Friday, April 22, 2016

So, It's Been A Trip...

So much has happened since we last chatted. Where to begin?

Sad News...

My lovely MIL passed in April. She was just shy of 89; had lived a good, long, faith-filled life, and died at peace with Whatever Comes Next. 

Seriously, that's what she told my SIL. "I'm ok with whatever comes next. I'm ready."

She didn't die of "anything" in particular. She died of "old." I will remember her as always smiling. Not a silly, Pollyanna, "I'm clueless" kind of smile. But a "hey, world, you can toss crap at me, and I'm ok with it, because I know what's what" kind of smile. 

A kind smile that lit up the room. A welcoming smile that reached out to you so that you may have been a stranger, for a nanosecond or so, but now you were family. 

A smile that said that she was happy doing what she did best: making everyone feel as if they were the most important person she spoke to all day. 

She'll be missed by many, and her children are going to feel her loss all the more because she truly was the anchor of the family. She and my FIL are waltzing up in Heaven. 

Glad News...

Our yoga teacher had her baby. Well, this is glad-ish...he was VERY early. Like 11 weeks early. He's doing OK all things considered, but it's a rocky start for the little man. 

I'm madly knitting away at the sweater. I've got the first sleeve done and I'm working on the right front now. Remember, this is a one-piece rectangle with arms. Only 2 seams! My kind of jacket! Looking at the picture, you see the blue yarn holding the back of the neck and left arm stitches on there.

So I will finish with the right front, take the stitches off the yarn holder and do the left front. Then you fold it over at the shoulder area and seam up under the arms and sides. The trickiest part is actually the 2 buttonholes. 

This is Cascade Superwash Paints; washable wool. I love the sophisticated colorway. I've got 3/4" red buttons for the front. 

If I have enough yarn left, I'll make "baby Uggs" for him. This is a 6-month size, and I was joking that he was so small that FINALLY, a baby will fit in a sweater I make for more than 2 minutes!

More On the Funeral...

So. It would have been NICE to be at the funeral. We weren't. Well, we were. Sort of. 

The family does this "Family Mass" and "Vigil" thing that I had never been exposed to. The body lies at the funeral home. The afternoon before the funeral, his uncle, a former priest, says a family mass. Then we go back to the house, have a dinner, and then head to the church. 

In the meantime, she's brought to the church, and we do a "vigil" with a rosary and then a prayer service. She lies in state in the church; this is open to the community as the "wake." 

Then the next day is the funeral mass and burial. 

We made it in to MT. We got to the house, got to the Family Mass, where we sang as cantors. Then we did the Vigil. We had brought our cameras and were supposed to videotape the funeral for the relatives who couldn't make it out. 

We got up the next morning in Great Falls to see snow. In April, yes. We got ready to hit the road and before 8 a.m., we were out the door. 

Twenty miles out of Great Falls, they closed the highway. This was our view driving back south. 

I let Hubby make the call. I've driven in snow - we live in Illinois! But this was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. Our rental was a 2-WD. There were no snow tires. No snow brushes. Not even a shovel. And the slush was grabbing at the tires as if it was determined to pull us into a ditch. 

We're in the mountains, remember, so even cell service is sketchy. It's not like here - if you end up in a ditch, you just call the IDOT Minutemen or a tow truck. You get stuck in the ditch outside of Great Falls, you'd better hope you get stuck in an area where you can call someone. And then hope they come before you run out of gas, because it's going to be hours. And hours. 

As we were going north, they shifted us off onto the Frontage Road. We got to the top of the hill, and the bypass we were supposed to be on had a car on it. Sideways. 

With a snowplow trying to dig it out. The Frontage Road north wasn't even plowed. 

Again, I remind you, this is Montana. It's not like here: you close Rt 55, then you can take Rt. 57... The next highway going north is right at the base of the Rockies. If they haven't plowed THIS road, they surely haven't plowed that one. 

So we turned off, pointed ourselves south, and almost slid into a ditch. It took another hour to get back to Great Falls. I was heartbroken, but the family was rather philosophical about it all. 

"It's April. Blizzards happen, and the farmers are doing a happy dance with all this snow!"

She was a twin. Her twin brother had died in the spring, and the highways were closed by a freak blizzard. But HE had the good sense to wait till he was buried before the highways closed!

She had a statement to make, I guess. The highways closed before! Half the town had no power; they weren't even sure if the church would have heat and lights. Those who were in town already attended. Those of us who were in Great Falls were unable to do so. But again - springtime in the Rockies!

The Chalice...

So at the family Mass, Fr. Jim had a chalice. He explained the symbols on it, and I thought you'd like to see it. I got to carry it across the room, since he and Hubby moved the temporary altar before the Mass started. It's quite heavy. 

Look closely. See the gold ring right under the "bowl" of the chalice? That's the wedding ring of Hubby's great-grandmother. 

The black stone is a stone from their "home-place" - the homestead where they grew up. Jim had it polished up and carved to fit the chalice. 

At the base, you'll see a small ruby in a little filigree design. That's Great-Grandma's engagement ring. 

The symbols of this chalice are amazing. 

RIP Jawbone...

So I got a Jawbone. I wanted a fitness band that wasn't obnoxious. I wear a watch, as you can see, and I don't want to NOT wear a watch. I don't want something whiz-bang that sends me email, gives me voicemails and does weather reports. I want a thing that counts my steps and tells me how I slept. 

(Though in truth, most mornings, I absolutely KNOW how the night before went!

Anyway, the Jawbone was unobtrusive, so I went with that. I also like the neutral color of the band. Hubby has a clunky looking one, and he's looking to replace it with a watch-like device. I didn't want all the "stuff" or "functions" that they have. Just want steps and sleep. 

And today, I had to get it replaced. After only 4 months, it wasn't holding a charge and the metal band part was separating, so it never fully connected to the charger. 

I had a lovely "chat" with the help people, and they're sending out a new one. 

I still like it. I like the basic functions, and I like the fact that it's not showy. My watch tells me the date, keeps time, and glows in the dark. That's all I need from that. And the Jawbone keeps track of the rest of it. 

It has encouraged me to move more. I'm also using my arm-sized hula hoops, which has done good things for my upper body strength. I figure that all of the movement combined is a good thing. 

Sadly, it doesn't track knitting! 

I should have the new one in about 10 days. 

Random Picture...

...and random act of kindness. 

I'm friends with a gal named Lulu, and we met during our elephant journal internship. She's still writing more than I am and I think she's editing for them. I wish - but life took me in another direction. 

She is taking watercolor classes and she happened to post this picture. I complimented her on it, saying, "I'd hang that in my office!" 

Next thing you know, it's in the mail to me!  I took it to Michael's and got it framed. What do you think?

Isn't it gorgeous? The framer was also very pleased. Not only with how it turned out (which is beautiful) but with the actual picture. She's a watercolor artist, and she said Lulu's technique was lovely. 

Of course I repeated that to her! It's a beautiful picture, given with love, and framed with love. It's not hanging at my office. 

I hung it in my living room so I could see it every day. Well, hopefully next time there won't be so much time between entries. Till then!

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