Thanks Be to God

We have so many things for which to be thankful this year.  Yesterday we went down to Snohomish and spent our first Thanksgiving ever with our biggest blessings:


Abby cooked her first Thanksgiving dinner and it was wonderful.  It was probably one of the most relaxed Thanksgivings I've had in a long time.  I didn't have to do a thing!

I was also able to deliver some knitted goodies to her.  Her cable and rib jacket was all finished, including the zipper, and I'm happy to report it fit her perfectly:


I also delivered her Coriolis birthday socks:


They turned out just a little large for her, especially in the heel, but I think they'll suffice for keeping her toes toasty on these damp, cool Pacific Northwest winter mornings.

I especially want to give thanks this year for my mother-in-law, Ruth.


Despite some very difficult odds, she managed to raise a wonderful, caring son (along with 4 other wonderful children).  She's been a kind, compassionate mother-in-law to me for over 37 years.  On Thanksgiving day she suffered  a heart attack.  At first they didn't think the damage was too great, but further tests showed significant damage to her heart.  She has been declining rapidly over the past few months and her doctor has recommended that she begin receiving hospice care.  She's still in the hospital, but the hope is that in the next few days she'll be able to return to the adult care home that she's been living in for the past few years.  They are set up to care for her there and it will be a familiar place to her.  We are all praying for peace and a comfortable, pain-free situation for her as she enters into the last days of her life.

One of the things I’ve been coming to terms with the past
couple of weeks is letting go.  I
suppose everyone who has worked at a job for as long as I have (over 24 years)
feels a certain sense of ownership. 
In my case it was strengthened by the fact that the original doc and I
literally opened the doors together. 
I was with him the first day he started seeing patients in this
office.  I’ve seen the practice
grow from only having about 20 patients to having over 3,000.  During that time I’ve been given a great
deal of say in how the practice has been developed and have had a great deal of
responsibility.  When the practice
sold 10 years ago, the new doc was even more accepting of my involvement and
made me feel like a real partner.


With the new ownership all of that has changed.  It’s probably fortuitous that my plans
for retirement have coincided with the change.  I’m not sure I could have stayed on otherwise.  But I’m also having to grasp the fact
that the practice I’m leaving is not the practice I’ve spent 24 years building
up.  That’s really hard, but I
think I’m coming to accept it.  I
have to, because I can’t change it. 
But accepting it is making my last few days a little easier.  I’m teaching as much as I can, but what
the new ownership has the employees do with that is their decision and one that
the practice will have to live with. 
I can leave with my head held high knowing that I did all I could to
make the practice successful.


I’m now looking forward to a whole new chapter of my
life.  My emphasis will be totally
altered – from business/medical oriented to an opportunity to indulge in
artistic endeavors.  I’m looking
forward to concentrating more on my quilting.  I have a competition quilt that I would like to finish in
2010, along with an embroidered quilt for Abby.  Quilts for the girls’ bedroom are on the agenda and I would
like to be more proactive in either altering knitting patterns to suit me more
or designing my own.  I hope to
have more time to exercise and do yoga. 
Maggie and I have started agility training and I look forward to the day
when we can compete.  I’d like to
take up some new interests – improve my photography skills and learn to use my
camera and maybe even eventually dabble in spinning.  And of course, continue on with my scrapbooking.  Whew!  I’m exhausted just thinking about all of the possibilities.


A lot of people have asked how we can afford to retire so
“young”.  I’ll get on my soapbox a
little, but bear with me and there will be a payoff at the end – I
promise.  A lot of that has to do
with my husband’s defined pension plan. 
He was offered a cash bonus for early retirement at age 55 and jumped at
it.  But we wouldn’t have even been
able to afford that if we hadn’t run across Mary Hunt many years ago.  Mary has a website called  I highly
recommend it.  Her philosophy is to
give away 10% of your income, save 10% and live on 80%.  She calls this “living below your
means”.  The central tool in all of
this is to carry no debt.   We
began living that lifestyle.  We
used our credit card so we could earn air miles, but we paid it off every
month.  We made it a goal to pay
off all of our debts except our mortgage (and we’re working on paying that off
early) and not to go into new debt for anything.  If we couldn’t afford it, we did without or waited until we
had the money. 


You might think this would cramp our lifestyle, but in
contrast we felt very liberated. 
When you jump off the great American consumer machine you feel such
freedom.  You no longer have to
“have it all”.  I like Mary’s
quote, “Because I live frugally doesn’t mean I don’t spend
money. It means I spend money thoughtfully and with a sense of discipline and
purpose. As my life is blessed and my income increases, 80 percent increases as
well.”  We’ve learned to manage our
money instead of letting it manage us.   When the recession came and we watched our investments
tumble, we felt a little concern, but not panic.  In fact, we’ve decided to live off hubby’s retirement and
leave mine to sit for a few years and gain back some of the losses.  One of the biggest impacts on our life
with being debt free is that we have choices.   We choose where our money will go, knowing that it is
not a bottomless well!  When your
money is going to pay high interest rates on credit cards, you can’t
choose.  The bank or credit card
company chooses for you.  And as of
now, they can choose to jack up your interest rate at any time and for any
reason!  That is bondage!!


Ok, so I told you that if you managed to
wade through my lecture (and a post with no knitting content and no pictures),
there would be a payoff at the end. 
To celebrate my retirement, I’ve decided to do my very first giveaway!  Leave me a comment and you’ll go into a
drawing for a Swallowtail Shawl, made in your choice of color.  All comments made from now until my
retirement date of December 10th are eligible (except in all
fairness I probably have to disqualify any family members – but they can
contact me and I’ll do a shawl for them anyway!).   Each comment will be numbered and I will use a random
number generator to choose.  Just
be forewarned that the knitting will have to wait until January.  I plan on spending the first three
weeks of my retirement relaxing and playing with my granddaughters!





One of the first things I'm going to do when I retire is get myself organized!  Remember you heard it here first and you can laugh at me later.  I decided my goal for this weekend was to finally seam two sweaters that had been languishing in a basket by my bedside for way too long.  At least I thought they were languishing in the basket by my bedside.  I decided to tackle Abby's Cable and Rib Jacket first.  Only problem was – I couldn't find it!  How can you lose a project like that along with about 10 remaining skeins of yarn??  I realize that with everyone living here for two months things were pretty unorganized, but it's a small house.  How far could it have gone?  After about a half hour of searching I found it and successfully finished it except for the zipper:


I had to special order the zipper, but with any luck it will come this week and I can take it to Abby on Thanksgiving.  Speaking of Thanksgiving, Abby is doing her first official family Thanksgiving dinner this year and her menu sounds delish!

Saturday I finished up hubby's Torgeir:


Sorry for the crappy picture, but daylight is in scant supply here and the flash washes out the details.  One of the first things I'm doing when I retire is take a photography class.

The sleeves came out a little longer than I had expected – one of the downfalls of a dropped shoulder.  But all in all he seems to be pleased and I'm very pleased to have two projects checked off my list.  In discussion with Marguerite, I am seriously revisiting the idea of only having 3 (or maybe 4) projects going at a time.  Ok, you can stop laughing now.  We call it "Knitting Peace" and I do want to have more discipline in my projects.  I'm thinking that a shawl, a pair of socks and a sweater would give me enough variety to keep my brain stimulated.  The only reason that I would throw a 4th in would be if the other three were not good traveling projects.  Gotta have a traveling project for those trips down to Snohomish.

And, speaking of trips – we popped down to see the kids over the weekend.  Ben needed hubby's help with a project and Abby and I took the girls over to see my sister.  We also wanted to take Maggie down to see how she would fare with the other dogs in a different environment.  She's definitely an alpha female and we didn't know if she would try to assert her dominance on their dogs' territory.  Turns out she did fine – the only scuffle was when she and their dog went after a toy at the same time.

We had a great time at agility tonight and the trainer gave me some tips on handling Maggie's aggressiveness.  She explained that Maggie is indeed an alpha bitch and she considers it her job to keep all the other dogs in line – however she does it by aggression.  We have tried controlling it with positive reinforcement, but it just hasn't worked, so the handler suggested some negative reinforcement – every time she got aggressive I was to grab her collar and shake her while yelling "No!" That's just what she needed.  After just three times she calmed down and coexisted peacefully for the rest of the evening.  I guess she just needed to know I was more alpha than she was!  Just don't call me a bitch!

How Quiet is Too Quiet?

It is amazingly quiet here!  No toys to trip over.  No baby locks to struggle with when I try to get in a cabinet.  I can leave my knitting lying on a table and it's still there (and on the needles) when I return.  I don't have to worry about my hot coffee sitting on the edge of a table.  However, there also are no little voices calling, "Nana! Nana" first thing in the morning and no hugs and kisses to greet me when I get up.  But those hugs and kisses are only an hour and a half away.  I'm not saying that the past two months have slightly fried my brain, but when I was getting laundry out of the linen closet today, I found a cup of coffee in there!  I don't know how long it's been in there, but I'm thinking weeks.  I know it was mine because I'm the only one in the household who takes cream!

Ben & Abby finally moved into their house last weekend.  We kept the girls for the weekend while they got things organized.  Since we had the girls for Halloween, we took them trick or treating.  A local church had a great festival and even had a professional photographer doing free photos:


On the way down to deliver the girls to their new home I told Isobel that we were going to their new house.  I told her that she would be living there with Mommy and Daddy, but that Nana and Yeh-Yeh could come visit her often.  She said, "And you can watch me grow up!"  I got a little teary eyed at that one.  Out of the mouths of babes!  Poor Ivy was so sad, she cried all the way down.  Not screaming, just quietly sobbing.  I think she was tired and missing her parents.  When we drove up to the house and she saw Abby, she was SO happy.  And when she walked into the house and saw all of her familiar toys, she was grinning from ear to ear. 

So life is settling back to normal.  We are enjoying the peace and quiet so much.  I have begun knitting again and have started two new projects:


These will be Abby's birthday socks – she chose Coriolis.  I think it's a good choice – she wanted something fairly plain, but I wanted something interesting to knit.  Oh, and don't freak out Abby – the yarn really is grey – it's Dream in Color Smooshy.

I also started on a  Flower Basket scarf to go into the Christmas basket:


I'm using a lovely fingering weight alpaca/wool mix, but I'm too lazy to get up out of my chair and check the ball band.

I also got a goody in the mail this week.  Lorette had blogged about a neat little container for stitch markers and what-not.  I love little containers almost as much as I love tote bags and ordered one immediately.  How cute:


I ordered it here, but who knows if there are any left.  I imagine Lorette caused a run on them!

The countdown to retirement continues – only 18 1/2 working days!!  Are you tired of hearing about it yet?  It just seems that the drama is such a large part of my life right now.  Every time I turn around I discover yet another boneheaded move by the computer guys that makes my work more difficult.  Starting tomorrow, though, I get to do one of my favorite things – teach.  Our new employee starts and I think I'm really going to enjoy the training aspect.  

Speaking of learning, I've spent most of this weekend learning myself.  I got my new copy of Photoshop Elements 8 for the Mac and have been going through Linda Sattgast's marvelous tutorial.  I can't say enough for her video. I made four scrapbook pages, but they'll have to wait for another post.  I'm debating whether to start another blog just for scrapbooking.  What do you think?  One all purpose blog or two specialty ones?