Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Change of Plans

Any anticipation about being homebound with my shiny new husband during our area's "polar vortex" didn't work out quite the way I expected.   The weather forecasters were certainly right this time and it got colder than heck; even the mail service was suspended for most of the week, to protect the mail carriers who walk for miles delivering our letters and bills.  With temperatures below zero and windchill's that were 35-40 below, schools, businesses, and government offices were all closed, while I was safe and cozy and thinking about what to bake.   

My husband and I were just settling into the enjoyment of Tuesday's sub zero temperatures when I became concerned because I wasn't able to reach my older brother, who lives further north than we do.   Just about the time I was ready to call the police for a welfare check or even drive up there myself, my brother phoned to tell me that he had been admitted to the hospital and they expected to do emergency surgery as soon as they could.   I drove through whiteout conditions down to the University Hospital where he had gone in for a routine out-patient test the day before.

Thank goodness, it was only a day before the medical team concluded that my brother does not, or probably does not have a rapidly ballooning aneurism that could kill him.  Instead, they think, he has a growth on his aorta that can be treated, at least temporarily, without surgery.  We should know for sure in the next day or so but, although he is still in the ICU,  they have cleared him to get out of bed by himself, which is a very good sign.   Meanwhile, I am spending my nights alone in a hotel nearby,  hanging out in the ICU during the day, and driving back and forth in horrific temperatures.  No kidding, the tips of fingers and nose start to burn within minutes, but things are good.  For one thing, so far, the car is starting after only a few seconds of complaint.      Better yet, while we still expect there will be some surgery in his future, and probably a few more days stuck in one of those back-flap hospital robes, it looks like my brother will be able to go home again early next week.     Meanwhile, I've explored the local community to buy him the underwear and socks that he didn't know he should pack because he didn't think he was going to stay.    And Jack is home alone, again, teasing me about my high maintenance family while we look forward to being together again.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Hunkering Down

Last I checked, there were 193 schools, businesses and community/government offices closed today in our area.    Cold and snow, snow and cold, with high winds to complicate it all.   We are likely to all be back out on the roads a few days before we really want to be, but it doesn't look like it will be today.     I sent my snow guy a message telling him I'd rather pay him twice than have him outside for as long as it would take to shovel my whole driveway.   It is brutal out there; the cold wind, especially,  is terrible.  Jack has gone out to shovel twice already, but can't stay out more than a few minutes because of the wind. 

There was a single junco at the feeder this morning, braving the wind and trying to dig out the sunflower seeds and eat them before they blew away.  Inside, though, we are cozy warm and breakfasted on french toast, bacon and coffee.     

Winter in mid and northern Michigan is beautiful, at  least from the inside out.  But it can be dangerous; we've seen reports in the past week of two people, one young and one older, who died of exposure after wandering from their vehicles and not finding their way back in time, despite short distances of less than a quarter mile.   We have a lot of woods and wilderness here, and too many people who don't know how to use a map and compass or dress for the weather.

This old fool is content to snuggle up next to my husband as we sit by a roaring fire and watch the blowing snow through the window while I house-hunt on the internet.  I feel fortunate, indeed.   

Saturday, January 26, 2019

January Cold

It's cold here, for sure.  Another polar vortex here in the mid-west while, on the other side of the world, they are suffering from record heat.   Although by the time I'd had my coffee this morning it was a mere 8 below (F) and sunny.  Jack's kitchen pipes were frozen when I got up and I started to feel panicky about my own empty house, 25 miles away.   Time for a field trip home to check on things!  And maybe I'll turn my heat up a little.   I generally keep my house at about 60 degrees, but the colder weather makes me nervous, so I think I will turn it up to 65.     That's silly, I know, when I am not even there to enjoy the luxury, but still.
Aside from the cold, which we are lucky enough to easily avoid most of the time since we are retired and have shelter, things are good and we are grateful.

My grands continue to be a major delight in my life.   The oldest, 14, could not think of a thing he wanted to ask for as a gift for either his birthday or Christmas.   We decided to give him a 'cheese extravaganza' experience since he loves trying new cheeses.  We started by making him a cheese fondue, then (on a different day) visited a cheese shop where he was able to taste whatever took his fancy, and and choose several cheeses to take home.   A few days later I made macaroni and blue cheese for dinner, which he AND (most of) his family loved, and I have to admit, so did I.   I used a variation of Ina Garten's "Macaroni and Cheese for Grown Ups."  But what I loved just as much was that, at such a young age, my grandson knows that he doesn't need more "stuff" and was willing to say so, which will lead the way, I hope, to more experiences as gifts.   He is the quintessential STEM child, with an intense interest in mathematics and science.  And he is more fun to talk to and puzzle over questions with than almost any adult I know.
Both my grandson and my granddaughter are musician, as I've mentioned before, and this week she played a solo at the school concert, Vivaldi's Concerto in A Minor, Opus 3, number 6, 1st movement.   She knows it by heart, of course, and it was just a joy to sit and listen to her.   Tears ran down my face.
She is good at  math and science, but what she really loves is art.   When she isn't reading or playing music, she is drawing, but this year she also experimented with a variety of clay crafts, including using a wheel and making a fantasy 'coat of arms,' with one of her favorite animals, the fox, along with a stylized violin, drawing pens, and a book as her logos.  They are both such a fun mix of child and almost grown.   
We are expecting to be homebound this weekend as the temperatures drop even further.  I have not sewn anything for a long time and this might be a good weekend to get back to it, although I expect I will do more cooking than sewing.   My hubs just bought a new embroidery machine with an even bigger hoop AND a serger, which will be entirely new to me, so it is hard to do my old projects while I am waiting for the new toys to arrive!  I have nighties and a blouse cut out and ready to experiment with!  I also have a mile-long list of embroidery projects ready and waiting.   But my most pressing projects are belated Christmas gifts, cut out and stacked up at my house.  These days my regular sewing machine is at my own house, along with those overdue 'regular' projects, so until I have all those ready-to-go quilt pieces and other things with me, not much sewing is likely to get done.  Living between two houses has its challenges, and we are hoping that several lost items and lost habits will return to us once we are truly settled somewhere!

Tomorrow night I will also call an automated phone line to find out whether I will need to go in for jury duty at the regional federal court.   They didn't need me at all last week and, although I would treasure the opportunity to sit on a jury, I would be happy to be passed over until the weather is a little more mild.    
Life is good.  I have people to love, a fire in the fireplace and butterscotch pudding on the stove.   What more could anyone wish for?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Cold As Ice

We live in the Every-Quilt-You-Own region of the country.  It was 9 below (Fahrenheit) when we got up today.      But the sun is shining, finally.  At my Saginaw house I always park in the garage but here at Jack’s my car is stuck out on the driveway and is covered in a thick coating of ice today, which glistens in the light.    Pretty.   Awful, but pretty.  Since I am on jury duty this week and next, I am hoping the car doesn’t realize  how old its battery is until after that obligation is over.
It is good eating weather, though.   I made a lovely chili and cornbread last night, and I have chicken and potatoes simmering away in the crock pot in anticipation of our dominoes game tonight, assuming the roads will be cleared and salted in time for Evan to drive over.  There will be chocolate cookies for dessert since I discovered a roll of butter cookie dough in the freezer when I was searching for corn meal.    Even if all I do is hibernate, I know how important that fat layer is this time of year.   My doctor is too young to understand these things.

Our 6-week marriage is still intact.   And they said it wouldn't last!   😂😂😂    There is always a learning curve, of course, but Jack is a truly caring person and we both try hard to be considerate with one another.    So far it's been as easy as it should be.   Except for the challenges that we knew in advance would be there for us.   Jack's 38-year-old son lives here with us and we all still walk a bit on eggshells.   Me, mostly, since I am the interloper; his son moved back in several years ago.     We see him pretty rarely since he mostly keeps to himself.  And I have to admit, he and I both pretty much treat this place like Jack's House; I do relatively little to help and he does less.     It is, after all, filled with Jack's stuff and he has his own way of doing things.   I still take my own laundry home to my own house, and I do all the housekeeping chores there.   But I do  most of the cooking and of course I clean up after myself.   And I do not like leaving a clean kitchen at night and waking up to dirty dishes and pans on the counter, especially when the dishwasher is empty.  I am not a fan of kitchen mess, even if it caused by a co-equally responsible adult, but even less it is caused by a guest or a family member who has no other job or responsibilities, so I hope those issues will be resolved somewhere along the way.   I am staying as removed as possible during this transition period, although I will not cook in a dirty kitchen so, being the only driver,  I shuffle us out for breakfast more days than should be necessary.    For now the silent kitchen drama is taking place in a house that I do not own or claim any control over; but patterns have been set so the possibility of easy changes has been long gone from the 'barn.'   If it is possible to avoid it,  I don't want this to become an area of resentment on anyone's part so I have made suggestions but no real waves at this point.   But we continue to house-hunt and I can't imagine that I will be able to gracefully tolerate uncontrolled messes once we have a kitchen I claim as my own.   So we'll see.    Lots of adjustments to be made.

We had dinner the other night with a couple we have known for over 6 years, our first married couple dinner with another married couple.   This particular couple had always been friendly but they never made any social overtures until after we were married which reminded me, not for the first time, how hard it is for singles to have a satisfying social life.   Anyway, they invited us for dinner and we had a lovely time.    Since we only knew them through Search and Rescue almost everything we heard that night was new to us, and they have done so many interesting things, which made it even more fun.  The wife, Susan, has a lovely spinning wheel in one corner of a room and remarked that she had wanted "all her life" to learn to spin, and so she was finally doing it.   The yarn she has made so far is very professional looking, and spinning looks like fun.  Susan has offered to show me how to do it and I might just take her up on it, although I had not considered it before.     But her comment caused me to wish I had wanted to do something "my whole life" so that I could start learning to do it now.     But no complaints; I had, after all, wanted to be married, and here I am.  Life is good.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Happy New Year!   2018 was good to me, and I am looking forward to a lot of opportunities, surprises, accomplishments and changes in 2019.  
So what happened in 2018?   Well, starting with the last and best event, I got married!   Anyone who has followed or checked in on me during the course of this Blog can imagine what a surprise it was to me for my life to take this turn, at this time.    At nearly 70 years of age, after being single for 30 years, this was not a change I would have predicted or expected.     What a lovely surprise.

In 2018, I sewed.   Last year I made 13 scrappy quilt tops -- in the first 6 months!    Once Jack and I decided in June that we would get married, my focus shifted to trying to clean and organize my house and plan a wedding, and away from sewing.   Honestly, for as little organizing as got done, I might as well have made more quilts, but that's water under the bridge now.    Even though I only used six months of 2018 for quilt-y productivity, it was a good year for sewing.      When we finally celebrated Christmas with my son's family on New Year's Eve, I gave each of the four of them one of my quilts. It turns out that the gift of a quilt to someone who has just flown back from Paris and is jet lagged is something of a party stopper -- all four of them immediately cuddled up and had to put real effort into staying awake.   

Fortunately, we had our traditional New Year's chocolate fondue to revive us -- with a slightly more hasty presentation than usual --  but still delicious.   Unlike most years, though, we skipped the board games and made an early night of it.  I learned later that the kids got their second wind and stayed up long enough to make a confetti mess of the living room, so the new year was properly greeted after all.
Christmas with Jack's family still hasn't happened -- maybe this week?!    There is no tree at his house and my tree was taken down last week, right on schedule, but the pile of gifts is still waiting on the floor.    Once his kids agree on a date -- which has been requested several times already so it will surely happen soon! -- we can plan a menu.   Jack and I decided not to exchange, either birthday or Christmas gifts, this year, but I cheated a little by getting a few things that can be enjoyed by both of us and, therefore, are not specifically for him.  I am a wiley coyote, after all.

Now, except for needing to tie up the last ends of Christmas, I intend to put my efforts toward planning our Illinois wedding celebration for April or May, getting back to the sewing machine to begin my endless list of projects, and finding a house where we can finally set up married life.   The new year is less than a month old, but my task list is already behind schedule!   I'm hoping that, for all of us, it's going to be a very good year.