Our First (Post Pandemic) Car Trip

We always have trouble leaving home (and we were both a little cranky packing on Thursday night) but we really wanted to see N’s eldest daughter’s “new” home in suburban DC. So … off we went on Friday morning. Traffic was HORRIBLE and turned a 7-8 hours trip to southern New Jersey and our stop for the first night into 11 1/2 hours. It was a long day but it afforded us to get a glimpse of the new Tappanzee/Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge and wave toward my three kiddos in New York City. I finished N’s birthday socks and he’s happy about them. Thank you Yankee Knitter for the wonderful pattern. We were traveling with our dogs and have always liked staying at LaQuinta Hotels that are dog friendly (dogs stay for free!) Cheers at the end of the day in plastic hotel cups and a nearby restaurant for to-go food eaten in the hotel.

Day two we made it to Maryland early (it was only a couple of hours to Robin’s house.) As is my habit, I completely forgot to take photographs of the kids or their house or their cats who were mostly invisible. I mentioned that we traveled with our dogs, right? Needless to say, though, we had a wonderful time!

Part two was three days with the kids and adventures in the Greater Washington, DC area. N lived here as a young child and my grandparents are buried here. Go figure. A walk down memory lane led us to Oak Hill Cemetery where my Rockwell family is buried. Oak Hill is an historic cemetery and parts of it, including where my family rests, is very old.

You can’t see the names of my grandmother, Elizabeth Sheldon Dow Rockwell (June 1887 – March 1984), or my grandfather, Horace Lewis Rockwell (August 1886 – December 1942) without zooming in, but they share the side of the monument with Sarah Alice Rockwell who died at 18 months of age.

According to my family genealogy, my great-great-grandfather, Henry Ensign Rockwell (3/24/1811 – 1/22/1882) was the Secretary of the US Fish Commission. In 1867 he was a Representative in the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from Millbury. He is buried here with his second wife, Sarah Jemima Hathaway Rockwell (9/25/1824 – 2/6/1898). They were married in Boston on September 25, 1824. She lived a good long life, passing at age 73. Henry and Sarah had three children: Julius Ensign, Sarah Alice and Julia Lee all buried here. Julius and his wife Mabel Rose had two sons: Henry Ensign and Horace Lewis (my grandfather) who was a patent attorney and a Second Lieutenant in WW I. When he died, my grandmother had a “nervous breakdown” and was institutionalized at the Institute for Living in Hartford, CT. The children, my father included, were sent to live with friends of the family.

Next we were on to visit N’s special place, the Tastee Diner, that his father started in the 1940s. It has been moved from its original location but it remains very similar … including the original countertop in the diner section. Our “snack” became dinner … the dinner of champions! LOL

One of Robin’s requests was to make a pie. We ended up making a galette with fresh blueberries after a visit to a huge and wonderful Wegman’s grocery store! Galettes are so simple because you don’t need a special pan or other baking utensils. A little flour, sugar and butter, add fruit and voila! I hope she’ll try to make another galette when her mom visits!

Too soon we were back on the road back home and leg three of our trip. This time through Hartford, CT and the LaQuinta in Windsor Locks. We visited my parents who are buried at the Fairview Cemetery in West Hartford. The last time I visited the area was for my 40th high school reunion and I couldn’t find the plot. I’ve decided that I have to claim having the very worst sense of direction of any human on this planet. Thankfully, my sweet husband has a good sense of direction and we did manage to find them this time!

We had dinner with two dear high school friends on Tuesday night in Windsor, CT. The only time I remember visiting the Windsor area was to go to the airport but it’s a lovely area and there are some wonderful sculptures. It was a wonderful reunion.

Wednesday morning we got up early again and headed to East Cemetery in Manchester where I needed to find my grandmother Barnard who was my favorite person in my family when she was alive. I have so many wonderful memories of doing things with Gram. She didn’t have a lot of money but she spent time with me and that’s what I will always treasure.

I don’t know who all the “players” in the Robb family are so I will do some research one day. But I found my grandmother, Maude Elizabeth Robb Barnard and her husband, my grandfather, Irwin Henry “Jack” Barnard. We found them first. I had assumed that Gram would be buried by her sister Ethel and was surprised to see that they’re actually at opposite ends of the cemetery.

We hunted for my great-aunt, Ethel May Robb next. Aunt Ethel was the principal at Wadsworth Elementary School in Manchester and we spent a lot of time with her, too, as children. Aunt Ethel took me on my college visits. Ethel is buried with the rest of the Robb family near the Robb Monument. I’ll assume that Josiah Robb and his wife, Eliza Jackson (?) are the parents of Ethel, Maude, Willard and Gladys. I remember Aunt Violet who I believe was married to Willard. Gladys died young and I never met her. More work to be done on this part of the family!

The last couple of days I focused on my Fine Sand Cardigan and made great progress with it. I’m closing in on the bottom of the body – woo! hoo! When we arrived at home, we found that the resident woodchucks had decimated my hollyhocks which were nearly six feet high when we left. The rubble left from them is above right. It’s war, now! They also ate every single petunia in the pot on our front steps. Grrr.

There’s no place like home!

Gone knitting!

Why I Bake

Granola – before

Obviously, baking yields something delicious at the end but I don’t just bake for the result. It’s about the process, too.

My grandmother, my mom’s mom, always had something that she’d just baked on her pantry shelf. Always. She never failed. (The pantry also had a metal three-drawer cabinet that housed her “candy drawer” at the bottom where we could always go for a chocolate treat.) Chocolate frosted, only on the top and in the middle, yellow cake. The same yellow cake in cupcake form with chocolate frosting. Cream puffs, chocolate chip cookies … often the same but never boring.

My gram would take the time to bake with me and I think that’s why I love to bake. I so enjoyed being with her while we baked together and if we didn’t have time to bake together I always knew the love that went into it. Precious moments. Gram didn’t have a lot of money to buy stuff but she gave me the gift of time.

As I bake, my gram is with me. I can feel her in my heart and it makes me so happy. As I’m writing this my eyes are filling with tears which is a message that my words and feelings around this are true. (Bristol Ivy said I had “ocular incontinence” and she’s not wrong!) Baking centers and grounds me. It is something I shared with my children and with with my grandchildren; the ones of the heart and the blood ones if we are so blessed.

Granola – after

Meanwhile, it settles my heart in a bizarre year. I always know that baking something fills my belly and my heart.

Knitting does something similar but it doesn’t have the heart connection to my family like baking does. I love knitting, don’t get me wrong. I can sit and knit for hours and be “in the zone” where time is lost and my mind is focused. It’s good for my soul. I’ve been knitting a lot through the pandemic and have been experiencing a little soreness in my left arm – I don’t stop and stretch often enough. I’ve also been sitting too long and have worked over the past year to get up and stretch more to help my hips and back. Both passions have helped me to pass the lockdown time in a state of (mostly) contentedness and peace and they’ve been such a blessing. My husband enjoys the fruits of my labor on both fronts.

This week I’m rushing to finish his birthday socks. I’ve got one done and one to go.

Classic Socks for the Family by Yankee Knitter Designs in Manos Alegria

Gone knitting.

A Quick Post

Monk mid-drool

I knitted this Wee Wonder Woman wrap for my granddaughter in France. I wanted to get a photo of her favorite family member wearing the wrap before I wrapped it up to put it in the mail. This is the result of that photo shoot. Well, I have a few somewhat better pictures but this one makes me laugh. Good old Monk loves his treats and you can’t see my hubby who’s holding a treat to get Monk to focus. Needless to say, the anticipation is making him drool. And it got so bad that I had to get the wrap off of him before it got drool on the clean, blocked little shawl.

I made this little shawl with Sisu yarn. One 50g ball of each color. I made an executive decision to NOT knit this is red and gold which are very bright and not my Rosey’s colors. I think the pink and white will be perfect. I can hardly contain myself waiting to see her receive this little gift. Wonder Woman has a special significance in their family and I hope it makes her happy.

Wee Wonder Woman is a free pattern on Ravelry and requires about 50 grams of two colors of fingering weight yarn. I chose Sisu (wool and nylon blend) because I liked the pink. I followed the pattern exactly.

Gone knitting.

Deep Freeze, Raw Emotions

Deep Freeze on Messalonskee 3/2/2021

My emotions have been very close to the surface recently. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m mourning the last year that we’ve “lost” because of Covid-19 or because there is finally a sense of calm in our Nation’s capital with the new administration. I’m not sure what it is that I am feeling so deeply or that’s bubbling up but it’s there and with this post I am acknowledging it. I am looking forward to the day when it feels safe to leave the house and when I can see my family again. I miss them all so much but I am also so grateful that they’ve all remained healthy.

We woke to sub-zero temperatures today and lots of wind gusts! It was blowing all night but we have been fortunate to retain our power today while lots of other communities in Maine have not. The sun is out and the sky is bluebird blue and that always helps my “attitude”. I would love to see a really good snowstorm before spring but they posted our road yesterday and our camp road has been a muddy mess for a week or more so I may not get my wish.

Today I finally seamed the underarms of my test knit sweater, Crofter’s Smock by Gudrun Johnston. I like it more than I thought I would before it was blocked. The fabric relaxed a lot in its bath. I also learned a few new techniques: folded cuffs and neck and saddle shoulders. This sweater was fun to knit, partly because it’s somewhat cropped and knit in an Aran weight yarn. I used Hayfield Bonus Aran with Wool (a washable acrylic and wool blend) and it was heavy on the US8 needles … my hands got tired knitting! After seaming the underarms, I put the sweater on – this is the coldest day of our winter so far – and it’s nice and warm, the sleeve length is perfect and I like the pockets placed on the side of the sweater. I can’t show you any photographs yet but when I have permission, I’ll add them here.

Meanwhile, I have cast on a pair of socks for my March 2021 Sock Challenge. This month I’m knitting worsted weight boot socks in Raggi yarn. Gray and white marled leg and foot, red cuff and toe. I’ve nearly got one sock finished and will have to attach sock #2 as soon as #1 is finished. These will be super warm socks and they’re so cute!

I’ve also chosen to participate in the Confident Knitting year-long program hosted by Jen Arnall-Culliford. I also chose to splurge and purchase their yarns – typically not yarns we carry at the yarn shop where I work here in Maine. It’s a great chance to taste yarns that I may otherwise not get a chance to work with. AND they had a cool pink project bag!

I’ve started the March project, Flux Handwarmers by Martina Behm. The techniques learned this month are crochet provisional cast on and a folded edge. I chose to do a picot edge which is so cute! This month’s yarn is the springtime colorway of a Crazy Zauberball. These mitts will be a nice weight and they’ll be so cheerful. I’ve participated in A Year of Techniques and Boost Your Knitting for the two previous years and I learned a lot. I’m sure I’ll learn some new tricks this year, too! What I love about these programs is that there are detailed tutorials on all of the techniques and even when I already know one, I can find something to learn (or it just hammers it into my head.)

I’ve been spending a lot of time “worrying” about my sweet Lola. She’s not eating well and her hind legs are unstable. She sleeps most of the day but she still finds a tail wag or two to gift me with every day. For months I’ve been looking at the little kit that I bought when I was out shopping pre-pandemic. The little felt mitten has a bee on it and I couldn’t resist. This will eventually live on our Christmas tree but until Christmas, it’ll likely live on my desk lamp!

I finished two black tams for a customer and they’ve been delivered to the store for her to pick up. She wants two more navy blue ones. It’s sweet of her to ask me. I made a tarte tatin over the weekend. It was delicious! A few apples, some sugar, butter and a home made crust and it was dessert for two for several days. Yummy!

We’ve been spending lots of time doing puzzles. My hubby gave me a really difficult puzzle for Christmas and we stuck to it and finished it … and he ordered another one for Valentine’s day which we’re working on at the dining room table. Luckily, there are only the two of us so we only need one end of the table for eating (although we generally eat up in my studio and watch the news.)

Gone knitting!

Broken Hearted

Last week I lost one of the loves of my life. My little dog, Boq, died on Friday.

Wicked’s Munchkin Boq (aka Boogie Man, Pee-Pee Boy, Brother, Booger, Sweet Boy)

I got home from work on Thursday to a mess on the living room floor and Lola walking back and forth through it. Suffice it to say, I was confused and getting upset because my husband didn’t answer my calls … yells … screams … I was afraid. Afraid for my husband, first, and then realizing that his truck was missing, afraid for Boq. And as that realization dawned, I found my sweet husband and a towel-wrapped bundle coming into the house. He had saved Boq, who’d had a seizure, was in shock and his little body was shutting down. He had rushed Boogie to the vet where, with a little warming and some IV fluids, he “pinked up” and was sent home. But the next day it was clear that he was not ok and the vet report was not encouraging. They found a tumor the size of a navel orange on his liver. The tumor was taking up 60% of his abdomen and he was showing signs of serious discomfort. It was clear that he was at life’s end at almost 15 (105 in dog years.)

After talking with my sister-in-law (she and my brother owns a veterinary hospital and have such amazing wisdom) and my kids we made the difficult decision to help him leave us so he wouldn’t suffer. We are so grateful that our veterinarian here allowed us to be with Boq as they helped him go. It was so peaceful and it was so sad. He is no longer suffering but our hearts are broken.

He was the sweetest, best boy. He was never house trained, we were. He was always a little bit “off” and kept us eternally amused. He sat facing the back seat of the car, he kept trying to dig his way back to China or wherever his ancestors came from. He was a wonderful paper shredder, a snuggly bug, a chill dude. I miss him so much.

Rest in peace, sweet boy. We will never ever forget you.