My Penny Profit

Strangest thing. Sometimes when I am who-ing and haw-ing about a decision, I will just leave it to fate in some way. I tend not to give up easily but sometimes it is better to throw the towel in and just move on.

I have been undecided about a part time research job I have. It would be great but something I am doing or not doing is making me fail at it … it was an epic fail to start, getting only one or two interviews knocking on doors for four hours and some days not getting any at all. After three months it is a bit better but still more failure than success.

It may not even be anything to do with my greeting, my funny accent or the clothes I wear. It may be the cold weather or the economic unrest or any number of other things making people decide to not share their opinions, whatever it is sometimes you just need to say enough.

I think a deciding factor was on one of the last days I went out. A rather impatient Staffordshire terrier had had enough of me interviewing her owner and decided it was time to make me leave. I would say the gods that protect people from dog attacks took a shining to me that day because the owner was about as much help as a bowl of Cheerios.

Well anyway I threw my cards to the wind and tossed a coin. Heads I would put in my notice, tails I would wait ( two out of three of course ). I tossed the penny up after holding it between my palms instructing it as to the question requiring an answer and the criteria I wanted to follow. I received three heads.

OK, three out of three sounds pretty definitive. Just for fun and already accepting the answer expressed, I asked the penny again, but this time I asked if  it meant what it had decided – heads yes, tails no. Oh dear it was three more heads straight. I would have put my notice in any way.

All those heads aside I asked it a couple more questions just to make sure that penny wasn’t head happy and it wasn’t all heads on any of the questions.

I often struggle following my gut, letting go, admitting defeat and saying enough is enough time to move on. Sometimes hanging in there is the right thing to do, sometimes it isn’t. Just wish there was a little button that could be pushed to answer difficult and stubborn questions that pull from multiple directions.

Oh wait! There is always a penny.

My Biggest Fear

Most of us, as we get older, harbor fears of our declining years. I don’t really mind the idea of growing old but I still have a few fears about it. My biggest fear is Dementia and Alzheimer disease. I took care of my father the last few years of his life (until the very end – he died at home as he requested). He suffered with dementia and the last year needed 24 hour supervision.

It may somehow still find me but about 5 years ago I started making choices and changes. They are doing so much research currently looking for drugs that will help and just as much on how our diet, style of living and habits affect our brain and how it ages.

There is a wealth of information available to us online. Do some research and reading; both are great for your brain. There are some things we can do, as simple as doing puzzles, to keep the grey matter exercising but physical exercising is important too. I won’t bore you with my physical exercise side of things but thought I would share a few of the ways I try to keep my brain healthy.

Changing hands. Lots of things we regularly do with one hand or the other without thinking about it. Make an effort to do it with the other hand and force your brain to create those new neural pathways. Practice writing with the other hand, brush your teeth or just holding your soup spoon in the other hand. If it is new or odd to you it is new to your brain. Something new forces our brains to add additional pathways for this new thing we are doing. Every little new-thing helps.

Doing my puzzles. I love Sudoku, can sit for hours doing them if I am not keeping track of time. I love to play with all kinds of puzzles. They are mini mental challenges. I do admit that I struggle with crosswords and wish I was better at them but they too are excellent brain food.

Learning a language. I started learning German in 2010 because I missed hearing my dad speak it. English was his second language. It is a familiar language to me even though I don’t know many words. I stopped for three years and picked it back up earlier last year using two wonderful language sites – Duolingo (free w/ads or premium w/o ads) and Babbel (who gives you a taster for free but any more costs a reasonable amount). I do a bit everyday but I will also (not every day but regularly) listen to German radio (online) or listen to German audio books and lessons.  I have also taken up learning a bit of Spanish on Duolingo. Being originally from California it is a language I grew up hearing and reminds me of my younger years.

dsc_2297Learning to play an instrument. This is something new to 2019. I received a guitar for my birthday several years ago (by request) and decided this is a good time to dig in my heels and get learning. Have only been at it a few weeks using Youtube as a teacher but hope to get myself to a few private lessons soon (once I toughen the tips of fingers on my left hand up. Don’t want to embarrass myself too much). 

MOOCs. Massive Open Online Classes. I have been enjoying learning using MOOCs for years Some I have finished and some I have not. Some I achieved with good standing and a few I barely made it through. No matter why you take a an online class, enjoy it and learn what you can, want or need to from it. I am registered with edX, FutureLearn, Coursera, Open Learn , Novoed and a few others. They all have something for you and they are for the majority of the classes they are free.

The list of things we can do, whether big or small, is endless and I will keep doing what I can, as often as I can and for as long as I can.  A lot of how well I grow old is my choice.

An Adventure in Eco Bricks

Its in the news. It’s a new fad and as fads go I am not one to pay much attention to them unless they make sense or are useful.

Eco Bricks tick both those boxes for me. They have been in the news for some while. I have been watching but was giving my ability to reduce plastics without them a fair shot. I have reduced some by taking paper bags to put my veg in at the store, buying glass bottled anything over plastic bottled whatever (often paying a little extra for the decision) and more. It just doesn’t feel like enough and honestly it isn’t.

My biggest hold up on doing plastic eco bricks was – what to do with them. Seeing as I have no plans and not enough room in my house and garden to do building projects, who would I give them to. I did some research (more information is popping up regularly on the net to help guide us in our desire to stem the plastic flow) and had a lightbulb moment. Insulation!

I have an attic space and you can never have too much insulation. They would be under the current insulation which needs topping up anyway. They would not be load bearing lying flat because the wood sheets we walk on up there rest on the beams, not the insulation. It seems I have ticked my boxes and eco bricks, in our house, are all go.

_20190103_121452.JPGIf I do find somewhere that takes them for projects, I will gladly take them over or they can come pick them up.  So I have started my first brick roughly on the New Year. It is my test brick and it slowly filling up with everything from meat trays to candy bar wrappers. So far nothing has not fit with a little scissor work (even the black plastic toilet cleaner bottle (well rinsed of course) is in there now).

I have a dedicated kitchen bin for plastics or other non-recyclable items. I am rinsing out and drying off what needs it. Then when the mood strikes I spend a few minutes stuffing the bottle (which I also keep handy in the bin). Somethings might take a few extra minutes (ie black plastic bottles, plastic and Styrofoam/polystyrene trays etc) because they must be reduced in size to fit through the top but they are going in.

Any time invested is time my descendants deserve. I honestly question our ability as humans to remove plastics from our lives as far as it has imbedded itself in our day to day living. Maybe someday it will happen but in what is left of my lifetime, we can certainly find a way to put some serious control to its flow into our environment.

I have included a few of websites I read in reference to eco bricks but there are so many more available out there.  A PDF from Wasteaid. Loads of information and articles. I little more scientific but worth a skim if you like to know a bit more. A different kind of eco brick


A Bit of New Year’s Fun

Of course we slept in, we went to bed rather late but then the sun always comes up late, this time of the year. Alas, the adventure begins as it does every year right about now. its January 1, 2019.

Rolled out of bed this morning just after eight and did my normal pleasantries. Warmed up my morning glass of water (a habit I have had for more than a few years – water before coffee), strolled outside to smell the new year and was pleasantly surprised.

Not to say this was the first time I have seen a spot of sunshine in the depths of winter on a new year’s morning but this time it seemed more than wonderful and memorable. I wasn’t sure how I was going to greet this New Year so I latched onto the sunshine and enjoyed.

What if the weather on the first day of the year was a barometer for the whole year from sun up to sundown? Why not? I mean there are people who believe that a groundhog has some say in the coming of spring or that cows lying down foretell rain. What about the old saying ‘sun by 7am rain by 11am?’

So today has had some varying predictions weather-wise for 2019. We started out with sunshine (Jan/Feb) with clouds hanging out around the edges until about mid March when cloud cover came over. The clouds moved on and it was pretty brilliant from late spring through summer with some haze moving in toward the end. It remained sunny through fall with thin ribbon clouds moving around the edges until the end of the year (sundown).

So on the optimistic outlook of today’s weather is reference to the new year’s promise. There is going to be a smooth start to the year (sunny) with benefits (sunshine) available but that is not to say that negativity (clouds), strife, or trouble is far from view.

Spring may see some bumpiness (mid morning overcast but no rain).  Resulting in the possibility of a series of small hiccups or a medium jolt to test our wills but nothing severely detrimental.

By late spring/early summer (around 11:30am) the sun breaks out in full and remains throughout the season. Not much in the sky to disrupt but no time to be complacent. Opportunities are out there when the sun shines unimpeded. Go get them!

Summer ends with a general light haze appearing. The sun is still bright only slightly softened and remains so until (sundown) year’s end. The end of the year will not hold the opportunities that where available when the sun was at its brightest but being mindful should keep away problems developing.

That was fun. Sounds like my veg garden is going to feel the benefits. …. How was your weather today?

A (not so) Quiet Year 2018

I have been quiet this year.

Between work and different issues it seemed that every time I thought about posting, the time or subject didn’t seem adequate. Quality over quantity to pen an old phrase.

2018 has been a bit of an algorithm with no rhythm what-so-ever. From a new grandchild to the death of a close family member, from a bountiful garden harvest to changing jobs, this year has seen so much in adjustments, both good and bad, with both positive and negative aspects to each.

Through it all I have hopefully risen to each challenge to the best of my ability. I am not one to preach positivity, although it is a good way to be (most of the time). Sometimes we need to be sad, we need to cry, we need to feel lost or just so angry we could scream. I know I have felt all those this year and more.

Being a creature of some habits as December rolls in each year I begin to shake through all that has happened. Sorting through those things that need to be left behind as memories, bad habits I need to change (and making excuses for the ones I plan to keep), places I meant to visit and didn’t, blogs I haven’t posted in much, closets or cupboards I meant to give a good sorting out and didn’t, and the list goes on.

Pretty much done with all that now as my better half and I await the sleepless night full of fireworks and merry making, the precursor to the start of the Next Year. Looking forward to it finally, I always do the closer it comes. It is something new. A new adventure can start any time in our life but a New Year adventure starts at a predetermined time.

All the Best, to you all. xx

New Year Improvements

It’s a New Year (– well more like a young year seeing as it is already few months gone) and like many people I made plans for improvements. I don’t do resolutions. I prefer to call and shape them into Improvements.

My biggest improvement concerns Plastics. I have done some improving over the years but this is a priority improvement I have put in place for this New Year.

I decided more than 4 years ago that I would not purposely replace any of my plastic containers and I haven’t. My old plastic containers have slowly dwindled but have improvised by using largemouth pint and quart jars for left over in the fridge. Jars don’t work for all left overs but they have helped fill a growing void.

This year I decided to invest in glass storage containers. I am devastated that they only come with plastic lids but it is a step forward. I have even made a couple of crocheted covers for them to keep them safer during transporting and am really pleased. So far it has been an easy transition. Bonus they are Pyrex so they can go into the oven and freezer too.

I moved my remaining old plastic containers up to my crafty room to use there.

As well as storage containers I am doing other little things.

  • Avoid buying products in plastic bottles and containers. This is going to take some creativity to achieve. May not avoid all but as many as I can uncomfortably if necessary.
  • Replacing plastics used in freezing meats etc. with waxed/greaseproof paper and bags. I bought a pack of those food bags such as is used by pasty and sandwich shops. So far so good. Have been looking for butcher paper but it has been unobtainable so far here in the UK.
  • Trying to buy unwrapped fruit and veg. Just wish they would give more options. Like organic bananas only seem to be found in bags. Bananas are the only real organic I will go out of my way to buy for reasons of my own.
  • Washing and reusing those plastic bags I can. I will even wash the bags that frozen peas or fruit come in and use them again in the freezer when freezing fruit and veg.

There is more to do, I know, but this is a start. I do not want to make this a flight of fancy but a lifestyle change. I cannot see the reward of just clearing the house of plastics that are already here. Then I am just adding to the plastics in the garbage. I think for me it is more important to try to reduce the incoming plastics and use and re-use those plastics that are here and those I can’t avoid until I find a way to avoid them.

Decorating for the Holiday

Some unexpected circumstances have attempted to put a damper on this holiday season. I was stricken with a temporary illness, a bad respiratory infection a few weeks ago. I am well on my way to recovering but my paycheck for December shall be dismal for my affliction.

Where I work, as with many companies, there is no pay for sick leave the first week and very little for any weeks to follow. Between feeling drained from the infection and dismal at the prospects of having the physical side (money) of Christmas more or less put on hold, I fretted about putting decorations up.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

We do not always put decorations up. When we haven’t it has still been a time of good spirit and frivolity. Christmas decorations do not make Christmas. It is the outlook and pleasure of being with those you love in thought and presence for me.

Last year I was genuinely looking forward to putting up decorations for our first Christmas in our new home but it was thwarted. Not by myself but by a colleague who decided to cause upheaval by going off on stress with the plan of taking the leave to find a new job and quitting before his leave was up at the start of the holiday season. Leaving those left to cover shifts often amounting to six days a week for many of us.

I was devastated. I had been forced to abandon my decorating for the Holiday because of my work hours. There was just no energy left in me. We did celebrate, my husband and I, but our first Christmas in our new home felt tainted by the spite of another. It was nothing more than spite toward management that caused all this grief.

It is one thing to choose to do or not to do something, it is another to be forced.

This current state of affairs is of no one’s blame but my own. (Last year was not really anyone’s fault but my own either to be honest. I allowed someone else’s actions to rule my mood and attitude.)

The only possible setback this year concerns money. Money is helpful in easing the way for things, true. Yet the spirit of the season is truly not dependent on any one solid thing. It is only dependent on one’s mind, heart and desires to create an atmosphere worthy of the holidays.

It is for that very reason that we spent a day moving the decorations down from the attic and several days finally getting them up. We may have to count our pennies (more than usual) this Holiday Season but I am determined not let that stand in the way of finding that special feeling and reveling in the spirit that this time of year brings.