Sunday, February 12, 2012

Your 20 Questions - Answered!!

My experiences in blogging have opened up a world of opportunity for me to meet so many interesting and wonderful people from all over the world. Through email conversations I have shared experiences, had some great "girl talk", and enjoyed learning more about the folks who visit me here at my blog.  Over the past several months, I have kept a journal of the many varied questions that I have  been asked.  So finally- I am taking the time and this opportunity to answer those questions.  My way of helping you all  get to know me a little better~~   

Waiting for the water taxi in Venice, Italy
(sitting beside my 2 bags Full!)

Throughout this post, as I answer your questions, I'll also share with you some photos from our travels over the past few years. Are you ready - here we go~~

  Bridge of Sighs, Venice Italy 

1. What is the Gardener's real name?
If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked that question - I would be so rich!!  His real name is Danny - but I call him "Babe."  My husband is a retired civil engineer.  He is one of those guys who can fix anything - but the best thing that he ever fixed -- is me! 

   Dover, England 
2. How did you meet the Gardener?
This is such a funny story~~ we were both newly divorced and I had taken my son on a ski trip to Snowshoe Resort.  It was a rainy weekend, I did not want to go, but my son was 8 years old and I had promised - so-- we went.  I had taken him to the resort pool to go swimming and while I was there, I went to sit in the hot tub while my son was playing with some children in the pool.  As it turned out, it was my husbands children, and he came over to sit in the hot tub and talk to me.  The rest, as they say is history,  but my husband likes to jokingly say that "you should be careful when you sit in a hot tub because you just might catch something!"

 On the cruise ship- just leaving Ushuaia, Argentina

3. You always seem to love challenges - are you afraid of anything?
My biggest fear in the world is elevators.  Not heights, really, just elevators.  I work on the 5th floor of the hospital - so every morning, and at least 2 or 3 other times during the day - I climb 5 flights of stairs.  I've done it so much now that I can pretty much do the whole 5 flights without stopping.  I do of course, have to ride elevators, but I won't ride one alone.  (but heaven help the person who would get stuck on an elevator with me- because I will no doubt go totally crazy!) There - I said it!!

  St. John's, New Brunswick

4.  What is your biggest challenge?
Honestly, my biggest challenge is my weight.  I did Weight Watchers about 8 years ago, lost a LOT of weight, and then over the past several years, I got lax and well, - you know what happened.  I started a serious exercise regimen this past March, as well as returning to the Weight Watcher's diet - and I have knocked off over 35 pounds.  So, my biggest challenge is just staying true to the plan.  I religiously count my points every day - it is truly now just how I live my life.  I don't feel that I have to give  up anything - I just make a plan for it and work it into my daily points if I want it bad enough.  You know what they say~~ "it's a life style, not a diet".  For me that is totally true.  After losing and gaining and now finally LOSING again, I am not going to stop counting ever again.  This is the one true thing that I have learned - the older you get, the HARDER it is to lose weight - I am staying true to myself this time and keeping diet and exercise as a regular part of my daily plan.   

 VilleFranche, France

5. If you could make one wish and have it come true~~
I would give almost anything to be sitting at the kitchen table talking to my Dad again.  This is a perfect example of how it is truly the little things that mean so much in life.  My parents have been gone almost 10 years now, and my heart still hurts~

 Mannarola, (Cinque Terre), Italy

6. If you could choose just one place amongst all of your travels as your most favorite - what would it be?  Several years ago - I tore a page out of a travel magazine.  The photo was similar to the one just above here.  I thought it was the most magnificent sight and I told myself that someday- I wanted to be able to visit this very place.  I kept that page - for years it seems, folded it - lost it half a dozen times - but always found it and finally put it on the wall in my Sacred Yarn room - where I would see it everyday.  On a recent trip to Europe - a Mediterranean cruise - one of our cruise ports was Liverno Italy.  Knowing that this would be my best chance to visit Cinque Terre, we arranged ahead of time for a guide to drive us to this incredible place - a World Heritage site - a community of 5 cities nestled into the cliffs along the coast of Italy.  THIS was my dream come true.  Being here was everything I could have hoped for and more.  On the famous Via Amore path - we stopped and my husband took this photo.  When I turned around and looked back at Mannarola - I realized that this - THIS was the photo that I had kept close to my heart for so many years.  I had a major melt down right there and had to compose myself after a bit so that my husband could take this photo.  Now - I have that photo for my own - and the only difference is that I am in it!  This is proof that you should never give up on your dreams - they really can come true.  I will be doing a travel photo essay on this incredible place later this spring.  I will also be doing a photo essay on Venice  - another place that I hold dear to my heart~

 On a cruise ship - sailing around Cape Horn.
(that's it in the background - just a great big rock!) 

7.  What is most important to you in your life?
You know - I am actually so happy to be 54 years old and answer this question.  I think that a few years ago my answer would have maybe not been the same.  Honestly, I really don't "sweat the small stuff anymore."  So the house burns down~~ well, I'd hate that of course, but as long as we could be OK and the the kitties would be OK, - after that it's really just STUFF.  I have too much anyway~~  
I have dear friends who are battling the cancer demon and their struggles are all consuming.  I pray for them everyday.  Knowing that - helps to put things in perspective. Really nothing else matters - just life and love and family~~

 Quebec City, Canada
(with the Chateau Frontenac in the background)
8. Have you always worked as a nurse in the Neonatal ICU? I'd love to hear about your career~
The Nursing profession really has blessed me with a career that I dearly love. I was 19 years old when I went for my first nursing interview and was lucky enough to land a job in a "brand new" intensive care unit for babies. I jokingly tell my peers that I "came with the walls."  Most nurses do switch around between the different nursing areas, but I have not - my career in the NICU now spans 35 years.  I am immensely proud of my career - taking care of babies - sick babies- has been the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done.   This is not a job that you can leave behind at the end of the day - I still, after all this time, bring the worries home with me.  You can't help but feel attached to a baby that you have taken care of for 3 months - day in and day out.  I've shed LOTS of tears, both happy and sad.  Miracles really do happen - I see them every day~~

  Barcelona, Spain
Montserrat, Monastery
(my ice cream is dripping!)

9.  What are your favorite addictions?
OK - this is kind of crazy - but I am addicted to McDonald's ice tea - well, actually, it is an obsession.  I drink 2 of them every day.  (the good thing is that I rarely drink soda anymore- usually just one glass in the morning)-- but I walk into work every morning with a cup of coffee in one hand, a glass of tea in the other, and another tea packed away in my tote bag.  (Did you know when you put those styrofoam cups in the refrigerator that you can keep them all day and the ice does not even melt!!)  and then of course - my crazy other addiction is ~~ YARN!  It could be worse - right?

 Ephesus, Turkey
(the great ruins of Ephesus)
10.  Do you have sisters or brothers?  Do you come from a large family?
I am the eldest of three sisters- there is not even a year between our ages- (my Mother was pregnant every time she went back for her 6 weeks check up!)  My sister Belinda is the middle sister and she is a bank branch manager in our hometown here.  My sister Denise (Maddy's grandmother) is the youngest - she is a CPA and works out of her home - also here in our home town.  And then there is me - a nurse who can not even balance a checkbook.  When it comes to math things - my sisters got all the brains!  My sisters are both beautiful and smart - I love them so much~~

 Monteriggioni, Italy

11.  Is there anyone in history that you greatly admire?  If you could meet one person - who would that be?  Eleanor  Roosevelt.  I have read just about every book written about her.  She was an incredibly strong woman- she stayed in a bad marriage for the sake of her children and to protect the Presidency.  She was an advocate for human rights and an advocate for women.  She was remarkable in that she genuinely cared about people.  I admire her greatly~

 Rome, Italy
(the famous Trevi Fountain)
12.  If you could be anywhere right now - where would it be? 
On a beach in St. Martin.  The Gardener and I love it there - we find the island to be so calming, we feel so at ease there - we love the people - and that beautiful blue water~~.  It is our favorite Caribbean destination and although we travel there by way of cruises frequently - we also usually go there once a year to stay on the island.   

 Canterbury, England
(Canterbury Cathedral)
13. Salty or sweet?
This one made me laugh out loud!!   SALTY!!  I could eat the whole bag of potato chips - I don't - but I could.  And after that - SWEET - and after that - SALTY ~~~ you get the picture!

  San Michelle, Venice, Italy
the Venetians refer to this sacred place as
"Cemetery Island"
14. The photos on your blog are amazing!  What kind of camera do you use?
I get so many wonderful compliments on my travel photos.  If I had a quarter for every time someone asks what kind of camera that I use~~  Here is the answer - (but you aren't going to like it!)-  Kodak Easy share.  Really - I swear.  I do not own a fancy camera.    Honest - cross my heart and hope to die.  The Gardener told me that someone once told him that the best camera to use - is the one you have with you - and I tend to agree.  I'm not smart enough to operate anything more sophisticated than this!  (I told you that you wouldn't believe me!!) 

 St. Petersburg, Russia
(a canal ride through the city)
15.  How do you start your day? 
I get up at 4 am on workdays to be at the hospital a little after 6.  I live about 30 minutes away from my workplace.  My day starts with a cup of coffee and a glass of diet Pepsi.  Actually - I go for the Pepsi as soon as my feet hit the floor.  I am a serious coffee snob.  I am spoiled by great coffee addictions.  When the Gardener worked in Nicaragua for a while, he brought me the most wonderful Selva Negra coffee from a little plantation there.  I also love 3 Generations coffee that I order directly from Costa Rica.  Lately, however, I have come to love the World Market Breakfast blend. (you get double coffee points if you order on Wednesdays - I'm just sayin~~)   The smell of GREAT coffee makes me go ahhhhh~

 Dubrovnik, Croatia
(sitting on the ancient wall that surrounds the city)
16.  What is your favorite movie?
Out of Africa - I'm such a sap. I can't even tell you how many times I've watched this movie.   I know almost every line and I start crying the minute she says, "I had a farm in Africa~~"

Venice, Italy
(St. Marks Square)

17.  What are some favorite books that you have read? 
I recently had a major clean out of my books and gave almost all of them to our new local library.  I saved only a few - my very favorites.  My all time favorite book is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.  It is an incredible story of a family who goes to Africa to live among the locals there and work as missionaries.  I have read and re-read this book a dozen times - and I was actually just thinking the other day that I am ready to read it again.  My other favorite book is Corelli's Mandolin  by Louis de Bernieres.  A love story set in the Greek Islands, during World War 2 - it is a story of love, perseverance - and the meaning of a promise.   I have also watched the movie that is by the same title - but it does not at all do this book justice.  I mostly read on my Kindle or IPAD now - and I have read many great books - I usually list on the sidebar of my blog what I am reading at the time.  Right now - Rules of Civility is a definite favorite.   But these two books - are ones that I truly treasure.  Have you read them?

Amalfi Coast, Italy

18. Seriously do you really mow grass for 5 or 6 hours at a time?  Are you crazy!!!
Yes - and probably yes!!  I really do love to mow grass more than anything in the summer.  It is a serious part of my exercise routine in the summer and I get majorly bent out of shape if the Gardener mows it before I get to it!   We have a little over 3 acres here at our home - and I mow at least half of it by push mower.  The Gardener helps by mowing the rest on the tractor - but he knows that if he mows all of the grass - I will declare WAR!!  It makes me happy - I swear it does - and when I am finished - I can have a small Dairy Queen blizzard and not feel the least bit guilty!!

 Mannarola, Italy
Cinque Terre
19.  Why did you start blogging? 
Hmmmm- I love to write - I always wanted to write a book - I even took a writing class several years ago - and I failed miserably!  Seriously, I was THE worst person in the class.  Here is what learned about that~~  I don't write well on demand.  If I am instructed to write a story about "a field of purple flowers" for example, I can't.  So, I challenged my self to start this blog as an outlet that would allow me to write about the things that I wanted.  Honestly - I have loved every minute of the time that I spend writing for my blog.  In turn, and because of this blog - I have been blessed with new opportunities that I never ever expected - like writing travel features for an online magazine.  Not bad for a small town girl that miserably failed a writing class~~

 Sydney, Nova Scotia
20.  I get the sweetest emails from blogging friends  and often I am asked what suggestions I might have for developing a successful blog.  Honestly - I am probably the least qualified person to be answering this question- but since I AM asked this so often - I will share some of my thoughts~

Define successful.  To me- successful is NOT based on the number of followers that a blog has - really it is not.  I have seen lots of blogs that have 1000 followers  - and for the life of me, I can't figure out WHY!  To me having a successful blog is having a circle of blogging friends that you communicate with- they visit you and you visit them- you all support each other in your blogging endeavors.  This could be a handful of folks - or more.  

Having said that - I do know and  understand that new bloggers - all bloggers - want to see their numbers and followers grow.  My advice --- participate in activities that will broaden your exposure.  The One World One Heart event is the best event that I know of that did that for me - this event was huge for my exposure.  The rules have changed and now this event is more for those of us that make crafts - but if you have a craft - you should definitely consider participating in this event - (the info is on my sidebar.) 

Participate in LINKY parties - share a recipe, a favorite post, whatever the subject matter is - you can't help but expose your blog to new readers when you participate in these activities.  

Don't be a blog snob.  Be gracious and appreciative when someone visits your blog.  It is not always possible for me to visit every blog or every person that visits here or leaves a comment.  I want to, I grieve over the fact that I cannot, but the bottom line is that there often just aren't enough hours in the day.  BUT - If someone asks a question - or leaves a comment that desires a response - I answer that person every single time. I want my readers and followers to know that I am here for them - that I am a real person, and that if they need me, or have a question, or if I can help them in any way - they need only ask.  I read ever single comment - every single day---your comments mean the world to me and I love you all - I could get gushy at a moment's notice~~

And lastly, I want to say that these things take time.  And - that you simply must devote some serious time to developing your blog - ie-visiting other blogs and leaving reciprocal comments.  Some weeks I spend HOURS and HOURS  on my blog - some weeks, I don't - but overall- I devote a serious bit of time to making this a blog that my readers hopefully will enjoy.  It is a challenge sometimes though, remember, I am the girl who failed the writing class~~

There are people out there who are EXPERTS in this field of blogging.  My friend Karen Valentine is an incredible resource person for me.  She has written blogging books and is available to help anyone who desires to improve their blogging communication skills.  You can find Karen at her blog My Desert Cottage.   She is one of the nicest most genuine people you will ever meet and she CAN answer all of your questions. 

Halifax, Nova Scotia
Peggy's Cove

 21.  (OKAY - 21 questions!!)
The nests~~ those NESTS - people always want to know how I came to be the knitter of nests!
I'd like to know the answer to that one too and believe me - no one is more surprised than me that I am the maker of nests!!But - here is my official answer~~

I love yarn, am obsessed with yarn - and even worse than that - I am crazy obsessed with the tangles, and knots, and the way the yarns mesh together.  Seriously, if there was a 12 step program for this - I'd have to be there.  I never throw my yarn scraps away - I save every knot and mess that I have.  To me a tangled knot is an absolute treasure - and I have 2 huge bowls full of such treasures here in my Sacred Yarn Room. 
(I know- its totally crazy!!)

For the longest time, I searched for something, a craft, a creation that would full fill my desire to use a variety of yarns of all colors, use the knots and tangles, and just give me something to do with the ever growing supply of yarn that was filling this Sacred Yarn room to the max!  I never had an Ahh hah moment - it did not happen like that~~

Somewhere along my path, I saw a little nest that someone had crafted from felt. And, like we all do- I thought - I can do that~~~ maybe even do it better.  So I played around - knitted a nest - and started experimenting around with my different yarns.  Then it just happened.  I made 1 nest - then I made 4 nests- then I made 10 and so on and so on.  As is the normal progress of things - the nests that I make now - really do not resemble the early nests - these nests now have such a variety of yarns and different textures.  When I say there are over 200 yarns in my nests - rest assured - there are probably, actually - more.  The rest, as they say, is history - and my nests have gone on to enable me to donate charitably to a great many needy and worthwhile organizations.   To say that they have changed my life - is an understatement.  

I could say so much more - there is way more to tell  - but I will save that for another post.  It is going to be a very busy year for the nests - trust me~~

 Cruise ship knitting

Not a question - just my chance to say what is truly on my heart.  My blogging friends are so very precious to me.  I had no idea that I could ever be in a position to develop such loving friendships with people from all over the world.  These friendships are true - only distance separates our ability to meet.  To each of you who visit me here and support me in my blogging endeavors - my heartfelt thanks.  I hope you can tell that these words are from the depths of my heart. 

I am going to take a little blogging break for about a month.  GASP!!  I want to finish the last of the winter nest makings -I am currently about 2/3 finished with those.  Also- I have a new design that I have been working on for the OWOA (One World Our Art) event - and I want to finish that design also.  There are other projects that are still a bit of a secret that are also requiring some time - so I feel that I need to take a little break and tie up all my lose ends.  Somewhere in there - is also a little trip to warm places for the Gardener and me.  
I will post the winner of the contest on the 18th, and I will continue to visit those of you who stop by here to leave your precious comments.  If you are on my nesting list and have not heard from me by March 1 - please email me!!  I am not gone - I am here - I check my emails every day.  If you need me - don't hesitate to write to me.  When I come back - I am crossing my fingers that there will be little signs of spring~~


ps - sorry for such a LONG post!! Next time we will call it-- 10 Questions!!