Thursday, February 28, 2008

"The Kind of Peace"

"But of course, His peace doesn't mean a sit-down, folded-hands peace, or a running-away-from-trouble peace. He meant the kind of peace that comes of standing up to trouble--even taking it on the chin . . . ."

Lenora Mattingly Weber, Beany Malone

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lemon Roll

Any vintage cookbook will have a recipe for jelly roll, a dessert that sadly seems to have gone by the wayside. I don't know why, since it is quick and simple to make, is festive to prepare and serve, can easily be made dairy-free, and makes the cook seem talented.

This morning I made a lemon roll, substituting a very tart cornstarched-based lemon filling for the jelly. See how pretty it looks with powdered sugar and a poisonous daffodil!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Crocheted Couch Cushions

When Felix was a tiny baby I started crocheting a bedspread with a tiny hook and very fine thread. Fourteen years later (last week) I decided that I had truly lost interest in finishing it, and that I had just enough finished squares to cover three big squishy pillows for the couch.

I laid the crocheting over unbleached muslin and basted it together, then cut out a natural-colored linen back for each pillow. Installed a thrifted zipper (always check for functionality first!) so the whole thing can be washed.

For scale, each crocheted hexagon measures about four inches across. Oh, and I have to add that one of my Homemaker's Encyclopedia's shows a housewife drying a bedspread on the clothesline, and the spread is crocheted from this very pattern!

Monday, February 25, 2008

What Helped Me

I have been thinking today about what, besides the obvious (wonderful hospice workers, supportive family, and God's grace), helped the most through these three weeks.

• Tamiflu.
• A large bedroom, big enough for a little seating area, with an en-suite bathroom that was accessible with a walker. If I ever build a house, a room like this will be a top priority. Felix gave up his room without a fuss.
• Barb in Nebraska's comment at the very beginning that said, "You can do this, Anna." I hung on to those words.
• Learning how to use a draw sheet to turn and lift a person in bed.
• A large supply of twin-size cotton sheets, ordered providentially right before Christmas.
• A large, sturdy, lightweight tray.
• A brother and sister-in-law who were not shy about simply showing up, gently pushing us out of the sickroom, then taking over the kitchen to prepare and serve a fabulous dinner. Which they then cleaned up after.
• People who announced they were bringing over food that could sit in the fridge until needed.
• A teenager who was willing to drive to the drugstore any time.
• Elyse's words at the very beginning: that this would be a short time. I took that to mean that however long it lasted, it would be short in the grand scheme of my life. I think it also meant that it would never be long enough.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hospice is Over

Our hospice time is over: after an extremely difficult last week, my grandmother died this afternoon.

Her room is so empty, my heart breaks.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Gray Linen Wrap Dress

In an easier week I made another wrap dress, this one out of gray linen. I adore this color, the way it looks wonderful with pink, or red, or pale blue, or black, or chocolate brown. Or Stargazer lilies.

Or gray pearls.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bella on a Gray Day

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Clara's Weaving

Clara's weaving continues. She's working with several kinds of thread--some plain, some crinkly, and a couple of rag strips for fun.

These last days are very difficult. For Nanny, for us. Surely we are close to the end, pulling that last thread across.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Pleasant Educational Interlude

My Big Guys (Giles and the Composer) were in Savannah, Georgia last weekend checking out the Savannah College of Art and Design as a possible next stop for Giles, who is looking for a photography school.

If his checklist consisted only of Spanish moss, frosty raspberry drinks, and seagulls, this school would be it for sure!

But you know life is more complicated than that, so SCAD takes pole position on the college list, and we'll see how things sort themselves out after another couple of trips in March.

And I'll just add this thought: that Giles is a very good boy, and I'm going to miss him when he goes!

(photos by the Composer)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Forsythia Twigs in Bloom

After an unresponsive morning, and hours of stertorous breathing, Nanny woke up at midday in pain. We gave her some morphine. Who knew it would cause drug-induced psychosis? We called the hospice nurse to come to the house.

Nanny emphatically: "I want to go to the hospital or the nursing home. I can pay, I have money."
Nurse sympathetically: "Why do you, dear?"
Nanny outraged: "Why?!?!?! Because I scrimped and saved, that's why!"

Afterwards she was embarrassed and apologetic, but I laugh every time I think of it. She had a surprisingly alert afternoon, and is back in bed, in seemingly the same condition she was in last night. Not a good condition.

She is tough. Thank you all for praying.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Nanny's House Party

It seems pretty clear that Nanny's House Party is going to end soon. After almost three weeks of three square and beautiful meals a day, hours of sitting by the fire under a special blanket won at bingo, and a tuck-in every night with a sugar-free cookie and a heated rice bag, Nanny sat with her breakfast tray this morning and tearfully realized that she could not eat.

Shortly after that--and after an excruciatingly slow but driven-by-a-will-of-iron trip to the potty, my mother and I tucked her into her bed for perhaps the last tuck. She's been there since morning, in and out of sleep, with periods of long, long apnea, times of distress, and other periods of peaceful good humor.

We know she's ready.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Oh Dear

My two Big Guys are gone for the weekend, and I think I'm getting the flu!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

One of Two Banana Cakes

This one had lemon-cream cheese frosting. The other had dairy-free chocolate icing. Two cakes, and roses for every lady in the house!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What Surprises Me

I am surprised by how quickly my attitude changed from wondering "How am I going to get out of the house to do everything I need to do?" to wanting to stay home. Most things can wait.

I am surprised that God can give me--me!--unlimited patience.

I am surprised at how peaceful and sweet and funny my testy grandmother has become. "I never wanted to live to be 93." "But Nanny, you have so many wonderful memories." "Yes, but none of them happened after I turned 93."

I am surprised by the truth of what everyone has said: that I'll be glad I did this. I thought they meant that later I'd be glad. I didn't know I'd be glad right now.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bella Gives a Manicure

Monday, February 11, 2008

Detail of a Wool Skirt

A recently finished skirt in lavender wool, made from a thrifted modern pattern. Top-stitched pleats and center panels for a change from my usual plain A-line. Fabric is the best buy ever from the real-life Denver Fabrics store: pre-cut lengths of gorgeous wool in huge widths, for only $12 or so.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Respite Saturday Pleasures

My brother Matt and his wife were here all afternoon, and forced us to leave and have fun. Okay!

• A trip to the running shoe store. A running outfit for Bella, royal blue and white. We're running tomorrow--be there or be square!

• Hamburgers for lunch. Milkshakes.

• A walk past a pond full of croaking frogs.

• A glimpse of Daisy and my mother having a chocolate party on the bed. Stuffed bunnies. Teacups.

• Seeing Matt bringing in an load of logs to build a fire for Nanny.

• Finishing a skirt hem. The satisfaction of a completed project.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Tyrolean Cardigan

Knitting from the beautiful Vintage Knits by Sarah Dallas: the Tyrolean cardigan. A slim-fitting dark-green wool with rows of bobbles down the front and sleeves. Very much looking forward to adding the embroidered flowers in lavender, turquoise, and pale pink.

This is the sweater I started on our ski trip; the portability is so nice. Knitting is great for right now too as it can be done in the thick of things, keeping Nanny company.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Saving a Skirt

Last year I made a wool skirt out of charcoal flannel: useful if not thrilling. When I pulled it out of the closet this fall, I found a moth hole smack dab in the middle of the bottom front. Bummer, before inspiration descended . . .

a curved row of tonal freehand flowers sewn on by machine in "artistically messy" fashion. Works for me!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Each Shining Hour

My mother has always wanted to learn to weave, and a couple of years ago she got a loom for Christmas. But she has never set it up, not (apparently) being the type of person who is going to learn to set up a loom from an instructional video.

Enter Eve.

Who has turned out to be a true powerhouse neighbor, with her exquisite taste in vintage buttons, willingness to come over and cheer me up with homemade Croatian bread, and boundless store of weaving experience.

Mom brought her loom here, and yesterday Eve showed her and Clara how to get started. Which *seems* to have little to do with weaving, and lots to do with some tricky calculations on paper, and then making a lot of bundles of thread. But then the fun begins, and you start putting the threads on the loom.

I can tell that this is not a skill that I have room in my brain for right now, but Clara is on fire, and Eve is going to loan her a small loom. And Mom is able to sit up in her back brace and make it happen. Improving each shining hour.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Finding My Footing

We're slowly finding our footing with our new routine. Our hospice nurse, Janet, came yesterday, and our new personal aide, Ruth, came for the first time today.

I've got a handle on the early morning. I've got the breakfast tray down pat; I'm cooking the turkey bacon just right. The medicines are complicated, but I'm learning.

Divine good fortune, my mother is still here and will be for another week. She's great at bedtime.

Nanny decided today to let go of her apartment. Slowly things fall into place and resolve themselves. One day at a time is all we have to do.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Forsythia Twigs

I wouldn't mind a little spring around here: a row of mismatched milk glass vases holding forsythia cuttings. Maybe we'll see some blooms soon.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Sun in the Sewing Room

Friday, February 01, 2008


I woke up one morning this week to find that I am embarked on end-of-life care to my grandmother. It started as her visiting on Wednesday; by Thursday we realized she would never be able to keep her doctor's and hairdresser's appointments on Friday. By Thursday noon she was referred into hospice care here at my house. Like a snow falling and accumulating silently outside, changing the way everything seems.

Her nurse and personal care aide will come for the first time on Monday. In the meantime she rests in her new hospital bed (Daisy has moved in with Clara), and enjoys taking her meals from a tray in the armchair by the fire.

I am still partly wondering how this happened, what the end of the road will be like, how long before the snow melts. But I know that my Redeemer lives.

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