Yarn Along No. 25

What a weekend! I spent a lot of time with my needles and yarn!

Let me take you through it!

Pretty finished scarf! @emily_m_deardo First, remember this guy? Yes. I have finished the long scarf/cowl thing, and as I was knitting it, I thought it would make a great birthday present for one of my always-cold friends. Her birthday is in September, and these are her favorite colors, so big win there! I love how it turned out.

washcloth project colors @emily_m_deardo

Second–at the top you can see the finished “lilac” washcloth. On the right is the last skein of yarn for the Washcloth Housewarming Gift Project. This one is called blackberry.

Current Yarn Along project  @emily_m_deardo

The book part: I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, which I’ve been wanting to read for awhile, but once Modern Mrs. Darcy suggested it, I was glad to find it for $4 at Half Price Books. :) So that’s what I’m currently reading.

So I have to cast on the last washcloth. But I did start one new project:

a scarf for the VA hospital in the most delicious color! @emily_m_deardo

People, this yarn. It’s called morning glory, and it has the slightest red tint to it. I love it. This is a scarf for a charity project. My Lay Dominican chapter collects hats and scarves to give to the patients at the local VA hospital, and this is my contribution. I’m knitting this up on 10 gauge Harmony Rainbow needles and it’s fantastic.

So, whew! That’s a lot for one yarn along! I’m loving knitting this scarf, and I’m so glad I have another skein of this color in the stash for another project. Possibly one for me. ;-)

Back to Pemberley: The Great Jane Re-Read

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo

 

It’s almost Memorial Day weekend here in the States, which is the unofficial summer kick-off. Barbecues will fire up, pools will open, and school kids enter the homestretch of the school year, if they’re not already out.

In my house, Memorial Day means it’s time for the Great Jane Re-Read.

I first fell in love with Jane before I went to college. Like most women in the 90s, this is the image that led me to Jane:

Mr. Darcy, I presume. @emily_m_deardo

Yes. I wasn’t drawn to Jane because I was naturally precocious–I was drawn to Jane because of Colin Firth.

There is nothing wrong with that! 

During summer vacations, my best friends and I would spend a lot of time on hot summer days watching movies in one another’s houses. One day, Tiff whipped out her parents’ 6 volume VHS set of Pride and Prejudice. I’d been wanting to read the book, but I hadn’t–yet.

We spent an entire afternoon watching it. And it was glorious. So glorious, in fact, that I went to Barnes and Noble, got Jane, and preceded to read P&P in one big gulp. I used newly discovered Amazon to buy the rest of her books when I was in the hospital later that summer. I read them eagerly, voraciously, devotedly–I underlined passages and made notes in the margins. When I was in college, I chose English Lit as my specialization, and my senior thesis was on….yeah, that’s right….Jane. :) Specifically, feminism in Mansfield Park, and no, that does not mean what you think it means. (In a nutshell, my argument was that we should all be nicer to Fanny Price, and that Jane liked that character, and we should too! I’m Team Fanny! And Hailey basically writes my thesis in blog format in that post. Sort of. Maybe one day I’ll share the thesis with y’all.)

So, every summer, I go back to Jane, starting Memorial Day weekend. This year I’ve started early. I’ve already re-read Sense and Sensibility (Hardcover Classics), and I’m reading  The Annotated Northanger Abbey right now, so I’m also doing this out of order. :) (The order is Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey.) I got a new copy of NA for my birthday, so I wanted to read that after S&S. (Yes, I do have multiple copies of Jane, including the gorgeous Penguin ones that are illustrated here. Seriously, they’re divine)

Why do I re-read her every summer? For a lot of reasons. I get more familiar with the books; they seep more deeply into me. And there’s things I notice every time that hit me differently. I’m not the same person I was the last time I read these books. I find myself liking or disliking certain characters more. For example, I really disliked Emma the first few times I read her book. Now, she’s getting better (but is she “handsome enough to tempt me?”).

I intend, as I re-read these over the summer, to write about each book after I finish it–a bit of Jane notes, if you will. And of course I’ll direct you to my Jane series that I did last year. 

Will you join me in the re-read? Which Jane protagonist is your favorite? Which is your least favorite?

 

The Annual Summer Jane Austen Re-Read! Join me @emily_m_deardo

Seven Quick Takes No. 77

It's Friday, so that means Seven Quick Takes! @emily_m_deardo

I.

Next week there won’t be a 7QT, since I’ll be in D.C. and attending ordinations that day, so I won’t have time to write! I’ll be churching. :) But I am so excited to be heading to D.C. since I haven’t been in so long, and I’ll be with some great friends. Plus, our hotel offers free homemade cookies–hot–for all visitors.

Really? Can I just live there forever?

II.

Let’s talk about some season finales of TV, shall we?

I love The Middle. Sue Heck is an awful lot like me, from her love of Disney World Planning to her academic endeavors. Last night’s season finale really struck a chord with me.

Sue has been trying, all year, to have the Best Year Ever. It’s her Senior year of high school (AKA, The Year of Sue), and she tries to win one of the class superlatives (best smile, etc.), get accepted to a great college, have the most school spirit, and generally be all around awesome.

But leading up to graduation, everything goes wrong. She loses her yearbook–and her name is misspelled under her photo She’s not eligible for any honor cords because  her activities “don’t count”. She misses getting the perfect attendance award because she snuck of campus to eat lunch. Her graduation motorboard is way too big. She doesn’t even want to go to graduation now, because she feels like nothing she did mattered. She has left no legacy. She feels like a loser.

But her mom convinces her to go to the ceremony. At the ceremony, her yearbook is returned–full of notes from people who did notice her, and appreciated her, even if she didn’t get any honor cords or win any Senior Superlatives. She sees the impact she had on the members of her class, and she had no idea they even felt that way.

I feel like Sue sometimes, like everything I do is just passing and I won’t have any lasting legacy anywhere. But The Middle reminds us that people do notice those little things, even if they don’t write about it in our yearbooks.

III.

Another TV finale wasn’t quite so satisfying, and that’s Bates Motel.

Now, I love Bates Motel on a lot of levels, as I’ve previously discussed. But this year it started going off the rails, relative to actual CF/transplant things, and this makes me Displeased.

Emma’s been on the lung transplant list the entire time the show has been on the air, so three years. She hasn’t moved up the list in all that time–her condition has been pretty stable. But this season she started to deteriorate a bit.

Now, the way lungs are allocated is something called an LAS score. Basically, it takes into account how sick you are. The sicker you are, the higher up you are on the list. Emma, actually, probably isn’t sick enough to be first in line on the list. Yes, she’s on oxygen, but her condition is pretty stable.

However, on the show, her dad tells Dylan (Norman’s brother) that the reason Emma hasn’t gotten her transplant is because they don’t have $20,000, which they apparently need to bribe someone to move her up the list.

Um, no. No no no no five thousand nos.

The only way you move up the list is by getting sicker. When I was called for my transplant, I was the top person on the AB+ blood type list, because I was the sickest person that was also the best match for the lungs I received. It’s sort of a complicated process. Organs have to match blood type, tissue type, body size, etc. Emma could only move up by getting sicker, or by people passing on the chance to have the operation, or being removed from the list.

So anyway, in the season finale, Emma gets her call (this is after Dylan has come up with the money and given  it to Emma’s Dad). Emma then proceeds to have a crying jag/meltdown in front of Dylan. Now, I know this makes good TV because it’s cathartic and all that, but you have to talk to social workers and therapists about this stuff before you can get listed. You have to be totally on board. You can’t be sort of wishy-washy. Now, yes, I understand that Emma’s a little freaked, but by the time you get the call, you are about to die, normally. Dying on the operating table doesn’t really phase you, because you are going to die without the surgery very soon.

So anyway, this is all so wrong, people. So, so, wrong.

However, she is right about lungs being tricky, in the transplant world. They are. Lucky us.

IV.

A few reading notes:

The Royal We: Totally based on Prince William and Kate Middleton (right down to Kate’s fashion choices and wedding dress), only the girl is an American, this story of the future King of England meeting his fiance at a British University is well-told and charmingly written. Nicholas and Rebecca meet cute, break up, and finally get engaged–but will they make it to the altar? Nicholas’s brother, Freddie, is hysterical, but Rebecca’s twin is sort of annoying. But this would definitely make a great beach read. If you’re a fan of the British Royal Family, then give this one a whirl.

Made In the U.S.A.: I found this on the remained table at B&N, read the first chapter, and was drawn in to the story of Lutie and her brother, Fate, who are left alone after their stepmother dies of a heart attack in the local North Dakota Wal-Mart. Intent on escaping Child Protective Services, Lutie and Fate drive to Las Vegas, the last known address of their ne’er-do-well alcoholic father, sure that if they find him, he will take them in. But things definitely do not work out like the pair plans, and they’re finally rescued by Juan, a Mexican immigrant who takes the children to his family in Oklahoma.

The book had a pretty dark first half–Lutie does a lot of things to survive and to heal some serious wounds in herself–but the final pages give the characters chances for redemption.  I don’t generally mind dark books, and I’d probably read this again, but reading it the first time had me going “are these kids going to be OK? Because they better be, or I’m going to be really irritated.

The Happiness Project: This is one of my must-reads, and I’m reading it again. It’s a great kick in the pants for self-motivation to Do Better and Achieve Goals.

V.

And since we have book notes, let’s have some movie notes:

Still Alice: The movie that won Julianne Moore her elusive Oscar is much better than I thought it would be. The book is good, but the movie is better–this falls into a small category of books and movies where this is true, for me (some of the others are The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).  Moore plays Alice, a linguistic professor at Columbia who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Moore’s performance is realistic and sympathetic, but the other best part of the movie is Kristin Stewart’s role as Lydia, Moore’s “black sheep” daughter, who comes home to take care of her mother while her father (Alec Baldwin) moves to Minnesota to run a study at the Mayo Clinic. Stewart and Moore could be mother and daughter in real life, and they play beautifully off one another here. I loved how their relationship evolved throughout the movie.

Panic Room: Yes, another Kristin Stewart movie! This time she plays Jodi Foster’s daughter in a thriller that places both of them at the mercy of three robbers. This is one of Stewart’s earliest film roles, and she and Foster are a believable mother daughter pair, complete with the sass and eye rolls. It’s a tidy thriller that ends somewhat predictably, but it’s a good movie to watch if you’re not up to following a complicated plot.

 VI.

CCD winds up this weekend. I’ll miss this class, which was much smaller than my previous class of 35 kids. But each year’s class has its own plusses and minuses, and this has been a pretty good group. I’m curious to see how many we have next year, since that affects the “arts and crafts” aspect of the curriculum. With a group of 35, you really can’t do too many art projects, but with 20, you can.

VII.

Can you believe we’re halfway through May already? I can’t. I swear things move faster as we get older.

Dirt Under My Nails: My First Container Garden

garden large

I’ve always been jealous of great gardens. My grandma always had perfect flowers and a tomato plant in her backyard; one of my favorite things to do with my grandpa was pick tomatoes from the vines and bring them to my grandma for use in summer dinners. There were always a few tomatoes on her kitchen windowsill, and her flowers were perfectly planted in the brick planters that bordered their front porch. My grandpa, a fierce gardener, also planted snapdragons around the lamppost in the front yard.

But as much as I loved this garden, I never really got to have my own. My house growing up had a really shady back yard, and the front yard faced north, which limited the amount of sunshine the plants received. My parents do put in annuals, like petunias and marigolds, every year, but since I rent, I can’t really put them in the landscaping. (The one time I tried this, they were uprooted and plowed over and covered with mulch. Fail.)

Now, though, I’m going to try my hand at a small container garden. This year, I’m focusing on herbs, and only herbs, but if they go well, I might branch out into flowers next year. In fact, I already have plans for some tulips in the front yard (tulips, based on what I’ve seen in other yards here, do well with the landscape abuse!)

So this is what I have so far:

  • A planter, left behind by the last tenant, that sits on my back porch and gets plenty of sunshine (it faces west);
  • Two packs of seeds–basil and cilantro, both of which I use a lot in recipes.

What I need to get:

  • Appropriate potting soil

Fortunately it’s not time to plant here in Ohio yet. That’s not until nearer the end of the month. So I need to figure out what type of potting soil to get, and how much of it, and then I can plant my seeds around memorial day…and hope for the best!

Do you keep a garden? What are your best gardening tips? Leave them in the comments!

trying my hand at container gardening! @emily_m_deardo

Seven Quick Takes No. 76

It's Friday, so that means Seven Quick Takes! @emily_m_deardo

I.

BONJOUR, FRIDAY!!!!!! I’m so happy to see you!

II.

I’m going to D.C.! I haven’t been to the capital in ages and I’m so excited to be going with my friends Mary and Katie for Dominican ordinations. The last road trip the three of us took, it was to Nashville to visit some Dominican sisters. We had a blast. I don’t know if D.C. is ready for us!

III.

The CCD year is rapidly coming to a close. We only have two more classes. Last year’s class just received their first communion, and I’m so happy for them! I hope they remember everything we’ve taught them about it. ;-) Next year’s CCD will be here before we know it, though, and then it’s a new group of kids to teach about the sacraments and the trinity.

IV.

Speaking of summer breaks: it’s summer here. Already! It’s supposed to be 90 tomorrow! Sadly, the pool doesn’t open until next week, when it’s going to be much more seasonal. Oh well. When the pool is open, it’s time for me to do my happy dance. Not just because pool=summer, but because I love swimming and it’s better than gym workouts!

V.

Although I have been very faithful to those gym workouts–going to the gym today, in fact. My schedule right now is two yoga practices a week, and three gym days. Yes, there are two rest days in there. I also need to get a strength program back on line, because I’ve been slacking here.

VI.

I made huge progress this week on one of my novels, so I’m excited about that! It was the first one I wrote for NaNoWriMo, and I was in a hurry to get it done, so I left out a few key scenes, but now I’m going back and putting them in, an they’re fitting really well. I had to slash parts that were just way too crazy, but in general, I’m pleased with the shape of the manuscript.

VII.

Do any of you garden? Do you want to share gardening tips with me? I’m writing about this more next week, but I’m about to start my first container garden (with just two things–let’s not get crazy) and I want to make sure they don’t die. :)

Yarn Along No. 24

So we’re back!

Yarn Along 24--what I'm reading and knitting @emily_m_deardo

So this is dishcloth number 3, and I’m in love with this color. It’s called “lilac”, but it seems much deeper than regular lilacs, right? Anyway, it’s gorgeous and it’s so easy to work with.

I’ve been wanting to read Trilby for awhile but I never found a copy–thankfully Half Price Books provided! So I’m hoping it’s as good as I want it to be.

Catching Curveballs: How to Live to An Abnormal Life

When life throws you curveballs--how to live and abnormal life @emily_m_deardo

“Normal is just a setting on the dryer.”

We’ve all heard that one, right? While it may be catchy, and even comforting, it’s not really helpful when your life goes from normal to really abnormal, especially if it happens without warning. A phone call, a doctor’s appointment–these things take only seconds to rearrange our lives.

Over the past few months, I’ve seen a lot of dear people’s lives go off kilter in the medical sense of “off kilter”. So I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on living a life of abnormality.

 

life throwing you curveballs? Here's how to deal with it @emily_m_deardo

“Normal? What does anyone in this family know about normal?”

1. You have to embrace the abnormality as the new normal. This is the most important and perhaps the hardest thing. No, most people’s lives do not involve random Sunday morning runs to the ER, or IV malfunctions at two a.m. But guess what. Yours does (or whatever your circumstances dictate).The sooner this becomes “no big deal” to you and your family, the better. This is especially important if you have kids. The kids will react much better if you are calm and treat what is happening like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Now, sometimes, this isn’t possible. But regular hospitalizations, tests, ER visits, and the like are much less scary if they feel routine.

 

2.Remain calm (at least in front of medical personnel) when you hear that your plans are about to radically change. (That doesn’t mean you can’t get upset about it. I’ve had my share of crying jags in empty exam rooms about hospitalizations I didn’t want.) However, if you’re going to get upset, do it fast, ugly-cry, and then move on.

Think about what you need to do immediately. What do you or your child need right now–medications? A favorite toy? Does your cell phone need charged? Are there people that you have to meet with later today, and now that’s going to be impossible? Write a list, call people–whatever you particularly need to do right away, do it.

(I tend to think the following: I need my CI battery and charger. I need my glasses, contact case, and solution. My meds are mostly in the hospital formulary, but some of them aren’t, so I need the bag of meds brought in so I can give the nurses what I need to take and they can put it in my med drawer. I will need the charger for my phone and iPad, which is plugged into my computer, and I’ll need the wall charger, which is in the other bag. Etc.)

When I first heard about transplant being an option for me, I had to admit, I was FREAKED. I had no idea this was actually something that I had to think about now. Thinking about the immediate things I needed to do with this information was much less scary than letting my imagination run wild.

 

3. Be upfront with important people in your life. When I worked, I told my bosses, this is my medical situation. There are times when I may be out of the office for long stretches. I cannot control when this happens. I will update you with information when I have it. This means that there have been calls from ERs to my bosses. If you’re a parent who has a child who’s sick, and you will be missing a lot of work, I suggest you talk to your bosses and get really familiar with your leave options.

 

4. Talk to Patient Accounts at the hospital. Really talk to them. They are your friends! Use the resources that are available to you. If there’s a social worker handy, it can’t hurt to talk to said person and see what’s there for you and your family to use.

 

5. For parents: treat your children as normally as possible. I really, really, REALLY cannot stress this enough. Do not give them the mindset that because they have health problems, they are “super special” and don’t have to do homework or are entitled to things that other kids don’t get. They may need accommodation. That’s one thing. And they may get more toys, etc. because of their hospitalizations. OK. But telling them they don’t need to do homework or whatever because they’re “in the hospital” or “sick” or whatever is not helpful and not good for their development.

I always had to do homework. When an IV bled out at 2 am the night before my Algebra II final, I didn’t get to skip the final. I took it later that same day. If I’d have been admitted to the hospital, I’d have taken the final when I could, or we would’ve made arrangements. I never got out of schoolwork.

 

5. Be prepared, but don’t be Eeyore: Obviously, expecting that things can happen, and being prepared for them, is a mental help. But don’t be overly freaking out. Don’t think that everything is catastrophe, or feel like you cannot plan anything because who knows what is going to happen. There will be seasons of life where things need to be readjusted–holiday plans, vacations, etc. But there are also times when everything’s fine.  You have to ride it like you’re surfing. Do not let worries control your life, especially if you’re the parent. Your kids can sense this. Really. And it just makes them tense up and freak out because the parents are worrying about me so there must be something to worry about. For example: I knew that CF was fatal when I read about it in our World Book encyclopedia (ah, the 90s!). But my parents weren’t going around wailing and gnashing their teeth about my demise, so I figured, hey, I’ll think about this when I’m 30 or so.

If you’re a parent, try to do your freaking out when the kids aren’t around/awake. See point above. This doesn’t really go away because your kids get older. It’s hard to control yourself and console someone else.

 

6. As far as sharing on social media: let’s just say I was really glad I didn’t have Facebook in the years leading up to my transplant. There was no place–and there still is no place–for my parents to share photos of me in hospital rooms, in recovery, etc., because they do not have Facebook, or blogs.  If your child is old enough, talk to the child about sharing this private information on social media platforms. Some kids don’t care. Some kids, like me, care greatly. I did give dad permission to update my friends with regular emails when I had my transplant, but I would not have wanted him to attach any photos.

There are few things you can control, as a patient. You may not want these moments splashed all over Facebook or twitter. But talk to your family/your child about these things. Get everyone on the same page.

 

7. Do not worry about the things that MAY or MIGHT happen in five, ten, fifteen years. This is a waste of brain space and a huge source of stress. Think about what is currently happening. Focus on the immediate moment. What needs to get better? What are people trying to find out?

 

8. This probably should have been first, but: pray. Really. Get in touch with your pastor/priest/rabbi/whatever. I found it immensely comforting to talk to certain hospital chaplains that I really liked (Fr. Mark! More on him later!). God is in control, guys. He really, really is. Remind yourself of that frequently. Know that I still have to remind myself of this often. :) I don’t think it ever stops, really, the need for Him to take care of all this. But if you don’t pray—start. It helps.

 

What do you do when life goes off the rails? How do you adjust? Do these suggestions help? Let me know in the comments.

 

curveballs small