31 July 2010


Yesterday's workout contained deadlifts. At the gym last week, everything seemed heavy with that gym's barbells, including deadlifts, so I didn't up the weight (from 225lb) here at home. There, my back was sore afterward, but I know my form was not so good (leaning over too much). Last evening, deadlifts with that weight went fine, but I think I kept better form. When I do that, deadlifts seem easier.

I'm also thinking that I need to weight my bar and verify that it's actually a normal, 45-lb Olympic bar.

Need to look up if I should be doing reps of clean (lifting from ground to head level) and press or clean and then reps of press. The latter is more work so is perhaps better overall, but is it worthwhile to do the multiple reps of the clean part?

boxes arrived

The boxes I sent from my parents' town arrived yesterday, as expected. Two boxes of books, a few art pieces, some embroidered kitchen towels (my wife insisted), and two crocheted doilies. The boxes were mostly a set of hardback, Time-Life "The World Of..." different artists, plus a few paperbacks.

I'm not a doily fan and have no plans to make any, but she apparently made a number of them, so I sent home a sample. She didn't have a stash of yarn, but had a stash of crochet thread. I brought home a few of those spools.

One of her pansy doilies. She had a number of pansies in a bucket that were apparently intended for another one.

She had apparently recently started an afghan too, but I don't know what her plans were for it. All I know is there was one skein of a purple, lavender, blue, green, and yellow colorway attached to a a swatch. She was fond of rainbow color schemes and the only things missing in this yarn are red and orange. After looking around I figured out that it is a partial block for an afghan, but it's a "Mix and Match" from "Vanna's A to Z Afghans" book. I don't know if the afghan was intended for her or a gift, but she liked those colors, so maybe it was for herself. I was thinking about finishing it and when one of my aunts saw it, she asked me the same question, sooo I brought it home. She had a few afghans in the house, and I thought about bringing one home, but they are blankets: they are large and our space is limited.

30 July 2010

yarn dying results

Before we fixed the TV antenna connector and put it back up, I pulled the pictures from my mobile while my wife took our daughter to a class. After the antenna was back up, we checked out the problem channels and the reception was fine, so we turned off the TV, I pulled out the shawl I'm crocheting for her, and we sat and talked.

In an earlier post, I mentioned a Kool Aid yarn dying party. a few of the pictures were from that. Most of us made two hanks that day.

The first was a blue variegated one from some blue raspberry, which was a milky blue. The yarn absorbed the color quickly. We found that if we didn't mix the yarn around in the bowls, then the quick process made variegated yarn, which most were pleased with.

I wanted my second one to be green, but there wasn't any lime left. This green hank was someone else's. My second was actually red and purple. I brought black cherry, which was a dark, burgundy, red and used a supplied blue for the other one.

I don't know what I'm going to do with either. They are each only 220yards, so not a lot of options.

29 July 2010

TV antenna

Yesterday evening my wife and I went up on the roof to rotate the TV antenna because we have been having poor reception with a couple channels. She had her mobile phone and I had the tools. Our daughter had her mobile in front of the TV.

Once on the roof the reception was okay off and on, so turning it didn't help, but then I noticed the broken cable on the 300-to-75-ohm matching transformer. It's an old antenna so it needs one and it needs a new one. Off to the local warehouse hardware store. They don't sell something that archaic. When I returned home, I found that it is available online. My wife is going to check a different store today. If they don't have it, I'll have to order one. No TV until this is fixed. We don't watch much, so it's not a big deal, but it would be nice if it worked.

The work week has been going okay. I've been a little distracted, but it's getting better. Aside from crying immediately after the memorial service, I have just been getting a little teary eyed (with runny nose) when I think about my mother, but not as much.

26 July 2010

gym trip

While there, I went to an "Anytime Fitness", which was a gym near the hotel. The hotel had a fitness center with a few treadmills, a flat bench, and dumbbells up to 50lb. The gym had a squat rack, and because no one interested in "fitness" uses those, it was good for my needs: squats and deadlifts (after moving the bar to the floor).

My performance wasn't too great. I hope that was because I wasn't sleeping very much, but the visits to the gym were a good break from the emotional work at the house. The lack of sleep was due to thinking too much, not from lack of trying.

back home

It was good to see some of the relatives and talk about some of the past, present, and future. Now that my father is on his own, it will be good for him to have more contact with my brother in law and my sister so the more they visit, the better, but it's a role I'll never fill. I have no relationship with him. Starting something now would be very difficult in part because of how hard it is to communicate with him. Forging more connections with my maternal family is much more appealing to me, and would be good for our daughter too. I don't know how much we will follow up on that, given the distance.

At the service, I thought it was appropriate that my father referred to my mother as a mystery to him, because I never saw any evidence that he ever tried to understand her or her art, which was a very big part of her life. He doesn't communicate with most people and is not interested in communicating with others, especially where she was concerned. They clearly needed counseling, but it was not something he was willing to do with her.

The fraternal relatives in general have a lack of communication thing going. Those that did talk with me at the service were saying that the only thing you can do in a situation like this is to move on. Let us have our time to express and grieve now, then we will move on.

While at my parent's house this past week, I spent a significant part of that time looking through my mother's art work. For the last thirty years, she has devoted herself almost exclusively to mandalas, circular designs with a repeating pattern around the center. Many of those had spiritual interconnectedness, mothering, or angel themes. Large ones were water colors or silk screen, solid color prints, but smaller ones were hand colored with pencil and she made her own greeting cards in this way. She was never very successful in selling them and discouraged from doing so by my father, who didn't see the point of them.

There were a number of boxes that had never been opened since they moved into that house about eight years ago. A number of these were things my father had never seen, and other than that surprise factor, didn't care what happened to them. There were a few of the ones that hung on the walls for years that he wanted to keep.

One day I found a set of water-color flowers she had done in 1985 and added to in 1992. Because they were different from her other work, she had made up a different name for them. He was upset that he didn't know about these, but apparently didn't pay that much attention. They were "normal", water-color paintings of flowers, some with insects, a different style from her other work. These reflected her other interest: gardening.

One of the saddest parts about her death is that she spent so much of her time on this volume of work and no one will ever see much of it. I was going through a filing cabinet with several drawers of file folders of her designs one day. There were usually a few copies of each design, uncolored, and sometimes a colored version. My sister came in the studio and I told her about my dilemma: if I take the only colored one, no one will know what color scheme the rest of them were supposed to have. She said it didn't matter because no one will ever look at them after me. That was so sad. I pulled out a copy of most of them.

In addition to those black and white copies, I shipped home a few of the large (4ft) water-color pieces and should have taken pictures of the others. I also have a handful of small (15inch) works I found after I shipped those big ones and some books home. I would have liked to take a few of the books that she liked, but other than a few spiritual books with post-its marking pages, no one knows which were her favorites. She had a number of books on healing, as she searched for a cause of her undiagnosed illness and a reason she was sick and tired, until she was sick and tired of being sick and tired and ready to die.

She also had written a number of journals, but I never saw those. My brother in law was tasked by my father to write the eulogy and read it during the service and used those for reference. I asked them to send the journals to me to read through, when they get back. I don't know where those will end up.

20 July 2010

on the way

As I told our house guest, I have mostly ignored the issue of my mother's death due to the distance, but will be there by the time I post this.

My relationship with her has been lacking due to issues in my childhood, but in recent years we've moved past that. It's still been complicated by a lack of communication with my father, my sister, and her husband. We have sides and I'm not on theirs and information I share gets passed around and my position is not respected, so what I wrote to my mother could become "public" to all them when my father read her email or mail. I expect something that I think is private to remain that way.

I will see how the interactions with relatives go.

19 July 2010

the city

M's half sister in law and her son arrived on Sat and are staying a week. Yesterday afternoon we went to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, which contains the Morrison Planetarium, a natural history museum, and the Steinhart Aquarium. The son has actually come to visit us by himself the prior two years. For age reference, he will be graduating from high school next year, so don't know what he's doing then.

We don't live there and don't want too. Even where we are has more people, i.e., is too urban for us. When we were on vacation and in Seattle, we were thinking the same thing. People say Seattle is such a great city, but it's a city and we're glad to not live there.

This is related to my job search issue, because there aren't that many jobs in this field and those that are, will probably be found in an urban area, where I don't want to be. Argh.

18 July 2010

my mother

My mother died early this morning after a long battle with her illness. The memorial service is next weekend, in another state.

17 July 2010

new chick

We have had two hens in the backyard for a few years now. Back in May, one of them died of congestive heart failure, so we bought a replacement chick Memorial Day weekend. The new chick is a gold-laced wyandotte. The cat was interested in the chick, so came and laid next to the cage/brooder under the heat lamp. When we let the chick out, she would climb up on the cat's back, which the cat didn't mind until the chick started her (normal for chickens) pecking behavior.

eye exam

I went for an eye exam today. It's been nearly three years, but the scratches on my current lenses keep getting worse, so it was time. They dilated my pupils. I wasn't planning on that. The outside is blurry and bright. My prescription changed a bit, but mostly I'm getting old and it's time for "progressive lenses", i.e., bifocals, so I can read with my glasses on.

pirates and CSI

Back on 20 Jun, we three went to the Pirate Fest in Vallejo after learning about it the day before. That evening before, V said she didn't want to wear her pirate costume from historical Halloween at school unless we all wore costumes, so M and I went to the fabric store and she whipped together shirts for us and we accessorized with stuff we had. I bought a tricorn hat there, but my belt was part of my Bobbie costume to be worn later that day.

In the evening, V had a sitter and we went off to another costume event that we had planned on. Actually, in the original plan, we all were going to go, but the events coordinator added details after the initial announcement that children were not allowed. We didn't quite understand that, but thought that the owners of the venue house didn't want kids in their house. Not so, because they had one of their own, who was running around us most of the evening. M had made my costume for this event, though I can wear it for other Victorian things too, like the Dickens Fair in December.

16 July 2010

starting another

It's been a while since I've written a blog regularly.

Some status stuff. Hmmm.

I've been looking for a new job for the last year or so. Have found few postings in my field that I'm a reasonable match for. Not sure if that's the state of the economy or my lack of marketability. I went to a career counselor in the winter and she pushed medical or biological professions because they are resistant to the economy.

I was diagnosed with osteoporosis two years ago with a bone scan (DEXA), Jun 2008. At that point I was advised to take calcium and vitamin supplements and change my exercise mode to more weight-bearing types. I was doing yoga, tai ji, walking, and some dumbbell exercises, but switched to more db work and dropped the yoga for a few months, then dropped the tai ji and started doing barbell work in Dec 2008. The barbell work is to improve my muscular strength, which should translate into bone strength as well. I had a repeat DEXA a few weeks ago and that showed, what I think is significant, improvement. The doctors attribute the change to supplementation though mention nothing about the role of exercise, which they advised as well. Meanwhile I have made small improvements in my strength, based on the weight on the bars. Not that I'm interested in looking like a bodybuilder, but I was hoping that I would have something to show for all this lifting work.

I used to do wood carving, but decided that it's kind of a waste of wood to make things that sit on a shelf, so took up crochet, which is something my mother taught me a little of many years ago. Since Dec 2009, I've made a few hats, scarves, some kitchen things as part of a swap, a number of stuffed animals (amigurumi), and a few thread bookmarks. There is a knitting group work at and I have been going to their meetings the last month or so. Last weekend they had a yarn dyeing party and I attended that. Wool yarn absorbs the dye from Kool Aid and the dye "fixes" to the yarn when cooked in a microwave oven. It was interesting and fun to work with the colors.

We have two chickens (hens) in the backyard, well, did until one died recently. Her "replacement" is now eight weeks old, so ready to go outside, but we are still in the process of getting the adult hen, G, to accept being with the little one, P, and not peck her. P is scared of G, for good reason, but she's too big for her cage and needs to get outside in the coop.

We went on vacation recently and M and V are due to return today. I went with on this road trip for the first week, but had to get back to work, so they continued. We drove from the SF area to Canada, with stops along the way and I flew back from Seattle and they continued east to Montana, then down diagonally back. They have to get back today because this weekend M's half-sister in law and her son are coming to visit starting tomorrow.