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Friday, August 28, 2009

My Sister-in-Law has had a profound effect on our Lives.

Life happens. A lot.
My life shifted gears quite a bit last week when my big brother told me his wife, Caren, was in the hospital.

We lost my brother's first wife, Candy, to cancer about 6 years ago. He married her when I was relatively young and I grew up with her as a second sister - the tall blond one with sparkly eyes, a ready, impish smile, and such a sweet person. Yes, I still miss her a lot.

I was missing her all over again this week, along with other dear people lost to cancer or illness/age: my Mom, my Dad, a favored Uncle, my Godmother, grandparents, another friend Karen, the hubby's grandparents (who adopted me right away when DH and I first started dating; "When are you getting married?" his Grandma asked after we'd been dating maybe a month. {fond grin}).
I've also been thinking about the folks in my life that have been battling cancer, but are still here to bless my life in person. A week of memories. Some very good. Some bittersweet. Some that fill my eyes with tears and my heart with longing.

Yesterday, I got to say goodbye to my Sister-in-Law, Caren.
Today, she left her body behind.

Caren was a cancer survivor of maybe 4 years when we met her. She was amazing. She made beautiful, stunning corsets. She had survived some things in life that no one should have to endure - and she worked diligently to heal others. She was a Reiki Master and Hypnotherapist. She could sew anything. She had a definite green thumb and was profoundly generous.

She made my big brother happy and maybe gave him what he needed to find a more grounded center. He has bloomed in many areas of his life and is more spiritual now.
She also gifted my big brother with the "daughter he always wanted". Both Caren and her daughter decided to take my brother's name and they all chose to have adoption papers drawn up to make it official. My Niece is very accomplished and succeeds at anything she turns her mind to with grace and confidence. I have no doubts her life will be interesting and successful in any direction she chooses to turn.

Caren was also very private and much of the recurrence of her cancer was not known to me or our family...or even many friends, I think.
I suspect my brother has been almost solely focused on Caren and helping her battle her cancer for the last 2 years. He's also been working more than full time at his job. I've learned some of what's been happening in the last week. It explains a lot of odd conversations and delayed/canceled meet-ups.
Knowing more of their path of the last 2 years, and more specifically in the last 4 months, takes some of the sting out of my confusion, and yes, some hurt, at the odd turn in our relationship.

But I feel like I missed many opportunities to spend time with Caren, to share knitting, to support them in this battle, and to learn more about and from her.

That's a common feeling when you lose someone - "I shoulda...", "I wish...", "If only...".

My Sister-in-Law, Caren has had a profound effect on our lives.

She will continue to have a profound effect on our lives.

But still I wish...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sock Summit 2009 - Part 1 - Getting to Oregon

I'm going to try to post my Sock Summit observations in sections. Mostly because it was a wonderful and overwhelming experience and because it's WAY too much for one blog.

Extreme Knitterly Content in this Blog.
Folsk with a low knit-gab tolerance or folks only looking for kitten pictures should skip this blog. Gryphon, CooPurr, and BobCat cuteness will return in a later set of blogs.

Confession #1:I had many, many, many, moments of "Demmit - I should have taken a picture of that!". I do have some pictures and some very spiffy ones...but not as many as I would have had I not been agog of my surroundings, the Sock Knitterati, and hyperventilating just at the thrill of being there.
My apologies for not doing a better photo-job.

Confession #2: Caught up in the Sock Summit thrill/yarn fumes/general fatigue, I had a couple of moments where I snapped pictures of teachers without having gained their specific permission or where I was not in a setting where wholesale picture-taking was occurring. (We're not talking about Kinnearing here.)
Having come to my senses early at the Summit, I resolved to delete any pictures that were not in accordance with the Sock Summit guidelines. And I have performed said deletions as required by my conscience.

So...Getting to Oregon:
Prior to my "Reality after the Surreal Sock Summit" post, I wrote of feeling that I'd won a "Golden Ticket" when, via Lottery, I had been offered a place in Sivia Harding's "Hooked on Beads" class and a ticket for the Opening Night Reception.
I was able to purchase the 2nd 1-hour class I'd wanted most, Judy Becker's "Judy's Magic Cast On", from a young lady that had been unable to attend the Summit.

I got serious about getting a (belated) Airline ticket (ouch) and tracking down a place to sleep (ouch-er) - not an entirely easy task less than 2 weeks before the summit. But I felt a bit more settled about the trip. I began to live on the Sock Summit 2009 discussion group on Ravelry. So much to read. So much good advice. So many nifty people planning to attend! I began to take notes regarding places to visit and eat and bonus events folks were offering/cooking up.

I also created a home-made "Greetings" button (since I was too late to order a real one from Ravelry), acknowledged that I wouldn't be able to make stitch markers to trade, measured off 25-yards of sock yarn increments from a skein I pulled from my stash for the mini-skein trade at the Red Lion, and started knitting a mini-sock to pin to my person.

I tried the knit-slip heel and ribbing all the way down the sock and I am profoundly tickled with the results!

(It made me feel like a real sock knitter not to knit just an entirely plain sock. Well a real TINY, real sock knitter.)
(Cherry Tree Hill - left over yarn from my first pair of socks.)

I belatedly purchased a spot in Barbara Walker's Lecture "How I became a knitter" via Ravelry discussions. Honestly, I was profoundly clueless as to who Barbara Walker was in the knitting world, or the world at large. A very little bit of research showed me this was not something to be missed.
The nifty lady I purchased the ticket from was somewhat heartbroken that she couldn't attend the Summit - especially so that she couldn't go to the Barbara Walker lecture. I promised to take notes and try to pass on some of what I heard to lessen the woman's heartache just a little. I'll publish highlights here, but not the whole nine-yards as that is a bit too close to "recording".
(Yep, honor-bound again.)

I now had 2 classes and 2 events for my Sock Summit!

I plotted to participate in the attempt to break the Guinness World Book of Record for "Most Number of People Knitting Simultaneously" and take some of my knitting books to be adorned with author signatures at the book signing event .
Beyond that, I was going to seriously explore the Marketplace, acquire YARN, visit VooDoo Donuts, attend a presentation at Powell's Book Store: "A Night for Knitters", and try some of the restaurants I'd been reading about on Ravelry. Bonus - the DH brought to my attention some restaurants from the Travel Channel's Man vs Food Portland show.
I packed and stash-dived to find donations for the World's Largest Handknit Sock and for the Buffalo Gold Yarn Bailout.
And I decided the only local, Portland Yarn Store I'd visit would be Yarnia.

I got on a plane Wednesday morning, checking 1 bag, carrying on the rolling backpack I'd acquired (the Knitting books stayed with ME) and everything else I needed (knitting/purse/boarding pass) stuffed into my Sunset Knit Dr. Bag.

I sat between Sylvia and Becky who did a tag-team cross-word puzzle.
Becky: "What's a 9-letter word for a basic swim stroke that starts with a "D"?".
Sylvia repeats the question and says there isn't one.
I'm in the process of agreeing when Sylvia bursts out: "Dogpaddle!".
When Becky couldn't fill in any more words, she passed the crossword puzzle to Sylvia.

There was a surprise stop-over in Vegas that wasn't mentioned on the SW Airlines itinerary...
Becky and Sylvia exited to meet another plane and an Oriental couple sat down to share the ride to San Jose. They spoke more English than I do of any other language and the woman complimented me on my tiny sock knitting. I helped them with their stubborn seat belts and opening packets of peanuts. ;-)

I was surprised to find I could take pictures out the plane window!

Knit Ingenuity
- I finished the Mini Sock on the plane, but lacking a finishing needle stepped through the Kitchner stitch on knitting needles (it's kinda backwards when you do it with needles) and pulled the yarn tail into the sock with my knitting needles.
Ta-Da!! (I can't believe it worked.)

I dashed off the plane in San Jose to get to my plane to Portland with minimal time for the Ladies room.

Two Gentlemen sat with me on the jog to Portland...questioning, as had Becky and Sylvia, how I got the pointed sticks on the plane? (Security hadn't blinked an eye.) They also asked if I'd seen all the people knitting in the waiting areas? Knitting? Where?
I'd totally missed them in my dash for the plane.

But they'd seen me in my Black "Agree (1)" Ravelry shirt.
And they somewhat adopted me on the way to the baggage claim when we got to Portland.
I'd found my "people".

Cindy, Mary Ann, Melanie, Michelle, and several other ladies whose names escape me {Sincere apologies - if you trip over this blog, pipe up and correct me/enhance my memories!!}.
We collected luggage and figured out how to purchase tickets on Max (Portland's excellent light rail system - I was very impressed with their mass-transit and map goodies. Well done!).

Finally at the Sock Summit:
We arrived downtown and figured out where our hotels were (close - it was very nice!).
I spied Cat Bordhi and Sivia Harding in the lobby of my hotel!
Well, yeah, I did stare some...but I wasn't too creepy. Honest.

I returned to the Convention Center to Register for the Sock Summit 2009!!!
In front of the convention Center was the Sapporo Friendship Bell.

It sounds off randomly.
It has a nice tone.

{They have a sign to warn folks the bell could ring at any time... ;-) }

Inside....as promised... Sock Summit 2009 Registration under the Dragon Boat:

Note the lady who got her packet, stepped back just a little, and dropped down on the floor to review it right then and there.

I gathered my packet and stepped back about 25 feet and realized - everyone, after collecting their registration packets, turned to walk away with a smile of delight/joy on their faces. Lovely.

I met Megan whilst loitering there along with a few other grinning, registration-in-hand knitters. (Megan wins my award for best use of mini-socks. She attaches them to a wood hair stick so they dangled from her hair, interchangeable with her outfits. No, no pictures. But what a clever idea!)

About then some of the knitters I'd met at the airport turned up! From left to right: Mary Ann, Cindy, ?Michelle?, and the newly-met Megan:

This is about when the Sock Summit 7 sightings began (SS7 = the ladies who created/organized the Sock Summit for us). As previously noted, I saw Cat Bordhi at my hotel and at various times around the Summit. JoAnn from Blue Moon Fibers was nearly always to be found in the Registration area. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Rachel H. and Tina were also constantly about, busy, and making sure things ran very smoothly. As were Debra and Debbi... Amazing. They all did a truly amazing job. Such organization. I can't even begin to explain what a feat they pulled off. And all the folks that volunteered...
They built it and we came. Well Done!

Some folks had places to be and we generally split up.

Cindy blessed me with her excellent company and very impressive knowledge of pretty much everything knitty and we spent the evening together.
She helped me put together and delivery some Hawaiian Shortbread/Starbucks Gift Certificates for the Sock Summit 7 at the Convention Center.
We tried out Burgerville for dinner. Pretty decent. I enjoyed my burger and fries. The chocolate shake was ok...but the blackberry shake I had Saturday was wicked good. I SO want another one!
Moreover, I LOVE the Burgerville "culture". They buy fresh and local. Essentially all of their containers can be recycled/composted - and they have bins out to help folks sort their "trash". My kinda place!

Cindy and I returned to the Red Lion Hotel - a mini-skein trade had been plotted on Ravelry at 9 PM in the bar at the Red Lion.

Now... the Hotel Bar area had been reserved by an unknown party prior to our planned 9 PM mini-skein trade invasion. We Ravelry-ites suspected...the Sock Knitterati were there having a dinner...and we were correct! We entered the bar area just after 9 PM and we found a variety of famous Knitterly folks - and Cindy knew them all on sight!
She's my hero and knit-world mentor and she doesn't even know it. Basically - she rocks!

Jackie had baked/decorated these totally spiffy sock cookies and the Sock Knitterati were quite tickled. The cookies were terribly cute and looked VERY yummy.

These kind ladies stayed for a few moments to chat with us but exited shortly thereafter singing "Good Night Ladies" to us as they waived goodbye and headed toward the elevator.

Mini-skein trading:
(the lady on the right is Jackie of the nifty sock cookies.)

Spiffy mini skeins for trade!

Mini-sock anyone?

Ya know - I don't think I got to trade with this lady. {rats}

We stayed to chat and knit for a while but Cindy and I left around 10, worn out from our first day at the Sock Summit.
Sleep was achieved quickly.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Reality after the Surreal Sock Summit 2009

Still reeling from my several days of profound knit-geekiness (maybe dorkiness applies better) whenever I met up/spoke with any of the Sock Knitterati/Sock Summit Seven....I got home last night after my short trip to the Sock Summit 2009...and reality struck with a vengeance.

Home to find BobCat is a day behind in his wet food consumption - and a day behind in the meds that are in the wet food I setup for BobCat for the days I was gone.
I added an extra dose in today's wet food and BobCat is eating better today than when I was gone.

Gryphon has been so happy I'm home - he's gifted me with several banzai kitty attacks on my arms at various times in the last 14 hours. [sigh/ouch].
However...he did let me sleep through the night.
Kitten's nails have been trimmed (he was very nice about it) and Squirty bottle is being applied as needed.

Unfortunately my baby brother, whom I love just about best in the world, called in the early hours of this morning to see if we were going to walk and do breakfast today. I passed in the feeble hope that more sleep could be achieved, but I was delusional and I was awake. [sigh/yawn]

More unfortunately, DH managed to spill a very large, very full cup of coffee in our bedroom over two cloth-covered storage ottomans and a chunk of the floor. Blessings - the ottomans are brown to begin with, the carpet is well-loved already (i.e. overdue for replacement), and the DH drinks his coffee black. So we sopped up and scrubbed what we could and our bedroom smells pleasantly of cleaning solution and coffee.
[sigh/deep inhale of still lovely coffee aroma]

So now, I'm doing laundry and pondering all the lovely knitters and friends I found at the Sock Summit with whom I managed not to be entirely socially inept...and trying to decide how best to document my Sock Summit adventure.
[sigh/kinda wish'n I'd stayed for the whole thing...]