Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Firsts and Seconds

In 2011, the babyMomma apologized for having a Christmas Eve baby.  She was tickled to be having a baby at Christmas time, but knowing Charlie's diagnosis was bringing with it a short life, she was apologizing for ruining Christmases in the future.  We never dreamed Charlie would be gone so soon.  He worked his sweet, gregarious magic and brought us through ten painful months as we struggled to build scar tissue over the wound of losing his big sister.

We survived a year of firsts without Amber and so here we are figuring out how to celebrate Charlie today and Christmas tomorrow.  God promises to give us what we NEED and apparently I have needed to be so busy and preoccupied that I have not had many moments to dwell.  My dad took a fall on Thanksgiving that left him weak and for some reason unable to bear weight.  The morning I called to say his 29th great grandchild was on her way, he was on his way to the hospital.  He was moved from there to a nursing home/rehab facility but no longer doing any rehab.  My head and my heart are reeling as older siblings are doing all the paper work to move him into a long term care facility a bit closer to us.  Meanwhile we need to take turns staying overnight with my mom who is feeling guilt and sorrow that she cannot take care of him at home.  That is all he wanted, to stay at home and I can't quite understand why he can', money, my mom's qualms about strange people in her home.  It has been a month of grieving in a different way.  How I wish we had had a little foresight when we built our home, that we could have had an in-law apartment set up.

There have also been happier events keeping us busy.  First semester of the babyMomma owning a ballet school and teaching was celebrated with Nutcracker themed open houses with each class performing a dance for family after two weeks off for new baby!  Students and babyMomma did very well!  It was such a proud moment to see her talking to parents.  In the middle of Open House week, we went to a Celtic Christmas concert which was a delight, and followed that with hernia repair surgery for hubby the next day which was also second day of ballet Open House.  CRAZY BUSY WEEK!!  Throw in a Christmas cantata and running back and forth to visit dad and help mom and the babyMomma - neither of whom drive - and God has been good indeed keeping me too busy to think or feel!

I wish Charlie could have experienced a year or more of being a big brother.  This precious little one (whose name means LIFE) will grow up with two dogs keeping her company.  She is a joy and delight and growing before our eyes.  Tomorrow will bring a new Christmas tradition, celebrating across the street although I am sure that there will be years with Christmas happening in Pennsylvania and for that I am grateful.  Grateful that Zoe will be easy to pack up and travel and that they will be able to spend holidays with family.  Tonight, hubby and I will spend the night at my moms.  That makes my daughter giggle as she remembers her young years sleeping over night at my moms on Christmas Eve after the candlelight service at church and her dad and I would come in the morning.  Tonight we will think of Charlie, as we light candles and sing Silent Night....something we did for his funeral service as it meant so much to his mom that he and his sister were able to experience at least one candlelight service at church.  There are so many others who are hurting and celebrating painful anniversaries.  I am so grateful for a loving God who sent his son to save us!  A baby born to die that we might live forever.  Amazing grace.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Giving Thanks

God is good.  His promises are true and He is faithful.  While I can't always understand why He allows terrible things to happen, I KNOW that through it all He loves me and knows me and everything is for His glory, that everyone would be drawn to Him and have eternal life.  Through the incomprehensible loss of our precious grandson, Charlie, in April, in His mercy our daughter and her husband discovered they were expecting again.  This precious gift was to be born near THANKGIVING!.....and she would not be affected by the genetic disease that took the lives of her two older siblings!!  Babymomma finally got to have the kind of birthing experience she had wanted and we welcomed Zoe Alexandra into the world two days after Thanksgiving.  To top it all off, the babymomma's brother who works overseas was able to be home.
We are so very grateful, even though there is that chunk of heart that aches with the disappointment that she will not be able to play and squabble and know in a physical way her big sister and brother.  Such a rollercoaster but He is with us every step of the way.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Endings and Beginnings... Quilt.Project Updates

In the midst of things, I do try to work on quilting.  Like a jigsaw puzzle, there is something soothing in being able to pick up pieces and make something whole.  I have two table runners actually FINISHED...a rarity for me.  I fell in love with an easy pattern and beautiful batik fabric and have two finished; one for spring/summer and one for fall.  I only have a picture of the fall one so far.

My daughter picked the border fabric which I also used on the back.  It is not something I was leaning toward at all, and when we were in the quilt shop I did not have the runner top with me so she just guessed.  I love it!

Besides having great difficulty usually finishing something, I realize I also have a tremendous problem getting something STARTED!!  On a crazy black Friday event probably five years ago, I picked up some yardage (at 5 am) that just appealed to me.  I had no pattern, no idea who it would be for.  Just two or three yards of fabric.  

I don't know if it was 2012 or 2013, but I fell in love with "Swoon" by Camille Roskelley of Thimbleblossoms.  This is a picture from her blog.  A beautiful block I could see myself trying.
  By now, finding more of the fabric I originally purchased,  "Etchings" by 3 Sisters for Moda was near impossible.  Designs are introduced, fabric made, sold and that's it, on to something new. No fabric reprintings!  I managed to find a fabric bundle of "Etchings" last fall and brought it home eager to make a Swoon quilt for my bed.  The pattern called for fat quarters.  The bundle I purchased so eagerly was a bundle of fat eighths.  NOT enough to create the large blocks.   Disappointed, I set it aside till I reread a quilters' Blog Hop and found a block that intrigued me by the same designer.  Simply called "Building Block."  It was a free download for the block.  Early this summer, needing a distraction from grief and empty house, I spent a week of evenings pressing and cutting out just about ALL the fabric I had in this line.  Then began piecing.  Seven pieces of fabric sewn together to make one 6 1/2 inch block.  After about 30, I was feeling a little overwhelmed!  The free download included instructions on using the 6 1/2 inch block as the center of a 12 1/2 inch block!  I had enough left over material to try it, and I loved it!!!  Now to scour the web to try to find more material to make these bigger blocks!  
I was only able to find enough to make 9 blocks.   Laying it out, adding some sashing, this will be the center of my quilt top.  All the smaller block have been sewed and are waiting to be grouped together around this central square.  It looks a bit odd, clothes pinned to my living room curtain.  No pattern to follow for this other than the block, so I keep laying it down on the floor to play with it and come up with some sort of design.  It's a bit random but that is a perfect reflection of me ~ a lot of chaos hopefully coming together within a design that my husband will be ok with.  It's also made me think that is how I live my life ~ a bit of impulse, reaction, and a whole lot of procrastination rather than with forethought and intention.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wordy Wednesday

It has been a trying few months, leaving me a bit numb and churned up all at the same time.  While facing a second year without our precious Amber, a first without Charlie (I still cannot wrap my head or heart around the fact that he is not here), waiting the arrival of a new grandbaby the midst of this a shocking aggressive cancer return for my mentor - our choir director.   Late August he was experiencing tremendous back pain, endured some treatments in September and in October was home on hospice.  He lost the battle Saturday afternoon.  I am trying to be joyful, for his relief from pain and suffering, for relief for his family having to watch his suffering, knowing I will see him again but the heartache of his absence is just so heavy.....and I know it will hit his wife and sons hard in the days and months to come.

I have had the incredible pleasure of being choir accompanist under his direction for a very long time, close to 20 years?  I could not sight read music when I began.  He would give me music ahead of time so I could learn it before coming to choir, but almost always on a choir night he would hand me a new piece of music to work on that night, with a sly smile.  For that agony, I am forever grateful.  He was a gentle giant, with a slow manner of speaking, a great sense of humor, perfect pitch.  He had a rich and gorgeous voice, he played brass instruments beautifully.  Rode a motorcycle, took his family across country camping every summer as he was a music teacher.  He was a Gideon, and handed out thousands of new testaments.  Anyone who worked on his house, car, while in the hospital, all were handed a small testament.  He was genuine.  Never apologizing for who he was, content to be who he was and so very calm and easy going.  Choir continues, with a new director, and we will have to learn that silent language of trust.  I cannot fathom the gaping whole for his wife and sons.  He was 67.

The last week of October, my hubby and I spent a week in North Conway, New Hampshire.  Such a bittersweet place, full of memories.  We began going here to visit my parents when our 27 year old son was a month shy of a year old.  This week we did not return to places that were precious to us with Amber and Charlie.  We created some new memories, did lots of hiking, a bit of quilting.

The rock cliffs in the middle of the picture are Cathedral Ledge and White Horse.  These are popular rock climbing spots.  There is a road to the top of Cathedral Ledge where we have gone almost every year.  Last year we spotted the fire tower across the valley so this year we have a different perspective, from the fire tower.

Another view of Cathedral Ledge and the mountain ranges beyond.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Trail Report for October 20

On Monday my sister and I managed a quick hike up the Wapack Trail to the summit of Mount Watatic.  We did scramble down a side trail to the second lower summit to the east where the views are better.  The sky was in a state of flux, beautiful blue sky but clouds gathering as we prepare for three days of rain.  We delayed the start of our hike for about an hour and a half, waiting for temps to nudge a little closer to 40 degrees F.  At our usual start time, the temperature was closer to 31!!  There was a brisk wind on the summit, but I couldn't resist trying to take some pictures with my phone.  My sister was aiming for time, so backpacks were left home:  no camera, binoculars, thermos of coffee.  The purple highpoint just under the clouds is Mount Wachusett, to the south of Watatic.  The Midstate Trail connects these two mountains on its way to Rhode Island.  We do hike a small portion of the Midstate but have been unable to find the next piece of it as some new home construction has changed things.  Maybe this fall on a Friday hike with my husband we'll find it.  I think we've missed the bright reds.  All the swamp maples changed in late August through September so now we are heavy into orange and russet and yellow.  The trails are just beautiful carpeted in color.

 In 2002, the towns of Ashby and Ashburnham purchased Mount Watatic.  This was championed by a group of citizens who wanted to prevent a cell phone tower on the summit, as well as preventing any kind of development.  In doing so, trees are now growing up and choking out the beautiful scenic outlooks that were once plentiful along the trail.  Perching on top of a cairn on the summit, I managed to get this glimpse of Mount Monadnock to the west.
 This view is looking toward the east, over Ashby towards Boston.  With our naked eye, we could just make out skyscrapers on the horizon.  They are not seen with my phone.
These two markers are side by side in the stonewall that runs along the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border.  The tall granite post marks the state boundary. The A & A stands for Ashby and Ashburnham Massachusetts, where the two towns' borders meet.  I did not get a picture of the New Hampshire side of this marker, but it is engraved NI NH, standing for New Ipswich, New Hampshire. The low flat stone marks the northern terminus of the Midstate Trail. 

The Midstate Trail is a 92 mile hiking trail which extends from Rhode Island crossing the gentle hills of central Massachusetts and eventually connects to the Wapack Trail in New Hampshire.  This is just about the border between Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  My sister and I hope to hike the entire Wapack Trail at some point.  Our goal for this fall was to hike the 22 mile trail in three sections.  We have done the first one....sort of.  We did not begin at the trail head to include Mount Watatic, but began it about a half mile beyond these markers.  Maybe next year we will start section hiking the Midstate Trail!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

It is amazing and maybe a bit embarrassing to realize that I have lived in a community for 27 years and have only recently discovered some hidden treasures.  The first picture is the abandoned road my sister and I have begun walking this year for the first time.  Once a week we try to venture off onto lesser walked paths in the woods when my husband has time to go with us.  Last Friday we discovered this section of waterfalls.  It did involve a water crossing to get back onto the road but no one fell in!  Just beautiful and right in our own backyard, so to speak.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

September Saturday Recap

  I'm disappointed I haven't filled up my Trail Report page this summer.  My sister has two new hips ... can we say three?  One hip ended up being replaced a second time!  We've been walking almost every day, but not quite the same as hiking.  When we do get a hike, it is a power hike with a focus on time and distance and pace as opposed to views and birds and contemplation.  I suppose it hasn't helped that we both graduated to sort-of-smart phones this summer.  She uses a stop watch function and is all about the time!!  I downloaded "map my hike" which is just my cup of tea as it uses GPS technology to show my route!  It speaks to us at each mile and lets us know our pace per mile as well as a split pace time and at the end it calculates calories burned.  After three years of not hiking, we each had some weight to lose as well as just needing to get fit again.  My favorite part of "map my hike" is syncing it to my lap top then watching a video flyover of our route through google earth.  Most of our "hiking" has been walking an abandoned road in town which gives us a quick three mile walk almost every day.  Once or twice a week we try to get a four or five mile hike in.  We are grateful for the Wapack Trail and the Midstate Trail in our backyard.  The Midstate Trail gives us a 5 mile roundtrip hike through changing terrain but it is mostly soft!  We have seen evidence of horse and bear, deer, and possibly coyote along the trail. 

  We also have Mount Watatic in our backyard, which is a relatively easy but steep hike to a rocky open top with views to Boston, as well as mountain ranges in New Hampshire and Vermont.  Last Saturday morning we began our hike with headlamps at 5:20 in the morning, hoping to enjoy sunrise on top.  It is VERY different hiking in the dark.  We made it to the top just about first light, with plenty of time to find a spot protected from the strong wind.  Coffee poured and muffins handed out, we leaned against a rock to watch the sunrise.  A very overcast day, the sunrise was not spectacular but it felt so good to finally do it as we've talked about it for years but always find a good excuse to stay in bed a little later on a Saturday morning.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Happy Birthday

It is impossible to choose a few pictures that capture the essence of a life.  There are newborn pictures where we naively have no clue what might be "wrong" with our "Pale Peanut" but we know enough to treat her gingerly after an xray at 6 weeks showed she had brittle bones.  It was an entire year before a definitive diagnosis was given, Mucolipidosis II also known as I-Cell disease.  This picture was taken in your second year.  Great Gramma had not had her heart valve surgery yet.  You  had been on oxygen since you were 8 months old,  had surgery to repair a diaphragmatic hernia at 9 months, and had a g-tube for supplemental feeding put in at the same time as the hernia repair.  This picture is blurry, but I think it's appropriate since most of the pictures this week look blurry through my teary eyes.  You changed our lives forever 5 years ago.  Your three years, eight months and one day were packed full thanks to your wild and crazy parents and the incredible strength of your mom.  You kept us distracted during your grandfather's and uncle's overlapping military deployments.  You met the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff now Retired Admiral Mullins and his wife.  You met Brobee and Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba as well as Geoffrey Giraffe.  You went to the top of Mount Washington, put your feet in the Atlantic Ocean in Kittery, Maine (you didn't really like that), went to parades, traveled back and forth to Pennsylvania to visit family and feed ducks. You loved the zoo and butterfly places and Davis Farmland.  Your dad and mom would bring tiny hatchling turtles for you to watch.  While you weren't able to go many places that last year or so, people were brought to you.  Teachers, therapists, nurses!  You giggled and entertained and learned and we were in awe of how well you could communicate without being able to use words.  You expressed so much with your faces and your fingers, your whole body.  I was so grateful when we finally got long tubing for your oxygen so you could travel around the house!  It was fun to bring you down cellar to do laundry.  You would ride in the basket on top of the clean clothes.  I remember a few months before you left you were so agitated when I brought the clothes up.  You kept leaning and making your little "demanding" noise.  (Leaning was one of your clearest forms of communication)  Somehow we realized you wanted your mom's sweater which was on top of the clean clothes stack.  You not only wanted it, you wouldn't rest until we put it on you!!!  Then you smiled and snuggled against your mom.  You held up your hand, covered by the long sleeve and smiled.  You wanted to be just like mom, like any other little girl.   You would be turning 5 today.  You rocked our world and we will never be the same.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Flocks of juvenile American Robins all around.  When I look quickly, I think they are Northern Flickers!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

 Cabbage White Butterfly
 Painted Lady.....with a busy proboscis. 

 A glimpse of the upperside of the wings.
I love this shot, to get some scale with the Painted Lady and the Fritillary behind (Great Spangled?).  I almost missed the bee sharing the stem with the Painted Lady.

Friday, August 15, 2014

View from the Yard

We were given 6 butterfly bushes last year to plant in Amber's memory.  Three different colors for Amber's parents' yard and three for our yard.  The bushes spent last summer in their original pots as we were just too stuck to do anything.  The babyMomma's yard is a work in progress and with two puppies who like to "garden," the bushes have not been moved to her yard yet.  My hubby did heel in the six bushes in a raised bed the babyMomma had in our yard.  To our delight and amazement, they survived the near neglect of last year and a harsh winter and are blooming!  Dark purple bloomed first, followed by a deep red-violet, and the pale pink is just beginning to bloom.  Yesterdays visitors included a Hummingbird Moth and a Red-spotted Purple Admiral (as far as I can tell).  At first I thought it was a Spicebush Swallowtail, but it didn't really fit the bill.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Frantic Flights

After a quiet three weeks, my yard exploded on Monday with feathered family groups!  Nuthatch fledglings bursting upwards after a parent, like a tornado of leaves on a blustery autumn afternoon.  Chipping sparrows had another brood and they were non stop noise all day!  Eastern Phoebe fledglings were out and about, practicing their bug catching skills.  With all the activity, I was only able to capture this guess is Red-bellied Woodpecker, but I am not sure.  The sun was too bright so the exposure is terrible, but his posture on the branch startled me.  Quite possibly he was drying off after a visit to the birdbath.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

First hummer that I've noticed on butterfly bushes given to us last May to remember Amber Skye.  Not the best photos, taken through my living room handed while on the phone