Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year, Please.

We celebrated Christmas and kissed 2021 goodbye by having a lovely dinner of Indian carryout and chocolate fondue with my son, daughter in law and the two older grands.  I love our fondue tradition, I love those people!,  but it is clear that things are on the verge of change again.  It took a "grown up" to suggest that we open gifts, and we totally forgot to do the Christmas Crackers before Ray left early to go to a party with friends.  The grands aren't babies anymore and so they naturally will continue to be pulled away by friends and circumstances as they find their own lives, just as they should.   It is possible that the fondue tradition will continue for a few more years before its next pause.  It is even possible that it will circle around again, as it did when  my son left home and created his own life and his own family.   But whether it continues any distance into the future isn't within my control, and that's okay.   I have gotten so much more value out of a tradition that started with a cheap chocolate bar and a little bit of fruit than I ever would have imagined.  More evidence that the seeds we plant, often by accident, sometimes take on a life of their own.

Jack and I were talking this morning about what we would like to accomplish in 2022.  I told him I was formulating a "Hope List," which he mis-heard as Hopeless.   At this point, of course, we have a blank slate so it could go either way, I guess.  What we really wanted to talk about was travel, but it is so hard right now to imagine what kind of travel options we will have in 2022; day trips only?  Visits to other states?  A tour of another country?  We just don't know.  So  the conversation quickly turned into a ToDo list for things that need doing around the house.  That led, naturally, to talk of the Covid-19 progression and then to the realization that a virus and a corporation seem to have many of the same goals -- to grow and prosper, even at the expense of others, but not completely destroy the host.  Since my Hope List had by this point gone further toward Hopeless than either of us wanted, we thought it best to stop there and revisit 2022 goals sometime later.

We know for sure that some practical considerations are on the list.  The house needs to be repainted or sided, if we can find available workers this year who are competent to do the job.  Last year local businesses complained that their usual workers were not available much of the time.  We had our crumbling porch repaired last year because it simply had to be done but, although it is pretty, the workmen did not do a competent job; the center of the porch is uneven and gathers water when it rains or snows, and the porch is unlikely to last as long as it should.   Not surprisingly, talk about house repairs led to talk about how long we should expect to continue to live in a house that is many times too large for us, and where we will move when it all becomes just too much.  Which led to a brief conversation into the political situation and the weather concerns and the connection of both to climate change.  We quickly walked away from that conversation and into our respective sewing rooms, where we found it nearly overwhelming to just tackle our own post-Holiday mess, much less the mess of the world.  I set my timer of 15 minutes and managed to clear out one small box before I came back to my laptop to rest up before returning to another 15 minutes of productivity.  I am hoping to regained some sort of order before next week, when I will take down the Christmas decorations and need to create some pretense of order out of that.

Still, I have no serious complaints.  If things have been better at other times in my life, they have most certainly also been worse.  Most of Jack's kids are out of work, but they are healthy.  The baby is thriving.  My son and his family are coping and, even if the pandemic has caused some havoc with their school and work lives, and even if the kids' high school experience is not what any of us expected, and even if everyone's future seems somehow unsettled, they are all healthy.  Jack and I are cozy and very well fed and happy to be together, at least most of the time.   There are times when we crave company, and times when we think we would be fine if we never saw another person.  So all in all, we are content.  If we can have another year with no larger problems, I dare not be disappointed.   To paraphrase the Leonard Cohen lyrics,  although the pretty woman in her darkened door might cry out to me, "why not ask for more," I am more akin the the beggar leaning on his wooden crutch who says "don't ask for so much."   I hope to embrace every bit of goodness that comes my way.  

Whatever you hope for, I hope you get it.  Happy New Year.

Friday, December 31, 2021

The End of The Year

Today ends another year.  I recently saw a meme on Facebook where 2021 was depicted as a dumpster fire.   It made me laugh but truly, it has not been a terrible year for me.  Our family has remained mostly healthy, we all got vaccinated, baby George joined us, and we have had a ton of time with him, and I have had some pretty regular time with  my older Grands.  I plan to finish the year tonight with chocolate fondue with my son, daughter in law and the older Grands -- in person again!   Jack is not sure he will join us, Covid concerns and worry that he might not be able to see the baby if he does, but I would not miss it for the world.   Dominoes season is just around the corner.    It's all good, or at least good enough.   And yes, I am aware that it looks like it might get all bad again, because the Covid variants, Omicron at this writing, courtesy of the anti-vax people, continue to spread and change.  I worry about the baby, who is not old enough to be vaccinated.  I worry about so many of us who are at risk despite our vaccinations.  I worry about the ones of us who cannot seem to find work and wonder how long we can carry them all.  The political universe, our own democracy, are in upheaval.  But for the moment, in my little world, I am cozy and safe, and it is a happy end to the old year.

I can't claim to have been especially productive this year., but I wasn't a total slacker either  I can't prove it because my new laptop is not sure yet that it wants to be my best friend, but that will work itself out and I will surely have photo access again sometime soon.  My Secret Santa was happy with the gifts I sent to her, and that was gratifying.  I completed a few quilts in 2021.  I had my adorable new Featherweight to play with -- I pieced one small crib quilt on her.  I have a bunch of projects lined up for next year, including a planned quilt for Jack's oldest son, some larger quilts to put away for future gifts, and a number of small kits and projects to sew on the Featherweight.  Only my own laziness stands in my way.  

I hope to post again later with photos.  But whether I do or not, I wish us all a healthy, peaceful new year.  Please come in gently, 2022.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Not A Creature Was Stirring

Jack and I expected to spend a very quiet Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  My son and his family have flown to San Francisco -- a few years ago they decided to try a new tradition of being away as a family for Christmas.  Their school breaks overlap, the only vacation time of the year when they are all free, and when they are here in their home state, they are pulled in a million directions during  Christmas break.  They didn't travel last year because of Covid-19, and made this year's plans when it looked like we were over the worst of it.  Of course, this week we are hearing scary stories about the newest variant, and they thought about cancelling but decided to go ahead since they are all vaccinated and so is the friend they will visit there.  I am happy and excited (and of course a little bit worried) for them.  We will have our Christmas get-together, and our traditional chocolate fondue, on New Year's Eve after they get back.  Jack's younger son and daughter in law are busy both days with her family, and his older son is working.  We thought that his daughter would enjoy her son's 1st Christmas with her little family.   But her boyfriend decided to go to Florida to visit his mom and grandpa over the holidays, so we got bonus family time, and we are delighted.  Now instead of just two grumpy old people on Christmas Eve, Grandpa gets to be snuggled down this afternoon, and just as the poem promises in The Night Before Christmas, not a creature is stirring.  

I hope all the people I know are as lucky as we are, and also having a peaceful Christmas Eve, with people you love.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Still Thankful

It has been a long time since I last posted.  Somehow, when George came to town, either I got busy or having a baby around sucked the energy out of me just like when my own were little.  We have been entertaining him several times a week and we love it.  He is a serious little guy and seems to be carefully evaluating - and judging - the world, but he always always has a smile for his grandma.  He is at an age when he doesn’t like it a bit when  his mother leaves  him with anyone else, but he is fine if I am there, which is a sweet feeling for me.  He reaches for me and hugs my neck when I pick him up; nothing could be sweeter.

Meanwhile, this year I have finally, finally been able to see the older grands a few times a week, too.  Although they are much too big now for me to pick up and cuddle, they also always have a smile for their grandma.   I love our conversations, I love hearing what they are thinking about, and I am amazed at how much smarter and more perceptive and creative they are than I was at their ages, or maybe ever.   And   all of this makes me very happy, if a bit worse for wear.   I am amazed lately at how quickly I tire. 


Meanwhile, we all getting older.  We were sad to get the news that one of Jack’s  younger brothers died. Our last photo of all 7 siblings together was taken at our post-wedding celebration 2019, and we knew then that Mark was in poor health, but we had hoped he would be with us for many more years. 

In more ordinary news, I’ve sewn an assortment of things since last I posted.  Jack bought me an early birthday present of a 1937 Singer Featherweight.  She had a single owner, someone’s Aunt Esther, who recently died at 94, and that is the name I have given her.   I got her over a month ago and by now, the week before my birthday, I’ve learned to maintain her and have already made a little crib quilt top and a few odds and ends.  At only 11 pounds, she is so small that I am able to bring her into the living room and then carry her back to the sewing room when I am done.  Sewing in a different location has been kind of fun and what they say about these machines is true — she sews a beautiful stitch.   I’ve been happy to have her because my “good” machine, the Solaris, has broken down again and Babylock took her back to the factory because the dealer has already replaced every replaceable part and she still refuses to cooperate.   She is too expensive to have been this much trouble and has been an ongoing frustration.   

Today is Thanksgiving.  We will have dinner at my son and daughter-in-law's house today and I need to get going to make the mushroom lasagna I am contributing to the meal.  We will have another Thanksgiving, with Jack’s kids, on Sunday, here at our house.  Christmas is just around the corner!  Jack's kids are all local and we plan to spend time together over the holidays but have decided not to exchange gifts this Christmas, so I will put away the things I’ve made for them until their birthdays instead.  My son’s family will be busy on Christmas, but we will get together before or after for our exchange.  My daughter is in Louisiana, where she continues to struggle with her personal challenges; we wish we could visit her but pandemic numbers continue to make that seem unwise.  So it will be a fairly quiet holiday for us.  Maybe next year we will finally be able to visit and travel and gather in larger groups again, but at least this year we are able to have small visits with our local vaccinated loved ones.

For the first time ever, I decided to “rush the season” and not wait until after Thanksgiving to put up the Christmas tree.  Jack thinks it is too soon, but this year I feel like I need as much Christmas as I can squeeze out of the year.  Between the seemingly endless pandemic, my 72nd birthday next week, and the sad loss of Jack’s younger brother, I see no reason to limit the simple things that bring me joy.   Oddly enough, those sparkly lighted trees fall into that category.

Life seems a bit bittersweet these days, but there is always much to be thankful for.  Our young ones are healthy, Jack and I have both gotten the Covid booster shots, and our own home is comfortable and peaceful.  Life is always changing, but it is good.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Turtles and Flowers

With no schedule or internet resources today, as I stay away from my home, 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.