Fall Favorites

fall

 

When I had a roofdeck, I would plant morning glories in every container and by the end of the summer, their huge blue flowers would cover every rail (and take a few hours to cut down late fall!).  The best morning glory for quantity of blooms is Heavenly Blue.  If planted in the ground, they can become invasive so must be managed – ie. Keep your eyes peeled and pull up extras in the spring.

My favorite combinations for a yard include blue asters, Sedum Autumn Joy and Montauk Daisies planted together.  You might find Montauk Daisies at the local Whole Foods sold as potted plants – just throw them in the ground for a fairly large shrub for next year!  These are very hardy, very florific white daisies in the late fall when nothing else is in bloom.  Trim these down some in fall but primarily in early spring (before June).  These will also easily root if a branch is touching the soil so are easily proliferated.  Note that asters are also very easy to just shovel in half to divide.  I was so glad I had divided my favorite before it was infested and killed by AZALEA LACE BUGS.  Lesson there is to take quick action when you see anything starting to falter – inspect and deal with it.

Caution:  I would not plant a white aster, which is lovely for a few years, and then will invade your entire bed and spread around your yard.  Do not do it!

Mums are great and are perennials – I have heard if you buy the ones distributed in the fall and plant them early enough, they might come back.  I haven’t had much luck with that but have beautiful perennial ones I have ordered from catalogs and planted in the spring.  Mums will also spread so don’t hesitate to pull out strays you see coming up.  They get to be 3-4’ tall and should be staked late August.  Nothing beats a few mums bought at the local nursery to spruce up a worn bed – I will plant them in sets of 3 in my main perennial beds.

My Favorite Classical Piano Solo Pieces

This used to be a top 10 list but it has a few more now – these are pieces I want to always keep in my fingers to play without notice. Please let me know what yours are!

Chopin – Berceuse Op 57

Chopin – Nocturne Eb major Op 9 o 2

Chopin – Waltz Op 34 Nr 2 (can you ever have enough Chopin?!)

Debussy – Clair de Lune

Debussy – La Plus que Lente

Gerschwinn – Preludes 1,2

Grieg – Notturno Op 54 No 4

Brickman – Over the Rainbow

Mark Hayes – (brilliant, wonderful composer/musician) – Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen  Info on Mark Hayes

Mark Hayes – Simple Gifts

Brahms – intermezzo Op 118 No 2

Liszt – Liebestraume (heart heart heart)

Perrin – When I Look Into Your Holiness (arr. Roger House)

Tschaikovsky – Romance Op 5

Now I gotta go and practice….. 🙂

 

 

“loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself” – rupi kaur

This book is a treasure.  It has truly inspired me to try to write poetry.  She has a lot of simple phrases (ideas) so well stated as in the title of this blog and a few longer ones like this:

“i want to apologize to all the women

i have called pretty

before i’ve called them intelligent or brave

i am sorry i made it sound as though

something as simple as what you’re born with

is the most you have to be proud of when your

spirit has crushed mountains

from now on i will say things like

you are resilient or you are extraordinary

not because i don’t think you’re pretty

but because you are so much more than that

This paragraph strikes me today because I also read an article about how to help kids get grit and the advice was if they do well, to tell them they are so “hard working” and not “smart.”  The test groups that were told “hard working” did better on a much harder test given afterwards.

I picked the title because a friend’s child told me after they had two weeks alone at home that he hated living alone and never wanted to do it again.  That scared me because I want him to be happy with himself and be confident in his journey – not afraid of reaching out to meet new friends – or to face his own fears. I sent him this quote.

Here is my first pass at trying this myself (no laughing) because part of what rupi does so well is capture everyday moments so well.  With my shoulder surgery, I found myself every morning in the bathroom with my sweet husband doing my hair for me (and he is bald so this was not his strength!) and decided I wanted to write about that:

“Love is

a husband

doing my hair

daily for weeks

when I cannot.

I reassure him

I’ll still need him

when I’m better”

Well, it’s a start!  Wasn’t there a book saying you have to practice something 10,000 times to be great.  One down…..

Container Planting

“Success has been defined as the ability to go from failure to failure with equal enthusiasm.”  – Unknown with some attributions to Lincoln or Churchill

The first year I did container gardening on my Boston roofdeck, I carried four 30 gallon leaf bags full of dirt down five flights of stairs in the fall. I didn’t know I could reuse “dirt” year after year by adding a little cow manure and compost to freshen the pots.  And potting/container mix is not the same as garden soil, which is much heavier and has a different composition.  My preference is for Coast of Maine products but definitely beware of Kellogg organic plus found at Lowes and Home Depot which almost killed all my plants.

I would find a pretty flower and put short phlox, or delphinium, or bleeding hearts or bachelor buttons in a container in the spring not realizing the flowers would soon go away and then add nothing to the small space requiring plants with maximum impact.  Read the labels for flowering season, zone and if for sun or shade.

After buying some new containers, plants I knew would do well, and new soil, I planted them and almost killed them because I didn’t moisten the soil and it takes an awful lot of water to wet dry soil.  Spend a few minutes with the hose and then stick your finger in the soil to see how moist it is.  Now I water the soil as I put it in the pots to ensure it is moist all the way through.

My second year, I wanted more and more so I realized I needed to buy containers at least 14″ wide and deep.  What I hadn’t learned yet was that when you have large containers, you need larger plants and that low growing sedum would just look silly in a 20″ round pot.  My favorites for height in containers is mandevilla, salvia, dahlias, geraniums, zinnias, elephant ears or caladiums, heliopsis lorraine, lavender, daylilies, and shrub roses.

I also realized that any space needs a variation in height so I experimented with vines and found little trellises that go in the back of a container to help morning glories grow up to the top of the deck rail or mandevilla vines or thunbergia.

Note:  My goals is to start doing a series on gardening.  This is a draft of my first attempt.  Be kind.  Be patient and this will get better 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEING SMALLER – May 2018

You can do it. I am 51 and have been at it since Nov 2017 – lost 42 pounds and am determined to never say again …”I used to” as I can be my best self right now. Last night I fit into every old and favorite piece of clothing I have and hadn’t worn in over 10-15 years – it was AWESOME! I had been looking for guidance like this for two years being frustrated with working out hard (crossfit) but not making progress. Other benefits: Post crossfit workout recovery is ridiculously better than before (and I wasn’t eating unhealthy at all – just too much), my breathing issues have gone away, my sleep is better, and I don’t feel sick anymore or have headaches.

Keep the faith. Took two months to see scale changes although I lost inches and felt better right away. My weight plot is attached. I’ve been pretty strict the whole time with <5 days where I went “crazy” overeating which now is like 500 calories over plan 🙂

Next step is getting leaner and stronger, having my rotator cuff surgery in June, which gives me the opportunity to work legs/abs and to perhaps start that book I’ve been thinking about…

One important lesson learned is the criticality of habit. I am a Bergeron fan and he had a podcast about the importance of doing things every day – finding what’s important to you and focusing on it. Now I try to be active every day, and am throwing out the “I will go to the gym 3x a week and I can always go the next day” mentality to being active daily. Try and replace bad habits with good ones and get that fitbit to understand what you’re doing for activity levels and sleep – one thing I love about it is that little positive message it gives me when I put it on after my shower:)

Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to badass with my man, Josh Citron of StrongerU- thank you.

 

 

“Impatience – Nov 2017”

I want it now.  I want the body I had at 30 and I don’t want to wait years to get it back.  I was at crossfit for a solid year and made a ton of improvements, then married the man of my dreams and started a new job.  It all went awry.  Tonite was my first day back for a long time and as usual, the warmup kicked my butt.  I keep telling myself that this time, I won’t try to keep competing with the youngsters even though I USED TO do more pullups than they do, an strictly, not the kipping crap.  Age has improved some things…. my deadlift, my patience, the number of scarves I have (world class collection) yet don’t know how to wear, the number of lotions and little chocolates in my bedside table (found a bouncy rubber eyeball in there the other day also), and my knowledge that the place to start building a life is where you are right now.

I’ve been thinking about shaking things up a bit.  I am 51.  Have been in the arms of thousands of men dancing, traveled around the world yet still don’t feel I have found my voice – in a blog like this or musically.  I’d be so proud if I could pick up my clarinet or piano and just play with someone else.  Silly I know as when has that ever been the case…. but something original I mean.  Isn’t it Ok to just try and have fun without being great?  the benchmarks I set for myself are so high I frustrate myself about achieving them.

BTW – note added Sept 2018:  Found this draft post I forgot to publish and a few months ago had a redo of that warmup and completed it without any rest.  I’m pretty sure it was jumping jacks with a burpee every time a certain word was said in Thunderstruck…

Thinking Bigger – Aug 2018

My nutrition coach, Josh Citron, gave me some sage advice that I took to heart.  He told me that when he is looking for encouragement, he turns to others accomplishments and sent me links to two videos, which have totally inspired me to think bigger.  Both were about people who did things that totally blew me away.  I had no idea there were 100 mile races, or the Iron Cowboy that did 50 ironmans in 50 days in 50 states (the thought of one ironman to me is such an awesome accomplishment), or several marathon type races over several days in rugged terrain (Barkley Marathon)…..

I added these links below along with a recent podcast from Ben Bergeron where he emphasizes doing what you are afraid of and not following feelings – waiting to “feel like” going to the gym, etc.  Facing fear – the title of this blog.

So because of that, I’ve found an athletic coach and athlete extraordinare, Gary Lombardo – to help me improve (plenty of opportunity there) and to be the best physically I’ve ever been at the age of 52.

I love being at the bottom – being the worst at something and getting better so it should be a good year.  I intend to blog through this process – writing has been another personal goal of mine.  Can I still do it?  I have only done hundreds of powerpoint presentations the last 30 years…. I wonder if I have anything to say.  Reading and writing will be a part of this journey as well and I will share books and my thoughts about them in future posts.

A few weeks ago I was given permission by my surgeon and physical therapist to run and I immediately did a 5K at Mine Falls in Nashua.  Fell and face planted in gravel (feature pic of this post)

– luckily on my good side else I’d be having my shoulder surgery again.  I was scared doing that race – not because I hadn’t run that far recently but I just hadn’t done anything like that in a long while.  Doing things I am afraid of gives me a sense of accomplishment as well as proving that most fears are unfounded and that without putting yourself out there to be vulnerable, you won’t discover things about yourself or meet others that truly inspire you.

 

 

http://www.richroll.com/podcast/iron-cowboy-2/

 

 

Finally appreciating the journey – Jan 2018

I had enough.  Saw my friend, Steve Lebel, on facebook looking fantastic and was first in admiration, then thought my current state is bullshit – how did he do it.  I used to be the person people admired at the gym and now found myself 30+ pounds overweight and not active.  Ever since the slow decline starting back in 2004 (and stint in sales…), I’ve had very brief periods of trying to manage nutrition as I once did but never with enthusiasm and had found it difficult to work by myself at the gym.

Falling in place in pieces:

Back in 2004 timeframe, I had bad rotator cuff issues which made it difficult to raise my arms parallel to the ground, needed stretching and found yoga at an awesome studio that opened up on my block in Boston, Sadhana under the mastery of Glen Cunningham, and started to repair that.  Through those years I realized I need to start building community where I live and once I had some silent thoughtful time, realized I needed more of that – craved it.

Then as my neck/back issues continued making it impossible to move my head to the side, I hung out with the chiropractor, who one day knowing I used to be a lifter, recommended Crossfit.

When I moved to Hollis, NH in 2011, I visited the Crossfit gym and joined and have participated in spurts ever since – sometimes long spurts like 10 months in 2016 – frustrated that I could go regularly, eat “well” and still not lose weight or make the gains I wanted in the gym.  Recovery was hard and my aerobic capacity still lacked and I dealt (still do) with breathing issues like wheezing during hard activity – started taking Fluticasone and Flonase to help as at one point, I couldn’t even take a deep breath.

I had reached out for help to the Crossfit coaches, other crossfit gyms, etc and did not get good response.  Steve Lebel was using a nutritional guidance program called StrongerU so I signed up and it has a philosophy I believe in.  Watch and manage what you eat – weight it, know how many grams of fat, protein, carbs you are ingesting.  Gave guidance for what is healthier to eat (which I already knew) but had flexibility in that you just had to make your macros, report in weekly, take pictures, get a scale and work with data.  Iphone and apps like “Myfitnesspal” make this infinitely easier than when I tracked this by hand in excel back in 1998!  Just as back then, when given instructions (weekly), I have absolutely no issues following the rules.  I joined Nov. 1 and am in week 12:

  • Have felt infinitely better since I cleaned up my diet.  My motto is “Clean eating, honest reporting, and working on Badass.  NOT drinking and snacking and sitting on the couch.”
  • My recovery after crossfit is 100x easier
  • I started going back to crossfit the 2nd week of Nov and have been going 3-4 times ever since making gains and feeling better with less weight on me
  • Took a month until the scale started showing improvement – persistance!
  • Bought a fitbit at first to monitor my daily activity, then realized the value in measuring sleep, and can track runs, pacing, etc.  My family focus has improved as I have weekly contests with my sisters!
  • I’ve lost 12-15 lbs in 12 weeks and feel great physically and mentally.
  • I started a book group with like minded women from crossfit to talk about mental toughness, what makes people successful, etc – first meeting next week.

Finally, I am patient with myself, happy to believe in this process and to enjoy improving and learning and being able to say that now is my best self, no more “I used to….”

 

Beware: Marion Dale Curren, ~Age 74

Do not let Marion Dale Curren Have Access to Your financial Holdings!

Alias:  Mike Curren, Pete Curren, Randy Curren 



DOB: Jan 5, 1943. Born in Bessemer, Alabama. Some records may have a birthdate a year earlier.

Description: about 5’9″ and 160 lbs.



Relatives: Might have a relative named Randy 



Locations: Presently in New Mexico near the border to Mexico. Past locations: Reynoldsburg, OH, Columbus, OH, Brice, OH, Worthington, OH, Logan, OH, Las Vegas, Oregon, Oklahoma

Marion Curren met my mother as she was retiring. She had a house paid in full with money in the bank and no debt.  He conned her into thinking he loved her and even spoke to us children to assure us how much he loved her and that he would never hurt her. She is now left with $100k of debt and a huge mortgage against the house.  A large collection of antique lionel trains that my father collected prior to his death 30 years ago is also missing…valued at ~$40k.

Once he got all he could from her, he took any remaining items of value from the house and left, leaving no forwarding address, abandoning any responsibility for the debt he incurred.

He will buy things on credit, sell them for cash, pocket the cash and abandon any responsibility for the debt he incurred. He has a manic-depressive disorder also which combined with no conscience and enormous financial irresponsibility, makes him a very dangerous person.

I believe that he has done this before and will do it again!

We have found documents showing that he has several safe deposit boxes at Century and US Bank and I suspect elsewhere. He is wanted by several credit agencies. Before meeting my mother, he declared bankruptcy, yet showed a huge roll of money he kept in his bedroom.

Please ensure that other kind, compassionate, vulnerable women are not taken advantage of by this man!

If you have any information about this man or need more information,

8 Steps to Get People in a Continuous Improvement Mindset

One of the most challenging jobs I’ve had is converting a company culture from a R&D to production mindset.  This means everyone has to stop thinking of each project as a unique event and start thinking about how to standardize the work and eliminate waste to reduce costs and lead time as quickly as possible.  This can be done not just on a repeatable manufactured product, but also on processes or projects, as with construction, that have a lot of commonality between jobs although the duration/scope may be slightly different.

Kickstart this process by doing a short training on the 8 types of waste – over producing, wasting time, transport, processing time/duplication, inventory, excess motion, scrap and rework and under utilization of people.  What I’ve found works best is to get a cross functional group together and brainstorm examples by type of waste on the product, process or job you want to address.

I would recommend writing up everyones’ ideas on a whiteboard or using post-its on a wall under each waste header.  Once issues are identified, the team can quickly prioritize which ones should be addressed first.  Prioritization should be highest on issues that are easiest to resolve and have the highest payback.  Payback can ultimately be in valued in dollars in many ways including reduced inventory, faster cycle time (increased productivity), improved quality (less time spent managing quality issues), and reduced transportation costs.  I typically give everyone a marker and have them mark their top 5 right on the board.  The ones with the most votes win.

This exercise serves two purposes, making folks aware of what waste is so they can more easily identify and eliminate it going forwards as well as leaving the team with a prioritized list of opportunities.  An additional benefit is that everyone has a chance to vent on the issues they’ve worked through and feel included on the path going forwards!

5S is More than a “Morale Booster”

I have been implementing Lean for 20 years across the supply chain and ran the Lean Six Sigma organization for a major GE business.  Benefits can be quantified to show the value of using Lean to achieve critical business goals.  5S (sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain) does “help morale” and is intuitively a “good thing”  but can also be quantified using two metrics:

  1. Lead time of a product through the shop or time to complete a job – It is fundamental in program management or basic shop floor control to know the start and end time.  If this type of data isn’t yet being recorded, it needs to be.  More output (or increased capacity) with the same people and equipment is a productivity improvement and can lead to increased revenues. Putting process in place to gather this data is the first step to making issues visible, knowing how you are performing and quantifying benefits.
  2. Quality – Depending on the situation, this might be defect per unit or “job” if on a construction site, scrap, returns for poor quality, etc.  It is important to realize that as an organization moves from being reactionary to being proactive (continuous improvement mindset), it will appear that things get worse before they get better  because the problems start becoming visible.

Implementing 5S at a minimum should improve these two areas.  Shorter lead times and improved quality mean increased capacity and productivity, less scrap, reduced inventory, and either more output with the same people or space to add some additional service (ie. prefabrication in construction environment).

I would make sure before you start a 5S event, that you work with leadership to find out what data is available or setup a process to capture the data in order to quantify the benefits.  And improved morale while you work is pretty awesome too!

 

A Journey in Professional and Personal Continuous Improvement

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