The Art of Keeping Warm

The temperature outside has warmed up a bit which surprisingly makes the house feel cooler. It is not cold enough for the heat to come on. Normally if I am moving about doing chores I do not notice too much. But once I sit down I can feel the coolness.

I have always been one who has difficulty staying warm in cold weather. When I lived in Alaska, I had a huge parka, complete with synthetic fur trim around the sleeves and the hood. Temperatures often dipped below zero, so staying warm was paramount.

Since my time in Alaska, I have lived in Maine (also cold), Florida (usually hot) and now North Carolina which tends to be more temperate. In Florida, during the few cold weeks in winter, our house got cold. Our heat came from an electric heat pump and houses there are rarely well-insulated. But the cold weather did not last.

Although I live in an isothermal belt, I still get cold in winter. Maybe another ‘gift’ of aging. I think, however, since I have always been like this, it is just my lot in life. I do love the change in seasons, but keeping warm takes some effort on my part.

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Hubby just bought me a small Dyson combination heater/fan/air cleaner that I use in our small family room where I usually write. Writing is so hard for me when my hands are cold. It is a pretty cool gadget and keeps the room warm so I can be comfortable writing.

I have a pair of Rieker fleece-lined boots which I bought ages ago. They are suede ankle boots and so warm for going out on cold days. I dread the idea that these boots will eventually break down. Last year I searched but of course, the styles have changed so I could not find a pair similar to the pair I have.

I have a couple of fleece-lined hoodies I wear around the house They are easy to zip off if I get too warm (which is rarely the case). I also have some fleece lined slippers with hard soles that keep my feet off our floors which are on top of cement slab.

I love wool socks, too. I buy wool socks at Costco which help keep my feet warm. I also have several pair of SmartWool brand socks that are thinner and stylish which I love wearing with my boots. They are a little pricier, so they always go on my Christmas list.

I have a couple of stocking caps, which are nice except the knit is too lose so in windy weather the wind cuts right through. I did find a SmartWool cap which I might suggest to hubby as a thoughtful Christmas gift.

My biggest issue with staying warm in the house is my hands. They are always cold. This is half the reason I cannot give up drinking coffee in the morning. Holding that warm coffee cup is divine!

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Of course bedtime is another concern. Our bedrooms are upstairs, so we keep the heat temperature lower at night. This means the bedrooms get quite cool. Nothing that some stylish flannel sheets from the Vermont Country Store and a down comforter cannot fix, though!  I love these sheets. They are made in Portugal and I love the cardinal and chickadee pattern.

I think about the number of years I lived in Alaska and Maine and am not sure how I survived. I do love the seasons, but I do need to be warm to enjoy the colder weather.

I do not know how my northern friends survive!


Lost In the Swirl

This is the third or fourth time I started my blog today. I am feeling a bit like Ms. Cranky Pants writing a paragraph or two and then deleting it. It is not that I do not have anything to write about, it is just the opposite. There are TOO many things I could write about.

I feel like blaming my foul mood on politics and the impeachment hearings would be a valid reason for my crankiness. Of course I could also blame it on the unexpected call I received this morning that ruffled my feathers and interrupted my morning routine. I could blame it on not getting enough sleep last night and my inability to pull cohesive thoughts together.

Instead, I will tell you how happy I am to be sitting in this sunbeam pouring through my windows.  I feel like a cat whose happiness depends on that single solitary beam of sunlight flooding the floor. It makes the coffee just a little richer and a tiny bit little sweeter.

My thoughts drift to these huge leaves on the tree outside our living room so I took a break to walk outside. The leaves near the ground are huge, at least 10 inches long. They are remarkable. Maybe a Bur Oak but it will take a little research to know for sure.

I did a short walk around the house. The camellias are perplexing. They have buds, flowers, and dying blooms all on the same bush. It must be a confusing season for the plants. But regardless of their stage of life, there is some beauty to be found.

There is a Downy Woodpecker at the feeder not at all worried about the swirl I was feeling. He is just doing what woodpeckers do. Suddenly I feel calmer. More at ease. Less caught up in the chaos. Nature has some magical powers.



1LinerWednesday – I Am Lucid

It is always nice when I can use my blog to share good news concerning other people that I admire and support.

Today, I am sharing a blog post written by my friend Kim Halsey as she announces her Patreon page to the world:

100 Days to a Shitty First Draft

I love the title of her blog post. I think it is something many writers can relate to.

Her Patreon page, I Am Lucid, is designed to help writers get through the pain of writing that story or book they always wanted to write and actually get it published.

Congratulations, Kim. I wish you good fortune in this brave and generous undertaking.

One Liner Wednesday is hosted each Wednesday by Linda Hill. Click on this link to get all the rules and join in the fun. Be sure to read all the comments while you are there!


Managing WordPress Comments

Well, folks, it finally happened. I received my first WordPress comment looking for a wife. It happens to all of us eventually. Bizarre comments from some spam-like email or website. This comment ended up in my “pending” queue thankfully.

It is rare that I see these types of comments, so I thought I would explain a little about how I manage comments on my blog.

WordPress Settings

New bloggers may not understand how to modify the settings that impact their blogs so let us walk through it. The comment settings are contained in Settings/Discussions. I am sharing screen prints of my current settings. Most are self-explanatory.


The first three settings are the default settings for all your posts. These may be overridden when you compose your posts in most themes.

The second section, Comments, are the guidelines for processing comments left on your blog. I recommend requiring users to use their name and e-mail address. This helps weed out spam and determine if the comments are valid. The e-mail address is not shown on the comment, but is available to you.

I find with the other parameters, you will tweak them as your blog grows based on your personal preference. For example, I used to turn off comments on blogs older than 14 days. But with the search capability on the WordPress reader and the ability for search engines to unearth old blogs, I wanted the ability for people to comment on those blogs.

3D2D65C7-A523-435E-AD44-970BB0C52324.jpegThe next section controls how you choose to handle the comments people leave BEFORE they get posted to your blog post. I do not choose to manually approve every blog post. To me, that is time consuming. Instead, I opt to require a comment author be approved by me once, before their comments can appear without approval.

You do have the ability to hold comments in queue if they contain links. Links are generally used by spammers. I have found that by requiring an approved comment first, this has not been a problem for me. Often times, bloggers I value will leave links to an interesting article or to one of their posts that might be related to what I have written. I would not want to hold those comments back.

The next section is one I use frequently. I scan comments for keywords I know are suspect. There are two keyword lists.

The first holds comments in moderation so you have the opportunity to either approve or disapprove them. The second list is a blacklist. I create this list based on experience and prior comments I have received. Comments in this group will automatically be sent to trash — but even those comments remain until you delete them.

It is important to review your comment queues frequently. WordPress is not without glitches from time to time. I have found important and valued comments in the trash before for no apparent reason. Never fear, though, you can still approve comments that have been placed in the trash.

Now, one of my frustrations with WordPress, especially for new users, is the abbreviated menus and settings displayed unless you login using WP-Admin. There are additional controls there.


This is where you will find settings for follows, comment box displays, Askimet (spam filter) settings and Avatars. I use the strict filters of Askimet but that is your choice to decide what works for you.

I want to leave you with one last thought although not about comments necessarily. When you review your followers, do not hesitate to delete followers whom you may find offensive or otherwise annoying. This is your blog, your rules.


Stomach Bug

I was hit with a stomach bug last night. I have been feeling a bit ‘puny’ today and have done very little.

I did write some on my NaNoWriMo novel but that is about all I accomplished. I also took a few minutes to step outside for a little fresh air and to observe the last bits of fall color. So many of our trees are bare now.

Hopefully, I will be more up to par tomorrow and will feel like writing a bit more. In the meantime, enjoy these four photos I snapped.


IMG_0047IMG_0053 2IMG_0056

IMG_3222Now, where did those flowers come from in the midst of this crazy weather?

aging gracefully, Blog

The Transition of Monday

Mondays are very different for me as a retiree. When I was working full-time, it was a day of dread. If not careful, it was easy to sacrifice part of the weekend by thinking about what Monday would entail.

We now choose to run our errands during the week so as to avoid the weekend shopping crowd. Today, for example, I will go to Costco. I never go on the weekend if I can avoid it. Monday always seems to be the target day to ‘start’ something.

Today we started our morning walks again. It was wet from some early morning showers. The number of leaves on the ground seem to equal the number remaining on the trees, but there is still some fall color here in the foothills.

Today is also the day I start clearing the counters and the mantle for holiday decorations. I will put out some fall and Thanksgiving decorations even though we are not cooking this year. It is still nice to enjoy the festive nature of the season.

This week I will start unpacking our Dept. 56 New England village. In this house, they go above the kitchen cabinets for some lovely lighting ambiance and will stay up until after the new year. Since they are not Christmas themed, it is nice to get them out in advance of the other decorations.

Weekdays are a perfect time to meet friends and family for lunch. I hope to meet my niece this week to catch up with her. Restaurants can still be a little crowded for lunch, but the traffic is definitely much lighter.

I will continue to work on my NaNoWriMo novel. I am around 28,000 words now so I am on track. Last night I decided it was time to kill off one of my characters so today I am working on how best to do that.

The ability to manage my time is one of the best things about retirement. And I look forward to Monday’s now much more than when I was working.