A little Christmas music

Even before Thanksgiving my Sirius radio in my car switched to Christmas music all the time.  It was too early for me, and so I use my play lists on my old iphone to provide traveling music as I do errands: travel to and from Camden, ferrying the Grandchildren when they need me to get them either from school or to appointments, and daily visits to see Mom.

My playlist says “Weaving Music” because I use it both in the car and at the loom. There are fifty years of favorite songs on my list, and every so often I will hear a song I have not heard for a long time and it will get added to the list.  Most of the music I pick is attached to specific memories, there is a story for every single one: a place, a person, a child born, a child off to the service, some sort of remembrance.  Sometimes I just weave along, other times I will get caught up in the song and just sit and listen. Sometimes the music reminds me of how much has changed over the years, sometimes it seems as if it is 1964, or 1978 or 1986 again.

So .. to the strains of  The Prayer, I am writing my end of year blog.  I find that writing this blog helps me to see the progress as I move towards my goal of weaving every day. My biggest struggle is the push and pull between weaving, reading and family. Family gets first consideration but I am excited to be learning more about weaving, and of course, I still love books.   I find myself weaving in blocks of time, and then using books to fill in the “in-between times” like when I am cooking dinner.  Of course, this results in a few overcooked dinners once in a while. And then there are anagram puzzles on the cell phone- my granddaughter Grace has me addicted to them. However,  I tell myself that they make my brain exercise in a different way and that is probably not a bad idea- given the fact that the women in my family have experienced dementia in old age. With good intentions I still have a guitar and an autoharp that I hope to master at least to my satisfaction.

I did not start this year with much hope state-wise , country-wise and world-wise. It seems to me we are going in the wrong direction and the justifications have been very selfish: better 401K, increased riches for billionaires, frequent golf trips for the man elected to our top office.  Sexual harassment and abuse have been alleged against men from the White House to the News and Entertainment industry. Women are not being silent. It amazes me how shocked and surprised people are.  Women are “slut-shamed” and “body-shamed”.  So often the men deny and point out they would never have been  interested in that person, years later of course, she is a little (or a lot) heavier, she is older, and often gray.  One look at the seventy or so men who have recently had allegations brought against them has convinced me that none of them live in homes with mirrors, for they are not particularly handsome either.  Many are balding, overweight, and some just plain unattractive, but they all are or were powerful in their field and perhaps in their younger years that power made them believe in their own attractiveness and were entitled to do whatever they wanted. It is hard to know what will happen with all these allegations, but the sheer number is evidence that the tide has turned.  So Time’s person of the year are the “Me, too” women and men (there are a few).  Judge Moore in Alabama has lost a deep red state. Thank you Alabama!! There is talk of a deeper investigation into allegations against the inhabitant of the White House.

We are still a country deeply divided: some are appalled at low standards of behavior that is being accepted and even rewarded, and others feel they will ignore anything as long as their 401K increases, the courts become more conservative, and those who are different “go back where they came from”.  I do not know what it will take for more people to realize that they have elected a con man, a reality-tv star, a man without intellect or a moral compass.  Twelve months later after the election and we have a special prosecutor and an investigation into collusion by the Trump campaign. I fear even if the voices calling for justice and compassion carry the day, I wonder how long it will take us to heal.  I find that I do not trust neighbors I used to without second thought. What they have advocated for by their speech and their vote is diametrically opposed to all that I think a Christian should stand for.  Pray and weave, play with the grands, read whatever holds your fancy and trust that God will take care of the heavy hitting (the two toddler in chiefs of N Korea and the US).

Although this will be posted in January  most of it was written in early December. I took off my first completed work on my first barn loom. I had thought it might be a rug but it is not heavy enough for that purpose.  I am thinking it might be a good bed throw for a certain, shedding, three-legged Lab to sleep on.  In addition to grandchildren, as you can see, we have granddogs all of whom love to sleep with their humans and all of whom shed a ton. I always wondered about those fancy bed throws in motels- but anyone who shares their bed with a pooch might appreciate the gift of one. IMG_0092[1] I moved on to two of the other looms I have warped to begin their projects.

With Kenny Loggins singing “Celebrate me Home”, the gentle thumping of the beater as I work on a scarf  in Honeysuckle Overshot providing a base accompaniment and the IMG_3044[1]comforting soft sound of my Zane’s snores, Christmas music abounds in the house and for a time anyway, it feels like all is well.

 

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November’s song

IMG_3043[1]It is said that when you get older time moves more quickly, and it sure seems to be true. I was just getting used to 2017 and here we are approaching the end of the year. On Facebook my feed puts up memories and I see pictures of when Grace and Ethan were elementary school kids and Will was just a newborn.  Now Grace is approaching her 16th birthday and thinking about driving, at 14, Ethan is taller than I am and will be in high school next year and Will at 3 is faster than his Grandma and way cuter.IMG_3018[1]

Just a month ago we had a couple of days of 80 degree days, and we got in some last of the season camping and now we have had our first snow flurry although no accumulation. Today it was a cold rain, had it been snow and we would be shoveling a foot or so. We managed to get the wood storm doors on our house, having such an old house you try to create as many air locks as possible to help keep the cold outside, we had already buttoned up the cars and gathered leaves for the goats snacks- our winter preparations are almost complete.

Mid-October brought my first trip to Camden for my weaver’s group since the accident, but in November I was able to make the drive myself and spend as much time as I wanted in beautiful Camden.  The time spent with the other women was really encouraging- particularly the question and answer time when we discussed many parts of warping: tying on;knots used; paper vs. sticks to keep the warp threads separated as its wound on; and whether we warped front -to -back vs. back-to-front.  Experienced or novice, we all had some questions or listened with interest to find short cuts we did not know about. We all learned to weave from different people and over several decades ( I learned in the 70’s).  We will continue it next month and I hope to get information and tips about warping a loom with a sectional warp beam. I am sure it will be a bit different from my barn looms.IMG_2785[1]

The loom with the sectional beam is a loom that was built especially for Virginia Rebbe Mitchell Grice by her husband John Allen Mitchell about 1920,   so that she could teach veterans of WW1 how to weave in Camarillo State Hospital in California, from the 30″s through the 40’s. Many veterans suffered from shell shock ( basically another name for PTSD). Trench warfare and chemical gassing and the carnage of IMG_2783[1]war affected many of our soldiers in WW1.   Back then medications were not developed to help with depression or anxiety, nightmares and significant startle response to certain sounds or smells.  PTSD has gone by many names: after the Civil War the symptoms the veterans experienced were called “Soldier’s Heart” as doctors noticed that veterans had physiological changes to their bodies related to war service.  WW2 brought war neuroses, Vietnam introduced us to PTSD as we developed a better understanding of the physical, emotional, and mental impact of war. I know first hand about PTSD- my husband a combat veteran of Vietnam has struggled with it for some 48 years. Research I did of original articles from  WW1  put the  responsibility of healing the WW1  veteran solely on the shoulders of the women in his life: his mother, girlfriend, wife and sisters. His ability to heal was attributed to their responses and acceptance of the veteran.

In Virigina’s day, weaving was a treatment prescribed for persons suffering from shell shock.  Occupational therapy was just one tool in their treatment bag and weaving was helpful. I would imagine one way to build one’s ability to concentrate would be helped by the warping and weaving process. Perhaps  weaving allowed the person to become engrossed with it (giving respite, at least for a time, from constant memories) and the repetitive movement of throwing a shuttle is certainly calming for some.

Henry Allan Mitchell (1912-2013) Virginia’s son then took up weaving  as well, and the scarf in the picture is one that he wove.  Virginia’s grandson, John, did not learn to weave and he gave me the loom, happy that someone would use it again. As you can IMG_3040[1]see in the picture Allan was quite accomplished and had excellent selvages- something I always admire!  I also inherited his stash- yarn and tools.  It was like Christmas in August.  I hope to get a warp on this loom at least by December for winter weaving.

Speaking of PTSD, November holidays include Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.  Thank you to all those who served, and all those families whose son, husband, daughter,IMG_0186 or wife did not return and paid the ultimate price.  War’s experience does not end when the veteran steps back on American soil, it continues in their mind (and heart) forever. Nearly every day I give thanks that Dave IMG_2996[1]survived Vietnam, for without him I would not have my blessed family, our home here in Maine.  I am thankful that I am able to be retired, that I am weaving again, and get to spoil my grandchildren.  Life is good. I give thanks to God for loving us through Jesus Christ, for teaching us to love each other, for helping us to endure life’s hurts and discover that life can be good again.  God is indeed good, every day.

 

 

When October Goes…

It is the last few days of October.  The colored leaves fall thick and fast every day.  Last Monday we raked clean the leaves under the red maple in our side yard, for my pastor friend, Kim, who has those cute little goats. Apparently maple leaves are treats to goats so we were glad to share ours with them. We made it with one night to spare, as we got soaked with 5 inches of rain last week and will again tonight and tomorrow. Another 4 inches and hurricane winds were forecast for , and all that will be left are the leafless brown branches that lie between brilliant color and a white coating of snow.

At those times, it is good to have someone or something to fall back on.  An old friend to talk to, a place to volunteer, a project that lets you remember and go on. Late fall days, when the leaves are cascading down almost as fast as raindrops, remind me of the old Barry Manilow song.  When October Goes is a bittersweet love song about a long ago love who is remembered with affection and yes, some pain, whenever October goes, and the cold, gray days of November arrive.  Happiness and sadness are part of our human experience, we all get our turn.  Even when life is going well, sometimes a song comes over the radio, or in getting ready for Halloween, we remember Halloween’s in the past. These memories, if cherished, can leave us with warm sweet feelings, but every so often we find a tender spot in our heart that we may have once thought was long healed.

In the old days I would find strategies when I needed an emotional lift, something that would remind me of the many blessings I have and kick me off of the place where I might find myself stuck.  I used to walk or jog a lot (something I still need to do) but my achy, breaky, knees limit that pursuit.   I also like to drive, but my heart ICD implant rules that out for a time anyway.  So I revert to the looms, saving money on gas, and not giving my knees something to complain about. In the last two weeks I have wound several warps for 8 of my 9 looms.  Three are threaded and ready to weave and three that have warps wound for them. but are still chained up, waiting to be put on.  One is yet to be wound and one loom  will remain fallow- much the same as a farmer’s field does each season while the other fields rotate their crops. Two have rugs, one a scarf, one is for bookmarks (tiny little portable loom), two have blankets (Car and baby), and one for prayer flags. The last one is still undecided. I have allowed for extra warp for samples and for a my stash of woven items for donation to church fundraisers.

Last week Maine was hit with a large hurricane like storm. Winds gusting to nearly 75 mph ripped through central and southern Maine resulting in nearly half of Maine being without power.   We were lucky and got ours restored in a few hours, although we were prepared with our generator.  Ben’s home in Skowhegan did not get it back for 5 days, and Josh’s home in Rome had to wait 4 days due to downed trees and lines. One of our neighbors lost a car or two under two large oak trees that were downed. Weaving of course needs no electricity, and only depended on having light with which to see your threading.  The kids came to eat dinner, take showers and in Will’s case stay with Grammy and Grampy to be warm. It was good to be able to help each other out and while Josh and Monica lost a lot of food, it could have been much worse. Our thanks to Florida, Ohio and Canada, who sent crews to help us get back online.

While I am truly retired from the pulpit, I went to our UCC association meeting.  For years I have been a member of the Kennebec Association but now we have merged with the Association to our west, and formed a new one called Living Waters. Association meetings are not always the most fun, but it was good to see folks today after being retired for 2 years.  I introduced myself of a MID (member in discernment/student in care) from the Rangely church.  I have some pretty decent books and she is interested in them!  I also met up with a weaver I had never met before from Phillips Congregational Church, and  re-acquainted myself with Ann, from Winthrop, who gave me a loom that once belonged to her husband’s grandmother.  The grandmother taught weaving to WWI veterans who came home traumatized by the war.  Of course we understand about “shell shock” or PTSD now.  We have therapy and medication that can help, but back in the early 20’s before most of the medications were developed, therapists found that doing something with your hands allowed your brain time to heal.

I hope your late fall days are blessed, and that you have something in your life that you are passionate about.

 

Fall, Football, and Four-legged Friends

sarah-and-sawyer-383It is now officially October, and it is finally beginning to feel like fall. While we began to feel the air change back in August, little did we know we were going to have a September Summer of hot and humid days. This year it is the second hottest September in records of over 100 years, and we beat some dew-point records for Maine as well- not something you really want to have happen.

One staple of Fall in Maine is the county fairs.  There are at least 20 fairs spread out across the state.  Harness races are run, 4-H projects, craft, and food are judged and awarded ribbons. While competition might be stiff, the feeling at the fairs is one of commradery,  a sharing of the old ways, and a celebration of the projects that keep us busy during our long winters. We also celebrate with the usual fair food: fried anything, lots of grilled hot dogs and sausages, cheese steaks and ice cream and funnel cake.

Another fall tradition is all the football and soccer games the kids are involved in.  If it isn’t Gracie cheering, then it is Ethan’s soccer or LJ’s football games. It is a time of Homecoming dances, fundraisers, and lots of good hot chocolate!  Dunkin donuts happened to open a new store in Oakland (thank you!), making it easy to at least start the game with a steaming cup of hot chocolate. With all this going on it grandchildren activities take precedence over weaving activities. Such was the case this month.

I did wash the two baby blankets. Once they were off the loom I found so many mistakes I just couldn’t part with them. I will keep them on my shelf so I can see improvement, and I have bought some high-powered reading glasses to help me make fewer mistakes threading.  So I will have to do another for little Harley, perhaps one that is more fluffy and soft for fall. In the meantime, I am working on two for little boys, and the beginning of a rug warp, a small loom project which might be bookmarks or something close to that. Still have three looms to dress, have some Christmas projects in mind.

The only two sad notes for September is the ongoing division in our country, instigated by our Twitter-in-Chief.  He has dubbed the North Korean President the “Rocket Man” and taunted and egged him on in a war (so far) of words.  Of course if it happens it will be nuclear and it won’t matter much about fairs, christmas celebrations, or anything else. As hard as I try not to stress out about it, I do feel anxious. I know there are some people who just tell me they just go on and pay no attention to him -I wish I could. I know I cannot change his ways, and so far, his base just love it. We have people suffering from three cat-4 or above hurricanes which have devastated parts of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. ICE is rounding up not only illegal immigrants that have committed crimes, but they are rounding up everyone they can find and shipping them back to their country of origin even if they are small business owners, fully employed folks with families. Next we are going after children who were brought into this country illegally as little children or born here and know no other country but this one. We are a country built on immigration and certainly many of us have ancestors who came over here without asking permission and yet there is a significant base of voters who want to resurrect the Know-Nothing Party platform.  The Know Nothing’s existed in the mid-1800’s.  Citizenship was only for white Protestant males who were born in this country. Unfortunately the parallels are chillingly similar.

The second sad note is more of a personal one.  I had to put one of my dogs to sleep this past week.  We have had Angus since he was 5-6 weeks old.  He believed I was his “momma” and was smart as a whip.  However, as he aged he became more fearful and anxious himself.  When little Will, our grandson, was born Angus growled at him, swaddled in his blanket from the very first day.  Angus then became crated every time Will arrived for safety purposes.  Angus would retreat far into the back corner and quietly sit there. Then came the day when he showed his teeth to me and then to Dave.  He would sit in our house and growl this deep growl at something invisible to us, clearly visible to him and the hackles would go up and the growling begin. He growled at a neighbor, and anyone who decided to ride their bike or walk their dog past our house. The last straw was when he attacked a bicyclist (I intervened before there was a problem) and when he turned on Zane, our older lab, with no provocation. I was left trying to separate snarling dogs and it became clearer and clearer that it was not going to be” if ” he hurt someone but “when” he hurt someone.  Over the last year we tried various behavioral strategies and even medication, to no avail. Our veterinary staff worked with us during that time, and as the year progressed it became clear that to do anything he had to be muzzled first. When it finally came time to make the decision I was heartbroken. I asked the vet to give me a sedative for him so when I brought him in to be euthanized he would not have to be muzzled.  The sedative did not even slow him down, so we had to muzzle him for five minutes while the vet administered another stronger sedative. They left me with him so I could take his muzzle off and hold him for the last time. Even with the strong sedative he was trying to counter surf to find treats he knew were there and growl at the sounds outside our door.  Finally he came over and laid against my knee.  I told him I loved him so much and I was sorry that this had to be done.  I whispered the names of all our other pets that had gone before him, hoping that he will find his way to that better place with them.  In seminary we used to discuss if heaven had pets.  For those of us who love them, we decided it would not be heaven without them. So, I told Angus about Chowie, and Gabriel, about Lil’ Foot and Nubba-Nubba, Shadow and Puggie, Pig Dog,and all the rest. I whispered a prayer asking that someone look after this one, that he would find company there with them. The doctor told me as I went to leave the office, always hard as you walk out with a leash and a collar, that he believed something was seriously wrong with Angus’ brain- he had to use almost twice the dose of sedative that day. I know he was trying to console me and offer me some solace that I did the right thing, but somehow it does not make it hurt any less.

Some days are good days and some days are not. But it helps to remember that when we lose someone we love it is because they filled our days with love, and we were not ready to let go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wind has Changed

Here in Central Maine, about August 21st or so the wind changes and you know fall is in the air.  All of a sudden it comes out of the north with a little bite in it.  The dew point which may have gotten as high as 67 once or twice in the last few weeks of July and early August, now hits a comfortable 45 or 50.  The sumacs are the early warning system for fall and they have started to turn a beautiful red.  Many of us who are happy campers want to get in a couple of last-minute trips for the season.  Trips that require sweatshirts and blankets, and big campfires. After some sticky July or August days I look forward to the refreshing change that ushers in fall.

I wish I could say that I welcome the political change that has happened in the last ten months.  Just when I think it won’t get worse, it gets worse.  I thought when candidate Trump made fun of a disabled reporter, his candidacy was over.  Instead his base loved him. When he was caught on tape discussing how he grabs women’s p*****s without asking no less, and called women “pigs”- I figured surely the religious right would have to admit that he did not share their “family values” and withdraw their support. But no- they declared God chose Trump.  When Trump University clearly committed fraud, and Trump made a racist comment about the judge’s capabilities based on his Hispanic surname I thought finally he is out of here.  And then came November 9th when I realized that Trump had really won it, I was in total disbelief. I could not believe the hate that was being spewed towards so many different people: immigrants, women, disabled, and veterans, nor could I believe that the country really wanted the EPA, the Department of Education, the Dept of Justice and the State Dept stripped of not only their leadership but their credibility.  My neighbor, a Trump supporter, explained to me his fear that the Muslim immigrants were coming over here to slit our throats. What I wanted to explain to him was that I was more afraid of my fellow Americans than I have ever been of any immigrant. I even gave serious consideration to learning how to shoot a pistol.

All I can say is thank heavens for weaving.  It gives me a chance to ignore the outrageous politics and the hatefulness that is so prevalent. When I look at the patterns that result from not only different threadings but different warp and weft materials it reinforces God’s wisdom in creating such diversity on our little planet.  No matter who wishes we could go back to being a one-color country, I know God values our differences and I know what a big part differences make in creating something beautiful.

It is funny that finishing this blog some three weeks after I started it, the wind has changed yet again.  Hurricanes and tropical storms have brought warm, humid, tropical air to Central Maine for a couple of weeks.  The shorts I put away are back out. The fans are running at night. We hope this will not disrupt our fall foliage displays – which rely on cold weather especially at night. God definitely values diversity, God loves to throw us a curve or two as well. It keeps us on our toes, it reminds us that we do not have all the answers, or even half of them. Nothing like a cat 5 hurricane to remind us that it takes all of us together to help us get through the night (and the day).

 

Donate if you can to oneamericaappeal.org or HandinHand to help flood victims.

 

 

Ropes and pulleys

If you are an old loom fan, as I am, you need to have a passable knowledge of ropes and pulleys and creative ways to hook up your harnesses to the castle (top of the loom) and the lams (the part that connects the harnesses to the treadles. Harnesses, lams and treadles work together to lift some threads while others stay down to create the shed into which the weaver casts the shuttle.  You need to have harnesses and lams tied up correctly or you will not get a decent open shed.  It seems that some arrangements work better than others.IMG_2783[1]

Since I have not woven for so many years I am having to learn some of these lessons over again. I currently have four looms that need their harnesses hung, two have string heddles and the looms date to early 19th century.  Two of them date about 1900-1920 and have wood frame harnesses with metal heddles. All four are connected to the pulleys by narrow ropes that need to be a certain length to provide a shedd large enough to easily pass a rug shuttle through. If you do not then you will get skips in the warp. Sometimes I can catch it right away and make the proper adjustment, other times I missed them until the finishing process.

My first loom was a barn loom, with string heddles.  I have more than a passing familiarity with the process of hooking up the harness, lam and treadles, I still remember a few tricks of the trade, but I am a bit rusty.IMG_2299  Even though I have it hooked up in the same manner I did years ago, it was not producing a very good shedd, and I was finding skips in the rag rug I was working on. I tried to remember if I was missing an important step- were the string harnesses right?  Were the ropes the right length, were the lams not pulling evenly? To solve these problems I need to crawl around under the loom- something that is hard for me to do with my “expired knees”.  I have learned to space out difficult, frustrating activities with something fun and stress free.  It is a good practice,whether one is struggling with a reluctant loom or a particularly thorny issue in our family or in the church I was serving.

Another pastor who took up weaving later in life found  that as she introduced some small weaving projects in bible studies or workshops, the people discovered that sometimes their work was uneven, or even a little ragged.  Some people would beat too hard and pack the weft, others would beat too little.  Skips where the threading was off taught the weaver how to carefully fix the cloth while still on the loom.  Colors and textures of the weft thread could add interest and a pop of color, while others turned the img_2131overall color muddy. She reflected that our difficulties with weaving often mimic  life challenges: some are knotty, some are a bit ragged, some we beat too hard or not hard enough and others we discover can become far more beautiful than we ever imagined.

You often hear sportscasters/coaches observe that players need to pay attention to the fundamentals when they are in a slump. If they go back to the beginning and make sure they are not cutting corners their performance will improve.  So it is with weaving- my fundamentals are pretty rusty – as is evidenced by the number of errors I find in my finished pieces, and so I am planning some projects that are fairly simple so I can practice warping the looms, getting clean sheds, and practice an easy rhythm of weaving, I am certain my selvages will, with time, improve, the threading errors will lessen and my color experimentation will yield the desired results.

As to the frustration level, having a project on every loom will help with that. A rug or two when I am mad and want to beat the tar out of something, a scarf for the gentler times, some dish towels when I am feeling practical and maybe even a delicate overshot when all the stars align and I am feeling mellow.  Given my political persuasion and the predicament we are in politically with a President who cannot complete a third graders sentence, and finds moral equivalency between the KKK, white supremacists and anti-hate groups protesting against the KKK, I have more than enough anxiety going on right now.  I am the first to say there are extremists on both sides but the one is a response to another. KKK has had an over 150 year head start in this country. I am saddened by our inability to have a conversation individually, in groups, or on social media, without calling  members of the opposing group names or ridiculing their position.

All the more reason I try to balance out painful reality with opportunties of creativity. That and a hefty dose of Prozac.

Whoa!

I have had several blogs half-written but not published.  Most of the time it is because I want to put pictures in the blog but I am challenged by getting pictures into this format- or getting rid of a picture you do not want anymore!  I would love to take away the picture of our camper- we had just gotten it when I first started the idea of  my “weaving a life” blog.  While this is published, very few people know about it, unless they stumble over it on the internet.  I mainly write it as sort of diary about the discipline of re-learning to weave. I hope someday my kids or grandkids might want to read this and be encouraged to try something new!

However, one of the reason I am so slow at getting these blogs posted is that I have been involved in other things- the kind of sudden events that you cannot plan for, this has made the summer of ’17  memorable for our family. They are moments when God is saying , “Whoa!”

 

In June,  I had gone to my monthly meeting  in Camden at the Cashmere Goat to gather with the Midcoast Weavers.  The meeting lasted about 2 hours and I had started the sixty mile trek home on an unusually hot and humid day for Maine, anyway.  Dave and I had plans to get some wood for his latest man-cave project after having some lunch. I planned also to visit with my mom later in the day at her assisted living home.  As I drove, I played with the air conditioning wondering if it wasn’t working, the heat seemed especially oppressive to me. I tried rolling down the windows hoping the rushing air would feel good only to have it hit me like a blast furnace. I’d look at the outside temperature, and while it was warm, it seemed to feel hotter than it should.

In Union, about ten miles on my journey, I stopped to get something to drink and eat.  I knew I was feeling badly, I just did not know why. I grabbed some chips- anything to give me some salt and keep me crunching and a chocolate milk to quench my thirst.  As I continued my arms felt incredibly heavy and I discovered it was really hard to concentrate on driving. I tried singing along with the radio, I tried turning off the radio (anyone who knows me knows that I was getting desperate). As I turned onto West River Rd and my last ten miles to home I was counting the miles down by the familiar landmarks. I crossed the Sidney line with relief and told myself I would soon be home. I went by Kramer’s Tractor (in-beautiful-downtown-Sidney) and knew I had six more miles . At four miles I passed Misty Acres Alpaca Farm, and that is the last thing I remember.  When I came to I had been driving in the deep grass on the opposite side of the road, big maple leaves were hitting my windshield and I glimpsed a very, very large maple tree nearby and grabbed the wheel to get back onto the road.  Suddenly a telephone pole appeared, smack dab in the middle of my hood.  I broke the pole in half, tore up the base and dragged the pole and wires back across the south bound lane of West River Rd and finally came to a stop not far from the Lyons Road.

I sat in shock. A bystander had stopped and was trying to move the telephone pole off the road, while another person was yelling to be careful of the wires. Somehow I got out of the car and went to sit on the lawn of the owner of that beautiful maple. Rachel, our neighbor who, although a retired EMT, often responds to emergencies near her house, arrived and began to ask me questions about what happened.  I simply could not tell her. All I could say was that I felt awful and was trying to get home.  I was so happy to see her friendly face.  The ambulance, EMT’s, and State Police arrived, again asking me questions I did not seem to be able to answer. I tried to call my husband but got only our answering machine, so I texted my daughter who happened to be nearby and she stopped at home and got Dave. In the ambulance I saw my daughter and husband pull up to the accident and come running down to the ambulance.  All I could think of was that I ruined our truck!!

 The EMT came back into the ambulance and told me he checked out the accident, that I had gone over 200 feet before hitting the tree branches and ultimately the pole. He was certain I had blacked out, and not fallen asleep. If I had been asleep I would have woken up as soon as my truck hit the ditch on the opposite side of the road- the fact that I blacked out might have contributed to my having almost no injuries from the accident, as I was totally relaxed.

A little more than ten years ago I went in for a routine echocardiogram and discovered I had hypertropic obstructive cardiomyopathy.  The center wall between my ventricles was “gnarly” as the cardiologist called it, and is thick and not as flexible as it should be.  I like to think of it as scar tissue from broken hearts.  The tissue being thick means it does not relax and sometimes it restricts the blood going though my aortic valve.  Restrict it enough and you can faint or black out.  Not many people who have this diagnosis fall in this category supposedly,  but apparently, I am one of them. I had a standing appointment with my cardiologist at the end of the week, and I called to let him know I had joined the black out club.  A few days after the accident and I had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in my chest wall. At the end of the procedure, my cardiologist, who is like number one pacemaker guy in Maine, said..”well now I feel better that we have protected you from a sudden death event”.  I seconded that emotion!summer 2017 530

Just an aside, John Love is my cardiologist.  He and I went to school together (he is a bit younger), his older sister Debbie was in my class at Hopkinton, MA.  His father was my family doctor when I was young and I remember getting polio shots from him when the vaccine first came out.  Don Love was also a cardiologist and was my Dad’s cardiologist later in life.  John also has a brother Don Jr. who is my brother’s cardiologist. We have family connections to say the least.  When John was in middle school I was visiting at his house and his german shepherd dog had puppies.  The kids all took me down to see them after the momma was shut in the house. Somehow she got out of the house, and out of 18 little legs, she picked out mine to bite. She did considerable damage to my left calf.  I ran back to the house, frightened, and when Dr. Love saw my leg- he had his kids clean off the huge kitchen table and cleaned the wound and sewed it up. John remembered gathering around that table when his Dad did that.

Following the implantation surgery I had a weight and mobility restriction on my left arm for six weeks.  I am slowly getting full range of motion without getting tweaked by the scar tissue. It still hurts on occasion, it still makes it a little difficult to sleep.  I am still tired, and sometimes dizzy, but the pacemaker/defibrillator does its job if my heart slows down or gets confused.  It is a pretty handy dandy piece of equipment as it can speak via wifi to the doctor’s office and he can review what is going on with my heart at that point.  It tells the doctor how many times the pacemaker kicks in and what was happening when the defib was needed.  (that has not happened yet!)

 

I can’t drive till December, and that has put a lot of strain on my dear husband.  He never realized how often I drive to get one thing or another, to run grandchildren to practices, the library or visit my Mom. Over all he has done it with good humor- although I know sometimes he gets overwhelmed.   I miss getting to Camden to attend my Midcoast Weaving meetings, although I am planning on going to a demonstration in Rockland Farmers Market in September.

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Thankfully I have my wonderful studio to keep me busy.  Two rooms in our house are dedicated to my barn looms and regular looms. In the barn loom room, I have my  own personal rainbow room to peak my interest in my next project! There is a story behind that, perhaps for another time.

Oh yes, we also leased a new truck just in case I feel the need to buy another loom! I also give thanks nearly every day that I did not hit someone else on the road when I blacked out. I was so worried that some innocent person was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I feel blessed that no one else was hurt, I was not hurt, and that John Love knows his stuff!summer 2017 524

 

So it goes in beautiful Maine. The air has turned and fall is in the air. My favorite season!