Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Beef 'n Beer was a success. Enough money was raised so Em can pay her living expenses for the 2 months she'll be out of work "and even buy food!" as she put it.

The event started out well. We quickly set up the tables for the baskets. There were so many! People started coming in at 4 o'clock and the fun began. There was a lot of hugging and laughing as we got the chance to see some of Em's friends that we hadn't seen in a long time. Everyone bought raffle tickets and then chose the prize they wanted to take a chance on. There were bags set up in front of each item and they quickly filled up with tickets. Kate and I sold tickets. The entrance fee entitled everyone to all the beer they could drink and really good food. There was roast beef and sausage and peppers and meatballs for sandwiches. Two different pasta dishes and nice soft rolls. It was all catered by the bar and it was delicious. I've lived around the corner from this place for over 20 years and have never gone in. I'm not much of a drinker and have never liked cigarette smoke but now that public spaces are smoke free, we might have to become "regulars"!

Em has a group of girl friends she calls her Jersey girls. These young women grew up together from Kindergarten through high school. There were many, many sleepovers and school trips and projects and parties and good times. Tis is Keley, Laura, Em, Michele and Amy. They have been supportive and loving and they just define the word 'friend'. Em is lucky to have them.

There was one mass drawing for prizes near the end of the party. One of Jim's uncles won three prizes which he gave back to them so they ended up with Kate's basket, my basket and one of the baskets their landlady donated. We didn't buy raffle tickets because we thought it might seem tacky if we won.

And here is my little family. One of Peter Kevin's sisters asked for a photo and we obliged. I think the Bud Light sign is a nice touch. It was such a successful day. When Amy and I counted all the money and saw how much we raised, we were stunned. She had hoped for a lot less. I hadn't any idea of how much it would be but I was thrilled. It will make Em's life a little less stressful as she recuperates. And that will make recuperating easier and faster. Money can't make life perfect but it sure can make it easier. Em thanked everyone at the end, telling them how much their support means and how blessed she feels. She broke down a little (which she blames on my genes. I cry easily) but the feeling was heartfelt and obvious.

I was so tired last night. It didn't seem like I did very much. Mostly schmoozing and selling tickets but I was so tired I went to bed before 11. On a Saturday night. I must be getting old.

Today is grey and chilly. I'm going down to make some waffles for breakfast and then spin. I can't think of a better way to end the weekend.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I'm playing lazy woman this morning. I just looked at clock and it's almost ten o'clock and I'm still sitting here on the bed with the computer. I had plans to get up and moving early but it's not happening. The smell coming in the windows is almost to sweet to bear. It's honeysuckle and this year it's everywhere. I tried to find a photo online but they don't look like ours. I'd like to go out and take one for you but the vines attract bees and I'm allergic. So, I just smell the sweetness from afar. It reminds me of summer, like the smell of warm, wet asphalt.

Last night Kate and I put our creative heads together and came up with three cute baskets to raffle off today at Em's Beef 'n Beer. This is mine. It's an Italian dinner (pasta, sauce, cheese, crunchy bread, basil oil, some towels and utensils all packed up in a large cup and saucer). I love the container which I have been looking at for a while. This is Kate's. It's a sun tea jar (you put water and tea bags into it and sit it outside in the sun to brew) and some cups with stars and some drink mixes all in a shallow tray. It's all red, white and blue and sparkly. Pk chose a crate and we filled it with hot sauces and salsas. His sister and brother in law donated a laundry basket full of various forms of alcohol and t shirts and hats. It was hard for us to get everything into the basket and make it look attractive. It 's huge and weighs a ton. We are going over to the bar at around 3 to help set up and then we just sit back and let people come and eat and drink and hopefully it will bring in enough money to help Em and Jim pay some bills while she is out on sick leave.

I have been able to focus on some knitting other than stockinette so I have been working on my North Sea Shawl. It's really not much harder than plain knitting. I am on the last section and it's 14 repeats of a 12 row pattern. It's easily memorized and I like working with the thin laceweight yarn. I pinned a piece of it out this morning so I could get an idea of what it'll look like and I like it. I'm not taking it with me today, however. Too dark and I'd never be able to see what I was doing. I'll take some socks in nice bright colors. I think I have to make some socks or a nice shawl for Em's friends who are putting this whole shindig together.
I hear Hobbes outside demanding to be let in so I guess I should get up and get moving. I'll try to take some photos of the party and post them tomorrow.
Have a good Saturday!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The best time for me to spin is during the daylight hours. My wheel sits in my front window and I like having the natural daylight to work with. It's easier to see what I'm doing. I think one day I'll buy one of those nice craft lights but for now, I like spinning in the sunshine (or the grey watery light of a rainy day). I come home from work each day and after I've caught up with Peter Kevin and we've talked about our day and what we're having for dinner, I sit down with the wheel and spin. This is some purple trainwreck. I plied the first two bobbins and I like it quite a bit. It makes the rough spots of the day seem to smooth out to sit and let the fiber move softly through my fingers.

I make sure to spend some time each evening working on Em's sweater. I'm at the point where it's just stockinette stitch for several inches and then two inches of ribbing. I work on it until my hands cramp up and then I find something with a lighter weight yarn which is easier on my hands. And I have help! That's Hobbes making himself comfortable on top of the bag that contains the yarn for the sweater. For some reason he likes to lie on my project bags. It doesn't matter which one I'm working on, he finds it and plops down on top of it. As long as he moves when I need the yarn, it's ok with me. I can share. And he's so cute.

I have to get to the craft store and buy a basket to put together my stuff for the raffle at Em's beef 'n beer. I have been trying to get there every day this week but haven't felt like fighting the rush hour traffic. I'm running out of time! Tomorrow for sure....

I was reading one of the forums on ravelry today regarding the Sock Summit that Stephanie Pearl McPhee and her friend Tina are planning. The list of classes and teachers sounds amazing and I was sorry it was all the way across the country. 3,000 miles was a little far for me to travel just to attend a sock conference. I was hoping it would be successful so that maybe there would be another one and maybe it would be a little closer to home. But there were a lot of angry people. It seems that the server went down and people couldn't sign up for the classes they wanted. And then the site said the classes were full but they weren't because of the server crash. I think it was inevitable because of the sheer numbers of people trying to sign up but some of the people on ravelry were really angry and talking about boycotting the organizers and teachers and all of their products. I'm not sure what people were expecting. This kind of thing happens frequently when a desired event opens up for registration. And no amount of testing can prevent it. It's too bad but it's not the end of the world. To hear some of these people talk, it sounds like they'll never be the same. I feel bad that they were disappointed but there are never any guarantees in these kind of things. Maybe it's easy for me to be sanguine about it because I was not planning to go anyway. I might be more upset if I had tried to get into some classes.

So, what do you think? How far would you go and how much would you pay to attend a class taught by Cat Bordhi, Barbara Walker (yes, THE Barbara Walker) or Stephanie Pearl McPhee? If money were no object, I might fly cross country but with the way things are going now, it's just not feasible. (and I really don't like to fly)

Our weather is at that tough stage where there is a 20 degree difference between the morning and the afternoon so it's hard to dress. At least the a/c isn't on in the building. Yet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.

But when the trees bow down their heads,

The wind is passing by.

Christina Georgina Rossetti

The trees weren't completely bowing their heads but they sure were bending over. I woke up from a dream in which I was flying over snow covered land. I don't like to fly, I get sick but in the dream I was enjoying it. When I woke up, the thermostat on the window fan said 58 degrees (14 C) and I was shivering. I guess that explains the flying and the snow.

We got our uneventful weekend. Friday, we replaced our microwave. I didn't think we'd miss it as much as we did. Pk eats leftovers for breakfast a lot and there was no way to quickly heat them up. Our old microwave was designed and built when they thought people would actually cook in them and it had a temperature probe and other attachments. It was big enough to cook a whole ham or turkey. The new one (with inverter technology!) is smaller and seems to be made for mostly heating things up. That's ok because that's what we do mostly anyway. Now, we are trying to figure out the buttons to make it work.

Saturday, I cleaned the house and did some spinning. I plied some purple trainwreck and Kate is coveting it. I also watched Holly move her things out. She got an apartment not too far away and this was the move in weekend. She didn't ask for help so I didn't offer. She had some friends and I figured schlepping boxes is for young folks with healthy backs. I went and got my hair cut and the hair dresser gave me some depressing news. The only way to get rid of my hair color is to let it grow out. She said there are strippers but they'd only work if you were going to put another color on your hair. Letting it grow out would take months. Months of living with roots. I'm putting the plan on hold for now.

Sunday, Pk and I went to brunch and then to the grocery store. It wasn't nearly as crowded as I expected. Then we went to my brother's for some outdoor food. BBQ chicken and burgers and dogs and strawberry shortcake. I cheated and bought the pound cake but I made the whipped cream. It was delicious. My brother has Rotweillers. Two of them. They are big, DROOLY dogs. When we got home, the clothes went into the laundry basket and we went into the shower. But we had a nice time. They live on a lake and the mosquitos ate well. I have bites all over my feet and arms.

Yesterday was "the day off" and Pk and I did what we wanted. I washed up the drooly clothes and decided to clean out my closets and drawers. I know, I know. Not a "day off" thing to do. But I love the feeling of newly straightened drawers and closets. I love being able to find my shoes in the morning and to see my clean clothes hanging neatly in the closet. I worked on Em's sweater. I found an addi turbo in my basket that's the right size and switched it from the Denise needles to the addi. Oh my god. What a difference. I thought it was just me but the addi's are so much better. And they have come out with an interchangeable set! Look ! here. The price is steep, more than twice what Options cost. I want to wait and see if anyone uses them and likes them and if they think the price is worth it. If one can "love" knitting needles, I love my addi needles and an interchangeable set that is as good as the single ones sounds too good to be true.

But, for now, it's back to work. Have a good Tuesday.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I'm sitting here surrounded by noxious fumes as I erradicate my grey hair for another three weeks and I thought I'd show you what I've been working on for the last couple of weeks. But, about the grey hair. I'm reaching the point where I'm seriously thinking that I'd like to stop the hair coloring and let my hair be it's own natural color which by the looks of the roots is an allover grey/silvery color. A woman I work with just recently did this and I was amazed at how beautiful she looks with her grey hair. I'm not sure where this is coming from. I'm going to talk to the hairdresser when I go to get it cut this weekend and see what she says. If I have to let it grow out, that'll be hard. I'm vain enough not to want to walk around with 4 inch roots. I'm hoping she can strip the color and then put a rinse on it or something.
Here is a composition I call 'Purple trainwreck in the morning sun'. I'm supposed to be working on my alpaca/merino blend to keep up with my spin along group but I got tired of all the brown and black and white. The days were grey and rainy for over a week and I needed some color. This did the trick.
I have one full bobbin and am almost finished another. I have rather small bobbins for my wheel and while they hold a lot, it's not nearly as much as I would like. I tried to get a nice, clear shot of the bobbin but for some reason the camera didn't cooperate. I think it was dazzled by the colors. I want to finish the second bobbin and ply some of it this weekend. I tried to keep the color runs similar so I could have some stripes but we'll see how that goes. However it comes out, it'll be beautiful.
And speaking of beautiful, here is Em's Playmate sweater in progress. I have just about finished the waist decreases and have just plain stockinette to go for a few inches and then the ribbing on the bottom. It's coming out better than I'd hoped. Stockinette is boring but soothing at the same time. My problem is that I'm using my Denise needles and they make it harder than it needs to be. I'm going to invest in a set of Options sometime soon because plastic needles are not for me. I like the feel of this sweater. It's a superwash blend (chosen for it's washability) and it's soft without being too soft. I think it'll hold up nicely. I have 3 weeks to get it done if I want to give it to Em to wear after the surgery. It's doable if I don't do much of anything else. I made Em a sweater (a cropped ribbed thing) out of some grey acrylic that I got on clearance somewhere several years ago when I was teaching myself to knit. It's all rectangular pieces that have mininal shaping and it was easy and a good pattern to learn on. It was long before I knew anything about yarn other than it was in skeins. Then I found the online knitting community and my knitting took leaps and bounds forward. She still wears that sweater and it's held up remarkably well but it looks like caca.
We were saddened to find out that our favorite local gourmet store is closing. Pk and I went there to get some ingredients for some gift baskets that are going to be raffled off at Em's Beef 'n Beer next week. This is the place where you could find almost anything you were looking for. They sold high end cookwear and knives and had a huge selection of salsas and hot sauces and coffee and teas and too many other things to name. They have two other locations but neither is close to us. We'll miss it.
Time to hit the shower. Lots to do today if I want some time to spin or knit or just relax. I hope you are all having a good weekend. As I sit her looking out my bedroom window, the sky is clear and blue, the trees are waving in the slight breeze and the birds are chirping away. If I start to see some deer and rabbits dancing together, I'll swear I've slipped into a Disney movie. It reminds me that life is good and I am a very lucky woman.
PS. The ** between all the paragraphs are to make sure there are spaces there. For some reason, blogger puts the spaces in for the first paragraphs and then gets lazy at the end. I hate all those run-together paragraphs. This is my solution for now. And besides I like astericks.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Good Friday morning! Yes, I was disappointed to wake up and discover I had to get up and go to work but what are you going to do?
There was a sense of deja vu yesterday as I was coming home from work. No, there was not a train drama. The train ride was uneventful. But when I got home, there was a package in the mailbox and it had my name on it! Amy Lane sent me a yarn package. It has a beautiful skein of Noro sock yarn, some bamboo/wool/nylon sock yarn and some Schaeffer Anne in beautiful gem tones. A package of color! It was a wonderful surprise. I can't wait to finish some of the socks that are on the needles so I can delve into some of it. Thank you so much Amy!
I mentioned to Em that I was feeling kinda strange to get presents in the mail. She responded that "that's what knitters do, mom. We can't always be there in person, so we let the other person we know care and are there in spirit by sending yarn. Who doesn't like yarn?" And I agreed that she was probably right. I do the same thing. It's heart warming to know that there is this community out there and I am a part of it.
Em's surgery date is June 8. Probably at the ass-crack of dawn. It's an all day procedure and I'll be sure to take a variety of projects so I can flit from one to another as I need to. Two more weeks of waiting and then the healing can begin. Em will have a doozy of a scar starting on her upper chest and down around her rib cage. They have to crack her sternum to get to the spine baby. This bothers me more than I can say. Pk has said the same thing. The idea of our perfect little baby having this done to her body is almost more than I can bear. We'll deal because we have to and because the last thing Em needs is someone else to worry about. But I don't have to like it.
Monday is Memorial Day here in the US. It means a three day weekend and I can't wait. Lots of folks head to the shore for the first 'summer' weekend. It's not even summer for another month but that doesn't matter. The ocean is probably 65 degrees and way too cold for comfort but that doesn't matter either. The beaches will be full. Too full for comfort. I'll be glad we take the train out of the city every day and don't have to drive in the 'shore traffic' on fridays. We may take a picnic somewhere, depending on the weather. Or maybe we'll just have a quiet, uneventful weekend. Wouldn't that be nice?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Well, the new refrigerator is humming along, keeping things cool and making ice (a truly underappreciated skill, no one in my family seems to be able to do it). I can't ask for more. Things are falling back into place.


My last post really wasn't a poorly disguised plea for fiber. I really do have enough to keep me busy for a good long while. I am not a fast spinner or knitter so it doesn't take much. I have been trying to work on Em's sweater at night and have finished the shoulders and put the sleeves on waste yarn and am working my way through the waist decreases and increases. Pk thinks it looks small but I reminded him that Em is not very big and it's not supposed to fit like a bathrobe. I like the way it's looking. Wendy writes such nice, clear pattern instructions that it's easy even for someone like me who doesn't make many sweaters.


When I got home yesterday, late because the train I was on suffered mechanical failure right after coming off the bridge and going into the tunnel (only way it could have been worse is if we had stopped on the bridge) and sitting there for 45 minutes until we limped into the station and had to get off and crowd onto the next already over crowded train, there was a package waiting for me. It was from amy and it was filled with strength, peace, space and fun. She sent me a candle that smells soft and beautiful, a rose quartz heart, a magnet about the power of a woman's heart and a henna tattoo kit. The candle is making my bedroom smell sweet, the magnet is on the new fridge reminding me that I am a Wood Woman and can handle anything I have to, the rose quartz heart is in my pocket reminding me that people out there really do care and the henna tattoo kit is waiting for a day when I can play. It was a thoughtful pick-me-up kind of gift and greatly appreciated. Thank you so much, Amy. Pk said he was a little jealous but thought it was so nice that I had friends who would think of me like that. I told him I was indeed a lucky woman.


If the warm, sunny weather holds through this evening, we are planning dinner in the park. Just sandwiches and chips but they taste so much better when we are sitting by the river watching the sun go down. We have no real plans for the long weekend. There are assorted chores to do but I think we'll take it slow and make sure there's plenty of time to play and nap and eat and relax. When I was a kid, our family had large Memorial Day barbecues and we always went swimming. it didn't matter if it was warm or not, Memorial Day was the first swimming day of the summer and we didn't want to miss it. I'm pretty sure we won't be swimming this year. I think we'll probably take down the pool. It's an expense to open it up and it takes some work to keep it clean all summer. No one seems to want to do the work and we just don't use it as much as we did when the girls were little (I used to call it my "playpen filled with water"). I am torn about this because I have always had a pool, ever since I was a kid. I guess I figured I always would have one. It feels like I'm letting go of something I've held onto for a long time. It's making me think of other things that maybe I hold onto because I always have, things that hold no real importance other than the fact that they have always been there.


Ok. Backing away from the deep thoughts. It's only 8 o'clock in the morning. It's time to check the phone messages and get set up for my group this morning and to write treatment plans. I have about 10 more to do in May (I've already done 20). Treatment plans are written for everyone who takes a psychotropic medication (although I'm not sure why I as a Case Manager write them and not the doctor who prescribes the meds) and they are updated every 17 weeks. I have 103 clients so you can see that I spend a lot of time writing treatment plans. Each one takes about a half hour on our new system. I'm getting comfortable with it but it's cumbersome and not user friendly.
So, have a good Thursday! (it feels like Friday and I'm going to be really disappointed when I get up tomorrow and realize I have to go to work).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Just a note to share how wonderful my husband is. I mentioned that I had no chocolate at work because I had shared it with coworkers.

So, today during his lunch time walk, he went to Lore's and bought me a pound of dark chocolate non pareils and brought them to me at work. He works several blocks away from me and the chocolate place is somewhere in between.

Mmmm. dark chocolate. Too bad I have to go to work. I could sit here and indulge in chocolate and read blogs all afternoon.
It's nice to have a relative with a truck. Well, Jim is not legally a relative but that has never stopped us before. We get attached to people and just adopt them.
I don't know if I mentioned that we had to buy a new refridgerator? No? Oh. Well, we did. I had managed to save up the money to pay the electrician almost 1500 dollars to upgrade the electricity in the house and we were just waiting for Em's surgery date so we could coordinate the electrician date. Then we noticed the freezer wasn't freezing. It was cold, but not frozen.
Big sigh. The fridge is about 12 -15 years old (we can't quite remember) and has always been problematic in the warm weather. I always had to move the milk down to the fruit bin (where it was colder) to keep it in the summer. But the freezer always worked and the people at General Electric told me that if the freezer was working, there was nothing really wrong. (strange philosophy but I was not willing to pay a repairman lots of money to test it out) But now the ice in the icemaker (which had stopped working a long time ago, we bought bags of ice and dumped them in) was melting all over and the food that was supposed to be frozen hard - was not.
Bigger sigh. We took the money we saved and went to the 'bump and dent' store and found a lovely new refridgerator. It has a dent on the top but it's cosmetic and it saved us 900 dollars. We got a 1900 dollar fridge for 1000 dollars. It makes ice and registers the temp in celcius and farenheit temps. It's really not fancy (the fancy ones cost well over 2500 dollars) but it works.
So, we called Em and Jim and bribed them with good Chinese food and gas money and asked them to come and help us move it. They fell for it and we moved the old unit out and the new one in. Actually, it wasn't that easy as the new one is about 1/2 inch taller and wider. One half inch which made a huge difference. Pk has some work to do to put the kitchen back together.
We lost all the leftovers but managed to save the milk and butter and cheese and stuff by putting them in a cooler overnight. And we have ice! I heard the icemaker drop some cubes this morning and it was a beautiful sound.
So, now we start saving again to have the nice electrician man come and upgrade our service. Unless we lose another major appliance (the washer is making discontented noises and it's over 20 years old!), maybe we can do it over the summer. Good thing I have a bunch of fiber to spin and enough yarn to keep me busy because I can see it'll be a long time before the budget allows me to splurge...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I wonder why it is that on weekdays, when I have to get up and out the door early, I have to pry myself out of bed and on Saturday I am awake at the crack of dawn.

The cool thing about waking up early on a weekend is that it is so quiet. Today, it looks and feels like what I imagine a rain forest is like. The air is heavy with fog and sounds are vaguely muffled. There are birds and the occasional dog barking. The air is not moving. It feels anticipatory. I like it. NOAA says we are in for thunder storms all weekend and then lots of sunshine just as we go back to work on Monday. I don't have any plans, other than the usual cleaning and laundry.

I wore grey pants and a black shirt to my cousin's funeral but broke it up with some wildly colored socks (Kate calls them my "acid trip" socks. They're made with Noro Kureyon so you can imagine...). My aunt admired them and said she would like some colored socks. I've given her colored socks, just more sedate colors. I don't have any Noro in the stash and since I'm holding onto money to pay the electrician and put a new roof on the house, I went through the available yarns and came up with one I like. It's the Feb offering from ArtWalk. 'Petunia' by Georgia O'Keefe. The colors are bright and it's warm and soft. My aunt is diabetic and I'm leery about giving her more colored socks but she insisted. I used the Tidal Wave pattern which is easy to memorize and seems to move fast. I like photos without flash better but this one captured the greens and purples more accurately. So, now I have three pairs of socks on the needles. Weird for me. I'm working on Pk's brown/black striped and Em's Zap socks. None of them are very challenging but that's not a bad thing.I haven't had the mental wherewithall to do much more than knit plain socks. But some of the mental numbness is wearing away and the fog I feel like I've been living in is lifting so maybe I'll be up to picking up the lace this weekend. I've missed working on it.

The human spirit is a wondrous thing. It can be battered again and again and still rise. It helps to have people around you who are there with a gentle word, a kind thought or gesture. As we climb out of our hole and start to laugh again and feel lighter, I'll remember the kindness you all have shown and will pass it on to someone who needs it. Thank you.

So, now it's time to pry myself out of my comfortable bed and get some breakfast and get started. There's spinning to be done and some knitting that is calling my name. Now, if only the elves would get started on those pesky chores.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I just noticed this is my 400th post. It feels like there should be some sort of commemmoration but this week has just about done me in.
When I got into work on Monday, I learned that one of our favorite Social Rehab clients had passed away on Sunday. She was young and had a reoccurrence of her breast cancer. I saw her two weeks ago and although she looked drawn and gaunt, she did not look that near death. It was a surprise.
Wednesday, we buried my cousin. It was tough. I tried to be the support my aunt and cousins needed and I hope I succeeded. She was young and somehow that makes it harder to bear.
I came back to work yesterday to find out a client I have known for a long time died over the weekend. This was a shock. He'd been in the hospital for pneumonia for a while and was getting better but his heart gave out. He was only in his 40's.
So, it was a sad week. Three young people, in the prime of their lives, gone. I believe things happen for a reason but that belief is being stretched very thin this week.
Em sent me a photo of the alien spine baby. It's big. The surgeons are coordinating a date to remove it. It seems to be involved with a nerve and they told her she could have some numbness or pain afterwards and they have no way to predict which it will be.
We saw the new Star Trek movie (full disclosure here: I am a huge fan and always have been. I own several star trek christmas ornaments and once owned patterns for the star fleet uniforms and plans for the enterprise). Pk and I thought we needed a diversion and we went Tuesday night. I was prepared to be disappointed but I was astounded and pleased. It's wonderful and the characters are true to themselves. The young actors are reminiscent of the older ones but not copies. In fact, we saw it twice on Tuesday. And I want to go again......
It's a rainy Friday and I have the first crisis management group of the year this morning. It's mostly admin staff so not too much hands on. Mostly, just how NOT to talk to an enraged/upset individual (seems like common sense but it's not). I am looking forward to a peaceful weekend.
Anyone got good plans? (and did you realize that next weekend is Memorial Day? Already?!)
I realize this is a sort of disjointed post but that's kinda how my mind is working this morning. I have started on a new pair of socks for my aunt who let me know she would like some more. I'll take some photos when (if) the sun comes back out. So, possibly some knitting content soon.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thank you for all the wishes for 'boring'. Today was indeed a boring day and I loved every minute of it. It started with this. The heart says "Queen". I got to wear it at breakfast which Pk made. He also went to the bakery and got, be still my heart, creme donuts. I love that man.

I spent my day sitting at the spinning wheel carding and spinning the alpaca. I plied some and washed it to see what it would look like. It's very soft and fuzzy and kind of tweedy looking. I had to wash it twice because the water was very dirty. I hung it outside on the mailbox to dry. With all the (very welcome) breezy sunshine, it was dry in no time. I'm going to use it for the Ply by Night ravelry group spin study. The May/June spin along is a "use something from the stash and knit one of two patterns" . I chose Rivulet. I like the simplicity of it.

I also started a sock with the Zap yarn Julie sent. She told me that it's dyed to look like lightning when it's knit. Since I was tired of all the brown and black, I decided to cast on socks for Em. (and I admit, I was intrigued by the description of the yarn) She wanted the yarn and said it would be so much easier if I just turned it into socks for her. I wanted some color and this fit the bill. It's turquoise and yellow. Just a plain sock full of color and if you look, you can see the blue zig zagging down the sock. Simple minded that I am, I keep looking to see how the blue bit is moving down the sock. It's kept me fascinated through 4 inches of stockinette.

And when these are done, I have a whole new book of sock patterns by Cookie A to play with. Kate gave me Cookie's new book and it's filled with beautiful, clever socks. She talks about how she designs socks and how YOU can design socks if you want and then she has about 15 different patterns to choose from. I think I'll just let her be the designer. She's so good at it.
My cousin came over and brought her sister's computer to see if we could get some photos off of it to put on a memorial board. She didn't know how to find them and was afraid of stumbling across any, um, 'inappropriate' photos that might be on there. Why she thought it was ok for me to run across, um, 'inappropriate' photos is beyond me. I didn't find any photos, porn or otherwise on the machine. Pk is going to wipe it and reload the OS for them. I told her I would look through my box of pictures and try to find some. Joan was camera shy and photos of her are scarce.
We had some delicious ham and cheese quiche (once again made by Pk) and the girls are cleaning up. It's peaceful and still quite boring here. What a nice day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Someone on their blog said "it's been a boring week". I was thinking, I would like a boring week. I'd like a whole lot of boring right about now.

We buried PK's dad on Friday. It was interesting to see his family, most of whom we haven't seen for many years. He has 6 siblings and they all have multiple children. These children are all adults. All of these young people kept coming up and introducing themselves ( a fine crop of next generation). Good thing, because without name tags, I was lost. Ray was 93 and had lived a good long life. He buried two wives and had a girlfriend. He was a lucky man. His girlfriend (strange word for a woman in her 90's) did the reading at the funeral mass. She is the grandmother of one of Em's high school friends. Yes, it is a very small world.

When the lunch was over, we went and got a dryer. Yay! No more sitting in the laundramat while children run around me as I fold my underwear. No more showing my underwear to the world!

Then we came home and my cousin phoned to let me know her sister had died. Joanie has been sick on and off for about a year and less than a week ago, they diagnosed her (finally) with pancreatic cancer. She died peacefully, with her family around her. So, this week there will be another funeral. This is the second cousin I have lost in the last two years who is younger than me. I don't think the reality has hit and probably won't until I have to go to work and request another bereavement day.

So, today, I did the grocery shopping and managed to get some extra so I can give it to Em and I am in the process of washing all of the summer clothes. It takes forever but the closets and drawers get cleaned out and that's a good feeling. It also is fairly mindless and that's what I needed. I cleaned the bathroom and nowI am knitting Pk's brown striped sock because I can handle a k3 p1 rib but not much else. I am so tired.

I just want some boring.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

And today I got a reminder of why I stay in my job even though sometimes it really sucks. There was a phone message from the young woman I sent the shawl to. She said, "Yesterday I was having the worst day. I felt awful and terrible and everything was wrong. Then I came home and found this package with this beautiful scarf and the great card and I sat in the hall way and cried for 5 minutes. You don't know how much this meant to me. Thank you"

I called her to check on her because the message sounded like she was still in a bad way. She's much better today and told me again how much she appreciated the gift. I told her that even though she was not my child, I was proud of her and realized the effort she had put in. And then I told her to go "knock'em dead".

I hung up and sat there with a full heart. Young people are so vulnerable. They think they are tough but most of the time they haven't developed the shell they need and they're so easily hurt.
Sometimes I want to put my arms around the world and tell it that everything will be ok and will work out. But since I can't do that, I'll put my arms around one person at a time (sometimes figuratively).

It has been raining here for 7 straight days and showers are predicted for tonight and tomorow and saturday. But right now there is a sunbeam shining through the raindrops on the window and they look like diamonds. I stopped in the middle of the word "diamonds "to try to take a photo. All I could do was capture the sunlight. It's enough 'cause the sun is gone already, behind an ominous looking cloud.

And because there was some light,(still not much but some) here's the purple trainwreck roving and the sock yarn Julie sent to me. The cake of yarn is Zap and the skein is Sunshiney Day. I'd like to see a sunshiney day! I will probably make Em a pair of socks with some of this. She loves handmade socks and I like making them so that works out just fine.
Tomorrow we are going to a funeral for Pk's father. He died yesterday of old age. He was 93. Pk's grandfather lived to 104, so he has some good genes in there. We haven't been close to his dad and didn't know he was failing. He lived alone up until December and then just went down hill in the last few months.
As of today, Em's surgery is scheduled for May 26th. It depends on whether the neurosurgeon has to be involved in the actual surgery. She doesn't need any more tests, she's just waiting to see if her surgeon needs the neurosurgeon to assist. Sigh, more waiting. Her friend is organizing a Beef n' Beer fund raiser and I told her I would donate the North Sea Shawl to raffle off and Pk and I are making up some baskets o' cheer to raffle off. Hopefully, it'll help defray some of the costs of Em's surgery.
We're all soggy here, but hanging on.

*****added to make some separations because blogger insists on smooshing everything together.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

When I was young, say in my early teens, I was a very naive person. I believed most people were good and most people were happy with themselves and the world. Back in the old days, the kids in my area went to elementary school (grades 1-5), middle school (6-8) and then high school. I was in middle school in the early 70's, I graduated 8th grade in 1972. In those days, boys got to take shop classes and girls took home economics classes. No choice involved. These were the days of separate boys and girls gym classes.

As a girl, I got to take Cooking, Sewing, Family Living and Homemaking. Cooking and sewing are self explanatory but Family Living and Homemaking were different. We learned how to set the table and how to make a budget (both worthwhile skills they STILL should teach) but there were also classes in appearance.

When I was growing up, my dad was starting his business and money was tight. I regularly got boxes of hand me down clothes from family members and I remember loving it. It was like Christmas going through the box. Rarely did we get new clothes. There just wasn't money. I learned to treat my clothes well to make them last. That was a good lesson to learn. I had a fairly good self concept at the time and really didn't think anything of it. I liked myself.

But, back to Homemaking. There was a young,unmarried, female (of course) teacher. One day in class, she asked what we would change about ourselves if we could. Now, we were 14 at the time. A very vulnerable age for a young person. When she came to me, I said I didn't want to change anything, I liked myself as I was. She didn't believe me. "Everyone has something they want to change" she said. I said that I liked my hair and eye color and I was fine with the shape of my body. I liked myself. This was unacceptable and instead of just saying "good for you", she insisted I find fault with myself.

This made me start wondering what flaws others saw that I didn't. Maybe I should have a new hair color or maybe I should lose some weight. My parents weren't the type who would sit and talk about this stuff. Their response was "don't be silly, you're fine just the way you are". And so the insecurity was born.

I'm not sure where this memory came from this morning but I was thinking about it in the shower. Where do our insecurities come from? If our earliest memories are of acceptance, are we more confident? Is it internal or is it from others that we get our sense of self acceptance?

I've managed over the years to come to terms with myself. I'm not a perfect person but I'm not all that bad, either. I could stand to lose a few pounds and I'm working on eating better for my health so that may happen. I'm patient and kind and generally positive in my thinking. I'm sentimental and cry easily (hallmark commercials are good for a few tears). I'm also very strong. Not physically but mentally. I'm thoughtful and good natured and easy to get along with. I'm bossy and stubborn and sometimes impetuous. I'm a good homemaker, I like to cook and I don't mind cleaning (ok, I mind. But I like a clean house so I do it). I am a good mother and a good wife and generally a good woman. And I don't get mad easily and rarely hold a grudge.

This is part of who I am. Who are you? Where did your ideas about yourself come from? I know this is profound for the early morning but this is where my thoughts were going this morning. Weird.

Em update. Her surgeon is consulting with a neurosurgeon to determine the best way to remove the tumor since there is some spinal involvement. They're not sure how much of the spine is involved and another mri may be in order. Surgery date should be forthcoming.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Boy, what a difference a week makes. Last Monday we were complaining about the hot, dry, summer-like weather. This past weekend it rained and it's predicted to rain all week. It's cold rain. Not the kind of nice, spring rain you like to walk in. The kind of rain you run to get out of.

So, I can't take photos of the box of fiber that was waiting for me when I got home today. My daugher Elanor said "your package came" when I got in the door. Now, those are some of the best words to hear other than

The tumor is benign!!! They determined it's a Schwann cell tumor, or schwannoma. This means no radiation, just surgery to remove it. They have a genetic component and I'm afraid it's probably me. When Em told me what it was, I remembered a lump I had on my wrist that they told me was a lump on the tendon sheath (which is what a schwannoma is). It was removed with needles and was not very big. It was caught early because it protruded from my skin and was easily seen. I've never had another one, although I read today that they can come back. So, now there will be surgery and healing and life will go back to normal.

And I can breathe.

But, back to the package. It was a usps box with penguin stickers all over it and it was from Julie. She sent me a bump of purple trainwreck roving (yay!) and some green and yellow sock yarn. I'm supposed to share it with Em but shhhhh, don't tell her that. It was an unexpected pleasure. Julie mentioned how it feels when she imagines the Goober having an illness and she wanted to give me something to distract me. It is hard when your kids are sick. You want to throw your body in front of them and protect them from everything. This has been a loooong several weeks. Thanks, Julie. I'll post some photos when the sun comes out or the rain stops for a little while, whichever comes first.

A young woman I know painted this and gave it to me because I admired her art. She is graduating from Moore College of Art with an MA this week. The amazing thing is that she has bipolar illness and despite the dificulties of dealing with an illness that is really hard to treat, she has finished her degree program and is graduating. So, I'm
giving her a gift. I wanted it to be something special that acknowledges the work she's put into this degree. I decided to give her this. My Wildflowers shawl. I struggled with it and to me it represents an accomplishment, just like her getting her degree. She's invited me to her art show next week and I can't wait to go. Pk and I will go after work one day (when it isn't raining!)
Well there you have it, an eventful Monday. I'll let you know when the surgery is scheduled for and how it all comes out. Pk says we should have a pool to guess the alien baby's weight. I'll suggest it to Em. It could be fun.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The plan for the weekend was to take things easy and to find some way to keep my mind busy so I don't obsess about Em. Pk decided to use his drawknife ( scroll down the link)and clean the bark off the black walnut he got from my brother. I couldn't watch because I had visions of him slicing into his stomach and intestines spilling out.
I decided to try to spin some "raw" alpaca that Em got for me when she went to the alpaca farm last fall. Meet Florence and Fernando. That's the names of the alpacas that the fiber came from. Florence is black and Fernando is a beige color. Em got a bag of each. I didn't know what to do with it so I went to that font of all knowledge, Youtube. I found a video on how to card alpaca. So, I found my hand carders and loaded one side up like so. Then I used the carders the way the video instructed. It's much harder to do than it looks. Either that or I have the weakest arms ever.
After a bit, I had a puff of fiber that looks like this. I mixed both colors of alpaca and added a little bit of white merino. The little cloud-like puffs were easy to spin and after several hours of spinning, I had a bobbin 3/4 full of this. It was hard to take a photo without the flash and still get the variations of the colors. It was an experiment and I'm calling it successful. I didn't clean the alpaca first and you should have seen how dirty my fingers were when I got done. Someone online suggested washing it after it was yarn because it's much more slippery when clean. There is a good amount of vm in the fiber. Alpacas like to roll in the dirt and it shows.

It kept me busy all day. Then I decided to work on the lace which has been ripped back more than once. For some reason, when I get to row 7 of the lace pattern in the middle, my stitch count goes plooey. I checked for errata but the search only turned up finished shawls and they're beautiful. So, I am forced to admit, it's me. I've started again and hopefully I'll be able to make it through at least one repeat.
That's my weekend. I was going to sew on Saturday but didn't feel like dragging out the machine. I can't wait for the day when I have a craft room and can leave it out. I'd sew more often if I didn't have to lug it out and then put it back. When Kate and Holly move out, that's our plan for their room. Pk and I get a craft/hobby room. Soon.
I hope the weekend was a good one for you.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The ever crafty and wonderful Roxie sent me gifts that made me smile. Look at the lovely banana cozy! The never modest Pk offered to model it but I declined. There is only so much of my husband I want to share with the internets! So, we had one banana left in the bowl and it was an adequate stand in. She also sent me a bit of crafty loveliness. A crocheted flower (and a small bag of lavender). It was such a nice surprise to come home to. Thank you so much, Roxie.

And now for an Em update. She informs me that they will be getting her results on Monday and decisions will be made then as to whether she needs radiation or not. She's hoping for a quick resolution and surgery soon(she would like it to be Tuesday but I think that might be a little quick). I'm hoping for plain old surgical removal of the alien baby. I had cancer dreams last night. I don't remember them much but as I sit here, bits and pieces are coming back.

We're in for a rainy weekend. It's cool and damp and there are full grown leaves on the trees. Did you ever stop and wonder at how fast leaves grow in the spring? One day they're buds and it seems like I look away and when I look back, they're full grown leaves. Amazing. I have some projects in mind, including one that involves pulling out the sewing machine. If I actually get to it, I'll share.

Have a good weekend and cross your fingers for good results on Monday.

Happy Sunday!  I am sitting here working on my sweater made with the cashmere yarn my husband gave me for my birthday last year. I’m further...