Monday, January 26, 2015

Caregiver, Cook and Crazy Person

Life goes on after separation. Luckily I had a distraction. Forrest had his first surgery with the doctor scoping his knee trying to figure out what was wrong with it. Our family has bad knees, probably because of too much abuse from Ultimate Frisbee. Three of us have had knee surgery and Garrett barely escaped it. Forrest went into it with trepidation but good spirits. This initial surgery was done in Frederick and he recovered at the farm. (He lives and works in Arlington, but no one to care for him there and Mom is the best caregiver anyway).

Well, not good news for his knee. He was missing a huge chunk of cartilage due to a tramatic injury (probably falling on it numerous times in Ultimate and snow boarding) and the way he walked just wore the cartilage way. Hard to believe at age 26, but there it was. So, a specialist was called in who performs carticel surgery where cartilage is removed from his knee, grown in a lab for 6 weeks, then a patch is put on the knee in another surgery. So the photo above is from Georgetown Hospital right before surgery #2 where they harvested three pieces of cartilage. Still looking good! More recovery at Dancing Leaf Farm. I was getting used to this! 

This third surgery was the most intense, the implantation surgery. Not only did he have the cartilage implanted but he also had an osteotomy where a wedge of bone is added to the shinbone to align his knee so he walks properly. It's a pretty extreme surgery with a long recovery. But Forrest did his own physical therapy beforehand, preparing his leg for the trauma that would befall it. The surgery was performed on December 22 (cartilage for Christmas!) and I brought him home after a couple days in the hospital. 

Tucked the boy in and this is where he lived for 3 weeks. The Christmas tree was at the other end of the couch so he looked foggily at the colored lights in his waking moments. He said he would be a 'drugged up zombie' for Christmas and whoo boy, he was! We had a most mellow Chritmas, with all the boys here and Deidre with baby belly. Forrest was crashed out on the couch, Deidre laid down on the living room floor where I gave her pillows and covered her with a blanket and she zonked out for nearly 2 hours while the rest of us drank wine and beer and talked like everything was normal! I told them all that this would be the most memorable Christmas because of the circumstances. But I have to say, I loved it. We kept it very simple, no extravagant gifts, no fussy dinner, just laughter, love and light. The hardest part for me was keeping up with his electric ice machine. It needed new ice about every 5 hours around the clock. I bought about 40 lbs. of ice and the freezer was making ice as fast as it could. I did have to keep him fed too and people who know me, know I don't like to cook. That's what I've always said was the hardest part of raising kids, that you have to feed them! But I made smoothies, bone broth (with veggies), lasagna and lots of cereal. I really did enjoy taking care of him and it was a nice, bonding time for us. 
Reader beware! The next photo is scary. So if you don't want to see it, quickly scroll down.

The Big Gash. The scar looks so much better now. He's been putting cocoa butter on it and it's healing up nicely.

The best part of this whole ordeal was New Year's Eve when 9 of his friends came over to party with him all night. Most spent the night and we all had a great time. These folks are so fun, caring and nice and I was so happy that they rallied around him. He was bored living on the couch for 2 weeks and they brought a welcome distraction…..along with booze. These are his kayaking friends so the next day they waited for the temps to warm up to about 29 so they could go do some big white water on the Potomac. But first they made a delicious, huge breakfast.

New Year's Eve Trapper joined in the festivities and had a beer. He wouldn't give it back. Even the dogs had a party as Forrest's friends brought 3 more dogs. All in all, it was a fun time. 
Forrest has now moved back home and I have to admit I miss him. But he's on the road to recovery and hopefully there won't be another surgery in his near future.

Monday, January 19, 2015

True Life


   Wow! I cannot believe that it's been 3 1/2 months since I last had an entry! A lot has happened since then. I had to take a break. I'll be honest with you here so bear with me. 
   After 36 years of being with the same man, I found out I was sharing him with two other women, so we separated and are working on a divorce. It has been strange and surreal and my life has been turned topsey turvey, upside down, inside out. To think your life is one way and in the blink of an eye (or reading a text on a phone!) what you thought your future was is totally blown out of the water. It happens way too much, I know. I did not think I would be a statistic of the 55% divorce rate. But here it is. I found out just days before all of my shows started in late September. On the outside I hope I came off as cheerful and helpful when selling my yarn to you. But on the inside I was a puddly mess. I had great help at all my shows thanks to some amazing women who pulled me through. And speaking of amazing women (and a few men too), my friends have been there for me with encouragement, hugs, laughter and even food and wine. (Wine…very important!). I lost weight ( a good thing) and they'd bring food to make sure I ate. One of my friends brought a fresh sweet potato from her garden and said "Here. Cook this and eat it!" I laughed and did just as she said.
  I've had to figure out a lot in the past few months. I have not been single since I was 24 and dating at 60 is whole lot different than in your 20's. But I'm going slowly and learning things along the way. 
   I hope to keep my farm, by business, my home and my security. I love this place that is Dancing Leaf Farm, the sunrises, the sunsets, and every minute in between. I sit at my dining room table and look out over the pastures, with the mist rising in the mornings and the fields golden in late afternoon. I love my house and all the rooms, the way the light dances across the walls and changes throughout the day. I listen to music all day and every now and then have to dance to a wonderful rhythm. I am happy here. My brothers were concerned I couldn't keep up with all the maintenance that comes with a couple acres, a few sheep and chickens and an old house. But I assured them I've been doing it for 32 years and that I can do it for a lot longer.  I am not afraid of hard work and have a lot of energy and when you love what you do, you do it with passion. 
   I've had to face some things that I wish I didn't have to deal with. But I just put on my big girl pants, hike them up and go at it. That's all one can do. I am ready to start a new life and to see what the future holds for me. 
   I've started a new group, The Single Women's Supper Club, where 3 widows and 2 divorcees meet at one our homes and bring a big pot of something yummy. We share dinner and then bring home leftovers in containers that we brought with us to feed us for a few days.  It is therapeutic, fun, rewarding and we encourage each other to live life to the fullest. Most nights I'm sharing dinner and most certainly wine with friends. I am not lonely.
   I have my 3 amazing boys, who visit often and a wonderful daughter-in-law who is going to give me my first grand baby in April! Something to look forward to. 
   I'm always busy it seems, but also find time to just be. I have a few trips already planned this year and more will happen I'm sure. I've signed up for a 6-day bike event in southwest Virginia in late June, camping and biking with 1600 other enthusiasts and am really looking forward to it. I hope to do another bike touring, this time near Montreal with a couple girlfriends. Also two trips to Oregon and a trip to Arizona and California to visit friends and family. And so many friends who say, "Come visit!" Ok, I will!
   I look to this new year as being a starting point to a new adventure, a new path, a new life. I'm ready to grab on and see where it takes me! I'm ready to enjoy the ride!!!!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Ready to Dye!

After 25 years I finally have a made-to-order dye kitchen. I started out this dye thing in our kitchen while the boys were at school. I would make a mess coloring yarn and spend an hour scrubbing everything down with bleach and Comet.

But then we patched together a dye space in a corner of our basement. We recycled kitchen cabinets from our local fire department who were updating their kitchen. I got an old stove from someone who was getting rid of it, bought two hot plates and called it my 'lab'.  

The before pics look like a crime scene! 

Gutting the old kitchen

Alberto and Gerardo are two of the nicest guys you'd ever want to hire. They worked for us while we were away this summer and just did an amazing job on everything. In this project I worked side by side with them so I was sure get it just the way I wanted.

Making progress!

These counters and tables are the bees knees! I had them make two large tables, each measuring 4 1/2 feet by 4 feet, put on locking casters so I can move them around easily for felting. 
I can now make a huge felted garment.

Moved in and ready to go.

Crafters….just look at that jewel of a surface!!! 
Nine feet of emptiness to fill up with your craft of choice. 

I made four nuno felt shawls yesterday as it was so easy to spread out and everything was at hand. 

Before my dyes were mixed in a variety of jars and containers. I bought 16 of these plastic gallon jars and 16 1/2 gallon jars. What a difference! Can't believe it took me this long to do this.

There's a large shelf under the rolling tables for all my fiber that I dye.
Bins from Target

First dye job

Loving how easy it is to move the very heavy, very hot yarn to the washing machine for its spin cycle.

All my dyes are within easy access.

And look at all those lights! Too many lights is just enough.

Now I just need to get to all this yarn. It's not going to dye itself!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wedding Weekend

Just when we thought we were home for the summer, ending our 9 weeks away, we jumped in the car and drove to Boston for the weekend for our longtime besties' daughter's wedding party.

It took place at their lovely home in Hingham.

They had just completed a major garden renovation, planting thousands of perennials over an acre of yard. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and everything looked spectacular.

The ceremony took place under the pergola at the top of the hill. We all just gathered around the gardens.

There was a tent for all the festivities in the lower part of the garden.

They had simple farm tables, which I loved and would like to duplicate.

The tables had zinnias and wild flowers.

Seating vignettes were set up all over the garden.

The bar was a couple large barrels and a huge slab of wood, festooned with twinkle lights. 

The portapotty was pretty fancy. Separate boys/girls with running water, lights and even music! Unfortunately, it failed pretty early on and we had to use the house bathroom.

We've known Rick and Fiona for nearly 36 years. They were our 'best' people at our wedding. 

We got the garden party memo and both dressed in floral dresses.

Dancing commenced immediately after the ceremony.

I failed to get a photo of the bride and groom but here are Fiona and her daughters, Caitlin and Sheena. Sheena is in the middle and it was her wedding.

Even though it was such a long drive and short visit, it was a joy to share this day with them.

On the way we were really hankering for a lobster roll. Thanks to mapquest, we found a place right off the interstate, a little drive in type place that had very good lobster rolls. Love this type of place!

We broke up the trip by staying at our friend's place in Connecticut. Scott and KK live in a very similar house, built in the mid-1800's. KK is an artist and is finally getting her own studio, moving out of a small bedroom in the house. 

She'll have this entire upper floor over the garage. She paints very large paintings so the window on the right will become a large door to hoist canvasses up and down. 

I always love going to New England. The architecture is lovely, the gardens beautiful and the scenery soothing. Since Houston does nearly all the driving, this is what I do, knit, knit, knit. We're a good team!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

While In Seattle...

While in Seattle I was able to see my friend, Karen and her hubby, Ted. I hadn't seen Karen for nearly 8 years! She's a long time friend of mine. We met while we lived in Florida 38 years ago. I was preparing to have a baby at home, in the large Victorian house we lived in. Karen rented a cottage on this property and was redoing a 1949 Coupe to resell and use the money to buy land near Flint Hill, Virginia. She was there for the birth of Aramin, making a 'birthday' cake in the shape of a butterfly. She left the next day for Virginia, in a 1946 2-ton flatbed truck. 

The following year I visited her in Virginia and fell in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains, which precipitated my move to Virginia. We've kept in touch over the years, with her moving from Virginia to Maryland to Oregon then Washington. In each place she restored a house, sold it and moved on. About 8 years ago, she met Ted, sold everything, bought a beautiful teak sail boat from Canada, restored it and sailed up and down the west coast and finally back up to Canada, living on the boat for a couple years. 

Four years ago she and Ted bought a 'lot' in a neighborhood in Seattle with a tiny cottage on it. Ted is an architect and designed this house to fit the site. While living in the tiny cottage at the bottom of the yard, they started construction at the top of the hill and when they reached the cottage, they tore it down, moved into the new part and continued building. 
Pictured above is the understated front of the house.

Fours years later, Karen is still working on it, putting up drywall, tiling and doing lots of finishing work. She is a perfectionist and it shows in her workmanship. This is the side of the house, cascading down the hillside.

Karen and Ted are thrifters extraordinaire. All the furnishings in the house are either from Craigslist, yard sales or the awesome thrift stores that Seattle is known for. This midcentury table is from Craigslist which they got for a steal. It came with 6 chairs.

While at their weekly thrift store visits, they found two chairs exactly like the others. 

The house is full of light ...

but also very private as they have put in all this greenery and over the four years, it's filled in nicely.

The stainless steel sink was bought at a close out and the fridge came with no doors! So she made doors and painted them.

Karen does all the tiling and I especially like this idea in their master bath. The tub is against the wall but you have to walk through the shower to get to the bath. So there's just a drain in the floor in front of the tub and a big shower head overhead. Genius!

In every house Karen has redone, she has dug out for a pond. This house is no exception. They had to do MAJOR excavation, bringing in large equipment to fix drainage problems and tons and tons of rock.

This is looking down from the bedroom balcony. 
I was so impressed with the house, the use of recycled, found, repurposed materials. I like the modern, industrial, midcentury look about it and look forward to seeing it finished. I think this will be there forever home.

We took a little tour of the lock in their neighborhood. There were 3 boats in it so they were being raised up while we were there.

This sculpture is nearby. This is where the salmon make their way upstream and there's a viewing window where you can watch all varieties of salmon swimming upstream.
So this concludes my most fantastic summer. Italy, England, and biking along the Pacific Coast Highway. Seeing friends in all those places, making new friends along the way and enjoying life to the fullest. I'll probably never have another year like this one, so I appreciate it all the more.