time to look around a little bit and the check out lines were not that long, at all. 

The mall we went to has three stories.  We started at the top - at the first store we went to, I looked around a bit to find a gift for my cousin's son and his wife and found something for their house (they are newly weds, so household items seemed appropriate) and I also purchased a gift card for one of my friends.  Three people crossed off my list!

Then, we went to the second floor, to the bath and body shop for body lotion; buy 3 and get 2 free.  Not as good as their buy 3, get 3 free sale, which they had the day before, but I was too preoccupied with the almsgiving to take advantage of that sale (in hindsight, I suppose I could have asked my daughter to order it online, for me, but I didn't think about it).  Anyway, now I had enough lotion to complete the gifts for five more people on my list!

Then, we went to the department store, also located on the same floor, to buy gifts for two of my aunts.  It took a little time as I was looking at sweaters for one or both of them.  Eventually, I settled on a sweater for one and a knitted scarf for the other.  Yes, I could have knitted a similar scarf, myself, but, the scarf was on sale for not much more than what the yarn would have cost me and it saved me time!  That store had the longest line I stood in at the check out, with about 15 people ahead of me, but there were 4 cashiers and the line moved fairly quickly. 

After that, I could feel myself getting tired (daughter noticed that I was walking slower).  I had finished the shopping I needed to do at the mall, but daughter needed to check one more store for one of her gifts.  So, I sat down at an empty table in the food court (located on the 1st floor), and rested, while daughter checked the store.  Then, we left the mall - we had spent about 2 hours shopping!

We, then, drove to another mall, where the crafts supplies store was located.  Daughter needed a planner for next year and a gift for one of her friends; I wanted to buy two more t-shirts to embroider for another niece's two children (theirs will be a New Year's gift, not Christmas).  Again, the parking lot was crowded, but, I saw a car pulling out as we were nearing the store and we were able to park without any trouble.  The store was not crowded, either.  Daughter found her planner and a gift for her friend.  I got the t-shirts I wanted; they were regularly priced at $3.99 and not on sale, but daughter had a 50% off one regular priced item coupon that she gave me as the items she bought were on sale, so her coupon couldn't be applied to them.  So, the coupon reduced the price of one t-shirt to $1.99 and that meant, I paid $5.99 for both t-shirts (plus sales tax, of course). 

The crafts store was having a 70% off sale on all Christmas items and that included their holiday scented jar candles!  Originally priced at $6 each, they had been on sale for $2.50 each (sign on the display stated 4/$10), but now, they were on sale for $1.80 each, which is 70% off the original price.  This is my price point for these candles.  I might have bought them for $2.50 each, but I prefer to wait until they go below $2.00 and then, I stock up!  I bought 10 of them!  They will be given as gifts, either by themselves or in combination with other gifts.  For example, my daughter said that a candle, combined with one of the journals I purchased, earlier, and a pen would make a nice "mindfulness" gift: light the candle and write in the journal. 

Scented Jar Candles

We were in that store for about one hour!  Altogether, we spent three hours, shopping!

When we came home, we had tea and rested a bit.  Later, we decorated the tree!  We didn't quite finish decorating it, as we both got too tired.  I have a lot of ornaments collected over the years; enough for at least two trees!  LOL.

On Sunday, I was grateful for:
- A pleasant shopping experience
- Finding parking without a problem at the two malls we went to
- The shops not being too crowded
- Finding good sales
- Enjoying decorating the tree with my daughter

How was your Sunday?  Have you gone shopping at the mall this close to Christmas?  If not, would you consider it?  Have you finished all your Christmas shopping?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Pause for a Birth

Linking up with Angela at Tracing Rainbows in the last Sunday of Advent, here

I would like to pause to reflect on the birth of a child and to reflect on the woman who was chosen to be the mother of the child.  Actually, I would like to reflect on two women who were chosen to become mothers.  For it is my opinion that, every woman who is chosen to become a mother, no matter how different their lives might be, are also very similar for they share much in common, no matter what the differences might be.

So, I choose to reflect on two women, born centuries apart, in two different countries; yet, they shared the common title of Mother.

It is said that one of them dreamt that heavenly beings took her to bathe in a lake and a white elephant entered her from her right side as she slept and her dream was interpreted to mean that she was pregnant with a son who would become a great person.  It is said that one of them saw the Angel of God who informed her that she would become the mother of the Son of God.

And when the time of birth was near, they both went on a journey: one to the country of her birth and her parents' home as was the custom; one to the ancestral home of her husband in order to comply with a census requirement.    One of them stopped at a park, en route, and her son was born while she stood under a tree.  It is said that heavenly beings appeared to receive the newborn baby son and the earth trembled.  One of them stopped to spend the night at an inn, but there was no room at the inn and so, she stayed the night in a stable where her son was born.  It is said that the heavenly angels sang and a star appeared in the night sky above the stable. 

One mother died seven days after the birth of her son and her son was brought up by her younger sister who became the child's foster mother or step mother.  One mother lived to see her son die upon a cross. 

One mother was named Maya and her name means "illusion" (although it has other meanings, as well).  One mother was named Mary, and her name seems to have various meanings, too, including "beloved" and "bitter".

Two different women who share the common bond of motherhood. 

As someone who follows the teachings of the son of one of these mothers, I wish all those who follow the teachings of the son of the other mother, a joyous Christmas as you celebrate His birth.

Revised Mile Long To Do List - December Update

I posted a revised Fall Mile Long To Do list at the beginning of November, deleting those items that were accomplished in October and adding one or two new items to the list for November, but, Susan's comment on one of my blog posts reminded me that I never posted a November update and, already, it is almost the end of December!   Oops!  So, here is the December update!

Mile Long To Do List:
  • Pay bills (auto club membership renewal, gas bill)
  • Vote
  • Pay property taxes
  • Do lab tests prior to oncologist appointment
  • Oncologist appointment 11/19  12/17
  • Podiatrist appointment 12/20
  • Clean chandelier in dining room
  • Clean light fixtures (2) in family room
  • Sew new bedroom curtains
  • Clean vertical blinds - family room sliding glass door
  • Clean sliding glass door, including tracks
  • Dig out spare room/The Dump - Started
  • Sew quilts
  • Sew holiday gifts - In progress
  • Buy new sofa slip covers - IKEA 
  • Paperwork/File/Shred
  • Call to have the outside cats spayed/neutered
  • Schedule Dancer's check up
  • Polish brassware
  • Polish silverware
  • Spruce up the front garden
  • Wash kitchen cabinet fronts 
  • Buy paint for the front door
  • Paint front door
  • Declutter - Did some
  • Trip to the Sri Lankan store (before the almsgiving)
  • Call relatives in Texas 
  • Almsgiving
New December items:
  • Primary care doctor's appointment 12/28
  • Decorate the Christmas tree
  • Set up the Winter Village
  • Christmas/New Year gifts (that's a whole other list!)
  • New washer/dryer - scheduled to be delivered 12/7 12/27
  • Empty out laundry room before washer and dryer are delivered
  • Homeowner's & earthquake insurance due 12/30
Obviously, I didn't accomplish all what I wanted to accomplish.  This was an ambitious list and a "brain dump" of all the things I had to do and wanted to do.  I didn't have the energy to do it all and, the urgency to get it done seemed to decrease as the time passed!  On the positive side, I now have a starting list for January, don't I?  LOL. 

Will you be having a Mile Long To Do List in January?  

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Almsgiving on Saturday

Flowers  from the Garden for Offering

Saturday morning, I woke up at 7:30 a.m., when the alarm went off.  That's the earliest I've been up in a long time.  Even the outdoor cats looked surprised to see me up so early!  Usually, they are waiting outside the sliding glass door, when I wake up, waiting for their breakfast.  Today, they looked at me from their various spots in the garden, and waited until they saw me put out their food before they came running up to the door!  LOL!

I decided to have my coffee before I did anything else.  I checked my blog comments and replied to some while I had my coffee.  Then, at 8:00 a.m., I went into the kitchen to get started on the dump cake.  Put that in the oven at 8;15 a.m., and while it baked, started taking out the containers of soup and curries from the fridge and reheating them.  Friend R called around 8:30 a.m. to say she's on her way over.  She helped to make the salad and cut up the fresh fruits for me.  In the next hour and a half, friend R, my daughter, and I did all what needed to be done!  I had almost forgotten to cook the rice, until my daughter asked me, around 10:00 a.m. if there was anything else to do and I checked my list and remembered the rice!  She put the two types of rice to boil in the two rice cookers and they cooked while we finished up all the other things on my list.  We were all done and ready by 10:30 a.m., as planned!  Cousin P came over just before 11:00 a.m.

The Living Room Seating Arrangement
The living room sofas are covered with white sheets as a sign of respect for the monks (a symbolic purification).  Except, a certain kitty decided he needed to check it out for comfort!

"Just checking to see if it was done properly"
He got chased off by friend R, who, then, lint rollered the sheet to remove cat fur from it! 

The monks arrived a few minutes, later.  There were two Sri Lankan monks, a monk from Bangladesh, and a Korean monk, who was very intrigued that my daughter knew Japanese (she minored in Japanese during her undergrad studies).and had a long conversation with her in Japanese!  Around 11:15 a.m., we started the ceremony by making an offering of light (lit candle), incense, flowers and a portion of the prepared meal at the altar:

Tray of Food for Offering at the Altar (prior to being offered) 
After that, the monks were served their meal.  I thought I took two photographs of the monks, seated with their begging bowls, but, apparently I didn't click the camera, properly, because the photographs I took seem to have disappeared! 

After the meal was over, the Korean monk spoke about the importance of the mindfulness in breathing (anapanasati in Pali) meditation, the monks chanted blessings while we all held a special thread that was tied around a bottle of blessed water and passed around among us, and we symbolically transferred the merits we accrued from the almsgiving to our departed family and loved ones, by pouring water from the teapot into an empty cup (that is placed in a basin) until the cup overflows (the empty cup represents the departed loved ones, the water represents the merits).

After that, we received a sip of the blessed water and a piece of the special thread was tied around our right wrists as a reminder of the blessings and as protection.  The sound waves of the blessings being chanted have been absorbed by the thread  and the monks chant additional blessings as the thread is tied.  One may cut the thread off, after wearing it for some time, but I usually wear my thread until I receive a new one at the next almsgiving or blessing ceremony I attend, whenever that might be.  One of the monks also went around the house, blessing it, which I appreciated very much.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, I had my daughter offer the monks the envelopes I had prepared ahead of time (containing a monetary donation).  We also served two plates of food and containers of fruits, apple dump cake, and candies for them to take back to the temple for two people who are staying at the temple.  I remembered how, when I was undergoing chemo and had lost my appetite, these same monks would bring me plates of food from almsgivings they'd attended, in the hopes that I might enjoy it.

After the monks left, friend R, cousin P, my daughter, and I had our lunch.  Then, friend R and cousin P helped with the washing up.  After they left, daughter helped me to put away the rest of the food.  I froze some of it, so daughter could take some back with her, when she goes back to Berkeley.  Daughter and I have been resting since then.  I put a load of laundry to wash, just now, and am making a cup of tea. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to hold my annual year-end almsgiving
- My daughter being here to help and participate
- Friend R and cousin P coming to help and participate, too
- Everything going off well
- Leftovers!

Saturday's To Do List:
- Bake apple dump cake - DONE
- Take out chair covers, cover chairs - DONE
- Arrange flowers in vases - DONE
- Cut up fruits and arrange in saucers; cover - DONE
- Arrange a variety of sweets in saucers; cover - DONE
- Dish out yogurt into bowls; cover - DONE
- Pour palm treacle into sauce boat (to be served over yogurt) - DONE
- Dish out dump cake, cover - DONE
- Cook rice (2 types - white and red) - DONE
- Make salad - DONE
- Warm up curries; dish out into smaller serving dishes for serving to monks; bigger serving dishes for guests  (there was no need to dish out to bigger dishes as there were only two guests)- DONE
- Serve up offerings to the Buddha and offerings for the Order of Monks - DONE
- Boil water and keep warm for those monks who prefer hot water - DONE
- Pour water and juice into glasses - DONE

- Put away leftovers/wash dishes - DONE
- Do laundry - STARTED

Tree decorating might have to wait until Sunday, because I am tired! 

Sunday's To Do List:
- Put away washed dishes
- Put away dried laundry
- Do another load
- Iron the table cloths and serviettes
- Decorate the tree
- Put up the winter village
- Finish up the Christmas gifts

How was your Saturday?  What are your plans for Sunday? 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday's Accomplishments

Today has been a busy day!  A productive one, as well.  In the morning, neighbor T brought over something I had loaned her.  I ironed the table cloths I use to cover the tea trolley and one of the coffee tables.  My daughter and I finalized the almsgiving menu.  Since she's not feeling too well, we decided she didn't need to make the vegetarian pizza, after all.  Instead, I added a kale dish to the menu.  Then, I cleaned out the fridge.

In the afternoon, I went grocery shopping and bought the vegetables, fruit, and yogurt, I needed.  I put the eggs to boil while I rested a bit.  Then, I did the cooking; daughter helped with cutting up the vegetables for the soup and shredding the kale, etc.  Most of the cooking is done!  All I have to do tomorrow is cook rice, bake the dump cake, and warm up the curries.

Later in the evening, she and M rearranged the family room sofas and set up the Christmas tree.  It is a prelit tree but we didn't decorate it, yet:

Dancer's Tree!

Today, I am grateful for:
- All what I was able to accomplish today
- Daughter's help with the preparations
- M's help with the preparations
- Christmas cards and gifts arriving in the mail
- Working appliances

Stack of Cookies and Candy
One of my nieces sent me this stack of cookies and candy, in the mail!  I hope she received the gifts I sent to her!

Teapot from a college friend
This teapot was given to me by one of my college friends, one year, for my birthday, in 1976.  I lost touch with her after a few years, but, every year, I bring it out to be used during the almsgiving and I think of her and wish her well, wherever she is. 

Friday's To Do List:
- Clean out the fridge - DONE
- Cook the green beans - DONE
- Saute the boiled garbanzo beans - DONE
- Put the cooked cashews and lentil curries to thaw - DONE
- Do the final grocery shopping - DONE
- Boil the eggs - DONE
- Fry the pappadum - DONE
- Cook kale mallung - DONE
- Make the vegetable soup - DONE
- Set out the rest of the items needed for the almsgiving - DONE
- Rearrange the family room sofas to make room for the Christmas tree - DONE
- Have M set up the tree and bring in the boxes of decorations - DONE
- Decorate the tree
- Set up the winter village

The tree decorating and setting up the winter village will wait until Sunday. 

Saturday's To Do List:
- Bake apple dump cake
- Take out chair covers, table cloths, napkins, etc.; cover chairs, tables
- Pick flowers from the garden and arrange in vases
- Cut up fruits and arrange in saucers; cover
- Arrange a variety of sweets in saucers; cover
- Dish out yogurt into bowls; cover
- Pour palm treacle into sauce boat (to be served over yogurt)
- Dish out dump cake, cover
- Cook rice (2 types - white and red)
- Make salad
- Warm up curries; dish out into smaller serving dishes for serving to monks; bigger serving dishes for guests
- Serve up offerings to the Buddha and offerings for the Order of Monks
- Boil water and keep warm for those monks who prefer hot water
- Pour water and juice into glasses

10:30 a.m. - Everything should be done and ready

Friend R called and confirmed that she will come in the morning to help.  I'm hoping to have an early night, tonight, so I can wake up early, tomorrow morning!

How was your Friday?  What have you planned for the weekend?

Thursday's Accomplishments

On Thursday, I went to another store near my house and bought another space heater - a tower type, that is a little bigger than the one I bought on Wednesday.  Daughter is trying out the small one that I bought on Wednesday, in her room, tonight.  She'll try out the other one, tomorrow.  The tower heater might be good for the family room, as well.
Later in the afternoon, I went to the podiatrist appointment.  My appointment was at 3:15 p.m., but, there was a 30 minute wait and by the time I left the clinic, it was past 4:00 p.m.  On the way out, I stopped at the oncology clinic to pick up a copy of my lab report, as I had forgotten to do that on Monday.   There was already lots of traffic on the freeway and the drive home took almost one hour.  I decided to go to the grocery store, directly, before I went home, to buy a couple of items for the almsgiving (a dozen eggs for $1.49, two bags of frozen French style green beans for $1.00 each, another container of orange juice for $3.00), a can of roasted peanuts ($1.99) for myself, and a box of saltine crackers ($3.49) for  my daughter, just in case she needed it.  

After I came home, I ate a sandwich and had a cup of tea.  Then, I boiled the garbanzo beans I had put to soak, cooked some rice for dinner, and tidied the dining table, side table, and coffee table.  The side table was moved to the living room - it will be topped with the glass top from an old coffee table to make a second table for the monks.  I will take photos, tomorrow, once it is all set up.

Then, I picked up my daughter from the airport and we had dinner after we came home.  Daughter was happy to see that I had put out the Christmas table cloth and placemats on the family room table and a coordinating red/green plaid table runner on the coffee table, with the crocheted candle my mother had made.   

Today, I am grateful for:
- My daughter is home for the holidays!
- She had a good flight
- A good visit at the podiatrist's
- A safe drive to the clinic and back
- All what I was able to accomplish today

Thursday's To Do List:
- Clear the dining table - DONE
- Clear the family room coffee table and side table - DONE
- Remake daughter's bed with fresh sheets - DONE
- Boil the garbanzo beans - DONE
- Podiatrist's appointment - DONE
- Pick up daughter from the airport - DONE
- Clean out the fridge
- Clear the kitchen counters - DONE

I was too tired to clean out the fridge, today; will do that, tomorrow.

Friday's To Do List:

- Clean out the fridge
- Cook the green beans
- Saute the boiled garbanzo beans
- Put the cooked cashews and lentil curries to thaw
- Do the final grocery shopping
- Boil the eggs
- Fry the pappadum
- Set out the rest of the items needed for the almsgiving
- Rearrange the family room sofas to make room for the Christmas tree
- Have M set up the tree and bring in the boxes of decorations
- Decorate the tree
- Set up the winter village

How was your Thursday?  What are your plans for Friday?  Do you do anything special to celebrate the first day of Winter?

Thursday, December 20, 2018

More Shopping on Wednesday

I couldn't fall asleep on Tuesday night and it was 4:45 a.m. when I last checked the clock.  I was telling myself that if I was still up at 5:30 a.m., I would get up and have a cup of tea!  I guess I must have fallen asleep soon after that!  Then, I woke up at 10:00 a.m. and felt a bit tired.  So, I took it easy in the morning.

My daughter had felt well enough to go to the office and she put in a full day, but, she said she felt tired, afterwards.  Of course, she felt tired!

In the afternoon, I went shopping!  I went to several stores, but they were all located on the same road, with Store 1 and Store 2 sharing a parking lot and Store 3 and Store 4 sharing a parking lot, a couple of blocks from the other two stores.

At Store 1, I bought five blank journals with inspirational sayings on the covers for $4.00 each, to give as gifts.   At Store 2, I bought the space heater for my daughter's bedroom and a cat themed cushion and plush blanket set ($7.99) to give as a gift.  I also picked up a couple of mini jar candles for $.99 each, too, to tuck in with one of the gifts.  Store 3 was a dollar store.  I looked around but didn't find anything special to buy, other than two air fresheners for the two bathrooms.  Store 4 was an office supplies store - I bought a multi-pack of Scotch tape from there. 

The stores I went to are in my neighborhood and they were not at all crowded! I hope they get more customers over the weekend, because many stores in my neighborhood are closing due to lack of business.

By then, it was after 4:30 p.m. and I was getting tired.  So, I came home and watered the front garden before it got too dark.  Then, I had my tea, put away the laundry and dishes from Tuesday, washed today's dishes, cooked the chicken I had bought on Tuesday, and put the garbanzo beans to soak.  I didn't feel like sewing any table runners, so I think I will put that aside until after the almsgiving.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Daughter feeling better
- Getting a few more gifts purchased
- Another sunny, warm day
- Short checkout lines at the stores
- All that I was able to accomplish, today

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Water the front garden - DONE
- Finish up Christmas gifts - BOUGHT SOME
- Clear the dining table
- Clear the family room coffee table and side table
- Put garbanzo beans to soak - DONE
- Put away laundry - DONE
- Put away dishes - DONE
- Buy a heater for daughter's room - DONE
- Cook the chicken - DONE

Thursday's To Do List:
- Clear the dining table
- Clear the family room coffee table and side table
- Remake daughter's bed with fresh sheets
- Boil the garbanzo beans
- Podiatrist's appointment
- Pick up daughter from the airport

How was your Wednesday?  What are your plans for Thursday?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Tuesday's Accomplishments

Thank you, everyone, for your well wishes for my daughter.  She is feeling better.  She took today off work, too, and rested.  She said she slept most of the morning, but, felt well enough in the afternoon to go to the dollar store across the street from her apartment to buy Gatorade, some crackers, bananas, and applesauce.  She ate some applesauce, half a banana, and some crackers and drank the Gatorade without any problems.

I spent a quiet morning at home, going over my various lists and revising them!  I still have a lot to do and am running out of time in which to do it all!  

Later in the afternoon, I went to pick up my baking dish from my cousin.  She was out running errands, herself, but I had asked her to leave the dish out for me and she sent me a text showing me where she had kept it.  So, it was easy for me to go and get the dish.  After that, I went to a mall that was near her house to buy some bread from a favorite bakery and a box of chocolates.

Then, I went to the bank and to the Armenian store to buy some groceries, including a couple of items for the almsgiving.  I spent $11.33 and bought:

1 papaya @ $.69/lb = $1.81
4+lb. Granny Smith apples @ $.39/lb = $1.90
Bananas @$.33/lb = $.32
3 lb. chicken drumsticks @ $.49/lb = $1.51
2+lb. dried garbanzo beans @$1.29/lb = $3.12
1 lb. red lentils @$1.29/lb = $1.29
2 packets (@180 g) chocolate wafers @$.69 = $1.38
Total = $11.33

After I came home, I had some of the bread I had bought and a cup of tea.  Then, I did two loads of laundry, watered the houseplants, and washed the dishes.  Cousin P called and we chatted a bit.  Aunt C called, too; she said she will not be able to attend the almsgiving.  I understand her reasons, but, once again, I will be holding an almsgiving that none of my Buddhist family members will not be attending!  Later, I video chatted with my daughter.  She thinks she'll be well enough to go to the office, tomorrow; if not, she has the option of working from home.

Today, I am grateful for:
- My daughter is feeling better
- I'm feeling OK after Monday's injection (arm is a bit sore, though)
- What I was able to accomplish, today
- Conversations with my aunt and cousin
- Another sunny, warm day

I was able to get a lot of my To Do list done:

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Bring the trash cans in - DONE
- Water the front garden (it didn't rain in my area)
- Water the indoor plants - DONE
- Visit cousin to pick up my baking pan - DONE
- Go to the Armenian store to buy garbanzo beans - DONE
- Do laundry - DONE
- Do dishes - DONE
- Finish up Christmas gifts
- Go to the bank - DONE

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Water the front garden
- Finish up Christmas gifts
- Clear the dining table
- Clear the family room coffee table and side table
- Put garbanzo beans to soak
- Put away laundry
- Put away dishes
- Buy a heater for daughter's room

How was your Tuesday?  What are your plans for Wednesday?

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Doctor's Appointment on Monday

I called the oncologist's office, this morning, to confirm my appointment and to check that the insurance was OK.  The receptionist confirmed the appointment, but seemed unaware that there had been an issue with the insurance. 

My appointment was for 1:45 p.m., but I wasn't called in to see the nurse practitioner until 3:00 p.m.!  Even then, there was a slight wait until she was free to see me.  I received my first injection of the drug they are giving me for my osteoporosis; I will be receiving an injection of it every six months.  I read up on the possible side effects and I am hoping that I won't get any of them!  It was almost 4:00 p.m., when I left the clinic.  I went directly to the pharmacy to pick up another of my medications and then, stopped at the grocery store for a few items: bread ($1.25), 1/2 gal. milk ($1.99), coffee creamer ($1.77), 2 containers of orange juice ($1.77 each, for the almsgiving; there was a deal on the orange juice and coffee creamer - $1.77 each if you buy 3), a box of macaroni and cheese ($1.00), a 6-oz. container of blackberries ($.88), and a piece of beef steak ($4.84 @$4.99/lb).  I spent a total of $15.27. 

Came home and had took out the trash can, recycling bin, and yard waste bin to the curb for pick up in the morning, went across the street to say, "Hi" to neighbor S, had a cup of tea, and cooked the steak for my dinner (lunch had been a granola bar, eaten at the doctor's office while waiting!)

I've been checking on my daughter, throughout the day, today.  She called me at 4:30 a.m. this morning, saying she was having an upset stomach (diarrhea and throwing up!)  We didn't know if it was a stomach virus or something she ate, although everything she ate yesterday was what she had cooked earlier in the day.  She called in sick and took the day off from work, today, and slept on and off, most of the day.  I worried about her getting dehydrated, but she sipped on lemon-lime soda all day.  Much later, in the evening, she ate some rice, she said, and managed to keep it down.  She didn't have any plain bread or bananas or applesauce!   Although she did have apples (she went grocery shopping on Saturday) and I told her how to make applesauce.  She said she might make some, tomorrow.  I've asked her to take tomorrow off from work, too, so she could rest and fully recover.

Cousin V called me later in the evening; I will go over, tomorrow afternoon, to pick up my baking dish.  I have plenty of metal baking dishes, but this is the only large glass baking dish I have and I need it to make a dump cake for the almsgiving. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- Daughter has paid sick leave
- She is feeling a little better, now
- I was able to go to my doctor's appointment
- The medication I am receiving for the osteoporosis
- What I was able to accomplish today

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Bring the trash cans in
- Water the front garden (it didn't rain in my area)
- Water the indoor plants
- Visit cousin to pick up my baking pan
- Go to the Armenian store to buy garbanzo beans
- Do laundry
- Do dishes
- Finish up Christmas gifts

How was your Monday?  What are your plans for Tuesday?

Monday, December 17, 2018

Sunday's Accomplishments

Sunday morning, I wrote my blog post for the Pause in Advent series, as I paused in my almsgiving preparations.  I knew what I wanted to say, which was to do whatever one is doing in good faith, but, I never know just how much background information to provide to give the proper context for what I am saying.  I ended up deleting most of what I wrote and rewriting the post.  That took a little time.

While I was writing the post, I received a phone call from the chief monk at the temple.  He was calling to let me know that the monk with special dietary needs will not be attending the almsgiving, as he had just informed the chief monk of his intention to attend another event.  So, there will be no need to prepare special food for this one monk; the four monks who will be attending will be happy to have Sri Lankan rice and curries.  Although I was fine with preparing non-spicy food for the one monk, I was also happy to know that I didn't need to cater for him.  Because, last year, when he attended my almsgiving, the monks brought with them a container of grilled chicken for him and asked my friend to warm it up for him.  Both my friend and my cousin who were helping me with the almsgiving were shocked, as they know that I serve only vegetarian food at my almsgivings.  They both informed me about it, but I shrugged - it was something the monks brought with them for that particular monk, not something I had prepared.

I am not a vegetarian, so it might be that I am being hypocritical, but, I try to keep my almsgiving as a vegetarian meal.  I don't prepare any fish or meat to serve at the almsgiving, only eggs, because one of the older chief monks had assured me that it was OK to serve eggs since most commercially sold eggs here are unfertilized eggs.  I know that monks aren't specifically required to be vegetarian, and some of them eat fish and chicken, but, I prepare vegetarian meals for them and they are obliged to eat what is served to them.  My daughter was going to make a vegetarian pizza and some roasted vegetables to provide non-spicy alternatives and I was considering adding fried rice or noodles to the menu, but, not the chicken fried rice that had been suggested!  I had stressed over it and had discussed it with both my daughter and friend R and we had agreed that it was my almsgiving and I was free to serve what I pleased.  If I wanted it to be a vegetarian meal, then, that's what it should be.  I told them that, if my mother had been alive, she would have had something to say to the chief monk about it!  LOL!

So, when the chief monk called to say that the other monk will not be attending, and the special dietary needs became a non-issue, I felt relieved, and, I felt that maybe my mother's spirit had played a role in it!  It is something I intend to discuss with the monks.

Sunday afternoon, I did more almsgiving preparations.  I have a wheeled trolley table/cart I use as a side table in the family room:

Trolley Table
I bought this from a second hand store, years ago, for $42.  The drop leaves on either side extend out to make a square table, and the shelf below is a tray that can be lifted out.  Ideal for serving tea, I suppose.  During my almsgivings, I use it as an extension of the altar and place the offerings of food, flowers, incense, and candles on it (it will be covered with a small table cloth, first).

Then, I took down the plates, soup mugs, bowls used for handwashing, etc., that are used exclusively for the almsgiving (as per my mother's wishes) and washed them, in readiness for use. 

And I vacuumed the house, which was a major accomplishment! 

I didn't make the table runners I had planned to make, but that is OK.  I will get them done, this week.

Neighbor T called in the afternoon and we chatted for a bit.  Later in the evening, I called friend R and we had a long chat.   Still later, I video chatted with my daughter.

On Sunday, I was grateful for:
- The situation with the almsgiving menu resolving itself and becoming a non-issue
- All what I accomplished with the house cleaning and the almsgiving preparations
- A long chat with friend R
- Video chatting with my daughter
- Sunny, warm days

How was your Sunday?