Sunday, February 11, 2018

A taste of memoir.

I've been slaving away over a hot keyboard all day, finishing the cut-and-paste job on the memoir. It's going to be called Mom's House and it covers the period from January 1998, when my mother was hospitalized with colon cancer, until a couple of weeks ago, when the hassle over her estate and her house was finally resolved.

I mentioned last week that I've been writing this thing in bits and pieces as events unfolded. That's been very useful; as the details were fresh in my mind when I wrote everything down, I'm reasonably sure that my recollection of events is accurate. But I'd also included some stuff that, in retrospect, won't push the narrative along. So it hasn't been a straight cut-and-paste job -- I've had to edit as I go.

And then there were the little stories that I'd forgotten about until I ran across them in the journal entries. Here's one tidbit. It takes place during the summer of 1998, after my mother's second cancer surgery. I'd taken the summer off (thank you, Family and Medical Leave Act) to help her with her recovery and to drive her to radiation appointments. My daughters had spent the first month of the summer with their father, who was living with his new wife in Buffalo, NY.

***

Aquilitan | CC0 | Pixabay

In the midst of the radiation treatments, I had to pick up the kids.  I drove from Michigan City to Buffalo in a single day, stopping in Cleveland for a couple of hours to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I stayed overnight in Buffalo and planned to pick up the kids the next morning and drive back to Mom’s.  Somewhere along the way, I concocted a plan to make the trip fun for the girls: I decided we could go wading in each of the Great Lakes.

Bruce and his wife were civil to me; they were giving up on Bruce finding a job in Buffalo and were moving back to the D.C. area as soon as his previous employer hired him back. The girls said goodbye and piled in the car, and we were off.

We drove all over downtown Buffalo, looking for a spot to put our feet in Lake Erie (something I wouldn’t have tried a decade or so before, for fear that pollution would have left me with no feet). Finally, we found one. We got our feet wet and I took a picture. Then we drove to Niagara Falls and stopped for a look. The girls had visited the Canadian side earlier in the summer with their dad, his wife, and her kids; they described going up to the top of the CN Tower to see the view.

We crossed into Canada and headed for our next target, Lake Ontario. This one was easy – we drove right past a little neighborhood beach and parked long enough to stick our feet in and get a picture.

Driving across Ontario, the girls fell asleep. I hit a blinding rainstorm and a road construction detour at almost exactly the same time; I spent a nerve-wracking hour or so following the tail lights of an eighteen-wheeler and hoping he wasn’t leading me off the road.

Eventually, the sky cleared and I could relax. We made it to Sarnia and Lake Huron at dinnertime. The beach was closed because the storm had created an undertow, but the lifeguards let us put our feet in and get our picture. We stopped for dinner at McDonald’s, marveling at the Happy Meal bags in two languages. Then we got back in the car and kept driving, getting back to Mom’s safely, if late.

Nailing Lake Michigan was no problem. We walked down to the beach and got that picture sometime before the end of the summer.

Unfortunately, I had never put film in the camera. So the pictures of our wet feet live only in our memories.

***

It's going to be a while before the book comes out. It's still in pretty rough shape, and I'm not talking just about story continuity. I didn't know as much about formatting then as I do now. The early entries have a ton of tab stops and extra spaces after periods, and they are all going to have to come out. But at least the heavy lifting is done. Now, maybe, I can relax.

Relax? Oh haha. I kill myself sometimes.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Hey, it's a knitting post.

I know y'all are all about the big sportsball match this evening, so here's a post that has nothing at all to do with it.

It looks like the last time I did a knitting post was in September. I've been busy since then with several projects -- including the Main Street shawl, which was partly done then. Here's what it looks like, all finished.


I moved on then to the Architexture shawl. This pattern caught my eye months ago, but I'd put off knitting it until I found the right yarn. Then it occurred to me that I'd picked up a suitable yarn at Maryland Sheep and Wool last spring and hadn't even realized it would work for this pattern. Here's a shot of the finished project.



Please excuse my sour expression. I really do like the way the shawl turned out. I was concentrating on a new photography technique -- grabbing a frame from a video to use as a still photo -- and forgot to smile.

The Architexture worked up pretty fast, but I had to put it on hiatus for a few weeks in December to work on another project -- that Craftvent Calendar shawl I mentioned here at the end of November.

The back story for the Craftvent shawl is this: My daughter Amy found the product online and decided to buy one for herself. It didn't take much urging for me to get one, too. She ordered the "jewel tone" colorway and I got the "wintergreen" one.

Mine turned out fine. I liked most of the colors but -- as usual -- I ran out of yarn in the first lace section. I finally figured out that I'm too generous with yarn when I do a yarnover; once I tamed my tendency to make those extra stitches REALLY BIG, I did okay. Amy, however, disliked her colors -- she was expecting a range of saturated colors and, well, did not get them. Plus she ran out of yarn, too. In fact, a lot of people ran out of yarn. The place we ordered the kits from had to ship packets of extra yarn to a lot of folks.

When I got to my last ball of yarn, it turned out to be the precise shade of neon green that I actively avoid. So Amy, bless her heart, went spelunking in her stash and found a bright blue-green that worked just fine. Here's mine. If Amy ever finishes hers, I'll post a photo of it, too.


To be honest, I'm impressed that I got so many projects done, considering I spent a huge chunk of the fall working on a shawl called the Find Your Fade. I'd picked up the kit at Maryland Sheep and Wool in the spring, and did not fully understand how big a shawl 1,500 yards of fingering weight yarn would make. To give you an idea of how massive this thing is, the piece of furniture with the drawers in the photo below is 44 inches wide.


It's wonderful to wrap up in, but it's impractical to wear to work. I've been leaving it next to my desk at home to wear while I write.

Right now I'm working on some little stuff. I used up some of the leftover yarn from the Architexture and Main Street shawls by making a pair of fingerless gloves. I also knitted myself a new hat and am working on a gaiter-style cowl to go with it. The pattern has a bunch of yarnovers in it. We'll see if I have enough yarn to finish the cowl. Fingers crossed...

***
I'm also working on a memoir. I can't remember whether I've mentioned this project before, but it's something I've been working on for probably 15 years, off and on, as the story unfolded. Events have recently reached a denouement, so I feel like it's time to wrap up the book. This weekend, I started the process of cutting, pasting, and rewriting the original material. It's gonna be a ton of work, but it will be rewarding in the end -- to me, anyway.

Have a great week, everyone, and may the best sportsball team win.