In this life, our "over the rainbow" is on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage in the far northern reaches of Wisconsin.
There's a big old log cabin up there, built by my great grandparents in the '30s, where we spent at least one week of every childhood summer, not to mention a few magical Christmases.
It's the place where Sharon said that wanted to be forever; a place of great and happy (and funny) memories for all of us.
A happy memory: Sibling Weekend - September 2009
In the day, the property was quite large; located at the end of a short road, it extended to a point and also included a small island with boat house, connected to the mainland by a foot bridge. There was a lot of room for exploration! The property is still bigger than most -- and still includes the island -- even though the lot at the point was sold some years ago.
View from the south-side loft. The folks sitting on the far side are in the old porch area -- a wall with some windows (part of it remains) used to separate the two areas. There used to be an old sofa bed (most comfortable ever and my favorite sleeping place outside of the north-side loft), a few easy chairs, a rocker, a gorgeous wood-burning stove in the main area, but it was completely dominated by a red gingham oilcloth-covered dining table in the center of the room -- the center of the universe.
Bedrooms with walls, no ceiling!
The cabin had two big lofts at either end; a rustic kitchen and a bedroom under the south loft; a porch (and another bedroom) under the lake-side north loft; the lofts overlooked two more bedrooms on the middle-west side and a large dining/living area on the east.
Electricity was the only modern convenience; water was hauled, two buckets at a time, from a pump located a little ways off the northwest corner of the cabin, and heated in a big kettle on the stove; a two-seater log outhouse was located at the side of the cabin. Later, a cold water tap was added in the kitchen at the... well, let's call it the "personal care" sink, where we'd wash our faces and brush our teeth.
There used to be several poles off-shore with many martin houses -- full of purple martins. The martin population isn't anywhere what it used to be.
Deeper personal cleanliness could be accomplished in the lake or, as Grandma often preferred, by sponge bath in the "privacy" of her bedroom. Perhaps the original "open concept" design, there was only one room in the whole cabin that had both ceiling and walls, and none of them had a proper door; the center bedrooms had walls but no ceiling, the lofts had ceiling but no walls, the "bedroom" on the porch was actually created by hanging a curtain as partition, and all of the interior doorways were merely curtained.
The "porch bedroom" is now just part of the porch -- the curtain has been removed (though hardware remains) (you never know).
The cabin was sold about 20 years ago and has seen substantial "improvement" since then, the most significant of which is "indoor plumbing." The bedroom off the kitchen -- the one with both ceiling and walls -- was converted to a spacious full bath + laundry! There's a new roof, sunlights, an updated kitchen, flooring, and a partial basement, now, which houses both furnace and water heater; a windowed wall was removed between the living area and porch to open it up even further.
Other family members, both near and far along the family tree branches, still have (or had) nearby properties, and we've been well aware of all of these changes -- and have even done some window-peeking over the years -- but it was hard to tell, really, all the changes that had taken place.
We were all quite happy -- my kids beside themselves (Maddy has no memory of being there) -- when it was offered to us for the weekend in October that we planned to visit. We were warned many times that "it isn't the cabin you remember."
The center of attention from the minute he woke up!
Junah is the 7th generation to stay at the old family cabin!
Our favorite card game -- and there was almost always one in progress -- SKIP BO!
Lo, we were all quite pleased to note the "improvements," but also that there was much more that had stayed the same than had changed. It's hard to change the basic footprint and feel of a cabin made of massive native logs too much!!
It was perfect. Always was, always will be.
This photo is everything -- my great grandmother (on the left), old cars, the kitchen door, and outbuildings! Very little has changed. The building to the far left is known as "The Hoodlum" and was originally a bunkhouse on wheels, hauled around to lumber camps. It still stands, and I've slept a night or two there! Moved to my uncle's property several years ago, the old Wisconsin license plate is still visible!
Great Grandpa Sutton and me near the boathouse at the cabin, autumn 1965, Turtle Flambeau Flowage. One of my most favorite photos.
We boarded a borrowed pontoon on Saturday to motor a little ways out into the bay. I wore the fabulous autumn cover sweater from Vogue Knitting that Sharon knit years ago, we listened to Eva Cassidy sing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," we disbursed the remainder of Sharon's ashes, along with some of Uncle Bob's, who'd passed in late May, to join those of a few others resting in the bay. Sharon & Bob had a special bond and it was good. Good company.
We returned to shore and feasted on steamed artichokes and smoked fish -- Sharon's favorite -- along with some BBQ ribs and potato-leek soup.
I love this photo of Annie and Junah reading.
Junah getting Bogey kisses!
It was a wonderful (if too short) weekend with lots of family time, fabulous weather, good food, fun and games, and more than a little irreverence -- in other words, SHARON PERFECT.
It wasn't long before my mother's death -- a few months, perhaps -- when, one day, I walked into her family room and she, seated in the recliner as usual, started waving a section of the newspaper at me: "Read this." There was an article about cremains. The gist of it being that there are a lot of cremains around -- and by "around," I don't mean scattered as the deceased may have wished; they're in boxes or bags, sitting on a shelf or in a cupboard, or next to the furnace on the basement floor, because people are "too busy" and don't make it a priority to see that their loved one's last wishes are carried out.
For a while, I believe my mother found it comforting to have Sharon's ashes near, but by late winter, and perhaps realizing that her own death was approaching, it became important to Mom that Sharon be put to rest as she'd wished. Well, Mum died before we could all do that together, so that's actually going to be a story for another day (probably tomorrow)...
Today, it's about how my sisters, daughters, niece, and I made it a priority and gathered at Wild Apple Gallery the day before Mom's memorial in August. We'd always intended to go, along with my mother, to make glass memorials with some of Sharon's ashes. I'd called to inquire about a session shortly after Sharon died but, without any sense of urgency, we never made it a priority to actually get it scheduled.
So many bits & bobs and tools and pieces of glass!
I don't remember what it's called, but that white piece is fire-proof and prevents the glass from fusing together in that spot. I can insert a small rod or cord through the opening for hanging.
Not of all the pieces encapsulated ashes, but many of them did.
These are my finished pieces. The sunflower is in remembrance of Mom (it's approx. 4" square, for scale), and the single flower on a blue background is of Sharon, a small bit of their ashes encased in each; the other piece is for both: flowers & blue polka-dot sky!
In the tradition of a Sister Weekend, we gathered, we talked, we laughed, we cried, we made a mess, and we created! Together.
Once upon a time there were four sisters; from l-to-r, twins Sharon & Karen, the baby Ann, and the best big sister in the whole wide world, Vicki. (Heh.) On occasion they'd all be in the same place at the same time and someone would suggest taking pictures!
* * * * *
We all sure had some good times together.
* * * * *
Remembering my sister Sharon today -- June 15, 1960-December 17, 2010 -- and missing her always.
For a person who so often, it seemed, took on and carried the weight of the world, she was surprisingly light on her feet.
I miss the fun and the laughter and the wry sense of humor. I can't believe it's been a year. And I miss her so much, I'm not sure my heart will ever be healed.
I think of her everyday and am inspired.
A few years ago, having cried myself across 2/3 of the country after dropping Katie off at college in Northern California, I found myself within an hour of my Northeast Wisconsin home, still crying, but thinking about Ali and Maddy, whom I hadn't seen in over a week, and that, even though I was (or was not) emotionally dealing with the Katie situation, I had to pull myself together so my girls would know how happy I was to see them!
Not before pulling over in the industrial park in Beaver Dam for one last cry to get it all out.
It's kind of how I'm feeling today... last night... yesterday; it's one (or a couple/few) of "those days." Truthfully, the whole week could easily go to hell in a handbasket... or, as my sister Sharon might say, "to purgatory in a shopping cart."
There's a word for that...
It's Sharon's & Karen's birthday today and I'm a little more emotional about it than I thought I'd be. I'm sure it doesn't help that in two days, it will be six months since Sharon died. A follow-up call from hospice yesterday morning sort of put me over the edge... they were more than wonderful, but I was a) surprised and b) already sort of wigged out and c) I don't think they realized her birthday was today. I'm not sure how I came off to them.
I made that cake! My first memorable foray into baking... I think the twins were 10. The recipe was from the Betty Crocker Junior Cookbook that my grandma gave me -- from which the only other recipe I remember making was Cinnamon Balls on Mother's Day mornings for Mom -- and I wish I still had it.
So, I'm sad about Sharon but happy about Karen, who is about 5 weeks through Couch-to-5K and actually ran her first 5K a couple of weeks ago, finishing 2nd (I think) in her age group and posting a FANTASTIC time. You may recall that she is doing the run leg of the triathlon relay in August with Annie (swimming) and me (cycling). Our team name is S.O.S. which can mean "Sisters of Sharon" or "Save Our SorryAsses" or just plain "HELP!" whichever is most appropriate given the situation.
I was crying as I drove around after leaving work last night, trying to figure out whether I could pull it together enough to join my camera group on what sounded like a fun downtown scavenger photo shoot-out thingy... or knit night, which I haven't been to in over a year. I kept thinking that it would be good to do something, be around people... ugh, my energy level was just not there for either and I just could not. I went home and had a beer while Rusty cooked me supper.
On the way, I decided that I had to turn the ship around and CELEBRATE! Karen, obviously... as Addy said, "We still have Karen!" (oh, how I love that boy)... but also Sharon -- all of the wonderful, funny, quirky things that made us love her so. It always makes me laugh when I think of how she'd screw up common sayings (what IS the word for that?), changing the words but still conveying the original meaning. Telling me that she had to "get back up on the horse" instead of "back in the saddle," or my all-time favorite "old mothers' fables" for "old wives' tales."
I sure do miss her.
Happy Birthday, Sharon & Karen!! I love you so much.
Gracie is a black lab mix that came into Sharon's life about 8-9-10 years ago, or so. (I am not doing very well in the timelines department.) Sharon was living in Kansas and it was the 4th of July -- she always figured that Gracie was spooked by fireworks and ran off, and that her owners were visitors or traveling through because, despite best efforts, they were never reunited. Gracie was a young and energetic dog, but Sharon had a way with animals -- she always did. I remember when we lived for a summer up north with dad, she'd walk to the park looking like the Pied Piper -- Dad's labs Sam and Tibby, even our cat Thisbee, all falling in line right behind -- she didn't even have to coax them.
Anyway, Gracie was one of the most important beings in Sharon's life -- and decision-making about living arrangements all hinged on the ability to keep Gracie with her.
Finding a new home for Gracie was utmost in our minds and hearts over the past few days. It is heart-warming that there were a number of people willing to take her -- because you know that it has way more to do with Sharon than it does with Gracie, even if she is a wonderful ol' pup!
I'm happy to say that, after a weekend trial, Gracie was lovingly accepted into her permanent new home yesterday.
* * * * *
My family and I are doing ok. Ups and downs, you know? We have each other and family and friends -- and sweet loving memories. Thank you so much for your words of love and comfort.
* * * * *
I sometimes don't know up from down, and my life both looks and feels as though a cyclone has gone through -- and then doubled back. Clean up and search has begun. Why, oh why, oh why, can I not find the ONE photo CD that I want? Or one of the copies of that one photo CD? Huh? Digital photos really suck, you know? The space they take up, the time it takes to organize, tag, format -- not in my world, at least not my own person stuff (especially the old stuff) -- and for what? You never even print the damn things.
Ugh. OK! Back to it -- focus, focus, focus! Things to do...
...so very very much.
June 15, 1960 - December 17, 2010
We knew it was coming -- have known for 2 years that it was coming -- and that it would come sooner than we'd like, but no one expected it quite this soon. No one expected that news yesterday.
I love you, Sharon.
[and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.]
desiderata; max ehrmann
When I browsed the photos last night, they presented themselves in such a way that making a mosaic was a no-brainer. I'll admit, I may have let myself be carried away on fd's flickr toys mosaic-making merry-go-round. Honestly, though, I think I may re-shoot that set up, with a couple of small changes, and order a print. I just love the colors and the patterning.
What we have here, in terms of knitting, is variations on a theme.
Three caps, all knit using Teva Durham's Afghani Cap pattern from Vogue Knitting: Caps & Hats as the starting point. Also, my youngest sister has a sewn "Afghani Cap" made from felted wool that is a pretty cool cap and it was my mother's coveting of said cap that initially sparked this little journey.
I knit the first cap with Mom in mind as the recipient. I used Handmaiden Fine Yarns "Ottawa" -- the leftovers from my Moebius Cowl -- mainly because it was at-hand and because of the colors. I knit the hat pretty much as written, though I may have cast on a few more stitches because I wanted a longer brim and also because of differences in gauge.
It turned out okay! It wasn't quite the shape I was after, but it was a very good hat. The biggest thing to come from it was that my sister saw it on the blog.
"This doesn't mean that I'm asking you to knit me a hat," she said (or something like that), "but I really like the shape of that hat. There is some fullness at the top with that style and it's not so close-fitting. It won't make me look so... bald."
Well, hell, of course that meant I had to knit her a hat! Besides, those welts were kind of fun to knit! I could use straight needles and I had more yarn! I cast on right away!!
I may have increased the needle size for the second cap -- it's a terrible thing, but I really don't remember. What I need is an internal video recorder (I'm getting a vague memory of a Robin Williams movie having to do with something like that -- I think) so I don't have to stop and write things down. I'm terrible about writing these things down!
Anyway, I knit the second cap (possibly with a larger needle) just as I did the first, EXCEPT for one slight modification. My desire was for a cap that flared a bit at the top of the brim where it met the crown. With this pattern, I decided that short rows would be a good way to achieve the increase in an attractive manner. I figured that a third of the total stitch count would be a good number to provide the "flare" and also determined that I would work the short rows in the welt areas. I ended up working a short row on either side of the welt section and also between each welt -- for a total of four added rows in each of those sections (of which there were four, so, in the end, 16 more rows at the top of the brim than at the bottom).
It is very difficult to photograph a "short row."
The second hat turned out okay -- bigger overall -- but, actually, still not as flared as I wanted. It was definitely not as flared as I was expecting with the addition of the short rows.
I took the first two hats to Madison a couple of weeks ago when we met up with my sister after her radiation appointment. She tried on and I was able to see her in both hats and get her feedback.
With the onset of spring (though not, apparently, today), we decided that cotton might be nice -- and in a lighter, more neutral color. I'd used up all the Ottawa on the second cap, anyway.
More welts! I ended up choosing Gedifra Fiorista, a cotton/poly blend, in color 5213-Rose/anthricite -- it's both colorful and subdued (not quite as bright as linked, but perhaps a smidge brighter than my photos), and it knit up beautifully. This time, rather than working short rows, I decided to knit the brim as written but picked up more stitches for the crown and made adjustments to the decreases. The cotton yarn is a lot sturdier and stood up better to that modification than the floppier wool.
I seamed it on the way to Madison on Saturday and my sister tried it on -- and the third time's the charm! She loved the color, too. I brought it back home to weave in ends and block it a little bit, mainly to smooth out the brim/crown juncture, and will get it in the mail this week!
My sister is doing as well as expected, I guess. The prescribed course of chemo/radiation concluded last week. She's bald. She's worn out. She's lost weight. She's keepin' on with the keepin' on, though, taking the dog out for walks, feeding the cat, getting some work done. The surface burn from the radiation is so nasty and uncomfortable, limiting her movement and affecting posture. Keep those good thoughts and wishes coming!
I still haven't had my fill of knitting welts! Kinda scary...
Oh, how I love me some blue snow.
I don't think there's a school in the area that's open today due to brutally cold temperatures.
Many, many closures were already announced last night.
Maddy was positively giddy at the news.
Tomorrow is to be even colder, I think.
Smell a 4-day weekend?
Not for me... I'm at work today... and will be tomorrow.
That's okay. I have stuff to do. And tomorrow the cat will be away.
I need recommendations... What's your best advice/favorite pattern for a chemo cap for someone loathe to wear hats?
ETA: I forgot! E6.0!!
SISTERS. (On Flickr.) (Skipping over Q and R for the moment.) These three are mine. This is one of the scanned images that (still) refuses to display in Dad's frame. It's June 1979 at Mount Rushmore (obviously), on the return leg of our first-ever trip together -- just us -- from Wisconsin to Dallas, Oregon, over to and down the Oregon coast (with Dad, his future wife, her kids) all the way to Crescent City, California, and back to Wisconsin. We'd exchanged my brand new Toyota Corolla for our future stepdad's brand new Ford Fairmont wagon to make the trip.
Staying overnight at a Holiday Inn in Ogden, Utah, and awakening to a snowy mountain June morning.
We helped Dad move their belongings into storage, as they were closing the door on one chapter and opening the next. Sharon played "The Snake Charmer," the only song that stuck in her brain after all those piano lessons, as the piano was moved through the streets of Dallas in the back of a pickup truck.
Sand dunes. Sea lions. Caves.
Playing on the beach at Cape Kiwanda near Pacific City. Unbeknownst to me, my future husband had just purchased a lot across the road and was preparing to build a house there. Six years later, I married him in that house. Six years after that, we were visiting the coast, listening as Katie skipped to a song she made up about "Kate, Kate, Kate Kiwanda!"
Pitching a tent in a mosquito-infested Yellowstone Park on the way back, Annie and I cloaked in whatever we could find to keep from being eaten alive or carried off. It was awful, and is very likely one of the reasons why I'm not a big fan of camping.
We took a wrong turn (or missed a turn) leaving Yellowstone and ended up spending much of a day in the free-range area of the Montana Rockies. Karen and I were the only licensed drivers, and I did most of the driving, but somehow she ended up at the wheel during that mountainous, white-knuckle (oh, that was me in the back seat!) drive -- hairpin turns, rock slides, cattle in the road, a long long long way down... I'm feeling vertigo just remembering it.
Wall Drug. A serious thing for McD's Egg McMuffins (as often as we could) (OMG, back when they actually made it when you ordered it? Yum). Scrounging our pockets, the seats and the floor for McMuffin and/or gas money on the way home (we made it!).
At some point in the mid-80s, we began to get together regularly for what we dubbed "Sister Weekends." The first ones were in Milwaukee, but we also went to Ohio (Longaberger land) and Kansas. It had been quite a few years since our last when we got together last month in Mineral Point to celebrate my birthday. And each other. Reconnecting.
Today, one of these sisters meets for the first time with her oncologist. That she has cancer is already known. The details will be disclosed today.
S is for this is SHITTY news and cancer TOTALLY SUCKS.
S is for SADNESS.
S is for STRENGTH.
S is for SUPER SISTER SIZED SUPPORT.
S is for please SEND all your good vibes, karma, wishes, prayers, and healing thoughts for my SISTER.
XO, honey, I love you.