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Friday, July 13, 2018

How About NOT Shopping (Intersperesed with Fun Photos)

I set out to run a few errands yesterday and today; partial success, and too hot to trot. Dang, it is warm, even at 10am, and to my irritation, most shops are not air-conditioned downtown. Since part of our errands included finding swimsuits for two girls, it was an endless succession of shops, waits and no swimsuits to speak of.

How about a shot of the ocean instead? There was an emergency and everyone had to clear out of the water for two hours, looks the way I like it; no people, no boards, no boogers:



Here is how it goes; sales start on July 1, maybe 10-30% off. On July 8, the second set of sales begins, 30-60% off. By the 10th, there is not much left. I shoudda known better. 

As for the "supermarket" (think big stores that sell food and everything else), there will be a line, always, and if you are dim-witted enough to not look up and understand that the "CB" sign means that the only payment accepted in this line is a French debit card, too bad for you, you get to stand in line all over again for the cashier who wants your cash.

Here are the flamenco singers from the other night:


You wanted to buy a fan because it's so hot no one is sleeping? You saw they were on sale at one store? Ha! Sucker! Of course those sold out like two hours after the ad went up. Sigh, but as I am leaving the store, the lady who originally told me there were none left comes to the rescue; "Excusez-moi, madame! I found one! The only one we have, it's back in aisle 15, and it's 65 Euros." "Um, thank you anyway. I was interested in the other ones." New store, new search, victory. But they must be hidden, because someone in the house, or half the population of the country, at least, scratch that, more like 90%, believes that a draft can maim, kill or at the very least give you strep throat. Must. Hide. New. Fans.

And the dancer; check out the video from a few days ago if you haven't, it is hard to take good photos with 300 or more other people crowded in, all trying to do the same thing:


Ah well, today's expedition ended in locating the yarn shop and then a cold soda (I know, how American of me; I did NOT drink coffee today!) at the cafe. It really is lovely to have even a soda here; served in an old-fashioned soda glass, bottle next to it, opened by the garcon/owner with a bottle opener. My French guy and me at the flamenco festival:


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Jardin, Foot (=Soccer)

I had to try to translate/explain "lying low" for my father-in-law today, to say why we were not heading back to the beach this week, for now. Sun burn is not a nice thing. There is no shortage of things to do and be done. A daily walk, shop, cafe, set the table, eat, do dishes, nap, work, play cards, knit, set table, dishes, watch soccer (a slight soccer obsession takes over the family every four years during the World Cup. this year is even greater, since France just made it to the semi-finals, such a rukkus!) Here is what THAT looks like here:




Thierry's parents' beautiful yard, and vegetable garden:








Go Blue.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Atlantic and its Follies

Saturday, we rediscovered salt water, sand and waves; there are no words, really, but here are a few photos. Bliss (see? I did find a word!) Les Landes, France, miles of Atlantic beaches and pine forest.





These are from my phone, and I have yet to figure out just the right way to transfer them to my blog; they were so crisp and beautiful on the phone's screen.



The latest contraptions on the beach this year; self-blow-up-with-the-wind cushions. You just hold it up and let the wind inflate it...no wind means you either run around like a fool or forget it. Cate, relaxing in one, while her cousin, Remy, who is always with her, comes up for air...his chair was out of it, and, in his own words; "Life is just too hard."


Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Flamenco

Once in awhile I realize I could have done or been someone else...every time I breathe in and feel my heart beat to the rhythm of flamenco, I have one of those moments; that passion and strength and pulse; ah! I should have been born in Andalusia, into a dancing, gypsy family, trained to take my fierceness into dance steps. 

Last night we crowded in with a few hundred others, under the tent, to get a view of what we could from our vantage point of the stage and the marvelous Gema Moneo:


Not that any more words are needed, but in case you wanted to know...I visited Spain once when I was 18, an exchange student who was living for life in France at the time, a dream come true. I was staying with a host family in St.Jean-de-Luz for the weekend, in Basque Country. The brother and his fiance wanted to take me over the border to Spain for the evening. Of course, I went along, I went anywhere anyone wanted to go that year. It was astounding; there were people everywhere in this town; it was San Sebastian, or Donosti, to the locals, in the Basque language. There were a hundred tiny bars in a street with no cars, people going in and out of them, drinking a little glass of wine, beer, eating a pincho (tapas in Pays Basque), dropping their wrappers on the ground...as though that was the normal thing to do, then on to the next bar. It was the happiest set of people I had ever seen, and I did not understand a word of what was being said. I wanted more! 

The next year, back home in college, I found a semester-abroad program; in Donosti! I spent the most wonderful time, living the life of a Spanish/Basque college student; pinchos and kalimocho on weekends, student protests in squares (my roommates, (in our unheated, sixth-floor walk-up), because of a national strike, had not one day of school all semester, so we would join them in solidarity once in awhile). Burned into my mind's eye; walks home with friends along the moonlit beach at 4am, every other free minute also spent walking the beach, the mountains, learning to sail in December in the rocky waves of the Atlantic. 

Our Basque professor, a lovely, dedicated woman, took the whole class (of five) on field trips to museums, to sacred places in Basque lore, and invited us to her house to learn to cook stew in the traditional way, after a morning spent sneaking us in to the men's-only Basque club, and mass at a church with an alter, like many fishing villages, in the form of a boat.  

So, yes, I have a thing for Spain...and the south of France is pretty close to Spain, if you take a look at a map, you can confirm this for yourself. Our town; little Mont-de-Marsan, population 30,000, is home to the best festival; Arte del Flamenco, each July. There is also bull-fighting, cow-jumping and a party in the streets...all coming up next week. If I am lucky, we'll be home in time from the beach today to take in one last flamenco display...crossing fingers now.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Post-Dejeuner (Lunch)


 15 hundred hours...or 3pm, and I am just finishing up the dishes from lunch. It's been raining off and on all day, all night too, so outside fun will mean lots of mud. I am having a little work time (glossary updates, a look at my book that I put on hold, answering an email or two.) The view from my bedroom window; that's the tool/potting shed my father-in-law built, a very Peter Rabbit type of place, n'est-ce-pas?




 As soon as I finished the dishes, my mother-in-law got busy with dinner preparations.



The kids play board games with Papy, making him more or less completely nuts:
Thierry works (somehow) from the office at the top of the stairs, open to kids and noise:
And Cate is hiding in the bedroom, studying for the LSAT and consolidating refugee research. I do not dare take HER picture just now.

This morning was spent going to market, stopping for an espresso at the cafe the family likes, as opposed to the cafe the family does not like, new owners, too rude. By the time we left, half the town had piled up around us on every chair the cafe had available; one man left, graciously, but all the same (!) after we "borrowed" first one chair, then his extra table, then all of the chairs around him to seat our impromptu "guests". We bought a few groceries, a few loaves of French bread, and got soaked on the way to the car by a downpour. Lunch was made; delicious! duck and fried tomatoes with onions, salad, cheese and coffee. I am used to life here again.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Early AM, the South of France, Dining Room Table

Welcome to life in the laid-back south of France, in the home of the retired, but not elderly grandparents. The bread is crisp (until the rain hits), the cheese is extraordinary, and the wine is fine. Everyday conversations, seen from an observer's perspective, go something like this;

My husband; "Mama, how do you like the Essentrics DVD I sent you? Doesn't your back feel so much better?"

(Thierry loves Essentrics as much as I do; so he bought his mom a copy of a DVD in French for Christmas and sent it to her.)

Mamie; "Oh, mon cheri, I haven't had a chance to try it. You see, I can't use it because our DVD player doesn't work anymore. I've been waiting for your father to fix it or something, I don't get those things, but I haven't been able to play the thing."

"What's wrong with it? I'll buy you one of those little 10-bit plug-in ones so you can try it."

Papy; "Mais non...it doesn't work because of the new tv regulations and standards. It can't read DVDs anymore, it's been a year now since they changed things and we can't connect it. We have to have one that can handle the new kind of tv."

"No you don't, let me see."     

DVD player plugged in, working, after a good, long session of pinched fingers, irritation and maneuvering behind the television set by the fireplace; "here, hand me that; no, the other one, mais non, that one goes into here. Does not. Hold on, no, unplug that, ouch! grumble, grumble."

"Now look; the channels don't work!" (Papy)

"What do you mean, the tv doesn't work if the DVD player is plugged in?"

Papy; "We can't get these three channels; look!" Fuzz on screen.

"But Channel 3 works...that makes no sense, the DVD player is blocking some channels and not others?"

"The tv doesn't work now, that's what I've been telling you. The DVD player messes up the whole thing. I don't miss it at all. Stupid tv, hated it anyway."

"Is this new?"

Papy; "No, we haven't had any channels since the takeover, it's all a conspiracy to make us buy new televisions every year."

"So, since when has it not worked?"

Papy; "Well, since December or so."

"Then it's not linked to the DVD player being connected."

Papy; "Whatever, I hate tv anyway. I could totally live without it. Stupid thing."

Heeeey! I have found a new ally in my anti-screen campaign! It is like the 21st century never arrived here, I love it. The kids are practically never on their phones; too much to talk about with their cousins and grandparents, too much to eat, games to be played (at least two tournaments of Mille Bourne yesterday with Mamie), and just the novelty of not being at home. 

We were here all day; day one was spent sleeping until noon to catch up after a long journey. Lunch was lovely; we grilled out and ate on the terrace until just before coffee, when the rumble of thunder and then rain sent us scrambling back in. We stayed at the table inside for forever, talking and drinking tiny cups of coffee, nibbling at dark chocolate, joking with the little cousins, Remy; 7 and Alice, 11. None of the six cousins did much talking during the whole meal, everybody still shy of each other, but they were all warmed up and playing together by nap time. Remy and Gael had the little cars out and zooming all over the floor, Valentine went to curl up with a book and Alice followed. We could hear giggling from down here. Cate (who, naturally, not only survived, but THRIVED in Paris, loving every minute and learning how much she has yet to learn on the sticky topic of refugee hosting and immigration, is here now, hurrah!) had Remy on her lap at every meal, and Charles was in deep observation mode, except when it came to practicing naughty words and "helping out" his cousins. Duncan is missed by all, but I bet Tuxy-dog is happy to have one of us at home with him.

The trip? Exhausting, but no hitches. Flying through Ireland was a milestone for me; I've finally touched down in the isle of my ancestors, or the Irish half of them. We had salmon; a "must" for Thierry, at the airport, along with an Irish beer, not the best choice in the middle of a long trip, but another "must". The kids were so tired that they decided they were not happy at all about the opportunity to spend three days in this magnificent country on the way home. What they do not know is that they will be full of energy and happy to explore, just coming from a month in France, with rest and good food, and not 15 hours of travel and bad airplane food and not enough water. I know it. And if not, I will dump their sorry selves in a roadside inn and go exploring on my own. New journey, new hopes and dreams...and new set of expectations.

Full House

It is 2 am and I am trying not to make noise, icing my foot, in the playroom, because I am not sure, but I think there might be someone asleep in the living room just over there. It is rare to have all five kids home at the same time these days, but so very nice. The only problem is remembering where everyone bunked down last night so that I keep from waking them up. This has a sort of deja vue feeling from when they were babies and I would go to crazy lengths not to wake them up.

Cate is home, on her way to Paris. We will meet up with her again in July at the house of les grands-parents in the south. I am trying not to worry...I was on my own in Paris, in Madrid, in San Sebastian, when I was younger than she is now. She will be fine. Now if only her father would quit fussing at how she should dress because "she won't be in America, and shorts are NOT OK", I could relax too. I am sure she will have the time of her life...right?

Final exams are in full swing for the ones in school, and Gael and I are winding down our last days of official homeschooling, how in the world did that happen? He will be attending the Creative Arts Academy next year, which looks like an amazing opportunity, most days. Some days I have doubts about losing the last one to school, especially to the pressures, social and otherwise, that I see the others facing every day. I know, that many children go to school...and life is just fine for them. That does not mean it is the BEST choice, just the most widespread. Or popular. Or "normal". I never had much use for popular or normal. Widespread is a little more reassuring, as it implies that most people get through the experience mostly unscathed and somewhat better educated at the end of it. The same could be said of homeschooling, right? Whatever you do or do not do, you will make some mistakes and do some things right. As my friend and mentor David Albert once told me; "You're gonna mess up somewhere. Just set aside an equal amount of money for college and for counseling to fix it later." 

I will include equal amounts of meditation; for the teachers who have the vocation of dealing with a whole roomful of these little boogers every day; thank you! And for mama, as I head into the world of patiently waiting for one more school event, five or six more conference sessions every term, homework to help with, reams of paperwork to read over, sign, respond to, rules and "ALICE" drills to sigh over, and items to pick up at the last minute before school because they forgot...again. 

But before that; we will have one fun summer!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Down to the Mighty Mississip'

Annie Dillard comes to mind as I wander, in mind and body, drinking in the river, the bright blue and rough flood waters pouring down through the open dam, the tranquil, flat grey ribbon that is the Mississippi just a few hundred yards later, as it flows east to west. As I breathe in and just become one with the river and the sky and the birds...do I lose the becoming with the thought that I will just be, just stop thinking and become a part of it? Do the moments right after, even during the time when I let go and be, do they count, or have I already given in to thought and words and descriptions simply in thinking the thought, "let go."

As I ride along, I free myself not to worry about whether or not I have become hopelessly entangled in the same twists and warpings of thought and worry I wished to avoid on this early morning ride. This is a cleansing time, a time for pleasure in the spring morning, the wind, the sun, the budding trees; a week past the first furtive, pale green ideas of leaves sprouting forth all around me, now full-on leaves and blooms everywhere you look. The pinks, lavenders and violets riot with color and snow down petals. So brief! comes to mind, like life, and that thought too, is squashed back down by the choice not to think, just to enjoy, to revel, here and now, to be.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Moving from Dream it to Living it

Motivation and children, motivation and employees, motivation and self...it is a topic that takes up a whole lot of mind and soul space for me. I can feel the power of it, and feel the urge to change, to do, and know, at the same time, that when it comes down to the mountains of effort required to move that hill, there are many times when I might choose to do the dishes instead, or read a book, or finish a knitting project. But I never, ever falter in my belief that the impossible-sounding is really doable, really just waiting to be done, and sometimes I DO do it. I never, ever question the enormous potential we all have to completely turn the world upside down.

As to motivating someone else, helping them to see and claim their own potential...this is what I want most. I see the world that we could have, and the joy we could each find in life every day, if we opened our eyes to that gift sitting right in front of us. Ah, but what specifically am I doing to bring this to my children, spouse, siblings, parents, nephews, nieces, friends?

Mostly, bugging the begeezers out of them lecturing, explaining, pushing, encouraging, and, doing my best to model. Today, dear reader, it is your turn. Here are a few of my favorite sources, quotes, etc, just for you:

Thich Nhat Hanh: Start here, with an in-breath: "Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion."

The real Winston Churchill quote; (I have always liked the misquote; "never, never, never give up." but the true one is this:) "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never, in anything large or small, great or petty, never give in, except to convictions of honor or good sense."

And Rumi: "The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you. Do not go back to sleep."

A ten-minute talk by a guy named Astro; You won't regret listening to this one, it is so short and so cool. /https://tim.blog/2018/04/18/how-to-think-10x-bigger/

Seth Godin: "I think the most productive thing to do during times of change is to be your best self, not the best version of someone else."

Arianna Huffington: "Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me."

In case the jury is still out for you, let's end with Abigail Adams, a truly remarkable woman of her time...and all time: "I have always felt that a person's intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view that he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic."

Ha.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Destination: France...and Ireland!

It has been four years since we visited family in France, and it is over-due. This year, we will set out with only three children, how strange that they grew up and into their own lives this quickly, and how good too. Cate will actually meet us there, as she has earned a grant to conduct her own research project in France this summer. It is always good to spend time in France, and always so hard to leave again.  What I am also looking forward to is a little three-day leg of the journey in Ireland...I have always dreamed of seeing this ancestral homeland. Just like a large percentage of the population of the US, my family has a lot of Irish in us. Even my husband has adopted his right to claim Irishness (by marriage and by love of a good brew).

Thierry discovered, in his own travels back and forth, that the easiest way to survive the whole customs and passport process was to travel through Dublin. He has found it so very less tedious, that he insisted we find a flight that took this route to France. The discussion may have taken on a "fine, then YOU book the trip, honey." It was tricky, because it seems there was not a way to book a three-day layover on the way home. If I have to fly through Dublin, I figured we might as well take a look around for five minutes, right? 

In the end, about three months after the beginning of the proceedings, I did my research and became the travel agent of the family again. My homeschooler, Gael and I, had been listening to "Ireland, a History," by Thomas Bartlett. He absolutely wants to visit New Grange, I know we have to see Galway, so flying back out of Shannon made more sense than sticking around Dublin the whole time.
In what had begun as a private session between my computer and myself, but ended up in bad couples therapy, I simply booked from here to Bordeaux, via Dublin, then a return ticket out of Shannon, back home, ignoring, for the moment, that we had no way of getting back to Ireland from France. I had confidence it would all work out just fine.

True, the last time I did that for Paris, we ended up hauling seven suitcases up and down a million metro and train staircases to take train upon subway upon train, to get from one end to the other. Oh, and there was a subway strike that further prolonged the journey. Fortunately, no one bothered to blame me for the plans gone a bit wonky, they were too excited to be in Paris. The time before that, we went through London, the cheapest way, and got stranded because of a volcanic eruption in Iceland. One adventure after another. My most-observant husband, breathing down my neck as I was triumphantly hitting "BOOK" on the screen, almost had heart-complications. He gasped, "but wait; you don't have a flight from Bordeaux to Shannon; hey; how are we getting back to Ireland? Wait!" Click, done.

"Honey, I'll figure it out; look; the return flight was only $400, what a deal! We'll drive, take a train, a ferry or a bus or whatever, chill." Half an hour later, during my son's viola lesson, I calmly booked five tickets for Bordeaux-Dublin (there is no flight for Bordeaux-Shannon), and a rental car to get from there to the other side of the island (a whole two hours), and then on to the airport to return home. The small detail that we have never driven a car on the "wrong" side of the road did not elude Thierry. I figured we might have a lesson or two at a British driving school in France while we were there. I guess I should go figure out if such a thing exists, right? Ooo; or maybe an IRISH driving school; beers following the lesson. That should do it.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Gauge, a Knitting Tutorial

I can't fix everything, but I can rip and repeat, something not all knitters love to do. You can consider it an opportunity real life seldom offers; a chance to redo, make it better, prettier, before presenting it to the world/recipient. Each day, we wake up with a chance to make this one a better day. Each knitting project, in theory, can be undone and reknitted. (But I draw the line at ever frogging this one.) Here is a recent project, a three-piece set in an accidental three size differentiation.

Pretty, huh? And that quilt in the background? It was made for baby Charles, by a dear friend I knew through a parenting group, a family treasure. Sadly, the layette set I so happily knitted with gauzy dreams of a future baby in mind, is made up of at least three different sizes. There is no baby that is going to be wearing all three pieces at the same time...a question of gauge gone wrong.

What can I say? I found the yarn in a cute shop in Estes Park, just before heading home with five kids in the car. I quickly downloaded a cardigan pattern before I lost all possibility of doing so, and got to knitting. 

Of course, I knit a swatch and checked my gauge before beginning. No I did not. It was for a baby, any baby, how much could gauge matter? It would fit at some age, very briefly, then be passed on to another baby who would be at the right size for about 2 and a half minutes as well. News for me; this sweater would fit a small premie, maybe, or a large doll. Dang. Let's fix this.
First problem; the bottom ribbing is clearly sloppy and loosy-goosy. Need: smaller needles. Always use 1-2 sizes smaller needles for a project's ribbing.

First; before unknitting, use what you've got. Take a ruler and measure the gauge you had with this needle and this yarn. Take a look at your knitting; how did this gauge work out for how you want the piece to look? Measure the dimensions of the piece you achieved with these needles this time through. Compare it with the size of the object you desire, if you want it to fit anyone. Take notes.

To measure gauge: use a sample, ideally, of at least 4" by 4", or 10cm by 10cm. Flatten out the swatch, no stretching, pulling or pushing, and, using a ruler (tape measures can stretch and move, I like rulers better), measure how many stitches you can count in the middle of your swatch in a 1" section. To be more precise, measure across several inches and divide it by that number. DO include half and partial stitches in your overall count. This is your gauge. 

Make a decision, take a deep breath, then frog the whole thing. Eat a large piece of chocolate. It will help, it really will.

Then choose a different needle, and/or change the pattern dimensions; a size up, if you like the look of the gauge you achieved. Maybe I had a limited selection of needles in the car, perhaps I cast on at the neck and that ribbing looked OK, so I did not question it once I arrived at the bottom. Maybe I used different needles for the bottom edge...in any case, I will switch to size 1's for the ribbing this time around, as the sweater and hat were knit with size 3's, and clearly, the ribbing should not be. And, for sure, the pattern instructions for this yarn and these needles and my tension, did not produce the right size. 

Once you have measured and compared and NOTED, you have a choice. You may proceed using your pattern, simply going up a size, or you may use your own judgment and measuring skills to decide how many stitches you need to cast on in order to achieve the size you require. For best results, measure the person in question and multiply your gauge by their size, plus an inch for give, if the object in question is a sweater.

Let us say, for instance, that the circumference of the small person's chest is 20" around. Your swatch says you have knit, with this yarn and these needles, a gauge of 6 stitches per inch. To obtain the correct size, you add in an inch for give, then multiply 21X6, for a total number of stitches to cast on of 126.

You do, however, need to knit your swatch in the same way you mean to knit the garment; if you will knit it in the round, knit the swatch in the round. If this seems like a lot of work, just think that a swatch knit in the round, as Elizabeth Zimmerman liked to point out, can be made into a hat; you get two for the price of one. If it will include cables, you had better include cables in the swatch, they take up room and can shrink a knitted piece by quite a bit. A flat, cabled swatch makes a pretty wash cloth. Accuracy comes from paying attention.

If it is for a baby not yet born or it is a surprise or you are knitting for someone who lives far away, here is my best hint ever: go to Ravelry. Read the reviews you can find on the pattern you have chosen. Ravelry is the best thing that has happened to the world of knitting and crocheting since Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker. If you are not familiar with it, check it out and sign up for a free account.

On Ravelry, you can search and find a list (with photos) of any project you might ever have dreamed of crafting. You can click on the photo and find out what yarn, pattern and needles were used, what the knitter thought of the pattern, and, if you wish, a short bio of the person who did the handwork. You can send messages and store your projects (finished and future) in your own little box. You can even find a skein of yarn for that awful moment when you realize the yarn you begun a project with three years ago is no longer available, and that you will not have enough to finish it, and some kind soul is willing to ship it to you, for free, from Germany...true story. 

Look me up if you stop by; on Ravelry, I am deartricot. You can post your own name in comments too.

Happy knitting!

Friday, March 30, 2018

I Have Knitted: (Pattern Links)

Booties, in my series of "future grandmother knits". Nothing in view! But I have five kids and I am a slow knitter, nothing like planning ahead. (free pattern at link) Send me a message on Ravelry, if you knit too! I am: deartricot.

Sweet Bon-Bon baby blanket for sweet baby girl (free pattern at link)

Hospital Knitting: whatever Gael picked; he chose the zombie (really not auspicious, to my way of thinking, but it was his call), so I knit the zombie, and the dirt grave to go with it. Talk about giving way to one's darker impulses.


The owl born of a skein of yarn that "looked like an owl" (free pattern at link)

The monster, like the zombie, from:
Highlander Cowl for silent auction (no pattern; just K2, P1 in big ol' yarn and needles).


Well Again...Back from the Inferno

The greatest fear of any mother is for the loss of a child. I came face-to-face with this fear three days ago and I am grateful to be on the other side of it, for now. Life is so, so precious. Children are the greatest gift, bestowed by heaven but they are not ours to keep, only ours to love and care for, as they pass through our wombs and through our lives. But it is a hard lesson to remember. 

My darling youngest boy went from flu to walking pneumonia to rhabdomyolysis in the blink of an eye, and from "recovering" to stat blood work and hospitalization faster than I knew possible. He is home and well, and he never knew how close he was to truly not well, but I did. And it was terrifying. I could clearly see the catastrophe of a young life lost because of a technical failure. I could very well imagine the muscle loss breaking down proteins that led to kidney failure and...the unmentionable.

At the time, I was dealing with the all-encompassing pain and fear of my baby (no matter how old, every child will remain forever your baby). He was in absolute dread of a needle, any needle, and especially the IV insertion. The two blood tests of the preceding days had drained him of all his courage. What he desperately needed, now, however, was an IV delivering fluids to begin to restore what he had lost.

Things went downhill, to begin with, at the infiltration of the initial IV site, which meant pain, swelling, redness, and a redo after about a half hour. Then it was failed attempt after failed attempt to place the port in a vein in a way that would allow the fluid to flow. He bit into his stuffed reindeer and did not cry, though he was terrified of doing it all again. I smiled and told him how brave he was and that now he would never be afraid of a mere needle again. I did not show that I was dying inside and losing faith by the minute that life would ever be the same again because things were proceeding in a way that only tv shows and that ER article in the New York Times ever talked about. The sixth attempt, over three hours later, finally took. The nurses were kindness itself, but I still really wanted to blame, yell, punch, shake someone into action. I refrained, and stayed focused on looking and acting calm for my kiddo.

I know families who go through this on a monthly or weekly basis for a child. My heart goes out to you. There is nothing so hard. 

He is well, and the whole family is grateful. Easter is soon to come with the celebration of life reborn, of the spring come again. I thank the Universe, the Great Mother and the Lord above, that my children live, one more day.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Influenza Do's and Don'ts

Dang; do I need two apostrophes for "don't's"? That looks stupid, never mind. Your list then, ladies and gentlemen:
If a loved one has the flu, thou shalt NOT:

1) Look up the latest news story detailing all of the deaths from complications caused by the flu; whether it be A, B, H or a new one just in. It is a source of unnecessary angst. 

2) Or do your very best to avoid: quickly pull up a window shade, too quickly, breaking it and assuring no more shade for the present, while you took the opportunity to air out a child's room while changing yet another set of soaked sheets. Said grumpy teen was in the shower and had not wanted room aired in the first place. Luckily, dad was working from home and we were able to repair it with packing tape real quick before he even made it back out of the shower.

3) Accidentally laugh whilst announcing that you are very sorry that his elbow turned out to be fractured, not just hyper-extended. This, because, even though you are truly, very sorry for him, the memory that it happened while he was arm-wrestling at the cafeteria table with another 8th grader and it is his own dang fault cracks you up every time. And it really shouldn't, not if he has the flu and you are a good mom. 

However, thou shalt:

1) Provide as many cups of tea as you can force a child to down in a day.

2) Give him whatever remedies will help for pain and fever; honey, oscillococcinum, warm rice bags, back-rubbing, tv, comic books...(I draw the line at video games, they just make your head hurt.)

3) Make a quiet space for her to rest. 

4) Ensure that the parent in charge takes a 30-minute break to stretch or take a walk or watch half an episode of a period show with brave warriors and braver princesses in fabulous costumes, or out of them...while on your trampoline, and another 30-minute break to sit quietly and knit or write.
 ;
PS A-ha! Apparently, if we want to be consistent, the correct spelling is: Dos and Don'ts. That looks stupid too. I will keep my grammatically dubious, but more aesthetically pleasing title.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Mid-March...and Counting

Grumpy me HATES Daylight Savings Time. To which we just switched, here in the U.S., this past weekend. But I caught myself with a smile as the sunshine poured into my windows at around 6pm last night, and I felt a new breath of energy and optimism for the returning spring. I don't like summer either, much, in case you were wondering. Except when I do, like when things are growing and thriving and green. I'd rather have an extra month of snow right now though.

Show Choir season will end tonight with a banquet. (and an "ooomph" of relief) It has been fun this year, and so crazy that I have not one single photo to post. The above link goes to a video of one of their numbers. If you are unfamiliar with the whole show choir phenomenon; these kids can DANCE and SING. My Valentine had a solo for the first time; and she nailed it! It was not the mournful (soulful?), sweet, sad ballad, but the rockin', deep,  wake-up-the-house song; her style. Parents and teachers are almost as involved as the kids, and I spent one memorable weekend trekking from one end of the venue to another, doing my duty, or "parental volunteer commitment," for 25 hours, give or take. Come to think of it, it was not memorable, it is all a blur.

Boy Scouts has managed to take up another good chunk of my time; to which, as with Show Choir, I have gracefully submitted. It was either that or spend my time grumbling about how much of my life it takes up. This beautiful, loyal Troop 7, all showed up to welcome Gael as a new member, for his bridging ceremony. I was touched. Here, his brother putting on his new neckerchief:

 There I am; third, doting mom from the left, he is third Webelo from same:
 A big chunk of Troop 7, and their parents:
From the memorial service for Dave Hill, Scoutmaster. The saddest day in a sad month. Someone great has passed our way, and passed on. There are not many like him, and he meant a great deal to Charles; mentor, buddy, motivator.

I am dawdling over my screen when I really should be folding laundry or exercising. Don't forget your good intentions when it comes to moving more. Go, get up! I'll see you outside.