Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I went back to work yesterday.  It was tiring after a week of being at home.  I had forgotten how dark it is at 6 am.  It was a tough day.  I have compassionate coworkers who offered condolences and comfort and I managed to cry only three times.  Not too bad.  Hopefully, today will be tear free.

Things at home are back to normal, or what passes for normal in our house.  We had our memorial brunch and it was nice.  Three generations of family present.  There are so few of us and it seems a shame that we only all seem to get together anymore for sad occasions. 

I got my first flu shot this morning.  I opted to just roll up my sleeve and get it over with.  There will be at least one possibly two more, depending on what the CDC says about the H1N1 vaccine.  People are still grumbling about it and there has been talk of refusal but most people won't take the chance of losing their jobs. 

And it's that time again.  Blogtoberfest is back!  Last year I took the challenge and managed to post all 31 days.  I learned that there was an awful lot going on around me that I didn't pay any attention to.  Having to blog every day made me be more observant.  I won't claim that they were all good posts but I enjoyed the challenge.  Here's Tinniegirl's description of what it's all about. 

When I got back to work yesterday, there were 22 voice mails that required attention and two full clinics to deal with.  Not an ideal situation to jump into on a first day.  I managed to make it through the clinics and to deal with most of the messages.  Today I have only one med clinic and the few remaining messages and to start thinking about my Soc Rehab groups tomorrow.  I think I'll be busy. 

Have a good day!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

As irrigators lead water where they want, as archers make their arrows straight, as carpenters carve wood, the wise shape their minds.

~The Dhammapada

First of all, let me say Thank you for all the thoughts and hugs.  They are appreciated and they helped me remember I'm not alone.  My family is wonderful and so are all of you.

This has been an interesting week.  I called my HR person on Monday and was told I was entitled to 5 bereavement days and they encouraged me to take them.  So I did.  I have been home all week.  At first, I was reluctant but now I'm glad I did.  I find myself drifting off in the middle of whatever I'm doing and staring into space. 

Today's Buddhist Inspiration seemed apt.  I have been trying to guide my mind (not that I consider myself wise) down soft paths of memories.  And thus the drifting off. 

I've been spinning. The whir whir of the wheel is hypnotic.  I've finished a skein of alpaca and it's pretty good.  It's a little thicker than fingering and that's what I was aiming for.  Since it's for a sweater for Pk, I want it to be thin (since it'll be so warm).  I know it's going to be a challenge to make the plain roll neck stockinette sweater he wants but I'm hoping working with my own handspun will take some of the boredom out of it.

I've finished one Bayerishce sock.  Sorry, no finished sock photo 'cause it's raining here today and I can't get a decent one.  Here it is halfway finished.  I love it.  The yarn makes nice crisp stitches and the color variations are so subtle they let the pattern shine through.  The color is true in this photo so you can see the vividness of the red. 

Today, Kate and El and I are going to go through the photo boxes and albums to put together a collage of photos of my mom.  I've organized a memorial of sorts on Sunday.  My immediate family will all gather at a local diner for brunch and memories and Mary Jane stories. I want to make a photo board to take with us.  Hopefully, the photos will spark some long forgotten memories.  It will give us a chance to say goodbye and offer each other comfort.  Isn't that what families are for?  We will remember her and smile and laugh through the tears.  And we'll find healing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My mother died today.  I knew I would be saying those words some day but somehow I didn't think it would be today.  My mom has been sick for a number of years but each time we were sure "this is it" she bounced back like the Energizer Bunny.

I haven't seen or talked to her for a while.  There are a lot of complicated reasons for this.  And in the fullness of time, I will examine them again and again and ask myself if I should have done things differently.  But not today.  Today I am sad. 

It's my oldest daughter's 26th birthday and I wanted to write about what a wonderful person she is, how loving and caring.  And I will, but not today.  Today I am spending reflecting how people influence my life, whether they are involved with the dailyness of it or not. 

My mother's name was Mary Jane.  Everytime I see one of those little candies I think of her.  When I seen carnations, I think of her.  When I smell certain perfumes, I think of her.  When I look at my children, I will think of her.  And I will continue to think of her with love and a deep sense of loss. 

My mother died today.  I have to keep saying it so it sinks in.  That layer of adults between me and ultimate adulthood is one adult thinner.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Here is a bobbin of alpaca singles.  Thumb included for scale.  When I said I had small bobbins, I wasn't kidding.  The wheel actually came with several bobbins, some original to the wheel and smaller than this one.  The guy who sold me the wheel made two of these and included them.  For Christmas, Kate bought me some generic bobbins that are slightly bigger but with the flyer set up the way it is, you can't go much bigger.  Pk had to cut them down to fit.  I'm pleased with the singles.  They are soft and have slight variations in color.  I'm about a quarter done a second bobbin.  It spins so quickly and easily, I almost feel like there's something wrong.

Things are in a small uproar at work.  Word came down yesterday and today we got copies of the hospital policy to prove it, that we are being required to get flu shots this year.  Now, in the past, it has been strongly (and I mean strongly) encouraged for everyone to get a flu shot.  For the first 5 yrs or so, I complied.  And every single time, I got the flu that winter.  I don't think the flu shot is to blame, it's just a coincidence.  I do know that when I stopped getting flu shots, I stopped getting flu.  And for 10 yrs I have been flu free.

This year, there is the regular flu shot and then the H1N1 shot which will probably be 2 shots.  We are being required to get all of them.  I know they have their reasons and I even agree with them but somehow to require that I allow them to put foreign substances into my body (even if it's for my own good) seems wrong.  There are a lot of people who are upset about this but I'll bet no one makes much of a fuss.  No one wants to lose their job (the policy is very firm that stern disciplinary measures will be taken) and have to try to find another one in this unstable economy.  I wonder what the American Civil Liberties Union would have to say about this? 

I had a busy day although if you asked me what I did, it wouldn't sound like much.  Last night we had a funeral service for my uncle.  He's being cremated and there will be a grave side service sometime in the future.  My mom was one of seven and now three are gone.  It is hard to watch them get old.  They're the buffer between me and ultimate adulthood.  At least that's how I think of it.  As long as they're alive, I'm not the official adult in the room. They are.  Today, I ran around making sure people got appointments and medications and got their hands held if that's what they needed.  And I thought of my Uncle Al (and we just found out his middle name is Grant.  We all thought it was George after his father, who knew?) and hoped that someone was holding his hand when he needed it.  Pk wanted to put a piece of wood into the casket, Uncle Al was a woodworker, but we didn't think of it until it was too late.  He's going to work on a wooden box to bury the ashes in.  I think Uncle Al would have liked that.  He passed some of his tools on to Pk when he could no longer use them.  Woodworkers are like knitters that way.  We hope someone will appreciate our tools and stuff when we're gone. 

Well, Uncle Al, we appreciate them and we'll miss you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Oh God.  Blogger must have updated something because it looks different.  I don't deal with change very well.  I like to turn on the machine and know what I'm doing and not have to think about it too much.  I'm just not that adventurous with the technology.

Yesterday will go down in our family history as The Day We Spent More Time On The Road Than At The Event.  It started innocently enough.  When I called Em to make sure we were still on for the Sheep Show, she said she had a problem with her car and her direct deposit hadn't gone through and she might not be able to go.  This made me sad because we had been looking forward to this for a while.  So, I did the only thing I could think of and said, "Not to worry.  We'll pick you up on the way".  (Snicker, 'on the way'.  It would be at least an hour out of our way and add almost 3 hours to the total trip.)  It doesn't make any sense but I'm the Mom, it's what I do.  I help. I was helping by making sure Em had a ride to the Sheep Show. 

Pk, Kate, my cousin Cheryl and I left our house at 8.   This is what Philadelphia looked like as we went over the bridge.  The clouds were so low, the tops of the buildings were obscured. Very cool looking.  It was spritzing but not too bad.   We got to Em's at 9:15 and left her house at 9:30 after everyone went to the bathroom.  We followed the GoogleMap directions and got to the fairgrounds around 11:30.  Not too bad, really.  We parked and trekked through the mud (I wore my old hiking boots and was glad I did) to the show area.

There were of course, sheep.  Lots of 'em and lots of baa-ing going on.  The Jacob's sheep were especially noisy and they have these high little voices.  Then the Shetlands chimed in and they have very deep impressive voices.  It was funny.  And then there was this guy.  Can you see what his skirt says?  "Champion Meat Breed".  We felt sorry for him and offered to help him find his freedom but he wouldn't look at us.  I think he was worried.

We spent about 2 hours roaming and petting animals.  The llamas were shy except for this guy.  He stood and gave us his profile.  "I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille.....".  He wouldn't let anyone touch him but he did seem to like getting his photo taken. 

I bought some small goodies including some soap made from goats milk, mint and rosemary.  It smells heavenly.  I gave it to Elanor.  She likes scented things for her bath.  Kate and I bought some llama/romney blend, llamney, (I gave mine to Em) and we also bought some beautiful purple merino and some alpaca to spin with it.  Kate is deciding if she wants to spin it all (we were supposed to split it) and I'll use it for her sweater. 

As we were wandering by a booth filled with alpaca, Pk was casually pointing to a bag filled to overflowing with alpaca that felt like putting your hand into a cloud.  It's a silvery grey color.  He had seen a plain roll neck sweater at one of the booths and decided he'd like one.  And it should be made out of this.  I bought what I think is enough to spin for a dk weight plain sweater.  If I need more, the woman will sell me more and mail it to me.  I started to spin some of it last night and it's gorgeous.  Dark grey and very light grey and silver run through it and the singles are pretty.  I can't wait to finish a couple of bobbins and see it plied up.  This will take forever because my bobbins are so small.  Pk has promised me that when he makes me a wheel, I'll get large bobbins.  Who knew size could actually be important?

We left the fairgrounds around 1:00 deciding not to get some of the sausage and peppers (which smelled gooood) and very virtuously skipped the funnel cake, which is a favorite but really really bad for you.  I wasn't driving and can often get car sick so I opted to wait to eat. 
We got into the car and Pk decided he wanted to take a more express route back and not the meandering road we had taken earlier.  (Cue the ominous music here).  After much driving and many turnings around, we dropped Em off at home around 4:30 and we got home at 6.  Ten hours after we left the house.  We did stop at a McDonald's to use the facilities and get some food sometime around 2:30.  I'm not sure what happened except at one point, the road we were on was closed for repair and we had to detour and that seemed to take forever and it was downhill from there..  All's I know is, by the time we got out of the car, we were exhausted.  But I enjoyed the Sheep Show.  It's cool to watch the kids show their animals and see how they interact. 

Today, we did laundry and grocery shopping and now are relaxing and getting ready to face the work week.  Pk and I also did something that was bittersweet.  We took the leaves out of the dining room table today.  We realized it's only 2 or 3 of us most meals and we don't need the table stretched out to it's full size all the time.  This is a reflection of our shrinking family and a little sad.  It'll take me a while to get used to the smaller table.  And the leaves are close by so that if we need to, we can extend that sucker right out again. 

Friday, September 11, 2009

I'm sitting at my desk at work and I wish I could show you what it looks like out my window. There's a tree that is blowing this way and that in the wind. It's dark. Very dark (except for the flashes of lightning). The thunder seems to rumble on forever and the rain is pelting down like nobody's business. Pedestrians are trying to angle their umbrellas toward the driving rain but I know it's not helping because I was doing the same thing about a half hour ago. My pants are wet from the knees down and my shoes are wet. I'm thankful that the a/c seems to be turned down somewhat today or I would freeze. The only good thing you can say is that it's Friday and not Monday.

I made some chocolate chip cookies for a potluck lunch today and left them home. Having to deal with the storm kinda threw me.

Tomorrow is the Garden State Sheep Show. It's supposed to rain early in the day and gradually clear up. But the show, like all animal related shows, is in a field. Which is being poured on today so will probably be very soggy tomorrow. Sunday is supposed to be the nicer day so maybe we'll alter our plans and do the laundry and grocery shopping tomorrow and save the sheep show for Sunday. I don't mind a little rain but this is a bit much.

Not much going on knit wise. I am browsing yarns with Kate to decide what to use to make her Road to Avalon sweater. Be still my heart, she may not choose blue. I haven't done any work on the bayerische socks because they require concentration that I haven't had this week. I'm not sure why. My office mate is out sick. He called yesterday to tell me they think he had H1N1 (formerly known as the swine flu) and now has pneumonia. Since we share the same air and he was sneezing violently before he left on Tuesday, I stop and worry about every sniffle and sneeze myself. So far, so good. I really don't want to get sick. Our sick policy here is draconian so people (like my office mate) come into work sick which just spreads the illness around. They are making noises about making flu shots mandatory this year for all staff. I don't usually get one (long story) and I'm not sure they can force me. There are a few of us who choose to opt out and usually have to sign a form saying we refused the innoculation. Since the vaccine is not available until October at the earliest, I'm not going to borrow trouble. A lot can happen in a few weeks.

I have a Crisis mgmt group this morning. 20 people to train in basic self defense and verbal de-escalation. I thought it was next week so I'm only partly prepared. I'm off to refresh myself on the material and prepare the room. Have a good weekend! I hope it's dry enough for whatever you have planned.

The worst of the storm seems to have passed, at least it's lighter out the window. But the a/c seems to have kicked on. Good thing I have on wool socks......

Monday, September 7, 2009

One of my goals for the weekend was to finish Elanor's Feb Lady Sweater and I did it. I finished it Saturday night and put it to soak in the washer on Sunday morning and then blocked it . The blocking wires came in handy to keep the fronts straight. I measured El and made the size just a bit up from her measurements in order to give her some ease (she doesn't like tight garments). Pre blocking, the sweater was short and seemed small. Post blocking, it fits just like she wanted. I had to sew the button holes shut a little because they were made for round buttons but other than that, she loves it. I used Knitpicks Swish worsted in Deep Ocean and I have 4 skeins left so someone will get a hat and/or mittens out of it. It's a superwash merino and knits up soft and squishable.
I had intended to make this sweater for me but I'm rethinking it. It is definitely a quick knit. The lace moves along fairly quickly and is an easy pattern to remember. I'll wait and see how this wears for El. I've seen photos of some that have stretched out and I'm concerned that the pattern is really not made for full sized sweaters for women that spend their time upright. Baby sweaters are designed for infants that spend a good deal of their time horizontal.

I've put a few rows on the bayerische socks and have started a pair of plain vanilla socks in some Opal that Knittech sent me for guessing when she would post her 600th post. I started a toe up sock but decided to frog that(I was using 2.5 mm needles and didn't like the fabric so I moved down to 2.25) and do a simple cuff down, plain sock that would show off the purple, blue and orange stripes and pattern of the yarn. We've been watching the Lord of the Rings this weekend (sort of a long Labor Day ritual around here) and this is perfect for watching a movie.

We didn't get to have a picnic yesterday due to the weather. It started out sunny but the clouds moved in and the temp dropped into the 70's , too cool and breezy for a picnic. We ate the already prepared food at the dining room table. Today, the weather has been much of the same. It's like summer just waved at us as it went by this year. I'm wearing jeans and socks and slippers. The calendar says it's summer for two more weeks but it feels like we should put away the sandals and pull out the shoes and socks.

Next weekend is the Garden State Sheep Breeders Show and we're planning to go. It's a small show, or at least it was last year. I'm looking forward to it. I have had my wheel for over a year and have a better idea of what I'm looking for in roving and yarn. And I like to see the animals. It will be tough to remind Pk and Kate that we cannot have alpacas or baby doll sheep in the back yard.

Tomorrow it's back to work after a 5 day weekend. I could do this all the time! (work 3 days and then take off 5) At least the upcoming week is a short one. In the mail last week, I got my invitation to join the AARP (american assoc of retired persons) and my notice from the Social Security letting me know how much I'll get when I retire based on what I earn now. Are they trying to tell me something? I think I'd retire tomorrow if I could afford it. The AARP has been sending me stuff for a few years although technically, I'm not eligible for another 3 years or so. Talk about feeling old.

It's time to take my nearly-elderly self off to the phone to order a pizza for dinner and then to feed my brother's cat (he's in Florida at Disneyworld for the week). Have a good week!

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's been a week since I posted. I'm not sure where the week went. It certainly hasn't been an extraordinarily busy week but somehow the days just slipped through my fingers without me knowing.

This is Labor Day weekend here in the US. A long weekend that I made longer by taking off Thursday and Friday. Five days in a row. Bliss. Thursday afternoon, I dropped Pk off in the woods with his pack. He hiked a few miles to his favorite wilderness campsite (no running water and therefore no "facilities". I know, ewww) and set up camp for the night. He hiked into Batsto and Elanor and I went and picked him up Friday afternoon. He was tired but in fairly good shape. Now, after sitting for a while, he's getting stiff and somewhat sore. Old muscles protest a little more than young ones.

I carded some of the alpaca that we got at the Alpaca Fest in May. I haven't been able to find any information on this particular carder online so I'm winging it. So far, so good. The fluff is a deep caramel color and very soft. My low tech carder made it light and fluffy and now it feels like a cloud. I spun it into a single and then plied it with two plies of this blue merino called "denim" because it has the gold/brown color of the thread used for sewing jeans running through it. I thought it would look good with some of the brown alpaca and an alpaca/merino blend would be soft. I was right.
It turned into this yarn. The colors are good together and it's got a soft halo. Once it's washed and wacked it'll be a soft pleasure to knit with. I've enjoyed the slow peacefulness of spinning these materials. And I like the results.
My bayerische socks are coming along slowly. Very slowly. I had one and a half repeats done and then noticed a stitch dropped way back. How did I not notice? It had to be ripped back because with all of the cables and twisted stitches, there was no possible way to pick it up. I have been doing the cabling without a cable needle (a new skill learned) and I am now through two repeats of the 8 row charts and one of the 16 row one. I love them. They are killing my fingers because I knit very tightly and these are knit on size 2's but I am determined to keep at it. If knitting is something I do for relaxation then this is not the pattern for it. I notice that my jaw is clenched as I work the stitches and I have to make an effort to loosen it or I get a headache. They remind me of the knee socks I used to wear to school when I was a young girl. Back in the day when girls weren't allowed to wear pants to school.

And just a few inches and El's fls will be done. This afternoon. I promised myself.

Tomorrow we're planning a picnic for dinner. Em asked if she and Jim could come down for dinner so I decided fried chicken, potato salad and some cupcakes would be good. We'll go to our favorite place by the Delaware River where it is always cool no matter the weather. We'll listen to the barges on the river and smell the peculiar river smells (probably pollution but shhh, let's not spoil the mood) and enjoy each other's company. The weather is cooperating and it will be warm but not humid. A lovely last hurrah for summer.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and if you are celebrating, Happy Labor Day!

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...