27 January 2017

Shouldering the Mantles Left Behind

I hadn't realized that it had been months since I last posted.  So this is long overdue.  These past few months have been good, overall; with a few splashes of not so good thrown into the mix.  I've been focusing moreso on crochet and knitting, on a daily basis, so finishing up some projects, starting some, etc.  There will probably be a separate post about that, with pictures of current stages and all.

This post is a bit more somber.

Last fall, with the death of my mother's brother, the last of my maternal grandmother's children died.  It made me think about the passage of time, how generations of young become generations of aged, and how eventually we all go thru the dying and death process and yet, most of us are so ill prepared in this society to even think about end of life, dying, death, and grief.  Those remain taboo subjects of a sort, with intense associations and responses.

Many near and dear friends in my generation are looking at these issues with some depth, for the first time, with a parent's passing.  In my family, we are shifting our views from the elderly to the younger generation that is now becoming the elderly, the oldest of this generation are now the oldest in the family, period.

My husband, who is in many ways, in the generation that is a tad bit older than me, is now the oldest in our family.  His father died in 1991, his mother died in 2015.  His mother was an only child, tho his father had siblings, the last of whom, we will bury today.

At age sixty, my husband became an orphan.  It's not an easy concept to grasp at any age, being without a parent, let alone two of them.  At 61, he's now the eldest in the family, even extended family.  We don't have a well defined position with meaningful importance in our society for this person, tho most of us intuitively understand that that person holds untold amounts of knowledge, that that person often holds the keys to history in a way that we cannot fully grasp at that time.

Today, my husband's first mother in law, his children's grandmother, died.  She was 82, leaving a son, his son, and other grandchilden as well.  Calls were made, trips are planned, adult children and adult grandchildren are returning to home, to pay their respect, to say their goodbyes, to take on the mantles that are now left behind.

23 October 2016

beeeee good

Starkville Oktibbeha County School District's mascot is the yellow jacket.  My husband is very supportive of their sports' teams, in particular, their football team.  In large part, this is probably because his mother, he, and his kids had all gone to school there.  Two of his grandkids went to school there for a few years, too.  Since then, they've moved on and now live elsewhere, where yellow jackets are considered pests and not a point of pride.

Years ago, when I first met Jerry but before we were even engaged, I knit on a loom a very long tailed, shaped yellow and black stinger hat with a deep brim.  Since then, he asked me to affix a retired Coast Guard patch the rim's front.  Now, when the weather warrants, he wears his hat to his  Friday night football games.  Folks usually ask him where he got it and if his wife would consider making and selling one for that particular person.  It tickles me, but I am super glad that he doesn't volunteer me, since I don't like working on deadlines.  Besides, I wouldn't sell themed hats, for several reasons.  One is that I'm not licensed to use the Georgia Hornet {which has leased its mascot usage to SOCSD to use as its yellow jacket.  The other reason I don't sell my yarned works is because very rarely would this be considered profitable.  Handmade items are usually labor intensive and that alone would drive up the price.  I tend to make stuff with particular recipients in mind, and then give those completed products as gifts.  For one thing, it avoids the entire entitlement aspect of what a paying customer might think is justifiable demands on their part.  And no one's feelings get hurt on either end of the transaction.

Having said that, I am way behind on projects that I've started, worked on, almost but not quite completed for others.   Several folks are waiting for their afghans, tho they are not pressuring me, they do ask from time to time.  Sometimes, I will work on something for someone, and they won't realize it is for them until I tell them that I am almost done.  Then for whatever reason, I end up setting the item aside for an indeterminant amount of time.  Eventually, I complete the project, but it's almost anticlimactic when I do.

So it seems to defeat my purpose to start a new project, but sometimes, I just can't help it.  Projects press me into working on them.  They might prey on my mind, demanding my attention, until I begin dreaming of them.  Case in point, my husband has shared with me this picture he found online of a sneering hat.  I know that if I made it, he'd wear it.  And I love making stuff for folks who appreciate gifts.  So I foresee this as being a quick project that would be completed within a weekend.  Now that our weather is cooling off, hats are "in".

Also, I can't keep a secret.  I used to be able to keep them and did so.  But no more.  I had planned to make this for Jerry, since he does use blankets to keep warm while watching TV or reading.  I saw this awhile back and thought, hm.  But at the time, I didn't do anything toward that end because Jerry has a multitude of throws, none of which I've made.  He used to use a Raiders throw and then an MSU one, and of late, it's been a Dr Who one.  But I think I'll give the throw a go!

It's like a snuggle sack, but open in the back and only done in the round from the knees down.  I think I'd skip the white wings and just do the stinger and body as the main part.  I'd also do it longer so that it can extend up his chest and so that a doggie or two can fit under it with him.  All three girls tend to pile up with him in the cooler weather.  Libby usually sacks out along his right thigh, sometimes on the blanket, sometimes under.  Chiquita is always to be found under the blankets, usually between his shins, keeping the lower part of his legs nice and toasty.  Sometimes Sophie curls up on his thighs, or sticks her nose out from the blanket so that she can breathe fresher, cooler air.

I'll post pix as I go.  But I'm warning ya, I'm not yet ready to start on these.  I've been chomping on the bit at another possible project and I want to have a go at it first.  More on that later.

10 October 2016

the passing of an age

Ms Foxy, my mom's cat that had been her brother's.
This past weekend, my uncle died.  We've not been particularly close over the past twenty years, since I've moved to the South, leaving Pennsylvania.  But as a child, then as a teen, I do have fond memories of the times I spent with my aunt and uncle.  I spent many weekends with them, just outside of town, at their little house on the hill overlooking the dam where the area kids swam in the summer waters.  When my cousin was a baby and into her toddler years, I watched her often.  We called her "Pipshin" at the time.  She grew out of that nickname, I'm sure.  My uncle had adopted her when he was in his mid~forties, the age I am now.  He had had an entire lifetime before she came along, and yet, his most important role would be as her father, that would last him another thirty years.  He died at just 74.

Foxy lived til the ripe old age of 18.
My mother was five years younger than he was.  He was the closest sibling in age to her, with three older brothers than that yet.  All of them are gone now, my mother included.  It saddens me, in that mild way of resignation, not sharp horrifying painful grief, that all my Grandma's five children have died, passing from this earth, residing here for such a relatively short time.  Mild resignation because that is the way of the world, that time marches on and we age, cycling through our lives, dying off, and yet time continues, sloughing through generation after generation.

Last summer, I saw a few of my first cousins, other grandchildren of Helen Evert, nee Blass.  I also visited with some distant relatives, of extended family, grandchildren of our grandmother's siblings, grandchildren of those first cousins, grandchildren of grandchildren.  Our Aunts Flo, Ethyl, Lorraine, and a few others from that oldest living generation holding down the fort while the rest of us milled around them like moons revolving around these founding women who birthed generations of variously surnamed beings who have continued the life cycle, taking our places accordingly, here but for a speck of time.

25 September 2016

I like the color, suuuuuuuuuuuper.

Saturday a week ago, we had an incident coming home from seeing an Elvis tribute.  A local to that area woman ahead of me attempted to make a left  turn, where there was no turn to be made.  She realized she was in oncoming traffic and veered back into the lane she had vacated.  I was there already and so she hit the driver's door, then scraped into the back panel.  Everyone involved is fine and both vehicles were operational, no mechanical, electronic, or electric damage was done.  However, due to the age and mileage {my 2009 Toyota Yaris which I still think of as "new" just rolled over 105, 000}, the cost to repair the cosmetic damage would surpass the current value of the vehicle.  So her insurance company totaled it out and cut me a check, even tho I bought the car back, because the yaris is my friend and she still has lots of life left in her.  The damage is purely cosmetic and does not affect the safety or drivability of the vehicle, as the axles and frame are fine, as are the motor, lights, exhaust, and other relavent systems.

We talked it over and decided to sell my husband's smartCar and buy a slightly bigger vehicle.  The yaris doesn't have the best ease of access to the back seat, which makes it less than comfortable to get  in and out of.  It's doable, just not easy.  We're to the age that flexible contortions are not fun and we no longer enjoy a rousing game of Twister.  The first interested party in the bright yellow smartCar is buying it, so if you see it around town, be nice to the visiting professor, give a friendly wave.

Jerry and I visited a few websites, made a few inquiries, and then settled on a 2016 Chevy Spark LS.  Yesterday, we picked it up from Fikes, in Hamilton, AL.  They're celebrating their 40th, so if you decide to visit them, wish them a happy birthday.

The Spark is actually smaller than the yaris, in overall size; but gives the appearance of being larger.  At least, I think so.  The yaris's two doors are deeper, of course; but the Spark's four doors are nice to have at this point.  I do miss all the hidden compartments the yaris has, which allows me to tuck this here and that there and then always know where things are.  But the Spark's glove box will hold all the necessities and I don't accumulate much that remains in the car that isn't in its own bag, stowed in the trunk, like some crochet and knitting supplies and tools.  Since I can't knit and drive at the same time, I don't need to have the needles handily tucked into the door pocket, do I?

A feature about the Spark that is different than most, it has seats that can be adjusted in height.  This is my first vehicle with touch screen for the radio, GPS, and a video shot of the area behind you when reversing the car.  I will need to read thru the manual and tinker with the settings.  I don't think this model has the cruise control feature that my yaris did, but that's not essential, provided I remember not to allow my foot to trod too heavily with the passage of miles on the interstate.

Our new Spark, lime metallic

02 August 2016

Mermaid's Tail

There were six of us in what my mom called "the crew".  We all became friends by the seventh grade, tho some of us knew each other before that.  Five of us shared most of our classes, all of us ate lunch together, and we all loved to read.  Most of us loved to write as well.  We'd pass notebooks among ourselves, writing different stories, developing characters, giggling over dialog, and fumbling with plot twists.

I went to a different high school than they did, but we all remained friends on into our college years.  Eventually, we all drifted this way and that, with maybe these two people keeping in touch and these other two would periodically give each other a call, and then that person would connect with this person, and so forth.  Over the years, none of the six of us kept in touch with all the others, but there were always ways that all of six of us were in touch with someone within the group.

Four of us were able to spend some time together recently.  One person drove in from Wisconsin for two days, another person {from Ohio} took time during her family vacation to hang out with us, and the third person bused in from Virginia for four days.  They stayed with me here in Mississippi.  How far we've come since rural Pennsylvania some thirty plus years ago!

We visited, reread the stories that we'd shared, browsed thru pictures, yearbooks, and a scrapbook.  I took them on a driving tour of the area, stopping at Jilly Bean's to paint pottery.  Waverly Mansion provided three of us with a pleasantly interesting afternoon, after we had lunched at Flavors, the local Indian restaurant.  Two of us drove down to Lake Tiak O'Khata for their southern buffet, and a quick tour of the grounds before I had to be back in town for an appoint.  We all enjoyed two local coffee shops over the weekend and two of them were able to cruise thru our Farmer's Market before the pig roast here at our place.  It was a good time, catching up with each other and yet it felt like there wasn't quite enough time to do all there was to do, and say all there was to say, and ask all there was to ask.  But we've all made the connections and updated our contact information and hope to keep in touch in the future.

So why is the post's title "Mermaid's Tail"?  Aha!  My sharp eyed friends, I can slip nothing past you, now can I?  No! I cannot.

One of us has a daughter who texted her mom several pictures of a crocheted mermaid's tail, complete with fins, used as a body sack of sorts.  Not quite a sleeping bag, but more than a mere afghan.  Her mother flashed her phone at me and said, "can you make this?" and without hesitation, I responded, "yes.  Yes, I can."

And then I promptly scribbled down her favorite colors and we continued to chat about this, that, and the other thing.  At some point over the next few days, I could have said, "hey, let's take a look at a few options and discuss some stuff."  But, no!  Apparently, that is not the way I work.

Mermaid's tails can be constructed in all sorts of manners, using all sorts of materials.  Even if you decide on a particular fabric, using yarn, knitting or crochet, or a combination thereof; there are all sorts of textures and stitches and the like to be determined.  I mean, if you going to put that sort of work into it, that sort of time and attention, then you want to be sure to do just the right thing, in the right way, don't you?  I do, I want to make this something that this young woman will enjoy using, looking at, cuddled and swaddled in.  So after a few exchanges of pictures and explanations and questions and answers, I now have settled on a pattern and a basic idea of what is what.

The color swatches didn't transfer well, so I could not show them to you here; however, three main yarns will be incorporated into the mermaid's tail.  Turquoise, dark teal, and a variegated teal/blue/green will be accentuated with three additional shades.  Those splashes will be lime, emerald, and indigo.  I plan to take pictures as I go!

I'll be using a fan or shell stitch, of multiple double crochet stitches to create the tail itself.  The fin may be crocheted or knit, I'm not sure yet.  Generally, when I crochet, I do the entire item in crochet.  If I am knitting, I knit.  I don't usually blend the two, but the fin might be nice in a rib knit.  I have time to think on that while I do the tail.  So, Elizabeth, your mermaid's tail is coming up!

{the picture does not feature Elizabeth, nor is that the pattern I plan to use for the mermaid's tail; it is, however, similar enough to give you the basic idea of what the end result will be}

21 June 2016

Hanging in the balance

Bird Girl
Right now, the earth is tilted in such a way that the sun appears to be at a stand still, hanging at the most northern point, over the Tropic of Cancer.  In the days ahead, the sun will appear to be shifting, so that it begins it's southern trip where it will reach the Tropic of Capricorn in December.  So for us in the northern hemisphere, we've officially had our summer solstice.  Those folks in the southern hemisphere are in their coldest season, winter.

What time is more appropriate then when the very sun seems to be hanging in the balance, to review some thoughts about life's moments on the precipice?  Some choose the new year to make resolutions.  Some reexamine their lives on their birthdays.  Some reflect on things when some major impending scare has occurred, leaving them with the huge relief to have escaped some threat of impending doom.  I say that any time is fine, including the changing of the season.

None of us can be sure of the future.  We might feel we have things well in hand, expecting things to continue as they are.  We might have vague or general ideas that first this and then that will occur.  We might be certain of certain aspects and particulars.  But the reality is, that very few things are certain in the future for each of us on a personal level.

Here's what I know for certain:  I know that my husband loves me.  I know that I've grown to love him more and more.  I know that I am.

I would like to think that we have plans and have taken the proper steps to implement those plans.  I'd like to think that I've built a wonderful support network and that I am a better person for it, tho I'd like to think that if any one person were to no longer be accessible in that network, that I won't fall apart and be unable to function.  I'd like to think that others value me as much as I value them.

I'm uncertain about quite a bit, actually.  I'm generally ok with that at this point in my life.  I'll continue to learn and become more certain about some things, I am fairly sure.  But I don't feel I need to know every.signal.thing.  In fact, I am quite certain that that is impossible for me.

What do I feel is hanging in the balance?  At the moment, for me and my love, not much.  We are not breathlessly awaiting some crucial verdict or news.  Our livelihoods are not dependent on this job promotion or that medical finding.  We are not wrestling with crises of faith or introspection in existential matters.  Our relationship is on firm footing and we are satisfied with our present circumstances.

Sure, improvement in many areas is desired and hopefully will either continue to come about or will take place when the conditions are right for them to do so.  I feel things are good for me and for my husband, as individuals and as a couple.  My wish is that all is well with you and yours.

10 June 2016

To DeRego's Bread: Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas

Happy June 10th, Portugal Day!  Or Day of Portugal, Camoes, and Portuguese Communities {Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas}.  If I was not already at home in my jammies, I'd pick up a bag of Portuguese Biscuits, made from Tony DeRego's grandmother's grandmother's grandmother's {I think that's the right number of grandmothers, but I most likely am mistaken} recipe.

I know next to nothing about Portugal, its culture, cuisine, or de Comoes.  But since wiki never lies to me, and I trust wiki implicitly, allow me to pass on some tids and bits garnered from a skimming of various wiki posts about a few things Portuguese.  So, let's begin with its location, Location, LOCATION.

Portugal is the western most European country.  This means it borders Spain and is the very long and narrow country with many sea ports into the Atlantic Ocean.  And while it's not bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Portuguese foods and flavoring share many of the same influences.

If you are interested in the history of this country, Luis de Camoes's 16th century epic poem {Os Lusíadas} of just under 8900 lines has enough fact thrown in with the fantasy to more than acquaint you with Portugal's roots, heroes, and language.  Doubtful there is anything I could add to de Camoes's thoughts, so I'm just going to summarize that the Iberieans, Celts, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and the Romans settled in the area and then were ousted by the Visigothic and Suebi Germanics, and then those goths were invaded by the Moors, who were then expelled too.  Eventually tho, in the twelth century, Afonso Henriques became King and unified some peeps and then spread their dominance into other parts of our world, the first global empire.  But ya know how it is with being king of the hill, everyone else is always trying to knock ya down and claim your territory, so eventually Portugal itself became slim and trim, with lots of colonies elsewhere, like Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, Brazil in South America, and lots of Caribbean Islands.

There were lots of eras, rulers, revolts, and reigns over the years, what country hasn't gone thru that?  Now Portugal is a member of the European Union, with no other territories, tho Portuguese is the official language in Brazil.  The climate ranges from snow to arid to tropical to volcanic, and includes diverse terrain as well.

Skipping over a huge amount of textbook stuff, I'll just say that there is a tremendous amount of governmental, economical, financial, import/export, military, transport, tourism, science and technology, urbanization information to delve into, if that's your thing.  We all have hobbies, get in there and muck about to your satisfaction.  I'm comfortable not knowing all that, it's enough to say, "Portugal has a rich, well developed history within most any social institution, including education, health, religion, family, etc."

Even tho I like culture of a particular people more so than governmental, military, sports, and economics, like architecture, dance, literature, cinema, music, and visual arts; it's the cuisine that sings to me most.  It snags my attention and fills me with a hunger for spices, flavors, meats, veggies, and herbs that are uniquely combined and prepared into meals, desserts, and even drinks that I've not yet experiences.  So let's see what Portuguese delights we can find, shall we?

Fresh breads, fruit, yogurt are served to breakfast, along with coffee similar to espresso {bica}.  A typical lunch might take a couple hours, eating leisurely, with a few courses including soup {which may be caldo verde, with a potato base, along with kale and spicy sausage}.  Dinner might not occur til later in the evening than most of we Americans are used to eating.  An early sup is served at 8pm, some lasting til ten or midnight.

Olive oil serves as base for most dishes, along with garlic, parsley, and herbs.  Common spices include saffron, chili pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon, and vanilla.  A wealth of vegetables make meals healthy.  Meats in addition to fish, include:  lamb, chicken, pork, and beef.  Cheeses are also plentiful.

Fish and other seafoods figure into the Portugal diet, because both saltwater {Altantic Ocean, seas, and bays} and freshwater {rivers and streams} are so prominent throughout and around the country.  Dried cod is prevalent in cuisine, along with grilled sardines, pork, and beef.  Rice stewed in blood is a regional dish {I can probably pass on that, right off hand, but prepared right, I could probably give it a try}.  Wine is plentiful, such as Madeira, and so is the pastry.  Flour, eggs, and almonds can be prepared in so many delectable ways that I'd never tire of it.  Altho, I do love me a good rice pudding with cinnamon, as well.

Portuguese heritage is not something I can claim, but it sure sounds interesting and I feel full have reading about the various foods.  Almost full, that is.