Archive for January, 2017

Maverick's ladies, Melisande and Musette

Maverick’s ladies, Melisande and Musette

On the 23rd, I made a trip to Lone Tree to meet a lady who needed to rehome two female gliders. I know, I know…this would put me at nine gliders, but ever since Maverick realized there were other gliders nearby and he could see them but not interact with them because they wouldn’t accept him, he’s been lonely. He watched them constantly. Both my other cages contain males, which may or may not contribute to the lack of acceptance, depending upon who you talk to, so something needed to be done. Enter the lady I was meeting. She lives in Aspen, which is apparently a good six hours away from Colorado Springs, and was heading out on a trip from Denver International, so we agreed to meet in Denver the day before she left so I could pick up her girls and bring them home to hopefully become friends with Maverick.

I’d never driven to the Denver area alone before, and I’ve only gone up there maybe five times, including this trip, in the five years we’ve lived here. So naturally, I was nervous. I’m not fond of driving on interstates, and I love to drive. The longer the drive, the better. But interstates are populated by eighteen wheelers.

When I was seventeen, while driving my dad’s car back from somewhere I wasn’t supposed to have been, with two people I wasn’t supposed to be with, we were hit by a Ryder truck. That truck skidded 61 feet before he hit us. I saw it coming and stepped on the gas, but this was an economy car, which means there was really no pick-up at all. By the time we started moving, it was because we had been launched, Dukes of Hazzard-style, by the impetus of collision. The truck’s tire tracks were in the trunk all the way up to the back window. We were lucky. Not only did the tracks end at the window, but the gas tank was under the trunk. One of the police officers on the scene told me that when he heard car-and-truck collision, he’d thought they would be hosing us out of the vehicle.

Add this to the experience of growing up in an area of high traffic, which means you regularly heard news reports about eighteen wheelers jackknifing on the highway, and you get a good idea of my paranoia. The nice thing was that outside of the interstate, there were other highways we could use that did not allow trucks. For the area of New York that I trekked through most often, only the Long Island Expressway allowed trucks. The Northern and Southern State Parkways, the Grand Central Parkway, and the Van Wyck did not, so I most often used those. The City, or Manhattan to those who didn’t grow up there, was about an hour away from my home. We drove in often with my parents as kids, and as teens and young adults we drove in even more frequently because that was where the nightlife was. We averaged that trip at least once or twice a week, and an hour-long commute is a normal thing for New Yorkers. Even a two-hour one doesn’t raise any eyebrows: lots of people live in New Jersey and make the commute to NYC every day to work. So we made this drive often, and I knew the parkways well and didn’t have to deal with trucks. Paranoia indulged.

But now I’m driving to Denver. Alone. For the first time, with only a couple trips under my belt. What’s so amusing is that the drive isn’t that bad, trucks aside. It’s not…while I’m actually doing it. But when I think about doing it, I get chills and cold sweats. I have no idea why.

I left about 9 am because I wasn’t sure about traffic or where I was going. We were going to meet at Park Meadows Mall, at the junction of I-25 and CO-470, which I, for some reason, thought was on the  far side of Denver. I left way too early, because traffic was smooth sailing, and the mall was on my side of Denver. Lone Tree is actually on the outskirts of Denver. I was on the road for maybe an hour, tops. As she was coming from Aspen, she had a longer drive ahead of her, and wouldn’t arrive until 2:30. I had lots of time to kill. Wandering around a mall covered maybe an hour. There’s just not a lot to do in a mall if you’re not a size 3 and you’re holding onto every dime you’ve got. I drove to a couple of other places nearby too, but ended up hanging out in my truck for about an hour before she arrived.

I met the family and we talked gliders for a few minutes before all of us hit the road again, and I brought the newly named Musette and Melisande home. What can I say? I was in a mood for some elegant French names this time around. So no themes followed this time, although Musette did come from a really old Judy Garland musical cartoon called the Gay Purr-ee from 1962. It was one of my favorite movies, about country cat Mewsette leaving home for the big city, Paris, and leaving behind her beau, Jean-Tom, who follows her with his little sidekick Robespierre in order to keep her out of trouble. Meowrice was the villain of the piece, voiced by Robert Goulet.

The two of them are absolutely adorable, fully as sweet as Maverick. I didn’t put them all together right away, though. They were both a little freaked out, which is understandable. A long car ride, a new person, a new environment…anyone would be a little freaked. So they went into their own familiar cage for a couple of days.

Last night, I took the girls and Maverick into the tent together and took video. It couldn’t have gone better!!! No fighting. No crabbing. Lots of Maverick marking them with his scent, and them allowing it. Victory!!!!

My initial plan was to let them have a few “dates” before moving them all in together, but after returning everyone to their cages last night and feeding them, I noticed a huge gap between the back of the girls’ cage and the floor, big enough for one of them to either escape or get a head caught. It was probably a result of the ride home in the back of my truck, and I couldn’t fix it. And of course, now that I’d seen it, I couldn’t unsee it. There was nothing for it: the girls were moving, and right now.

Fourteen hours later, all is still well. All three are sleeping in the same pouch, and the cage is a combination of items belonging to all of them, so the scents should be mixing well, and Maverick certainly spent plenty of time last night marking everything new that came in. The girls even spent time marking themselves with his scent by rubbing their heads back and forth on the scent gland on his chest. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Maverick has friends now, and is no longer a lonely single. And now, I really can draw the line and say no more gliders. Nine is more than enough.

But for some reason, other glider owners have been laughing at me since I said that…

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No crafts, today. Today is about family.

Yesterday, I became an orphan. Well, at least, that’s how I feel. My father, who was 83, has been a victim of Alzheimer’s disease for the last seven years, and lost the battle at 1:00 am yesterday morning. I think it’s the first battle he ever lost.

It could be argued that, as he had this disease-that-is-not-a-disease for seven years, I became an orphan seven years ago. But if you are not familiar with Alzheimer’s, you don’t know: it doesn’t take anyone all the way, not immediately. There are good days, and there are bad ones. Periods of lucidity, and periods of dementia. It chips away at the person who has it, little by little, day by day.

First it’s little things, and they don’t even realize it. They forgot your name for a minute. Didn’t recognize you at first. But this can be explained: they were lost in another world, or you were standing in shadow and they couldn’t see you clearly. No big deal. And you both laugh it off.

Then it gets bigger. They forget to eat meals. Or they forget to shower, or how to put a shirt on. How to dial a phone. Where they were going. And you realize something is more wrong than you knew. And the doctor says Alzheimer’s.

And your heart sinks, because according to insurance companies, Alzheimer’s isn’t a disease, it’s a normal part of aging. None of that person’s care will be covered. It will all be out-of-pocket. Because it’s not a disease.

Really? Because my next door neighbor is also 83. She lives alone, with a toy poodle, drives herself where she needs to go most of the time. She cares for herself. Her mind is as sharp as a tack. If it’s a normal part of aging, why doesn’t she have it? Why don’t thousands of other elderly people have it?

There is nothing “normal” about watching the mind of your mother or father slowly destroy itself over the course of years. I can’t begin to explain the devastation you feel when the person that raised you to adulthood looks at you and sees a stranger. How it feels when you have the same conversation about how you know each other six times in a period of fifteen minutes because they don’t remember asking you that question two minutes ago.

My father was the strongest man I ever knew. He led an amazing life, and did so much. He was in the Air Force, he was an aeronautical engineer, he was a pilot, he was a race car driver. He was a son, a brother, a cousin, an uncle, a nephew, a father, and a grandfather. He meant something to so many people, but he meant so much more to my brother and me. As children, he turned us into airplanes every night and flew us to bed, complete with airplane sounds. He watched us crawl around the house under patchwork quilts, running into each other and the walls, giggling like mad, and decided that we must be “mugwumps”. Every night when he got home from work, he would call out “Where’re my mugwumps?”

All tickle fights started with Dad. He taught us both to ride bikes. He took us kite flying at Eisenhower Park. He coached Little League and track. He went to all recitals and school plays.

When I came home from my first day of driver’s ed at sixteen, he was shocked at the fact that I was afraid to take the car over fifteen miles per hour, and took me out that very afternoon to the parkway during rush hour. Rush hour in New York, which is a different beast than it is almost anywhere else. I learned to drive that day, terrified and elated as I managed to get from the onramp into the stream of traffic. I never feared driving again.

He was our disciplinarian. Mom was scarier, but Dad issued punishments other than spanking. When we got in trouble, Mom would spank us, but then follow up with the threat of “Wait till your father gets home”, which left us in dread of that hour. The punishment could be another spanking, or it could be grounding. You didn’t know, and the unknown made it more frightening.

As a teenager, while horsing around with my little brother, I tripped over him in a dark hallway and fell into a vase that Mom kept there to hold umbrellas and canes. The vase broke, and I narrowly missed severing my spine. I didn’t even feel it. When the vase broke, my brother and I ran for our rooms as Mom started yelling. Then I saw the blood dripping from my back onto the white bedspread.

Normally, the hospital was about twenty minutes away. Remember I said Dad was a race car driver? He used to drive in gymkhana races when I was a baby, and had a ton of trophies. He threw me into the car, and we made it to the hospital in less than ten minutes. I’d missed my spine by about a centimeter. I got stitches and swore I would never horse around again. I forgot that promise within a day, but never forgot the ride to the hospital. Dad loved speed, and so did I.

Dad worked for a defense contractor, first as an aeronautical engineer, then as an administrator, something that didn’t happen often for Blacks in the seventies, so it was something to be proud of. He worked for Grumman, the contractor who built the F-14 Tomcat, and Dad was a big part of that. Grumman was also a big part of the space program, so Dad was part of that too.

When my brother started Little League, and track when he was a bit older, Dad was right there to get involved. Home from work, into jeans (which he called “dungarees” for my entire life–he was the only person I ever knew that did), and out the door to the park to play ball.

When I went away to college, Mom and Dad helped me move into the dorm. One of my newest friends asked me if he was my dad; when I answered yes, she told me to tell him he was fine. We were eighteen; at the time, Dad was 53. I passed on the message. Dad grinned, winked at me, and said, “Tell her I know.”

I laughed and said “I’ll tell her you’re modest, too!”

When my oldest was born, I breastfed, but by the time she was seven months old, the PIP wanted to be able to help with feeding, and we also wanted to be able to give her juice in a bottle. Aneira wasn’t having it. She wanted nothing to do with the bottle. Enter my dad. The day they met, Christmas Eve, he took her from me and gave her the bottle just like it was something he did every day. She accepted it and never gave us any trouble about a bottle again. We were open-mouthed. We’d tried for months and gotten nowhere. Dad just shrugged.

With the deaths of my mother six months later, and his sister two years after, Alzheimer’s moved in. My brother and his fiancee moved in with Dad, all of us thinking this way we could keep him with us and avoid a facility, something with which we hadn’t had a good experience before. Within a year, we all knew that we couldn’t avoid it, and my brother found him a very nice facility, where Dad could live out his life under supervision. He wouldn’t even need to be moved when it came time for hospice care; the facility was specifically for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. He was happy enough there, but Alzheimer’s took everything from him, from his family to every accomplishment to his very self.

When the call came yesterday morning, part of me was relieved. Dad was back with Mom, and it was finally over. Another part of me was a child, crying for Daddy to come and get her. Nobody can ever replace Daddy.

Vincent D. 5/31/1933 to 1/20/2017. Survived by daughter and son. We love and miss you.

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The base of my bag, finally underway!

The base of my bag, finally underway!

It’s been a busy few days around here! Starting, of course, with the PIP passing his germs along to me, for which I owe him big time! I managed to avoid catching anything from the kids, only to get it from him. So now he’s over this plague, and it’s my turn to constantly hack up a lung. Yay…no, not really. At least I’m past the point of actually feeling like I’m sick.

While I am still playing around with the bag pattern from the mochila crochet group, I decided to try my hand at my own design once again, using the Easy Bead Pattern rosette template, and decided that I don’t like the program. At least not for anything in the round. I’m thoroughly confused by it, so I can’t get it to work the way I want it to, and as a result, I have scrapped a number of efforts. I just wanted to create a starburst pattern, not even anything very fancy, but I just can’t make it work for me. So now I’m kind of designing as I crochet. I can tell you this much: it ain’t a starburst!! I don’t know what it is, exactly…I’m just kind of winging it and hoping to learn from it, and whatever happens, happens.

Puzzle game loot!!!

Puzzle game loot!!!

Last week, a friend of mine called to ask a favor: could they come over for the day while their oldest kids were at school. Their apartment building was being bombed, so they had to clear out for the day, dog included. Naturally, my answer was yes. It was only going to be her, her husband, her two youngest children–she has five girls–and the dog. All the other kids were going to be at school…or so we thought! It was an extremely windy day, and just before she was due to arrive, I got a phone call from a wireless number I didn’t recognize. I didn’t answer it, due to my hatred of telemarketers, and was looking up the number on Google when it rang again, from the same number. This time I answered it, and it was Aneira. The circuit breaker at school, she said, had exploded. The students had all been evacuated to the church across the street, and could I come pick them up. This meant I needed to call my friend as well, because her middle daughter attends the same school, and I didn’t know if she’d gotten any notification about this. So I flew up to the church to sign them out, stupidly asked where their backpacks were (duh, evacuation!), and headed back home with the girls.

My friend, it turned out, had not only gotten word of the evacuation at the elementary school, but also gotten a call from her seventeen-year old, whose high school had had a tree fall down, so that school was allowing students to leave as well. We had a party shaping up at my house! The PIP had several of his friends down in the mancave, and now we had six kids instead of two! But, amazingly, my two actually somewhat behaved, so this wasn’t a bad thing. But then, we heard Bryony scream. If you’re a parent, you know the scream. It’s not anger or frustration, it’s pain, and you go running.

Turned out, Bryony tried to plug in her robot cat to charge it, and the prongs came out of the charger and stayed in the outlet. And for whatever reason, she forgot everything she’d ever been told about the dangers of electrical outlets, and tried to pull the prongs out. Thankfully, she never got a grip on them, but she connected with two fingers and blam! Electrocuted. Mildly. Yes, she’s fine–this would be a very different post if she wasn’t, but she managed to terrify herself and me. My child, down to the bone. At about the same age, maybe a little younger, I had done something similar. There was a light switch in our basement that my dad hadn’t put a plate over yet, and there was this pretty little bright orange thingie inside of the box that I just had to touch. Lesson learned, and I’m pretty sure Bryony learned hers too. We cut the electricity to the breaker so the PIP could pull the prongs out of the outlet, and life continued on. My friend’s husband went to pick up their second oldest, the only one whose school didn’t have any problems that day! And when she arrived, I discovered something new that I really love: she had a game called IQ Twist by a company called Smart Games USA. It’s a puzzle game, kind of like Tetris, but a physical game, not a video game. And I love puzzles. Especially challenging ones. And this company makes a slew of them. Yep, I ordered five of them from Amazon…for me. They weren’t expensive, and fell well within my allowance limits. Now, of course, my kids want them. With the number of games available, I’ve got birthdays and Yule covered for years.

Glider toys!

Glider toys!

And, last but not least, I got to meet one of the women from the Colorado glider group, the third of us who had gotten gliders imported from out of state. She was in town to have her male neutered, and had brought me some toys that I had been looking for–and failed to find–in the dollar stores here! We spent an hour in front of a restaurant, yakking away. I really like her, very down to earth. And my gliders are going to love these toys! I need to drill some holes in the bottoms in case they go to the bathroom in them, but once that’s done, into the cage they’ll go! I can’t wait to see how they like them!!

Well, I’ve got about two hours before the kids’ school lets out for the day, and I’m going to give my bag some quality time for a little while. See you soon!

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We’ve made progress!!!!

A lady in one of  my (eight billion) glider groups advised me to give the Dragons a few minutes of attention/treats every hour that I’m awake, taking the pouch out of the cage and talking softly to them while offering treats. I can’t say I’ve done it every hour, but I’ve done it as often as I can, and the PIP has been “helping” as well: all seven of them have trained him to offer treats whenever he walks into a room. Hilarious.

So last night I took the Dragons into the tent–after playing with Maverick–and had them taking treats from my hands, and I was permitted to pet each one of them for a second or two. How awesome is that?! So progress is slow, but it is there. I really wonder about the history of these gliders that we all imported in from out of state. Of the eight that arrived on the plane that night, my friend and I still have our six, between the two of us, and we’re both making very slow progress with them. The remaining two, I understand, were rehomed a short time after they arrived. They were apparently pretty vicious, attacking the cage bars every time one of the owner’s children walked by. They were being housed in the children’s bedroom, and the kids were terrified to go into their room. We haven’t heard anything about them since they were rehomed, so I hope their newest owner is making progress too.

The Dragons were never that mean. Yes, they are very, very nippy. And, sweet gods, did they ever smell!!! That was the first thing that progressed with them. Over time, the smell has become almost nonexistent, and that’s saying something for a room that is home to seven gliders and a rabbit! The odor is a bit stronger when it’s close to cage-cleaning time, but even then, it’s faint. When the Dragons first arrived, it was horrendous, and it wasn’t just due to being in such tiny enclosures for so long. That was to be expected. But it went on for weeks. You couldn’t open the door without becoming immediately aware that there were animals in the room, and I can be very nose-blind, seeing that the room in which they reside is also where I sleep! Now, it’s nowhere near as bad as it was. We’re headed in the right direction, I think.

In the arts department, we apparently had a secret Santa that we just received something from yesterday. No idea who, obviously, but the unexpected largesse was greatly appreciated by all!! Bryony and I hit JoAnn’s today, and we got loot!! Bryony decided on a huge box of foam alphabet stickers, which made me groan, envisioning everything that could be desecrated by them. I told her I better not see them on my walls, furniture, or floors. She assured me I wouldn’t, which tells me that they’ll be everywhere within two days. I, of course, hit the yarn department right off the bat. I needed mercerized cotton yarn. I also needed findings for the kumihimo and micro-macrame things I’d already made, some beads, several types of adhesive, and some aluminum (i.e., cheap) jump rings. So I’m all set!!

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Happy New Year, and may it be better than 2016!!!!

My box, and the start of the beginner bag.

My box, and the start of the beginner bag.

I am a glutton for punishment. Yup. How do I come to this conclusion? Because, like an idiot, I looked up video tutorials for mochila bags on YouTube, and I found one where the woman was using a cardboard box to keep the yarns separated. She had cut a hole in the side of the box for each color to be pulled through, thus keeping them from tangling. Naturally, there was nothing for it but that I had to make one myself, so I pulled out a plastic box I’d bought at the dollar store, and my Dremel, and drilled four holes into it. I was a little nervous about it, because I’d actually bought three of these boxes to use as glider kitchens in each of the cages, to keep the mess down when they eat. When the PIP tried to create entryways on the first box, it shattered. The other two have been sitting idle since then. But the drill bit went through with no problem, then I sanded off the rough spots. It’s not pretty, but it’s serviceable.

Well, once that was done, I had to try it out, right? Of course! And what else was I to do but start another bag? And since the box holds four balls of yarn, it was, naturally, necessary to try my hand at a multicolored base in the round.

That was where I made my first mistake. You see, I wasn’t working from an actual pattern. I really didn’t with the girls’ bags, either. The patterns were simple enough to keep in my head, for one, and for another, since they were only on the bodies of the bags, there were no increases to worry about. This was an entirely different story.

I thought a simple sunburst pattern, which basically means a bunch of triangles radiating out from the center, spread evenly around it, and I thought how difficult can this possibly be? I did the girls’ bags the same way. Yeah, genius, but you weren’t using increases every rutting row.

So I discovered exactly how difficult this could be: very. In the end, I ditched the thing and took the advice of the Facebook group to do the beginner pattern in the group’s files.

I’d really like to figure this out, too, because I want the next bag to come out of my own head, not someone else’s. But I will admit that this is a clear case of me getting cocky with success, and once again, running before I really know how to walk. So now that I’ve tripped over my own feet and faceplanted, now I’m going back to the beginning and starting again. Hey, at least I can admit I was an idiot, right?

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