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.