Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday Musings

With the holidays about midpoint, it's time for some needed introspection about my life and goals for the coming year. Christmas Eve I got two pieces of life changing news - first, this is the last year we will be gathering at my brother's place for our Christmas celebration. My SIL is hoping to be in Hawaii next year for Christmas. She told us she started hosting the event because my parents had too much candy out at their home over the holidays and she didn't want her kids exposed to the sweets. Now the oldest is a freshman in college and the youngest is a junior in high school. The second piece of news was that my Mom wasn't strong enough to leave the rehab center to be with us. My Dad died in 2005 and now Mom won't be at the celebrations any more either. After dinner and present opening, my brother and sister and I talked about our options for Mom's care from here on out. 

Mom was found on the floor of her assisted living apartment at 6:30 Sunday morning, December 13th, with confused thoughts on how she got there and no idea how long she had been there. She was transported to a hospital to be checked and the doctors decided she needed to stay overnight for observation and more tests. We had her moved to the hospital by my sister's place where Mom usually goes, they had been on ambulance diversion due to heavy patient load when Mom was transported. By the time I got to Portland, Mom was at the second hospital and all three of us kids were there during the admittance process, when the admitting nurse confirmed Mom's meds as shown in their computer. Unfortunately, for some reason as yet unknown, she did not get any of her multiple meds and by Wednesday she was in a lot of pain, her fingers and feet were swollen and red from her arthritis, and we kids were furious when we found out. The hospital is normally excellent and when my sister asked the nurse about Mom's meds, the nurse said Mom had had her two pills. My sister told her Mom takes about a dozen pills a day and the nurse flew out to the computer and pulled up her chart. Things started happening quickly at that point and they had Mom's afternoon meds in less than an hour. She got her regular pills the next morning and her pain level decreased drastically, but we don't know how much damage was done and if it shortened her life or reduced her quality of life. 

On the 18th, it was decided to transfer Mom to a rehab center to see if they could help her regain enough strength to be able to go back to her apartment. However, one of the problems found in the hospital was that she was seriously dehydrated. The assisted living center is just that, assistance, not nursing care. During our discussion Christmas Eve, none of us felt comfortable about Mom going back to her apartment because we all feel she needs more care than the center can provide without bringing in outside help that would not be covered by Medicare. We have to give the assisted living center 30 days notice before she can move out, so next week my brother and sister will start researching what facilities are available near my sister's house, so she can visit Mom daily. We have until January 6th to get Mom someplace appropriate for her needs at this point in her life. Her dementia has increased substantially since her surgery in August, something I have noticed in other elderly after general anesthesia. Mom never wanted to go this way, she is a strong Christian and always hoped she would go in her sleep, not having to be a burden to us kids. We don't consider caring for her a burden, as this is something we want to do and do the best job we can for her. 

So that was two major pieces of life changing news at the same time, on top of a really busy holiday season at work, hostile work environment issues with my regular supervisor, and fighting a cold that is being intensified by my allergies. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time Christmas Eve crying, both at my brother's house and later at home. I also did some crying Christmas Day before I went to see her and then at my sister's afterwards. And a whole lot of praying for strength, wisdom, guidance, and peace as I go through this time of life. But there is a good side to this - I am finally thinking out the steps I need to take to improve my quality and length of life, after seeing what Mom is going through and realizing what caused some of the problems. I've made some good changes this year and seen good results, but I know there are more changes that will improve my life more and give me better quality of life later on. I had been going to the mall to walk in the morning before work, until I developed a problem with a foot that prevented me from walking comfortably. That's been resolved, but I haven't gone back to the mall as I just can't motivate myself. The other day I was remembering when I was going to Portland State University and how well I felt. I walked a lot in those days, wearing out a pair of hiking boots each term in spite of riding the bus for long distances. But the difference is that I was walking with a destination in mind - class, work, library, home, shopping, visiting. Walking in circles around the mall just drives me batty. So the steps I need to take are to buy a good pair of walking shoes and a good backpack to carry things in. There is a warehouse grocery store about a mile from my house, so after work I can walk over there to pick up a few groceries several times a week and increase my stamina. And there are several restaurants I can walk to to have tea and do some knitting at, meeting friends. 

Okay, enough about these issues and now on to some good knitting news. I managed to get all the Christmas presents done on time, even with finishing knitting the stocking cap for my oldest nephew at my brother's house Christmas eve. But I got it finished and wrapped in time for the present opening time, yea!

First, New Moon fingerless mitts for both my nieces, who are avid Twilight fans. New Moon Fingerless Mitts

Next, K2 P2 stocking caps for my  two nephews, which I did not get pictures of before gifting them. I used Cascade 220 Heathers on size 4 needles to whip them out. 

I knit a Cat's Paw lace scarf for my SIL using Jo Sharp Kid Mohair yarn in white. SIL Cat's Paw lace scarf

I knit Porphyria fingerless mitts for my sister using some beautiful yarn custom dyed by Three Fates Knitting.Sister's Porphyria fingerless mitts

I still need to knit gloves for my DH using the left over black and white hand spun yarns from his Norway cardigan, but I have time now. 

At the moment, I'm working on Mittens and Hats With Cats for a friend. I gifted her the knitting last Christmas, if she bought the pattern and the yarns for it. So now it's time to get them knitted for her. She had put the yarns away and couldn't find them for several months. I've got the first mitten done, except for the thumb. I like to do both thumbs at the same time, after getting the mittens done, because sometimes I have to tweak the pattern to get the thumbs to come out right and I want both mittens to match. 

I spent some time earlier this month and last, before I had decided what to make for my family, working on my Dream Coat. At this point, I've knit up almost all the yarn I have spun up and will have to buy another hank of roving and spin it before I can finish the coat. Dream Coat knit of Dicentra's beautiful rovings handspun by me I just need to finish the ends of the sleeves, do the cuffs, the front bands, sew the underarm seams, run ends in, wash and block. I had been hoping to have this coat done by the end of the year, so I could cross it off my 2010 Projects list for a good start to the New Year.

Yesterday at my sister's she told me that a good friend of her son really likes the hat I made last year for my youngest nephew and would love a hat like it. I spun a worsted weight yarn using Dicentra roving and knit a simple K2 P2 ribbing for the hat. It's the really bright colors the boy likes, so I'm going to find a way to knit him his own hat as soon as I can. He's abused by both his parents, who are divorced, with his father even driving over to his house just to beat up on him. So he needs to know that somebody in the world cares enough about him to do the work to spin and knit him a hat to wear. 

I've been reading posts on Ravelry about resolutions folks are making for the New Year. On one of the threads, someone posted that she doesn't make resolutions, she makes intentions instead. I like that idea a lot, because resolutions always feel to me like they are made of glass - once you break them, there is always a crack that shows. But intentions are different, if you slip up, you just recommit to them and carry on. They are flexible enough for real life but important enough to persevere with working on in spite of bumps in the road. So I'm going to set up a Book of Intentions and not write in it until New Year's Day. I'll not only put knitting projects in it, I'll also put in things I want to accomplish around the house, in the garden, the flower beds, my truck (a classic 1979 Ford F150 with a Thunderbird canopy), needlework and my health. I can see the Book of Intentions being a long term project, not just for one year, but an ongoing roadmap and history of where I want to go, where I am, and where I'm going. 

It's now time to get off the computer and get ready for the potluck my knitting group is having today. I'm going to stop by the store and pick up a veggie platter with dip as my contribution. And I'll take the Cat Mittens along to work on, as my friend won't be there and I haven't told her I've started knitting on them yet. I'd like to surprise her with the mittens and hat all done and ready for her to block to fit her personally. Hope everyone had a good Christmas and looks forward to a Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Holiday Gift Knitting Update

Just wanted to post an update on my knitting progress for holiday gifts. Last night I finished running in the ends on the two pair of New Moon Fingerless Mitts that I knit for my two nieces. I had started a different pattern for the oldest niece, who is in college, but then Monday evening I was texting with my brother and he said both girls are into the Twilight series. So I changed my plans and both pair will go to them. Fortunately, both mitts had the color patterns turn out in pairs, so they won't get them mixed up. Then I used most of the left over yarn for a premie cap for the group we are making to deliver to the local NICU on St. Distaff's Day on January 2nd.

So today I'm back to working on the Porphyria mitts, which will go to my sister. I may use the leftover yarn from those for a pair of Jasmine Fingerless Mitts for myself. The yarn is custom dyed by my friend Stephania, of Three Fates Yarn. I've got one mitt done except for the thumb, which I put on hold until the second mitt body is done so they end up the same length. 

I'm going to knit a white kid mohair scarf for my SIL, I bought the yarn several months ago on a yarn crawl with the Salem Area Ravelers. I'll just pick a simple lace pattern out of my books and knit until I run out of yarn. For my brother I'm not sure what to make, so I won't worry about it for now. My sister had told me Sunday that we're only exchanging gifts for the kids, so we'll see.

Work has gotten very busy, and the lines are longer with the cuts in staffing. We're working as fast as we can (or most of us are, there are a couple who don't have more than one speed) and for the most part folks are being patient with us. I'm really hoping to get the weeks of Christmas and New Year's off on vacation, won't know until the week before when the schedule is posted. But I put in for it last year and the work load will be very low so it should happen.

This is the favorite yarn I bought at Sock Summit 09 that I'm knitting into socks, that have been put on hold until the holiday knitting is done. Can't wait to get back to it!

Happy knitting!