28 February 2023

Valentine Memories

Not long after Lizard's diagnosis, one of my closest friends found out her dad had it, too, and she, a non-blogger, began reading Snowcatcher daily to learn what I was doing to cope with "our new normal". She once asked me to write about our journey down this unchosen path more often because she wanted and needed more information.

One of my goals now that it's safer to do so is to get Lizard out of the house for a mini adventure once in a while. Last September, we spent three days in Cody, Wyoming, the first true vacation we'd had in at least five years but possibly longer. The long drive was difficult for him. Once we got there, he didn't want to endure long drives into Yellowstone, so we didn't get to see much of what I wanted to see, but both of us were surprised by how well he did in spite of discomfort. And we got to watch a grizzly and her potential mate (from a very safe distance) for nearly an hour! That was such a great and unexpected treat!

Lizard was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2018, had to retire the following year due to the rapid advance of the disease, got a new knee in December of 2019, then got a new back just eight months later, during the height of the pandemic.

Both surgeries were necessary but took a dramatic toll on the Parkinson's. Even winter now takes a heavy toll on the Parkinson's. People don't die of Parkinson's. They die from falls caused by Parkinson's. The friend who asked me to write more often about Parkinson's lost her father a couple of months ago due to a fall caused by Parkinson's. Another friend also recently lost her father due to a Parkinson's fall. Lizard's balance has become so unpredictable, I've become quite the mother hen trying to prevent him from falling.

The disease is still progressing more rapidly than even his doctors expected. Medication increases occur now just about every single visit to the neurologist. Medication increases work phenomenally for about two weeks. Then we're back at the start of this vicious loop. One day, I'm going to document how difficult it was (and shouldn't have been) to obtain disability benefits for Lizard, but not today. Today, I want to celebrate.

We had not "celebrated" Valentine's Day since 2017, and even 2017 was a marked disturbance in the force. When looking back to see when the Lizard was last able to honor his tradition of hyacinths and chocolate for me on February 14, I discovered he had begun having trouble with our road trips as far back as 2016. Three cycling vacations that year had been reduced to sightseeing because the long drives had taken so much out of him. Back then, we had no idea why he never felt like riding something we'd long planned. It was difficult to thumb through photos from our planned trips when the bikes never came off the carrier on the car.

I wanted this year to be different. Not only is it safe to be out in the world again, to a degree, but I felt Lizard needed reasons to celebrate. New adventures to which we could look forward. Making new memories that will lift his spirits. Knowing a road trip would be difficult, I planned our return to the Grand Mesa for cross-country skiing, our once annual Valentine tradition, because the trip is less than three hours.

It was fun to go back and look at the photos from our previous trips! Lizard got very enthusiastic about the possibility of cross-country skiing again, and I knew we both would enjoy the aerobic activity.

We had to stop twice along the way to our charming hotel, which I wasn't sure would still be doing the Valentine option we've enjoyed in the past, so during one of our stops I helped Lizard to pick out some chocolates he planned to use as decorations in our hotel room.

We were able to walk to Rifle Falls during the second stop, and not only did that help Lizard endure the final leg of the drive, but it got him outdoors, where he enjoyed the beautiful weather and the sound of water spilling over a cliff.

I learned last year when my dad died it's better to pay for a larger room so Lizard has room to pace the floor during his down times (the one- to two-hour block that occurs four times each day when his meds wear off until he can take another dose). He makes use of extra floor space wherever we are every single time his meds wear off. This trip's extra cost was well worth the price. Not only did he have a safe place to burn off his restlessness, I think the larger rooms also help prevent claustrophobia, which also has become a real thing for him. I actually think that contributes more to his level of discomfort in the car than the restlessness.

Our room was so nice! We had a sleeper sofa we didn't have to use, so all that space where the extra bed would have been made for hours of walking in circles, which is a way of life at home, too. Lizard asked me to step out of the room so he could decorate. I'm so in love with this guy!

The trip from the hotel to the snow-covered meadows where we love to ski cross-country huge laps wasn't too pleasant. The roads were plowed continually throughout the day, but the huge accumulation has created a narrow, winding path without many safe pull-outs where Lizard could walk around for a few minutes. I drive fairly slow in such conditions anyway, but I also have to drive much slower than normal now because Lizard's heighened anxiety causes him to be fearful on curves with steep drop-offs. Once we arrived at a designated cross-country ski trail, the whipping wind and falling graupel made Lizard wary of putting on skis. However, he enjoyed a couple of laps on foot from the car to the first curve in the ski trail tracks and back. In reality, I knew we might not be able to ski much more than that, so I was happy with what he was able to accomplish. He wants to try again next month, if we can, and that gives me SO much hope.

I always try to plan time we have to spend in the car around his down times so Lizard isn't as miserable. Sometimes, the meds don't make much of a difference. But every once in a while, I get it right, and the return trip was enjoyable for both of us. He enjoyed the scenery. Overall, we didn't get to do everything we planned, and our time away was too short. I also forgot to take photos of us on the Grand Mesa. But the memories add to our volumes from the past, and the smiles and hugs we shared will carry us until our next adventure!

27 February 2023

Snowflake Monday

At 8:18 pm Saturday, February 18, I finished my backup project of downloading one (Snowcatcher photo gallery) image from every snowflake pattern I've shared on my blahg. (Yes, I know, that's not how the word officially is spelled. But "blah blah blah"g is a term of endearment for me.) Two more of my external hard drives from the past have given up the ghost, and I no longer have access to many images I've taken over the past two decades if they aren't in my SmugMug gallery or on an unlabeled CD hiding somewhere in my basement.

Images are missing. I will have to remake some snowflakes and rephotograph them. This is not the first time I've undertaken a project of this nature. I remade many early snowflakes for my Snowbike quilt. (Oh, my gosh!!! I'd forgotten I created that stunning quilt for an exhibit that never happened!!!) I even tried to rephotograph the snowflakes in white if I didn't already have a white version.

I remade even more snowflakes for my snowflake lamp, which still proudly hangs in my dining room and still is a conversation starter when we have visitors. (A bit devastated to learn Matt, the blogger who inspired my snowflake lamp, is no longer blogging. Thank heavens for the Wayback Machine!!!) I tried to rephotograph these snowflakes in white, too, but those photos were on one of the external hard drives that died.

Some of the snowflakes on my lamp need to be re-stiffened or remade. They've lasted a good long while... I made that lamp in 2016!!! But some of the flakes have yellowed, and some are showing their age.

My current project is a bit more ambitious. Not only am I trying to make sure my Snowcatcher Snowflake Directory has photos of white snowflakes (except for a few that were made specifically to be in color) for every pattern; I'm also trying to make sure I have a backup photo of every snowflake I've designed. Not just for the digital temperature quilt I've been working on this year. I just need to make sure I have named photos of every single snowflake. Call me obsessed.

I was elated when I downloaded the final flake, and not only because this project had taken four months. I have limited personal computer time in the evenings because working from home (on a secure and highly protected work computer) most of the time does NOT, believe it or not, make housekeeping, cooking and gardening (in summer) easier or faster. There's also that full-time caregiver thing always going on in the background. (Not a complaint.)

I experience many internet outages, and that interfered with my project many evenings. (It interferes with working from home, too, and I could rant on and on about that...) Right in the middle of my final batch of snowflake photo downloads, I got a stupid notice that my photo website is not secure. Oh, and it was secure five minutes ago??? But not now??? Just how does that happen???

I'm a cold weather lover, and I adore all things ice. But, boy, was I on fire! I was virtually chatting (and getting unexpectedly disconnected due to aforesaid internet burps) with tech support for my internet, my website, my browser, my computer, my VPN, everything I could think of, and getting nowhere really fast. I'd spent the previous weekend doing hard resets on my new (but nearly year-old) laptop because the most recent Bios update had rendered my external keyboard and wireless mouse useless. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate Microsoft??? HP is climbing that ladder!!!

Turned out my browser had done an auto update in the background. I had to clear my browser history... on a new computer I've been using only about two months now. Oh, was I an unhappy camper!!!

Isn't modern technology fun? And yet, what would I do without it?

My new backup snowflake photo folder on the new laptop says I have 731 snowflake images (which includes variations and Easter eggs). My snowflake pattern folder contains 721 patterns (so far). There probably need to be at least 800 photos in the new backup folder. My work is not yet done. Even though it felt for a few joyous minutes like it should be done.

I've been saying for years I'd like to make every single flake I've designed into a rock covering for my garden. Now, so many of the existing snowflake rocks have deteriorated, I really need to just start over at the beginning and redo nearly all my snowflake rocks. My goal in 2021 was to make a new snowflake rock each week as I sat on the porch with Lizard at lunchtime. I think I made three that year. I don't think I made a single one in 2022.

It seems the myriad of snowflake projects at the Snowcatcher household will never see the finish line, much less cross it. Yes, I finished creating a new backup photo file, which eventually will be online in my Snowcatcher photo gallery so I will always have a copy (I now have a copy of everything on the new laptop and sometimes on my phone in The Cloud, an automatic option at home on the new personal laptop whether I like it or not). But even my photo backup project may never die, as long as I keep making new snowflakes. I already have a new one to add to the collection today!

Here's my inspiration, taken on my front porch during my lunch hour on February 15. I'm planning to make another go at this one in the future because it's so darned inspiring. But, how many times have I said that now??? :)

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Finished Size: 6 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Winter Storm Nova Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in ring, [ch 2, 3 dc in ring] 5 times; ch 2, 1 dc in ring; sl st tightly in 2nd ch of starting ch 2. Do not pull magic circle too tight.
NOTE: Oh, heck, I couldn't resist. Had to make an itty bitty cutie.

Round 2: Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), 1 sc in next dc, [3 sc in next ch 2 sp, 1 sc in each of next 3 dc] 5 times; 3 sc in next ch 2 sp, 1 sc in next dc; sl st in starting ch.
NOTE: Well, that's kind of cute, too. I used a ch 1, sl st in top of sc just worked on the middle of each 3/sc point to make the tips stand out more, which you may do for the full-size flake, too. I just pulled out the points when pinning my bigger flakes.

Round 3: Ch 17 (counts as 1 dc and [ch 15, 1 dc in 5th ch from hook, ch 5, 1 dc in same ch, ch 7, 1 dc in same ch, ch 5, 1 dc in same ch, ch 4, sl st in same ch (5-pointed snowflake tip made), ch 10, sk next 5 sc, 1 dc in next sc] 6 times, omitting last dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 17.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.
NOTE: Binding off here makes a cute snowflake and saves a TON of thread. I made the following adjustments to the 3rd Round on this one that I rather like and probably will use instead of the above Round 3 next time I make the full-size flake.
Round 3 with Adjustments: Ch 17 (counts as 1 dc and [ch 15, 1 dc in 5th ch from hook, ch 5, 1 tr in same ch, ch 7, 1 tr in same ch, ch 5, 1 dc in same ch, ch 4, sl st in same ch (5-pointed snowflake tip made), working back down spoke, 1 sc in next ch (which is VERY tight, thanks to all the stitches in the previous ch) ch 9, sk next 6 sc, 1 dc in next sc OR 1 dc over sc Round into middle dc of 1st Round] 6 times, omitting last dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 17.

Round 4: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), [10 dc in next ch 10 sp, in next ch 4 sp work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc, ch 1, sl st in top of dc just worked, 1 hdc, 1 sc), in next ch 5 sp work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 2 dc, ch 1, sl st in top of dc just worked, 1 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc), in next ch 7 sp work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 3 dc, ch 1, sl st in top of dc just worked, 2 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc), in next ch 5 sp work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 2 dc, ch 1, sl st in top of dc just worked, 1 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc), in next ch 4 sp work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc, ch 1, sl st in top of dc just worked, 1 hdc, 1 sc), working back down spoke, 10 dc in next ch 10 sp, 1 dc in next dc OR 1 fpdc around post of next dc (I like the look of the front post dc so much better!)] 6 times, omitting last dc or last fpdc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

24 February 2023

23 February 2023

Flying in Circles

I couldn't sleep Sunday night (possibly because Lizard couldn't sleep and was pacing the kitchen and dining room with his cane because he couldn't sleep either), and I was SO tempted to get up and make something for me. Not a quilt. Something I could wear for my short time in the office on Tuesday. I have four dresses and a pair of scrappy shorts cut out and ready to sew. But I keep telling myself I need to finish a quilt first.

So I did the next best thing. I'd bought more big plastic storage tubs at the home improvement store when I had to buy a toilet repair kit. The toilet got done... THANK HEAVENS!!! (That took me HOURS. I'd NEVER done any kind of plumbing before in my life.) I used the early morning hours to begin organizing the projects stashed beneath the longarm. Because there is room there that needs to be empty space once again.

Meanwhile, draped over the bar of the longarm are the five segments of Hawaiian Punch and the 3/4 done circular flying geese ring. Yes, I deserve a new dress for my birthday last week and for fixing the toilet so we didn't have to pee into a jar... But Hawaiian Punch is SO close to finish. Lots of handwork, I'm sure. But it is SO close. Wouldn't it be a better birthday present to get it ready so I can do the handwork (if that's what I decide to do vs. domestic sewing machine) this weekend???

I decided the handwork (if I decide to do it that way) would be more rewarding, so I remorsefully packed away all Lizard's quilt projects. I hope he will one day want to work on them again, but they are not something he wants to work on right now, and stuffed in cardboard boxes beneath the longarm is not the best place for them. Now they are in a clear bin in the basement. I'll be able to find them easily when (not if!!!) he is ready for them.

Lizard's coloring books and colored pencils are neatly stacked in another clear plastic bin, now in the basement, as opposed to just stacked on the floor beneath the longarm, gathering dust. I will have to clear a new space for Lizard to be able to use them; coloring is one of his favorite ways to combat Parkinson's tremors. His accessible laptop comandeered the space he'd been using for coloring so he can participate in weekly and monthly Parkinson's therapeutic Zoom calls (and the only social activity he gets these days). I will try to set up a desk for him to use for coloring before this weekend. If I set a goal, it's more likely to get done.

My cardmaking supplies are in another clear bin, also now in the basement. I'd brought my supplies home from work in March of 2020, back when we thought it would be only two weeks... I thought I'd have more time during those two weeks to make a few cards for my Etsy shop than I'd had during my non-existent lunch hours at work. I think I've made four handmade cards now in darn near three years... I will get to them one day, and it will be fun. And I will be able to find everything easily because they are in a clear bin, as opposed to cardboard boxes, file folders and handled, brown paper grocery bags (PIGS... the infamous projects in grocery sacks).

In with the cardmaking supplies were all my decorative hole punches and brightly colored typing paper. I'd pulled everything I own together back in April of 2020 to make kits (which got mailed because we were all being good and staying apart) for all my grands back when they began getting bored with the extended "two weeks". That was an incredibly fun project for me to put together and for them to receive (and for their moms to get a breather), but all are back in school now and active in sports and snowy ranch games (such as being pulled on sleds across acreage by a tractor) with no time for tiny, colorful paper hearts, animals and stars. The cardmaking supplies bin had room, so all the paper punches got stashed. Fun memories, though. Really fun memories.

Holy moly! Wouldn't those moose make a great Hawaiian appliqué project?!? More glorious memories came flooding into my heart!!!

The Dancing Lizards quilt I made for my Lizard so many years ago!!! Last October, I converted that beloved quilt into a jacket for me because the years had taken very sad toll on the quilt. I'm still proudly wearing that jacket when I go to the office one day a week or to the grocery store, and my new coat is always such a conversation starter.

But, time to put the past back into the past for now and move forward into the future of what will hopefully soon be another finished WIP.

Linking up with Alycia Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Related Posts with Thumbnails