I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Rosy skies and Mt. Baker
Yesterday I happened to peek out the front window just as the sun was setting and saw Mt. Baker lighted up under this beautiful sky. I quickly pulled out my iPhone, which is always with me, so I could capture the scene. In the few seconds that took, the scene had already begun to lose some of its spectacular color. This is what I saw just before it faded to dark.

At this time of year, we only have 8 hours and 42 minutes of daylight at this latitude, but it's better than it was at the winter solstice. We've already gained almost a half hour, from a low of 8 hours 15 minutes of daylight last month. The return of the light is always a cause for rejoicing. And to have such a sunset to admire from my front porch, well, I'm pleased.

Yesterday was a lovely day from start to finish, even though we didn't see the sun. Why? Because it didn't rain! After several inches fell on the previous two days, everything is soaking wet with puddles of water everywhere, unable to sink into the saturated ground. At least it's mild, with temperatures rising into the high 40s (9°C). I wish I were able to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius without looking at an app, but I cannot. We Americans are one of the few holdouts in the world still using Fahrenheit and not converting to the metric system. Here's an interesting article about why. An excerpt:
This isn't just an aesthetic issue. America's stubborn unwillingness to get rid of Fahrenheit temperatures is part of its generally dumb refusal to change over to the metric system, which has real-world consequences. One conversion error between US and metric measurements sent a $125 million NASA probe to its fiery death in Mars' atmosphere.
It's partly because of old people like me who can't convert the numbers quickly because of a lifetime of habit. When I watch the world news, the worldwide temperatures are given in Celsius and I make a futile attempt to convert those numbers in my head. I do know that 0°C is freezing (32°F) and that makes it a little bit easier to figure. If the news channels just stopped using Fahrenheit, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be long before I got it straight. But for now, it's like learning a foreign language: I must convert words I know into ones I don't, and that takes time.

For now, I've got a few more pressing issues to deal with than lamenting my creaky old brain's foibles. I've decided to visit my sister in Florida next month and have already begun the packing process. I'm not checking a bag, which means I've got to winnow down my important items to a small carry-on and my little backpack/purse. It's been more than a year since I last visited, and during that time I seem to have forgotten everything I learned. She swims every weekday morning in the outdoor pool at her local Y, and I'll be joining her, although I haven't pulled out my swimsuit since my last trip. Plus I need earplugs and a swim cap so that I don't get water in my ears. That's just one part of my visit that reminds me to pack the right stuff.

And I worry about staying healthy between now and then, since everybody around me is getting sick these days. My friend John just spent four days in the hospital with the flu, although he got a flu shot and is usually healthy as a horse. When I went on the walk with the ladies yesterday, several were either missing because of illness or on the way to recovery, with hoarse voices and low energy. I am washing my hands every chance I get, and trying to remind myself not to bring my hands to my face all the time. Once I read about this tip to keep from getting sick, I was really amazed to notice how often I touch my face.

This week I will have the final checkup for the cataract surgery on my eyes, and I will finally (finally!) finish with the twice-daily drops. Four weeks of drops in each eye, with three times a day for the first week. I've gotten accustomed to the routine, though, and I am needing to put artificial tears in the left eye, which feels dry and scratchy otherwise. I'm guessing that once I finish with the right eye this week, I'll be doing the same with it. At least I will be finished with the prescription drops.

It's wonderful to see so much better these days, and although I still have some residual flashes in my left eye, they seem to be diminishing as the days pass. The problem for me is that I will never have healthy eyes again, with the macular degeneration still there and progressing. The good part is that when I am sitting here with my laptop, I don't need to wear glasses, or when I'm reading. When I drive I need them, or when I go to the movies and want to see everything crystal clear at a distance. Otherwise, I am content to go without glasses and let the world out there be slightly blurry as I gaze into the distance. I can still see better without glasses than I did with them before the surgeries.

I watched the Golden Globes awards show last week (although for the majority of the show I had the TV on and the sound off) and because of the show I started watching This Is Us. It's currently in its second season on NBC, but because I can watch season one on Hulu, I've been watching a couple episodes every time I get a chance. It reminds me of Parenthood, a series I enjoyed a few years ago. It's about a family dynamic that begins with the birth of triplets. Well, sort of. As with all these kinds of dramas, it's complicated. The show goes back and forth in time to three different periods, one of them being the present day. There are things that happened earlier and the show drops a few clues but doesn't reveal critical information all at once. I'm hooked after five episodes.

Well, now you're up to speed in all that's happening in my life. I do hope that wherever you are in the world, that you are healthy and safe. In this turbulent world, it's good to count our blessings and be glad for what we have in our lives that keeps us going forward with appreciation. I found this quote from Denis Waitley, which sums it up pretty well:
Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. 
Dear readers, I wish you all good things once again this week and until we meet again,  be well and remember to embrace the moment.


Marty Damon said...

Thank you for that quote, DJan. I woke up unaccountably grumpy today and it was just what I needed.
I wonder where your sister lives? I'm here for four months in Venice, and when the weather warms up I'll return to one of my favorite things - water aerobics in the outdoor pool at the Y!
Throw a sweater in that bag. This morning we woke up to 38 degrees.

Linda Reeder said...

Good morning. We'll soon be setting out for an urban adventure, trekking along the canal and visiting the Sunday markets in Fremont and Ballard. We have a beautiful day ahead of us.
After seeing the movie "The Darkest Hour" last night, I am energized! And full of gratitude, for my life partner in all things, the abundance of my life, and the freedom to live it as I choose.

Marie Smith said...

Great photo, Jan. Great idea not to check luggage. It’s been colder than usual in Florida but the visit with your sister will make up for the less than perfect weather, if it stays the same as now. Have a great week!

Far Side of Fifty said...

I hope it warms up in Florida before you get there! I am glad to hear that you will be visiting your sister. It is snowing here now and above zero but only for a few hours then we have wind chill warnings...so I will go out soon and walk around. I suppose if we had learned C versus F in school like times tables we would all know how to convert!:)

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you for that lovely quote. Which would make a fine mantra.
I hope your week goes well. And would love (as always) some of your rain and some of your countries cooler temperatures.

Gigi said...

Last time I was Houston, my friend and I binged on season one of This is Us and loved it. Unfortunately, it comes on too late for me to watch it on regular tv. I figure it will hit Netflix sooner or later, hopefully.

It's not just you - I have never been able to figure out Celsius or the metric system - and we even had lessons on it in school!

Love your sunset. Have wonderful week, my friend.

Red said...

Systems of measurement catch my attention. Metric. The whole problem is the idea of conversion. You don't convert when you use one system...metric! Right? I try to be courteous on the blog for my American followers . Other than that I never convert anything. I know what a kilogram is. I know what a centimeter is. You just have to know each one and forget about feet and inches.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Beautiful quote!

Rita said...

I was never taught metric system in school other than them telling us about it in a math class in senior high. We never used it that I can recall. I am lost with it, too. If they just did it--switched over--we'd be forced to get used to it. I can't visualize it at all like I can inches and feet and yards. Temperatures--have to see a conversion chart. Everything is different--sizes of clothes and shoes--weights--recipes--everything! There would be so much to change. But the young ones would know it if that is what they were taught--and I could carry around a little conversion booklet. ;)

It's been colder than normal farther south. Places have had snow that rarely ever get snow. It will be a little more difficult to pick out clothes for the trip. Layers. Layers are always good. ;)

Blessings to you and yours! Have a great day. :)

Anonymous said...

That's a wonderful quote to remember. Thanks for sharing it, DJan. Many blessings to you as you move forward.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you for bringing us up to date on what's been happening. You must be excited about your Florida trip to visit your sister. I know from you blog how close the two of you are.

Thanks also for the definition of happiness. It feels right to me. I wonder what philosophers say about the difference between happiness and contentment. Mostly I'm feeling content with my wonderful life. Peace.

Glenda Council Beall said...

I would love to go to Florida this month. the cold and horrible weather just makes me hibernate, but that is good for de-cluttering and getting some writing done. I hope you have a wonderful time with your sister. My sister is coming to see me next week for a few days. We always have such a good time together. Stay well.

John's Island said...

Hello DJan! I enjoyed this post. I am so with you about being careful to avoid the flu. You are so right about the habit of touching face … I read about that a while back and since then have been more aware of what I’m doing. One preventative measure I’ve taken is putting a plastic jar of hand sanitizer in my car’s center console. I’ve tried to form a habit of getting into the car and using the sanitizer after going into any public place like a grocery store. Wow, the news is scaring me about the folks who have gotten the flu this year and have passed away even if they have been in good shape. Thank you for sharing your blog and for your kind comments on mine. Wishing you a fine week and good health until I see you again on your next Eye on the Edge! John

Linda Myers said...

I am completely delighted at your happiness with your eye procedures!