Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Yay for me!!

We're starting to settle into a routine with Delaney.  Julia still plans to just work two days a week.  Newborn care runs about $300 a day and she doesn't make that much a day.  She's happy to not be working full time right now and I'm thrilled to have Delaney two days a week.  I was reading to her and tried to catch the moment with this selfie.
As of last Monday I'm back at the High Desert Museum as a living history interpreter, wearing my Birkenstock sandals.  Since they're not period appropriate I'm seated in a rocking chair with my skirt covering my feet, and I'm either knitting on a pair of socks or drop spindling.  On occasions I have to get up to help direct visitors and so far no one seems to have noticed my toes.
Staci is a new seasonal worker so Emily showed her how to bake a rhubarb pie in the wood cookstore using fresh rhubarb from the garden.  It was a great success and Staci was very proud.
This doe has been hanging around our yard, obviously pregnant and only getting bigger.  I took this picture as I was backing out of the garage, on my way to HDM.  She is alone these days and the neighbors are keeping an eye on her.  We seriously have each others phone numbers and text for updates.
Clover who lives two houses away texted Ian and me on Sunday morning to let us know that the twins had been born at Sandy's house, right in between us.
Once born they go to ground and just don't move.  Mom was eating grass and really quite trusting of us, given that the babies were between her and our little cluster of neighbors.  Ian is a morning person and saw her bring them into our yard about 5:00 Monday morning.  The three of them are still here and we are leary of provoking any kind of protective response from her.  We went through that last year and once is enough.
I'm not able to do much yard work other than bend over and pull weeds so it's wonderful to see my hard work from past years.  This is my first attempt at irises.  I was given about a dozen rhizomes which I planted last year.  Six of them are award winning, a gift from Petey, Ian's friend from college and now my friend. His cousin's husband raised them for show and had written the name of the iris on the dried flag.   This one is Wicked Cool, which it is indeed.
 I've been having my morning coffee on the patio, enjoying the plants as they grow and come together.  It's starting to look like I meant it to look like this.  Granddaughter Alexia and I created a little fairy garden and she'll be here next month to see how fabulous it looks now.
It's been two months exactly since my surgery and today was also my first appointment with my surgeon.  I have a lot of healing to go but he's given me exercises and told me to get back to doing the things I like to do.  I've done a lot of knitting and reading but it's summer and I want to enjoy all three months of it.  I celebrated my good report at my favorite nursery with two plants for my shade garden and two for my sedum garden.  I've always wanted to be able to grow an astilbe and am concerned that it might be too big for the area where it will go.  I had planned on another hosta but my good visit made me adventurous and I went for it. I'm excited to get back to yard work, and while it's still cool will take my first walk in the morning in my Teva sandals - I'm still too swollen for a shoe.  Yay for me!!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The weather is a'changin'

Last Thursday was our first day to watch Delaney.  It was kind of a shake-down cruise, just one day to work out the bugs and for Julia to get used to being back at work..
She's eight weeks old today and we're officially on duty.  Sammie is absolutely thrilled to have a baby in the house.  She has always adored children.  I think it's a Lab thing.  Delaney will be with us tomorrow.  Julia is working two days a week, at least for now.

I've continued spinning each morning for about a half hour.  Michelle asked me if I noticed a therapeutic effect.  I can't definitively say yes, but I think my foot is doing pretty good just eight weeks postop.
Another benefit is I'm going through my significant stash of roving and skeins require less storage space.
My plan is to weave another lap robe like this one,once I'm able to weave again.  I have various leftover skeins of colored wool so it won't be exactly like this.  The interesting thing about this throw is that it's from one sheep.  When Ollie was a yearling he had bright brown fleece which aged to a gray tan over the years.
I'm saving coffee grounds from the Keurig pods.  They're nearly dry when I scoop them out, much tidier than the grounds from my French press.  I know they're great in compost and good for garden soil amendment but I just learned that they change the ph of the soil and turn the hydrangea flowers blue.  I worked in the first batch yesterday along with some granular fertilizer.  
We've had quite a few of the migrating deer in our yard recently.  Some of the these will migrate on up into the Cascades but two for sure were born in our yard and stay with us.  Our yard is completely fenced so I'm free to enjoy them without trying to protect plants.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Tight Timeline

I got the pin out of my foot last Tuesday morning and immediately I began a battle with swelling. It was originally scheduled to be removed tomorrow, which is six weeks post surgery, but they took it out early so I didn't have to wear the boot on our car trip. 
I remembered how successful I was with recovery after knee surgery by spinning for a little while each day.  It's been a long time since I've used my wheel, and in fact, it's been in a closet for almost a year.  But it's like riding a bicycle; you don't forget how.
Joe Winter's pottery works is just a half mile from our old house and only four miles off of the highway.  We decided to stop to buy Christina a graduation present and pay Joe a visit.
He just had his spring open-kiln show and had a lot of inventory, plenty to pick from.
So we got a mug for her office and a splurge for us, this spectacular pitcher.  It's beginning to appear that we collect pottery.

We had originally planned to stay with my daughter's family but after consideration we decided to take a motel room in case I needed to ice my foot in the middle of the night or sleep with my foot elevated on pillows, both of which happened. But we stopped by to say hi before checking and to give Chrissie her present.
We did a quick check-in at the motel and got a bite to eat before returning to the north valleys because it just so happened that granddaughter Alexia's spring concert was that evening. This is the first time we've been able to hear her play in a performance, and what a performance it was!  We were exhausted and turned in early, plus by then my foot was really swollen.
The next day was the star performance and the reason for our quick trip - Christina's commencement ceremony!  She had earned her master's degree in Higher Education Administration as a working mom and wife.  There should be an award for that accomplishment too.
And there's my happy girl, beaming like the sun.  We finished the day with a late dinner at our favorite Reno restaurant, Golden Flower, along with some of Chrissie's special longtime friends.
Christina had been sick and her husband was still sick in bed so the party Saturday was cancelled.  Instead, Ian took Alexia out to Red Rock to visit friends and Crissie and I sat side by side at the table, her with her laptop and me with my iPad and elevated foot. She's done genealogy for over 20 years and taught me how to use Ancestry.com.  We had a blast. Since returning home I've spent at least eight hours on the program - with my foot elevated :-)

We left Sunday morning and I drove about a third of the way, choosing my favorite part from Alturas to the Summer Lake rest stop.  The high desert in May, especially a wet month like this one, has it's own rugged beauty.  

We got home about 3:30 and I puttered around, getting my things put away.  I know that doesn't make much sense but I don't feel like I'm home until my things are where they belong.  That's when I can settle down and put up my feet.  Someone was waiting for me do that very thing.
We realized why this pitcher caught our eye.  We had originally chosen a different one, but this was the winner, and I think we were subconsciously attracted because of our chair. 
This is Delaney's first Mother's Day, or maybe I should say Julia's first Mother's Day.  Tomorrow is our first day to watch the baby because Julia has to go back to work.  We offered to watch Delaney two days a week so she's just going to work those days for now, Thursdays and Fridays.  And so we enter a new chapter in our lives.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

A Whole Lot of Nothing

Delaney turned one month old last week so we drove up to Redmond to pay our first visit.
It was the first time I got to hold her and I swear I had an angel in my arms.
Other than that, not much has been going on other than knitting and reading.  My body isn't adapting well to the pin and my foot swells if I don't keep it up.  So I do.  It beats taking pain meds.
This is another Heidi Kirrmaier pattern.  Her patterns are detailed but so are her instructions which makes her so satisfying to knit.

I frogged a moth-eaten sweater that I knit when we still lived in Red Rock.  The damage wasn't consistent throughout so I'm knitting another of Heidi's sweaters.  This one is called Climb Every Mountain.  It's kind of a sweater poncho combo.  If I have enough yarn I'll make it with long sleeves but the pattern calls for elbow length.
One of the ladies in my book club brought me these three bags of yarn last meeting.  She says she is going to bring me more, that her stash is out of control.  So I who have no stash now have one.  I've looked through quickly and see some things I believe I can put to use.  The rest I'll take to our guild's Weftover Sale next month.
Two days later I got a call from a friend who is moving to Texas who wondered if I'd like some of her stash because she's trying to cull rather than move.  These will also go to the Weftover Sale and the proceeds go to a scholarship fund.
Frankenfoot is healing nicely.  I wear a toeless sock to keep the surgical boot from chafing on my incisions, so what you see on the top of my foot is the impression from the sock.  The pin comes out next Tuesday, a week early.  We leave that Thursday for Reno to see DD Chris receive her master's degree.  Commencement will be on the quad, the same place I was awarded my degree almost thirty years ago.  And the frosting on the cake - Thursday evening is Alexia's band spring concert and she has a flute solo.  I got to mention two granddaughters in one post!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Books, Books, Books

It's been almost three weeks since my surgery and after one busy day last week with resultant swollen purple foot, I realize that there's no negotiating with the recommendation to keep my foot elevated.  Which means all I've been able to do is read and knit and it's been a long time since I've posted any book titles.  Here are a few of my recent favorites:

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam

I rounded up to make this five stars because it was the escape reading I was in the mood for. Chandra is a smug, self-congratulating Cambridge professor who is in a headlong pursuit of the Nobel prize in Economics which he has spent his life chasing and has chased friends away in the process. He expects it any time now. Even his colleagues assume he’ll receive it. His smugness and drive have wrung out whatever humor and compassion he might have once had. He has alienated just about everybody, including his family.

Once again denied his coveted award, he returns to his classroom, wishing he had at least one Swedish student he could torment mercilessly. After a student reports him to the Master of the College for persistently calling her an imbecile in front of her peers, a sabbatical is suggested/ordered. And this is where the fun begins. It’s not a romp, there are serious moments of introspection and not much bliss. Chandra begins a slow journey, learning how to listen to others and to listen to himself and in the process goes from insufferable to sympathetic. It’s when he has to swallow his pride and work to restore relationships with his four children and stop telling them how to run their lives that he really becomes interesting.

Save Me the Plums:  My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl

I have no idea what first attracted me to Ruth Reichl’s books since I’m not much of a cook, live on the West Coast and don’t read food reviews or magazines like Gourmet. Yet I’ve read all her books and was absolutely delighted to discover she had written a new one. Thank you Random House and NetGalley for allowing me to read this literary treat in preview.

It’s not the food that I’m attracted to but her experiences and relationships with people, Michael and Nick included. She’s not a self-avowed feminist, yet she has confidently and carefully negotiated realms traditionally manned by men. In her ten-year tenure as editor-in-chief at Gourmet she became accustomed to a generous budget, clothing allowance and a driver, which was in stark contrast to the Paris-on-a-shoestring trip she took in the last days of the magazine where she rediscovered the kindness of strangers. She recounted an occasion when she was stranded in an airport and was invited by a fellow traveler to her home. She mused, “Those things never happen when you travel on the excess express. The more stars in your itinerary, the less likely you are to find the real life of another country. I’d forgotten how money becomes a barrier insulating you from ordinary life.”

One of my favorite moments in the book was when Reichl met a widower while dining and realized that the very expensive dress she had declined to buy in a speciality shop had belonged to his wife. Years later she met him again, but at a small restaurant and expressed surprise to see him “slumming..” He responded, “When you attain my age you will understand one of life’s great secrets: Luxury is best appreciated in small portions. When it becomes routine it loses its allure.”

She concludes with an acknowledgement: “This whole book is , or course, a thank-you to the late Si Newhouse, but it can’t be said often enough. If only the world had more people cheering for excellence.” Indeed.

Madame Fourcade's Secret War:  The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler by Lynn Olson

I read this in two days, though admittedly I was down with a new cold. I can’t imagine any book that could have kept me better company than this. I don’t know how Lynne Olson does it, write nonfiction that is as thrilling as a spy novel. I’m a big BBC fan which introduced me to the ladies of Bletchley Place, but where was this code and intel coming from? I never stopped to ask myself that.

It’s truly remarkable that a group of intelligence gathering volunteer citizens known as the Alliance was successfully led by a woman in a time when a woman’s role was to tend the home fires and raise children. Some recruits initially chafed at a female leader and quickly got over it. Her woman’s intuition saved her and others many times and her role remained uncontested until after the war when her biggest opponent was none other than Charles De Gaulle. Olson expresses frustration that after the war, the male members of the Alliance were acknowledge and rewarded, and the women were overlooked, in spite of their significant contributions. She admits that part of her motive in writing this book is to bring their contributions to light.

I’ve heard of Vichy France. Who hasn’t?! And I’ve read about it in context before, but I’ve never understood how it came to be and what it came to be, and it’s complicated! Patriotism and selfless sacrifice was required of the Alliance network as the agents grew to over a thousand French citizens, who provided M16 with movement of submarine and rail traffic, making them hated and targeted enemies of the Gestapo, and that’s complicated too.

Olson in her epilogue writes: “They served as an example from the past of what ordinary people can do in the present and future when faced with existential threat to basic human rights. As Jeannie Rousseau (volunteer) noted many years after the war, ‘Resistance is a state of mind. We can exercise it at any moment.’”

The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage and a Girl Saved by Bees by Meredith May

Five-year-old Meredith and three-year old Matthew are moved from the east coast and removed from the father whom they love by their unstable and unbalanced mother who takes the three of them to Big Sur on the West Coast and to her parents’ home for a “vacation.” It becomes apparent that the vacation is permanent as it stretches into years. Sally, their mother climbs into bed and stays there, reading movie magazines and watching television, leaving her children to their grandparents.

It’s through the wisdom and love from Grandpa Frank that Meredith learns about family through beekeeping. Grandpa has bee hives in many locations throughout the area and the Honey Bus is a converted military bus turned into a workroom where he processes hundreds of jars of honey for sale. Meredith becomes his shadow and learns about the social structures in a hive, how the bees follow the queen because they can’t live without her. She realizes that “even bees needed their mother.”

She followed her grandpa everywhere, climbing into his pickup in the mornings, going to work with him to the bee yards of Big Sur, where she learned that “a beehive revolved around one principle—the family.” She knew it wasn’t normal for a mother to permanently withdraw but it was through Grandpa and bees that she understood what Grandpa had been trying to explain inside the bus—“that beautiful things don’t come to those who simply wish for them. You have to work hard and take risks to be rewarded.” She also learned that rather than withdrawing from living like her mother had done, “honeybees made themselves essential through their generosity.”

This memoir is Meredith’s journey, through hard work and with the support of the family that her grandparents and her friend Sophia provided, from a little girl to a college student. Grandpa explains to her that while he is her step grandpa, that only means she has two. One of my favorite moments in the book is when he draws Meredith and Matthew into a hug, and explains that since he and Ruth hadn’t married until he was 40, he just assumed he would never have children. “Then, lucky for me, you two showed up.” It was a tissue moment. We learn near the end the why of Sally’s behavior and why Ruth lets her get away with it, but if I told you...well, who needs a spoiler alert?! I absolutely loved this book, and I do remember when the San Francisco Chronicle put bee hives on their roof.

I loved this book and find myself still thinking about it.

On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family by Lisa See

In 1867, Lisa See's great-great-grandfather arrived in America, where he prescribed herbal remedies to immigrant laborers who were treated little better than slaves. His son Fong See later built a mercantile empire and married a Caucasian woman, in spite of laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Lisa herself grew up playing in her family's antiques store in Los Angeles's Chinatown, listening to stories of missionaries and prostitutes, movie stars and Chinese baseball teams.
With these stories and her own years of research, Lisa See chronicles the one-hundred-year-odyssey of her Chinese-American family, a history that encompasses racism, romance, secret marriages, entrepreneurial genius, and much more, as two distinctly different cultures meet in a new world.

This is an astonishing history of the American West told by a popular author whom I have read, actually several times. I ended up skimming the last chapter and epilogue because I simply could not keep track of the family. The family history is fascinating and in this time of questioning America’s immigration, it’s good to remember what immigrants have contributed to our society. I remember well the Chungking brand. A couple of cans was a dinner treat when I was growing up. And who hasn’t picked up “Chinese” for a takeout meal? The fabulous Calinese furniture came straight out of Ray See’s imagination! I read this on the heels of Susan Orlean’s “The Library Book” - Los Angeles has many many tales.  I think will be more interesting to West Coast readers or people who are familiar with Southern California. 

And speaking of The Library Book, here it it:
The Library Book by Susan Orlean

I didn’t want this book to end. Like the author, I grew up going to the library with my mother. We lived rurally so I looked forward to going to town, returning our books and checking out new ones. At that time there was a two-book limit! As a young and broke military wife, our Friday night “date” was the library.

Orlean has written a history of Los Angeles Public Library from the beginning, through the devastating fire in 1986 and it’s phoenix rise from the ashes six years later, remodeled and with a new wing. We meet many of the staff and directors over the span of its 100-year history. From it’s inception in 1872 a preponderance of head librarians were male but that has changed over the years. Another change is the library’s active role in dealing with the homeless. Today 80% of librarians are women and 80% of homeless are men which has required the introduction of security officers and the creation of library social welfare programs.

Orlean defines “the library” very simply as “a storehouse of books,” but going deeper, she reminds us that books are an expression of culture, that books are a sort of cultural DNA, the code for who, as a society, we are, and what we know. President Roosevelt gave the keynote at the American Library Association’s convention in 1942. “Books cannot be killed by fire,” he declared. “People die, but books never die.” No bibliophile needs convincing of this. She concludes with, why she wrote this book, “to tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine, and how that feels like a marvelous and exceptional thing.” Ray Bradbury wrote, “The library was my nesting place, my birthing place, it was my growing place.” This is a library/book-lover’s book.

The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva

This book has been on my shelf for years and because it's quite long, I just never got around to reading it but it was fast-paced and the perfect distraction for my Narco-addled brain.  It came out in 2003 but with the resurgence of spy novels and TV miniseries, this felt like it could have been written yesterday.  This a one-off and not part of his long-running Gabriel Allon espionage series. 

"For Britain's counterintelligence operations, this meant finding the unlikeliest agent imaginable-a history professor named Alfred Vicary, handpicked by Churchill himself to expose a highly dangerous, but unknown, traitor.

The Nazis, however, have also chosen an unlikely agent: Catherine Blake, a beautiful widow of a war hero, a hospital volunteer - and a Nazi spy under direct orders from Hitler to uncover the Allied plans for D-Day... "

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Das Boot

This is the last thing I finished weaving before my surgery.  I wound another warp and have it on the loom for when I'm able to go back upstairs.  My surgery was Thursday April 11th and I'm still a little unsteady on my pins.  I plan to have the warp threaded, sleyed and ready to weave by the time the boot comes off.
Ah yes, the boot.  It's very large and I an only weight-bearing on my left heel - very awkward and slow, but it gets me to the bathroom without crutches.

Periodically I'm to open it up and apply ice which is more awkward than walking!
Ian and Maddie have been very attentive.  The Norco has knocked me out for the first several days and I've been a champion sleeper.  Yesterday I started weaning off it and onto the Tylenol.  At this point I'm only using Tylenol and still sleeping a lot, though I'm finally able to knit a little.
But my days look pretty much like this.  The books I brought home from the library are too challenging for my brain so I've put a book by Liane Moriarty on hold and Ian has gone to pick it up for me.  He probably needs a break from the sick house :-) A friend had warned me about the level of books I selected for this time and even suggested that I stick to YA, but did I listen???
My friend Ana fixed an amazing meal and brought it over Friday for dinner.  What a wonderful gift!!  We just got a text from our friends Sue and Michael who would like to bring dinner tomorrow.  Slowly slowly this is moving forward.  I see the doc in follow-up next Wednesday.
Meanwhile son Matt sends me occasional pictures of Delaney who is beYOUtiful!!

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Meet Delaney Jane

This is the picture Matt sent to all of us at 11:00 Wednesday night.  He had texted us that morning that Julia's water broke at 3:00 a.m. and they were at the birthing center.  He updated us periodically but we didn't get THE text until 11:00 that she had arrived and by then we were all sleepless, on pins and needles.  It was a long day for Julia, in labor since 9:00 that morning, but Delaney is perfect - 8 lb 3 oz, 20 1/2" long - and mom is fine but tired.  Matt had created a text group to update all of us at once and I've never had my phone notifications be so busy.

We got to meet her Thursday morning. The staff have commented on how alert she is, taking everything in with her eyes.  I think she's going to be a calm baby, like her daddy. Their room in the birthing center is huge and couldn't be nicer, nor could the staff.
The doctor kept them over one more day to work the bugs out of nursing.  Matt sent this picture when they finally got home on Friday.  "We're fed and changed."  She is sweetness :-)

I'm still trying to identify and send photos to Richard, the man who is researching my grandfather, and I'm glad he's going to Washington next week to visit some historical societies.  I had looked at the pictures on many occasions with my mother but they're not labeled.  The only ones labeled are the loose ones that I've written on the backs of.  I sent him another 20 pictures yesterday.  It goes faster now that I've stopped scanning them and just take a shot with my iPhone.  He can identify later if he needs any of them scanned.  This is my grandmother in front Green River Gorge, a lodge that she and my grandfather ran together.  She's funnin' with the photographer. I think I have maybe another dozen to send that he might be interested in.

Since we've started on this he's send me (and my daughter who originally contacted him on Ancestry) a book he wrote and also an issue of American Indian Art that contains an article he wrote. My grandmother had written a book called Squak Valley (Issaquah) which King County Historical Society published in the 1960s and it's still in print.  I have a typewritten version of the book but have never read it.  Now I'm reading every chance I get, trying to get caught up with Richard's research.  I just wish my brother were still alive.  This is a dream come true for him.

Bend Art Center is having a huge sale of their permanent collect which has been in storage.  This to help finance the reorganization, from the 501c3, which is desolving, to the new structure.  We have friends who are art collectors so asked them if they'd like to meet us there yesterday morning and browse the sale before going to lunch.  I didn't expect to buy anything, didn't think we could afford to, but the prices were super low so things would move, and after looking around at everything, we both met up at this Jeb Barton piece - so we bought it.  They didn't buy anything so we went to lunch, talked about the sale and books and our jobs and finally left.  They went back to the sale and later texted us with pictures of the three prints they bought.
That afternoon Ian asked me what I thought about going back to buy the companion piece to the print we bought, so we did.  He had found a gallery in Ashland representing Jeb Barton and our print was listed by them for $1,200.  Since we had paid a tenth of that, it seemed like a smart move, but it was sold.  Instead we bought this Justyn Livingston print.
We love both of the pieces together.
I think they're just what the living room needed.  I know we said we weren't going to acquire any more "things" but I can't quite think of art as things.  I think of our pieces as friends and I love their presence.  I know a lot of people who move their pictures around but I've just not been able to do that. If we never buy another piece, I think our walls are safe.