Missing Dad / What Next? / April Spools Day

I've been back in #44 a little over 48 hours, and in that time, and in the preceding 12 hours, I've gone from hysterical to demented to detached and started writing about this gazillion times in my head, but have not come up with anything readable. So I'll work on it a little later. Suffice it to say, I have so much regrets and can only hope I get another shot at it.

As regards work, I finished and wrapped my water-motif scarf, but didn't take a picture; suffice it to say, I had great tension problems and though I came up with a ingenious way to combat it, there were two different cloth in one piece of scarf. Mom's project was finished the night before I left so I wet-finished it a few hours before I left. Again, no photos of it, sorry, but this one looked so spring/cherry/wind-inspired we both love it. This warp is long enough to weave two pieces, and she's going to weave another, possibly with a different weft.

I dressed a small 8-shaft loom with a 4-shaft sampler warp for Mom and her students and prepared tutorial sheets. The aim is for them to see (and keep) samples of different threading and lifting of simple twills. For Mom, this will be something of a toolkit or vocabulary for her first few 8-shaft-two-block twill projects; for her students I hope they will see they do not have to follow a formula/recipe, but that they can easily make up their own to suit their taste and the purpose of the pieces. And eventually move on to two blocks if they so desire.

Here are the drafts they have been given, (theirs in a lift plan since they will weave on table looms;) I asked them to weave twice the number of picks for each pattern and the threading is ever so slightly different from these sheets, designed to give Mom a chance to explain the anatomy of weaving drafts.
I asked them to pay attention to the fact the reverse of 1:3 twill is a 3:1 twill as I personally like two-faced twills. Mom is excited with the idea and wants to weave a two-faced check piece.

I also managed to plan and discuss with Mom a small tapestry she is going to weave for me. The shapes symbolize members of my family pre-Ben and though I explained to her the basic idea, there is plenty of room for her to experiment, innovate and express, so I don't know what the final work is going to look like. Bliss.
As regards work, my mind is blank at the moment. I'm thankful I didn't finish the purple piece before I left so I can go downstairs and weave right away. But I'm not sure what to do with the blue piece intended for Dad as he cannot wear anything as heavy as that. I also have a mini blanket to wash.

I know it's already March 30, but would you like to have another crack at April Spools Day? Let's! Here are the guidelines.


Day 47/51

Hey, it's worth complaining on the blog! On Wednesday after I posted, for the first time ever, Mom and I wove together, in the afternoon, in the same room but on different looms, on separate projects but both weaving 3/3/1/1 twills on network.
This is Mom taking a break and saying hi to y'all!
While Dad did what he does every day.
That evening we had to have a very humble almost-vegetarian supper because we overdid breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, which may have included... cake! I think we had tofu and possibly some fish besides the veggies, but just a wee bit.
Cherry blossoms all over this weekend, which is a tie for the earliest on record, apparently. This tree is just down the hill from the house, about 75% open. Tomorrow is supposed to be the best flower day this year, but we're expecting rain also. 

My water-based piece is finished and is drying upstairs. Nothing to write home about; most disappointed about the weird tension problem I can't excuse just because I used an unfamiliar "soft" loom. Boo hoo.

Mom got a tiny picture of a lovely diamond-shaped twill for which she would like me to figure out the draft! I don't think it's overly complicated, but the old mind is not working. Besides, the spring high school baseball tournament started yesterday and I am distracted from 8.30AM to around 6PM shouting, screaming and cheering. There are a few good exhibition happening in Tokyo, two of which I have wanted to catch before I leave, but still much to do around the house and with the baseball going on, I'm not sure if I'll make it.


Day 44/51: One does What One Can

This is an edited excerpt (is there such a thing?) from an email I sent Cally this morning:

"When we were younger, we, Dad included, thought “dying naturally”, “of old age” sounded so pleasant, easy and graceful. It turns out that's not always the case. Dad is not “ill” per se so the hospitals can’t keep him for “treatment”, nor do we want him stuck there for too long. I would have never used quotation marks around these words before my previous visit, but I now know these are social constructs! For whatever reasons, (much drinking/smoking, bad food choices, and most notably, his age of 85.5 years,) have worn his organs out and they are struggling to do what they were designed to;

"So, not sick, just organs exhausted, whether he feels it on the day/moment or not. This frustrates him and puzzles us. Among his complaints is that doctors concentrate only on medical issues but not on the person or quality of life, but in Japan there are no geriatrics as a discipline, so as a consumer of medical care, he and gazillion other oldies must rush from one specialist to another, often from institution to another, to have specific symptoms seen to. Unless/untill they are so disabled/feeble/far gone they must be institutionalized in "geriatric care" facilities;

"I keep trying to imagine what it’s like for Dad and rather disturbingly this is what I can related to: say I have a five-year-old laptop that works great for me; I’ve got everything I need loaded and nothing I don’t need; hard drive has been cleaned to the best of my ability though over a year ago; and a tiny part starts to fail and it is no longer manufactured. I learn to work around it but it annoys me, worries me on bad days, and ad-ends work from time to time. Gradually I learn to live with the diminished capacity, but still can't do without the laptop. Then goes another part. In Dad’s case, there are several glitches on the motherboard, a few parts that fell off, and corrupt segments on the hard drive, but on the whole, it works more than fails;

"I had to give up my five-year-old laptop a few years ago; the one I'm using now is faster with a much bigger hard drive, but for e.g. DVD viewing on the old one was much nicer."
It’s Wed morning here and I leave next Wed afternoon. On the day I extended my stay, Mom wrote the number of days I had left with her. She also asked me how I make my ragù and to tutor her on moving from 4- to 8-shafts. I was thrilled with the prospect of Mom & Meg time! I wrote down the former (hard, eh; I don't think much when I cook,) and we got the ingredients, but she was going to give the lot to the home helper, so I cooked instead. As for the latter, I don't teach and I don't write things down so I had to do some prepping but we did a couple of shortish (to me) sessions. She would most definitely shout out I'm being paranoid, again, but I can't help receiving mixed messages because she keeps going out, shopping, English lessons, doctors' appointments. There is no doubt life is getting in the way; her life has been dedicated to keeping us alive and the household going for... nearly 65 years. But I can't help thinking there is an element of her thinking she should want to do things with me, but for whatever reasons, (she gets tired, I'm annoying, she needs physical exercises,) can't be bothered or these are not as important as other things.

Donno. It's futile trying to figure out what the oldies are thinking at this point; I'm better off concentrating on what I can do to stop their environment from further deterioration, if not exactly improve it.
I bought the magnolia tree just before I got married or left for New Zealand, along with violet and pansy babies. Mom remembers me lugging home "lumber" though I thought it was more like a broom stick. It's been pruned several times over the years, I'm told.

For five weeks since I've got home we watched the buds come out and then grow bigger, but because of the weather they all came to flower in the last three days and already this morning started to drop petals.

* * * * *

The weather here has been positively crazy. When I came there was the longer-than-usual winter with hail and late but heavy snow. Then came March when one day the expected high was 6C, the next 14C. Yesterday it was 19C first thing in the morning and 28C in the sun room a couple of hours later and 26C elsewhere in the house, which is May-early-July temperatures. I had the window open until 11.30 at night. We've had very strong winds, Chinese yellow sand and pollutants making their way here; the forecast "severe" hay fever season has been bad, but will not last long as half the pollen have been blown in the strong wind in two weeks. And the airports have had a variety of reasons to cancel flights.

I don't need floods or locusts, but have most definitely requested a thunder-and-lightening show.

* * * * *

On "my" loom; a scarf for a gardener who wears almost only blue: a water-inspired networked twill threading, variegated wool/mohair in the warp, knitting wool in the weft, 20EPI, 3/3/1/1 twill. 
Speaking of looms, Mom found what we think are heddles from pre-texolve Ashford table looms. There are roughly 21.5cm long, and at a glance there are more than 30. She would like to gift them to a weaver currently weaving on looms that take these heddles in the first instance, and if not, someone who restores looms and have one that will take these. Please email me for more details.

* * * * *

There have been so much noise in my head I had to do something to calm down and prepare to go home to lead my usual, easy life. I don't know why, but I bought several Salman Rushdie audio books yesterday and am enjoying his memoir. Any of you know much about his writing? 


Day 41/51

As you know, I was originally scheduled to go home on Friday but gave myself 12 extra days here; I now leave in 11 days. Which has come to mean I will probably have 11 days left with my Dad in his lifetime. And goodness me, I'd been objective/detached about death in general all my life, it has been thus in my family as long as I can remember, but I'm not ready for him to go. And yet I don't want this stage to last too long, as the quality of his life is, for me and Mom, unfathomably low. It doesn't mean I'm doing anything much differently; &deity knows I'm not talking to him about anything important/emotional. I keep focusing on things I can do around the house to relieve work in the short-to-mid term, because that's easier. He doesn't (always) help in being approachable, either.

It's been surprisingly turbulent.
That's Dad reading newspaper in the sun, his most enjoyable activity these days and among only a few he can do completely by himself. When he has his maroon cardy and straw hat on, he looks a smidgen like Vincent.

I have felt as though I've been shoving my version of kindness down Mom's throat, and we even started picking on each other, but here, too, I try to focus on the tasks at hand. In a couple of instances, she thought I was being a Royal Pain but in the end these were jobs that needed to be done for decades and I know Mom feels better for having them gotten out of the way without too much involvement. We need to stop taking snipes at each other.

* * * * *

Mom's red cushions have been completed and much admired.
Mom's next project is well under way; it's a cashmere and silk scarf, but we won't tell her she has two picks in one shed, will we?
Mine's been waiting to be threaded for ages but "life" has higher priority at the moment...
Mom's draft:
I did go to one exhibition with my sister; it was a the National Art Museum's craft annex and there were ceramics, textiles, wood, glass and metal work with floral motifs.
Sis had to rush home on account of her kids, but I went to a yarn shop Mom described as "uninspiring" a month ago. Uninspiring it may have been for her, but I came home with a small sample of 2/44 wool that feels as though it contains New Zealand or Australian merino, and fingers cross, hope to revisit before their 20% sale is over.


Day 32/51: Living with Oldies

I extended my stay a bit, so now I'm going home just before Easter. I'm starting to get the hang of living in this busy part of the planet with two grumpy/hilarious oldies, but life is most definitely choppy and I also developed a serious hankering for quiet, solo, making time. I suspect my parents would like their quite life back too, but for them the convenience and the entertainment won out, and for me, being able to research care facilities with my sister was the deal breaker; she thinks we can visit half a dozen before I leave, which would be helpful when I go home and one or another has to leave home, I know what folks would be talking about.

It also gives me a few more afternoons of sitting in the sun and sharing the same space with Dad. For the last several years, when I came home or when the parents visited me, I always had this foreboding that it would be the last time I'll ever see Dad; unless I return here rather soon, chances are this time this will be true. I need to stop rushing around the house trying to make things right and just sit with him more.  

My parents are funny. Speaking on cross purposes is the norm. It's not always because of their hearing; Dad doesn't care and Mom thinks she knows what we want to say. Sometimes I can't help playing cute tricks to confuse them ever so slightly.

Dad is a news freak, and here it appears possible to watch news programs on one channel or another from, oh, five in the morning to at least midnight, in addition to the bulletins. So he does, almost his every waking hour. And then shouts at the main 7PM that they have no new information. Likewise Mom watches the weather forecast diligently and complains when what they say this hour is different from the last!

It's been wonderfully warm and spring like this week, which I had hoped would make her happier, but not exactly; it's too bright, too hot already, and understandably, too much pollen.

Life hasn't been easy nor hopeful for the oldies. In addition to their individual ailments, inflation this side of the quake has been silly-stupid-high, laws concerning pension is looking to change soon; sales tax went up and will again; and all this on top of the the recession since around 1990/2.  There seems to be no solution to the Fukushima nuclear disaster; a day or so after I arrived the Chinese Navy (??) did something or rather to challenge the Jaqpanese territorial waters; they say they didn't, our government say it was a blatant challenge; North Korea is playing with nuclear weapons. The house seems to be newly under the American military flight path, and some days fighter plans roar and howl above us. (I'm so glad both are sufficiently deaf they don't hear the planes all the time.) We continue to have territorial disputes with China and South Korea and relations with them have deteriorated noticable, not to mention the dispute with Russia way up north since the end of WWII. It's the hay fever season, which also means yellow sand come flying from China, this year with the additional gift of PM2.5, the cancerous pollutant you may have seen footage of from China.

And the grandkids are growing up and they are so busy! So it wasn't hard for me to decide to entertain them for a couple of weeks longer. And time with both are precious. Even though I'm not finding Japan a particularly attractive place to live at the moment. I shall appreciate my easy, fun life with Ben all the more when I get home. 

On Mom front, I failed to inspire her very much with the buntings in the way I thought she ought to be inspired. While cleaning the room I'm staying, I found two empty picture frames and made collages of some of her past works, which finally seemed to have done the trick.
I assembled photos I took in 2010, 2011 and this trip; there are heaps more she wove, but many have been gifted, many have been used and discarded, and some weren't as photogenic as others. And I didn't even think of her "current scarves" in her closet room, but even from a limited pool, Mom got her mojo back realizing she has woven not only many pieces but of many varieties and techniques. A couple of days ago she even cleaned/reorged her samples chest of drawers, (the big one in the back of the room in the second last pic here,) and selected projects and techniques she'd like to revisit. Weaving-wise, that's one big item off my To Do list for the trip.
We walked around the house looking for the best positions for the two frames - the larger one would have been nice in the work room, but that room is so crowded and in older homes like ours we can't put nails into the wall, so this one lives in the room  where I'm staying, but where Mom uses when she needs a large space or better light.
The small one, we put a nail in the side of a bookcase in the work room.

One of the techniques Mom wants to try again is tapestry, so I requested a piece. I shall design something based on an abstraction of something I will draw, no bigger than a sheet of A4/Letter paper, but more likely smaller. Here are the colors I can work with:
In addition, Mom is going to weave a networked twill on the wider 8-shaft, I on the narrower; Mom is going to make a networked twill winter scarves for Mom's home helper who comes three mornings a week using pale blues and greens and some pink, and I her gardener, (sounds luxurious, doesn't it? He's meant to cut dangerous branches and tidy the exterior of the house, but it turns out he's very knowledgeable in veggie gardening!) After some observation, Mom and I noticed he only ever wears blues, so here are my options:
Last week I suggested my sister and brother consider visiting the oldies, without their families perhaps, just to sit in the same room as Mom and Dad and and enjoy each others' company. It seems I need to take heed that advice, too. Precious times.