Saturday, September 24, 2016

Throwback Thursday...wayyy back!

I know, I know. Today is Saturday. But on Thursday, I posted this photo to Facebook...

Throwback Thursday is a thing, and I had recently rifled through some old photos, taking photos of photos for just this purpose. This was the first one I posted, and I got quite a kick out of tagging my cousins and watching them "react" to this photo from 1973.

"Is that Tony in the cool shades?" (It is!)

"and Bill not cooperating with where Aunt Marianna told him to stand" (yep)

"Love the smile sis" (ohhh, a little sibling "love" perhaps?)

Even people who weren't there commented, like my daughter, when I pointed out my eye patch. She had one too, when she was little, but according to her, "I was way cooler" (she was) 

But my Aunt Mickey's comment, "what a wonderful motley crew that was...those were the days !!!" I think her comment was my favorite!

Those WERE the days. I was one of eight cousins on my mom's side of the family. (There are only 7 in the picture, you say? Check out my mom's is sister is in there!) Between them, my mom and her two sisters delighted their parents with 8 grandchildren, and we eight cousins were together every holiday and many a Sunday afternoon when we were small. Through the years, one of the sisters moved far away, and it was difficult to not see those cousins regularly, but Teresa and I wrote letters...I had the address memorized...and there were still family holidays with all of us some years. 

In this picture, it is Easter. We always lined up for Grandpa Joe to take our picture outside on Easter, even if it was cold...even if it was really cold! There are no winter coats in this photo, so I assume it was only moderately cold as we lined up on Easter in 1973. In this picture, there are 3 distracted cousins, 2 children cheesin' for the camera, one toddler looking in the right direction, a defiant young man and a pregnant middle sister (due in August with grandchild #8)...just trying to get these 7 cousins to cooperate!

Not in this picture are two grandparents, one with a camera, probably laughing and maybe scowling a bit and pointing, "Just stand right there." I remember that there was more than one shot each time. You never knew what you were going to get in the age before digital photography, so you'd better take 2, and make sure to re-focus and take your time in between. Kids should know how to stand still, right? Grandma was maybe standing next to Grandpa Joe as he took that photo, smiling... Or maybe she was inside, stirring the spaghetti or reheating the coffee. It was a holiday, after all!

Not in this picture are the other two sisters, Aunt Chris and Aunt Mickey. They are probably in the very small kitchen with Grandma, working to get that holiday meal on the table. I don't remember what the dinner included that year for Easter, but I am sure that the oven and every burner on the stove were involved in its preparation. I am also sure that there was at least a little "loud talking" and much laughter in that kitchen, as the women bumped into each other while putting on the finishing touches and moving everything to that big dining room table. 

Not in this picture are 3 uncles, Uncle Chip (my dad), Uncle Lou and Uncle Bill. If they were not trying to "sample" the dinner items already on the table (and getting a slap and a scowl from Grandma), they were likely watching TV and maybe having a cigarette in the living room. Back in the day, that was ok...even inside the house. Smoking was cool, good for you was before we really understood and knew better. It was before we knew better about fat and sugar and cholesterol, and holiday meals were guilt-free!

You can't go back, but those were the days, indeed. 

These days, Grandpa, Grandma and Uncle Chip are gone. Just yesterday, Uncle Lou joined them. Aunt Chris is the sister who moved away when we were young. She, Uncle Lou, Teresa and Tony moved to St. Louis, and that's been their family's home base for decades. It's been years since I have seen Uncle Lou, but (thanks to social media) there have been photos, and his smiling eyes in the pictures from their 50th wedding anniversary last November are the same eyes that smiled at me every time I saw them. 

This is the Uncle who would enter a room full of cousins, dig deep into the pocket of his trousers with a sly grin and say, "Are you ready?" We would gather around the closest table, eyes wide with anticipation, and he would remove his hand from that pocket and toss a large handful of change on the table for just a few seconds before covering up the pile of coins and scooping it off the table. Then it was time for each of us to guess how much money was in his hand.

One of the older cousins usually guessed closest, and the prize was that handful of glorious, jingling money! It was a fun game, even when you didn't win, and it was the first thing I thought of when I heard that he had passed on Friday morning, but it is not my only memory. His smile. A bear hug. The way he listened, looking right into my eyes when I told him anything. The jokes, oh the jokes! When I let Sweetie know that Uncle Lou had passed, his response included, "He was always such a joyful guy," because he was.

I spent yesterday afternoon texting with my cousins, Teresa and Tony, and I also messaged my Aunt. I know that their next few days, weeks, months will be full of missing Lou and figuring out how to go on without him. Losing a loved one is a trial that we all face eventually, and there is one thing I have learned through the years...those loved ones make you who you are. The good, the bad, and even the things you strive to do differently than your parents did...your family shapes you, right down to your core. When you lose a part of that family, you also lose a part of yourself. 

The only thing to do is to miss him and remember all the good. Write it down so that you can pass it on, and tell your children about their grandparents, and great-grandparents, and all the happy times you can remember. Share the funny and the tragic, laugh and cry as you celebrate the life that helped to shape yours. Aunt Chris, Teresa, Tony, Ricky, Zach, Cameron, Saffron, and all the extended St. Louis family - I miss him, too...but not like you do. Hold on to one another, and remember that smile!

Friends, thanks for stopping by. Love your family the best that you know how to love, and do that today. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. And even though we all walk through the valley of the shadow of death eventually, the Lord is your Shepherd and mine. Look to him for comfort. (Psalm 23)

And you knitters out there? Knit in Good Health.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Lord, Help Us Merge!

I was raised Catholic, but I am no longer a good, Catholic girl. I think I am still kindof a good girl (or at least, I try to be), and I have a strong Christian faith, but the Catholic church is a place that I walked away from a long time ago. Don't get me wrong, I do not hate the Catholic church, and I am very thankful to my mother and grandparents for their efforts to make sure that I was raised in the way I should be. But somewhere around the time I should have made my confirmation (I am pretty sure I was 13 or 14), I realized that I needed to find my own way. I was not confirmed, and I stopped going to church, which made my parents and grandparents very nervous. Still, I looked for God in the everyday, and I found him.

Between then and now, I got married, had a couple kids, and life moved right along. Somewhere in my late-twenties, as I realized I was still looking for God, I started to attend a Christian church with some friends. Eventually, I accepted Christ and was baptized into Him, completing the conversion that I had abandoned over a decade earlier. I do not discount my parents' decision to have me baptized as an infant, and to then do their best to bring me up through my First Holy Communion and all the other sacraments...I just needed the decision to be mine, rather than theirs. I suppose I was a little Miss Independent, way before Kelly Clarkson was an American Idol!

These days, my faith is strong. I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and He is my Lord and Savior. And even though I am not a practicing Catholic, I fall back to some of the words and traditions I was raised on in weekly mass, often without thinking about it. When communion is passed at my church each week, I silently repeat in my head, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed." When I shake hands with friends and newcomers, often at the request of the man with the microphone up front, I hear, "Peace be with you!," in my brain as I smile and say, "Good morning!" (Side note: Once in a while, Neal will ask us to say something specific as we greet one occasionally I smile and say, "Purple is my favorite color!," or, "I love sweet potatoes!," or something like that.) 

Sometimes, I catch myself using a familiar cadence in a daily prayer, even though the words are different. For instance, when I have to drive on the highway (which is one of my least favorite things to do) I usually say out loud, as I accelerate through the on-ramp, "Lord, help us merge!" This is not quite the same as answering back, "Lord, hear our prayers," after the priest lifts a request followed by, "We pray to the Lord...," but that comforting cadence is there. "Lord, help us merge," I say for every car on the entrance ramp with me, as we approach the place where any driver on the highway may choose to block that outside lane and make the merging difficult for those of us just starting out. Lord, help us merge so we can get to work! 

I was telling a friend about my "Lord, help us merge!" prayer the other day, and she said that this sounds like a pretty good life motto. You know what? She's right. Lord, help us merge our pasts and our present selves each day, so that our futures can be full of new opportunities, rather than regrets. Lord, help us merge our families in such ways that newlyweds feel only love from parents and in-laws alike, so they can pass that love onto future generations. Lord, help us merge our family and work in such a way that each member of the family is taken care of physically, financially and emotionally. Lord, help us merge our ideals and ideologies in such a way that we can be more loving to the people around us, whether we agree with their opinions or not. Lord, help us merge our spiritual selves into this concrete world, employing worldly tools to build up and care for delicate souls and hearts. Lord, help us merge. You're right, Kim. Pretty good life motto!

Oh! I've got one more...Lord, help us merge our knitting and our free time, so that we are not neglecting loved ones in the room for loved ones not even born yet! lol! Exhibit A: Baby Sweater for a baby nowhere near ready to be born yet...but I just could not. stop. knitting! Had to finish, because GAH! The cute!

So, there. Now I've merged opinion and knitting into my blogging, too! It's an all-in-one kind of rainy day here in my neck of Blogland. I hope you that are finding some sunshine and merging well, in all areas of your life!

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Playing Favorites

Bolstered by my favorite morning cats and coffee,

and my favorite donut (from my favorite donut shop),

I think I found my new favorite baby sweater this week!

I've had the Baby Sophisticate pattern in my Ravelry queue for some time. Last Saturday, I cast on a cute little hat, and then followed with a sophisticated sweater to match! I love the way they turned out, and I plan to cast on another today! It is like springtime around here, with all the new babies and pregnant friends, so I think I may actually knit a few of these before I am done. (This would not be a new concept for!)

May I present Exhibit A?

Just a few of the baby booties I have recently knit, from my favorite Bootie Pattern...and Exhibit B, just a few of the baby hats I've knit this year. I do tend to knit multiples when I find a favorite pattern. When I have cute, little baby things to give away after the knitting is done, well...that's just a bonus!

Do you have a favorite pattern? Yarn? Donut? Cat? I'd love to hear about some of your favorites in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit (your favorite things) in Good Health!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

All About Yarn...and more!

I told you to ask, and you did not disappoint! And, since you asked...

Pajamapat wants to know about the Thank You Scarves

The worsted-weight yarn I used was from Heirlooms, or Scandanavia Knit and Weave, and the colorway was Hemmingway! I have some more in my stash, in a different with some pink. I did not see a link to this yarn anywhere on Ravelry, and since I bought it at the Great Lakes Fiber Show in 2015, I'm not sure it's even available online...but I have given you a link, and I hope you can find it! It was a little rough while knitting, but softened up nicely after a wash!

Tom - If you have not figured out where babies come from yet, I think you should consult the internet. All of the information on the internet is helpful and good. Good luck with that.

Debbie asked what my favorite "guilty pleasure" food is, and I answered on Facebook that it was Ramen Noodles. Now, that very much IS a guilty pleasure food for me, and I don't have them often (read the label...these are TERRIBLE for you!), but then I got to thinking...they're probably not my favorite guilty pleasure. That position should be reserved for chocolate-creme-filled donuts from Donut Land, in Brunswick, where I grew up. As a kid, we had Donut Land donuts more often than we should have, I am sure, and that is my favorite donut in the universe. Yes, hands down, there is no better donut. (Hmmm, I feel more strongly about that than I probably should. It's a good thing I don't live too!) These days, I don't live around the corner, and I have that donut only every few years...I am thankful that I got one in 2016. It may have been the highlight of my year!

Lauren asked, "What is your favorite yarn to work with?," and this was, by far, the most difficult question I got this round! Usually, my favorite yarn to work with is the one I have in my hands! I am truly not that picky, and I will knit with just about anything, so I really put on my thinking cap and went through my projects to jog my memory. Good News! I have an answer! Well, actually, I came up with a couple answers, because you just cannot use the same yarn for every project. So, here you go, Lauren:

For any DK-weight project that I really care about, I will seek out some Destination Yarn in the Souvenir base! This is the softest, squishiest, superwash I have ever worked with, and I just love everything I've made with it! There have been a couple of shrugs for the girls, 

a hat or two, 

and some other things. You can get this yarn online at Jeanne's Etsy Shop, or you can see her in person at some local yarn stores and festivals from time to time. She's got great colors in so many varieties...there are not enough hours in the day, week, month, or year to knit all of her fabulousness! Honestly, check her out!

For socks, hats and other fingering-weight projects, I will always tend toward Knit Picks yarns! My current favorite there is Felici, a self-striping yarn that comes out with new colors each year. If you're going to make something that takes more than one skein, make sure to get enough up front, because even though they may get more of the same "colorway" next year, something is likely to be a little different...the stripes may be wider or narrower, or the color sequence may be slightly different. But, in any case, this stuff knits like a dream, wears like iron, and is as soft as butter! I fondled many of my friends' socks-in-progress before I finally jumped in to this pool, but I currently have socks in about 6 of the colorways, and there are at least that many in my stash, just waiting to become something fun! FYI, Felici makes really fun baby booties,

and mittens!

Whew! That wasn't a lot of questions, but they were difficult ones. Thanks for asking! You guys should get credit for writing the blog today, so thank you to Debbie, Tom, Lauren and pajamapat!

I'm still working on my Hitofude, (in Shimmer, a hand-dyed, alpaca/silk blend lace-weight yarn that is lovely to work with...sorry, this colorway is discontinued...),

and some other things...and this holiday weekend should give me a little extra knitting time...yay! I hope you also have some fun plans, especially if you have an extra day off on Monday.

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!