The 7th Annual Celebrate Michael Day!

Can you believe it's been seven years?

One of my favorite posts from that time:

Overheard in ICU today

Michael:  I want to get these fucking tubes outta me.

Vicki:  You've got to leave the fucking tubes in.

Mom:  I don't like it when you two use the F-word.

This was after he'd already removed the Foley catheter once (ow) and had to have it replaced, was caught with a leg over the siderail of the bed, trying to "escape", and told his best friend to go get the car.  "Let's you and me go for a ride, Paulie."

I think the wild ride portion of this recovery program is underway.

It wasn't even close to over then. I don't think that wild ride has ever really ended!

I love you, Michael!! XO



Today... Michael. Five years ago, if you can believe that! I can't... five years ago this very minute, he was in ICU and we waited and worrried... which continued for several weeks... months. It could have turned out very differently five years ago today, so we celebrate... my brother. I'm happy things went as they did.

Love you, Mikey. XO

He ain't heavy

...he's my brother.  Four years ago, we wondered whether a scene like this would ever happen again -- even if we didn't speak or acknowledge such thoughts amongst (or to) ourselves, they were there.  You don't look at a 6'4" guy in an ICU hospital bed, watch the rise and fall of a respirator and listen to beeping monitors without regularly batting away such thoughts.


He made it.  Yay Michael!!  We love ya, bro.

It's Celebrate Michael Day!

I just called my brother to tell him how happy I am that he's here.

DSC00682  DSC00683 

DSC00684  MikesCar

He's over 6 feet tall and was driving that "car," so you can see why we're happy that he's here.  Three years ago today, he was rear-ended by a semi-truck (visible in the background of the top two photos) while waiting to make a left-hand turn on his way to work; the semi pushed him into the path of an oncoming pickup truck.  He was conscious when they pulled him from the wreck for the helicopter ride to the hospital.  Emergency brain surgery soon followed, though, and it was quite a rollercoaster ride over the next several weeks for all of us!  I've never posted these pictures before -- the first three were taken by the helicopter pilot, I think, the fourth nabbed from the local paper.  (I should be flogged, but tell me you wouldn't have.)  I saw the helicopter on its way to the scene on my way to work that morning -- I always noticed them because my uncle was a flight nurse at the time (thankfully, on vacation that day).  I blogged many of the ups and downs over the following weeks; click "Michael" under Categories in the sidebar for the rest of the story.


Forces rallied and the most awesome Christine gathered squares for blankets -- for both her brother and mine -- and sent it to me by Mother's Day that year.  Michael dubbed it the Knitblogger Blanket of Love, and it couldn't be more true -- every stitch infused with special healing powers to keep him warm and remind him how much he is loved.

And they all lived happily ever after.


He's rockin' it

Bad Haji Bad Haji

Michael's band played out at a local bar tonight for the first time since February 2006.

He's rockin' it on bass guitar!  ; )  I'll never be a rock concert photographer, but I went down and took a few photos.  I smell like an ashtray, but it was worth it to see him play.

* * * * * *

My brother had a long recovery from a terrible car accident at the end of February 2006, so this is huge.  We wondered -- he wondered -- for a while whether he'd ever play out with the band again... whether there'd even be a band.  Very cool.  I blogged quite a bit of it to keep my sanity -- just click on the big "Michael" over on the right under "Categories" if you care to read the long rollercoaster back story.

We are lucky to have him

Breaking blog silence...

Mike Vicki_mike

That's my brother Michael -- and me watching over him.  He'll be 46 on St. Patrick's Day; almost didn't see 44.  "We are lucky to have him," as my sister wrote me the other day.

Indeed.  Two years ago today there was a traffic accident and his ordeal began; emergency brain surgery, several weeks in a coma, surgery to fuse vertebra, many more weeks wearing a body brace and undergoing rehab, both in the hospital and at home.  So much uncertainty, so many days of ups and downs, ins and outs, worry.  There are still restrictions in place, and likely always will be, regulating how much weight he lift and how many hours he can work.

The annual comin' around of this day combined with my uncle having lost his wife (the love of his life) last Valentine's Day are a couple of nonweather related reasons why February is not my favorite month, and contribute to my funk.  And this year, there's an extra day!

* * * * * *

Blog silence shall resume, as I'm leaving tomorrow for my weekend visit in Minneapolis.  I am so excited!  Blog friends always help with the funk -- they most certainly did two years ago, and they most certainly will now.  Check with Deb, my weekend hostess extraordinaire (no doubt), regarding the probability of a Saturday afternoon outing involving yarn and probably food.

Who loves you, baby bro?

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day and, more importantly in these parts, my brother's birthday.  It's kind of a big deal for our family this year.  We're all getting together for corned beef & cabbage and birthday cake. My sisters and Mom and I are giving him this (Julia's brother-in-law's cool, cool book):  Recording The Beatles.

Dsc09921I was a little worried that it wouldn't arrive in time, my fault since I only ordered it on Sunday, but it arrived on my kitchen table with a real nice thud yesterday!  (It weighs in at 11 pounds, so I'm not kidding about the thud.)  Way before he was a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, my brother was a Wings fan; and way before he was a Wings fan, my brother was a Beatles fan -- I wrote about it a year ago.

He is going to FREAK OUT when he gets this!

I will admit that I peeked and flipped through the book a little and it is beautiful.  This comment at Bedazzled about the almost-pornographic photos... of recording equipment... hits the nail on the head.  I don't even care about microphones, amplifiers and mixing boards, but this book makes me want to care!  Someday, I'm going to have to borrow it back.

Weloveyouyeah_2I'm working on a card to accompany the book, and this is the image I've come up with so far.  I'll change that to "The Something Else's" and "We Love You," and I've got to work Mom in somehow... maybe on the inside... maybe she can be George Martin or Billy Preston or one of the other Fifth Beatles.

* * * * *

Knitting-wise, with Katie taking possession of yet another sweater the other day, Madeleine let me know, in no uncertain terms, that she is still awaiting (and still wanting) a sweater that she picked out a few years ago.  The one Katie is wearing in the previous post, by the way, is the cover sweater from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2003.  Maddy desires one from the Spring/Summer 2004 issue (#2, if you're interested) and it's a great sweater, but it's knit in Berroco Suede -- 15 balls in the smallest size, and we'd need more like medium (17-19, hell let's just call it 20 balls) and at $10 a ball, well, I don't usually spend upwards of half that on yarn for my own sweaters...  I'm afraid Lion Suede would be too bulky and/or involve way too much math to make work.  Any thoughts on what would make a good, still suede-ish, reasonably-priced alternative for a 16-year-old's sweater?

Happy St. Paddy's Day!!  Don't forget about the contest -- you can read all about it and enter here.  Deadline is Sunday.

My other new favorite word is...

Dsc09807 Dsc08427_1

ROASTED (often found within these pages in close proximity to the word "delicious")!

On the left, Susie Middleton's Smashed Roasted Potatoes (updated to update link, Aug 2009), from Grace Howaniec's (now defunct) column, "Grace Before Dinner."  I haven't been steered wrong by Grace yet and these were no exception.  Admittedly, I'm a huge potato lover -- Potato Soup (with leeks or bacon or ham or anything -- or without), Potato Pancakes, Mashed Potatoes, Smashed, Baked, Fried, French, American, German, Salad, Scalloped, Au Gratin... you get the picture.  I've even had lefse, thanks to my Norwegian (not wicked) stepmother -- and love it (however, not so the accompanying lutefisk -- that was rather wicked)!  I think my potatoes were a tiny bit big and I forgot to flip them half-way through the cooking time, so they were a little less crispy but absolutely delicious! I will definitely make these again (possibly with a little less and/or a lighter oil, possibly not).

On the right, one of several batches of Peace and Sereknitty's Roasted Tomato Sauce that I made late last summer.  (It's a very pretty scroll down on that last link, almost to the bottom, for the recipe.)  I'd used it freshly roasted a couple of times, but put up most of it in the freezer.  On Monday, I used some in place of the usual store-bought can of tomatoes for lasagna and it was dee-licious!  I don't think I'll ever be able to use canned again.

This weekend I plan to make Carole's Roast Beef Soup, which not only looks delicious (and has been bookmarked on Bloglines since that day, so it's the first thing I drool over see every day when I check her new posts), it also comes highly recommended by Ann -- no culinary slouch, either, that one.  Meanwhile, Carole has also recently posted about Cream Puffs and now a recipe for Artichokes French!  I have been twice to Rhinebeck, twice in the line for Artichokes French (shared them once with Carole herself) -- they are absolutely delicious and now I can't wait to make THAT recipe, too.  ; )

* * * * * *

For those of you interested in the knitting:  I am working on the bottom part of Williamsro.  That's my official UFO project for February; St. Brigid's new cuffs are second runner-up.

* * * * * *

I cannot let this day pass without mentioning my brother, Michael.  I've been extra emotional this week -- Michael on my mind more than I realized, I guess, my aunt's memorial celebration coming up this weekend, the death of my best friend's mother on Monday, some other things...  It was one year ago this morning that I spotted the emergency medical transport helicopter in the sky on my way to work -- unbeknownst to me, it was on the way to the scene of an accident that my brother was so very lucky to have survived.  Brain surgery that day, back surgery on his birthday/St. Patrick's Day, and several weeks in a coma later... well, he will never be pain-free, will never feel exactly the same, but... he is so amazingly here and with it, walking and talking, alive and well.  And tonight, I hope he will be feeling NO PAIN, rocking out and celebrating life with THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS!  Rock on, bro!

Bob Woodward's "To Iraq and Back" on ABC last night struck some chords.  Wow.  I can't find a direct link, but it's available to watch online.

The love and support that I felt from the blogging community at that time was indescribable and indispensable.  I later printed out all the posts and comments from that time to share that with Michael and his wife.  And I was honored to wrap him in the knit-blogger blanket of love, all those heartfelt squares so beautifully sewn up by Christine.  "Thank you" never did (and never will) seem like enough for any of it.

And yet, before I end up in tears... Thank you, again.  Yay Michael.

* * * * * *

Birdsong and her family could use some of that indescribable support right now.

* * * * * *

I'm a happy recruit in McHale's Navy Norma's Army in the battle against rudeness -- first spotted at Cara's, recently at Stephanie's.  I'm wearing garlic, myself, and hoping that the March lion blows in bearing manners in abundance.  Yes?

Thank you for reading, I think I'm finished now.  Whatever will I blog about tomorrow...

Dscf8342 Dscf8343 Dscf8345

May 12, 2006

Dscf8344Well, I must say, I’ve never written to a blogging community before so this is a first for me. To start with, I’d like to thank you all for the knitblogger blanket of love as I will need something to keep my broken body warm. It really isn’t that bad. It all was very serious, but besides my neck, back and shoulder, I am doing just fine. I do believe lots of prayers got me to where I am today and I thank all of you for that. It was hard, though, reading of Barbie’s breast reduction and the superglue fun I had.  My sister sure didn’t forget much, and she is a great sister.  I must say, I’m lucky to be her brother.

Copy_of_dscf7347I do like fishing and hope to get out this year, but may put it off until next year, I don’t know if my body is going to be ready for sitting for hours or dealing with waves in the boat. We’ll have to wait and see.  I play in a band and hope to continue in the next few months.  I want to thank all of you for the support you gave to Vicki and for the knitblogger blanket of love.


* * * * *

My SIL took the pictures -- I don't think she could tell whether things were in focus because her eyes were filled with tears.

Thank you friends.

Too much

I don't know about you, but I've been getting a crapload of junk email lately.  Almost all of it ends up in my Trash, but I don't have it automatically deleted, because once in a while a "real one" gets caught in the net, so I always get to see the sender's name and the subject line before I have the satisfaction of trashing 'em for good.  OMG, this is a good one, the sender is:  PayPal Costumer Service.  Hello, I don't think I'd even fall for that one at Halloween!  ; )

I also had an email from a friend... with a talking monkey wearing a tiara, something about nightgowns and Rhinebeck and blogging royalty (ham queen, maybe!), but that's another story...  It did NOT get caught in the net.  ; )

Anyway, I have to tell you the really great news!  Really, really great news.  Michael had his neurosurgeon appointment today and he can LOSE THE DAMN BODY BRACE!  Woohoo!!!  Not all at once, mind you, but the doc expects that within two weeks (TWO WEEKS), DONE!  But wait, it gets even better... he doesn't even have to wear the cervical collar!  There was a time there when it sounded like he'd have to wear the collar for several weeks even after the brace was history, but NOPE!  That means he'll be coming to Mother's Day Brunch (at my house -- god, yes, I even volunteered) and we'll all be together and I can give him the knitblogger blanket of love.  The last time we (my siblings and I) were all together it was Michael's birthday weekend, following his birthday surgery to fix the cervical fracture, and he doesn't remember.  This will be nice.  ; )

A number of things...

Struggling with a 6-stitch pattern and a 4-row repeat, I'm still not back on track with the Simply Lovely Lace Sock.  Simply.  Lovely.  Hm.  Perhaps I'll be feeling it a little bit later.  Oh, but I did finish the Fibonacci sleeve last night and it will be getting a bath and blocking tonight.  I'm so excited that the majority of the knitting is finished!!

That's the end of today's knitting content, except for a little bit about knitting bones...

Margene, celebrating her 600th post today (and it's a beauty), made me take note of some NUMB3RS this morning... this is my 625th post!  That's just crazy, man, crazy.  I couldn't help but also notice the number of comments.  Margene gets a ton more comments than I do on a regular basis, and I know her number is thousands, if not thousands-upon-thousands, more than mine, and while I love comments, it's not all about the comments, but I am closing in on a rather significant and fairly large number of comments... in the realm of I-might-soon-be-whoring-for-more and a prize!  ; )

Bone2I took delivery in yesterday's mail from Christine of one big, blue blanket made up of many, many squares.  I'm pretty much struck dumb when I think about it all -- her brother, my brother, squares, blankets and many, many hearts.  I am looking forward to delivering it to its final, intended recipient and perhaps I'll find some better words to express myself -- or maybe Michael will -- but until then, "Thank you" is the best I can do to Christine and all the knitters of beautiful, blue squares.  Thank you.  I haven't written much about Michael recently.  He's still on an amazing, but painful path of miraculous recovery.  Today, he sees an orthopaedic doctor due to unrelenting pain from the fractured scapula.  I read that the scapula represents less than 1% of all broken bones, and it could take 6 months to a year for complete recovery and return of full range of motion.  I hope they can find a way to make recovery more comfortable.  On Monday, he has the long-awaited appointment with the neurosurgeon and will hopefully get the green flag to start losing the body brace, that the all the broken vertebra are healing as hoped and that no further surgery will be required.  Kellee's Knit Up Some Bone drive for Mr. Etherknitter hits a little home here, too.  ; )  And I hope Mr. E's good news comes soon!

I can't think of a blue-squared blanket without immediately thinking of PINK!  Cynthia has had an incredible response to Warming Grace -- and I'm struck dumb again when I think of the incredible bravery and pluck of a 5-year-old.  You go, Gracie, girl!

Grace leads me to my cousin Ted, then, and his mom and dad.  Ted was tall and lanky and had huge dimples -- darn, it was catchy -- he was always smiling and flashing those dimples!  They lived in Albquerque, so we didn't see them much when we were growing up -- only when they'd come here to visit.  I went to Albuquerque for the first time about eight years ago for Ted's wedding; his mother was dying from a recurrence of breast cancer and it was uncertain whether she'd even be strong enough to attend.  Turned out, the wedding day was the best day she'd had in ages... and she danced the night away.  She died a couple of months later.  My uncle died a couple of years after that, also of cancer; and then Ted.  Ted had a rare form of leukemia for his age -- completely curable if he'd been a child -- and specialists from around the country were in the loop.  He fought hard, too, but lost the battle almost two years ago.

I was recipient yesterday of a group email from another uncle; the subject line was, "Ordeal."  Gulp.  His wife successfully battled breast cancer a few years ago, but she's back on the battleground and underwent 9 hours of surgery yesterday -- with everything that's involved to excise a tumor -- weirdly, she also has a scapula involved.  I'm a bit sketchy on the details because, as is usual for my family, this is the first I've heard of it.  It's left me a little rattled.

Sweet Slumber

Dsc06963I shall never become less enchanted by this unfurling, nor tire of watching.  Sanguinaria Candensis, commonly known as Bloodroot, but also known as Indian Paint, Tetterwort, Red Root, Snakebite and, my person favorite, Sweet Slumber.  It's poisonous!  It's growing everywhere in my garden -- the original patch has grown quite a bit, but also the seeds have spread into the path, across the path, from one end of the path and garden to the other!  I couldn't be happier.

Dsc06965They rather remind me of cloaked women or monks in a procession -- or maybe, in photo at right, a woman and her children.  I've attended a couple of classes at a local gardening center and the woman in charge passed along a bit of wisdom from her grandfather about when it's okay to plant:  If you can stand to sit on the ground for two minutes with your pants pulled down, you can plant.  Well, I was on the ground to take this pictures -- with my pants on, thank you very much -- and I can tell you that it's still too soon in my back yard!

Dsc06969I skipped out of work early on a gorgeous Friday afternoon and took Maddy to do a little shopping for spring.  She found a few things, but as the shopping thing sometimes goes, I actually found a little bit more -- even though it wasn't about me.  ; )  If the jeans fit (especially if they're on sale), buy 'em!

Saturday was even more beautiful (that's the day I was "checking the ground temperature" in the garden) and I actually washed the kitchen windows and the front door glass.  Yeah, I actually did housework -- it nearly makes me faint, too.  I went to the local home center with DH to buy what we needed to fix the rotted back porch stair treads and, as the home repair sometimes usually goes, it took quite a bit longer than anticipated to fix, but it's fixed!  I also picked up some literature on roofing material, as the back porch roof will need replacing soon.  It's always something, don't you know...

We had a good, short visit with my brother yesterday.  He is doing so amazingly well with his recovery.  My SIL is having a hard time keeping up with him -- she puts the gait belt on him and tries to hold on, but he's pretty hard to keep up with.  He still spends a lot of time in bed -- only a few more weeks, hopefully, until he can start weaning from the body brace.  That'll be a huge step for him in so many ways.  Oh!  I wrote down the name and number of the llama farm that's right on the last corner before my brother's house, too, so the next time I go visit (probably quite soon), I hope to be up close and personal with some llamas, or at least some of their fiber.

You know, with all the reasons for celebration this month, I feel like throwing confetti around, too!  I haven't worked out the details, but I feel a contest coming on... stay tuned for details!


This post could go south so easily.  I'm in a mood, a funk; I've got the blahs and I'm blue; it's like someone has stepped on my rose-colored glasses.  So let's just turn around and go north, shall we?

Dsc06789My brother, Michael, lives north and I talked to him last night!  I wanted to know how his first weekend at home went; I hoped that he was entertained by visitors, but not overwhelmed by them.  Sounds like it went pretty well and they're getting used to things, figuring out ways for him to be more comfortable, working on remembering and thinking, learning more about what happened to him, playing with the dog.  He gets so emotional sometimes -- and I do, too; we all do!  It's amazing, after all these weeks, how the gravity of it all can sometimes still sneak up and bowl you right over; and maybe even more surprising is that you'd think, being bowled over a few times already, that it wouldn't seem so grave or amazing or surprising anymore -- after all, he is recovering so very well!  Well, it is grave and amazing and surprising... it's also humbling and scary and heart-wrenching and joyful... still.  I find I'm given reason to think of his ordeal nearly every single day on my way to work, when I am unwilling witness to bone-headed motor vehicle moves.  Why, yes, there was a particularly frightful one this morning.  Makes me want to put a sign on my car: "Pay attention, people.  Be aware!  And don't drive stupid around me!"

Anyway, physically, Michael can stand being upright -- sitting, walking, standing -- in the brace for about two hours, max, then he's just got to get it off; he's feeling the pain of broken ribs and shoulder blade more acutely and the brace adds to the discomfort.  Fingers and toes are crossed for the next 30 days, when he'll have his next appointment with the neurosurgeon, that the fractured vertebra have all been knitting together nicely on their own all these weeks and that he'll be able to start losing the brace a little each day.

Lifted from Nathania, a meme.  Do a Wikipedia search of your birthdate, minus the year; list three interesting events, three people who were born, and three people who died on that day.  Here's mine:


  1. 1860 - U.S. presidential election, 1860:  Abraham Lincoln is elected as the 16th President of the United States, the first Republican to hold that office.
  2. 1939 - The Hedda Hopper Show debuts with Hollywood gossip Hedda Hopper as host. The show would run until 1951, making Hopper a powerful figure in the Hollywood elite.
  3. 1975 - The Sex Pistols play their first concert at St. Martin's School of Art in London.


  1. 1946 - Sally Field, American actress
  2. 1948 - Glenn Frey, American singer (Eagles)
  3. 1949 - Brad Davis, American actor (d. 1991)
  4. 1949 - Arturo Sandoval, Cuban-born trumpeter

This is just the '40s!  Also born on this day:  Charles Dow (of the Dow Jones), John Philip Sousa, Ray Coniff, Mike Nichols, Maria Shriver, Ethan Hawke...


  1. 1406 - Pope Innocent VII
  2. 1796 - Catherine II of Russia (b. 1729)
  3. 1991 - Gene Tierney, American actress (b. 1920)

Tomorrow:  A very good chance for a completed Fibonacci back and the start of the fronts!

Also:  Please notice the new ClustrMap on the sidebar.  It's pretty cool!  Found at VeryOtterly and thought I'd give it a whirl.

And:  Check it out: 91 knitters in the pink.  How utterly cool is that?

Who knows?

Dsc06800_1I am getting so excited about Fibonacci!  Alexandra has some other cute designs (go see!) and she's also the designer of the popular Soleil.

I made this mess into neat little yarn cakes on Wednesday!  Last night, I knit a big swatch (uh-huh, a swatch!) and it will soon be time for pencil, paper, calculator and (probably) Excel!  Now, I'm not 100% sure I'm going to knit this exactly as written -- I'm thinking that I'll still knit a raglan but I may do it in pieces, from the bottom up, rather than on a circ from the top down.  The circs and I just don't get along and nothing would spell UFO to this sweater more than c-i-r-c-u-l-a-r.  (My Tivoli -- which isn't even called that anymore -- is a shining tarnished tarnishing example.)  Also, while I'll be using the same Fibonacci sequence for the stripes, I will be using seven different colors of yarn rather than five, in this order (I think):

Dark Green/Gray, Orange, Tan, Rust, Spring Green, Red, Gold

I'm still working on Trellis -- knitting both fronts at the same time.  I didn't get to the sock last night, and eventually I'll have to stop ignoring the shrug...

* * * * *

My brother called me last night.  I think he missed me!!  I'd been worried about the ride home -- he had to wear the brace and it's over an hour from the hospital to their home and it's spring in Wisconsin (which means that bumps in the road and potholes are EVERYWHERE!).  Apparently, I needn't have worried because he told me that he actually fell asleep in the car!  I'm chalking that up to my SIL's good driving and Michael's apparent ease in a motor vehicle -- not remembering, but being aware of what happened to him (he has not seen any pictures or read any accounts of the accident, and doesn't want to yet -- not 'til his bones heal -- or maybe never, but he does ask questions about it and talk about it from time to time).  There was a very happy reunion with his dog.  Said dog was curled up at his feet when we spoke, hadn't left Mike's side -- except for a walk, which Mike meant to do, but he'd fallen asleep.  Sleep and rest are still so very important.

* * * * *

So, who knows?  Cassie's post, The secret life of a blogger, was interesting to read the other day; she wrote about things that cross my mind frequently -- some more than others, some more lately than previously.  I started to leave a comment, but, as so often happens, I was distracted, and now it's much more than a comment... more like a big, ol' ramble!

My kids know about the blog, but Katie's the only one who reads -- and it's semi-regularly, at that (and I am thrilled beyond all reason when she leaves a comment).  DH knows -- he thinks it's cool and has even met some of my "blog friends," but he is not a regular reader (I'm not sure he could even find the blog).  I kept the blog secret even from them -- the people I live with -- for a while.  I eventually told one of my sisters after about a year.  She told blurted it out to our dad (of all people!) and to my youngest sister (who is very envious of my "blog friends" and wants some of her own) and to some of her friends -- they all think it's cool, but completely overwhelming.  None of them read very often (some -- dad? -- maybe never).  The blog is not really a secret, but I've learned that -I- would rather be the one to tell people about it, if I want them to know.  None of my "real" friends know.  I, too, have all these new "knitter friends" from the far corners, and I, too, have more contact on a regular basis with some of them than with "real" friends, and I, too, have traveled to meet up with them -- I've got to wonder (too) where my mom thinks they've come from...

I shot daggers at my sister the first time I heard her mention my blog to someone (dad).  All sorts of thoughts ran through my head and she retorted, enthusiastically, "What?  It's you and it's fun and you haven't written anything to be ashamed or embarrassed about."  She was right -- and now I can't.  ; )

At first, I was quite cautious about my identity and location, careful about photographs and things.  Not that I've actually spelled it out anywhere, that I know of, but I'm not bent on complete and total anonymity.  I think I'd make an excellent detective or secret agent -- I can keep secrets and be very stealthy and hold things close to the vest -- I'm quiet and cautious and a little shy, but I'm just not secretive, and I don't blog that way; it's not a natural approach for me.  I know my blog personality is a little different than my real life personality -- I can be a little more "out there" on the blog -- but, you know, I'm ALWAYS fooling myself into thinking that I'm "out there" ALL the time, in ALL my personalities, and I'm really not.  (I'll bet y'all really want to meet (all of) me(s) now, huh?  Heh.)  I'm such a stick-in-the-mud wallflower and I always have to push and stretch myself to participate!  However, I do have it on good authority that I sound different on the blog.  ; )

Yeah, yeah, about my kids and the dangers of the internet and all the bad people...  well, I don't live my life in fear, either.  In fact, I refuse to live in fear and I have never modeled that for my kids; caution, yes; knowledge, yes; communication, yes; fear, no. You better believe I am sometimes afraid -- sometimes frozen with fear -- for my kids, myself, my neighborhood, my world -- and, oh, it would be so much easier to be a hermit... but that's not living.  I live, I blog, I blog (some of) what I live.

Six weeks ago, my brother was in a terrible accident and I blogged it.  I blogged most of it (not all) every day of the however many weeks in ICU, the surgeries, the rehab and recovery -- I couldn't imagine not blogging at all and there was nothing but that to blog for a while; those were my only choices.  I briefly questioned whether I should.  Because of the blogging, he will soon be the recipient of a blanket made up of squares knit by many knitters, spearheaded and sewn together by the generous Christine, in conjunction with a blanket project she had going for her brother.  It's one thing when I receive the occasional package in the mail from a blog friend, but how in the world was I going to explain an entire blanket for my brother?  Everyone watched me knit the single, solitary sock in the hospital waiting room, they know it isn't even BLUE.  (Abracadabra!  Let me pull this sock out of my hat...!)  I couldn't just present a blanket out of thin air (and, besides, I want to tell my brother about the squares and the knitters!), so I told my SIL about both the blogging and the blanket.  Not only that, I copied and formatted all my blog entries about the accident and what I'd written about my brother and printed and bound them for her to read (and eventually share with my brother) -- and I also offered to delete or modify them online if, for some reason, she wanted it that way (thank goodness, she didn't).  Yep, handed her the blog on a silver platter.

I both censor what I write here and I don't.  This is not the place for airing out any of my laundry -- maybe on another blog.  This one is mostly about knitting and, most of the time, how knitting relates to my life and, in some ways, about how knitting has changed my life -- the new friends and the travel.  The dreaming...  My sister is right, though, I have nothing to be ashamed of here.  Some people may not really get it, might even think it's stupid, but hey, whatever; the tables can always be turned in that game.

So, those are some of my thoughts on my blog -- and the who and the what they know.  Interestingly, I still have not told my mother, in so many words, about the blog.  Mom hears talk about the blog, she hears my sister lament the lack of blog friends (and sis knows it's directly related to the lack of a blog), she knows about the blanket that "my knitter friends are making," and she was with me when I bought the pink yarn for Grace's blanket squares the other day -- if she has questions, she's keeping them to herself.

It's Wednesday, isn't it? A perfect day for more randomness!

I can't keep a thought in my head for two minutes this morning, so random it is!

Cynthia has a nice post summarizing the Warming Grace project -- the response has been great.  That just warms MY heart.  Cynthia has been very supportive, encouraging and generous, with just a few emails and comments, in regards to my brother's recovery; her husband works with people who have Acquired Brain Injury, and they've taken a keen interest.

I will be visiting my brother in the hospital for the last time today.  It was six weeks ago yesterday morning, from the instant he was slammed from behind by that semi truck, that the miracles started piling up -- it's a miracle that he -- that no one -- was killed, a miracle that he was conscious at the scene, a miracle that he wasn't paralyzed, a miracle that the gas tank didn't explode, a miracle that a helicopter can transport him so quickly to where he needs to be so that a neurosurgeon can do brain surgery when needed (and later fix a broken neck), a miracle that he could be in a coma for weeks on end and wake up cracking jokes and recognizing everyone who walked through the door -- and many more miracles, large and small, one atop the other.  Incredible.  Today he's going out to lunch with one of the therapists and another rehab patient.  Tomorrow he's going home.  It's just surreal.  He's got a lot to work on -- reading, writing and 'rithmetic -- but he knows it and he's so motivated and he wants to get back to his regular, old life so badly.  The recovery-o-meter is going to make a huge leap tomorrow, the minute he gets to hug his dog and walk through the door of his own house.

I think I must have still been in high school the last time I saw my brother every single day for six weeks in a row!  Now my life will be returning to "normal," too.

I went to WW last night for the first time since I re-upped -- the week before Michael's accident.  It turns out that I must eat when under stress.  ; )  Also, I think the black jeans I bought last fall must have lost some of their stretch.  Yeah, that's my story.

Do you think I'm excited?  That I might have had a good time last year?  This morning, I booked an October flight to NY so I can return here.

Okay, I'm going outside to check for spring in my yard!

Dsc04567"The Royal Crescent and daffodils from Royal Victoria Park, Bath."  I don't have daffodils yet.  You know what?  I won't ever have daffodils unless I plant some!  I know, I know...  We had a pretty crappy weekend, so I didn't get to tour my yard to see if anything is happening.  Judging from last April's blog photos, I might see some sedum and tulips getting a start, as well as my favorite bleeding heart!  The sun is starting to come out, so perhaps I can take a look tonight.  Thank goodness for Katie and her camera!  Three weeks from today, she'll be back in the States -- I can't wait to see all of her pictures.  The continental tour begins this Friday -- first stop: Paris!  I doubt we'll be in touch very much until she gets home.

Dsc06777 Dsc06781 Dsc06779

Dsc06778 Dsc06782 Dsc06784

I scored at the antique show!  Three plastic and/or Bakelite belt buckles, perfect for the closure of a scarf or shawl -- I love those things and they were only $2.00 each!  A couple of pansy postcards, and the one that Mabel gave to her mother.  ; )  I love the Aero Knitting Pin & Tension Gauge and the proprietess at that booth made sure I knew that it was a U.K. gauge.  The painted pansy is on one end of a very long "Flemish art" box (decorated with wood burning) -- it's almost three feet long and divided into three sections inside; the top, front and sides are all burned and painted, the inside of the lid is done in an overall burn pattern.  I think I can make out "Joe" burned on the bottom of one section -- so maybe it was for his sweetheart.  It's missing the clasps on the front, which I didn't even notice until I had to ask the price and it was pointed out, so it was cheap-cheap-cheap.

I finished the second Trellis sleeve over the weekend and cast on for the back.  I briefly considered knitting the fronts and back as one piece to the arm decreases, but in the end, I'm doing it in pieces, as written.  I'm just past said arm decreases on the back, so moving right along!  I have pretty much memorized the pattern and am doing all but one of the manipulated stitch moves without a cable needle.  Such freedom!

I visited Michael a few times over the weekend, talked a few times, too.  He's doing great!  My SIL wheeled him out, walking us to our car, on Saturday -- it was SO good to see him outside.  He sounds stronger and more with it everyday; Thursday is still the tentative discharge date.  Woo.


I have not gone to yoga in over a month.  No doubt it would have helped at times, but it just didn't work out -- that one-hour workout actually eats up a lot more time, what with driving home in sweat-soaked clothes, peeling off said clothes to take the necessary shower.  A 5:00 class means that I'm not fit for anything else (and that includes stopping to fill my gas tank -- I've driven home after yoga with the light on more than once) until around 7:00 or so.  Bleh.  Here's a potentially good thing, though:  the studio that I frequent is opening a branch office closer to my home.  ; )

I discontinued my WW Online subscription a little while ago because, while I liked many of the features, I'm more of a people person and think I'd do better at meetings.  A week before my brother's accident, I finally went to a meeting to re-enlist.  I'm a lifetime member, having lost over 50 lbs. after Ali was born, and I'm right about at the same weight as the first time I joined up.  I do not wish to lose 50 lbs. this time, I'd really be happy with dropping 20-25 that I gained since quitting smoking, and losing the "bowl full of jelly" that has become my belly (I never, ever thought that a belly like a bowl full of jelly was a real thing!) -- I'd been comfortable and "okay" at that weight (even though it was well above my original goal weight) for many years.

I was going to go to WW last night, but then an aunt, uncle, cousin and his wife came to visit Michael and I had to see them, too.  And then we went out to dinner at a new pizza/Italian place where I began with bruschetta and finished with a share of three different pizzas -- all quite different, all quite delicious!!

It was the knitting that kept me awake during Boston Legal last night.  I think things are catching up with me a little and my weary body just fell right into bed at 10:00 (or so).  Much better this morning.  I've been at or near high alert for the better part of the month and, while I have been taking care of myself, there's an unrelenting buzz -- never mind concern over the surgeries, monitoring devices and medications, it's what this doctor says or that nurse or one of the three or four therapists, and how is the eating and pooping, walking and talking, remembering and memory -- and sharing it, in various ways, with all the people who need or want to know.  Thank goodness I could do the majority of it by email, but there are some who do not have it, or who couldn't wait for the email.

Anyway, I think my weariness was the manifestation of some measure of relief.  Yesterday, a tentative discharge date of a week from today was set for my brother!  This brings on a whole new set of stressors, but I'm doin' Scarlet O'Hara and thinking about all that tomorrow... or maybe even the next day.  Michael's therapy now includes walking stairs; he's been taking showers and brushing his teeth; he's getting stronger and able to pull himself upright to sit or stand after having the brace put on, and is able to walk greater distances.  And fishing!  Two hours of fishing is on the PT schedule this afternoon!!  It'll be Mike's first breath of fresh air in more than a month.  This will be a little stressful for my SIL, but there will be plenty of home-care therapy visits and she has worked as an OT, has cared for elderly parents, is a certified massage therapist and, most of all, she loves my brother.  It will do him so much good emotionally, just to throw a ball to his dog, eat his wife's cooking, and sleep under his own roof.  Thrilled would be putting it mildly.

It was interesting to talk to Mike last night, to hear him talk (wistfully and longingly, I probably needn't add) about getting home and reacquainting himself with his things.  He said that he knows he owns hunting and fishing equipment, a lawnmower, a boat, etc., but he really can't remember any specifics.  He said that he'd forgotten what his house was like, too, until he heard my SIL describing it to someone yesterday -- he followed along in his mind, "...up the stairs and down the hall."  It's like all the information is there, like pieces of a puzzle locked up in many locations; he needs to track them all down and fit them all together again.  Some of those pieces will be harder to find, harder to keep in position -- or maybe he'll try to force a piece to fit where it really doesn't belong.  Heh, I think he's been doing that a little -- he told me yesterday that he hates not knowing the answer to questions he's asked and he'll sometimes try to bullshit his way through.  That's my brother!

And crap.  The tax man soon cometh, and I'd better get going-eth.

We're such babies, yeah, the catfish makes us cry...

(Apologies to Hootie & the Blowfish.) One of the ways the pent up emotion of a horrific tragedy, numbing uncertainty, blind hope, and joyous yet guarded relief of the past month can be released is in sharing a good cry over how good the hospital cafeteria catfish is.  My brother, my sister, my SIL and me -- passing 'round the tissues and sobbing over the catfish yesterday.  It turns out that, while I am the eldest sibling and definitely "the boss," I am not the one that our brother fears most.  The one who makes him tremble in his boots happens to be the most mild-mannered, least confrontational of us all!  Apparently, she once took him to task and pushed his back against the wall to tell him what-for and, while neither of them can recall when or where or even what it was all about, it obviously made an indelible impression (the expression on his face when he described it said everything).  She struck such fear into him that when our parting words to Michael on Saturday were that this sister would be visiting on Sunday, he had another horrible night's sleep, worrying over her visit and fearing that she'd yell at him again.  Even though he knew it was silly and irrational and that he didn't do anything to warrant being yelled at, the dreadful feeling just didn't go away. He could laugh about it with everyone yesterday, but it was truly a huge relief when she finally came and didn't yell at him that when the conversation turned to catfish and how good it was -- we all had and enjoyed it weeks ago when Mike was still in ICU, but he'd just had it the day before -- his relief at not being yelled at, combined with his renewed appreciation for the little things (like catfish) and tender, humble emotions that have been pretty much laid bare, well, we all got caught up and the tears just started to flow.

I formatted the relevant blog posts down to fewer than 70 pages and printed them out for my SIL.  I gave them to her on Saturday afternoon with an explanation of what a blog is, who bloggers are, and a heads-up about the blue blogger blanket that Michael will be receiving, and she took it home to read it that night.  She was so moved that Sammy, their black lab, became concerned.  She would like to tell you all:  "THANK YOU," with more tears in her eyes, "...just 'Thank you'."  (During the catfish incident, I turned to her and said, "You don't even bother putting makeup on in the morning anymore, do you?"  It's true.)  My brother isn't yet ready to know the details of the accident -- he said that he wants to wait until the pain is gone -- but I think it will help him, too, especially wrapped up in the blue blanket of love while he reads.  Have you seen all the gorgeous blue squares???  Christine is amazing.


I finished a Trellis sleeve over the weekend and started on the second -- I love that little two-stitch TBL magic on either side of the central motif that makes a nice mock cable!  So simple and so fun!


Dsc06758Look what was in my mailbox yesterday!  This is from my health insurance company.  They had sent me a questionnaire a few weeks ago, wondering if I was still quit, how many setbacks I had (zero!), whether and how I used their services.  I never expected that I'd get a Certificate of Achievement -- and a gift!

Dsc06760Take a closer look (click for big, as always) -- it's no gold watch, but have you ever seen a more adorable keychain calculator?  What is it about miniatures -- miniature anything -- that appeals so much?  I doubt that I'll put it on my keychain, but it will fit perfectly into my knitting tool/gadget box.

* * * * *

Michael was with it even more last night.  He passed swallow test #2 with flying colors, so the trach has been removed and he is on a diet of soft foods, which apparently includes chicken breast (lunch), meatloaf and green beans (dinner), along with the usual suspects (applesauce, pudding, mashed potatoes).  His diet is supplemented with tube feedings yet, 'til there is no question about his tolerance for solid food and to make sure he's getting the nourishment he needs.  He's lost at least 20 pounds these last few weeks.

There was a full day of therapies yesterday, with a slightly reduced schedule today.  He was able to recall and tell us about activities during the day and who visited or called.  He's also becoming more and more frustrated with his situation -- he referred to the hospital as a prison yesterday, and is very uncomfortable in the brace/collar -- and what a pain in the ass to get in and out of that full brace.  One of the worst parts and a huge frustration is that he can't look down.  When dinner was brought in last night, Mom asked him if it smelled good and he said that it sure did, but he wished he could see it.  He also complained of a stiff neck.  Poor little brother.  I'm afraid the biggest challenge in the next few weeks is going to be keeping his spirits up.  Any and all suggestions for making this phase more tolerable are most welcome.  ; )

No secrets

Perusing the pages of my brand new, spring/summer VK the other day, I found myself wondering, on several pages, if I wasn't looking at a Vict*ria's S*cret catalog instead.  Disappointed would be putting it mildly, but maybe it's just me -- I'm not old, but I am getting older.  ; )  There's exactly one design in the entire issue that stays on my mind and it might even surprise you -- Di Gilpin's deconstructed tank (#17) (preview here, it's the middle one under "Natural Selection").  Maybe -- with mods.  (I would definitely wear it as a vest.)

I worked a little on the sock yesterday, a little on the Trellis sleeve -- that one will be for Mack, if you haven't already guessed.  I've been cabling without a needle quite frequently in the past few months -- for me, it just depends on the gauge, the yarn, the pattern.  This wool-cotton is a little slippery, but I've been able to do it sans needle for the most part.  Oh, what a wonderful, soft fabric it makes!

* * * * *

Holy shit,* what a difference a day makes.  Yesterday, I was pretty much walking on air as concerns my brother's progress, today I'm inching close to Cloud 9.  I picked up Mom on the way last night and as we walked down the hall toward Michael's room, he emerged with his entourage, heading out for a walk.  There was an aide holding on at each side, a nurse, and his wife close behind with the wheelchair, just in case.  What a spectacle he was, standing 6' 4" in thigh-high, white Tet stockings (which he found quite amusing), blue shorts, T-shirt and body brace with built-in cervical collar!  Mom and I waved excitedly and he waved back.  We gave him hugs and he decided to have a seat, then politely introduced us to the aides and even told them that his mother used to be a nurse -- impressive.  But wait, there's more...  He passed the swallow test, the trach has been down-sized, and the Foley is gone!  He was completely, mechanically untethered for the first time in over three weeks!  He remains under close watch, though, with 24-hour, one-on-one supervision.

He was even more chatty than the day before -- there was gibberish, confusion, disorientation, but he's also got a lot on the ball.  He tried to explain why he had them take down the clock in his room -- something to do with the day/date/calendar -- I think it's just too much information to process right now.  He needs to get how the calendar works, then remember how the clock relates.

Mike asked my SIL about the accident yesterday.  He said that everyone tells him he's there because of a bad accident, but he wanted to know more about what happened and, especially, whether he caused it.  He's been told since Day One, whenever the accident was mentioned, that it wasn't his fault and he didn't do anything wrong.  She told him about what he was doing, where he was going, how the semi hit him, and that he didn't do a single thing wrong -- it was very emotional, and at some point he asked her to stop, that it was all his brain could handle right now.  I'm sure that someday he will see photos from the scene and I can't imagine how those will affect him because, truly, he should not have survived.  I can write that now, but I still can't say it out loud. 

I've spent some time copying and pasting all of my posts and comments since February 28th into a document, and will probably integrate the daily update emails that I've been writing and sending to family members.  I'll have to do minimal editing, and lots of formatting, but I think it might be useful and maybe comforting to him to have it written down -- and to feel the love!  Wow -- it's over 90 pages in raw form!  Even I am amazed at how much has transpired and I've been conscious for all of it!

*Unmoderated enough for you, Lynne?  ; )  She made an observation in yesterday's comments about my "moderated language" and wondered if it was because my mum read the blog.  (Has it really changed that much?)  As far as I know, Mom does not; Dad might; two sisters might, and maybe one or two of their friends (they tell me that it's overwhelming the first few times); possibly a cousin.  Katie definitely does.  Hello?  Hello?

There will be days

Dsc04138_1I can't seem to think of or write anything today without it quickly becoming very reflective and maybe even a little morose -- at the very least, there's a definite melancholy spin.  (Chin up.)  There's nothing definitively wrong, really, outside of The Big WRONG, and maybe that's just it -- even though my brother doesn't know when his birthday is or what year it is right now, there are so many variables and outside factors that you can't really make a judgment.  No one can make a determination or a prediction or anything.  (Chin up.)  This is all normal for recovery from traumatic brain injury, from being pumped full of morphine and a variety of sedatives for the better part of three weeks -- and this could go on for weeks and months and *gulp* a year or two.  It's that time and patience thing again, and positive thinking and hope and prayers and optimism (chin up stuff) and, well, it's been three weeks already!  (Patience, patience, patience!!!)  There are many, many things for which to be thankful, I know, and it's for those things and not for those things that I cried all the way to work today.  (Chin up.)

I read Laurie's Fractured Fairy Tale over the weekend and the comment she made to the person who caused her husband's injury keeps going through my head on a loop:  " have altered my husband's life and my life for the foreseeable future, and you have made it into a nightmare."  Altered lives and nightmares.  No kidding.  In the blink of an eye and forever.  (Chin up.)

I can't believe it's been three weeks.  He was sprung from ICU last night.  That's worthy of a Woo and a Hoo, huh?  Yeah!

It'll be fine.  It was a pretty great weekend, really.  And it's always good when Katie posts sheepie pics for me/us.  And I finally turned the heel of that stupid sock I've been working on.  (I'm using that as a term of endearment; it's not really stupid.)

Is it just me in my mood today -- the mother of three fabulous sweaters fast approaching and/or on the cusp of adulthood -- or did anyone else laugh through tears while reading Stephanie's post today?

Overheard in ICU today

Michael:  I want to get these fucking tubes outta me.

Vicki:  You've got to leave the fucking tubes in.

Mom:  I don't like it when you two use the F-word.

This was after he'd already removed the Foley catheter once (ow) and had to have it replaced, was caught with a leg over the siderail of the bed, trying to "escape", and told his best friend to go get the car.  "Let's you and me go for a ride, Paulie."

I think the wild ride portion of this recovery program is underway.

Stand down

We're still on alert, mind you, but it's lights out on the emergency knit-signal and the stress-o-meter took a nose-dive this evening.  Thanks to all you super-heroes for the prompt response!!  What a day...

The surgery, originally scheduled for 7:30 a.m., finally began at around 5:00 and was finished at a little after 8:00.  (Holy scalpel, knit-girl!)  Thankfully, there was warning about a delay last night, but we had no idea it would be so, so, so, so long a delay.

We saw Michael only briefly afterwards, awake but very, very sleepy -- and doing just fine.  He did good.  We all wished him a happy birthday and got a big smile, too.  There's a plate holding things together (from T1 to C6) and there was no new, previously unknown damage found in that area.  Whew.  The broken vertabra in other regions will be left to heal on their own (he'll need to wear that brace for a while) and will have to be monitored -- he's got a lot of life ahead and there's no way to know what to expect in the long-term.  In the short-term, I fully expect to see him sitting up, alert and out of ICU very, very soon!  Woohoo!!!!

So, there's still some time left this St. Paddy's Day for a toast -- to my brother on a most memorable birthday!  I raise my glass...

May God grant you many years to live,
for sure he must be knowing,
the earth has angels all too few
and heaven is overflowing...

All of my sisters (and Mack!) will be here over the weekend...  I think I'm going to go collapse now.

P.S.  Did anyone notice, in the earlier post, that the "Kiss Me, I'm Irish," happy birthday, green socks bit landed RIGHT next to the photo album picture of St. Brigid?  She, too, is a saint of Ireland!  I took it as a very good sign.  ; )

Lighting up the sky with the knit-love


Do you think the knit-mobile could be a Roadster?  And it could shoot yarn and needles out the back into which the villain in pursuit would become entangled, kind of like an oil slick, but with yarn -- just the cheap stuff, you know...

The Commissioner (of course, it's Wendy!) has kindly provided a knit-signal beacon with which to call the posse.  Mine's a mostly virtual knit posse without which, truthfully, I mostly likely would have gone mad these past few weeks... or gone mad sooner... or madder later...  It has been a very welcome diversion and distraction to read blogs and it's been good for me to concentrate and focus on writing my blog.  I'm sometimes worn out and unable to put two thoughts together (as in responding to all the lovely comments, for instance).

I declare, here and now, that I will not be held accountable for anything I may or may not have done, in both real and virtual worlds, these past three weeks, and might well extend the declaration to cover the next week or so because the stress has been at times nearly unbearable and made for some terrifying moments.  The dial on the stress-o-meter isn't just going to go from red to green overnight.  I've found that I can laugh at something that's funny and cry over something heartbreakingly sad and freeze in terror at an unthinkable thought and go numb with would-have/could-have/should-haves and ifs -- all at the very same time.  It makes for a mess and I might even have exhibited inappropriate behavior at times (yes, dears, mild-mannered, even-tempered, mid-western moi) -- usually brief, then the emotions sort themselves out and I return to doing my best to keep it all together, to be strong.

Anyway, calling on the posse today, sending out an S.O.S.  You know what to do!  Kiss someone Irish and give 'em an extra peck with a thought for my bro, hm?  I hope with all my heart that after surgery today, the very worst will be behind him.

* * * * * *

Kiss1s Happy Birthday, Michael.

I'm wearing my lucky green socks for you today!

XO, see you soon.

Second verse, same as the first!

The highlight of yesterday is that it was much like the day before.  Whew!  Hugs, kisses, smiles; sometimes sleepy smiles.  I didn't spend too much time, don't want to over-do -- he needs lots of love, but he needs to rest and get better.  That's the hope for today, too.  We already know that Friday will be much different.  Surgery is scheduled for first thing and, yes, it is Michael's birthday and St. Patrick's Day.  I'm already thinking of leprechauns, rainbows, pots of gold, slightly more than 16 candles, four-leaf clovers, Aran sweaters, redheads, freckles, green, green, green, and luck o' the mostly honorary Irish (though there is just a splash of real, by-now-very-watered-down Irish in our veins).  Kiss someone Irish tomorrow and give 'em an extra peck with a thought for my bro, hm?

Dsc06726Dsc06723I'm still knitting blue and there's plenty more in the bag.  I keep thinking of what I might take up with next, but that's Shirley Shrugs, resting quietly in full view of me and the closest stash atop the entertainment center.  That's Mom's going to demand that it get some attention.

Dsc06731Dsc06727Making the loudest stash noise at the moment and making valiant effort at catching my eye (other than at least five -- no six -- varieties of sock yarn that's really getting quite obnoxious), is this nice, green, wool-cotton that I purchased last June at School Products in NYC with a sweater for Mack in mind.  It's even already found a pattern with which to associate -- Knitty's Trellis.  Running a close second and third are Bamboo and the Juniper baby alpaca, both sent by my BP from last fall, Jessica; she sent me some Hemp yarn, too, but I can't hear it from the hamper.

Really, really good news -- for real

Baby2Smiles.  Kisses.  Even though he's back on sedatives and morphine and shouldn't really even have his eyes open, my brother was alert as can be under the circumstances last evening.  My SIL was so relieved, so happy, just elated to hug me and tell me that she'd locked eyes with my brother and he gave her a big smile, that she took his hand and brought it to her lips for a kiss and he pulled her hand back to his lips to return the favor.  ; )

After meeting very, very briefly with the neurosurgeon (happy birthday! surgery on Friday morning) before he was called away on an emergency*, I went in to see Michael with my SIL, my mom and my uncle.  His eyes were wide open and bright.  He saw my SIL and puckered his lips, and did the same when he learned that Mom was there, and again with me -- it was not an easy task to give him a kiss, but we did the best we could.  He tugged at my uncle's baseball cap to see what it said.  He tried to mouth words -- some we could decipher, some we could not.  "I love you" was easy!  He is not in pain; we asked.  He was inquisitive about the monitors.  My uncle told him a little bit about why he was there -- an auto accident, he didn't do anything wrong, it wasn't his fault.  I told him about how much his best friend has had to endure in our company, the things he's heard and the topics of discussion amongst a predominantly female crowd, and what a trooper he is; I got that "Geez Vick" look.  I can hear him say it in my head; I guess I get that reaction from him a lot.

He's back!  I had to tell him about the card I made -- he seemed familiar with it and I wonder if someone has shown him the things that have been stuck to the small bulletin board in his room -- and reminded him, in my big sister, "I can be the boss of you" way, that he has to behave and listen to the nurses and do what they tell him so he can get better and get outta there!

There's a makeshift stabilization thing on his head to keep him from damaging his spinal cord -- the C7 has deteriorated that badly.  I'm trying to focus on the now and the future rather than getting worked up over some other things.  Okay, like... I can't believe he'd have been cleared for much of anything with a broken neck and many more crushed, broken, fractured, cracked vertebra in his back, all the while wearing a body/cervical brace.  Why was he taken off all pain meds and sedation and writhing around in his bed all weekend?  Why was he sitting up, strapped into a chair on Saturday when he wasn't even close to being awake?  Was he getting rushed out of ICU for some reason?  Who, I wonder, would be the driving force behind such a thing?  I can't even write the scary words that accompany some of the next thoughts.  Don't think like that; focus, Vicki, focus.

*Two weeks ago yesterday, my brother's car was rear-ended by a semi-truck while waiting to make a left-hand turn, pushed into the path of a pick-up; two were injured (one critical), no fatalities.  One week ago yesterday, two men working on a highway crew were killed in an accident involving a car changing lanes and reaction of the semi-truck that was cut off.  Yesterday, several people were injured, some critically and transported by air to various hospitals (including the hospital where I was, this being the emergency that our neurosurgeon had to attend to), when a school bus was rear-ended by a semi-truck while waiting to make a left-hand turn.  This is the last three Tuesdays just in my teeny, tiny part of the Big Woods and it's kinda scary.

Man oh man, two weeks already.  Many more to come, lots of twisty, winding roads, but he's back!

Oh, it's the twisty road!

Feb6c_1I guess the winding road looks more like this... but maybe blue.  Lordy.  You just knew -- I should have known -- that the breathless, distracted, forgetful, tear-filled, happy, beside-myself news of yesterday would be tempered by something.  The joyful feeling was a nice relief -- I'm calling it a practice run.  I don't think I really need much more practice, though.

By the time I reached the hospital yesterday, I only got to see Michael for a few minutes as he was being prepped for another CAT scan and keeping him calm was the rule.  Short story:  all his recent movement does not bode well for the neck injury, aggressive regimen of antibiotics for infection, surgery soon, he'll remain in ICU.

As Leslie* reminded me yesterday, "Take a sad song and make it better..."  ; )  So, on the up-side, I do believe he was more with it yesterday; I think he heard me, saw me, looked at me, recognized me, responded to me -- and I believe he did the day before when I spoke sharply, too, but to a lesser degree.

*Go visit Leslie.  She's brand spankin' new and I love her already -- start at the very beginning.  Also, if you're a Blogger blogger, she's got questions.

The long and winding...

9:45 a.m. -- See update below.

Dsc06719At this point, I have two blue merino squares knit and on the blocking board, plus another ready for blocking and one in progress.  I think I'm just going to keep on knitting and blocking blue squares for Christine's brother Jef and my brother Mike until time's up.  Each one has a cable design because, hmm, well, did you know that I like cables?  I realized, too, (sometimes it takes me a while) that the twisting, turning knitting of a cable also represents the long and winding road on which our brothers now travel.  It seems right.

I knit on the sock when I'm at the hospital and I'm not even half-way through the heel flap yet.  I get distracted...  Some of my SIL's hometown girlfriends visited yesterday -- oh, they're fun girls!  They usually take turns getting together at each other's houses a couple of times a year for merriment.  We told stories yesterday and laughed.  When they learned that Michael grew up as the only boy in a house filled to the brim with girls, they were not surprised.  They said that he just sits right down with them and fits right in; they liked him as soon as they met him.  It was nice.

The feeding tube and "art line" were removed yesterday.  He still has pneumonia, there are still plenty of tubes, and he was getting extra oxygen through that trach, but there's less and less stuff.  His eyes were open yesterday and it seemed like he may have been able to focus momentarily, he may have responded at times to the sound of people's voices.  He's moving much more; I think he's becoming more aware of the pain and discomfort.  He has these special mitts on to keep him from pulling things he shouldn't be pulling, but he keeps working them off.  When I went in to say good night, he had wriggled out of a mitt and was moving for the trach and the cervical collar (it's chafing badly under his chin) -- deliberate movements? involuntary? reactionary? -- I spoke rather loudly, as a big sister can, and told him to stop and what had happened and why he was there; he turned his head in my direction, looked into my eyes for a second.  It's really hard to guess the level of his awareness, whether he turned in my direction because I spoke or just because.  There are improvements, though we're always left wanting more.  Unless there's a reason not to, he'll be moved, "stepped down," to the neurological unit today.  ; )

Michael has always liked everything about The Beatles.  As a six-year-old, he sang Hey Jude to Mom over his walkie-talkie set. There's a picture of him as a teenager, standing in front of our house, proudly displaying a new Wings album and his body language says everything -- he's so excited, he's practically standing on tip-toes!

My dad just called me at work and Michael is WAKING UP!  My uncle, the flight nurse, was checking in this morning and Mike had gone for a CAT Scan to make sure everything was okay before moving him to the floor.  Michael was very, very agitated, so my uncle went over and talked to him and asked him, "Michael, do you know who I am?"  Michael nodded, unmistakably, "Yes."  Prior to his 19 years as a flight nurse, my uncle worked in the neurological unit; he knows how this works.  I can't wait to go visit...  Mom's checking on that...

; )


Michael was sitting up in a chair for a while today.  He is completely off the ventilator -- in fact, the ventilator has left the room.  (Every time I visit, there's less and less equipment.)  He is getting extra oxygen and there's saline to keep things lubricated.  He coughed and it was loose and, while it probably hurt like hell, it was good.  His hands are no longer restrained, though he is wearing special mitts so he doesn't pull out a tube or something (he's got more ports than my computer).  He's not really awake and it's hard to say when he will be; his eyes barely open.  He moves, but not when you ask him to; doesn't respond to any commands.  There's a very bad bruise on his back and left shoulder -- the fractured scapula.  Thank goodness his shoulder took that impact rather than his spine.  I saw more pictures of the car today.  My knees go weak and I am overcome with emotion -- still -- when I think about and realize how incredibly fortunate he is, we are.  I can't think of a word that comes close to describing it.  He gets tears in his eyes.  I get tears in mine.  I hope and pray.

When the zoom comes in handy

Okay, so my daughter takes breathtaking photographs in England, Wales, Ireland... at home... pretty much wherever she is with her camera.  She left a comment on my last post about the pastoral view with sheepies from the lodge and totally burst my bubble:

You'd THINK they were sheepies! But we did some super camera zoom research and realized they were some sort of feathered llama/dinosaur/giant swan things. Turns out they're just swans, but they're not as distant as they seem. ;)

*sigh*  They're just swans.  Swans are nice and all, but they're not sheepies.

* * * * *

Mom visited with Michael for a little while this morning and called me afterwards to tell me that he was resting so peacefully and quietly, just sleeping the whole time; she massaged lotion into his hands and feet -- they're so dry.  I missed my SIL and her sister today, but their notes said the same thing.  I know that just that small thing was a relief to all of them.  He was more restless this afternoon and evening.

I'm learning that you need to ask the right questions; information is not always usually volunteered.  He has pneumonia and pseudomonas, which are getting neither worse nor better, though the respiratory therapist said that there's been more activity this afternoon.  He is breathing mostly on his own, but is not quite ready to quit the ventilator and still needs that extra bit or he'd have a collapsed lung.  At this point, the ventilator is the only thing keeping him in ICU.  The continuous morphine drip will be stopped tonight in an effort to get him to wake up more (and they'll continue to give it to him as needed, of course).  He opened his eyes just ever so slightly tonight (just slits, really) and we've seen tears at the corners of his eyes the past few days, and grimaces that sometimes accompany the squirms.  That's hard.  There's going to be such pain -- the ribs, vertebra, now a shoulder blade, too.  Does he see us?  Can he focus?  Can he hear us and understand us and remember when we tell him what's happened?  I have to believe, even if we all still seem far away and fuzzy, that he does feel the love -- lots 'n lots of love -- all of our love -- and that's got to help.

I'm excited about this:  It was suggested that it's not too far-fetched to think that he could be celebrating his 44th birthday, St. Patrick's Day and my 1-year quit anniversary next weekend on the floor.  There won't be any green beer or corned beef and cabbage for him, but oh that would be like a pot of gold -- a little beginner baby pot, because we are going to be needing many, many more along the way -- more rainbows, more pots of gold.

Thank you, again, all, for your continued good thoughts and prayers and well wishes.  They mean so much.  You just don't know...  I just wanted (needed) to give an update, especially since it's hopeful.

* * * * *

The other really good news today is that my youngest, having not had school today, cleaned the entire kitchen -- including the floor -- without even being asked, without even a suggestion.  You can knock me over with that swan feather now...