Sad News

Necessary mittens

Necessary mittens

It’s February and this winter has gone on forever.  Normally, I’m a real fan of cold weather.  I look forward to having a crackling fire going in our stove or playing outside in the snow and having an excuse to knit or crochet almost nonstop.  Of course, this month is generally when the blahs kick in and I can’t get excited about anything, but this year the constant rain and darkness and worry is creating a different feel to my usually scheduled February lassitude.

On Sunday, my mother-in-law passed away (see Of Flooding and Exploding Dryers).   That was way ahead of schedule.  My husband was shocked, naturally, but also because he had just talked to his mother only a few days ago and she hadn’t indicated things were any worse.  As to the why my husband and I had this erroneous notion that her death was in some mid-long distant future, I can’t really say.  Maybe because she appeared to be relatively healthy and mobile when we saw her last month, or maybe, truly, we just didn’t want her to go.  Since this notion created a warped sense of of time, preparations that should have been made earlier were all of a sudden upon us.  We’ve spent the last several days making travel arrangements, funeral arrangements, buying clothes and so much more that I can’t think straight – and there’s still a lot more to do.  As I lie here in bed, typing this entry in the dark, I hear the wind whipping up the trees and hope this won’t delay any travel plans for tomorrow because I am ready for this to be over.

Our new fur baby, Nicky, playing with his recently adopted brother, the chocolate lab, Mario.

Our new fur baby, Nicky, playing with his recently adopted brother, the chocolate lab, Mario.

In the meantime, life goes on.  I’ve managed to make a few more hats for sell, make our new little rescue fur baby a doggie vest and I’m working, slowly, on a pair of mittens.

What are you working on?  I need some good news, dear readers!

*Name changed for privacy.

Ain't he a little stinker?

Ain’t he a little stinker?

Departures

I have an adult daughter who lives with us.

She is my only child.

Yes, I’m sure she’s spoiled and she knows it.

For the last five years she’s been saving money from her work to go to Europe.  I’ve never known a person to work so hard and be so dedicated to her craft.  Really.  Every bit of extra money has been squirreled away at the expense of the small luxuries most of us in America appreciate.  Only recently, with her tickets purchased, has she allowed herself to deviate from her strict budget and spend a weekend with friends at the beach, throw a really big party in honor of her aunt, and eat out at a restaurant or two.

Rachel’s original plan had been to stay where she could work for her lodgings and some meals with the intent of spending her hard-earned Rachel 09-04-2016cash on being a tourist during her time off.  There are many places that offer that arrangement.  She would probably have been there for months, if not a year or more.  But things change.  Several months ago, she was offered a position at a local business that she felt she couldn’t refuse.  Well, let’s modify that.  She did refuse the position, but was pursued until she accepted.  *proud mother*  So, from a wandering vagabond freestyle kind of plan, she goes to a tightly scheduled and regimented tour of a month.  She’s still excited though.  She leaves tomorrow.  And I look at her from across our rusty outdoor mesh tabletop and see how she’s just waiting…and I’m trying my damnedest not to think of hydraulic failure, terrorism, theft, military coups, getting stranded – even bad restaurant service.

*sigh*

Finished – and with a little time to spare

I finally got all the gifts for the grand nieces and nephews finished that I’ve been working on for a bit.  I started in September, but I must admit, it wasn’t a totally concerted effort as I’ve actually completed some cowls, hats, mitts, a wrap, and several hoodies.  I get distracted so easily when it comes to my projects – !  Just for that reason, I chose all but one of these gifts to be crocheted.  For me, crochet is way faster and the concentration levels are lower.  The shark hat and my little pony hats and a basic ribbed cowl have no patterns…yet.   The blanket that they’re all resting on is a basic crochet hounds tooth pattern made with Bernat Baby Blanket yarn, (which is so ooey-gooey-licious that I want to make one just for myself) in little girl colors.  The links to all the rest are listed below.

The booty

The booty

Cheeseburger Hat

Boston Harbor Scarf

Hippo Hat

Aviator Beanie

Newsboy Hat

Now for my next big project – getting them in the mail – LOL!  I think this is why I’ve never done home made gift-giving before.

Bah humbug!

Bah, humbug!

The Five Hour Trip to Nowhere

Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and (wo)men can be detoured; and by detoured, I mean literally.  I was all packed up, ready for a visit to my family down in South Hell Bakersfield; knitting and camera bags were all ready.  I kissed the dogs good-bye, since everyone else had already left for their respective workplaces, and mentally prepared myself for a six hour drive down the valley after leaving the beauty of the mountains.  It was a Thursday morning, and I was actually running on schedule.  For those of you who know me, I’m never on time.  There’s always something else I have to attend to, and there you are – I’m late.  But not today.  The sun was shining, the weather was moderate and it was time to leave.

In the first hour I buzzed down to Sacramento in good form, listening to KKDO 94.7 and thinking of what would most likely be dinner that night.  When the family gets together, my sister likes to cook monstrous Mexican meals with equally

This is way calmer and neater than what I generally observe!

This is way calmer and neater than what I generally observe!

monstrous messes; the kids all run around even while eating, my mother stands in the middle of the hurricane, working that senior card with her hearing aids turned off, my sister yells at everyone to help, get out of the way or clean up, and I just sit like a lump at the dining room table observing everything, somewhat like an ethnographer out in the field.  And that’s generally every night I visit.  I can’t vouch for when I’m gone, but I imagine it’s the same.

While visions of family mayhem dance through my head in rhythm to the music on the radio, I start noticing brake lights coming on.  That’s never good when you’re doing 75 mph on a highway.  I follow suit and slow down, and hope the drivers behind me are paying attention.  I’ve been rear-ended several times, each while I was stopped in traffic.  Don’t want to repeat that.  Good.  Everyone’s paying attention.  The traffic is moving, but at a slower rate, and I notice a traffic marquis all lit up and pretty, telling all of us southbound travelers on Highway 99 must divert to I-5.  Ok.  That will add 30 minutes to my total travel time, but fine.  So I resolve myself to a little delay.  The traffic gradually slows to a crawl, then we’re stop and go.  I know, I know, you’re not supposed to text while driving, but believe me, this isn’t driving.  We’re stopped.  After I check my android to discover that there aren’t any alternate routes out of this snarl, I think, oh, well.  I’ll be an hour late.  sigh 

Two hours later and the traffic looks like this:

We're still trying to connect to I-5.

We’re still trying to connect to I-5.

The traffic jam has been rerouted, very slowly, onto a little back road to go around the incident, but its one lane is not intended for this volume of cars, and we’ve moved a tops of two miles.  I’m also texting my family to let them know what’s going on, when my mom tells me they’re in the middle of a flash flood warning.  Ok.  I think I’ve had enough signs for one day.

I pull off at the first turn out, text my regrets and get back on the road to Highway 99, which takes me all of five minutes.  I head north, back toward home.  I’m tense and just a little upset that after all that time I only got as far as Elk Grove.  It’s 12:10 pm and, according to my past drives, I would have been approaching Fresno, about halfway there.  Instead, I sat idling in the increasingly warm sun, burning up gas.

Feeling a bit blue, I realize that I’ll be driving past one of my favorite craft stores, Jo-Ann’s.  My mood starts to lighten and the trip out here seems not so fruitless.  Yea, yarn!  I get a little groovy to the music and look up ahead to see brake lights coming on…yet again.  I feel the frustration welling up.  I can’t go anywhere – !  I’m stuck!  I’m sure I hit my steering wheel I was so mad, and that brought me back.  I calmed down and after a few minutes, the traffic cleared up.  But it wasn’t to be the last gaggle of the day.  Just as I was approaching Jo-Ann’s, I ran into another

Again...

Again…

glitch that delayed my sojourn yet another few minutes.  At this point I am very glad I live in a small town where the traffic, though insanely crazy for the small population, never gives me more than a few moments wait.

The visit here was like a balm to my frazzled nerves.

The visit here was like a balm to my frazzled nerves.

So I popped into Jo-Ann’s, and by “popped”, I mean lingered for about an hour or so, purchased some yarn that I didn’t need and continued home, but on the back roads.  I was done with the ineffective highways and interstates for the day.  When I pulled into my driveway, it was close to 3:00 pm, the time I was originally expected in Bakersfield.

Have you ever had one of those days?

In Memorium

He took full advantage of the GI Bill to forward his education.

As a young man in the U. S. Navy. He took full advantage of the GI Bill to further his education.

Yesterday early morning, my uncle passed away.  It wasn’t an unexpected event; he had been placed in hospice the early part of June.  Brain tumor, the same thing that took his father.  I hadn’t seen him for last 35 years but had remained in casual contact through Facebook and email within the last decade.  You wouldn’t think that the passing of such a person, relative or not, who had virtually no presence in my life would affect me the way it has.  Of course, I feel sorry for my cousins, Ken and Chris, and their children who had such a wonderful grandfather.  It must really be hurting them.  But me?  A distant niece?  Surprisingly, yes.

While I was driving around carrying out some mundane errands today, it hit me:  he’s gone for good.  And I started crying.  I cried for missed opportunities and the distant memories I had of him.  He was a decent man who treated his sister’s children, my mother, like regular children and not the evil spawn of the demented sister.  His higher education and inventions gained him a comfortable living, but he didn’t allow that to change him.  He visited his parents often and his youngest son, Chris, who was closer to our age, was always fun to play with.  His employment with an oil company allowed them to live in exotic places.  They would come back with cool stories to tell and neat gifts to give.  It was always fun visiting him and his family.  When he was able,

Here he was at 84, still flying.

Here he was at 84, still flying.

he learned how to fly and purchased a plane.  I remember when we were staying with him in Valencia, we went to the local airport and I got to fly for the first time.  He took us to California City where we had french fries at the airport cafe, then went back home.  I was never afraid because it was Uncle Bill.

But life went on, and my rebellious teen years landed me in the Air Force.  That was last time I spoke directly to him.  It was a Saturday.  I was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base and I was in the middle of my technical training to be an air traffic controller.  I just felt like talking to him, so I called him.  We had a nice conversation and he got a kick out of my choice of career field.  I was all of 19 years old, though, and had to drink, cavort and sow wild oats.  And all of a sudden, it was 30 some odd years later and through the ubiquitousness of Facebook, the older son Ken, found me, and we were in communication again.

So, I’m done crying – mostly – and just wanted to say good-bye one last time.

            Bill Smith  11/12/1925---7/1/2015

Bill Smith
11/12/1925—7/1/2015

A Follow-up Photoshoot

The mother of the newborn girl I had previously taken pictures of wanted me to take pictures of the family, plus brothers, sisters, grandma and their children.  Now I was a little nervous, because taking pictures of so many people and children is a challenge.  As one of the father’s said, it’s like herding kittens!  We ended up having a few mishaps –  goathead thorns found their way into someone’s foot and caused a great many tears and I lost my prescription sunglasses, only to find them later on in someone’s thoughtful care!   But all in all, it was a good time.  I did have to add the picture of the frustrated and bored children at the end because it so eloquently shares a story without words!  Below the gallery is a fun poll – take it and I will answer in about a week!

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