Saturday, May 31, 2008

Blabbering about Blogging

The other day I had to fill out one of those "all about me" forms. One of the questions was about my hobbies; I have so many, and the line was so short, so I thought I would just list 3. But which 3? So I asked Clay, and he immediately said, "Knitting, reading and blogging". Really?


I guess he is right; I really do love blogging, when I take the time to sit down and do it. I'm just not consistent, just like every other aspect of my life.

I rarely do anything the same way twice, as you could tell if you had ever eaten my meatloaf.

I don't have a set schedule for cleaning the house or doing laundry.

I start out gangbusters with new plants, but then after a couple of weeks, forget to keep them watered.

I don't feed the cats at the same time every day, and sometimes forget until they let me know they are hungry. (I guess subconsciously, I love it when Lucky bumps her little head against my leg. "Come on, human. Feed me already.")

I don't even get up in the morning the same way every day. Some days, I'm up and at 'em, in the shower and off before 8. Sometimes I brush my teeth after I shower, sometimes before. Exfoliation, leg shaving and pumice scrubbing are on a hit-or-miss basis. Today I am typing this at 8:45 in my flannel nightgown with dirty teeth, and although I have a million and one things to do, I'm in no hurry to do them.

And why can't I be consistent in exercise, when I know the outcome will be better health, more energy and a smaller butt?

My friend Pam H says that creative people aren't supposed to be boxed in, and that their messy, disorganized, inconsistent lives are part of their charm and life process. She is sweet.

So really, how could I have expected myself to blog every day? Or every week for that matter? Why did I think it would be a great idea to post a recipe every week? (yes, you're right; I did it once.)

But I really love those blogging friends who put new stuff up all the time. Works in progress, new yarn acquisitions, book reviews. A special post when they reach a milestone. I want to be like them when I grow up.

And I worry about those who haven't posted forever. Are they OK? I choose to think the fabulous lives of absent bloggers are so packed with fun and fulfillment that they don't have time to blog. Or maybe they're using their blogging time to knit, which, for me, is what started this blogging thing in the first place.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

I've lost it

My knitting mojo.
Joie de knitting.
I'm not jonesing for yarn, or needles, or patterns.
Since I finished up the Triple Branching Out shawl (on May 16), the only time I picked up some needles was to work a few rows of a dishcloth while waiting for Will on Monday.
So, here are some pretty pictures to distract you from the lack of knitting:
Flowers in the garden (close-ups help avoid pictures of the weeds)

The only picture I took at the track Sunday -- a huge American flag unfurled by members of the different branches of the service during the singing of the National Anthem and while F-16's and 18's flew over.

Grandma and the boys watching TV

Did it work?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Grandma's Funeral

I've tried writing this post three times now, and all three times it just wasn't right.

Let's just say that the funeral planning was a fiasco. (I will tell you that after finding grandma's lost safety deposit key and driving down to her little hometown bank, I was rear-ended at a 4-way stop on my way to the funeral home. I am fine, the car is fine, but the gentleman who hit me must think I'm a nut, as I stood on the side of the road and sobbed with my head in my hands. Really. It was a soap opera moment.)

But the service itself was lovely, with moments of sharing, great scripture choices, poems, a nice sermon and two of her favorite hymns.

And like Forrest Gump, that's all I'm going to say about that.

Peace. To grandma, and to us all.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


my grandma died Thursday evening.
I know you can read all kinds of things into the death experience, but here's what happened:

Thursday morning, the nurse from the home called and said gram probably didn't have much longer to live. It's a long story about how we finally all got there, but as we stood around her bed, I whispered to my sister, "I don't think I can do this again." We had all been there when mom took her last breath, and again when dad died; it's where we had to be, and wanted to be, but those traumatic last moments haunt me still.

We were with her all day long, singing, praying, and watching her struggle for each breath. Father Todd was actually there before I got there, and we were joined for much of the afternoon by our dear friend, Marsha, the hospice chaplain who we met when mom was sick. Marsha encouraged us to talk about all the good times we had together, and we ended up laughing a lot, too. Sarah brought the boys down, and they played soccer in the hallway. The kitchen staff brought down a cart full of drinks and snacks, and someone from the home was always popping in to check on her and us.

I went home for about an hour and a half for a bite, some Excedrin and a short nap, then headed back in for the evening. I was with gram by myself for about an hour, as my aunt and uncle went back to the motel for the night. Sharon came in, and we talked until the nurses came in to give gram a bed bath around 9:00. We went down to the dining room to wait, then Bonnie, the night nurse came and said, "Well, girls, you can be happy. She is gone." (It was a strange choice of words, and although I know she was right, I sure didn't feel very happy.)

But I hadn't had to watch her die.

Had she heard me that morning? Probably not, but we had talked in the past about how difficult it was to watch someone die, and I'd like to think of this as a final little gift.


Monday, May 12, 2008

In Which I Learn a Lesson

I've talked about hate here before; growing up, we weren't allowed to say it, feel it, or act upon it. But here's a little lesson I learned today about hate:

Ten years ago, in January, we were all called in to the hospital, because the nurses believed mom was in her last hours. She was having trouble breathing and in a semi-conscious state. We stayed with her through the night, but when she woke in the morning, said she felt fine, and even asked for breakfast. I went home, cleaned up, slept a little and went back in to see her around lunch time. I sent dad home, and mom and I were talking when the hospital social worker came in and introduced herself to us. Let's call her HSW. The first question out of her mouth was, "So, have you made your final arrangements?"

I watched mom's face fall.

Our family didn't talk about death. Dad had a graduate degree from the School of Positive Attitude; we just always talked about mom getting better.

Mom started to cry, and I told the social worker that maybe she should go.

That, I think, is the moment when mom gave up. She got to go back home, but declined rapidly. With hospice, dad was able to care for her at home until early March, when she was admitted to the hospital for the last time.

She died on March 13, and I have hated that social worker ever since.

Of course, I never acted on it. I never wrote her a scathing letter or spoke to her superior. I just hated her, and blamed her for mom dying before I was ready to let her go.

Fast forward 10 years to this morning. My aunt and I were discussing grandma's care with Mary, the extremely nice hospice nurse. So many things to discuss, so many forms to sign, so many people involved in making grandma's last days comfortable, including nurses, aides, a chaplain and a social worker.

You-know-who. HSW.

When Mary said her name, I almost jumped out of my skin. HSW was supposed to be in on this meeting, but she was running late; we all went down to grandma's room so that Mary could do her assessment. When HSW arrived, Mary asked me to go back to the conference room so that HSW and I could discuss some things. Yikes.

As we walked down the hall, I was planning my questions. Remember me? Remember my mom? Ripped anyone else's heart out lately?

Can we have another social worker, please?

But as we neared the conference room, I knew I wouldn't say anything. Really, do we need more drama in this situation? I don't think so. For some reason, I reached up to touch the peace pendant and little cross I always wear.

We sat down, and she took my name, then looked at me quizzically. "How do I know you?" I lied and said I didn't know, but that I did a lot of volunteer work.

She took a quick history of gram, and asked about her children. When I told her that my mother had died 10 years ago, HSW asked for her name. I thought I had been made, and that HSW would remember mom. But she didn't, and the conversation turned to how grandma had handled grief in the past, and how my family had dealt with mom's death.

Then, HSW told me that her own dad was battling lung cancer. I could see the pain and concern in her face. She talked about how she and her sisters helped their mom care for their dad. She talked about how he had always been healthy, and rarely missed a day of work. She talked about how she had to battle the hospital to get her dad out of the ER and into a room so that in his compromised state he could avoid the other germy people in the ER. She talked about his attitude change and his anger over his illness. She talked about her mom's reaction and denial.

And somewhere, in the middle of all that talk, I stopped hating her.

She made a mistake that day she came into my mom's room, but it wasn't malicious or deceitful.

She's a sister going through the same painful journey we went through. And she can come out on the other side rejoicing in the blessing that was her dad's life, or she can come out filled with anger and hate.

Being a legacy of the Positive Attitude School, I chose rejoicing, but I've always had that little nagging side order of hate. Until today.

While I don't think for one minute that God is allowing grandma to go through all this misery just so I could learn this lesson, it would be a damn shame if I didn't.

Peace. I mean it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Mom, me, grandma and Sam the First, summer 1963
It wasn't the greatest Mother's Day ever (that would have to be the year of the mu mu); Grandma had a stroke sometime Saturday night, so we spent most of the day with her, trying to be of some comfort to her and figure out what to do. Luckily, we meet with hospice tomorrow, hopefully for some peace and wisdom.
My aunt arrived Saturday, and was able to spend some good time talking with grandma. Maybe gram was just waiting until she got here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tennessee Weekend

I don't think we did everything there is to do in Nashville, but Tour Director Pam did a bang up job of cramming the weekend full of fun. We ate well, got schooled in a little Civil War history, saw one outlandish country music star's home after another, met her other good friends over a lovely brunch (I mean that -- it was all very Southern Living) and talked and talked and laughed and laughed. See?
(This seemed like a really good idea until we realized that none of us was tall enough to reach the top holes. I had promised Lynne I would crop her backside out, but it's not all that big, anyway.)

My friend Brett says that it is impossible for women to get together without giving each other "a little something." It's true; I don't know if I learned that in college or where, but I really like doing it. So, I took everyone a bottle of Indiana wine, a Purdue-inspired washcloth and a bar of Eryn's soap, Falling in Love Salt Scrub:
Here are all 4 of the cloths:

Zig-Zag (which I'm going to call the Charlie Brown), Eyelet and Ridges, Mason-Dixon Ballband, and Mitered.

(I had a bit of an ulterior motive, because I am using two of these for class this week. Some of the newer knitters are having a hard time with knitting terminology, abbreviations and symbols, so that's my lesson for the week, and those will be the patterns I share with them.)

It's pretty amazing how, even after being apart for many years, we can just pick up where we left off. People change, but they don't really change, do they?

To be honest, I was nervous about going. I wanted to be thinner, smarter, richer and all-around more fabulous when I saw them. But I wasn't all those things when I was in college, and we loved each other then, as we do now.

Sometimes I am just plain silly. And if we were in Tennessee, someone would surely say, "Bless your heart" after my swift kick.


Monday, May 5, 2008

To explain the previous Calvin reference

Is it just me, or does life seem a bit overwhelming?

Well, I know it's not just me, because tonight at sorority, Holly (our president) started out with a prayer for all the women in our chapter who are in a rough place. And there's a bunch of us.

She talked about being authentic before God. If you've had a crappy day, tell Him about it. He knows anyway, right?
I try hard to keep things sweet and happy around here, but sometimes it's near impossible. And I get down, and need that swift kick (the rest of that comic shows Calvin wondering why business is so bad when practically everyone he knows needs one.)

April, usually one of my favorite months, was hard on us. Clay's dad died on the 8th ( I just haven't been able to blog about that yet, but I will soon) and grandma (age 96) has been in and out of the hospital -- she's there now, and has been since last Tuesday. Her potassium and sodium levels are out of whack, she's had a UTI, some little strokes and probably has the beginnings of Parkinson's. She is completely miserable, won't eat and wants to go back to the Lutheran Home. So her doctor (who is also my sister's boss) said this morning that maybe the best thing to do is to quit drugging her up, let her go home, keep her comfortable and just let her go peacefully. As much as I know this is the right thing, and what she wants, it is so hard to deal with. But I'm trying.

I tried calling my aunt in Georgia today; I hope she is on her way up here, because gram asked for her many times today.

This past weekend, I went away with my college girlfriends, not without a lot of guilt. Before I left, I sat with grandma Thursday evening, and she asked me to sing some hymns, and she sang along in her thin, quavering voice. Singing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" with grandma was a good moment. It was a kick in the pants moment. Yes, it hurts that she is in such a condition. It seems unfair that we'll have another death in the family so soon. But we've done the right thing. It's what our parents would have done, I know, and I think they would be proud that we followed their example. My dad took breakfast to his mother -- my pope-resembling grandma -- every day when she was at the Lutheran Home after her stroke, just to make sure she ate a little and had a visitor. My mom took care of dad's parents until they died, and then took care of her own until she died. You'll never regret doing the right thing --they lived that.

So God, I've had a crappy month. But thank you for those kicks that remind me that life is good. Hard, but good. Peace
(I edited out a couple of pretty disparaging paragraphs that I'm a little ashamed I wrote, although they are accurate. So if this post doesn't flow well, that's why.)

Thursday, May 1, 2008