Tag Archives: family

Food for the Journey

We human beings need food to survive. Eating engages fully our most intimate senses: touch, taste and smell. Throughout our lives we use food to celebrate and to share as well as to hold body and soul together. In the course of life different foods become symbols. As we near death we do not need to eat for sustenance, so a last supper is not a physical need. The question of what one would have is really “What do you want to remember as you leave everything you have ever known behind?” I can’t answer that for myself, but here is a story that relates:

My grandfather died from Kidney cancer in 2002. He was on hospice in a skilled nursing facility. He wanted to eat bacon with his pancakes. But he had come into the facility from a heart attack and someone had checked the box on his diet sheet that said he was to have a low salt, low fat diet (he might have weighed 100 lbs at that point and he was 5’7” in his prime). Logic be darned they wouldn’t just give the guy a strip of bacon.

It took me three days to get that order changed. By then Gramps wasn’t eating anything, but when they brought in his breakfast he saved the piece of bacon to eat later. He died a couple of days later and the strip of bacon was tucked in a drawer, along with the shaker of salt I had smuggled in for him. I wonder if the smell comforted him, and if that strip of bacon nourished his soul.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry….”

My Baby’s Birthday

Sweet Baby James
Sweet Baby James

The tree peony is blooming, right on schedule. It was blooming the day he was born.

 

Birthday Cake and Boy
Birthday Cake and Boy

Almost every year I have baked him a cake. I made a dinosaur cake when he was five, a wild west cake when he was six, a space cake when he was seven… One year he said he wanted a cake from Safeway and it almost broke my heart. He got over that phase pretty quickly (my cakes really do taste better). He discovered and fell in love with tiramisu when he was twelve or so. Since it is kind of a pain to make, I only ever made it for his birthday and it became a tradition. It seems strange to not be gathering the ingredients for it. It feels a little melancholy when these little traditions get edged out of our lives.

2014 Birthday Cake
2014 Birthday Cake
Birthday celebration 2014
Birthday celebration 2014

Last year I visited him in China for his birthday. He didn’t have an oven so it was a store bought cake again. Shared with his friends in a hot pot restaurant.

Hard to believe that my little five pound peanut is six feet tall! I miss him.

A Quilt on the Table…Waiting for Shoes to Drop

I looked up the source of “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Wiki-something-or-other says that it comes from early industrial age tenements where the walls and floors were thin. You could hear your neighbors getting ready for bed and when you hear one shoe hit the floor you know another will soon.

It is used two ways:

  1. to defer action until another matter is finished or resolved
  2. to await a seemingly inevitable event, especially one that is not desirable.

Two shoes have dropped, on different sides of the bed. We have two crises pending in the family. Both are inevitable. The exact details of the crises are not clear, but sooner or later both situations will result in an unpleasant, stress-filled crisis (if we are lucky it will be one crisis each, but I am not optimistic). It is hard to live like that. Not wanting the crises, but knowing they are brewing and that the people who could make the situations better will not. I have no say in the matter but will, inevitably, be called on to pick up the pieces and try to put them back together.

The phone call or calls may come in the next few minutes or the next few months. Every time the phone rings I flinch, then stiffen my spine and answer.

What is wrong in this picture?

Quilt block in the 54-40 or fight pattern, shades of purple, blue and aqua.

 

Enough pouting, how do I stay sane waiting? I find sewing therapeutic. I get to touch fabric, enjoy color and create something, it takes focus, but on something I enjoy…and I have some control over the outcome.

So I decided to make a quilt, in this case I decided to finish a quilt I started over a decade ago (bonus points toward sanity). Quilts do take on a life of their own sometimes. So it isn’t always as controlled as one might think, and this one was no exception.

I made the star blocks over a decade ago after having read a book about color. I don’t remember the theory or philosophy that lead the the choices, but I still love the colors. Every so often I have brought the blocks out, but have never figured out how to put them together. I finally decided to float the stars in a midnight blue sky instead of trying to make a pattern.

Since I started the quilt so long ago and didn’t have a clear enough plan when I started, I did not have enough of the right fabrics to finish the project. The fabrics I used are no longer available and even the basic colors are not in vogue (royal blue seems to be in, not midnight, since when is midnight blue unfashionable?) so finding fabrics cohesive with the color scheme was a bit of a challenge. The fabrics I got to finish things up were not quite what I had in mind when I set out, either to make the quilt in the first place or when I plotted how to finish it this time, but I think the quilt will actually be better than I imagined.

It is coming together now. Having one thing come together, even if it is just a quilt, helps me cope with the stress of waiting for the inevitable crises. Problem is that there are only so many quilts one empty nest can hold.

I wonder if my hobby of putting different bit of fabric together to form a project is related in some way to why I always seem to get the calls?

This post was inspired by the post “Just a Stick in my Spokes” on the Miss Understood blog.

Claiming Joy

Life gets complicated, and often I see in the past the seeds of the bad stuff. I forget to see also the seeds of joy. Frankly, I had forgotten that my childhood was pretty happy. Today I spent several hours scanning my father’s slides to digital images, doing so I found myself confronting happiness.Mother with two children in swimming pool.

I come from a broken home and we have had our share of trials and tribulations, but before it broke, and even as it was breaking there was love and fun. Good things happened. People who wound up having difficulties and causing pain to one another were not always so.

Being analytic and having trained as an engineer, I am programmed to try to solve problems, to understand what is wrong and try to tweak things to make them better. That colors how I look at the past. I keep looking for what went wrong.

Seeing pictures of myself with my family having fun, the house I grew up with, and even my dad’s old blue pickup truck loaded down with lumber, sort of rubbed my nose in the happiness.
Going through the old pictures allows me to wallow for a bit in the joy, it belongs to me just as much as the other.

An old ford pickup truck loaded down with lumber.
The old, blue pickup.

A Moment In Time-Goodbye Sweet Ginger

It’s not my fault you have to go. You are not my dog; I don’t have a dog; I don’t even want a dog…but I will miss you. It has been fun having you with me: taking walks and chasing squirrels and wagging our tails together (it’s good for our waistlines).
It is hard to say goodbye.

Knowing that you, in your youthful exuberance, are a danger to her doesn’t help. Aging is hard, and watching it happen is just as hard.

I wish you weren’t going back to that. To someone who keeps a cane on the door to threaten you, because you get so excited and happy when she comes in that it scares her, who threatens you with a fly swatter when you want to play, and who yells at you for barking at things she can no longer hear. It makes me sad to see her that way.

And the sorrow about her makes it that much harder to say goodbye to you.

You are not my dog; I don’t have a dog; I don’t even want a dog. No, I don’t want to take you away from anyone…but I will miss you.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Moment in Time.”

Walking Dogs in the Desert

Another metaphor: which way do we go? Ginger wants to head north, Sammie wants to head south.  Both directions have good things to smell, jack rabbits to chase. How do we choose?

For me either direction is fine…so long as we all go in the same direction. As long as we are leashed together we need to add that component to any decision, or we will wind up wrapped inelegantly around the creosote bush. The way we generally choose is whichever dog pulls the hardest picks the path.

This often happens in my life. I am more about process than direction. I can see the advantages and disadvantages to both sides and I get pulled along in whatever direction someone else wants to go, usually working as hard as I can to keep us from getting tangled up in leashes and creosote bushes.

This past year I traveled to Desert Hot Springs, California 6 times. My grandmother lives there. I flew round trip in January to take my grandmother to have a kidney stone removal procedure…the second procedure that didn’t work. I flew down in March to be there for her birthday, then drive home with my father who had spent a month or so down in the Palm Springs area. I drove round trip in July to bring grandma (plus dog, Ginger) up to Seattle to visit family during the hottest part of the year. Another driving round trip to take her back in late August. Two more flying trips this fall, the first to check on her after she came out of rehab for a broken arm and the second because my uncle was dying.

I feel a bit like I am wrapped around the creosote bush.  The question is not just which way to go, but how to untangle myself first. Do I cut the leashes and not worry about the others (or, perhaps more accurately, worry but try not to care overmuch) or patiently (or not so patiently) untangle things? Once free, I need to figure out which way to go.