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            Once or twice a year, I dream of a house.  This is my recurring dream.  Although I don't know if this house pictured here is the house...this is the sense I feel of what the outside of it would look like...jumbled, disjointed and added-on to! 

            The dream started out years ago with me walking through this house and oohing & aahing at the kitchen & dining area, the living room and washroom in total bliss, happily telling whoever I was with in my dream "how much we can do with this place".  It was an old house, of that I'm sure, and I didn't think much of it at the time, but gradually, as the dream recurred, I added onto it.

        First, I added a few bedrooms and was clapping my hands in glee, standing in whatever room I'd added on to.  Then there were extra washrooms....and all the decorating was down to the last candle, pictures on the wall...everything.  Then, one day, I added a secret room....so weird.....you walked up the wide colonial staircase (you know the kind that kids slide down the bannisters on in the movies?) you came to a hallway, which had several bedrooms leading off it already.  These bedrooms were all done to the nines...I mean the nines....some had canopy beds and were rich colours of emerald greens, deep burgundy reds with lots of frou-frou and definitely tons of bling!  But, back to the secret room....there was this little square door in the hallway, about 2ft high and maybe 18" wide, which looked like a door for access to the pipes or something, and if you went through this door, you had to crawl a little ways up to another access, but then you were in the most awesome hidden apartment! 

        This apartment was gloriously, fabulously decorated like something out of Better Homes and Gardens, and the washroom was to die for!  Jacuzzi tub, beautiful marble fixtures, deep plush rugs on a marble floor, all in gorgeous earth tones...it was nuts!  Like, honestly, that's the part of the house I wanted to live in the most!   I remember being so joyful that I had found this extra space in our house for people to come and stay.

        When I looked up the meaning of dreaming about a house and adding rooms, I came up with this theory in total...I dream of this because  I feel like everyone I meet, who is down and out on their luck at that moment, needs me to take them in and give them a home!  It's true!  Honestly!  Dan says to me all the time, "most people bring home stray cats...my wife brings home stray people"!  And we do!  In fact, right now we have a "stray" person staying with us in our home until October 1st!  How nuts is that?  I mean, we finally get the kids out of the house, not that we don't love them to bits!, and we finally have privacy, and what do we do?....we bring in another person!  What is up with that?

        So, inherently, I believe, you can't change who you are or what you do...even in your dreams.  You think you dream about unattainable things, but you don't....you are only dreaming about your own life in a warped manner that makes you think you are having this fantastic, fantasy dream....but it's real...but it's not...but it is!

        Dream a little dream!

       

 
 
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West
            There's nothing quite so lovely and serene as the early morning hours on the Grand.  I was up before the birds today and when I finally hauled my head out of the computer and looked out the window, I saw the river misted up from east to west and was compelled to make my way down to the dock to soak up the blissful scenery.  This is the view to the west shown at the left here and while I was down at the dock a beautiful, graceful heron took off right across from me gliding across the still water and soaring into the sky.   I've spent many mornings here in the past 2-1/2 years gazing at the river.  It literally can take your breath away, calm and make your troubles seem trivial as you gaze into it's depths.

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East
        When we go down to our dock, it feels as if we're in the dense bush of Northern  Ontario.  It's hard to see any indication of humanity down there...no homes are visible, during the summer months, through the high banks and thick trees, making you feel isolated in a tranquil sense.  Fish are nibbling at the surface of the mirror-like water, birds everywhere are warbling their morning songs and there you sit in the middle of it, soaking it all in to your psyche.  How wondrous is that?   The mist from the east river view was phenomenally breathtaking this morning.  It's a shame it doesn't last long enough, but just that brief visit with nature has started my day off on a course of harmony.  

Peace and love to all today! 
     

 
 
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            Okay...I'm not going to harp on about this healthy-eating, weight loss gig on every blog!  Don't worry!  I just want to say a few things....  hahahahaha!  As if!   I'm super pumped about this weight-loss adventure I'm going on because I've made it virtually impossible for myself to fail.   If I blunder, that's okay....everyone does that, but if I don't try really hard to reach the goal weight I'm going for and show some progress, I'm going to look like a total idiot going on about it on my blog!  Isn't that great!?    Like...what's so different about that you say?  Don't say it!  I actually prefer to eat healthy - I really do!  Why is it that we sometimes get caught in this rut and start eating fat foods again...a little bacon & eggs, instead of turkey bacon and one egg.....a double helping of meat?  A little more butter on your potatoes than you know you should be having?  Cheesy appetizers?  I better stop....I'm salivating!  Haha!

            We all know what we should and shouldn't be eating right?  I think Weight Watchers just gives you a basis.  I've been on and off Weight Watchers for so long that I can randomly tell you how many points a certain food is when it comes up in conversation, but the reason I keep going back to it is because it works.  It's my fault for gaining back the weight.  It's almost like someone who takes meds for a mental condition....as soon as they feel better, they go off their meds....that's me....as soon as I feel slim enough, I go off my diet.  And really?
If I stayed on it, I'd continue to feel better and better.

        Another aspect of any weight loss program is the exercise portion, of course.  Here's where I have a wee bit of trouble due to chronic back pain from scoliosis and injury, however....don't feel too sorry for me.  We have an indoor swimming pool!  What is up with that?  When I was a kid and we had a 24' round pool outside, the same thing happened (and I didn't need a diet then) where you use the pool like a maniac for a month or two and then....nothing.  It seems everyone I know with a pool is like that and it doesn't matter if it's inside or out!  Currently, I'm unable to use the pool because our skylight shattered - the outside pane only - but the repairman said to put a large tarp under it and wait for the new glass to come in.  Apparently the inside pane could shatter at any moment.   So, that's what we're doing and now I want my pool back!  It's been out of commission for almost two months!  

        Due to the above issue, I'm going to grab my trusty cane tonight and go out for a short walk with my husband and the dogs after dinner.   Baby steps!  You have to start small and build up.   I'm not sure how long I'll last without the pool, because that is the best exercise when you have body ailments because the resistance in the water and the buoyancy help you to do exercises you normally couldn't do on land.  Sometimes it's painful getting out or the next day, but then you know to take it back a notch.  I'll for sure do a blog sometime on the pool water aerobics that I do with my friends.

        Well, my plan is to be svelte when I turn 50 next year and if I can't be shamed into it on this blog....it's never going to happen!  Then I'll have to blog about how I just don't care and everyone should just be who they are! 

        Too funny!

 
 
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        That seems to be the way that a vast majority of my "projects go".  You may have been waiting for this to show up...and you still have to wait!  Hahaha!  I took it apart (or was that "we" ...nevertheless!) and "I" patched the crack in the frame with wood filler and the frame has also been sanded.  The handles were taken off in preparation for being spray-painted a stainless steel colour and the glass was cleaned up by razoring the edges where stain had settled and dirt, then washed and it's in great shape.  The problem was when I discovered that the "wood" with the painting on it wasn't wood, but was a heavier-grade,  thin cardboard piece, which I had planned on just painting over!

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        That isn't happening.  If the water stains (shown left at the bottom of the photo) had been on wood, I could have maybe sanded them out?  But, because it's like paper, I'll have to replace this piece.  I thought of thicker cardboard, but think it'd be too thick and I thought maybe I could just use painters' canvas, but I think it might be too flimsy and show grainy lines?  So, tomorrow I'm off to the hardware store to find maybe a thin piece of veneer-type wood I can paint on.  I mean...I want it to look nice when it's done, not thrown together right?   Also, I'm still looking at the idea of the mod podging (Heaven's Walk), which I've never done! and need to experiment on something inconsequential first. 

        My point is....what I thought would be done rather quickly is taking much longer than I imagined, but it should only be a few days now!

Like I said "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back!"

 
 
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        Back in my day....hahahaha.....I know, you'd think I was 98yrs old!  But, truly, when I was 19yrs old, I moved to BC for three years....left behind my family and friends and set out on a whole new life.  That was 1981 and one of the problems with living so far away in that era was communication with your loved ones.  Firstly, I didn't have much money, so making long distance calls was a huge luxury, mostly to be done on birthdays, special occasions, etc.  Letters just weren't written as much as they should have been and I moved around alot while living in BC, so it was hard for my friends to keep track of my whereabouts as well.  I missed out on daily life of my family and friends and keeping in contact was not something I really thought about.   I just yearned for my familiar surroundings and the people in my life I knew so well, even though I had met many new and wonderful people to fill the void left in Ontario.
        The point of my blog today is we are so lucky in this technological day and age (don't get me started on the negative side of figuring out how to use any of it! Hahaha!) in that we can communicate weekly, daily and yes, even hourly if we feel like it.  If, using the same scenario as above, we had been living in this day and age, I would have been in heaven!  I know it's not the same as "being" there with the real live person, however, I believe all grandparents should have Skype on their computers now if they have grandchildren living far away.  They can have face time with each other and watch the grandkids grow up.  It wouldn't seem like so long in between vacation visits and they'd become a real part of each others' lives, which is something that seems to have been lost a little bit in the past.  If they were on facebook, they could interact all the time and chat whenever they felt like it.  Never mind sending photos and videos to loved ones on e-mail...that's an extreme bonus.  Digital cameras have changed so much of our lives...no trudging to the store to drop off film, pick it up in a day or two making sure you ordered duplicates so you can mail them off to loved ones and sometimes just forgetting them in a drawer.  Now, just insert memory stick, copy to e-mail. 
        Wow!  I remember, as a kid, Barry Manilow being on TV performing on stage (this was before VCRs!) and I was standing in front of the television, snapping photos with my Kodak Instamatic camera!  And, you couldn't even tell if you got a good photo or not until you did that trudge to the store....  Now, I can just YouTube him...if I was so inclined and share it with a friend!  Amazing really!
        I used to wonder how the picture and sound got inside the box in the livingroom....I don't bother wondering anymore.  I just accept all this happily because technology has changed lives all over the world and helped people to be closer than they ever were in real time!  And I'm thankful, having lived through it prior....back in my day!

        Have you skyped your loved ones today!

 
 
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        That's right, the procrastinator in me is very prevalent when it comes to my weight! I say I'll start tomorrow back on my diet about once a week. When I young, I was basically skeletal...like concentration camp skeletal...hiding my jutting hip bones from view under loose shirts because I was so embarrassed!  What I'd give to have those back!  Hahahaha!  I tried and tried then to gain weight, but now, I hide my body under loose clothing to cover the fat!  Appealing right? 
        So, why is it we struggle with the concept of losing weight?  I think there are many reasons to put it off when you are 49 years old, but so many more to not put it off.  I love when people are telling you all about the best way to lose weight right?  Like you haven't been obsessed with finding a quick fix solution for the last 20 years and yo-yo'd from soup diets to 7-day diets to just about anything new on the market?   Obviously anyone in our age group is well aware of the dangers of gaining weight and yo-yo dieting.  We all know in our 40's and 50's about the possibilities of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout, back pain related to, etc.... We've all raised our children by this age and taught them how to pick healthy foods to eat, how to exercise and they've generally watched us all dieting....never mind....they've had to diet along with us!  Really mom?  No cookies or chips in the house?  No fair!
        The reasons not to diet (or at least not for very long) are varied.  Summer is my number one answer!  All the wondrous BBQ's...you can't miss out on corn on the cob dripping with butter can you?  Nooooo!  Also, this is the season for friends coming over, staying over and it's really hard to do portion control when everyone else is pigging out.  And, when do we drink alcohol most?  Summertime!  Nothing like a cold beer on a hot day...but wow...talk about adding on the calories!  My number two answer is "I love to cook!".  Now, I know, from experience that Weight Watchers has excellent recipes.  I have at least ten Weight Watchers cookbooks and use the recipes frequently, but when I'm not watching my intake, I eat too much of them!  They are fabulous and always taste delicious, but sometimes....you need to have that recipe with the real bacon in it and butter and full fat cheese.  What is that little thing in our mind that causes us to say "What the heck?!...going for it!"  This is where WW actually is a good choice for you due to the fact you can use any of your old favourites and use the points calculator to figure out how many points you are using and adjust your portion control if it's a crazy amount!  This diet allows for real life situations and anytime I've lost a substantial amount of weight over the years, it's been via Weight Watchers.  I know I'm quite passionate about this diet, but truly, it works!
        I know all this just seems like the musings of a crazy fat woman, but I do have a point.  I'm going to start tomorrow back on my Weight Watchers diet and yes...I know it'll be Saturday and we're having company (another really good excuse), but I absolutely want to feel better within and about myself, so hopefully if I make it a public diet and post some of the awesome recipes I'll be eating and disclosing my actual weight loss in pounds (eek!) then I'll be humiliated into actually doing it!  How drastic is that!  So, you will be following along with my trials and tribulations during this.  I'll keep you posted on the Health Blog about my progress.  I am a member already of the "Weight Watchers Online", but obviously haven't been using it much!  It's SUMMERTIME!!

        Feel free to share your diet trials and tribulations too....then we can all be embarrassed into losing weight!

 
 
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          Calendula, otherwise known as Marigolds, are an extremely versatile flower.  I actually think they should have been an herb because of it's many utilizations.  It is edible, can be used for medicine and beauty products and is a natural bug repellent in your vegetable garden.  How great is that?  Never mind the fact that it's gorgeous orange flowers can cheer you up and just looking at it can "clear" your head.  At the end of this blog reading, I hope you're going to want to rush out and get some marigolds to possibly experiment with in your cooking or beauty regiment!

        Let's start with usiing them as an edible plant.  The only thing you need to be careful about with buying or growing calendula is to ensure it is Calendula and not Tagetes, which is an African Marigold and often is mixed up by buyers and sellers.  Anything Calendula is okay unless it is even shown on the tag together with Tagetes, which is an oil with high levels of ketones.  Signet Marigold and Pot Marigold are best in flavour for recipes.  That said....because it would be bad if my blog hurt you!...you can use different parts of the flower for cooking.  If you use the flower, be sure to either pick it just before using or keep in a vase until ready to trim up and use because the petals don't last very well after being plucked, even in the fridge.  You can just pat any moisture out of the petals on paper towelling after rinsing.  Petals are great in salads for colour and you can use in cookies or stir fries as well.  Small leaves of the plant may be used like spinach and be boiled while fresh.  Check out "The Atlantic - What's for Dinner" and find a few interesting ideas for using marigolds at your table!

        As far as medicinal uses are concerned, marigolds have been used for centuries for skin problems like cracked skin and inflammations in the cream form.  It can be used in the form of a tea for gastric problems with just 1 cup of boiled water poured on 2tsp of flowers.  Infused oils can be used on broken capillaries or varicose veins. 

         To make an infused oil (which you would use to make a cream form as well) all you need to do is pick whole flower heads of Pot Marigolds and only use good parts...no eaten sections or brown bits.  You won't be washing them, because that could cause a mold to form.  Bruise the petals and break the flowers up lightly and then pack them tightly into a canning jar.  Top up the jar with a light oil, such as grapeseed or safflower, (cold pressed) to the brim and place the jar in a sunny window for approx. 10-12 days.  Strain this mixture through cheesecloth and save the oil.  Pack new flowers all over again into the jar with the oil in it and top it up to the brim with fresh oil.  Once again, strain after 10-12 days in the sunshine and pour into a coloured jar or bottle and label!

         Medicinal and Beauty issues are closely related with Marigolds as you just learned with the calming bath aspect.  The oil or cream, used daily, can also help to reduce scars.  Due to the wonderful skin healing character of marigolds, it makes it a crossover cream or oil for skincare in general.

        I just want to tell you how I use them in my garden.  If you plant them around the outer edges of your veggie garden, they repel aphids from your plants and cabbage butterflies as well.  This really does work! 

        If anyone has any other thoughts or ideas of uses for calendula please comment and let me know as well!

        Start picking now!

(This blog is for my friend `Marigold` who`s getting married this weekend! xo)
       

 
 
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        ....is the shelving unit that holds all of our much loved CDs.  These have been acquired throughout the past 18 years by Dan and myself from various places all over.  We are very passionate about our music and always have been which results in a very diverse selection of music filling the house at any given time.  I believe we've become CD hoarders in that we are unable to part with any of them, yet don't really listen to the actual CDs any longer because we have ipods now.  We have an 80GB and a 120GB ipod.  The 80GB is full of music and the 120GB is two thirds full of music as well.  I think we hang on to the CDs because we want them as a backup base (even though we do have an external hard drive backed up) for if we ever lose our music on our ipods.  Not only do we have all this music, but also Dan has boxes and boxes and boxes (did I mention boxes?) of vinyl records in his closet.  And, we picked up a conversion turntable so we could convert all the records to the ipods.  Crazy!  Yes it is, because in order to do that, you must listen to each whole record, flipping over for Side 2 and really?...that takes an excrutiating amount of time which we plan on....someday.  

          The real reason we won't relinquish our CDs is because the sentimental value attached to each and every one is overwhelming!  In the first many years of collecting them, Dan and I would save up $400-$500.00 and head to Toronto for a daytrip.  This was a special day for us and we'd spend ALL day in Sam the Record Man, Sunrise Records and HMV in downtown Toronto.  We wouldn't stay overnight because that would be ridiculous wouldn't it...I mean, why would you spend the money on a hotel room that you could spend on more CDs?  Hahahaha!  We'd look around together for awhile, then separately, then together through every genre in each store.  If we were separately browsing, which by the way is very serious business and you become engrossed, and one of us found something particularly fantabulous, we'd search the aisles for the other and run up saying animatedly, "Look!  Just look at what I found?", grinning like idiots!  Sometimes when we were ready to go, we'd actually have to go through an elimination process because when we tallied up our finds, we'd be over our limit.  That was a horrible moment...knowing you had to put back one or possibly even two and come back another time for them.

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        Leaving the stores behind was always a melancholy moment, but transformed the instant we got into the vehicle and ripped the packaging off the first CD to listen to!  There's nothing like getting home, popping your favourite purchase of the day into the good sound system and pouring yourself a glass of nice merlot while immersing yourself in the glorious sensations of the music. 

        We have a quote that's permanently on our wall in our dining/kitchen which says "Music is what feelings sound like".  As soon as I saw this, I had to have it and figure it prominently in our social area of our home.  It about says it all doesn't it?  On any given day, our music is playing because music can cheer you when you are sad, or help you wallow in your sadness.  It can demonstrate your anger, or quell it and music can bring on feelings of love, peace, kindness or despair, desolation and solitude.  Where else can you find an entity such as music that you can drive with, run with, sleep with, make love with, eat with and dance with.  It can make you think you are as good a singer as Joni Mitchell, Nat King Cole, John Fogerty or Sarah McLachlan....or is that the darned merlot?  Teehee!

        So, you can see how passionately we feel about music and why we can't relinquish any of our CDs.  We are in love with music and no matter how rich or how poor you are, music can always be a part of your life...a good part.

La-la-la-la-la!

(ps.  shelving units are individual towers fastened together from IKEA...they can grow with your collection) 

 
 
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        Everyday strange phenomena has always been of interest to me.  I don't understand it and am in awe of it, and it's certainly one of those "moments" when worlds collide for an instant.  They say that some people have psychic abilities they are unaware of, which only makes sense if you believe we only use 1/10th of our brain our whole lives.  I have a cousin who is extremely psychic, but chooses to close it out because she says it hurts her to see so much going on in people's heads around her.  A friend of mine can read some people better than others and says she gets slammed with information overload all at once and it forms her opinions of people differently than the average non-psychic person.  I believe that I am only very intuitive in the way that I'm sensitive to the thought tones from people and the mental pulses in any given situation.  I don't believe I'm psychic, however, I do believe that everyone can be if they train themselves.
        Is it inherited?  My maternal grandmother was apparently a tea leaf reader and I have had a palm reader throw my palm down in disgust and say "I don't know why I'm doing this...you can do it yourself!", but I haven't and really don't feel like I have that ability.  I am open to ghostly phenomena and had a particularly strange occurrence after my dear friend Dave died years ago.
        I had known Dave from the time I was five years old and we were very close.  Like brother and sister only.  We always had an uncanny ability to communicate telepathically and I've never done that with anyone since, unless you count just knowing what your husband is going to say and finishing sentences for him.  Before Dave passed away at the age of 34 on February 15, 1995,  we had made a bargain that whoever died first would come back and haunt the other one to let them know they were okay.  The day he died, I had been working and when I came home, had a message on my machine from his girlfriend Lori asking me to call her immediately.  I knew before I picked up the phone that he was gone and just that was bizarre, because really, it could have been anything right?  Well, I went right over to their home and we stayed up late with a few other friends who showed up to grieve with Lori and when I got home at 2am, I took a shower.  As I was getting into the shower I said, "You never saw me naked in life, don't start looking at me now!".  When I came out of the shower, all the lights in the house I had turned on, were off, but everyone was still sleeping and the next day, my family all stated they had not turned the lights off, nor had they awakened through the night.
        He died on Feb 15th and on the 19th, a few girls got together at our friend Kim's place (a very old century home).  There was Patty, Kim, Lori, her friend Julie and I in Kim's kitchen for quite some time.  Lori and her friend had to leave to go back to Lori's home to meet up with Dave's brother and we were going to be heading there later.  When we left Kim's place later, I went to get into my car, which was LOCKED, and saw there was a section of newspaper, dated Valentines day, draped over the steering wheel.  Nobody, not even Dan, knew I was at Kim's that night and her house was at that time on the outskirts of the city. 

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  All of us had the chills, but the creepiest part of this unearthly invasion of my space, was that the newspaper had two large pages only and you needed both parts to kind of understand what it meant.  On one side was this article about a Janitor.  That was Dave's position.  He'd been moved into that position out of the steel mill when he started having problems with his heart.  The other side of the open pages was an article entitled "I Was Quite Willing To Die" and it was about a man (retired) from Dofasco who was dying and had his wife euthanize him.  Dave always said he wouldn't live a long life, and didn't want to if his disease progressed like his father's had, but it was the title more than the article that gave me the shivers.  I do believe he was contacting me to let myself and others know that he was okay with what had happened.
        The everyday things that happen are mundane in comparison and I'm sure you've all had them occur with in your life as well.  Thinking about somebody and they call or knowing who's calling before you pick up the phone,  hearing about a new product and then reading about it the same day or running into someone who starts telling you about it the same day....it's usually something that's been around for awhile and then suddenly you're hearing about it two or three times in the same day.  So weird.  How about waking up because you heard your deceased father's voice calling your name as clear as he was standing in the room and you weren't even thinking about him.
        All of the above make you believe worlds are colliding, different spheres exist, and we really don't completely pass on when we're gone.   Imagine if we all trained ourselves to use the other 9/10ths of our brains?!  It would be complete chaos!

Keep an Open Mind!  If you Dare.....       

 
 
            But......it's not happening!  Well, I've been up since 7:40am today and my big plan was to get out in the flower garden and do a bit of weeding.  So far, I've found soooo many other jobs that are just way more exciting!  I've made the marinade for our BBQ Pork Slices we're having this evening and cleaned up from that.  I've made post-it notes for my computer about subjects I can blog about in this blog and the Health Blog. 
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    I killed the last hour cleaning out the spice drawer in our kitchen.  Some of the chili pepper flakes had fallen all over the inside of the drawer and under the spice holder, resulting in a huge mess (which actually was a job I avoided doing on another day!  Hahaha!) so I washed the inside of the drawer and all the little bottles of spices and here they are.  Such a proud moment!  I know...loser. 
    My "point" here today is why is it that we wake up planning on doing one thing and get so totally side-tracked?  Is it just me, or is everyone as ballistic as I am when it comes to setting your mind on doing one thing?  I mean, I've been snapping photos, reading recipes, learning how to link websites together...anything to get out of gardening today and the thing is...it's a GLORIOUS day to be out gardening!  Not too hot.  Not too cold.  What is up with me?  Um, I think the word is "Procrastinator"!  I just can't help myself.  My brain is bouncing from idea to idea, room to room.  Is this a disease caused by blogging?  I know my husband thinks I have blogadigititis.  Is there a psychosis for this yet?  Actually, it really is just an excuse...cuz I've always been like this!  And, I'm worse now that I have backpain because I can't stick with something for very long....no wonder I'm spinning!  I can tell right now that this will be one of those days where you are getting ready for bed in the evening, shaking your head and wondering what the heck you did all day.  I know I'm not alone here......right?

Think I'll go put my laundry away now.....