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, 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!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Happy Anniversary - To Me!

It's my anniversary!   But I am not sharing this one with my husband.  My blogging adventure began on this date in 2007.  Fourteen years.  Wow, I have had a lot of words!  And a lot of changes in my life.   Relationships, jobs, houses, cars, hobbies, grandchildren's milestones, challenges, marriage . . . It's good to still be here.  According to Professor Google, this is my Ivory anniversary, but I am not expecting any gifts because I wasn't thoughtful enough to buy one for myself.   Maybe next year.  The way my senior brain is fading these days, I could easily surprise myself!  

I feel like this is the year of the needle -- so far this year I have had my two Shingles shots, my two Covid shots, and one Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis shot.   I am still "looking forward" to two pneumonia and one flu shot, making me feel more like a pin cushion than I have been at any time in my adult life.  Hopefully that will be the end of it, although I very much expect that Covid boosters are in all of our futures.  But I am hoping that needle crafts will be more the focus from now on than syringes!

The anti-inflammatories and orthotics are giving my foot some relief, but I am hoping for a lot more improvement before my next doctor's appointment.   It is difficult to even imagine having this kind of pain and walking difficulty for the rest of my life, so I am determined to find some kind of solution.  I can manage around the house but there is no way I could take the kind of vacation, or even shopping trip that I have always enjoyed.   Dr. Google has not been much help here; "midfoot arthritis" has been studied quite a bit, and none of the solutions promise to solve much.  But we'll see, techniques keep improving and besides,  I've beat the odds before.

We are finally seeing the occasional bloom on trees out in the yard, and that's enough to brighten anyone's spirits.  The oaks and maples don't have leaves yet but they are starting to form little buds so it won't be long!



Jack saw a weasel out back by the creek and we are hoping for more sightings of that and maybe baby weasels.  I will be glad to see green trees but they will limit our vision so I am enjoying being a nature watcher while I can!  The neighbors tell us that, from their yard, they are occasionally able to see the three foxes that live just a few houses south, but we don't have a view around that bend so we have to wait until the wander by, which isn't all that often.  I'm hoping they expand their residential area a bit this year.

In my crafting time, I've started another knitted cowl.  I don't really need another one, although it will be a fine addition to my gift box, but someone told me that square needles are supposed to be good for arthritic hands and I was intrigued.   I don't really notice any difference but they are pretty and pleasant to use; I love wooden needles. These ones are particularly sweet, with little houses on top.

My granddaughter gave me some sketching tips, and I have practiced my new lessons a few times and plan to do more.   My early sketches don't show much promise, but she is a generous and supportive teacher.


I am working on two quilt tops, both with "star" in their name -- houses were my theme last year and stars seem to be catching my fancy this year, becauseΩ I have several other "star" patterns on my list of things to make.   With luck both will be finished and ready to send out for quilting sometime later this week.  

And this is also the week that I plan to bind and label the baby quilt since Abi is due pretty much any day now.   I am not sure what she will call me to the baby and I don't know what they will name him, so I might attach the label but then write in the message and hand sew the finishing edge after he is born.  The baby quilt is due back from the longarm today, so that will be another task that I look forward to completing.

Just as things are starting to feel hopeful again, the covid infection rates have started going up again locally, and schools are planning to shut down for the next couple of weeks.  My son's family was here last weekend and a fully-vaccinated friend stopped over yesterday for a glass of wine -- I was looking forward to being my recluse-version of social again.  But warmer weather and those few hours with family have strengthened me, and I'm sure we will hang in there until we can all get together again.  I am wishing myself another 14 years of blogging!  I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Spring Has Sprung

It was so wonderful to have my family here!  No masks, indoors, eating and talking and laughing together.  I was in my happy place all day!   Jack followed his family tradition of having everyone make and wear a pair of bunny ears, bringing a new tradition to my family.  My grands have grown so much, but the people I know and love are still in there!  And it was so very good to finally hug them all.  The day went by much too quickly.

In less happy news, my 'good' foot has gotten worse and my Apple watch has been nagging at me, telling me each day that I am not walking as much as I  normally do.  Sheesh, give me a break, Apple.    The left ankle-area has gotten progressively worse since I broke my right foot last year.  Sometimes I can walk with just significant pain, and sometimes it is so painful that I can't even stand on it.  The ankle bends with no difficulty and it doesn't hurt to touch, but there is a bump there and walking is often impossible.  My worst fear was that the doctor would tell me, as seems more common these days, that it is just "minor arthritis" and I would have to learn to live with it.   And, except that he said "severe advanced" instead of "minor," that is pretty much what he said.  Surgery won't help, too much walking will make it worse, and all I can do is try orthotics and anti inflammatories to make it a little more comfortable.   Not the news I was hoping to hear because I really wanted to get out and walking  again now that the weather is getting pleasant.  I'm gaining weight and getting stir crazy.   Jack thinks maybe a cane will help, I am just hoping that something does.  Ironically, the broken foot is finally healing well, and walking would help that one because the healing bone has shortened the tendon a bit.  I will do foot exercises to help with that but the left-foot prognosis is basically grin and bear it.

Jack's daughter's pregnancy is in full bloom and she is looking beautiful.  Her mom has refused to have the Covid vaccines and so will not be able to be there when her first grandchild is born.  I feel heartbroken about that, that she has been so mislead that she is giving up this priceless moment.  Jack and I have offered to go to D.C. help out so, depending on a variety of factors, that might happen.  We are not keen on travel right now, but we are very keen on family.  This wouldn't even be an option, of course, if we were not fully vaccinated, so we are grateful for that.

Not a lot of sewing got done this week, just a little of this and that: a rainbow block, a couple of baby quilts and a Secret Santa gift.  I've just started another quilt top and hope to finish it up this week, and I have a stack of smaller projects to complete.





I have several minor appointments scheduled this month so I am hoping the new baby will work around my schedule!  Ha, not to worry, I will clear the deck when he decides to make  his appearance.   I've thought a lot lately about when my first Grand was born.  His parents were in Louisiana and I was in Michigan.   I got the call at work that they were at the hospital and I left immediately for the airport, where I took a standby flight and got there in plenty of time for his birth.  I wouldn't have given up that miracle for the world.  It still takes my breath away.


Saturday, April 3, 2021

Upward and Onward

It has been an eventful week, made even more eventful by how long it's been since we've had an eventful week!  The week started with an emergency phone call from my oldest brother, who had fallen at his home and had to call 911.  The local police broke down his door and transported him to the hospital, where they diagnosed him with dehydration.  He was released the same day and Jack and I went to stay with him and fix the door, but only a day later he insisted that he was fine and he seemed well recovered, so we drove home.   We had not even pulled into our driveway when we got another call; he had fallen again, and the police broke his door down again, but he refused to go to the hospital this time.  My brother is a stubborn old coot, no question.  But he was clearly feeling better and managed to stay home and rehydrate himself well enough to visit his own doctor, who confirmed the hospital diagnosis.    

                            

Now that we are all vaccinated, I will resume the frequent visits that were part of my life pre-pandemic.  I will need to add my sister to the visitation schedule -- my brother is two hours north and she is two hours south, but she is still struggling with the covid symptoms and not getting the support I think she needs.

We were barely settled back home when Jack needed to help his oldest son move, after several years at Jack's old house, to a city about 45 minutes away.  We are hopeful that he will find his footing there.   So far things are looking good -- in less than a week, he has gotten his drivers' license and a job, so fingers crossed.    



The next day, on Monday, Jack and I drove to Ludington, about two hours away on the west side of the state, and stayed for a few days in a lovely bed and breakfast.  We were greeted with flowers and chocolates and chocolate covered strawberries, as well as a plate of homemade candies in our room.  The room, which was actually a small suite, had a fake fireplace and a jetted tub with aromatherapy scents.  At breakfast the next morning, the hostess and her son made us an amazing breakfast, as they did all three days that we were there.  And every afternoon she baked us something special to have with tea.  Food was definitely one of the highlights of the trip since the weather was so dreary.  It was too cold to do much -- it even snowed quite a bit! -  and my feet were acting up terribly, but we had a lovely and relaxing time and did see one glorious sunset.   (Speaking of my feet, I've made an appointment with a podiatrist and hope he will have suggestions for some relief.)


When we got  home, it was time to start getting ready for Easter dinner tomorrow, when my son's family is coming over for the first indoor visit in over a year!  So that's what I am doing now.  There will be a lot of food but none of it complicated -- the focus tomorrow is on seeing and spending time with the people I most love.    I can't wait!