Thursday, August 19, 2021

Turtles and Flowers

With no schedule or internet resources today, I explored a park in town.  Our town has a lot of flowers in public places, including a whole corner lot nearby with tiered rows that are tended every year by volunteers.  The property is called Dahlia Hill.  Each row holds different varieties of dahlias, all labeled with their name and sometimes with the name of someone in whose memory they are planted.  There are hundreds of them, different shapes and colors, and although they are not yet fully in bloom it is already beautiful.

I also took a walk, longer than my feet approved, along a river.  On the other side, along two ends of a fallen log (only one end pictured here), was a row of perhaps 20 turtles.  My grandchildren suggested (by text) that perhaps it was a Turtle Council, which might, I suppose, if the turtles are in charge, explain why useful changes take so long to happen.

So all in all, it was not the best of days.  Definitely not.  

But it was not the worst of days, either.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

My Grands are Stars

 One of my artistic grandchildren, who adorned themself with a handpainted star.   This photo makes me happy.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Time to Hang Up My Oven Mitts?

I am 71 years old and, I tell myself, coping well.  But today caused me to rethink my abilities a bit.   Tonight we went out after dinner to a local dessert spot because Jack wanted a slice of sugar free cherry pie, and only one place in town serves it.  When we discovered that they were closed, I promised him that I would make him one instead.   Easy peasy.  I mixed up frozen cherries with a sugar substitute and other ingredients, popped them into a refrigerator pie shell, pulled out a cookie tray to set it on in case it bubbled over and put the whole shebang into the oven.   I set a timer and sat down to wait.

Twenty minutes later I was disturbed by an odd smell so I went to the kitchen to investigate.  I opened the oven and, under the cookie sheet, this is what I saw.

Don't even ask because I have no idea what it is, except that it is plastic.  I can only surmise that maybe a cutting board was stuck to the bottom of the cookie sheet?  It doesn't exactly look like a cutting board, so I honestly don't know.  All I know for sure is that our house filled with the smell of melted plastic,  we both lost our appetite for pie, and I was just glad we didn't have company coming.  We think the oven and maybe even the cookie sheet can be salvaged -- the plastic peeled off the oven floor in a whole sheet.  There is some slight waxy residue but not much, and we are hopeful that we can get it off.  The racks, on the other hand, are a lost cause, and new ones are on order.  But the real question is, this is Jack's fault, right?

Other than that, it has been a perfectly good, if unproductive, week.  I have two quilt tops sitting idle  that can't be finished until the border fabric on order arrives.  Since nothing much was going on, we decided to go away on a long weekend, in fearful anticipation of Covid non-compliance shutting things down again soon.  But when we arrived at out first destination, we realized that there were no superchargers in that part of the state and that we would need to drive half-way home and then back up again if we wanted to go to the second destination on my itinerary.  So we scratched the rest of the trip and had a very nice one-night stay.   When we got home I felt like all I had done was drive and eat, and I was not even a little bit rested, so it was a valuable learning experience.  I will plan more carefully next time.  I underestimated how quickly I would need to charge again when we were driving mostly on back roads instead of on the highway.  I knew going in that this would be a negative factor with the Tesla, but it seems to me an acceptable trade-off for not using fossil fuel, and I am sure more superchargers will be built as time goes on.  No regrets.

So instead of a long weekend, we visited a lovely local museum and an overpriced local quilt shop, and spent one night at a golf course that also contains an Elk preserve.  We learned a lot about Elk, their habits, their life cycle, and their benefits.  It was really quite interesting.  We saw several elk but the photo opportunities were disappointing because, although the elk roam freely within the several hundred acre preserve, the preserve is fenced, and fences do not make good photos.  Of course, if it were not fenced, we would be unlikely to see elk at all, but seeing them this way was not very different from seeing them at a zoo.  There are several hundred wild elk in Michigan, but they are susceptible to the bovine tuberculosis that threatens our much, much larger whitetail deer population.   Until a few years ago people could create food plots for the elk to improve the chances of a sighting, but those group feeding areas spread disease and have been outlawed now to protect both the elk and the deer, as well as livestock in the area.

After the elk tour, we were taken to a lovely cabin in the middle of the property and served a nice 5 course dinner,  including a pork loin crown roast, prepared on a wood stove, along with surprisingly drinkable local wines.   It was fun, but since we exposed ourselves to strangers, we are now quarantining for a few days before we see George or other family.  We do not expect to be infectious, but we don't want to take any chances, either, because the virus is clearly on the upswing again.   I am trying to stop hoping that we will get to take another trip before things shut down again.  Now I am just mostly hoping again that we can all stay well.  Thank goodness stupidity isn't contagious, because we are exposed to an awful lot of that these days.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Vaxxed and Relaxed

It has been hot the past couple of weeks, with temperatures in the high 80's, something we didn't use to see  until late July or August.  But yesterday we had a robust thunder storm and a temperature drop of about 20 degrees, so this morning is pleasant and more in keeping with what mid-June "ought" to be.  Given the brutal weather that much of the country has experienced lately, we feel lucky to be in mid-Michigan.

Baby George and his mama are expected to arrive next weekend, and Jack is doing the final work on getting his 'old' house ready for them.  New carpet and flooring was installed this week, and house-cleaners are scheduled for Monday.  I am shopping this weekend for a pack n play to keep at Grandpa's house and for a diaper stash to tide him over until the baby-daddy arrives a week later with all their gear.

It has been so nice to experience some vaccination freedom!   Jack's younger son and wife came for dinner last weekend for the first time since the pandemic started.  I freely stop by to visit with my grands whenever I am in their area these days (School is out for them, and Ray got a cute new summer haircut!  I love hearing about their lives again!).  And I visited my sister this week; she is about 3 hours away and it has been nearly two years since I've seen her, so the pandemic-delayed visit was long over-due.  She is unsteady and weak, but in good spirits, and we had a nice visit.  We drove to Marine City, on the St. Clair River, where we spent much of our childhood.  When we parked and started to get out of the car, we realized that she had forgotten her cane, and so further progress was impossible.  Fortunately we were able to find a drugstore not too far out of town where I picked up a flamingo-design replacement.  We had lunch and visited a candy store before driving back to her cute little condo.

I have been sewing little things, too many to picture, including secret Santa gifts and bits that will eventually become Christmas gifts.  I feel pressured to get as much done as possible.  Once the baby arrives we expect to be busy!  And my secret Santa gifts need to be packed and mailed by the end of the summer, so those are on my priority list.

Oh -- and after much angst, I spent a chunk of my children's increasingly meager inheritance:  I bought a Tesla.  I have been in the market for a new car for a few years now, although there was no hurry.  Honestly, at this point in my life, there was also no genuine need, but I am not ready to give up my 'independence' yet.  I was looking at perhaps another Suburu, but Jack has been driving a Tesla for a couple of years, and he is a mighty believer in going electric for the sake of our grandchildren.  If we don't do it, he reasons, who will?, and we both see the need for alternatives to fossil fuel.   My car should arrives just around the time that George does, so lots of excitement expected soon!  Neither of my original grands is driving yet, but I am hoping the new car might be a little fun for them at some point down the proverbial road.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Meeting George

Jack and I flew to D.C. this week to meet George Jack, first child of Jack's daughter Abi, and first child of any of Jack's kids.  As babies tend to do, he completely charmed us.  We held him more than he needed to be held and took a million identical photos.  It was a good trip and hard to leave him, especially for Jack.  Abi and her boyfriend Ben are planning to move into Jack's 'old' house sometime this summer, so they will be close-by soon, but at this age even days seem like forever.  Abi's mom still refuses to get vaccinated, even knowing that she might not see her only grandchild until he is old enough for the vaccination, which could well be years away.  It is incomprehensible to me and very sad.

George is wearing silicone forms on  his ears because one of the baby-doctors concluded that his ear shape was not picture perfect (although George's parents couldn't see anything wrong with them) and these sci-fi forms are supposed to correct that.  They don't seem to bother him and are expected to come off before the next time we see him, so it will be like meeting him all over again.

We did nothing else on this trip; just flying and having to be in buildings with unknown strangers seemed risky enough.    Abi's mom had promised to get the vaccine and to be there during George's early weeks to help, but of course that didn't happen, so the kids have not had any help until now.   They've done a good job, as most new parents do, but for sure George's mommy and daddy (like most new mommys and daddys) are flat-out exhausted.  We spent each day with the baby, watching him so his parents could sleep.  Jack spent one over-night on the couch in his daughter's tiny apartment so that he could take over the night feedings, which was both exhausting and fulfilling for him.  I didn't hear from him until  nearly 11 am the next morning; clearly George has not yet figured out the day/night schedule of this new-to-him planet.  On the last day before we left, Jack pretty much forced them to unwrap (i.e. take the ribbon off and unfold)  the quilt I made and gave them on day one so he could get a picture, but they didn't look at it well enough to see that it had a heart pattern.  I was sorry that he felt he had to press the matter.   I did get a nice photo of the baby wrapped in his great aunt's quilt-gift, the first she ever made, by wrapping the baby in it myself and trying to explain how important it would be to her to feel that it was appreciated.   The young parents are too tired and overwhelmed, I think, to notice much of anything that isn't absolutely necessary right now.

I was glad to get home.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Brighter Days

So it appears that Jack's daughter and the baby, who was given the baby-daddy's last name, are home and doing well.  They seem to be handling everything to their satisfaction, and so far they are not interested in company.  Since I am packed and ready to travel, maybe I will stop by to see the Grands and visit a sibling or two!  Jack's daughter-in-law gave him a new shirt, so he can rightly claim that his daughter had a baby and all he got was a tshirt, I guess.  (No mention of me, of course, but oh well.)  We are not getting many updates from his daughter,  so we have to hope and assume that everything is fine.  It's hard for Jack; they talked pretty much every day, for years, before the baby was born, and she was in constant contact through much of the labor, and now it's been "radio silence."  New babies are life changing, for all of us.

I finished one of my "star" quilt tops, and made a cute little wall hanging for the most-used bathroom.   That completes my April list of sewing tasks, so I can start on something new.    My original list is getting whittled down, but my new projects stop it from getting any smaller!

I reeived a couple more quilts back from the longarm quilter, and they've been labeled and packed away for gift-giving.  I am feeling more productive than I was just a few days ago!

Trees are starting to bud and, although we had snow flurries this week, Spring might actually be here, at last!  It is 59 degrees this evening, warm enough for Jack to sit out on the deck, but not warm enough yet to get me out from under my quilt.  My foot is somewhat improved; the anti inflammatories seem to be doing their job, and I am grateful for that.  Hopefully soon enough we'll start to see a few flowers and I will venture out into the world again!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Oh Baby!

After a long and mostly unproductive labor, Jack's daughter was FINALLY safely delivered, by C-section, of a baby boy.  They haven't shared his name yet, but he looks like a keeper.    We will all breathe more freely once she is healed and he is out of the NICU, where they say they are holding him for brief observation -- maybe then Jack and I will stop stress eating!  But for sure,  the whole family is excited to welcome him and excited for Abi.   We had a brief Facetime visit with her last night and got our first photo at about 1:30 a.m.  Jack is still not sure whether we should just pack and go to D.C. or wait until his daughter decides she wants visitors; he wants to respect her wishes, but he might want to see the baby even more.

Maybe once the tension of the last few days eases away I will get my sewing mojo back, too.  It's been one of those weeks where every little step seems to go wrong.  I sat down to make more blocks for a quilt I have been doing, bits at a time, and the new blocks were an entirely different size than the pattern called for, off by inches, not just by little fractions!  I need to set time aside to review the tutorial and start all over again, which has so far been too frustrating to deal with.   I tried to make a simple receiving blanket and all the angles are wrong.   I have a quilt that needs binding and I'm a little afraid to even start it until I get over this comedy of errors!

Jack has been falling asleep every time he sits down today.  Our weather has been Spring-y, which is to say, drizzly and chilly with occasional sightings of sunshine that promise more than they deliver, and the dreary skies do not lend energy.  The tree service came yesterday during the baby-watch and cut down a tree that was leaning against another tree and threatening to fall on our neighbor's fence.  I suspect that their heavy equipment did damage to the wet lawn but  haven't bothered to go out yet to check.

In other words, we are TIRED!  It makes me laugh that Jack thinks we could be a Big Help to his daughter when we barely survived staying awake long enough to learn of the birth!