Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lost and Found.....and Another New Beginning

Well, I made it to 2011. Several people I've deeply cared about did not. If I'd posted this last weekend like I planned to, I was going to call it "More Losses". That is true, as on December 20, I was stunned to learn of my biggest loss yet for the year. But since then, I've also made a couple of finds -- and am trying now to look ahead rather than behind.

After learning earlier in the year of the passing of our friend Al, then Rex's friend Dick from Chicago in Sept. (he was 69), and then the loss of our friends Sandi and Mike (see previous post), I prayed, PLEASE, God, no more losses. Yet, I knew there was one person I hadn't heard about for some time and didn't have good news about when I did hear earlier in the year -- my 85-year-old aunt in Chicago, whose home I spent many enjoyable visits at over the years, and who I had not seen since I was last able to visit Chicago in '98. Financial and job issues made it difficult to get back there again. Then I stopped even getting Christmas cards from her a few years ago, so I asked my cousin for periodic updates. The last I'd heard, she didn't even know my cousin (her daughter) any more. So of course, I've been concerned. But I figured that surely, if anything happened, she (or someone in Chicago) would notify me. Well, that notification came in the form of two scribbled lines on a Christmas card received on Dec. 20: "Mom died Nov. 12. It's been hard getting through the holidays".

Of course, when something like this happened, you blame yourself for not doing a better job of staying in touch, yet you also wonder how your relatives 2,000 miles away wouldn't have realized I never stopped caring about my aunt and why they wouldn't have thought to call, send a quick E-mail, a card in the mail -- SOMETHING -- when it happened, not two scribbled lines six weeks after the fact. I couldn't have afforded, or gotten time off work, to go to her funeral, but that's not the point. "Out of sight" does not mean "out of mind". I don't want to write much more about this, since it is still an upsetting situation and not the way I could have imagined things would end between me and someone I literally grew up with. Hopefully one day, I will see my aunt again and she will realize that.

Then the same evening I learned about my aunt, another of our sweet guinea pigs and one of my favorites, Joey, the black longhaired fellow who looked like a mop and was such a cutie, was dead in his cage. So now we are down to five piggies. Thankfully, so far, the other five, and our doggies and chickens, are doing well.

After that, finally, things began to look up a bit for the last 11 days of the year. Since my job is so busy and I haven't gotten much time off (that should finally change a bit after this May, when I should at last be eligible for 3 weeks vaca per year), I looked forward to the day and a half off for Christmas and the day and a half off for New Year's. It's been nice to hang out at home with the pets, do some crocheting and watch holiday programs and movies on the tv. On one of the figure skating specials, a Canadian program (including Kurt Browning, one of my all-time favorite skaters), much of the background music was provided by a country singer named George Canyon (ideal name for a country singer!). I knew I'd heard of him but wasn't sure why, but I was impressed enough by his voice and music (and looks!) that I left the program on the DVR to watch again, and went online to learn more. It was then I realized why I'd heard of him. He finished in 2nd place on the 2004 edition of "Nashville Star" (the former country version of "American Idol"), and I'd voted multiple times for him since I didn't care for the fellow who ended up winning. Why George didn't become a huge star in the U.S. as he did in Canada, I have no idea. Though I don't buy many CDs any more, I bought his current one off eBay, the rationale being that this is the only way I'll get to hear him, since his music is not played in the U.S. (which, again, is a mystery!).

The other highlight of the quiet Christmas weekend, besides giving Rex his present (a Gevalia programmable 12-cup coffee maker, which he seems to like), was that I finally got my "Comfort N'Joy" crochet blog online -- it's at and has been well-received by those who have visited it. I realized a couple years ago, when I had posted my 5th crochet page under my crochet section of my site, The Evergreen Refuge, that most crocheters and other crafters nowadays seem to be showing off and discussing their creations on a blog as opposed to multiple pages on a web site -- and besides, even if people do still visit my site, I don't know that they are going to all five pages (I may reverse the order of those pages so that my more recent items show up first), which is a shame. So -- The Evergreen Refuge Blog (this one) will now be pretty much a narrative of things that are going on with me, whereas the Comfort N'Joy crochet blog will be just that! I hope many people will bookmark it and visit regularly. I'll also eventually post pics of some of my earlier creations on Facebook, so that people who know me on there can see them.

And speaking of Facebook, four days ago came my biggest find of the year -- an even bigger find than NCIS, which has honestly become my all-time favorite TV show (and I thank God that Dianne's mom Margaret told me about it this past summer!). I was looking at my E-mail on my lunch break at work when I came across a Facebook friend request. As soon as I saw the name Ellayne, it was all I could do to not fall out of my chair. The last name had changed, but I knew who it had to be -- a lady who I had originally become penpals with MANY years ago when she was 15 and I was 16 (back in the days of snail mail; no one had heard of E-mail). We exchanged long letters for many years, eventually lost touch, re-established contact after Rex and I moved to Seattle (STILL before the days of E-mail) and lost touch again. I continued to keep many of her old letters all these years, thought of her often and often wished I could find her again. I even looked on Facebook, but didn't have her new last name. But mine was the same (and I had recently added my maiden name to help people find me), so she found me! I was SO thrilled to hear from her -- and I'm going to send her a long message later tonight. I hope we never lose touch again!!

So that was a delightful surprise to end the year. I've had another relaxing long weekend watching several good Bowl games (including the UW Huskies' big win in the Holiday Bowl over Nebraska -- YAY, Huskies!) and finishing some Christmas crocheting (we never did get our tree up, so that gave me something Christmasy to look at). It will be rough to get back to 5-day work weeks for awhile (at least for me; Rex's hours may go down somewhat again for the winter) but we are thankful to have our same jobs in this economy. As for resolutions, I don't really make them but I WILL strive to do a much better job of not letting relatively small annoyances irritate me, to go to bed earlier (by midnight) and be less sleep-deprived, and as for the weight loss thing -- OUCH -- I want it so badly but I just need to want it more than the instant gratification of overeating. We shall see....