Summer Solstice – a little different this year

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. For the past two years on this day, I’ve been knitting from sun-up to sundown to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease in honor of my mother who passed away after a long decline with this illness.

This year, however, I’m really busy with volunteering as president of our lake association and this is the season where all the planning (or sometimes the lack of planning) comes to fruition and I have to take the morning to accomplish some lake tasks – register our DASH (pontoon boat for suction harvesting invasive milfoil) boat, pick up some plastic boxes to store papers so they won’t be eaten by mice in storage, etc.) And I have a couple of phone calls to make as well. By the time I actually get to sit down to knit, it will be noon at the earliest – and I was out of the house before 9am.

But as I knit today, I’ll be thinking about my mother and the disease that she so feared as a younger woman. I remember her saying things like, “I must be getting Alzheimer’s,” when she forgot something. If there’s a reality of manifesting your own destiny, then I’d say my mother did just that. She was forgetting things that mattered by the time my children we in elementary school and she was in her mid-sixties. My age. She forgot her purse when we went to the grocery store, she forgot to take the emergency brake off when she was driving the car, she forgot that she’d already mixed the mayonnaise mixture for potato salad. She couldn’t organize things like the grocery list and shopping for groceries so she said that there was enough even though there wasn’t. She forgot how to feed her cat and would stand in the middle of her kitchen with a can of cat food and couldn’t figure out what else she needed to get the food to the cat. She forgot how to make coffee in her coffee pot so she would walk to the local restaurant for her coffee and say that she liked the walk in the morning. She left her purse at the muffin shop, and the jewelry store, and forgot it when she went to the gas station. The list is lengthy. She forgot so much that we couldn’t leave her alone with the grandchildren and that was very hurtful. We had to take away her keys to the car eventually and hire people to help her and care for her. And eventually we had to find her a home in an assisted living care home. None of us enjoyed any of that.

And then mom forgot who we were.

She lived for ten years after her diagnosis. Watching our mother and grandmother fade away was so sad. The kids didn’t want to see her at the end, preferring to remember her as the vibrant, active, fun, happy grandmother. She became agitated and tearful, she couldn’t speak and finally she was bedridden, curled in fetal position, hands atrophied, gaunt, empty-eyed. She passed away in the fall of 2008. She was 76 years old.

I’ll knit today for my mother and in hopes that a cure will be found so that families and victims of this horrid disease don’t have to experience it as we did. And I’ll have a bourbon old fashioned cocktail tonight in her memory. My mother and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye but she loved me and she adored my children and I wish she could see them today. She’s missed so much and we have missed her, too. Cheers to you, Mom. I hope you can see how great your family has grown and continues to grow. We are all here because of you (and some help from Dad, too.)

Gone knitting.

The Longest Day

June 20th, the summer solstice, is the longest day and each year The Alzheimer’s Association uses this day as it’s fundraiser.

This year I joined Ann Budd’s team (for the second year) and with a co-worker friend, we decided to knit together this year at Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine where we both work. So when the sun was starting to rise, we were up and getting ready to “load in” with everything we needed for the day.

This is what 4:19am looks like

We arrived at the store a bit before 5:30am and got settled. We had planned to watch Knit Stars, YouTube videos and maybe more but we’d also invited customers and friends to come and sit and knit for a bit with us. Happily, that happened and the day passed more quickly than we could have imagined. Also happily, we shared many memories of those who we loved and lost to this horrible disease. That’s what the day is all about. Remembering … my mother, Glenda’s Val and the other people who are or were so loved by our visitors and all of those who donated online through our links.

On father’s day, my sweet husband brought us pizza for dinner and Vickie brought a beautiful Strawberry Rhubarb Solstice pie for dessert! It was delicious! (We each walked to Sela Tea for a salad for lunch and had some good snacks between! Snacks are important!

We raised over $2,000.00 for Alzheimer’s research and we had a wonderful day. We chose to wrap it up around 8:30pm for a total knitting time of 15 hours. Glenda finished her shawl, I finished the body of my cardigan and worked on my shawl for my daughter. Lots of progress was made.

We left for home with grateful hearts and a lot of hope that our money raised this year may, indeed, enable a cure for this horrible disease that takes away our loved ones one memory at a time. We spent the longest day making our memories. I got home in time to take one last photograph of the moon rising over the lake and a fabulous shade of, what else? Purple!

Gone knitting.

The Longest Day … in memory of my mother

Just before sunrise on the longest day of the year

The Longest Day (summer solstice and the Alzheimer’s Association fundraising day) was June 20th this year. I participated for the first time as a member of Ann Budd’s team. Ann has been doing this for years (and I’m sorry I didn’t know about it sooner!) One of my co-workers was participating and I thought it was a wonderful way to remember my mother who died from Alzheimer’s in 2008 at the age of 76.

The day started with a wonderful sunrise and coffee on the porch. It quickly got too hot to sit on the front porch in the sun so I moved to location number two, the screened porch.

Location #2 on the longest day where I finished my June socks

My goal for the day, in addition to remembering my mom, was to finish projects or at least work to that end. I finished my June socks first. I had knitted them to the toe so it wasn’t a stretch! This yarn is another One the Round Signature Sock, fingering weight wool and nylon. I love knitting with it and I love wearing it. As you can see, I don’t worry about “matchy-matchy” and there’s a funny spot at the ankle of one and a little less funny spot at the ankle of the other. (Can you see me hunching my shoulders? I really don’t mind; they’re socks.)

Classic Socks for the Family by Yankee Knitter in On the Round Signature Sock

My next project was either my Humulus sweater or my The Shape of a Bay shawl. I chose the shawl because it’s been languishing in time out for nearly two years. I bought this kit at my fiber camp not last summer but the summer before. It’s two skeins of Cashmere People Fingering yarn and the pattern. The yarn is super yummy. I just finished a shawl test knit for Lori Versaci (VersaciKnits) for her pattern Campfire. ( blogged about it here.) This yarn is very special and the colors are so beautiful. Oddly enough, one of the colors in my Campfire shawl is the same color, albeit in a different weight, as my Shape of a Bay shawl. Go figure.

Location #3, inside with a view of my sweet hubby in one of his favorite spots

The Shape of A Bay is by Bristol Ivy. It is a half-pi shape shawl with double sided lace. I have learned that some lace is different than others. Some lace, typically more simple, is knitted with the lace-y stitches on one side only, usually the right side, and knits/purls on the wrong side. This pattern has those lace-y stitches on both sides, right and wrong side. When I am knitting a project that requires lace concentration, I like to do them earlier in the day, post coffee and pre-tired end-of-day eyes and/or cocktails. I love knitting this pattern and working with this yarn. It’s a treat. Two years ago I had worked into the pebbles section. (Lucky for me I had marked my pattern so I knew where I had stopped and I was able to start up without any trouble.) On the Longest Day, I got through the end of the pebbles section and finished most of the first repeat of the ripples section.

The Shape of A Bay by Bristol Ivy

In the photo above, I’m through the pebbles section and starting the ripples. I had a lot of interruptions from the Littles who are getting old and have to be let out frequently … and who don’t always make it outside quite fast enough. I might have gotten further but I am grateful to be home with them when they’re really in need of their humans.

My end-of-day view was in my atelier, Littles at my feet, working on something mindless until the sun set. I took a break for dinner and a cocktail with my wonderful hubby and then we retreated to the air conditioning and a little bit of “stupid TV”. I have been working on using up some of the odds and ends of my fingering weight/sock yarns in a crochet blanket project called the Battenberg Blanket. Mine is not likely to look as “orderly” as the pattern is intended but I will have the pleasure of remembering all of the socks, shawls and other projects that I made. I am planning to use a solid color to put them all together but I’d like to make a big (queen-size perhaps) blanket so I’ll be making squares deep into my 90s. Ha! Ha!

My friends and family helped me to surpass my fundraising goal and together we will donate over $1,700.00 to fight the good fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. I don’t ever want another family member to experience the ravages of this disease that stole my mother from me and their beloved GranJan from my children and nephews. Thank you to Ann Budd and Glenda for making it so easy to participate. It was a privilege to knit on the Longest Day and I look forward to knitting again next year.

Gone knitting.