Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Slow Slide Into Summer

The weather continues to be unseasonable.    Yesterday was in the 50's, today the mid-70's, and nights have temps as low as the 40's.   As my Grands point out, no swimming weather yet because we haven't had the string of warmth necessary to take the chill off their pool.   I absolutely agree with them, even though I grew up swimming in the St. Clair River, a shipping channel that never gets warm.   Those cold weather days are behind me.

It is probably just as well, because I seriously need to get packing now that WE'VE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!  We don't get occupancy until July 20, so we wonder from time to time whether we found a house we love or whether we just got worn down after more than a year of looking.   It definitely has aspects about it that were on our NEVER AGAIN* list, and is lacking qualities that were on our MUST HAVE** list, but we were won over before we even walked inside by the trilliums in the front yard and the huge bleeding heart plant and small creek in the back.   We had given up our dream of a county home because Jack can't drive since his stroke and we felt we needed to have some city-type services within walking distance.   This house is smack dab within the city limits, but has a very country feel.   And when we met the sellers at closing, they remarked that they've had deer and turkeys raising their families every year in their back yard by the creek, a definite bonus for us!   

My sewing and cooking mojos ebb and flow.   After grabbing restaurant food all week, I cooked two meals today.  I've recently sewed thank you gifts for a few people who have helped us this summer, but lots more gets added to my list than gets done.   I am hoping that once I am in a single kitchen and single sewing room, rather than dividing time between two houses, that I will get my mojo back.

We have been working at some Together Time, too, and just got back from a short trip to Washington D.C.   We traveled by train, as Jack prefers to do.  His daughter lives there so visiting her was the highlight of the trip.    And we ate Oh-So-Very well!   

The only 'touristy" thing we did was to visit Jon Stewart's Presidential Twitter Library, a two-day exhibit of Trump's tweets up to this point.   The premise is that, since he has stated that he doesn't keep a diary, his tweet's will be what is left to historians when he leaves office.   It was interested and disturbing and largely presented without comment.   One hysterical political dig that apparently they couldn't resist was to have name tags for visitors automatically generated so that we would know what the president would call us if he ever tweets about us.  In keeping with Trump's pattern of giving women physical insults and men insults about their character,  I was "Bowlegged Gail" and my husband was "Aimless Jack."


I also spend time whenever I can with my busy Grandchildren.   This week I took them to a "Drawing Class" as a local museum, which was fun for all of us.   We were told to draw either a head, a torso, or hip and legs, and then the 'teachers' randomly assembled them.   


Fun.  The teachers pulled my 12-year-old Granddaughter aside to encourage her to pursue art; no question, the girl loves to draw!  But I also love my Grandson's more subtle style, especially his kilted legs.  :)



Friday, May 10, 2019

A Blooming Slow Start To Spring

The days have been (mostly) beautiful this week.   Sunny and almost warm.   I had to laugh as I was taking my walk this evening -- there were people jogging in shorts and tank tops, while I had on my mid-winter coats, hands deep in my pockets for warmth, with a short neck gaiter and wishing I'd brought another to cover my ears!  I thought the joggers were crazy and no doubt they thought the same of me but in my defense, there IS a frost warning for tonight.




Still, despite the too-chilly weather, my grandkids' Youth Orchestra had their Spring concert last weekend,   I am so very proud of those kids; the orchestra is pretty amazing.

I drove north to visit my brother again this week, he is always so glad to see me, although he tires of it pretty quickly.   My sweet husband made him a shirt -- Jack sews everything, so far, out of fleece, and he saw this fabric covered with lake fish and thought of my brother, who has always been an avid fisherman.   These days my brother is always cold, so he appreciated the fleece and put it right on.  My brother is coming to the end of re-habbing yet another house, and he hopes to have this one done before he dies.   He has done the hard work -- even curing his own wood to reside it the same way as was done when it was originally built -- so now it's just finish work.   The carpet was being put in today but I probably won't get to see it until afterour Illinois trip.

We saw 3 houses today, none made us fall in love.   It is almost a game now, although not all that much fun.

In the sewing world, not a lot has gotten done, but I did finish another celtic heart -- I am hoping to make several of these for my sisters in law.    Lots to do, new things on my list all the time.   Taking one step at a time!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Needle and Thread and a Bandage

I finally did it, I sewed through my finger.   I have nipped myself a time or two over the years, but this time I did an actual through-and-through.   Thank goodness I didn't break the needle; thank goodness I didn't hit the bone.   When I saw the point of blood on the other side,  I wanted to take a photo for your enjoyment, but I was unexpectedly queasy for a bit.   It did hurt like billy-o, but not for long, and I am only somewhat sore now, two days later.


In the meantime, though, I sewed a little.  I have a couple of friends, I met them when our Search and Rescue group was looking for their missing father.  They were grateful for our support and have done a lot to support us in the three years since his body was recovered.   They love the legend that the sighting of a cardinal is a visit from the soul of a loved one, so I am working on cardinal towels to take them as a small gift.   

And I made this cute little fox pouch for my granddaughter, whose favorite animal (aside from a pangolin) is the fox.  Pangolin patterns are hard to find, but I thought this little fox was cute.


It is still cold, or at least too cold for me, but we continue to have hopeful little signs of spring.  Just a few more weeks and I should be able to complain about it being too hot again!



I talked to my oldest brother today.  I make up every dopey excuse I can think of to call him lately.   He talked about wrapping his mind around the concept of hospice, about the idea that they won't treat his infections or do anything to prolong his life.  That is not an easy pill to swallow, so he decided to focus on the silver linings of it all.   And he said that becoming so close to me is the silver-est lining of them all.   Tears in my eyes, that come so easily these days, all over again.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Sewing and Stuff

My husband and I expected to break in the newest embroidery machine right away when he bought it in January, but life got out of hand, as it tends to do lately.   We did not set it up and turn it on until March 31, and 2 1/2 weeks later it is already in the repair shop with a long list of troubles.   This is never what you hope for, especially when you are buying the top of the line in anything.    I will be using the machine at an Anita Goodesign seminar this weekend and, if there are any problems then, I will be leaving it at the same shop for another week.   Bummer, I have a long list of projects in the line-up that I am eager to keep going, mostly from Sweet Pea designs.  They are well written and quite inexpensive for machine embroidery designs.  Although it's been hard to find time at the machine, I did manage to get a few projects and one pillow finished before I "lost" the machine, but I have several more that I'd like to get finished soon!


Meanwhile, my husband is going nuts with his serger, and has made nearly a dozen t-shirts out of fleece.  He didn't know that we don't make t-shirts out of fleece, so he did, just like he made countless pairs of socks out of fleece.   I wear the socks all the time because they are comfortable and have such fun patterns, and the t-shirts are also amazingly comfortable, and they wick moisture away; he's made a few a little longer so that I can wear them as nighties as the air is still very chilly at night and he prefers to sleep with the windows open.  


I like open windows, too, but a little later in the season.   It is supposed to go up to 70-F today, but snow is in the forecast for the weekend. 

Despite the forecast, the trees are starting to wake up, and it's a lovely time of year.  


Last weekend my three siblings and I (and my husband) spent an overnight in our childhood small town, where both brothers graduated from high school.  Our lodging, the Inn on Water Street, overlooks the St. Clair River, and it was fun to watch the local ducks and freighters again.  We lived on the river as kids, and used to be able to identify every smoke stack.  My oldest brother always loved the ducks, and has been making decoys since he was just a kid in high school.  I treasure the ones he's given me.




Off to do the day's errands.   We are going to look at an unlikely house that's for sale, and pick up ice cream for my step son's birthday tomorrow.   It is sunny for a change, so it will be a nice day to get out!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Always Winter and Never Christmas

The inhabitants of Narnia complained that it was always winter and never Christmas when the white witch was in charge, and that's pretty much what this winter  has felt like to me.   Because of sibling medical needs, we didn't celebrate Christmas or even live together last year, despite our December 8 marriage.   We've woken up a few times in the last week to snow, again.    But I have seen a few crocuses in bloom and the red-winged blackbirds and robins are back, so surely surely surely Spring must be planning to arrive soon.


On the other hand, my Christmas cactus is blooming for the third time since Christmas, so anything is possible.

On one of the nice days in between falling snow and painful cold, we took my brother for lunch and a long drive and, mid way, we visited an Elk Park in Gaylord.    I very much want to go exploring the area of the State where wild elk still roam, but this had to do for now since no one was up to more time in the car.   I would like to go elk-seeking in the autumn when they begin their mating behaviors and are supposedly very vocal.

I have finally started to use the ridiculously expensive embroidery machine my husband thought we absolutely had to have, and I am enjoying it.   I have the benefit of the machine without any of the angst . . . although its purchase was not a shared decision, it wasn't bought out of shared funds, either, so I have guilt free use of the machine.  Meanwhile, he has taken over the serger he also bought and has already made himself two t-shirts in addition to countless pairs of socks.  With all the family stuff going on, we are enjoying the distraction.



Today is my 12-year Blog-iversary.   So much has changed in my life, my family, and our world since I first started writing.   Thanks to you for sticking with me for however much time you've been visiting!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Off Target

My brother is ten years older than I am,  just turning 79.   He is something of a character, but good as gold.   He has never knowingly cheated anyone and, although he can be as bullheaded as the best of them, and quick to judgment, he is always open to reason and quick to take responsibility when he decides he is wrong.   We were not close when we were young; the age difference was too great, and just about the time my daughter started to show signs of mental illness, he took on the too-common ideology of those who do not live with that kind of illness.  He was sure that my lax parenting was to blame, and I disliked what I considered his ill-informed conservative views.   At about the same time, he was going through difficulties of his own, and I was as sure that he was the cause of his troubles as he was sure that I was the cause of mine.   So neither of us were good listeners, and both of us were too full of certainty to let the other one topple our world view.   

Despite ourselves, we got older.

About ten years ago, actually almost exactly ten years ago, my daughter underwent a crisis and to my surprise, my brother called and said he had been an idiot to think that any kind of parenting issues could have caused her problems and that he was sorry he hadn't been there for me.   It turns out that he always has been the bigger person, genuinely wanting, even if sometimes failing, to do the right thing.   

We have become very close since then, and for years we have been the first person to hear the other's news, good or bad.   He still sees the world with fewer shades of gray than I do, but we respect and love each other in a way that both of us treasure.  And so, over time, I have become his patient advocate and the person who gets the call when things go awry.   As a result, I have been close at his side during his treatment for bladder cancer, and then for treatment of the very rare side effect that the cancer treatment caused.   Lately, things have gone from bad to worse, more quickly than we could have imagined, and now he has been diagnosed with an inoperable aneurysm that is steadily growing, untreatable because it is part of that rare side effect.   The doctors were candid:  it will kill him.   They do not know and will not predict when.   It could have been last week, but it wasn't.   So now it could be today, or next week, or next month, or even next year.  There is nothing they can do to treat it or to stop it.

And so we wait.

Meanwhile, he and I are scrambling to get his affairs in order.   Things we meant to do years ago have suddenly become as urgent as they should have been all along.   He and I disagree, a lot, about where his estate priorities should be, but I have spoken my piece more than once and am trying to step back and let him do whatever he has to do, no matter how foolish some of it looks to me.   I am afraid he will insist on continuing to support someone, a woman to whom he is not married, who has brought him nothing but pain for the last 20 years, at the expense of grandchildren who have brought him nothing but joy.   Whenever he asks, I state my mind, but he did not invite me to join him at the meeting with the estate lawyer, and so it is time for me to let it go.   

But honestly, we most likely would never have had the kind of talks we have had lately without this diagnosis.  I would never have been as candid about his relationship if the stakes weren't so high.  And we are not, by tradition, a demonstrative family.  He is uncomfortable talking about feelings and I have always gone easy on him, but no more.   Now he has to suffer my telling him I love him whenever we talk.   It's been a silver lining that I have had the opportunity to tell him that I will miss him terribly and cannot imagine a world or a life without him, and he has managed to tell me how much he values me in his life.

This morning I got a call from  hospice saying they couldn't reach my brother.   It didn't help that I had already awakened from a nightmare about missing an emergency call about him.     I told myself not to panic,  but he is so good about answering his phone, and even better about calling me back.  Both the hospice and I tried for well over two hours with no answer before I couldn't take it anymore.     Certainly, the hospice lady didn't help by telling me he could be lying there in pain.  I finally got into my car and drove the 2 1/2 hours to the house where he lives alone, calling him every half hour, and trying all the way there to ready myself for the worst.   When I arrived, he opened the door with a happy smile, delighted to see me.   Where was his phone?   Shut in a closet, on the charger.   He said he was sorry I had to make the drive, but really, really happy that I cared enough to do it.   We are both new to this threat of eminent death, obviously we still need to work on some of these little details.   We decided that my panicked drive north was a dry run, and went out to dinner.

I had a lot of nervous energy when I got back home, but now I'm ready for bed.  It's been a long and stressful day but, against all odds, it turned out to be a good one.   Because in the end, at least for now, we've dodged the bullet.


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

It is 25 degrees this morning, still chilly enough to enjoy our matching fleece socks!    Making socks has been my husband's favorite project these past few months, and everyone in the family has a variety of patterns.  Most of our days are very casual and I am still living and dressing out of an overnight bag that I refresh at home every few days, so it is always a happy accident when we find that we have dressed to match.

Although it is chilly again today, the sun is already shining and it should be a lovely day, filled with the promise of eventual Spring.  Yesterday was nice enough -- about 40 degrees -- to take a short walk in the local Dow Gardens and visit the annual Butterfly Exhibit.  It was good to shed our coats and spend a little time in a sunny, lush little building, surrounded by a variety of colorful butterflies.   I had forgotten that this week is Spring Break from the local schools, so there were lots of children there, too.  Perhaps we will try to go back next week when it will be a tad more quiet and with fewer small obstacles so that we can spend more time looking up than watching out for little ones!



We are more than ready for Spring, so the fresh flowers at the local grocery store seem to call my  name whenever I shop lately.


I am also just on the verge of being ready to start a sewing project, but first I need to take another unexpected trip to the Ann Arbor Hospital, where my brother was taken to the Emergency Room this morning after his routine doctor's appointment turned up some wonky test results.   I hope we get some answers this time . . .