Simple Heart And Mind


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Posted by Sandy on September 17, 2011 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (3)

September already, and it's cold outside.


I'm not ready for winter. The weather this year has just been too extreme for my liking, and I'm really hoping that winter this year will be mild. Last winter was so cold, so snowy, so long. Even for Minnesota. Spring was too short and summer was too wet, too dry, too hot, too humid. What a complainer I've become. I even needed to put the down comforter on the bed already as it's been so cold!


Time to accept things, though, and move ahead proactively. I guess I can say that with the cooler temperatures comes more energy. Hot and humid do not exactly inspire movement and productivity ... perhaps I will now be able to tackle a few projects hanging over my head (decluttering the basement and spare bedroom come to mind). There are photos to organize, things to knit, new skills to learn. Maybe a person just needs to stay focused on the things that are energizing instead of dwelling on the negatives, like I hate winter.


So, the down comforter felt wonderful last night. And I made a really good batch of chili the other day. I'm thinking that it might just be the recipe I've been searching for all this time. Time for another Bed and Breakfast get away? I think maybe. Things are going to be alright.


Posted by Sandy on August 30, 2011 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm finally getting around to learning how to play mandolin!


Years ago, and I mean many, I was watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood with Jake and they had a show on musical instruments. They had someone playing the mandolin and I was enchanted. I mentioned this to Bruce, and he being a guy who loves string instruments, went out and bought me one for my birthday. Well, time was tight in those days with three little kids, but I did give it a try and I have a vague memory of trying to teach myself the tune from Popeye (Sailor's Hornpipe). I think it actually sounded a little like it was supposed to, but then I got busy and forgot about my mandolin.


A few weekends ago, Bruce and I went to a local Bluegrass festival. It turned out to be really fun, and many of the people attending brought their own guitars and mandolins along to play with other folks doing the same. Besides the music, the people there were really nice, and the whole day felt so leisurely and relaxed. I loved it all. I thought, I want to learn how to play my mandolin.


I'm trying to learn some chords first. Mostly two fingered chords, but it's a start. My fingertips on my left hand were painful for a while, but they are starting to toughen up and it's getting easier. I'm finding though, that it does make a difference what key I play in if I want to sing along. It's kind of tricky to find that middle range, but so worth it. I'm thankful that Bruce knows these kind of things and is willing to help. Maybe I'll take some lessons at some point, but for now I just want to feel more comfortable in handling my mandolin. Sometimes I think it would be humbling to take music lessons again, but that's something I would just need to push through.


I guess an old lady like me could learn something new, don't you think?

Garden Update

Posted by Sandy on August 8, 2011 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

You know, I just don't have a green thumb.


I have been faithfully watering my potted plants on the patio, but sadly, they don't seem to be producing much. Two out of the five tomato plants do have some green tomatoes starting and that's something, I guess. The others are tall and that's about it. The three zucchini plants are definitely not looking good. They started out beautifully, but the base part of their stems have now shriveled up and there are no zucchinis in sight. The cilantro died. The basil might be edible soon.


My poor, pitiful sunflower has been eaten by the Japanese beetles and deer.


However, the Black Eyed Susan's actually came up this year, and I've been waiting patiently for them for years. And, even though it's already August, my rhubarb looked so luscious red and tempting that I picked a bunch and am making some rhubarb dessert as I write ...


I don't know if I'll attempt container gardening next year or not. The heat from this summer has worn me out, and maybe I just don't have the patience to deal with it all. I haven't spent much time in the flower garden this year, either. It can stand a good weeding. Maybe later this week? We'll see.


Ah, well. It's all been a good adventure. Maybe I'll feel better after a few red tomatoes.


Dog Days of Summer

Posted by Sandy on July 23, 2011 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)
We've had some steamy days lately. 

I prefer warm weather to cold, so I really shouldn't be complaining. But, the air conditioning in my car decided to die just before this heat streak began, and driving has not been fun. My drive to and from work is at least an hour, and when the temperature is 108 degrees in the car (even with both windows wide open) the entire time, I am kind of a wreck by the time I get to where I am going. Man, it is hot.

I didn't grow up with air conditioning, in the house or in the car. Nobody did then. And, we lived in Chicago, which was an even warmer state than Minnesota. I remember some very hot summers. We would play outside a lot of the day, but would occasionally come in and plop down on the floor in front of the single fan in the living room and have the hot air blow on our faces while we made noises into the fan. Does anyone else remember doing that? Or we went down into the basement to cool off. No TV down there, but it was nice and cool. Some nights were so warm I would get out of bed and lay on the wooden floor to cool down. I remember that feeling pretty nice.

We have central air in this house and I do appreciate that ...

And then with the steam comes the storms. This morning, a big branch blew onto our house. I thought I heard thunder, silly me. We were lucky, though. No roof damage except for the gutters, and it just missed Katie's bedroom window. Now we have to figure out how we will get it off the roof. 

Ah, well. It's warm, and I guess we do our best to get by. Soon it will be winter again and we'll be complaining about all the snow and how cold it is. Will we ever be satisfied? And, are we spoiled because we're used to having cool houses and cars? Maybe.


Posted by Sandy on July 11, 2011 at 8:56 AM Comments comments (0)
I haven't been updating my blog lately, and I apologise for that, but I think life just keeps getting in the way.

It's summer and even though every year I think that life will slow down because of that, it really doesn't. In fact, I think things speed up. More people are in the house, pretty much all day and late into the evening. I really don't mind, I kind of like all the energy and stimulation. (Of course there is a bit more work to do with extra bodies around, but that is not where I am going with this, lol.) 

I have a lot of ideas running through my head, of things to write about and of things I want to do. Some ideas I don't remember and some keep popping back into my head, so those are the ones that get done first. And it's already the middle of July! I think I need to tell myself that what's important will get done eventually and the rest might or might not, and that's okay. There is value in day to day living, even if it's not super productive.

So, at this moment, maybe I will make a commitment to blog at least weekly. Or, maybe not. I guess it depends on what is happening in life. I can be okay with that.

Enjoying This Season

Posted by Sandy on June 16, 2011 at 9:04 AM Comments comments (0)
Although I am glad the weather is finally nice, I'm referring to the season of life that I'm in at the moment.

The other day, I mentioned to my mom that I like the age I am right now. I think it's because I'm feeling more comfortable with who I've become and I feel like I'm worrying less about what others think about me. It's a good feeling to be able to look back over my life, and see how far I've come. And, it's a good feeling to be able to accept the things that have happened, scary things and all. Maybe acceptance is the key word here.

I do think that there are a couple of ways to age. A person can either get beaten down and not be able to see the progress they've made during their years of living or a person can look back over the years and say, I've done okay. Maybe things were not exactly as I planned, but I really did the best I could with what I had to work with. Life goes on anyway, and it's not helpful to beat yourself up over what can't be controlled. 

I'm also liking that I'm noticing little things more. More colors around me, more flowers to smell, different birds singing. It's all good. Maybe that's the result of emerging from a very long winter in Minnesota, I don't know, but it's all good.

Onward. I hope I can continue to feel this way.

Bed and Breakfast

Posted by Sandy on May 21, 2011 at 10:32 PM Comments comments (0)
I think it's been at least four years since I've been anywhere but work and home. I try not to complain, but I think that's kind of a long time.

I started to hear myself saying things like, I think I'm a person that might need to go south for the winter in retirement. Or, I think we should buy a hot tub and put it in our screen porch. Who cares if it takes up the entire porch. And, I wasn't saying these things to threaten or to try to pressure, it's just that it's been a really long time since I've gone anywhere. And it's the kind of thing that all of a sudden became a big deal, and I started to feel desperate inside.

Maybe it was scary talk for a husband to hear, because the idea of getting away to a bed and breakfast came up rather quickly. 

Luckily, I was able to take an extra day off from work and since we were already planning on driving up to Duluth to bring Katers home from college, it made sense to just go up a bit early and stay at a bed and breakfast. The room even had a jacuzzi tub of it's own. Bed and breakfasts have become quite fancy these days! And, in the end, although soaking in a jacuzzi tub felt pretty nice, I decided that maybe I didn't really need to have one of my own. A nice soak in a bathtub would probably be just fine, maybe be even more relaxing because it wouldn't have the noise of the whirlpool jets.

They had a little room on the first floor that reminded me of a closet, with a little fridge and lots of DVD's to borrow. There was a glass decanter of white wine, complete with glass stopper in the fridge for us to drink and for some reason, I really liked that. It was more charming than a bottle or box of wine and it made sense. More frugal, for sure, and it just worked. 

It was a nice, little time away and I'm always amazed at how little time I need to feel better about things. Come to think of it, and I'm not trying to be greedy in any way, it just might be nice to do this a couple times a year ... 

I've now decided to dedicate all the loose change we save for an official Bed and Breakfast Fund. You'd be surprised at how fast it adds up!

Just Enjoy A Challenge?

Posted by Sandy on May 16, 2011 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (0)
Do you ever have a moment when you wonder what the heck you were thinking?

The other day I found a Tupperware full of rice in the fridge (I won't say whose fridge, but it was not mine). At first glance the rice looked okay. Then I noticed how rotten it smelled, and emptied it into the garbage (and someone said, "That's been there as long as I can remember."). I started to scrub out the container, but the rotten smell remained. So, I threw a couple of Clorox wipes in there and put the lid back on to transport it home. I thought that should take care of the smell.

Lo and behold, it still smelled rotten when we got home. So I scrubbed it some more and threw it in the dishwasher. After the dishwasher wash cycle was done, I opened the door to check, and I think I still got a whiff of something rotten, although much less strong. So, I closed the door of the dishwasher to let the heated dry cycle do it's thing. It wasn't until the dry cycle was done that the smell was completely gone.

I was telling this story to a friend, and I then started to wonder about why I didn't just throw the container away with the rice. How much could that container have cost? Four or five of them for a couple of dollars? Is this the sort of thing most people would do? Then she said, think of it this way ... you enjoy a challenge. And you like to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Besides being a nice thing to say to a friend who is starting to think negatively about herself, there could be an element to truth to it. I like the sound of that reasoning.

I do enjoy a challenge and I do like to reduce, reuse, and recycle. 

And, I do really appreciate a supportive friend.

Catching Up With The Past

Posted by Sandy on April 30, 2011 at 10:06 AM Comments comments (0)
It's been 31 years for me since graduation from nursing school and I can't believe how old I must be getting. 

And today is the annual lunch gathering for nurses and friends of Lutheran Deaconess Hospital, and I am going! It will be a chance to see old faces and relive sweet memories of all those years. Lutheran Deaconess was special, and I'm still proud that I had the chance to be a part of that history. It was just a little place in a very needy part of the city, but for the people who worked there and the patients who stayed there, it was sort of like a second home.

So, we'll talk a bit and reminisce about the old days. We'll eat a little lunch, probably some kind of chicken with rice and vegetables and drink some coffee with our dessert. And we'll sing a few hymns and share stories about living in the dorms and the kind of trouble we tried to get into for entertainment. There will be lots of really old nurses there and I'll think how cool it is that they go to this luncheon every year. I'm excited!

I know you can never really go back to the old days, but it's nice to remember.

Little People With Big Hearts

Posted by Sandy on April 16, 2011 at 8:46 AM Comments comments (1)
Did you know that Saint Theresa is known as the Saint of the Little Ways, meaning she believed in doing the little things in life well and with great love?

I really believe in this as a way to be living life. I think we can make a big difference just by being our little selves, but having big hearts. 

Somebody sent me this prayer, and I thought I would share it ...

St. Theresa's Prayer
May today there be peace within. 
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. 
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. 
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. 
May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. 
It is there for each and every one of us.

I wish you all Peace and Purpose today.