Step Away From The Sock …………

 

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The socks are making me tired. So far, since mid-December, I have knit 10 complete pairs of socks – I think. It could be more …… and I’ve made a set of mittens for the head snow remover. One of those mittens is odd because I forgot part of the pattern :) in my haste to get them finished. I somehow skipped the line that said “knit until the thumb is 1.5 to 2 inches long and went straight to decreasing. So one of those mittens has a super short thumb. I plan to fix this soon ……. I have another skein of the mitten yarn and I will just knit another one RIGHT this time.

On other fronts, besides being bored to absolute tears with socks and general “waiting” for stuff to happen, I am getting slightly completely hysterical. You see, once your spouse dies, Social Security cuts off his income immediately. In order to replace his income with what I will receive as his widow, I had to wait 30 days from the date of his death to get an appointment just to apply for those benefits. At that time I was told I would hear something within 30 days. Well, it’s been 36 days and I’m freaking out. We’ve done well keeping as many bills paid as we can and having money for food, etc., but this month has been cold and we’re almost out of oil which I can’t buy until Tuesday. I sit and pray that the tank won’t run completely dry and shut down the boiler. Then I will have to have a technician come out to start it again and that will probably be expensive, not to mention the pipes could freeze if it stops dead.

I spoke with the gentleman who submitted my claim for me today and there is a little hope. The department that has it now actually put a note in the file that it was being forwarded for approval and payment. Thank. God. He’s also going to send a high-priority message to them if nothing is done by Tuesday.  I do get a small pension from my husband’s former employer on Monday but that won’t be quite enough for 100 gallons of oil. I hope they will deliver 50. We’ll see.

So all in all, going from grief to extreme fear all in three months has kept me from writing. I tend to not post when I’m not in the best of moods – after all, who needs it? Everyone has problems and nobody needs to hear about someone else’s! But anyway thanks for listening to this group …….. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I will only have to face 2 months without income and not 3.

If only snow were money, I’d be rich. We’ve had over 100 inches so far this winter and that’s a record. Naturally 7 years after I move here there would be a record snowfall. This is almost enough for me to brave the 10 feet long snakes in the south – no, it isn’t. I’ll stay here ……..

Ah-yuh That’s Enough

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I can absolutely and with certainty say that I have had enough winter. We have piles of winter sitting on the sides of the roads. I have huge piles of winter in my driveway. The temperature hasn’t been over 12 degrees in so long I wouldn’t know how to act if it warmed up to 13.

Today, after having been in the house for what seems like a month, I decided to get out. Well, the lack of cigarettes decided me to get out. First, I had to put the tags on my license plates. Thankfully I remembered that because I expired the last day of January. The policeman would not have understood.

The wind chill was around -20. The instructions said “If it is cold out, warm the tags in your hand before peeling them from the sheet.” Ha. Well, since my hands were blocks of ice INSIDE my gloves, I had to do some wicked rubbing on those blasted tags. They’re on the car now. Until next February when I will go through the same process. Paying, rubbing, sticking ……..

I then had to clean off the car. This was after walking in a 12″ wide path from my back steps out to said car. Check, car cleaned off. The back of the driveway was cleared earlier by my son. If only he’d clear the front part more? No, beggars cannot be bossy. So I say nothing.

Everything was okay until I had to turn left at the squirrely little turn from Center Street onto Broadway. I started to slide. Whoops. I put the transmission in 3. Whew. I didn’t hit anything. The roads are not cleaned off. Well, they are cleaned off but the snow has just been packed down like an ice rink would be. Driving is a challenge. I salute whoever invented 4WD.

I get to the store. I get what we need. I can’t find my keys. After 10 minutes of panic, I find them in the wrong place. We’re good. Back home. Somebody is tailgating me on Center. I slow down so he can squirm more. I feel powerful making him squirm. Sigh. Such a good feeling.

I pull back into the driveway which I can barely see over the 7 foot drifts the City has placed at the curb. I carry in one small bag and tell my son that there’s more in the car. I’ve been home now for 8 hours and I’m still tired.

I look at the weather forecast. Seems between now and Friday we’re going to get 10 more inches of snow. That’ll look good on top of the 4+ feet we already have.

If I can take it, we’re out to the store tomorrow. Unless I decide we can eat what we have and just put up with it. Who knows ……… survival in the great white north …………

Oreos and Cheez-Its

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The words blizzard and historical can certainly animate a fast trip to the grocery store – for me and a thousand and a half other people. I am patting myself on the back – I bought food to cook on top of my GAS stove, just in case the power does go down.

I was getting pretty comfortable with winter, as we’ve only had a couple of annoying snowstorms since the big one the first weekend of November. Since then, it’s only been snow that aggravates you a little ……. not enough to mess with really.

We’d planned a grocery store trip today anyway, but when I finally looked at the weather report and saw the forecast for 24″ or more of snow, I thought we’d better go early. We did. By 10:30 this morning the groceries were bought, put away and we were done with all the planning for the big storm of 2015. After we got home, I finished another sock (!) making one whole complete pair for my son and started a new sock for me. I’m set. It can blow and snow and I don’t care – I have my sock knitting and lots of yarn browsing to do.

The cashier at the grocery store was excited about the Oreos being on sale ……. and like I said, “What’s a snowstorm without Oreos?” Boring. The Oreos and yes, the Cheez-Its are necessary accompaniments to the constant drone of doom coming over the TV.  I don’t think we’re going to worry too much about power outages …….. and maybe I’m tempting fate there …….. but our winds will only get up to 35 mph gusts so I’m pretty comfortable that Bangor Hydro can keep the juice flowing.

Saturday night and Sunday morning we had about 5″ of snow. The neighbors were snow blowing and shoveling what seemed like all night and then the hardy Mainers got up at about 5:00 am and started in again. I can hardly wait to see what they’ll do tomorrow – hopefully not be idiots and stay inside? At least until it quits blowing around? I’ve already heard the big snow plows going down the road even though I haven’t seen one snowflake yet ………. I guess they’re practicing, just in case they forgot how to do it.

Pretty Little Socks

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Aren’t these wild? I’ve been continuing on my “I will knit socks” exploration. I find that I can concentrate, and also while I’m healing and getting emotionally stronger, I have pretty socks when I’m done.

It’s almost been a month since my husband died and yet it feels like yesterday. I do not know which was worse, having him in the nursing home or have him not alive. I think having him in the nursing home was worse because I knew he didn’t want to be there and I didn’t want him there. I would have wished that I could have taken care of him at home, but it just couldn’t be done. Another worse thing was when he began being unable to speak. At first he could exchange a word for one he couldn’t get out but eventually he just couldn’t speak at all. That was so hard for him and the most unfair part of the disease.

Now I feel untethered, like I’m a balloon that’s been set free but doesn’t know where to go. I’m sure I’ll find myself and my direction someday, but it’s going to be a while. I’m not rushing a thing, I’m going to take as long as I need before I make any decisions about anything.

The simplest things these days make me smile and also they make me cry. Luckily my sock knitting is making me smile a lot. I have made 4 pairs in the last 3 weeks and they’ve all been keepers. I’ve experimented with gauge and tension – I think I was a too loose knitter and that’s why the “medium” sock that everyone else knits was too big for me. I’ve started tightening up on this last pair and I think they’ll be better. Here’s hoping, anyway.

The picture is more hand painted yarn. The base is Blue Faced Leicester and it isn’t quite as soft as my normal merino. Even so, it is plenty soft and takes color well. I have lots of bare yarn left to dye and of course, there is always plenty of sock yarn out there calling my name. I love the Eye of Partridge heel flap and I do it on all my socks.

A slow life, but my own. I’m so thankful I’ve always had something I do to keep me busy. Knitting is even more of a blessing than I knew.

One Stitch Over and Over

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Since my husband died on the 17th, I haven’t been able to do much. Nothing that involves complex thinking patterns can get through my shocked mind. Although I knew he would die soon and even though I prayed that he would be released from his horrible disease, when it happened I was unbelievably sad.

The first day it dawned on me that we didn’t have long before he left, I came home from the nursing home and picked up a pair of socks I had started. I knit that sock round and round and finished it the next day. I started the second one and it was done in a day. And then I started another pair and they were done in three days. I just kept knitting.

After he was gone and the business of dying attended to, I started another pair of socks. I think socks are going to be my method of healing. I can take joy in those tiny stitches, all the same, going round and round and ending up in something warm and lovely.

This new pair of socks is from a single ply (not the most sturdy choice for sock yarn, but still lovely) that I hand painted myself. I love the colors and the glow coming off the sock. For some reason the dye seams to have an iridescence to it and it even shows in the actual sock as well as the ball of yarn. And I love that I can knit these without thinking, with the pattern memorized and little or no brain effort required from me.

My son enthusiastically welcomed his two new pairs of socks. He loves my hand knitting socks so much more than the commercial ones which he claims do not fit and wear out too quickly. He will get more socks, since his mother needs to sit and knit, round and round, until another pair is finished.

My husband was always appreciative of anything I made, from quilts to clothing to my knitted wear. He would exclaim about their beauty and how much he liked what I had done. I’ve had a few conversations with him since he passed to spirit land and he’s still pleased with what I’m doing. As I knew he would be.

I will get through this trying time in my life as I’ve gotten through many others. With my hands busy, knitting one stitch over and over.

Empty

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My life is a lot emptier today than it was a week ago. My husband finally gave up his long fight with his disease on December 17. There is an empty place in my heart that will never be filled, but I know that he is with our loved ones and now he can speak, laugh, walk and do all those things his disease took away from him.

He was a gentleman and he died as gently as he lived. The staff at the nursing home grieved as much as I did to lose him. The CNA who took care of him whenever he was on duty could hardly bear watching my husband die. We all knew it would be quick, but not as quick as it was. The nurse who worked with me, the doctor who watched over him, all told me how much they loved him, how easy he was to take care of all those many months. It makes my heart glad to know that others saw the beauty in my husband as much as we did.

He will be missed more than I can say. I still think I should go to the nursing home to see him, until I remember he is no longer there. So I sit and I knit and I think of all the wondrous moments he gave me. And I know I will see him again and he will be whole.

One Thing About Knitting

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I’ve been working on this sock yarn off and on whenever I feel like doing something mindless. And mindless is where it’s at right now. I have almost all of this sock done and I will start the next one right after that. I’m hoping to have them done by Christmas Eve as a surprise for my son. He loves wildly colored socks.

I went to the nursing home yesterday and I found my husband much worse. He couldn’t eat what was in front of him. I tried a couple of tiny spoons of potatoes and meat and he started coughing. I spooned the thickened juice he has to have and he could swallow that. The sound of him swallowing was a hard sound. He can barely do that any  more.

His weight loss is extreme and unless I decide to feed him with a tube it will continue. I know that he would not want that tube and so I won’t do it. It is just a matter of time. And so I knit.

I sit and knit and think back over the last 36 years and how our lives were. We did have many good times and I wish that he could have spent his last years healthy and whole. It wasn’t to be, and now I just have to be strong and wait until he decides he’s had enough and is ready to go.

I thought about going to the nursing home and sitting with him every day. I don’t think I can do that. Part of me thinks I should and the other part of me says no, you can’t. I don’t know if I’m right or wrong, but I know what I can take. And I can’t take that. So I will just knit and visit on my normal schedule.

At some point, we will get past this. I will let him go, as I’ve been unable to do up until now. I knew that he would never get better, but seeing him get worse is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. As I’m sure it’s even harder for him, that strong man I married.

And so I knit socks. Sit and wait for the phone to ring, hoping it won’t. Every night that goes by without a phone call, I thank God. I will just knit and pray. It will all be fine, in the end.

Ready Set Done ….. Or Not Done

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I sometimes wonder if I’m totally losing it or if I’m just having one of those super bad astrological aspects hitting me like a ton of lead bricks.

Life isn’t easy and I suppose it hasn’t been for many a year. I keep hoping something will change, that I will get my interest in the world back, that I won’t want to just sit inside my house and vegetate. But right now, I can hardly even vegetate.

I was sitting here yesterday, thinking about things in general and some things in particular when I got the call from the nursing home again. He’s lost more weight and he’s coughing more. She mentioned hospice to me for the first time, although she’s not sure he’s ready for that. He’s still alert, he’s just wasting away bit by bit. I must say when my time comes, I hope it’s a fast death and not a long drawn out one that this has been for my husband. This is excruciating.

I went to visit him a couple of days ago and of course, it’s a dementia ward. So he’s sitting at the dining room table with two women who are so far gone one makes nonsensical comments all the time repeatedly and the other one flicks water from her drinking glass all over the table. I imagine they put my husband with them because he is so easy-going and doesn’t get upset when people act totally crazy. But his wife does. I had to leave. I couldn’t stay there another moment. I wanted to reach across the table and slap them both. It is so hard. I can tell you, I wouldn’t last in a job working in that sort of situation for 5 minutes.

I’ve decided the only thing I can do is visit him after lunch, when maybe they will be gone or at least I can wheel him to his room and be with him alone. If I don’t have to put up with the excessive craziness coming from the other residents, I might be able to stay there more than a half an hour. I hope so.

And there was another big sadness in my life that happened around Thanksgiving. I think I’m okay with that now, but the pain was intense for a while. I felt like a rug was pulled out from under me even though the rug was probably just my imagination to begin with. It hardly matters now. Now I’m down to the nitty-gritty survival of getting through this next period of my husband’s dying, how I will cope with that, the rearranging of the budget to figure out how I will survive financially ……. all wonderful things you don’t think about when you’re 40 but you damn well should.

So on to the next adventure. I’m requesting that after this is all done, I get just a little peace. That’s all I want.

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