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Happy Birthday Charlotte

Tue, 03/16/2021 - 16:10

I woke up very early this morning and it was almost exactly the time that Charlotte was born.  I wished her a  silent Happy Birthday, and lay there thinking about that beautiful morning.

As this day approached, I have been working hard on my heart. It is so easy to let myself slide into heartbreak and loss, and while there’s no getting around that,  I really wanted today to have some measure of joy, to focus on all that went right that day and how perfect things were for a little while, and spend time thinking of how lucky we were.

 

I remind myself that some people never get to know that kind of happiness, the kind I felt when I watched Meg give birth to Charlotte, when Alex held his daughter for the first time, when Elliot welcomed her – when she settled warm and soft into my arms, so heavy and perfect and present. I don’t think I’ll ever forget exactly how it all was.

Not everyone gets that, I remind myself. Some people will never be that happy. Even as we have dragged ourselves through this horrible pandemic grief year, I have never wished that day away – I’ve never wished it didn’t happen. It has been hard to watch my daughter suffer, but I know that for all the pain she’s endured, she’s grateful for every moment we had with Charlotte too. No matter how much it hurts now?

Goodness, what a wonderful day that was.

Happy Birthday my little Charlotte.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Seventeen

Sat, 01/23/2021 - 21:22

The blog is seventeen today.  If this blog was a person it would be in their room blasting obnoxious music and angrily texting all its friends about how horrible I am for not letting it go out during a pandemic and see everyone. (I can sort of relate.)

Last year, I wrote about how much things had changed – how much I’ve changed.  I re-read that this morning while I was thinking about this post, and laughed at how wild it is to look back and think that last year I believed that grief and loss had changed me a bit. I had no idea what was headed our way, none at all.

There is no doubt, my dear blog, that this year I have had trouble coming here to write to you.  I have felt as I did right after my mum died, that I don’t have very good walls up – that at any moment a dam could burst inside of me and I will just type “CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THIS SHIT” over and over again while weeping and laughing hysterically and honestly, I can’t imagine you want to hear it. (Yes. I swore. I know, I know. I try not to here, so as not to offend any tender sensibilities but I honestly don’t know how to put a cherry on the crap sundae that has been this year of blogging without at least one. There may be another. I don’t know.)

I was so hopeful this time last year – so reconciled to the changes that had happened in my life and I even felt really good about change. I really did – and then Charlotte died, and I don’t have the words (or want to type them) about what it is like to lose a grandchild, or what it is like to watch your child suffer the loss of a child, and then to have the fear, loneliness and separation of a pandemic heaped on top of it. See what I mean? Aren’t we having fun now? I cannot imagine any of you would enjoy a(nother) post even remotely like that. Even if I leave all that out and just keep it light, well you might have noticed that the world is a little pear shaped right now, and besides all that…. I put on proper pants just twice this week – and the only person I really see in a day is Joe and Blog, I feel like the material just isn’t there. It is like we are all in suspended animation, waiting for life to start properly again, and honestly the most interesting thing that happened all week is that I realized that I didn’t order enough yarn for this baby blanket I’m knitting (the west coast branch is adding a member) and I know I’ve written that post before.

For the first time ever my blog, I don’t want to tell you how I’m feeling, not because I don’t want to share, but because I feel like either you feel as I do – that you’re lonely and your life is small (and if it isn’t could you please change that so that we all get our lives back sooner) or that my life will be sad, or simply won’t be entertaining.  I have always come here to tell you what’s going on, and my blog, this year there is just… nothing going on, except for what it’s like to try to buy pants online and I’ve given up.  I was terrible at buying pants even when you could try them on, and now it’s hopeless. I am on the brink of adopting leggings and I hate leggings. Worse than that, I feel like if I do want to ditch all of real life and tell you simply about how I feel about the Channel Island cast on (hint: we are in love) then given that the world is on fire, it will seem callous or insensitive in the face of it all.

Long story short, i know I keep promising that I’ll be better about coming here, and I mean it. The blog has been such a big part of my life for the last seventeen years, and it has always given me the most terrific comfort to write to you, and to read your comments – but this just feels unending and terrible and even when things happen that are really nice and make me happy – they make for boring blog posts because the bar is so low over here. Like yesterday? My bread really came out nicely.

See that? That’s all I’ve got for yesterday – except for the blanket thing, which like I said… it would be a more interesting blog post if I didn’t run out of yarn. That would be the shocker.

I am dreaming, blog, of what things may be like when I write to you on this day next year, when this thing is 18 and legally an adult. Will the pandemic be over? Will the border be open? Will our families be the same size and shape? I know that this has been a year of loss and fear for almost all of us, and I know that things are hard all over, and it’s because I understand this that I find it almost impossible to come here and talk about our family’s suffering – it is no more than yours, and I don’t want to make you look at it while you struggle yourself.  (Especially if you are having the trouble with pants that I am. It is a bridge too far.)

For now, know that I am here as much as I am able – that I love you all and am grateful as ever- that this space is still my online living room, and I’ve got no intention of leaving it, but I’m also having trouble inviting company over while things are so strange. I’m working on getting some better walls up.  Thank you for being there for me, even when I am not there for you.

(PS. It is tradition, though I know this year is different, to kick off my fundraising for the Bike Rally today – in years past we have amused them mightily by donating a dollar for each year of blogging, a load of donations all the same amount (or a multiple) has always weirded the staff out over there, and I like that. That said – two things are true this year – first, while I’m signed up for the Rally I don’t know if there will be one – there’s no way to know now if it will be safe or possible, and second, I know that for many of us things are tight financially – so if either of those things are a deal breaker for you, I get it. If those things are cool for you- that’s awesome. PWA has stayed open during the pandemic as an essential service – even when nothing else was open – they were still running the foodbank for clients, and as you can imagine, there’s more help needed than ever. If you’re feeling it, a $17 donation here will be as weird as ever.)

 

 

Categories: Knitting Feeds

How it started/How it’s going

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 22:08

Time continues to pass in the strangest way – we’re still under lockdown here, with stay-at-home orders in place, and I’m trudging along. Some days fly by and I can’t believe that I ran out of time to accomplish all that I wanted, and some days are like yesterday, where after a long, difficult and full day, I stood up and headed to the kitchen to begin dinner, and suddenly realized it was still light out. I was stunned to discover that it was just a little after noon.

Anyway, this is all a long way of saying that I have no idea how it is that it’s been months that I’ve been meaning to post about Pato and Keanu’s wedding blanket, but here I am. I’d feel worse about it but honestly, I’m pretty sure a lot of you don’t know what day it is, so there.

Way back at end of the summer, when case numbers were so low and Torontonians were allowed to have close contact with a few other people outside their household, Pato dropped the bomb that he and Keanu had decided to marry. Now, this wasn’t shocking at all, after Sam got married we were all pretty sure that they would be next – they’ve been together for years and years and it seemed to still be going well, and if you love someone more than ever after months of being locked down together than honestly you should marry them. What was surprising was that they’d decide to marry in just a few weeks, in the middle of a pandemic, which makes tons of sense if you are confident in your love (and the length of a pandemic) but not so much if you’ve got to knit a wedding something.

We immediately started trying to figure out ways to make it special, even though there were going to be so many restrictions – the gift was the first thing to think about, and Meg and I hatched a plan that afternoon, and ordered the yarn that minute so that we could give finishing by their wedding day a shot. (Spoiler alert we didn’t make it of course.) We decided that we- the whole family would knit Pato and Keanu a blanket.  After much discussion – what would be easy enough for people to help with, what would disguise changing gauges and what would be a good fit for their style, we settled on the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket, (that’s a Ravelry link) knit in neutral shades of Eco wool.  (The pattern isn’t written for that weight of wool but it’s squares. What could go wrong. I’d knit it before so I felt good about our chances.)

Now, the way this blanket works is that it’s a series of squares and rectangles worked off of each other. You knit a squarish bit, and then pick up stitches along the side of it and knit another, and so on and so forth. After a little consultation (and with the knowledge that it would be easier for me to match my gauge to Meg’s than the other way around) we decided that Meg would knit the first square, then give it to me. I’d pass it off to everyone in turn, knitting wildly on it in between, correcting errors and guiding anyone involved who didn’t know what they were doing. Now, I don’t know how this happened, but Meg is the only person I didn’t get a picture of while they were knitting – she beavered away at it, knitting the whole first square, and then gave it to me. This, I will tell you, wasn’t just smart, it was fitting. Our relationship with Pato began with Meg- they met as little snips of things –

and truly have proved to be one of the worlds great matches, just not a romantic one in the end. They’ve stayed the very, very best of friends, and our family didn’t break up with Pato either. From the time they became friends until this day, we’ve just lumped him into the pile of “our kids” and gotten on with it. It was so appropriate that since Meg started our relationship with him, that she should start the blanket. It was passed off to me, and time since time was short I did a crazy amount of knitting while Joe and I were camping.

The whole time we were camping though, I remember thinking “this looks a little big” and then executing the classic knitter error – which is thinking “Never mind, if I keep knitting maybe it will get smaller” which it never does. It was the only thing I’d taken with me to knit for the weekend (to force me knitting on it) and so I was reluctant to face the truth. Once home, pattern in hand I realized my error.  I ripped it out, handed it back to Meg, she re-knit the first square the proper size and we were off again. (For the sake of Meg’s reputation as a knitter, I will make it clear that the error was mine, and not hers. The only mistake she made was doing what her mother told her and that’s never really wrong.)

Back in my hot little hands, I started making the rounds with it.  Getting it to some people who care for the gentlemen was going to be easy – we had a family bubble at the time, but I had to find a way to get it to everyone else in a way that was distanced, and outside, of course.

The worlds top knitwear model put in her stitches for her brother from another mother – I wasn’t surprised she remembered how to knit – the force is strong with this one. She’s picked up the needles a few times over the years, and the knitting was easy for her.

What did surprise me was that Amanda was flawless. Of all my children she is the most knit-resistant and always has been. She knows how, of course, I mean what sort of mother allows a child to grow up without the most basic of skills, but I don’t think she’s knit anything since she was a child, so when she knocked off her rows with effortless ease, I was really kinda stunned. (This is evidence for teaching them young. It stays with them forever whether they want it to or not.)

Meg’s husband Alex needed teaching – he was a quick study though – as was Sam’s husband Mike. they both picked it up in a snap, and were absolutely chuffed with themselves that they managed it. (Without a word of a lie, they were so thrilled. Several rows from both of them!)

From there- onto the knitters. Jen swung by when she was off call and installed herself in the backyard. I plied her with wine and she knit heaps. We told Pato and Keanu stories.

Amber, longtime friend of the show – I thought I’d have to teach her, but she revealed a secret – she’s a perfectly competent knitter. (This being Canada, you’d be surprised how prevalent a secret power this is.) She ripped by the back garden,  working the stitches with so much affection for her friends.

Maddy! If you’ve been reading this blog a long time, then you might even remember when Maddy learned to knit. Meg and I taught her when she was quite little. Meg, Maddy and Pato have run as a pack since the beginning of High School, and Mads is quite a good knitter now – she doesn’t have a car and the covid-times means she couldn’t subway to me, so I went to her.  It is a pleasure to see these kids grown up and still all caring for each other.  (As an aside, Maddy had so many sleep-overs at our house over the years, that we began to call the trundle bed in the back bedroom “the Maddy bed”. We still do – enough so that even though he has no idea why – Elliot will ask if he can lie on the Maddy bed.)

Cameron knit his bit – putting a little fondness in each stitch for him and Keanu. Bike Rally connection for them – lots of thoughts of Team Knit (and the few times that Keanu joined us on the Rally – so not his jam let me tell you) but Pato and Cam love riding together and I’m pretty glad I taught Cam to knit years ago – it would have been hard to show him how from a distance.

The big challenge for Ken was that his turn came a week or two later, when it was cold. He’s was outside our bubble (by then, things had changed – everyone was) so he bundled up and got it done. (Please note he is wearing a dorky onsie both because it is freezing, and because it was Hallowe’en and he was dressed as a shark to amuse Elliot.) Pato knows how much Ken loves the cold, so feel the love, buddy.

Last – Joe did his share. I won’t lie- he grumbled a bit, but he knows how, and he loves Pato a lot, and so Pato and Keanu became the third and fourth people in the world that Joe has knit for. Me and my mum are numbers one and two, so it’s a pretty elite club.

Somewhere in there – when the blanket was almost done, but not quite, the big day came. Pato and Keanu were married outside, at a beautiful albeit socially distanced wedding with just a few people in attendance, and the rest of us watched on Zoom. Meg was in person-  standing up for Pato (with more than two metres between them at all times) and I was proud of both of them for learning love in all its forms so very well.

It was a beautiful wedding and I none of the things I thought might happen did – they didn’t feel alone, or like enough people weren’t there, or like people were missing.  I know that they would have liked us all to be there (I think) but in the end this is love, and it is the same as it always is. On their wedding day, the only people Pato and Keanu really needed close by were each other, and we could all see (even over zoom) that it was more than enough.

Naturally, and us being us, we couldn’t leave it there. A mission was launched to give them the closest thing to a reception possible.  Our back garden was transformed with twinkle lights and candles, tables and flowers.

We used measuring tapes to make sure that Pato and Keanu were more than safely distanced from us at a tiny “head table”  we made sure that we had no more than the provinces allowed number of people for outdoor gatherings. (At that time, things were so much more open than they are now, we were allowed ten!)

We set the table with care using our best dishes. We chose a four course menu to please them – we cut the date of their wedding into sourdough and baked it.

We baked a tiny little wedding cake for them,  and little single serving ones for everyone else.

And they got their musical surprise, the same as every other family wedding – this time, over the internet from a family friend who’s an artist Pato adores and (obviously) couldn’t come and play for them.

We did our best to have a proper party – pandemic style. Tiny and distanced (and freezing!) with no hugging and lots of kisses blown from afar. At the time we felt a little deprived, but looking back what a luxury it was to be able to be together even that way.

I have a list of things that I feel this pandemic has stolen from our family, as I’m sure you do too.  The ability to be with each other in times of need, to hold and comfort each other, to walk holding hands, or the ease with which we were able to make connections with each other, and how simple it was to invest in our relationships. Know I add this to the list now – that even though we did our best, and I think it was good enough, and I know Pato and Keanu felt our love and support that day – I will always regret that in that in the moment they were married, they could not look out at the crowd of us, as we were looking at them, and see the complete love, acceptance, pride and happiness we all felt as they committed to each other.

I think they love their blanket, and I hope that when they use it, they can remember what knitting really is. It’s more than a way to make something- it is a love container, and we have all poured what we hope for you into it.

Much love in a long and an happy marriage. Stay warm.

Stephanie, Joe, Ken, Amanda, Megan, Sam, Mike, Alex, Cameron, Maddy, Amber and Jen.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

As I mean to go on

Thu, 12/31/2020 - 20:59

I don’t want to talk about Christmas – do you?  I mean, we did it, such as it was, but the whole thing was a little hollow for me. (If by “a little hollow” you understand that I mean it was horrible and a husk of a season, and left me miserable beyond measure.) Ontario is back in the kind of lockdown we were in the spring (and have been for a while now) with no family bubbles and no shops open and no haircuts again. (Already we are all looking scruffy.)  We did all the right things. I arranged our annual Gingerbread Party over Zoom – I baked cookies and made icing and dropped them off at the doors of all parties concerned.

   

We had Old Joe do the annual reading of Santa Mouse for all his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – again, Zoom. We opened presents with each other on *&^$Cing Zoom, and while I am normally a very resilient and optimistic person, I admit that this season just knocked the snot out of me. I’m so tired of this stupid pandemic. I was overwhelmed this holiday by thoughts of how things were “supposed to be” and that included missing my mum, Tupp, Susan and my Uncle Tom (Mum and Tupps brother) died just two weeks before Christmas, and of course – little Charlotte, who was supposed to be fat and happy, crawling around and trying to eat paper. Ironically – it’s that sense of loss that’s made us so careful.  We can’t stand the thought that another family would lose someone because we blew it – so this is it, for now – and on the upside I did learn a ton about what Christmas means to us – and surprise surprise, a lot of the things I work at every year don’t mean anything without people. I’ve always suspected this of course, I mean, I have seen The Grinch Who Stole Christmas lots of times, and it’s not like I’ve been ignoring the messages out of whoville, but this really brought it home. I bet it was like that for a lot of you too.

Long story short, I should have cancelled the thing rather than giving it a go under these circumstances, and as a result I’ve bought 4 boxes of Christmas crackers, and Amanda has an artificial tree and the minute that the restrictions allow everyone we love to be together, we are having a *&^%$ing Christmas complete with wearing the hats and putting up a tree and I don’t care if that’s August. Screw you Covid.

So, I’m moving on. If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, then you know that we have lots of traditions around the New Year. Ahead of midnight on the 31st; I pay all my bills, I clean the house, I sweep one last time and throw the dust out the back door – all so that I don’t carry anything bad forward into the new year and I end as I mean to go on. I put coins out so that the light of the old year and the new year’s moon can shine on it and we’ll have enough money for the coming year. I make sure I have a first footer, a dark haired man who’s the first across my threshold after midnight, and on the first day of the New Year I do a little of everything that I’d like to carry into the rest of the year, and start a new project. I also don’t do laundry on the first, so that no-one is washed away in the year that follows.

Now, mostly, I do this because it’s fun. My mum always did it, and she wasn’t at all superstitious, but I love the way it gives our family a sense of tradition, ceremony and contributes to our family culture. It’s how we do things, and it feels good. Last year though, if you remember, Joe talked me into going away for New Years. I left the morning of the 27th and flew to Nova Scotia for my Uncle Tom and Aunt Helen’s 50th wedding anniversary party (boy am I glad I did that now) and after a few days there, went to Banff to meet Joe. I completed none of the traditions. The house was a mess, I wasn’t even there, I think Joe washed some ski socks in the sink, I didn’t sweep. (Duh, hotel room.) Now, I’m not superstitious either, but I cannot help but notice that the one year I skipped… well. I’m sure there’s no connection, but you can be assured that I have spent the last week cleaning this house within an inch of it’s life. Closets, cupboards, whole rooms cleaned and repainted, I even put down the shelf paper that I bought at the beginning of the pandemic. Every room is edited, tidied, and at its best and I am taking not one molecule of last year’s crap forward, and you can bet that tomorrow I won’t wash anything (except myself which my mum says is not only allowed but encouraged) and you can bet that I’m ending this year as I mean to go on.

2020, don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out.

Categories: Knitting Feeds