Tag Archives: family time

My Parents, My Kids and a Dear Friend

It has been one month since my last post. Many times I have thought I should sit down and write but it never happened. Life got so crazy around here!

The main issue was my dad and this weird illness that seemed to begin out of the blue. He is 88 years old and other than a cold here and there has never really been sick so this was shocking to him and the family. Turns out he has developed an auto-immune disease that is quite painful (Polymyalgic Rheumatica). He has been in so much pain and trying to get him the proper treatment for this has been horrific. When Mom and Dad moved to the area in July, they immediately made appointment to become established with a primary care doctor. The first available appointment was in November. Because they are were in good health, we all thought nothing of it. When Dad became sick in August, it became clear we do not have enough doctors in our area. NO ONE would see him since he wasn’t an ‘established patient’. We took him to Urgent Care and the Emergency room twice and each time, they suggested Ibuprofen and that we should make an appointment with a rheumatologist because his blood work indicated he had a problem. This was not the least bit helpful. He cannot have an appointment to a rheumatologist without a referral and he can’t get the referral because he doesn’t have a primary care doctor which he cannot get an appointment with until November. What a vicious cycle. I spent many, many hours on the phone just calling doctors randomly to try and get him in. It was truly a crazy experience.

Finally as luck would have it, I had an appointment for my annual physical. While there, I told my primary care doctor of this whole debacle and he felt terrible for my father. In an act of true human kindness, my doctor said he would see my father. My doctor isn’t accepting new patients but he walked me to the reception area and told the scheduler to get my father in that same week. OK – now we were making some progress. The same doctor talked to his partners and one of them said they would take my parents as new patients. Even more progress! At his visit, Dad was prescribed steroids which are helping but he is still very uncomfortable. The doctors are working on getting the level correct to reduce his pain. Now that he is ‘established’ with a doctor I was able to get him an appointment with a rheumatologist Except the rheumatologists are all scheduling months out. Sigh.

Well I know how to play this game. Dad is now scheduled for two appointments with two different rheumatologists (and hopefully they don’t read quilting blogs or I will be busted on this)! He has an appointment with one in December and the other in April. I asked he be put of the ‘cancellation list’ at both offices. I have a reminder in my phone to call each one every week and see if he can take a cancellation because I don’t honestly have any confidence they will remember to call if one opens up. With any luck, he will get in sooner than December but at least we are making progress.

As my daughter-in-law said, Dad has been the victim of our very broken medical system. What a wildly irritating experience this has been. As for Dad, I am grateful he is feeling a bit better but he is still having so much pain so we need to keep working this broken system until all of this can be resolved.

While visiting with my dad and mom, we have been looking at old photos. They are such a treasure – here is one with Dad (left side), his little brother and his younger sister. This was taken in their back yard in about 1947 or so.

During all of this, there was a family wedding celebration. My son came out from Brooklyn, NY for a week. It was a great distraction for Mom and Dad to see some family (though Dad was unable to go to the reception).

Kyle and mom.

I loved having Kyle here – we went to the beach, did some hiking, he jogged alongside me at my very slow pace, and we ate loads of yummy food.

Beach time.

Our visit with Kyle was followed by a visit from my friend Sophia. This was also a great treat! I created a mini shop-hop and we toured around visiting quilt shops. The state fair was happening so we headed over there, specifically to see the quilt exhibits. We also did some hiking, and again, ate some yummy food!

Because she is a veteran with a can of spray baste, she helped me use it to baste a lap quilt. It wasn’t messy and, was in fact, super easy. Since she left, I sprayed two more projects. My only issue thus far was having the spray nozzle clog up. I think I have that all fixed though.

Best of all, Sophia taught me how to do some basic paper piecing. Yahoo! I can’t say I enjoy it all that much, but I can see the benefits of it for certain types of projects.

The holiday project on the right side has been in my unfinished pile of projects for years. Sophia and I had taken a class together back in 2016 and this was one of the projects. Once I set it aside, I totally and completely forgot how to make the little trees. My patient friend showed me and I got the trees finished, just seven short years later. Hahaha. The block on the left is just practice. I printed a few papers to use as practice so I won’t forget again! I have to keep practicing this or it won’t stick. This isn’t how my brain works so it is tough for me to remember the process.

Brooklyn With My Boy

After enjoying time with one of my kids, leaving is always, always a challenge. Do all mothers feel this? The love I feel for each of my four children is endless.

I just spent four whole days with Kyle. He is my middle child; my second born who entered this world in 1987, ten days early and came into the world in just 26 minutes. The doctor didn’t have time to put on his surgical gown and I am fairly certain the (white) shirt and Mickey Mouse tie he wore that Sunday evening were never worn again. I was still wearing socks and a -tshirt when the hospital registrar came in after Kyle was born and said, ‘well now, let’s do your paperwork’.

Sweet boy asleep on the first quilt I made.

Having time alone with any one of my children is time treasured. Because he lives across the country, this doesn’t happen often enough for me and Kyle. But this week…. This week I had four entire days. We talked about all sorts of stuff, from silly to serious. We walked over 60,000 steps wandering all over Brooklyn. One day we did venture into the city for a walk through Central Park but mostly we stayed in Brooklyn.

Time for appetizers; dolmas, roasted beet salad, roasted and brussel sprouts – delicious

Kyle and his wife were very gracious hosts. They chose amazing restaurants, and even found a lovely quilt exhibit in a small museum (worthy of a separate post). Knowing I was really there just for time together, our time wasn’t booked up with tours and back to back activities. It would be easy to do this in New York and maybe someday we will. Instead we just walked and talked.

Not my photo; how did I forget to take one??

On Thursday we enjoyed hanging out together. My daughter-in-law was unable to take as much time off as Kyle. We decided to go to Brooklyn General so I could ogle the fabric. Their focus is yarn but do have a great selection of garment fabrics and some quilting cottons. I knew I wanted a linen blend to make a summer top. After choosing one, my DIL found some pretty batiks. I chose one and plan to make a pair of loose fitting, comfy pants. 

Training climbing roses over a length of heavy chain.

Next we headed over to the Botanical Gardens. It was a warm, slightly humid day. We wandered the garden looking at the roses choosing our favorites and smelling the fragrance as we wandered. What a surprise to see how far ahead the blooms were compared to my roses at home in Washington. The gardens here were fully blooming but mine still have tight buds.

Another day we took the subway into the city to see Central Park. What a beautiful space. It was Friday and it didn’t feel at all crowded. We listened to a number of musicians. Of course in the Strawberry Fields area the music was songs by the Beatles. We watched a high school age dance group practicing a dance routine involving some line dance steps with boots and hats mixed with some hip hop and gymnastics. I LOVE watching kids dance so this was super. We also sat on a bench for a long while to listen to a young woman with a gorgeous voice sing. She did some Alycia Keys and knocked it put of the park (pun absolutely intended). As we walked under a gorgeous archway, we watched a wedding party having professional photos taken. The bride wore a stunning full skirt of silk with tones of bronze. I was mesmerized by her outfit and I am sure Kyle expected me to go ask her what the skirt was made of! I (barely) controlled myself.

Next we headed over to see the Twin Towers monuments and take a peek at the Statue of Liberty. It was a somber moment to see both of the monuments. Very severe looking with the angels and the water but a strong representation of what the size of the towers were and the loss caused on that day. There were a few single rose blooms placed on a name here and there. Kyle explained there is a group of volunteers who place a flower on the name of anyone who would have celebrated a birthday that day. As far as the Statue of Liberty, I am happy I saw it but was underwhelmed. Not sure why. Maybe because I had seen photos of it so many times. But I can check it off the list now that I have seen it.

On Saturday we walked through the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. This historical graveyard has been in Brooklyn since 1838. It is also an arboretum. The mature trees and rolling hills spread over 438 acres make for an incredible park. People use it as a local green space which is so needed when living in such a populated city. During lockdown, Kyle and his wife would often walk through here to be outdoors. He would tell me of their ‘walk through the cemetery’ but I had no idea it was anything other than a small, local cemetery.

The gravestones and markers are really interesting. Some are ornate and some could even be described as gaudy. Others are touching such as the one above with their family pet immortalized.

Some are mysterious, leading us to google the name on the headstone to see if we could find out details about the person remembered there. I tried briefly to look up this memorial to see if it was actually a memorial to the horse or to the owner of the horse. I wasn’t successful though I admit I didn’t try very hard. This marker is huge, taller than me.

Sunday was spent wandering the Dumbo district in Brooklyn. Along with oodles of others, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. (Picture above isn’t great but it is the only one I have so I have to save it!) It is one mile long and because of the crowds, we walked slowly. Talking, talking and then….. talking even more. People watching was crazy fun. We saw two (very unintelligent) people climb to the top of the rail (intended to keep people from falling off the bridge and into the highway traffic just below) to take photos. Really?? That is the picture you need to have?? Both people were young, pretty women who were dressed beautifully. I would assume this was for a social media post. Yikes. Our world is crazier by the day. They are climbing up there as Kyle and I discuss our jitters over the fact that the bridge is made of wooden planks and wonder if it is strong enough for the hundreds and hundred of tourists walking the bridge. We stopped and looked through the slats and realized that if the slat should crack and we fell through it wasn’t going to be pleasant. Yep, we are of like minds, my son and me.

Returning home on Monday was the right thing to do; albeit not easy. But over the next few days the smoke from the Canadian fires was heavy. The La Guardia airport was even shut down for a bit. Seems like the air cleared a bit today but I know all too well the smoke comes and goes for such a long time.

In other news, my parents BOUGHT A HOUSE!! They are moving up here at the end of June and I just cannot wait! They are dealing with myriad details which is so overwhelming when moving. The new house is just five miles from mine which is perfect. Today I am heading to my son’s house. I am the “mystery reader” in H’s kindergarten class. Next we leave on Wednesday to head to central CA to watch Julia graduate from college. Life has certainly taken me away from the sewing room. Not sure when I will be back to having time for sewing. But this happens. Take care everyone. Back soon-(ish)!!

Central Coast for Spring Break

Ray and I just got back from five days with Julia in the California Central Coast. Usually Julia comes home for spring break but since this is her ‘last’ one, we decided to enjoy it with her in California. The three of us had such a nice time together. Much of our time was spent beach combing with Julia and Ray looking for rocks and me hunting for beach glass. The shores in Morro Bay did not disappoint. We left with our pockets bulging each time we walked there.

The three of us never seem to tire of beach wandering. We had some sunny days and walked in a bit of rain at other times. But it was all lovely.

Nothing like a sunset shot on a California beach.

Cal Poly campus

We asked Julia if she would tour us through the Swine Unit at Cal Poly. Since she spends so much of her time there, we wanted to better understand the work she does there.

I don’t know about you, but it is such a treat to see our kids in their world. What they spend their time doing, the jobs they are so knowledgeable about, their favorite parts of their work – it lets us, as parents, see our kids as the adults they are becoming.

Julia took us through all of the various barns. Some held the boars (like the photo above). Some had the teenagers (piglets who had recently been weaned from mom but not released to run outside yet). Others had sows who currently were not taking care of a litter. There were sooooo many pigs! Julia seemed to know many of them by name and what each one was doing and why. How she could tell them apart was beyond me.

The nursery was my favorite part. When we were watching the mamas (sows) with their babies, the whole nursery was quiet. One of the sows was laying on her belly without exposing any teats to the piglets. Julia said they do this when they don’t want to nurse at the moment. The piglets started to really scream at her and she grudgingly rolled to her side to let them feed. The funny thing was once that litter of piglets was screaming to eat (and they were really screeching!) then ALL of the litters immediately began to screech. The power of suggestion, right? It was hysterical to listen to the whole barn come to life.

The piglets are so cozy when they are new. They huddle together under the heat lamps and keep each other warm.

When they are just a bit older (the piglets shown above were about 12 days old) they will do whatever it takes to find their place to nurse. Look at this one laying on top of her sibling. I watched these two for a bit. It was so cute.

As they get older, the piglets climb all over the place – exploring their pen. Mama is kept in the farrowing crate. it doesn’t look like it but she does have room to stand, stretch, drink and eat. The piglets end up on the wrong side of her and will then climb up and over to return to the side of their mama that provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I didn’t get any pictures that show this but on (most of) the males there were two little slits where they had all been recently castrated. I asked why they didn’t stitch up the opening but Julia said the environment in which the piglets live isn’t sterile so they would be sealing bacteria into the cut. Instead they just apply antibacterial on the incision and let it heal. It looked so clean and the piglets just ran around like nothing was bothering them.

Look at this cute little piglet.

On another afternoon we drove up the highway to San Simeon to watch the elephant seals. There is a protected area where they congregate in large numbers.

At this time of year, it is the females and the babies who are on the shore. They sure have a hard life – lounging on the sand day in and day out. 🙂

As always, it was nice to get home yesterday. The next time we go down to San Luis Obispo will be in June to celebrate Julia’s graduation. How wild!! Her college experience was less than traditional considering the hiccups due to the pandemic but she is definitely ready for the next phase in her journey.

County Fair Re-Cap

What a nice day we had today – long but lots of fun.

Julia started the day with a great smile, all ready to go.

She competed early in the morning in “Market Class” which is where the judge (in the ball cap) ranks the animals by the quality of their physical structure. Julia and Leo did well, placing 3rd out of eight animals.

Competition was followed by the “Breakfast of Champions” which is an annual event at fair. Yum – corn dogs!!

We watched some 4-H kids practicing showing their steers and I just loved the phrase on this guy’s shirt. His 4-H group all wore these shirts and it made me happy to see – they must have a great leader.

The breeder that Julia works with had a new litter of piglets just a few weeks ago. He brought the mama and her eight piggies to the fair to people could see these little guys. The mama looked exhausted and why wouldn’t she be with constantly nursing eight hungry babies. Mama pig weighed 500 pounds – she was huge.

My dad joined us for lunch and to watch Julia compete in the afternoon. We loved having him hang out with us – Thanks for coming, Papa! Isn’t this a cute picture of the both of them?

The day ended on a somewhat sour note. During the showmanship competition, Leo decided he wasn’t in the mood to cooperate and literally went to the corner of the ring and refused to leave. Try as she might, Julia couldn’t get him to perform, walk, or get out of the corner. It was crazy ridiculous since Leo has been such a great animal and they have been walking our property every morning for weeks and weeks. But if the animal has never been in a ring with eight other pigs, you can’t truly be sure how it will respond. Leo wasn’t in the mood I suppose. Julia tried and tried and finally realized she wasn’t going to be successful. Oh well, life lessons, right? I was proud of her in that she kept her cool and did her absolute best.

They are still buddies even if Leo really doesn’t dig the show ring too much. Raising an animal is a great experience that instills patience and responsibility in a person. But as with humans, animals have their own personalities, likes and dislikes. This guy is not a performer which was disappointing and surprising to Julia. She handled it well though and that is what counts.