Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Greening

We have had quite a bit of rain the last few days. That's good, we really needed it. Today dawned downright foggy. It is amazing what some rain will do, we are greening up like mad!

The maples are sprouting miniature leaves,

and dainty little dresses.

So green!

Even the lichen on the tree looks greener today.

The flowering almond is about to burst too.

You didn't think I was done with the light show, did you?

Nope, not even close to being done.

I got my clipper blades back all sharp and shiny from the sharpening service. Let the shearing commence!

Tieck is not in the mood for shearing to commence. I haven't told her that she is about to make her first (ok, only) documentary appearance soon, do you think that might soften her up to the idea?

My friend Lori is a writer for a television magazine. That can be dangerous. You think you're just talking about the documentary, but then, well, shoot.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Screening

Photo by MJ.

Remember when I said Mom was with me in spirit? I walked into the reception they had before the screening, and there was Mom on the poster. Somebody had to point it out, I hadn't even seen the poster for the crush of people. I had the privilege of meeting many people involved with The Alzheimer's Project, and let me tell you it was weird when people recognized me, both before and after the screening.

The film itself...I just want to give a few impressions.

I recognized the story of Woody Geist because I had read Mary Ellen Geist's (his daughter) book, Measure of the Heart. Seeing him sing just blew me away though. I wanted to give him a standing ovation, so I was happy when others in the theater also applauded.

Yolanda about broke my heart. She suffers from hallucinations, and sees snakes on her wheelchair. I wanted to kiss her caregivers though. They do everything they can to comfort her, smashing the snakes with a tissue, even switching wheelchairs so she can have a clean one without snakes. I love them. Something Yolanda says struck me. She is upset and crying, and says, "You try to make everything simple, but you can't." Or something very similar to that. She is so right.

With regard to Mom, they showed several several of her "Art of Alzheimer's" pieces, (gratifying reaction from others at the screening) and among other things, a sort of dramatic (traumatic, for me) event. When you see it, you'll know what I'm talking about, and I hope, understand my reaction. If you've read here long enough, you know what we went through in the past. I think every AD caregiver has moments of self-doubt, and the filmmakers happened to catch a huge one of mine. Sorry to be so cryptic, but you'll see for yourself.

Parts of it were very difficult for me to watch, because I'm so close to it. But everything they showed needed to be there, and it was absolutely right that it be there.

I'm happy that Mom was a part of it.

The peepers are out at the lake (the one I can barely see from the upper pasture) and so so loud! After I got Mom to bed last night (dang, around 1 am) I stood outside for a few moments to listen and watch the animals in the pasture. It was the perfect thing to do before going to bed.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Art of Alzheimer's

This is basically what I found when I walked into the kitchen last night. The towel is from the bathroom, as is the silver towel holder. She never leaves it on the wall anymore. I snapped a few photos then the battery died, so I grabbed the back up camera.

She wasn't done yet. Judy and George are never far away.

This is what was left when she finally walked away, about 10 minutes, and 40 photos later.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


The sun is now sinking below the lower bank of clouds.

The rays of light show begins. Cue heavenly choir. Have I mentioned that Mom will often make that sound when I turn on a light? Makes me giggle every time.

Mom did really well at the spa. She even slept, in a bed, which is unusual for her when she goes there. When she got home, she immediately tucked a little stuffed rabbit in her arm, smiled at me, and went off exploring. The rabbit was replaced with Judy soon after. Right now, she is even keeping regular hours, to bed around 11, sleeping through the night, and up around 6 or 7. Heaven for me, although it makes sneaking a shower in difficult.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Last night's sunset was incredible and ever changing. I'm just sharing a couple today, there are many, many more. I had just served Mom her dinner when I glanced outside, so luckily she was otherwise occupied. I just stood there, enjoying the show for a good 20 to 30 minutes, taking photos when I remembered. Here, the sun was sinking between two banks of clouds. You can probably tell there was a storm blowing in, and the sun was going down, so the scene changed every few seconds. The wind picked up and I could feel the temperature drop.

I enjoyed every second of my trip, but last night I was reminded why I love this place. This view that I cannot get enough of. Could I really ever leave it? Thinking about it is keeping me awake at night.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The trip

I was going to focus on the film first, but I am waiting on some photos from a friend. I am still trying to wrap my head and emotions around that whole part anyway. This is roughly chronological.

There was a luxury ride from the airport.

It was the wee hours of the morning, so I didn't ask him to hold the sock. Speaking of which,

here it is on the intended recipient. This is the one and only sock photo. Apparently I'm not a good knit blogger.

There was a beautiful garden to relax in,

complete with good dog Cassie so I wouldn't get lonesome for my two.

What trip(for me, anyway) would be complete without a photo of a sign, right? (Photo by MJ)

Unfortunately, this sign on a parking structure (in Ventura) is just a testament to the number of homeless looking for a place to sleep. Sad.

There was a surprise dessert of carrot pudding after an incredibly delicious meal of flavorful Indian food at Taj. If you're ever in Ventura, I highly recommend it!(Photo by MJ)

There was kayaking in Ventura.

With seal.(Rest of the kayaking photos by MJ.)

And double-crested cormorants. Check out those Andy Rooney eyebrows.

I'm the one in the back there.

There was walking in the fashion district, with shop after shop of fabrics out leaning on the shops. I didn't get a photo of that, camnesia, you know. The sight was incredible though. I purchased some silks to experiment with nuno felting. The clerk's name was Josephine! We also went to Chinatown to stock up on allergy medicine. That clerk's English name was Josephine too! I took it as a sign that Mom was with me in spirit. (Remember this, it will pop up in another post later.)

There we were, walking around downtown LA in record breaking 100 degree heat. It really didn't feel that bad though. It's a dry heat, you know! However, my friend knows that the coolest, cleanest bathroom in downtown LA is in the (Frank Gehry designed) Disney Concert Hall, so we popped in there and also looked through the gift shop. I didn't stop and take any photos of that building, because you could just feel the heat radiating from it. This is another part of the complex though. (Don't ask me which one, I don't remember.)

There were long walks on the beach. (Does this sound like a singles ad?)My friends live in Santa Monica, so beach walking is a tradition. They always carry bags and pick up trash as they walk. Hurray for them!

Look, dolphins! Each day we walked, there were several dolphins just offshore. So cool!

The Santa Monica Pier is solar powered, see?

Travelogue over.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thank you, HBO!

I got back home around midnight last night, and my head is still whirling. I don't know where to begin.

The film is, well, like I said, I don't even know where to begin. Just do whatever you can to see it, you won't regret it.

While I am recombobulating, (I will write in more detail later, I just need time to process everything right now) please do go read and say hello to Joe. Like Mom, he is also profiled in the film, and I got to meet him and his wife at the screening. His blog is the real deal; I can only give a caregiver's perspective.

I'll leave you with this for now.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I saw this dust covered web out in the barn this morning. It has obviously been there for a while, but I first saw it today. The light must have hit it just right so I noticed it. I had to stand in the llama poop pile in order to photograph it. Don't worry, I'll change my clothes (including my shoes!) before I head out to the airport.

Ok, so there is a car service picking me up from the airport and taking me to my friends' place. I'm so taking a photo of that. Here's the I ask the driver to hold the sock?

For all you non-knitting readers...knitters often choose socks to knit while traveling, as socks are a small, portable project. Thanks to the Yarn Harlot, it has become fairly common for knit bloggers to take photos of the sock...sort of like Flat Stanley.

Have a great weekend! The screening is Tuesday, I'll be back very late Wednesday, so don't worry if you don't hear from me, (I know some of you do), we're fine, just not here!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


From giant suri monster

to nuno felted suri stole.

The fabric was from the clearance rack, purchased several years ago. To do this properly, I should have used a silk or cotton voile base fabric. The suri fiber would enmesh right into the base. In this case, I think the base fabric was too tightly woven, and is probably polyester or rayon or something. Or maybe I didn't felt it enough. The suri itself felted, but it didn't stick to the fabric very well. I think I might be able to peel the suri away in one piece if I wanted to. However, I grabbed my felting needles, and needle felted it in strategic areas so that it did stick. Yesterday, the wind was coming from the right direction that I just held the stole up and the wind held it on the fence.

It is very light and drapey, and the suri glows with luster.

Edited to add: Yeehaaaa! I just found out that I get to go kayaking in Ventura on Saturday if it isn't too windy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


It all started out innocently enough. A three-way conference call just catching up on events in the last 9 months or so. Yet, by the end of the conversation, I ended up with plans to head to Los Angeles on Friday to attend an advance screening of an HBO documentary. How the heck did that happen?

About a year ago, I got an e-mail out of the blue. HBO had found the blog, and wanted to talk about a documentary on Alzheimer's. After several more e-mails, conversations with the directors, conversations with my siblings, some googling of the directors, consulting with friends in the industry, and much thought on my part, I agreed to allow them to come film Mom.

Mom is one of seven people profiled in the upcoming HBO documentary "The Memory Loss Tapes", one of four documentaries in HBO's The Alzheimer's Project. One documentary will focus on patients themselves, one on the science, one on caregivers, and one on children coping with the disease in their parents/grandparents.

They came last July and filmed for four days. Mom was her charming self, created some art while they were here, and I think all in all it went well. All of the animals cooperated too. The llamas and alpacas did not spit at them, (not that mine spit with no reason) the dogs were good, the cats (Puddin') made themselves right at home.

The wildlife even obliged at one point. He was filming the sunset, and I could hear geese coming, but didn't know where they were. They flew right out of the sunset and directly overhead. It was incredible. You would think I had them trained to fly on cue or something! (Ok, release the birds...and...action!)

The filming was kind of stressful, rather exhausting, and it felt like I cried the whole time they were here. Not that they were cruel or bothersome in any way; I just tend to get emotional talking about Mom. No, they were lovely to work with, kind and down to earth.

So after all that, maybe I should tell you when it airs, yes? May 10th, Mother's day, 9 pm (8 central) Also, I have been told that HBO is unscrambling their signal for the series, but it is up to your local cable company to allow it. So if you have cable but not HBO, check with your company to see what's up. I've been told that DirectTV and Verizon have agreed.

Happy Easter!

How can a major discount retailer starting with W and ending in Mart run out of Cool Whip on Easter weekend? How? Come on, this is rural Minnesota! There are now poor church ladies (the procrastinating ones) running around trying to figure out how to make their Jello fruit salad without Cool Whip! Oh, the humanity!

Heading out to my niece's place for the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Let's hope I don't get the booby prize again.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A New Home

A Craigslist score! PBR (pretty bunny rabbit. I always say, hi pretty bunny rabbit! when I'm caring for her, so that has become her name) is very happy in her new multi-room condo. Previously I had her cage in the chicken coop, because that was the only predator-proof place for her. This is much nicer, and more convenient.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Stand off

I spy, with my little eye.

The chickens have discovered the cat feeding station. They scared off two of the cats, but Puddin' wouldn't back down. She hissed, she stared, she just kept eating. I chased the chickens away, but I may have to find a new place to feed the cats.

Then, of course, there's another peg loomed item. Alpaca/denim lint/cotton scarf, about 9" by 45", with a 5" knotted fringe. I would have liked to make it longer, but I ran out of yarn. Dang.