Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A few more FO's

Two of the last things I was able to finish before leaving home, was to knit up two more cloths from the Garden Clothes to knit book. This time they were the cardinal and the Michigan Cherries. I really like that book. Such cute designs! With Father's Day the day after I had to return to California, I was trying to finish these in secret. Do you know how hard it is to knit in private with family around? The cardinal was for my Dad, and the Michigan Cherries for my Uncle. Both of them are special to me. My Dad is going through Chemo and Radiation right now for bladder cancer. Today he should hear from the doctors if they're going to follow up with surgery. Hold a good thought/prayer please. His birthday will be this July, and he'll be 79. I'd like a lot of birthdays with him yet! Excuse this photo of my parents. It was only after I got home, I realized this was the only one I'd taken of them! It was on my cell phone, so it's not by far the best one I've ever taken and it was quite late at night. I wanted the kids to see that Grandpa was doing pretty good despite his 'glow in the dark' status. In fact, now that both of my parents have gone through radiation, I've taken to calling them the Glow in the Dark Twins. Humor...ya gotta have it, huh?
The second cloth, the Michigan Cherries is for my Uncle. He's become quite the caretaker these days, and I wanted him to know how appreciated he is by his family. The day I left Michigan, these two gentlemen were heading off to the ball park to watch the 'Old Timers' baseball game. Last year they saw several games, but this was the first one they were able to go see this year. They love it! Sitting in the ball park, with the very old rules. No gloves, and very different pitching rules from what my kids used in Little League. They were really looking forward to it in the days preceding the game. Once I landed in California, before I made it to baggage claim, Dad was calling to see how my flights had gone. Yep, the game, too had proven to be all they were hoping for. Beautiful sunshine, great game, and two very good friends enjoying the afternoon, sans the wives. Sometimes a guy just has to hang out with the guys I guess. Thinking about it now, I sure wish my son would have been able to have been there with Grandpa. For a kid who loves that game so greatly, they would have really enjoyed the event with each other, of that I'm certain.

On the way home, I got in some airplane knitting. Yep, another Rainbow Feather & Fan blanket.
Right before I broke off the end of my toenail. OUCH! Who knew that you could break a nail without knowing how or exactly when..and then have it hurt so much? Trust me, learn from my mistakes. Don't try this at home, children!
Yesterday afternoon I managed to get the blanket finished. Well traveled little blanket..May you keep a little one warm, snuggly, and and toasty...once the heat wave is through!
Now, for some good news to look forward to. Back on April 9th, I posted about the Baby Jiffy Knit sweater. I've been in contact with NMCRS about posting the pattern. Watch the blog soon! Wink Wink...something is in the works...(insert a big old grin here).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Visits, Laura Memorial, and Grandpa Tonys!

Visiting home for those 8 days, brought a lot of great memories, and new ones as well. I had a chance to watch a video with my niece of her performance with her school production. In it she wore a shawl that I'd knitted as part of her costume. She did a fantastic job with her role! I then got to visit a few of my cousins and catch up on news with them, help to get strawberries ready for jam (yummy, I might add), and sit in the back yard of another cousin's house while she strung up lights and I knitted away. She started some crocheting afterwards, and I only got 2 mosquito bites! And let me tell you..that's pretty darned good for me! I am always envious of how green it feels back there without having to pay for watering the yards. Here in southern California, we're in the 8th year of a drought, and they've now asked us to ration our showers this summer. Can you believe that? I'm thinking the stores better not run out of deodrant. ulg.

The next day, turned out to be a very emotional day for me. I was unprepared for getting hit so hard. In fact, its part of the reason I've not written just yet about this experience. If you look on the left side of my page, you'll see lots of yahoo groups up there. The AC4C group is but one of them. We were knitting and crocheting and sewing up items for a hospital which just so happens to be down the way from where my parents live. I asked if I would be able to drop off my donations while in town, rather than have them included with the groups' boxes that will be sent shortly to them.

One of our memebers had resently passed away. It is in her honor that we were donating things for this group. I had the opportunity to go the Bay Medical Center and meet with Patti. Patti is a nurse that has been working with the Precious Reflections group since 1991. They work with bereaved parents after the loss of their babies in pregnancy and infant loss. She took me around their Birthing Center and explained what the group provides. I was amazed that this is being offered. Why? because it is so opposite of my experience when I lost a baby back in 1983. My experience was so horrible, and I found myself getting very emotional as Patti talked to me.
My short stay over night, was greeted in the morning by a nurse patting me (I hate being patted on the head...feels so degrading, puppy dog like) and telling me, "That's ok dear, you can always have another baby." I wanted to scream. I did burst into tears and tell her to get the hell away from me. I didn't want her anywhere near me again. It was time for me to grieve for the baby I wasn't going to be able to hold. In fact, they never let me see my baby. I am convienced that it was a girl, but they never would tell me. Two weeks later, at my check up appointment, I was left for well over an hour in a waiting room filled with very large tummies of babies on the way. I stayed in the chair for a long time, silently crying until I couldn't take it anymore. Sobbing I went to the receptionist and hollared at her for making me sit there for so long past my appointment time when I was there after losing a baby. Only THEN, did they bring me into the back to an office while I waited for the doctor to catch up on his appointments. He was way behind that afternoon, and that didn't help matters. The rest of my 'recovery' was left to me alone. At home. Only a few friends and members of the church called to offer their condolences, except for having to call home on my Mom's birthday to tell her that I'd lost the baby. Nothing else was ever provided to help me through that time. By the time I'd gotten back after my visit to Bay Medical Center, the other day, I was not doing well. After all these years, it hit me really hard. (I can't believe, I just told the world all about this...)

Now, onto the visit with Patti.

First of all, I have to say how wonderful and comforting her personality was during our visit. At the birthing center, each room is private for both labor and birth in the same room!, providing there are no complications. In the hospital the rooms have oak cabinets, an 'entertainment center/wardrobe unit, and bassinet waiting for the baby's arrival. There is also a small table and 2 chairs, and 2 rocking/recliners for daddys and mommys to use. On the walls, in the hallways and in each room were photos of happy, healthy babies all over the place. Such an inviting atmosphere! Warm and inviting, and personal. And here's the best part...to quote Patti, "Our new wing will be opened soon, and is just going to be beautiful!" "Better than this?" I asked? I could hardly imagine.

However, for those parents who aren't fortunate enough to bring home their little bundles of joy, they have this support group available. It's the only one available in the area, and other hospitals send their parents over for their services, too. Each family is given a tiny bracelet that reads 'Lil Angel' on it. Then the baby is wrapped in a handmade blanket and presented for the parents to say their goodbyes. In a small room next to the nurses' station they kept a bin of pretty blankets that had been donated to the group. I left Patti with a tiny BSJ, hat and the purple Just My Size Preemie KBB Blanket I'd made a few weeks ago. She told me that they don't usually get outfits for the babies to be dressed in. I hope this small one will help a family through their loss better than I was able to so many years ago.

She then went on to explain that once a month they meet as a support group with dedicated parents and professionals allowing the parents to grieve at their own pace. Every May they hold a Memorial Walk to honor the life of those babies lost, and in December they gather together at one of the local churchs for a Memorial service where each family is presented with an ornament to remember their child. By now, I was fighting tears as she described how this program was available. I told her that in such an unfortunate time for these parents, what a wonderful program they had at their disposal! How I wished something, in fact anything remotely similar would have been available for me years ago. Leaving the short meeting I had with Patti, I thanked her for having this program. As a parent who'd gone through such a loss, I hope they will continue this service for as long as it's needed. How different would my experience have been had I not felt so alone back then! Thank you Patti! I don't know if you'll ever know how much your time with me helped me with my own process, that apparently, I still have to work through.

Now, after getting to Mom and Dad's afterwards, Dad was finished with his chemo and radiation for the week. Being rather worn out, I was ready to hit up Grandpa Tony's! We were all ready to lighten the mood! I'm telling you. In my opinion, there is nothing to compare to a glass of Vernors and Tony's famous Steak sandwhich to make a girl feel like she's home again! Thanks Mom and Dad! That capped off a great visit home! To quote Rachel Ray.....YUMMO!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Drive by Pictures of Home.

Question....why does a person, ok, namely me. Spend 5 hours dragging a niece all over the countryside looking for a replacement pattern book that must have been left on a plane, since it's no where to be found....only to discover it's sitting a mear 4 blocks away from where said person is staying? Which I might add..is next door to the best restaurant here in town...in my opinion..ok mabye not the best..but it's my favorite...gotta loveeeeeeeeeeee their steak sandwhiches.

Cuz after driving all over kingdom come the other day, I was whinning to my cousin that I couldn't find a replacement one. She told me to go look at Robbys Hobbys. When I asked her why I spent the other 5 hours searching without any luck? Her answer: cuz you didn't ask me!

Smart mouth. Love you too cousin. However, in her defense...and only because she apparently gave me the tip of the trip, I have now learned of this 'treasure trove'. This is the 'old fashioned' kind of hobby store that has EVERYTHING! All things Red Heart, rug yarn, plastic dolls to crochet around to put on your bed, candlewicking, plastic models, glue and paints, remote controlled cars, cross stitch, beads, jewelry fixings, candle making..and apparently the only copy of the book I needed on the face of the earth! Next time...I'm calling cousin M first. 5 hours of shopping in stores that don't have what I need? Crazy time...

So, now that the book is safely back in my hands...I thought I'd go tootle around town to see what was what while Mom and Dad were off to the radiation treatments. Dad's doing pretty well, all things considered. He's not a fan of the fatigue factor. I keep teasing them about being the 'glow in the dark twins' now that they've each had their 'turns' with radiation.
I did find the best signal for my cell phone in town...it just happens to be in the center of the bridge over the river! Ahhhhhhhh..not the best place to hold a conversation. Definately not practical.
If you look in this picture, you'll see a cement bench next to the sign in the front yard. This is a couple of blocks away from Mom and Dad's. Last night to be able to talk to my daughter, I sat on this bench, tilted my head towards traffic sideways..and could talk to her for the first time in days. I think I gave myself a kink in my neck. And the call still dropped several times. Ok, back to our little tour.....Here is the place I worked my senior year of high school for awhile, until we got our sports teams back and they didn't want me taking a few Friday nights off for marching band at the games.
This is down town...(Dorothy, we're not in Kansas anymore...sure doesn't look like Southern California here) Back in junior high school, this is where we would go sledding and ice skating down
the hill. It was also the first place I was allowed to go without my parents tagging along. It's also the place...where if you were a lucky girl...you got your first kiss...when you went inside here to warm up and get some hot chocolate. *Ahem* of course, I never was a lucky girl. *ahem* This used to be called the Nut house. I remember going there to pick up HUGE bags of popcorn to pop and sell during wrestling tournaments. We used to have a bridge where the fence is, until a barge hit it my senior year of high school. The Red Lion is where Beth and I used to go for Chocolate Cokes on Saturday afternoons.That's been closed for awhile, now. They were good! I'd never had them before. Mill-End was the original overstock.com store back then. It's the only place that I could find my white knee boots for my majorette outfit. So much of the store smelled like smoke. Have you heard of 'fire sales'? Yep, they earned their name. But I had to have those boots. Loverly-right?The Empire is also closed. I saw my first Steve McQueen movie there. There so many places that have changed in town.This is our old library, also closed. It was were we all flocked the night before our Econ stocks project was due, cuz none of us did the assignments every week for the 8 weeks we were supposed to keep track. Ya, high school smarts. Even the high school is now a Junior high and the junior high is an elementary school these days.This was where my dad worked. It was on the corner of Catherine and Thomas streets. My name is Catherine, and my brother is Thomas. Our youngest brother is Peter, but the other street was Henry, and he had no desire to change his name.hahahaha...so, they named the alley Peter's Alley, and then Peter's parking lot when the houses were torn down later on. That is still opened. ahhahaa...lots has changed, but Grandpa Tony's is still there and it's still home. Even if Mom and Dad have moved to an apartment across the river from where my old bedroom used to be. AAAAAAAhhhhhhhhhh good to be home for a little visit. And they're still playing baseball down in the park at night. Grab a cold one...I'll meet you in 5!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Baby hats and more deliveries

While watching the video from my niece's school production this afternoon I was able to finish the hats I wanted to make to match the sweaters from last Saturday's baby shower. I was able to get a rolled-edge hat out of the remainder of the single skein of the Hobby Lobby yarn, Sweet Delights, Prints, Bubblegum.

This is all I have left over after making the BSJ sweater and the hat. The skein is 4 oz (115gms), 377 yards (345 m) and makes both the sweater on size (US) 4 (3.5mm )needles and the hat.

Based on the Umbilical Hat in the Stitch and Bitch book, I used size (US) 6 (4.0mm) needles, a cast on of 64 stitches, st. st for 6" (15 1/2 cm), and then began my decreases. I did the typical K6, K2tog around and a plain knit row in between each decrease row, until I got down to the K2 tog around section. Then I kept "K2tog"ing until there were only 4 stitches left on my needle. I finished it off with a 4 stitch I-chord for 1 1/2" (4 cm) and then bind off, drawing the end through the tube before knotting it on the top of the hat. Pretty cute? I just loveeeeeeeee this yarn! So 'squishy'!

The finished circumference is 15" (38 1/2 cm) and roughly 6 1/2" (16 1/2 cm) in depth. Easy peasy.

To make the white hat to match the 5-hour baby sweater, I dropped down to (US) 4 (3.5mm)needles with the cast on of 64 stitches. St. st for 18 rows, and then repeated the same texture pattern in the yolk of the sweater. Knitting the hat in the round, mean that rather than making a Bar 1 by Knitting into the bar between the stitches, I had to Purl the bar and Purl the next stitch around after the K2 Tog row to retain the correct number of stitches. To finish it off..I added another 4 rows of st. st before beginning the decrease section of the crown of the hat. I used the same dec 'recipe' as in the above hat. Again going to a 4 stitch I-chord for 1 1/2" (4 cm) before binding off.

This hat ended up with ~ a 14" (35 3/4 cm)circumference and a 6" (15 1/2 cm) depth. I love how you can roll up the bottom section to make it longer or shorter, depending on the size of the baby's head. I real 'grow with me' kind of hat. I wish I'd have had these when my kids were little!

I think when I do this hat again, I'd move the textured section down a bit in the hat..with 10-12 rows of st. st, then the textured rows, and finish with 12-14 rows of st. st before the decrease section. To me, the picture makes the white hat appear somewhat top heavy.
These little ditties are about to be delivered. The top three dishcloths will go to Mom and her sister. They used to spend hours up at the lake (both have sold their life long cabins up there) watching and enjoying hummingbirds. The blue square is on it's way to the efforts of those assembling afghans for the Kansas tornadoes last month. May it find may companions to keep some tootsies warm!
Here's what you get your brother for his birthday..even when he's 46! And he's happy to get it! And so is his daughter.

Back to more knitting while visiting with the family. Now, if only my cell phone would get a signal in town here! It's maddening to not be able to call out or receive any calls within a huge section of this city! I'm not a fan ready to produce any 'can you hear me now' commercials at this point.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Shower, Art Fair, and Santa gifts

As I'm sitting here in Michigan, it's 81*F but only 68*F back in Southern California. We just got back from the Art Fair in town, and my shoulders were beginning to feel the heat. Now, I ask you, what is wrong with that picture? So much for Sunny Southern California being the warm place to be! I got a feeling this was the year of jewelry at the Art Fair. I didn't get pictures of the jewelry, but did take lots of other things. One quilt vendor, several t-shirts and sweatshirts, one really neat woven basekets, and a few pottery places mixed in.

I really liked the blue pottery bowls and vases, but they're so heavy I didn't want to chance taking one home. The baskets were beautifully woven, but didn't have room in my suitecase either. Drats!
Besides, with my luck, I'd either be over the weight limit or they'd smash it to bits. And being the 'thrifty' shopper, ok..cheap shopper...to mail it back would have really increased the price of the items. But they were very pretty. I figure pictures on the camera disk are much easier to pack to bring back home. Truth be told, there is a new yarn shop in town that I'm dying to go check out. Rowan yarns, etc...but it's closed on Sundays and Mondays. Mom said if I found something I liked, she'd get it for me for my birthday (November) and Christmas. Now, would I be able to be surprised when I opened it? My answer? Mom, my memory lasts about 5 mins, and I'll probably forget it was ever bought! Tuesday, can you hurry up? ha ha ha.
Yesterday was the baby shower that I've been knitting for lately. The daddy-to-be is my cousin's son, and is between my two oldest kids in age. He came to California several years ago and helped me out with my kids during a particularily rough time in the family. This will be his first baby, and a long awaited girl for his family. It was great to see several of my extended family members and the weather has been fabulous! The daddy-to-be and Grandpa-to-be were grilling hotdogs and brats...mmmmmmmm love those! Food was fantastic and she was gifted with many gifts. (I think she was given enough clothes for triplets!) We were teasing them that a bigger house was needed to hold it all! Her grandfather even made a rocking chair for Little Miss "B" when she makes her grand entrance mid August.
In my famous tradition, I wasn't quite finished knitting until we were 1/2 way to the shower. (Both prom dates had to wait downstairs while I finished sewing my hems....it's a gift I tell ya! Keeps Mom on edge. Always guessing...) Hense the white sweater in the picture is minus the I-chord for the neck. It was finished, all ends tucked in and wrapped before we arrived at our destination. It's so nice to be picked up for the party and ride out with additional family members while being able to knit! Ah the things you don't get to do when you move nearly 3,000 miles away from home. I do have to say...giving up the purple blanket wasn't easy..it's sooooooooooooooooo soft!
The sweaters and baby wash cloths were from me, the purple blanket is from the youngest daughter, and the Rainbow Feather & Fan blanket is from the middle daughter. Son's request will hopefully be finished before I go home on Saturday, and if the oldest daugher ever makes up her mind, that last item could be ready before the August 14th due date. We'll see. Making up her mind, is never a strong suit for her. (We don't take her to Baskin Robbins for that reason)
Now, here are the reasons this was so important. 3 1/2 generations worth. Many years ago, I was about to have my first baby. I was living 3,000 miles away from all of my family and feeling quite lonely. One day a box arrived in the mail. Inside was a beautiful white knitted sweater set, 2 sewn adorable dresses, and an embroidered bib made with a draw string top that gave great coverage for messy eaters. Here are those same women today, plus the Mommy-to-be, Auntie-to-be and my mom. It is in their honor that I knit for this baby. And I've had time to knit up a storm for this baby where in the past having 4 of my own, and working 2 jobs and 2 separate volunteer groups left little time to do much else for other babies in the family. Telling the Mommy-to-be and her Mother-in-law and Aunt what my reasons for the gifts were, made me cry. Ahhhhh..it's so good to see and hug family again! And to finally let them know how that one little box meant so very much to me all those years ago!
Last but not least, I brought these along. They will be delivered shortly to another Aunt. They are the ones who play Santa and Mrs. Claus every year for groups around town and to a couple of special shelters on Christmas Eve. 6 scarves, 5 adult hats, and 4 children's sizes of hats will kick off my knitting for them this year. And I won't have to pay USPS for shipping. 2 Christmas' ago, I got the nicest note after the holdiays about how excited the kids were to be able to pick out their own hats. I try to make them all different so everyone can have their own. Plus, as a Mom, it's much easier to remember who left it laying around if they are all unique. Hopefully, some warm heads will be covered come December this year.

The week's only begun! More knitting, and knitted things yet to be delivered!.

And it's sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good to be back to high speed when trying to upload pictures! YEA! Now, if only I could have some cell phone reception! PLEASE? Somewhere in this town?