So as you know, we're empty-nesters now. It happened quite suddenly (at least to me, and I knew it was coming), over the time I was recovering from the atrial ablation. Kid #2 is gone.
And you realize, after they leave...just how much SPACE kids take up. Not only the physical space. But the emotional space, the verbal space, the space of just knowing at night that eventually, all your "little chickies" will be in their nests.
It's been hitting me in waves ever since. I mean, yeah - I knew it was inevitable, and not just for the "he's getting older" thing: Hubby's one sister didn't leave home till she was 42. Yes, forty-two years old.
Kid #2 just got a job 50 miles away from the house. And as a teacher, you've got to be there at something like 7 a.m. - there's no way anyone with any sense would NOT move closer so that you wouldn't have a potential 2-hour commute both ways. That's just insane. I mean, had he still had the teaching gig closer to home, he'd have moved sometime this year anyway - but it would most likely have been within the neighborhood.
Fifty miles is a long way, particularly since the job is in the middle of "corn-country" and the commute for the winter would be a real bugger. Go ahead; snicker. I know there are people -- including my MIL -- who've got kids a COUNTRY away. And yes, I'm perfectly aware that he could very well be in Afghanistan or one of the other places we're at war with (whether legitimately or not, but that's another topic for another day).
So last night -- or rightly, this morning, about 3 a.m. -- the side light goes on. It's on a motion-sensor. Tippi wakes up and starts woofing. She toddles her wide self out to the kitchen and starts woofing at the back door, most likely expecting Kid #2 to roll in. But nobody's there. So either the neighbor was out back with his dogs or something was climbing in the trees next to the house that would set off the motion sensor. She finally decided that nobody was coming in and walked back to her sleeping spot: right in front of the bathroom door.
It's stuff like that - it hits you that no, you really have no idea where EITHER kid is. Kid #1 has been gone for a number of years; he's now settled in with the GF and they couldn't be happier. Oh, and my VERY fat grand-cat Larry... Come to think of it, I should have taken a picture of her when we were there for dinner on his b-day. Dang. Larry's sweet. And huge. Trust me. Huge.
I have to think about why I'm more OK with Kid #1 being "out in the world" and why it's bothering me a bit more that Kid #2 is now gone. Maybe it's that he's the "baby" of the family. Maybe because ... well, I don't know. Other than him being the youngest, I shouldn't be affected; at least I don't think so. My brother has been an empty-nester for a while now because his oldest is now married (he's younger than both of mine) and the youngest is away at college. My sister still has one chickie in the nest because Nephew J is still at home. Her oldest is the parent of K and The Twins. So she's not shed of kids, but is the first of us to be a Granny...
And then I got word from my mom that a young lady I used to babysit for is expecting her first child. She's older - about 4 years older than Kid #1, so it's kind of a "wow" - we never expected that she'd even have kids.
I decided to knit a layette for her to bring the baby home. But it hit me that I was really in sort of a unique spot.
Anyway, I'm adjusting to the new configuration of the house and it's been weird. Hubby seems to be adjusting better than I am, but I do think that the moms have it a bit harder.
It hasn't really changed many of our habits. It'll put a crimp in some of them, to be sure, because we'll have lost our live-in dog-sitting service.
And really, he's not all the way out yet. He's still got laundry here...
So this is the start of the layette. It's from "itty-bitty nursery" by Susan B. Anderson (I wanted to type "Anthony"...). It's the "Pure and Simple Layette" -- specifically designed for bringing a newborn home, and then if you're really crafty, you'd put the cardigan, booties and hat into a shadowbox frame for perpetuity.
|Pure & Simple Layette - Afghan part only|
And this was frogged yesterday. I didn't realize that, while I love the "hand" of the cotton, I'm NOT loving the lack of stretch. This is 100% cotton, and I had ladders in my blanket. Bummer.
Anyway, the blanket is small-ish - 28" square in basket-weave. And then you do a 4 or 5 row ruffle that you knit on after you do the main part. The cardigan and hat have some embroidery on it - done in the same yarn, so it's really subtle. I love the "Bleach" color they had in the book, but since we know it's a boy, I figured a blue set would be lovely. Once the Atlantic color comes in, I'll start from the booties up.
In the meantime, I'll cast this thing back on and see what happens. And I'm plugging away on the Fluro sock. I'm a few rows shy of being able to turn the heel, which I'll likely do at work today.
I've set aside the "Super Simple Go-To Layette" -- and you'd think I'd just whip that one out, right? Well, I have a couple of categories of "The People for Whom I Knit" and this gal is in the "buy special yarn" category. The Super Simple is in an acrylic, so I'd rather do this cotton one for her. They live in NC, so I think wool would be a little much. And honestly, with this being a newborn size, I don't know how long he'll even wear the clothing. The blankie is one he can hold onto till the thing falls apart. If I can get past the ladders as you switch back and forth from K to P on the pattern... Urgh.
So in terms of canning, I needed onions for the newest batch of Bread & Butter pickles, and I was looking through the new canning book. I came across Vidalia Onion Conserve. For the uninitiated, a "conserve" is a sort of spread. It's usually a mash-up of things, like the recipe next to this one: Blueberry Pecan Conserve. It's not quite a jelly and not as stiff as a preserve.
This one, which you see in the pan, is actually EIGHT CUPS of sliced Vidalias, along with maple syrup, marjoram from my garden (didn't have thyme like they wanted, but this is close enough), pepper, and at the finish, some vinegar. The way they suggest to serve this is in a puff pastry, like a small tart, with goat cheese.
You'd think we'd have what? Six or seven jars, right? Nope. Three. Half-pints. Yep, you read that right. I will likely do this again because aside from the fact that their calculation for the cooking off of liquid is somewhat wildly wrong, it smelled heavenly and it's one of those "wow" kinds of gifts. The recipe actually called for smaller jars, but I was unable to find anything smaller than the 1/2-pint ones. Which is the other reason the yield was skimpy.
The garden is still producing madly, though we're not sure how many more cukes are actually going to have time to grow. Who knows? At this rate, we MAY have enough for a batch of gherkins. And we still have sage and parsley coming in. And carrots.
Plowing my way back through Jane Eyre and also through Rod Stryker's The Four Desires. Not sure whether I'll actually participate in the yoga class' reading club, since I'm the one farthest away from all the action, but I'll read the books, if they interest me.
I'm also reading more about different practices in terms of what I want to teach my students. At this point, they're still in "I need the stretch" mode, and I don't know if or when they'll get to "I want to learn more about the philosophy" -- and if they don't, that's fine with me. I still slip it in there every so often.
Otherwise, it's still the newspaper. I see our local paper is advertising for stringers, but Hubby and I decided that for this year, since I'm president of our local free clinic's board and there's upheaval like you wouldn't believe... I just need to sit still and think on what I want to do. I've struck a moratorium on doing anything more just now.
It's my nook. My chair (occasionally occupied by Raisa if there's something interesting at the window), my favorite mug, and my sock.
But so is down-time and the requirement for space for our own internal life as well.
When I took over Kid #1's room, it was to be my office and yoga room. Well. Not so much. It became the family "dumping ground" for stuff that had to be stashed. Now, I couldn't even roll out a mat in there. Hubby has his massage table in there. I've got totes of things that just accumulated. The crowding in that room has actually impeded my own creative process.
I'm planning what I want to do for Kid #2's room. He'd like to leave his bed in there, but I'd like to get it out of there so the massage table can go there. We have an air mattress in the event we actually have an overnight guest who's not terrified of our dogs! And I'd like to put our big maple rocking chair in there, with a little throw rug.
But for knitting, I just need a nook. A little space where I can be "in" the family, but all the while, doing my thing with sticks and string.