Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

End of the Blogging Season of My Life

My first blog was called 'Seasons of Violet'. The intent was to write about the different seasons of my life as they happened, like an online diary.

Then I discovered knitting blogs and started 'Stitches of Violet'. It was wonderful. I 'met' so many like minded, friendly people and enjoyed almost a decade of posting about knitting, dogs, granddaughters, and birds.

Now I have moved into a new 'Season'. There is little time for knitting, all my dogs are waiting at the Rainbow Bridge, one granddaughter is now an adult, and the birds I enjoyed are left behind for someone else to feed in Paw Paw/Almena, Michigan.

This is a happy, busy season with my new husband. We have places to go, things to do while we're still able and I have no desire to blog them.

The blogging 'Season' of my life is over.

Blessings to everyone who reads this.

Marguerite Hammond

Saturday, August 01, 2015

An Experiment

As the days go by without writing a blog post, I find myself writing blog posts in my head. I am too busy, which then results in being too tired, to sit at my laptop and do the writing.

This is being written on my phone. It's an experiment to find out if I can write blog thoughts on my phone and edit them later  and add pictures before publishing.

What kind of picture goes in a post about writing a post?

How about a picture of Jay, my husband?  Because sometimes I act like a teenager in love.

The above picture was loaded in from my phone. Even thought it's a small picture, Blogger has it looking huge. I am not sure how to deal with this.

Now I'm on my laptop finishing up this experiment, and will add another picture just to make sure it can be done.
That worked much better.

Nest step: Google ways to add pictures with my phone after looking to see if the picture of Jay's head looks better after I publish. I have no reason to think it will even though he's not at fault.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Empty Boxes

This past week we worked in the basement. Jay did even more than I did. I don't know how he's still standing, because I have crashed and burned.

But how many people can say they have put away everything in their basement? I know that I have never been able to say that before.

The picture below is the lineup of EMPTY boxes and containers that we decided to keep.

These are the boxes that are going to get cut up and recycled.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

We've been Living Together 8 Months

Last Tuesday we put together an assemble-it-yourself TV table for our cacti. We put it together backward, inside out, and with great patience and determination as it flopped all over and pieces didn't fit right.

I admit by mid afternoon I would have happily carried it out to the trash, but Jay insisted he was having fun so we kept dissembling and reassembling until it was functional. We did eventually throw out three major pieces that we're never going to miss.

The cacti are happy, Jay's happy, and I'm happy that Tuesday is over.

While we were making a mess of the cacti table, the UPS man brought the next day's project - a tall cabinet for the deck.

This had way better instructions and went together much quicker. We got the entire project done right the first time.

The sorting and organizing continues.

Jay is working on tools now. It appears we have a few. This picture only includes tools from the main level. There's a workroom in the basement that also has a few tools to be sorted.

I didn't bother moving any of my tools from my previous house. That means we can leave out all the discussions about whose to keep and whose to give away.

For the record, this table of tool stuff was empty in half a day. We're getting very good at sorting and culling.

Last winter during the months I wasn't blogging, we got shades for our condo. After several false starts with businesses that didn't respond, we went through Costco. (What kind of business that sells window coverings wouldn't be happy to outfit a new condo for non-cranky customers?)

Costco sent us to a large showroom that has been in business thirty-five years, had an excellent selection, and was a pleasure to do business with. They educated us, answered all our questions, helped us select the right thing, came to the condo and measured, and installed the entire condo in two hours. Plus we got a great Costco discount.

Last week we got notified that the furniture we bought in Arcola, Illinois from Countryside Amish Furniture has been built and only needs 7 to 21 days for the finish to cure and the odor to dissipate before delivering.

This is very exciting and delivery will be a huge step in making our condo into our home.

The picture below is my current dresser. It ranks a D = better than nothing.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Test Picture Post

My previous program for reducing the size of pictures to make them blog worthy does not work on Windows 8.1.

Fortunately the updated Canon software I use to edit my photos will reduce their size. Just needed time to play around with it a while and this post is hopefully the proof that I finally got it right.

As always, readers can double click on blog photos to see more detail.

Windows 8.1 and I are slowly becoming friends. It's different, for sure. The learning curve has been a time suck, and so have many other things I'm/we're working on getting done.

My new laptop is much faster and the display screen much sharper, so I can make and correct mistakes quicker. That's nice. The new laptop and I are friends and almost in love.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Laptop Learning Curve

A little over a week ago my step-son Jeff arrived with a new laptop for me.

It was not a surprise. It was purchased with my approval and my money. I so appreciate that he went shopping for me, because he knows what he's doing in a computer store and I don't.

He helped me with the initial set-up, did all the file transfers, and installed some of the software that I use. I probably could have done this, but he did it much faster and with 100% less muttering and groaning.

Thank you, Jeff!!

I now have a touchscreen, Windows 8.1, and a new version of photo managing software. They are all requiring a learning curve when I'm not distracted by personalizing the laptop so I am functional and happy. It's like getting a new puppy - one forgets how much time this takes.

Also, I need to mention that I have a new car, a new house, and a new marriage which all require a learning curve.

It's all good, especially the new marriage. I wouldn't give any of it back. I am so glad to be retired so I have time for all this learning.

Why am I writing this?
  • A diary for me of this time period.
  • An excuse for not blogging.
  • A declaration that I will be blogging again when I get done figuring out how to do it Windows 8.1 style.
P.S. I just spent over an hour trying to add a picture to this blog post. There will be no picture today.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Snapshot of My Life on May 30, 2015

Weather in SW Michigan ...
It's a nice, rainy late spring day. Temperature in the low seventies.

Tuesday we bought our contribution to the exterior of the condo, two hanging baskets. The rest is and will be maintained by landscapers. I'm still getting used to that, but my body appreciates it.

Really? ...
Today I got a text message from son John asking if I'd like to come to Idaho the week before Labor Day to 'babysit' granddaughter Sydney. Haven't bought the plane tickets yet, but I'm pretty sure the answer is YES!!!!

What We've Been Doing...
We've been working on merging household stuff, arranging and organizing the condo, buying things we need, and getting rid of things that we don't need and can bear to give up.

Does that sound like the same thing we were doing six months ago? It is. And it's likely we will be doing it six months in the future. Getting married when you're seventy plus is not like getting married when you're young.

The encouraging news is that we are happy with what we've done and we work well together.

New at Our House ...
We finally hung this beautiful needlepoint stitched by new daughter/Jay's daughter Joni. Her work is meticulous - tiny, perfect stitches. I can feel the love crafted into it, her love for her Heavenly Father and her love for her earthly father.

It's hanging in the heart of the house. The front hallway is to the right and the great room is to the left and to the front.

I am procrastinating ...
Buying a new laptop. The one I have is wimpy, which was OK when I bought it and lived in the country with whimy wi-fi. Now it's frustratingly slow and I've been ready to replace it for six months. What I haven't been ready to do is to take the time to set up a new laptop.

Jay's answer to almost all my problems is a trip, usually to Cincinnati. The middle of June we're going to Cincinnati because they have a Microsoft store there. We will be returning with something new and different - a fast laptop with Windows 8 touchscreen.

Seen anything good on Facebook lately? ...
Granddaughter Sydney's new braces.

Giving thanks for ...
Having a laundry room near the bedroom and master closet. I have always had laundry in the basement. Now there is hardly a load of wash that happens when I don't mentally appreciate the luxury of same floor laundry.

A few plans for the next few days
Sister Doris and her husband John from Virginia will be here Monday for brunch in Kalamazoo and dinner at Schuler's in Marshall.

Mid week I pick up a new pair of glasses. After that I will no longer be able to pass off pictures of a younger me because the glasses will be out of date.

And ...
The new condo they're finishing across the circle from us is going to be in the Parade of Homes starting June 12. It will be interesting to see how much traffic that brings to our quiet court.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

My New Ride

Monday Jay and I picked up my new ride at the Subaru dealership, breaking my thirty-five year tradition of Toyota loyalty.

She's a 2015 Subaru Legacy all wheel drive sedan in Carbide Gray, a medium dark gray with strong blue overtones. I love the color, and so far I love the car.

She's not officially named yet, but I'm leaning toward calling her Smokey.

Smokey replaces a fifteen year old Camry, my Y2K car.

I loved my old Camry. Until a month ago I planned on replacing her with another Camry and considered that a no-brainer decision.

In fact, I was just waiting for the 2015 Camry to be available because I didn't like last year's Camry taillights (picture below). They looked like someone chopped a hole in them to insert the 'Camry' name. I figured the hole would get filled in by 2015.

And the hole did get filled in. I like the 2015 Camry from the rear. But the huge grill they put on the front (picture below) is very much not me.

The more I tried to appreciate the front of the 2015 Camry (picture above), the more I realized it wasn't going to happen.

Then my old Camry developed a CLUNK. It was the kind of CLUNK that I knew fixing would cost more money than the car was worth. Car shopping got serious. Since I wasn't over the 2015 Camry grill yet, I did what any woman would do - - I whined to my husband.

Husband Jay was very helpful. He pointed out that when we open the door from the house to the garage we are staring directly at the front grill of my car. He was too nice to say that he didn't want to hear about that Camry grill every time we opened the door, but I'm sure he was thinking it.

He also mentioned that I have friends driving Subarus who love them and Subarus have all wheel drive for Michigan winters.

We took a Subaru Legacy test drive and I was sold.

The Subaru picture (below) was taken from our doorway to the garage. Every time I go out that door, which is often, I appreciate the wisdom and kindness of my husband.

Smokey and Porky (Jay's Explorer) are happy together in the garage.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Monday Was a BIG Day

Monday morning I turned in the keys to Mom's apartment. That means it was empty and reasonably clean, one of the biggest tasks I have done in years. Considering all the things I've done in the last few years, that makes it a very big task indeed.

I did have plenty of help, all of it younger and stronger than me with the exception of Jay who is stronger but not younger. Ultimately the responsibility was mine and there were many days when I wondered how I was ever going to get it done. It's a huge relief to have it finished.

The timing wasn't planned, but it worked out perfectly that I was ready to do something happy and exciting on Monday afternoon. I bought a 2015 Subaru Legacy all wheel drive sedan to replace my 2000 Camry.

Before I went to the dealership Monday, I had the exact model, options, and color picked out. The salesman looked up the list of Legacys due to arrive and found an exact match except for one additional option, the remote start.

It's due to arrive in Kalamazoo the week after next.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Snapshot of My Life on May 2, 2015

Weather in SW Michigan ...
It's springtime!

The village grass has been mowed for the first time. Not our grass. Our grass is just sprouting. But everyone else's grass looks great.

A new house/condo is going up across Chuck's Circle. Chuck is our neighbor. He was first to build on this circle and he named the circle after himself.

Really? ...
While I was writing this blogpost we had a 4.0 earthquake in Kalamazoo.

It was my first, and hopefully last, real earthquake. What surprised me most was the noise. Didn't realize earthquakes came with so much noise.

It was scary and I didn't like it. Now I have new appreciation for the places that get big ones. Yikes.

Something from the kitchen ...
We brought some (legally purchased) cacti and succulents back from Arizona. No, we don't know how to care for them but we do have a book.

Number one rule for the cacti: Don't pick them up bare handed. Those spikes are super strong and they want your body.

I am creating...
These socks have been on the needles and ignored for a long, long time. This week I knit on them and they're almost ready to get a heel.

The yarn is Opal Graffiti. The pattern is my basic sixty stitch sock with k5p1 ribbing, and the socks are for me.

I have been procrastinating ...
I've been thinking about buying a new car for the past five years. There has always been a reason it wasn't the perfect time. That, combined with the fact I hate car shopping, have kept my fifteen year old Camry in service.

The Camry still runs great but the underbody is suffering from fifteen Michigan winters and it has developed a worrisome, clunking noise. I do not want to spend anymore money on this car.

Yesterday we visited the Subaru dealer and test drove a Legacy sedan. It's possible my thirty-five year Toyota brand loyalty is going to end soon.

Special thanks to husband Jay who dragged me out to the dealership when I would have been happy to procrastinate a few more days. He keeps me doing what needs to be done and I am grateful.

Just want to say ...
Last Sunday after church we stopped for lunch and saw the man who married us, Pastor Bruce. He asked if we are still happy.

Just in case anyone else is wondering, we are still happy.

Something new for me ...
Condo living is amazing. Last week a professional window washer came and washed the windows. They look cleaner than I have ever been able to get a window, and I didn't have to do it.

The landscapers showed up and put fresh mulch in the garden, and the sprinkler people showed up and set the timing on the sprinkers. We do not mind giving up these tasks.

A few plans for the next few days
Next week is going to be the end of cleaning out Mom's apartment and turning in the keys.

Then I'm going to schedule some lunches with friends I haven't had much time for recently so we can laugh together and catch up.

And I may possibly buy a new car.

Giving thanks for ...
Everything mentioned above and the final item below. Minus the earthquake. Although the earthquake did make Saturday more interesting.

And ...
Daughter Heather and long time partner Jason got married yesterday. Jason has been a member of the family for years, but now it's official. He can't get away from us. Love him and I'm very happy about this.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mom's Ashes and Wedding Dress

Last week I was so blessed and thankful to have my brother Dave come to Kalamazoo from Oregon to help sort out Mother's personal things.

Wednesday evening it was cold, windy and snowing. With two outdoor jobs to complete, Dave needed a coat. Our first stop was at the mall. I told him he would never find a winter coat in April, but I was wrong. He found a great, warm $200 coat for $23 in Macy's and it fit.

Second stop was at Lowes for a torch, fatwood, and some kindling. Then on our way to Marshall, Michigan for some sentimental tasks.

Mom pre-planned her cremation, but wouldn't give me a wish for the disposition of her ashes. She said we could sprinkle them where ever we felt they should go.

Dave and I sprinkled Mom's ashes on Dad's grave.

Next stop was more complicated. We had Mom's wedding dress and a few other very personal things we wanted to burn. But where?

We ended up at a park along the river. It had everything we needed, especially a screen to put over the flame because it was very windy.

Dave started the fire with a Bernzomatic Torch, the torch our grandfather, Mom's father, helped design when he was a consultant to the Turner Corporation in 1965.

One moment I'll never forget is when we realized we needed to stir the flame and separate the layers of the gown. I looked down on the ground and there was a long tongs looking back at me like it had fallen from the sky.

Dave and I think Mom would have enjoyed the spectacle of us together burning the dress in the cold, wind, and snow.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Good Things

** A pictureless, personal blog post. **

I have personal rules about what I will and will not blog about. Most of the past three months falls in the latter category. It was a time of stress, confusion, and horror as we lived through the rapid decline and death of Mom.

As life begins to return to normal (if leaving for a four week trip out west can be counted as normal) I want to take a few minutes and list some of the good things that happened during that time period.

Brother Dave and I got to know each other very well. He is a kind, caring man who spent Mom's last month with her while ignoring his business in Oregon. We gathered information and made life and death decisions together. We meditated and prayed together, each respecting the other's spiritual beliefs. We talked for hours and hours, and realized that we like each other very much.

Husband Jay was my earthly rock. He did all the grocery shopping and ran mundane errands so I didn't need to be concerned about having food or whatever else I needed. He cooked some great comfort food. Twice he did all my laundry. ALL of it. He let me talk about things he didn't want to hear about, and he let me cry in his arms. When we had wintery roads, he gave his 4WD Explorer keys to brother Dave and insisted we take it. And he prayed for us.

The strength of the Lord carried me through. I could not have done this without my faith, my Bible, and the prayers of my friends.

After five years, I am now able to visit son John, daughter-in-law Anne, and granddaughter Sydney in Idaho. I am caretaker to no one and dogless. It feels new and strange and I'm still adjusting to the situation. Next Tuesday I leave for Oregon to spend spring break with my Idaho family, then fly to Phoenix to meet Jay and spend some time with his family. Jay is driving us back to Michigan via the Grand Canyon and several other national parks. We're going to do some furniture shopping in Illinois and be home whenever we get there - very strange indeed!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Margarete Monette 1922 - 2015

Mom died February 9, 2015 after four weeks of hospital/hospice stay.

On her wedding day in February, 1944.

She would say the happiest days of her life were the births of her four children, but I think it was this day.

She never managed to look her age, even when she was dying.

Even though Louise is not on mom's birth certificate as her middle name (or maybe it is, the document is written in German Swiss), she gave it to me as a middle name, I gave it to my daughter (center), and my daughter gave it to her daughter (left). We enjoyed being the four Louises.

Goodby Mom. We've been together for seventy years and I will miss you.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Getting Settled When Unsettled

We are settled enough to be functional and only occasionally have the need to get into unopened boxes to find something. That's the encouraging news.

On the other hand we need furniture, we are working on getting files and finances joined and in order to do taxes, and I am distracted by everything involved with my mother's valve replacement next week.

Also, the weather is not cooperating. Since this is January in Michigan, that is not a surprise. The snow isn't overly deep, but the single digit temperatures (F) we are having keep the road salt from working. The roads are scary.

Last week we got brave and punched the first hole in our pristine walls to hang Jay's, now our, cuckoo clock. It's sweet to hear it calling out the hour and the half hour again. Love this thing. Putting it up made Oak Haven feel like home.

Last week we ordered shades for our windows. After several false starts with businesses that didn't work out, we finally ended up getting them through Costco. They referred us to a local business with a large showroom owned by people who have been installing quality shades and blinds for over thirty years. So far it's been a pleasant experience and in a few more weeks we will have window coverings. Finally.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014 In Review

What a year!

Everything in my life changed except I'm still driving the same old car.

The activity started January 9 when we were talking about our plans for the future (we were going to live separately in the same townhouse community) and Jay proposed. I didn't have to think about my answer. Some decisions are easy.

Wedding planning began the next day when Jay suggested February 22 as a wedding date. We're too old for long engagements.

It all fell together perfectly. We got married February 22 at Bravo in a private room. Pastor Bruce from Lighthouse Community Church did the ceremony in front of our families and a few close friends. Daughter Heather stood up with me. Jay's son Jeff stood up with him. The food was wonderful.

Except for son John not being able to make it, the wedding was as perfect as things can be in this imperfect world.

We both feel so amazed that love happened when neither one of us was expecting it or even thought it was possible.

We also never expected to build a new home, but the more we looked for a place to live the more it seemed like the right choice.

We've been living in our new condo to a little over two months now and we're very happy with that decision. Notice I did not say we are all all unpacked and organized.

Neither one of us brought much furniture into this marriage. We are looking forward to furnishing the condo in 2015.

In October, just before we moved into the condo together, I sold my house in Almena Township/Paw Paw. What a relief that was.

The saddest part of the year was losing Pappy and Sunny. They were my two favorite furbabies ever and it was very painful and sad to see them get old and decline to the point it was obvious I needed to let them go to the Rainbow Bridge and wait for me.

I plan to stay dogless now.

In September Jay and I went to Hilton Head for two weeks of relaxing before moving. The timing was a bit strange, but Jay has a timeshare there and those were the weeks that worked.

It was a wonderful, relaxing two weeks. The relaxed feeling was gone immediately after we got home and the moving and home merging began.

October/November were the worse months of the year as we moved and merged belongings. Two best words to describe the experience are "exhausted" and "overwhelmed". We did what needed to be done. We remembered that we loved each other and we kept working toward the goal.

Things are better now. We are laughing and planning and we are able to find 90% of the things we are looking to find.

Other things to remember about 2014:
  • I left a church that I loved, Lighthouse Community Church, to go to church with Jay at Oakland Drive Christian Church which I also love. In December I officially joined ODCC and resigned my membership at Lighthouse.
  • I drove my mother to over 100 doctor appointments and Parkinson's exercise classes.
  • Costco came to Kalamazoo and it is only a few miles from our condo. We have been Costco members, but now we don't have to drive to Grand Rapids to shop.
  • I got hugged by Paul Anka.