Saturday, January 30, 2010

I Should Stop Listening

I go to antique stores quite frequently and generally I just look, but sometimes I will be walking by and something yells, "Hey, you! Over here!". I'm going to have to start ducking and running the opposite direction when I hear that call.

Today brother David and sis-in-law Karen and I went on a tour of Bastrop and Lee Counties. We started off by loading up a pickup full of furniture and assorted junk that I had dug out of the closets and garage and dropping it off at the thrift store. The available space in my bedroom almost doubled. All that junk had been accumulating in the far corner for weeks now and it's ALL GONE! Someone else will now have the opportunity to rescue the faux French provincial bedroom furniture that we acquired back in the early 1960s. Lord, bless them. I enjoyed it as long as I could stand. I love looking down in the end of the bedroom and seeing all that lovely space.

After that chore was completed, we went on to Smithville and wandered through all the little antique shops that line Main Street. I visit these stores at least quarterly and seldom find much to tempt me to open my checkbook. But today was one of those times when I kept hearing that tiny little voice from the corner of the store. "Hey! Over here! Yes, you!"

At the first store we visited, I found a first edition of an H. Allen Smith book I didn't have. H. Allen Smith was a humorist who was hot in the 1950s through the early 1970s. Mother was a big fan of his writing and introduced both David and me to his sharp wit. Over the years she built a collection of his books and I added to it on several birthdays and Christmases. There aren't that many of his books that are not to be found on a shelf in my bedroom bookcase, so I was greatly surprised to find one of the missing today. I figured that would be my one find for the day's outing.

Across the street in a store I've never found anything of interest in before, I heard that little voice again. This time it came from a top shelf. I glanced up and there sat a complete 6 volume set of the Golden Book Illustrated Dictionary. You may remember that a few months back I found a complete set of the Golden Book Atlas in an Alvin antique mall. I purchased it as a companion to the complete set of the Golden Book Illustrated Encyclopedias that I found in the Elgin Antique Mall a couple of years ago. I had owned a set of the encyclopedias when they were first issued in 1959, my parents having purchased a volume at a time in a grocery store promotion. I had read my set to tatters and was delighted to replace it. I didn't even know the atlas or dictionary existed at that point.

I bet I am the only one you know who now owns all three sets of these books. (Thanks to Google, I just discovered there is at least one other set out there left for me to acquire - a Golden Book History of America series.) At the same store, when I went to the counter to make my purchase, I heard a faint little whisper from the counter under the cash register and there sat a terrific little Japanese vase that also came home with me and will find a home in my miniature oriental room.

I had no expectation that there would be anything to find in the antiques store on the corner because they seldom have anything in my price range. And, in fact, I did not find anything but a slightly interesting oak buffet that refused to say anything to me. I was almost through the door when the little voice said "Hey, over here!" There, sitting in a little alcove, was a piece of golden oak furniture that I could not at first identify. So instead of running through the door like I should have done, I went over to get a better look.

The culprit was a pretty little sewing stand. I was hooked almost immediately, although it took me another 15 minutes strolling through the next store before I made up my mind and went back for it. It will be perfect as an end table in my living room and will also provide another nice storage place for my good yarn stash. (As opposed to the plastic bins in the garage that hold my mediocre yarn stash.)

The little sewing stand came with its contents, a motley assortment of yarns and needles and pins and patterns. I carefully, to avoid needle sticks, removed everything and learned that the previous owner did embroidery. In addition to the handful of threaded tapestry needles, I found little balls of yarn in about 20-30 different colors, a handful of embroidery floss, 4 pillow covers stamped for embroidery and in untouched condition, 2 books of embroidery stitch guides, and a card of buttons. I had a vision of some little old lady who enjoyed crewel work as she watched television in the evening and whose family, when she died, sold her sewing stand as it sat. It needed a good home and it knew a sucker when she passed by.

I was not the only one making good finds today. Karen and David took home a back seat full, because there were little voices yelling at them right and left, too. It was a good day for antiquing.

Then we headed on to Lincoln and ate at the Elm Creek Cafe. I indulged in a big chicken fried steak and David and I split a piece of dewberry pie.

It may have been a little cold today, but we had a good time poking in the corners of the little shops, talking to the proprietors, and figuring out how to fit everything in the small backseat of David's pickup for the ride home. Sometimes you just need to go on a ramble and listen to the little voices.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Musical Memories

I'm sure everyone has experienced a sudden flashback when a particular song from your past pops up on the radio. Smells, too, can take you back to a point in your history, but music is a more common source of time travel for me.

I have been listening to a new album by Rosanne Cash called The List which are her covers of a list given her by her father Johnny of essential country music songs. It is a very well done album and well worth a listen. Nothing like good old-fashioned country music to take you back.

Thinking about Johnny Cash got me thinking about a song of his that will forever transport me to middle-Tennessee in the summer of 1969. A Boy Named Sue was hot on the charts as we took our annual road trip, visiting various Civil War historic sites and headed for the Great Smoky Mountains as our target destination. I never ever hear that song without flashing on a little motel somewhere in Tennessee where we stopped for the night very soon after hearing that song play on the radio.

This past week in a used book store I ran across a piece of sheet music that I purchased because it rang one of those distant memory bells the instant I saw it. When I was in 4th grade or maybe 5th grade, it came time for the annual piano recital and my teacher got the brilliant notion that some of us should sing as a break in the midst of all the tedious piano pieces. I don't sing. That is, I don't sing alone. I have a thready soprano that is supported by lungs scarred by childhood asthma. I have no volume and very little breath control. Nevertheless, it was decided that 3 of us girls in our grade would sing as a trio and each of us would have a line or two to sing as a solo. That was bad enough, but the song she chose for us was Red Roses for a Blue Lady which sounds completely weird coming from 3 pre-pubescent girls. We sang and our bored parents politely clapped, but I have hated that song ever since. Why, you may ask, did I feel compelled to buy the sheet music these many years later? I have no idea. Childhood trauma causes unpredictable actions in later life.

It was a year or two later that the same piano teacher got the idea that we should all get a song of our own to sing as a solo. My assigned song was Edelweiss, a sweet little song and very moving when Christopher Plummer sang it in Sound of Music, but it suffered greatly under my rendition. I can still remember the hot spring night, standing on the auditorium stage, my thin little voice reaching about 5 inches past the microphone, and being very relieved when it was all over. My teacher went to Europe that summer and brought me a little package of dried edelweiss as a remembrance of my connection to that song and which I still have. Thankfully that was the last year I had to sing anything solo. I think she finally realized that I had not inherited my father's vocal talent and gave up on my potential singing career.

Two songs forever connect me to the two years I played basketball, another activity for which I had absolutely no talent whatsoever, but I did try. One Saturday we traveled to some spot close to San Antonio to participate in a tournament. We got drummed out of that pretty fast and on the way home we stopped for hamburgers at some little joint that had a jukebox. 96 Tears by ? and the Mysterians and 98.6 by Keith got repeated play and every time I hear them now, I flash back to that little hamburger joint somewhere between San Antonio and home and I'm eating a greasy hamburger with a bunch of giggly teenaged girls.

El Paso by Marty Robbins takes me back to two places - the parsonage at Oak Hill and the little rental house where we lived in Victoria. We got our stereo while we lived in Oak Hill and one of the first records Daddy bought through the Columbia Record Club was More Greatest Hits by Marty Robbins. I loved Marty Robbins and I played that record a lot. When we were in Victoria, as I described in a previous post we did a lot of dressing up and play acting and I can remember acting out the story of El Paso as I listened to the record. I don't remember very much at all about that house, but I can remember the front room where the stereo lived and the green braided rug under my feet as I danced and sang along with Marty. Marty Robbins records taught me a lot about harmony. Dancing, not so much.

A George Strait song, All My Exes Live in Texas, will always remind me of Colorado. It was very popular one year when we headed out on our annual camping trip to Gunnison and it must have played at least once an hour every time we had the radio on. That's a long drive and by the time we got home, I did not think it was as great a song as I had thought on the way out of Texas. But I still like it and I still think about that drive to Colorado every time I hear it.

Another song that always brings Colorado to mind is Patty Loveless' I Try to Think About Elvis. The last time I went to Colorado, I drove by myself and spent two weeks wandering about Colorado on my own, just me and my dog Bebop. That was the popular song that summer. It always brings to mind me driving along that long stretch from Lubbock to Clayton, New Mexico, Bebop sleeping peacefully on a pillow beside me. That trip proved to me that I could travel by myself and get along just fine. I'm not sure I would try doing that again - oh, sure I would - but somehow I don't think Mojo or Coco would be such great traveling companions. Bebop had a great time. That trip is one of my fondest memories of him.

I always enjoy the little unexpected trips down musical memory lane when a song from my past is suddenly dredged up out of nowhere. Satellite radio gives you a lot more of these opportunities with their stations devoted to classic country and early rock and roll. Recently I tuned to the classic country station on my cable tv and realized that I was singing non-stop all morning as one memory after another rolled out of their archives. Today's country music just isn't the same as listening to Patsy, Hank, Marty, Johnny and Loretta.

Good music and good memories. Except for that Red Roses for a Blue Lady episode.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Knitting Report

It takes me awhile, but I do get some of my knitting projects completed now and again. This past week I completed a prayer shawl that I started sometime last year. I wanted a project on hand that didn't have a very complicated pattern so that I would have something I could take along on road trips or anywhere else I might be confined for awhile without internet access. I had not made much progress on it and when I picked it up a couple of weeks ago, I was only 1-1/2 skeins into a 5 skein project.

It was what I decided to take with me to the hospice center where I sat with my mother during her last illness. I would knit and chatter to her and knit and watch tv and knit and sit in the quiet stillness. Over the course of a week I had the shawl about 3/4 completed. There is nothing like knitting a nice long stretch of uncomplicated pattern to keep your nerves calm and your spirit peaceful under stress.

I didn't touch the shawl for a couple of weeks, but I decided this past week it should be completed without delay, partly as a memorial for my mother. Everytime I wear this shawl, I will associate it with her.

It's a little bit hard to see here, but the pattern is a wide 5x5 stitch rib, which creates a textured stripe effect. The pattern came from a book of prayer shawl patterns. If you have not heard of the prayer shawl ministry, there are scores of knitters out there who knit shawls that are blessed by ministers and priests and then distributed to people in physical or spiritual pain. It is a lovely idea and many terminal patients or grieving relatives have been given a prayer shawl to provide comfort during trying times. I didn't expect that I would be knitting my own prayer shawl during a very trying time.

It occurred to me while I was setting up to photograph the shawl that I never posted a photo of the second Noro silk scarf that I knitted last year. It is an incredibly easy pattern and the yarn does all the work. The first scarf was in earth tones. I decided the second scarf would be as far away from the first palette as possible, so I chose yarn with an abundance of purple and blue. I love these scarves and I love the rhythm of the pattern. I may just have to start another one.

Next up, I am looking for a pretty scarf pattern for my newly acquired silk yarn. I am currently paging through patterns and looking for inspiration.

I see this calling for a lace pattern and knitted lace is never easy. This one may take me awhile. And I won't be taking it with me on road trips.

Did I tell you the story about the last intricate pattern I started and made the big mistake of taking with me to work on while a co-worker drove us to a meeting in Dallas? I had started an afghan with a lovely tree of life pattern and had worked enough of the pattern to feel like I could risk working on it while riding along in the back seat. Everything was going great until just before we hit Dallas and my circular needle unexpectedly broke. The 5 inches of completed afghan (thank God it wasn't any more than that) quickly laddered and I am not experienced enough to be able to recover that kind of disaster. Straight knitting I might have been able to recover, but this pattern was a very involved cable this way, cable that way pattern and there was no way. Someday I have to go back and restart that project, but not yet.

My hobbies have a way of taking turns. Sometime I feel like genealogy, sometimes I feel like working in miniatures and sometimes I feel like knitting. Lately it is knitting that is speaking to my soul.

But, I was up in the dollhouse room earlier this week and I found my fingers getting itchy to start a new roombox. I think it won't be long now before the dollhouse muse comes back into my life.

Until then, k1, p1, ssk, psso....


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Playing Dress Up

Last Sunday afternoon I had the opportunity for a little bit of dress up. When I was a kid, playing dress up was one of my favorite activities and there is still a wee bit of the kid in me. I still love to dress in costume on those rare occasions it is permissible - Halloween, theme parties and the like.

Growing up, I would prowl the furthest recesses of my mother's closet to put together my costumes for play acting. She had a lot of full skirts that worked well for "evening" wear or a queen's regalia. I can remember one dress in particular, a pale green dress of what was probably rayon, and it made me feel elegant to wear it. Most of the time I played alone, but during the brief year we lived in Victoria, the kids in my neighborhood would periodically put together little stage shows in someone's back yard. Out would come the costumes and we staged our own little variety show with skits, songs and comedy acts.

When I was invited to attend the annual Confederate Heroes Day at the historic Bastrop Opera House, I knew there would be ladies present dressed in hoop skirts and bonnets. Time was too short to do a proper job of assembling a costume, but I quickly put together an acceptable imitation of a Civil War era outfit. The local thrift store provided a tiered, red skirt. A sales rack at Beall's provided a blouse with ruffled collar and cuffs. I had jewelry that would fit in, a small evening bag for a purse, and best of all a shawl I had crocheted years ago and in colors that complemented the skirt. I did a passable job of fitting into the background for the day.

I have fallen in love with the Opera House. When Lana and I were scouting Bastrop for a location for the upcoming event, one of the folks at the Visitors Center suggested it as a suitable site. We checked it out and she decided it was exactly what she was looking for. I had known there were theatrical productions staged there on a regular basis, but I had never attended one. Since then, the two of us have gone to two of their productions and I certainly intend to see more.

On this day, however, the old building welcomed a group of historians and genealogists who came to honor the sacrifices made by their ancestors in service to the South during the Civil War. The memorial event was hosted by the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans posted the colors (flags), a true daughter of a Confederate Veteran gave the invocation and benedictory prayers (she's a spry 90-something), a history of the Opera House was given by the current director of the facility, a local historian sketched the lives of two prominent local Confederate soldiers, Civil War era music was provided, and a tribute poem was read by a member of the Children of the Confederacy. It was an afternoon full of history and was especially moving to those of us who have studied our ancestry and know which of our family lines suffered losses of life and property during the hostilities.

All attendees were given the opportunity to recognize ancestors who fought for the Confederacy. Many of us noted that we had many we could name. When it came my turn, I chose to recognize the ancestor who fought from Bastrop County. Great-great grandfather Gabriel Moore Lentz served with the "Bastrop County Rawhides" in Co. D, 12th Texas Cavalry. He was lucky. He came back and lived out his life in Bastrop County.

There were many of my ancestral relatives who did not fare so well.

Great-great grandfather Joseph Sheppard Mobley and his brother Hezekiah Madison Mobley served the Confederacy out of Georgia. The two of them survived the war, but three of their brothers - Stephen, Andrew and William - perished. Joseph and Hezekiah left their Georgia home and moved to Texas.

Joseph's wife Mary Caroline Morgan lost her first husband, George Washington Sewell, in the Battle of Atlanta. Mary's and George's only child, a daughter, died in infancy and I have often wondered if her birth might have been premature and brought on by the stress Mary suffered. Mary Caroline lost not only a husband and daughter, but also two brothers - James and Richard Morgan.

Great-great-grandfather Albert McAfee is said to have served as a teamster with the Pointe Coupee Artillery out of Louisiana. I know Albert lost his father in the early days of the war. Jacob McAfee served the Union Army out of Livingston County, Missouri, and died of measles.

Great-great-great-grandfather George Washington Huddleston served both sides. He first enlisted with the Confederacy in Arkansas, was ultimately captured and confined as a prisoner of war. He opted then to join the Union Army, but I don't think his heart was in it. He ended up being court martialed for insubordination.

Great-great-great-grandfather William Frankum and his son William served the Confederacy out of Tennessee. Both survived the war, but the family stories say that they both died shortly afterward from wounds received.

There are those who look askance at present day recognition of our Confederate Heroes, but I think one has to look past the continual harping about the battle flag and the obvious slavery issues. We can't relate to how it felt to live in Georgia and have your home threatened, not to mention suffering Sherman's fiery march to the sea. We do watch our young men go off to war, but we can't relate to being defenseless women at home dealing with hordes of soldiers over-running your farm and taking anything they felt like taking. We may know the pain of losing a family member to battle, but how many of us have lost multiple brothers, cousins, friends, a husband, an uncle, a father - and some lost all of these - within a few months. It must have been hell on earth. I can't imagine what strength it took to live through such horrendous loss.

I honor the memory of every one of those courageous people who lived through the nightmare of the Civil War and found a way to keep going. They were all heroes.

Setting up before the event

My friends, Gary and Lana Henley

Me, with Lana, sitting on a Victorian settee in the Opera House lobby


Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I feel a little bit like I'm floating in the ozone these days, like a kite that has slipped loose from the little boy on the ground who is watching it sail away.

Most of you that read this blog know by now that my mother passed away in the first week of 2010. It was sudden, but not unexpected. She had been ill for a very long time and the last year had brought a steady decline that had forced us to relocate her to a nursing center. She required more care than we were able to provide at home.

Adjustments were required all around. I was only recently getting used to the idea that I could impulsively stop somewhere on the way home from work and that it was no longer necessary to schedule a sitter when a special event came along. Before the move, my lunch hours were the spots in my schedule where I ran errands and made brief shopping trips and took care of my personal needs. After the move, I could run errands after my work day was over, so lunch hours became the time I would drop by the nursing home to sit with Mother while she ate.

Now we have passed into another period of adjustment. There is the shock of loss, the sense of having lost your reference point, the whiplash of exhaustion following a period of stress. And there are the little odd things that suddenly pull you up short.

Like this afternoon when I made a brief stop at a crafts store that was next door to the Petsmart where I stopped to pick up a fresh supply of dog treats. I found myself strolling down the aisle where they stock artificial flower arrangements and thinking that the red geraniums would be a bright touch at Mother's bedside. A mental shake as I realized that I would not be changing out the bedside flowers any longer. Five minutes later I was reaching into the bin of soft sleep socks and pulling back my hand when I realized I no longer needed to replace her worn out socks.

A similar mental jolt occurred over the weekend when I stopped at Beall's to look for a blouse to wear at an event on Sunday (more on that in a later post). I had automatically drifted around to the loungewear to check for cotton gowns. It had become a habit to keep an eye out for cotton gowns and for bright patio dresses that Mother might enjoy wearing. When I stood at the rack, I realized there was no longer a reason for me to be there. It felt weird.

So begins a time of transition as I recalibrate my life. When I stepped outside the office this afternoon and looked up at the sky, I felt an immediate emotional response to the rolls of fluffy clouds that stretched to the horizon.



Friday, January 08, 2010


The annual week of intense cold has hit Central Texas. It has not been much above freezing for two days and due to get even colder over the next couple of days.

We are staying in and trying to keep warm. Everywhere I look there is a dog or cat snoozing in a nest of blankets.

(Geez, Mom, go away!)





I think they may have the right idea. Think I'll go look for a blankie of my own.


Sunday, January 03, 2010


A certain little Coco dog did a double take while out on her walkie today. She stopped to sniff what she thought was a leaf on the street and it moved. It turned out to be a leaf-colored moth. She was a bit nonplussed.

Mojo said that's what she gets for sticking her nose into everything. He thinks she's a regular busybody. She thinks he's a stick in the mud and no fun at all.

They both agree that it's too cold to be walking barefoot outside.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Sigh of Relief

As I get older, I get more liable to dismiss trivial details from my mind and sometimes I can't remember where I set the coffee cup I had in my hand just a minute ago. My mind is filled with lots more important details - for instance the ongoing rumination about where in the heck my ancestor Henry Hodge might have married his third and last wife. Where I set my coffee cup is immaterial - until I look down and it's not in my hand and I have no memory of where it might be. I know I just had it...where have I been lately?

Because my work demands that I be able to answer quickly and precisely what I've done with such and such project, I've developed little tricks to protect this occasional unpredictable memory hiccup. I have schooled myself to do the exact same process, file the exact same way in the exact same place, put materials back in the exact place they always reside. That way when I have a sudden fracture of memory about what I did yesterday, I can answer with confidence what happened. I always do that particular thing that particular way. 99% of the time it works just fine.

But then there is that 1%.

I have been buried in a mountain of paper for the last dozen years. Not only do I have an enormous amount of paper of my own to ride herd on (and this doesn't even include the piles and piles of paper I have amassed in my genealogical endeavors which is threatening to topple over and smother me), I have been the administrator of my mother's financial and medical records for this period. To be honest, anyone who looked at my filing system would think I have a bad organization problem, but I generally know where to find what I need when I need it. That's because I have that policy to always follow my established routines.

So earlier this week when I went to the place I always keep her insurance cards and they weren't there - well, to put it bluntly, I flipped out. I checked the alternate places I keep them when I'm traveling and I leave them behind in case they are needed while I'm gone. They weren't there. I began to systematically tear the house apart looking for them.

Since I've been involved in the massive declutter project as described in the previous post, things are topsy turvy around here to say the least. I came to the conclusion that I had absent-mindedly tossed them into a box of "to be filed". I dragged out all the boxes that had paperwork in them and that had been temporarily relocated to await a new permanent home. Not there.

I nearly ripped the lining out of my briefcase, thinking they might have slipped through a gap. Not there. My purse got the first thorough cleaning in months with the hope that I might have tucked them in an odd pocket. Not there.

I knew they had to be in the house somewhere. This morning I started over from the top, re-checking all the logical places they might be. Then I proceeded to the illogical places where I sometimes stick something when I'm in a hurry, intending to return and deal with the item properly when I get back home. Then I proceeded to the completely inane places they might be. No luck.

And then I had one of those faint glimmers of memory suddenly come alive in the back of my mind. I remembered that I had taken a recent trip, after all the decluttering had started, and my usual place to put important documents while traveling was no longer where it was supposed to be when I had departed. I had decided to tuck the little pouch containing her insurance cards into a spot in my genealogy filing cabinet, intending to retrieve them as soon as I returned and before I forgot what I had done.

And then I forgot.

There was a huge sigh of relief when I opened that file drawer and found the little pouch nestling cozily against my DAR file.

I am just going to have to start paying attention. Has anybody seen my coffee cup?


Friday, January 01, 2010

Welcome 2010

I did not see the New Year in last night. I was exhausted and at 8:30 decided it was time to get myself to bed and let the New Year arrive without my help. Me and my little furry kids piled into bed, set the television to NCIS reruns that I had seen a dozen times and would not engage my brain, set the auto shut off on the television and we were asleep within minutes. Nobody moved for about 9 hours, which is remarkable. No cat spats, no doggy runs for a milk bone to sleep with, no bathroom trips. Just sleep.

Not a bad way to start the year. I don't sleep well any more, which seems to be a normal thing for folks my age, if the folks I work with are any gauge. I've learned to enjoy those rare nights where I reacquaint myself with a good night's sleep.

So, here we are in the new year. Year 2009 was full of both good and bad. What I may remember it best for, however, is as the Year of Clutter. I have been in the process of de-cluttering house and garage and storage shed for what seems like the entire year and the process is still in progress. It was a year spent in sifting and shifting and sorting and piling and tossing and trying to retrain myself to bring nothing in unless something went out. I wasn't entirely successful with that last part, but I'm getting better.

Year 2009 saw the dramatic arrival of Dixie to the household. I haven't yet decided if that is in the plus or minus column, but there is no denying that she has had a big effect on our lives. She is a ball of energy, but she is also a ball of purring love when the mood strikes her. She's given us a lot of laughs, which was something we needed to get us through the drudgery of digging through closets and boxes. She's developing into a beautiful cat and she has recently taken to tucking herself in next to me after I get to sleep, creating a pleasant warmth at my back. I guess I will admit that Dixie coming on board has been a good thing.

On the down side, it seemed to be a year of continuing exhaustion. It seemed like there was always work to be done, errands to be run, a growing to-do list and very little time left for recreation. My genealogy endeavors were, for the most part, shifted to the back burner and my dollhouse work and knitting were taken off the stove altogether. Thanks to audio books and a long commute, I still got a lot of "reading" done, but the stack of unread magazines and books has grown to a discouraging height, creating another pile of clutter that isn't going anywhere until I can devote some time to sitting in a chair and enjoying them properly rather than losing track of the story to the constant refrain running in my mind of things that aren't getting done because I'm sitting and reading.

In lieu of the mental focus necessary to make genealogy breakthroughs, I opted to look into using the material I already had to join the Daughters of the American Revolution and was successful into becoming a member in October. I began to concentrate in building up my personal research library and have acquired some long sought local histories. I made the acquaintance of several local historians and returned to attending the meetings of local historical groups.

While nothing was done to create new dollhouses or vignettes, I did attend the May miniatures show in Dallas, enjoying the work of others and acquiring a few pieces to enhance my already completed dollhouses.

While my sole achievement in knitting was to complete a scarf begun the previous year, I did locate my stash of luxury yarns during the decluttering and figured out a way to put them on display and I continued to keep up with the exploits of The Yarn Harlot via her blog, at least enjoying the craft vicariously through her.

While my to-do list of home repairs and upgrades continues to grow at a frightening rate, I did get the garage door and garage door opener replaced, the plumbing repairs done and the storage shed pretty much purged of unnecessary junk. I've dropped several loads at the thrift store and managed not to bring in any more furniture or junk from other folks' houses. I've even begun to find corners to put items that have been in storage since THE MOVE.

I met some far-flung cousins through the Internet. I joined Facebook and have come to love and appreciate in a new way my not-so-far-flung cousins that I had previously not had much contact with outside of holiday gatherings. I also discovered Facebook's time-wasting games, which is the down side, but I'm working on cutting my addiction there. I'm making progress. Really.

Another victim of my lack of mental focus has been my blogs. I have three resolutions as I begin this new year. One is to get back on my maintenance diet and shed the 10 pounds I've acquired in recent months from stress eating. The second is to get back to my organization project for the family history notebooks (all scribbled notes and sticky notes to be entered on the computer and all loose papers to be inserted in their proper place - secondarily to get back to transcribing all the new material that has been collecting on the corner of the desk).

The last resolution is to get back to the blogs. Woolgathering was started so that I could look back and remember what had happened in the previous year. Building Blocks was started so that I could have a separate venue for sharing family history and stories. Both have been sadly neglected, having fallen victim to my lack of mental focus that resulted from all the time that was spent hauling stuff out of the backs of closets.

That is going to change. I'm going to get back to the chronicles of my life and the lives of my ancestors. Starting today.

Here's to 2010! Happy New Year!