Sunday, December 27, 2009

Computer Disaster!

I used to pride myself of having taken very good care of my laptop computer. It has lasted about 6 years, which for a laptop is quite long, given the potential for abuse that can happen to a portable computer. My fortune came to an end on Christmas eve, when I was suddening interrupted while working on my laptop, to put it down on the floor, and attend to my ill husband who was nearby in the recliner. While giving him his medication I attempted to set down a bottle of water, which slipped from my hand and water spilled across a tray table onto the floor. Unfortunately my laptop keyboard was in the path of the dripping water. I quickly tried to rescue it by drying it with a blow dryer but realized my luck ran out when I started having trouble getting some keys to work, including the left click key.

So as I attempt to take the laptop to the Computer ER to see what can be done to fix it, entries will have to be made somewhat delayed by the fortune of borrowing other computers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Anticipation

As Christmas gets closer this person must reflect on the life situation and think that this Christmas is very different! Of course, there’s my husband’s weakened condition. He used to be able to put up our outside Christmas lights. Now, we have to figure it out ourselves. We’re still looking for the outlets to plug the manger display into. Only two more days to go……Perhaps the neighbors won’t notice the unlit lights and admire the manger scene during the day. The beautiful angel that hung above the manger last year with her trumpet will have to shine during the day hours.

Christmas shopping is not very fun or thoughtful this year. Gift cards seem to be the easy thing to do. Thank goodness for the variety of gift cards available at the one-stop grocery store. I cannot imagine having the time to go from place to place to get gift cards. My time has been spent shuffling my husband from Dr to Dr and treatment to treatment, caring for him at home, and working to make up some missed time off, etc. His energy level is non-existent and this is not a cheery time for him.

We decided it would be too difficult for him to travel to other people’s houses for Christmas, so this year we are having a small breakfast with just the single sons’ and sister-in-law, and a few family over for Christmas dinner. My sister-in-law and son’s have been helping me clean house and get ready.

As a double whammy, my two youngest single sons’ are starting to pack up their stuff to move into their own home. That is, once escrow closes. We are crossing our fingers for Dec. 24. I am starting to have that tug of heart as my youngest son leaves the nest. We will truly be “empty nesters” when that happens. I know it is an important right of passage that all parents raise their children to become…..independent, self-supporting, responsible human beings making a life for themselves. I feel somewhat mollified that I will be able to see my youngest son every day, as we work together.

As this grieving process is initiated, I find myself barely able to think about a whole spare bedroom to put my fiber/yarn collection into. Suddenly my house is become too big for us. I'm sure I am the envy of every fiberholic out there.

Nevertheless, God has been good. He has brought us through another year. I have a lot to be thankful for. I feel blessed each day. God gives me a ray of sunshine to reflect of the goodness he brings to me and my family. It is the little things that are the best… husband pain-free, my son’s wisdom at work, my grandchild’s smile, a kind word of encouragement from friends and family. I am blessed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shetland Spinning

I have been making some big plans lately. I’ve decided that my house is too cluttered. In my attempt to simplify my house, I started going through my fiber stash. This year I committed to use a lot of my stash but I haven’t done much with the fiber I have collected over the years.

I discovered a pillowcase filled with a beautiful grey soft looking fiber. I was almost heartbroken that some of it appeared to be felted. This fiber had been in my stash washed over several years and I had not done much with it, except to toss it around from bin to bin as I sorted and resorted this fiber over the years. Yet, I could not give up on this fiber. I wanted to salvage this beautiful alpaca-looking fiber. I was picking through the fiber and trying to loosen the locks. I finally ended up using a Louet single row comb or hackle to untangle what I could. These midevil looking devices that look like torture tools, help to align the fiber, making it somewhat separated and able to be drum carded into batts which followed. From the batts I was able to start spinning. Its a lot of work for just a pound of fiber.

As I worked with this fiber, I realized this was not alpaca at all but possibly Shetland. How I knew this? It has a long staple with guard hairs. This is a double layer coat where the long tips are darker and courser than the downy undercoat, which is soft. I had heard that Shetland fiber makes nice gloves and socks, so I planned to spin it thin but had some trouble getting a consistent thread. I changed my mind and started over, spinning it to a slightly thicker using an easy forward draw technique. I changedthe ration to the lowest on my Ashford Joy which is a ratio of 6 spins/ per treddle. It seemed to make a better single this way. I experimented with several techniques….the long draw, the back draw. The only way I could get any control of the feeding of the thread was to feed 2 in at a time after 2 treddles. The yarns is coming out very soft.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cancer coping

This week has been a very hard week emotionally for my husband and I. The skin pain and itching from his cutaneous lymphoma seem to be increasing intensity. We have been trying to figure out what pain medication will give him the most relief without making him a zombie or worse than this, not able to get up at all. One medication will pretty much knock him out and results in uncomfortable side effects. Another seems to relieve the pain to a manageable level so he can still get around, but doesn’t last long enough and taking too much in one day can cause liver damage. Beyond all of this, it’s the itching that is the most unbearable. This has him so depressed and desperate, even scratching until his tender skin bleeds doesn’t give him relief. We saw a pain management doctor today. We are hopeful that she will be able to coordinate his pain and coping meds to give him some quality of life.

It is not easy to see the love of your life, strong and tall, reduced to a frightened, weepy, pain filled creature, depressed and withdrawn. I want to take away everything that is uncomfortable for him, but am helpless to do so. All I can do is be there and hold his hand or rub his back. I try to be strong and do the things that need to be done that he cannot do. I release my tears of grief and sorrow in quiet when I am alone. I guess I have always been the strong one of my family. My family counts on me to be there and functioning. Even I am realizing my limitations.

I have spoken with my boss to ask permission to reduce my hours to be at home more with W. I also need to conserve my mental and physical energy to work out all the disability paperwork, doctors appointments, medications and daily care for my husband. I am grateful my boss is graciously understanding in allowing me the flexibility to work as I can and take care of W. I didn’t think this talk would happen so soon. We were told, perhaps optimistically, that people with this kind of lymphoma could live a normal lifespan with treatment, but there is no cure. Perhaps it sounded to good to be true. No one said the quality of life would be so compromised. I should have taken the cue from the dermatologist, who first suspected the condition, that this lymphoma was not so pleasant. However, even with this realization, what is one to do to prepare for such a life ahead? No, perhaps it’s better to undergo some denial in the beginning and learn to cope gradually.

I am grateful and appreciate so much the little kindnesses people in our lives have done for us. Being a recipient of such kindness and compassion reminds me not to be so self-centered in my own problems. I count my blessings and know that there are others still worse off that us. God has truly answered my prayers and taken care of our financial needs to keep us going. It has allowed me to return some of his generosity to others as well. What is it called? Paying it forward? Thank you all for loving us.

That reminds me, I have to finish knitting Scott’s socks tonight!

Matthew 25:40 Jesus said “ I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Big Socks

I recently blogged about how I was following a blog, “A Couple of Sojourners” about a friend’s son and his wife, Scott and Ashlee Burt’s adventures as US Peace Corps Volunteers in Mongolia.

Lo and behold, and very surprisingly I received a comment on the blog from Scott himself. Now, I didn’t even know he knew about me or even knew that his parents and I were old friends that very seldom see each other. I had no idea how he would be lead to find my blog. Another miracle was that he actually read my blog and about my plans to send he and Ashlee some knit goods along with knitting needles and yarn to learn how to knit. He shared he was just talking to Ashlee about learning to knit. Is this a miracle or God working in mysterious ways? What a coincidence!

A few days ago Scott added to their Wish list for a pair of wool socks (the thickest you can find) for Size 13 feet. What an interesting challenge I thought! I imagined this to be a hard to find size in Mongolia. I don’t believe there are many 6 foot tall Mongolians around with big feet. With the –50 below weather they are enduring, this seemed like a priority.

This reminds me of a time in my younger days when W and I went backpacking with another couple over a Thanksgiving weekend on Mt San Gorgorneo in the San Bernardino Mountains in California. Little did we know it would start to snow. I remember trying to walk in 3 ft of fresh snow for 3 miles back to our car carrying 25- 30 lbs backpacks. It was a miracle we found and stayed on the trail as it was nothing but untrampled white snow. I remember the cold feet we experienced and it is a memory that is very clear today. I can certainly understand the need for thick wool boot socks. No one wants to chance frostbite and the pain it can cause as your feet thaw.

I looked through my stash and found 3 balls of bulky weight wool. This is very thick wool. As I knit them with Size 8 needles to make a dense fabric, I see they are going to be very thick. I just hope they can fit in his boots. If not, he can wear them as slippers in his house on cold winter nights. No chance will he get cold feet with these. The bulky weight yarn made the project go very fast and it looks like I will be finishing in just 2-3 days. The socks certainly are big, almost the size of Christmas Stockings. Well, there’s a back up plan for them if they don’t work well as socks for feet!. Just decorate them and hang them for Santa Claus to pack some goodies in them.

Thanks, Scott and Ashlee, for allowing me to be of some small service to you in Mongolia by knitting some socks. You inspire me with your courage and your adventures. It gives us hope that there are still young people willing to put themselves forward in uncomfortable circumstances and climates to serve and be beacons of light to the world.

Season Greetings! Time to Deck the Halls!!