Monday, January 28, 2008

Avoiding the Blog-o-sphere

I've been avoiding the blog-o-sphere (hence, the blog title above) for a couple weeks because I've had some things going on that I wasn't sure I wanted to blog about. I've decided I should, so here goes...

One of my favorite people on this planet passed away a couple weeks ago. Dennis Mahaney married my sister Paula when I was just 5 years old. He and Paula and their four kids were a huge part of my childhood. When I think about it, he was in his early 20s then and really a kid, too. But, he truly loved my sister and eventually adopted her kids from a previous marriage.

Before my immediate family and I left Indiana for Georgia, their kids felt more like my brothers and sisters than my neices and nephews. We lived just a few blocks apart and went to school together. After we moved away, I spent summers at their home in small-town Indiana. I have a lot of amazing memories from that time in my life.

Paula and Dennis were married about 12 years when he had an accident at work and broke his back, rendering him a parapalegic these last 20+ years. He remained very active, though, and became really involved in his church and community.

He was a big help to me last summer when I was feeling pretty sorry for myself in my wheelchair. It was the first time in my life I truly understood what life had been like for him since the accident. He may have wanted to, and he had a right to, but I never heard him complain about his situation. And in my short time in the chair, I saw how much the world ignores the disabled. Cars aren't made for you. Stores aren't set up for you. The world bends over for people who have all their abilities, but makes very little accommodation for those who can't walk, or see, or hear.

He was a great example of someone who continued to live his life, in spite of the obstacles he faced. He and Paula made a wonderful life together. They raised their children with love and then made time every Tuesday for dinner with all their grandchildren. What wonderful memories those kids will always have!

Dennis died of cancer that began in his bladder and spread to his heart. The family thought he might beat it, but it was not to be. He was only 56 years old.

Dennis was a contractor who taught his fellow churchmembers his craft and they built an amazing gymnasium together. In fact, it was in that church gymnasium that his funeral took place. People stood up to talk about how important he was to them, the difference he made in their lives. They gave Paula a standing ovation. I cried from so much sadness and pride at the same time.

By the family's count there were about 800 people who came to pay their respects to Dennis and his family. I had never experienced anything quite like it: People flowed into the funeral home for six hours, and my sister personally greeted almost every single person. I am awed by her strength.

We all miss you, Dennis Mahaney.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Yet Another Hobby

I don't think it's fair to call my latest hobby a "hobby." Truth is, I am absolutely addicted. Last Sunday was Knitch's first "Spin In" event, where yarn spinners brought their wheels and spun together at Knitch for a few hours. I thought it would be an opportunity to meet some spinners and maybe try my hand at the wheel.

I bought some colorful roving for a few dollars and borrowed the shop's wheel for the event. Sandy was there (a.k.a. Hockey Mom) and she gave me a quick spinning lesson, and I was off. OMG, I really loved it! I spun for hours and came away with a lovely hank of yarn. (BTW, Sandy also teaches spinning at Knitch, and I found her to be an EXCELLENT instructor -- I plan to take a formal lesson from her again soon!)

I'm not completely new to spinning. I went to a spinning guild meeting in Chelsea, MI, about 20 years ago, and got a quick lesson that day. I spent the next several years looking for used wheels at auctions, but never found one in good working order at a price I could afford. A couple years ago, I took a class at SAFF on spindle spinning and -- though I enjoyed the idea of it -- I found the process too tedious for me.

I enjoyed my spinning so much on Sunday that I find myself making the foot motions while sitting at red lights in my car. I am hooked!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hacking Away

I called my mom the other day and the first thing she said was: "You have a cold, don't you?"

Yes, ma, I have a cold. I get whatever is going around, whenever it is going around. In fact, the very first entry on Treats for Breathing was all about how terrible I was feeling due to flu.

Lucky for me, this one seems shorter lived than most of my winter colds. I am happy to be on the tail end of symptoms now, with just the occasional clearing of the throat. In fact, the worst of it was about a week ago. And the worst part of the worst of it? When I laid down for bed I'd begin to cough. And cough. And cough. I'd cough until I sat up again. So, I spent three days on the sofa, hacking away, while Len held pillows to his ears in the next room.

He started it. He got the cold over Christmas and passed it along to me.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cold Weather, Warm Sweaters

It's definitely sweater weather here in Hotlanta, and I am feverishly knitting myself some spectacular cold weather gear. I started knitting a soft and lovely striped raglan for Len out of some Malabrigo in my stash, when we both began to notice as the sweater emerged that the colors were much more feminine than we first anticipated. No problem! It easily becomes a raglan sweater for ME!

The other sweater I am making for MYSELF (I am such a greedy knitter!) is the Sweater Girl Pullover from the latest Interweave Knits. It's knit in the luscious Rowan KidSilk Haze, double stranded, in a repeating simple cable pattern. It is light as air and lovely to touch. I'm about 20 percent into the sweater after three days of knitting -- I love it so much I can't put the darned thing down.

Len also found in his car yesterday a project that I've been missing for weeks. It is a short-sleeved Art Yarns silk affair that is meant to be worn over a camisole. I've completed everything but the beading work on the collar. As soon as Sweater Girl is complete, I'm going to complete this special project.

And, I have finally begun completion on a project that was all but finished a year ago, a zippered cardigan in a soft bulky alpaca. I am a little intimidated by the zipper installation, but have all the ingredients and will sit down and get 'er done in the next several days.

I feel warmer already.