Monday, November 29, 2021

Books, Books, Books

I've been reminded a couple of times that it's been while since I've posted anything about books that I have read.  I've gotten caught up in taking care of business during the past couple of years as weaving guild president as well as trying to deal with family stuff.  It's time to get back to me stuff, so in a step in that direction, here are a couple books that I've read this year that I can recommend.

Home Made:  A story of grief, groceries, showing up -- ad what we make when we make dinner,  by Liz Lauck 

The author was raised in a home where volunteering was valued so this wasn’t her first gig. She and her father had talked about a program where she would cook one night a week for the young men who lived in the group home her father had helped found and where he still worked. After his early death, she wasn’t sure she could go through with it, but with the blessing of his partner and co-founder Gerry, she inaugurated her program.

In her words, “this book is my story about dinners and conversations with six boys, or twenty-seven boys, living in foster care who were assigned to a group home run by the human services agency my father had confounded, there as a volunteer. It’s a story about the interconnectedness of food and memory, and community service and community care. This is also a story of modern America.”

There was a race against the system to get these young men who came in their mid-to-late teens be prepared for living on their own after they turned 18 and were released to whatever came next, another residential assignment or independence. Their assignment to the house was supposed to be transitional but sometimes there was no where for them to go and Frank was “transitionally” there for four years. He didn’t even have a birth certificate so his celebration dinner was whatever year he decided he was. You can’t help becoming attached to these lost and lonely boys and I absolutely fell in love with Leon.

This is a story of the interactions of the boys with the author over the dinners and it’s a story of food. When they were trying to decide what their dinners would look like, Hauck suggested they allow an hour for cooking and an hour for eating. Leon quite honestly asked, why don’t you cook and we eat? Expect to be charmed to pieces and expect to cry.

Between Two Kingdoms: A memoir of a life interrupted, by Suleika Jaouard

Suleika Jaouad developed a maddening itch during her senior year of college, so maddening that she subconsciously was tearing at her skin, causing oozing sores. A Chinese herbalist thought it was a parasite she had picked up while studying abroad. A doctor thought it might be eczema and prescribed cream as well as anti-anxiety medication. And then came the naps, hours worth.

Somehow she managed to get by, graduated and moved to New York City where she scored an unpaid summer internship. Even with nine roommates and a part time job, she was broke and tired all the time, just getting by with the help of caffeine and uppers. She knew she needed to leave, and since French is her first language, she found a paralegal job in Paris. Days before leaving the City she met Will while sharing a taxi, and who would become the love of her life.

Paris wasn’t the fantasy life she had imagined, However, she did start up a regular correspondence with Will that led to him going to Paris for a two-week visit, then back home to pack up and move. She was still plagued by fevers and fatigue even as they were growing into their relationship. During a routine visit for birth control pills the doctor told her she anemic and gave her an iron supplement. Fast forward to the diagnosis of undetected lymphoma which was now leukemia followed by years of radical treatment, searching for a cure.

After her final chemo treatment she decided to embark on a 100-day journey that would take her to the Pacific Ocean and back, a voyage of rediscovery to find herself, looking for the new normal - but first she had to learn to drive. A friend loaned her his Subaru for the trek. During her years of treatment she wrote a newspaper column and her goal was to visit some of the people who had written to her. The last quarter of the book was a chronicle of these visits and it was fully my favorite part.

She came away from her visit with Ned, recognizing that “there is no restitution for people like us, no return to days when our bodies were unscathed” and that “recover isn’t a gentle self-care spree that restores you to pre-illness state.” He tells her that he still struggles to carry the collateral damage of illness, and she realizes that they may always be. A doctor at Sloan Kettering explained that she was experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder - the horror of cancer didn’t end on the last day of treatment - it says, don’t get too comfortable because one day I’m coming back for you.

Following a purification ritual on the Pine Ridge reservation she says, “I’m realizing that if I am to cross the distance between near-death and renewal, instead of trying to bury my pain, I must use it as a guide to know myself better. In confronting my past, I have to reckon not only with the pain of losing other people but also with the pain I’ve caused others.” In the last visit of the book Katherine tells her “That’s all you can do in the face of these things. Love the people around you. Love the life you have. I can’t think of a more powerful response to life’s sorrows than loving.”

City of Thieves, by David Benioff

This was selected by my book club or I know I would never have chosen it nor would I have finished it, but it's a book that won't leave me and parts of it pop into my head from time to time.  I recommend it as a fine piece of literature, not because it's a fun read.

"During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.

By turns insightful and funny, thrilling and terrifying, the New York Times bestseller City of Thieves is a gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men."

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Winding down

I've been in Reno since October 27th, in time to see the spectacular show of the turning leaves.  These photos are from our old neighborhood but it's like that all over the Truckee Meadows basin.  I'm reminded of Walter Von Tilburg Clark's book, the City of Trembling leaves.  The Clark Administration building on campus is named for him.  I've been gone from Reno for six years after living here for 40 years.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed revisiting the city.

 I've had a couple of visits with Delaney but her other grandmother has been sick so I might have to be content with that until we come back next year for Alexia's high school graduation.  Delaney loves her new sweater.

I wanted to see Alexia's band performance.  The different high schools have taken marching band into almost the same level of sports.  I have wanted to see her do high school stuff and was excited to finally have an opportunity, but I had forgotten how much driving time is involved when you go to anything in Reno.  It took me 35 minutes to get to Spanish Springs High School and I was just in time to see her high school take the field.  She is the drum major.
When given the "all clear" she climbs to the top of the platform where she will beat out the rhythm with her raised arms.  Their performance isn't very long at all, maybe five minutes - and she's holding her arms at shoulder height and beating the rhythm - not easy.  She says she chose this because you can't hear a flute in a marching band.
She has visited Yarn Refuge, a local yarn shop, and wanted us to go together to their Knit Night.  The store is every bit as impressive as she said it is.
I had a hard time reining in my buying impulses and was relieved that I held myself to these three skeins.  I've cast-on using the middle skein for a scarf for Chrissie.  Greens and rusts are her colors.  I went back later and bought another skein - oops.
Meanwhile, weaving lessons are progressing.  Alexia is so busy that it's hard to find time but we're doing a little here and there and I think we'll get enough done that she will be able to weave after I go home.

Tomorrow is the last day we'll have for weaving and since she has a threading error, I'm going to show her how to repair it.  It's a common error and every error is a learning opportunity.  She is doing great.

Every day Chrissie feels a little better and she's looking forward to the day when she can leave behind this special chair and sleep in her own bed with her C-Pap.  She is a trooper.  I was stunned to learn that because they opened her chest, they had to wire it closed.  That little dark knot on her chest is a knot of the wires that are holding her chest closed and will be hers for the rest of her life.

Today we took our first outing, her in the backseat of course.  We went to see my oldest grandson's apartment, meet his roommate and the cats, and we had a surprise visit when his girlfriend came home for lunch.  We visited for a couple of hours, reassuring to Kiernan to have his mother feeling up to a visit and reassuring to me that my grandson is becoming a man.

That's about the size of it.  The forecast is for rain on Monday so Tuesday I'll saddle up and ride off into the sunset, i.e., Bend.  I've learned that you never stop being a mom.

Sunday, October 24, 2021


My daughter took this selfie shortly after leaving recovery.  It was about a five hour surgery to replace her damaged heart valve and repair the aneurysm.  She is sleeping a lot.  I'm so happy that the surgery was a success and she's sleeping which means she's not being kept awake by pain.  I'm doing laundry today, will pack the car tomorrow and leave for Reno the next morning.

There's a new restaurant in Bend called Sen.  It's by the same people who run the ever popular Wild Rose and the new location on the Deschutes River couldn't be more gorgeous.  It's a little pricey but super delicious.  We ate lunch here to celebrate.
I met with some of the Knitterbugs for an spell of knitting on Wednesday.  Bend is still colorful though we're supposed to get hit with some weather that will change things right after I leave.
I just finished Delaney's latest sweater in time for my trip.  It's Cascade 200 superwash, hand-dyed by a friend just for her.
The yoke is reverse stockinette which I think is effective with the variegation.  Since Delaney's family isn't vaccinated I won't be able to see her until after I leave my daughter's.  As a surgical patient they are going to be very strict with her quarantine.  I hope to spend the morning with Delaney’s family, leave for Bend after lunch and spend the night in Klamath Falls.  I don't know how long Chrissie will need me so haven't set a date to return.
Ian and I were both leaving the house at the same time and I was so focused on who was going to back out of the garage first I almost missed our visitor.  He's a big boy!


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Autumn is my favorite season

Delaney is absolutely taken with this New Yorker issue and studies the cover at length.

She points to the bubble and names the contents, then goes back and names the people.  She and her parents are the family in upper left corner.
PlayDoh is such a mess and I regretted buying it as soon as we opened the first container.  Tomorrow is her last day so I dug it out for one last time.  She loves it.
She was on a roll and would have opened every single color when I got the idea to place the Amazon toy catalog on the table and it was an instant winner.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!
With her daddy's help she made me this birthday card which I will treasure until it's in tatters.
Tuesday was my birthday but since we were babysitting we went out for my dinner on Monday.  The tradition has been for all the family to go out to dinner on the birthday but we are shrinking already.  Grandson Logan and girlfriend moved to Kalispell this month and Son Matt, Julia and Delaney will be back in Reno this Sunday. 
I'm moving too - back into the world of adults after 2 1/2 years of being focused on a baby.  Wednesday was my book group and I hosted.  Kathi brought me these flowers which she said she instantly thought of as "Sharon colors."  They are gorgeous!  We had seven for our book discussion, first time to gather indoors since Covid hit.  We were so happy to be together again that we talked for three hours - yikes!  What did we read?  The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.
I love the colors of autumn and I love that our yard is beautiful.  It's also successfully blocked from maraudering deer.  There's plenty for them to eat outside the fence, which these guys were doing when I left for my walk Wednesday morning.
I am walking with friends in places other than my neighborhood now and our walk Monday along the Deschutes River was spectacular.  Ian bought me a pair of walking sticks to protect me from taking another header.  I'm stunned at how many people I know who have been injured while hiking.  My cousin tells me that it's called FOOSH - fall on out stretched hand.  Yep, that's exactly what I did.  One MRI, two x-rays and three doctor visits later, I don't want to do it again.
My root project piece is finished and due this Saturday.  It's a simple pencil rendering and when I see the lovely pieces by other participants I feel like using mine to start the wood stove.  But if you don't enter, you don't get to play.  I remind myself that I couldn't get started until the splint came off my hand.  Lame excuse :-)

If you are of the praying kind, I sure would appreciate prayers for my daughter Chris on this coming Thursday as they replace a heart valve and repair an aneurysm.  I will go down to be with her on the 26th since I won't be able to see her until she's released from the hospital.  We've compiled a list of campy movies to watch together in her recovery, starting with Galaxy Quest.



Tuesday, September 28, 2021

And another month

I've been playing around some more with turned taquete.  I'm getting a plaid of sorts.

I started this warp thinking that we might be able to have a guild holiday bazaar after all, but now I realize I won't be here, since I need to be in Reno for my daughter's surgery.  I attended our guild's rigid heddle loom study group via zoom today and got infected by their wreckless design aspirations. They are all about texture and color.  I'm having second thoughts about taking classes for difficult structures and think I may need to return to my original love, color and texture.


Meanwhile, I've been participating in Pat Clark's root project.  Pat has been a powerful and unifying force in our local art community and I'm super fortunate to have become a part of that group.  I didn't get the splint off my hand until Monday so signed up for a sketch time with her on Tuesday.  That's because Pat is in hospice and sketch times with her are limited.  We are sketching this root that was extracted from her yard and has been hanging in her garage for the past two years.

This is Pat's sketch.    I gathered up my things to leave at the end of my session and she took me aside to wish me the best with my family and said, that when life had thrown her a curve, she had learned that the word she needed was "adjust."  I treasure that piece of wisdom. 
We have another artist in the family.

Grandpa's grrl.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Unexpected

I took Delaney to the park this afternoon, hoping to tire her out for a long nap.  It's a beautiful day and wonderful to be out from under the choking smoke.

She is just starting to get the hang of the play equipment, but the slide still baffles her.
She absolutely loves the swings.  It's her favorite and she squeals "Whee) on every forward swing.  And here is where I tell you the bad news.  Her parents have decided to sell their house and move back to Reno. After watching Delaney for 2 1/2 years, this is tough to swallow.  They have a list of reasons and I understand where they're coming from, but I don't like it.  I plan to enjoy her right up to moving day.
I'm lucky to have an engrossing hobby to help me move forward.  I checked out this rigid heddle loom from the guild equipment library and made this scarf with sock yarn as my first project.  It turns out someone else wanted to borrow it for a class, a beginning weaver, and so I hurried up to finish this and return it.  It was fun but I don't know that I'll be buying one anytime soon.  A Girl Scout is collecting 100 scarves for a badge so I put this one in that collection.
And I'm fortunate to be in the middle of a shadow weave workshop with Jennifer Moore.  I bought the yarn as a kit from Lunatic Fringe and chose the autumn colorway.  We had the option of 5/2 and 10/2 yarn.  Because of babysitting I am only able to attend two of the four recorded sessions of the instruction and they have been excellent.  I am able to replay spots that confuse me.  We had the option of using a four-shaft loom or an 8-shaft loom.  With the splint on my wrist I opted for four-shaft and 5/2 yarn or the class, then will do the eight-shaft later.
During Delaney's nap today I experimented with supplementary yarns, ones that weren't part of the kit.  The last session will be Thursday but the kids have asked me to babysit because they're going to a funeral in Reno on Friday.  I'll watch the instructions and will have all day Friday to weave, or until my back gives out.
I'm still knitting chemo caps and have four done so I need to drop them off.  There's still quite a bit of the yarn from Triana so I think I'll have enough for a dozen by the time I'm done.

And here is where I tell you the bad news.  Delaney's parents have decided to sell their house and move back to Reno. After watching Delaney for 2 1/2 years, this is tough to swallow.  They have a list of reasons and I understand where they're coming from, but I don't like it.  I plan to enjoy her right up to moving day. Matt dropped Delaney off the morning of the 31st and said he had an announcement to make.  I actually thought he twas going to tell me that they were separating.  I've sensed heaviness from both of them for at least a month.  But it's not a health issue.  I have to remind myself of the things their news is not, a crutch for now.

That afternoon my daughter called with even worse news.  She is going to need open-heart surgery and they're hoping to be able to do it in October.  It's called Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease and it's a birth defect.  Her father also had this surgery.  I've lost sleep over this and somehow it makes Delaney's move a little less traumatic.  Chrissie has to stay in the hospital for a week and another six weeks at home after the surgery.  I'll go down as soon as she wants me there.  I will be so glad when this is behind us, the sooner the better and before the snow flies.


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Can't we do better than this?

We decided to buy a bigger chair for the front room.  Our current chair is too small to hold us and Delaney when we read to her.  I went to Lazy Boy and fell in love with this chair.

I measured the area and the chair was just too big.  Plus as much as I loved it, it didn't seem to fit in.

I went back and bought this one instead.  We fight over who gets to sit in it.  We might need a second one, after we pay for this one :-)

Potty training Delaney is still in the thinking stages.
I took her to the park that's just a mile from here.  She loved it and I had to tear her away after an hour.  I'm surprised at how well preschool kids communicate without a whole lot of language.
I finally finished some dish towels which I'm hoping will do well in our guild holiday show and sale.  But I need to try something new.

For now that something new is Jennifer Moore's double weave class that starts in another week.  Getting ready has been hard on many levels, not the least is the limited use of my hand.  I ordered yarn kit from Lunatic Fringe, the most expensive yarn I've ever purchased.  It's 5/2 mercerized cotton and it's  a devil to work with, the way it wants to spiral and corkscrew.  It's awfully pretty and awfully difficult.

Covid has placed our hospital in crisis mode once again and the governor has sent in nonclerical national guardsmen to help with the overload.  They've announced that 98% of those hospitalized are non-vaccinated.  The break-through infections have us masking up again, sigh.   Can't we do better than this?


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Hot and Smokey Daze

 I fell into a creek while on a hike into Todd Lake when Alexia was here.  I got very wet and jammed my thumb.  When it didn't get better after a couple of weeks I went to Urgent Care at our medical clinic.  They diagnosed Gamekeepers Thumb and put a giant splint on my forearm and referred me to The Center, the orthopedic care facility.  I took the splint off and waited.  My thumb was still sore and weak.  Finally last Monday I got called in to see Dr Holt.  He said, yup - you have Skiers Thumb.  It's the same thing as previously diagnosed but he's young and we don't have gamekeepers here in Bend.

I got called that afternoon to see if I could take an MRI appointment the next morning at 7:10 and I said sure!  Then I got called Thursday to see Dr Holt again and was fitted with this handy little splint.  He was surprised by my MR which shows a partial tear.  I have to wear this 23 1/2 hours a day until September 20 and hope to avoid surgery.  I can knit simple things but weaving isn't workout out yet.

The reason I wasn't baby sitting that Thursday is because I was scheduled to take a warp painting class but a friend died on August 3rd of brain cancer and the celebration of life was scheduled for that same day.  The service was outdoors in the Prayer Garden at our church and in spite of being 99 degrees, it was surprisingly comfortable.  Triana was a prolific knitter and all of our knitting group has received yarn from her stash.  Some are knitting toys for the pediatric ward at the hospital because toys were Triana's speciality, she said, because they don't have to fit anybody.

I've decided to knit chemo caps since I hate sewing toys together.  This is the first one I've finished and it's from acrylic.  It's the Rikki pattern in Ravelry and since over 12,000 people have logged in as knitting it, I figured that was as good a recommendation as any.
This is the second cap I've finished using the Foaming Waves Chemo Cap, also from Ravelry.  The yarn is Debbie Bliss' Cashmerino and feels very soft to me, but I'm reading that wool can be irritating on the bare scalp and that acrylic and cotton are the preferred yarns.  I'm going to take both of these into Oncology this week and get their advice.

Our tomatoes have started coming in this week.  We only planted Early Girls and it's paying off.  BLT sandwiches are what's for dinner tonight!
I sowed wildflower seed in a little strip of cleared dirt along out eastern fence and they're also doing quite well.  A Japanese friend gave me this ikibana vase and explained the sun, moon and earth order of arranging flowers.  I have had fresh flowers in the house for the past month and absolutely love them.

Delaney loves Disney Now and especially a show called Bluey.  We clear off the coffee table on the days we watch her and it's usually covered with toys and books, but she got sucked into the story and parked herself on it.  I love how she folds her hands when she's engaged.  Language is slowly picking up.  I had stripped the sheets from our bed to wash them.  She picked up a pillow and handed it to me saying, "make the bed."  Yes Ma'am!!  We'll be starting potty training very soon - yikes!