Friday, March 27, 2009

I Wouldn't Have Missed It for the World

This story has no knitting content, but it's how I spent my morning today, and in my opinion, an important story to be told. It's a bit long and drawn out, so you may want a refreshing beverage before you begin to read.

This story begins in 1992. I was the clinical manager at the time for the largest private Ob-Gyn practice in Anchorage. We had a new patient, 41 year old Eva, who was pregnant with her first (and only) child. Due to her age, she was immediately placed on the 'Hi-Risk" list and part of my job was to follow these patients closely to assure that none of their appointments were missed or labs fell through the cracks etc.

Eva had other plans. She most certainly DID NOT consider herself high-risk. She had been a midwife in Sweden, her country of birth, and had worked most recently as a flight nurse accompanying travelers with health concerns to destinations around the world. This job brought her to Anchorage on more than one occasion which is how she met "Jim", the father of her child and soon to be her husband. Eva declined amniocentesis and a host of other "routine high risk" labs, an accelerated appointment schedule, etc. She happily set up housekeeping in the Mat-Su Valley while Jim ran the auto repair shop in Anchorage. She was intelligent, interesting, funny, and we soon became friendly through the multiple phone calls I was required to make to her to document her declination of services. When she came to appointments, we would have tea in my office and enjoy the conversation of our beginning friendship.

She and Jim married, but just a few months later, when Eva was around 5 months pregnant, disaster struck. Jim had a major heart attack. He was flown to a hospital in California, but died despite the best surgical efforts available at the time. A heartbroken Eva returned to try and put the pieces back together, close up the auto shop, and await the birth of their daughter. We became much closer during this timeframe and she shared her fears and dreams with me as she had not yet made many friends in Alaska. My own daughter was less than a year old, and we talked a great deal about motherhood. She shared her fears about being a single parent in a foreign country, and her indecisiveness at the time about what she would do next.

Easter came, and Eva spent the day with us, enjoying my famous "Jack Daniels Roasted Ham".

(Eva, the day before Rachel was born)

She attributes that ham recipe to making her go into labor because sure enough, early the next morning, her contractions began. By late the next day, her beautiful, healthy daughter Rachel was born. About two months later, needing an income for her small family, Eva began to work as a nurse in the L&D department of the hospital she'd given birth in. She and Rachel spent many dinners and weekend barbecues with us.

(Eva and Rachel)

She made new friends and life was settling down for my Swedish friend, until the hospital experienced a budget crisis and decided to lay off registered nurses. Rachel was not yet 5 months old. And Eva, being one of the most recently hired, was one of over 100 nurses who lost their jobs.

Our clinic had recently lost an RN and I offered that job to Eva. She was a hard worker, and the physicians and patients appreciated her candor and sense of humor. Then the government stepped in, and in a most ungracious manner, decided that since Eva had been married to Jim for less than whatever specified time, she would need to return to her country (Sweden) essence, an order for deportation. By this time, Eva had decided to raise her American born daughter as an American. I'd climbed the food chain at the clinic to become Administrative Director, and did what any self respecting friend and employer would do... I called our Senator's office to ask for advice and intervention. Eventually Eva was able to remain in Alaska on a work visa as 'Nursing' was (and still is) listed as a difficult to fill profession. It took a number of letters written, phone calls, official forms filled out...but Eva was able to remain and work in the land she'd come to think of as her home.

(my DD and Eva's Rachel)

Our friendship continued over the next few years, but the frequency of time we spent together decreased to holidays,

(Eva, BFF MaryKay, Me, Jackie J)

then infrequent lunches or coffee. With job changes, and my return to graduate school, we eventually lost track of each other. We would hear of each other through mutual friends and our job circles continued to overlap. Eva eventually worked for the Municipality's STD Clinic, then as one of the RNs for the state's youth correctional facility. Sometimes we would see each other at continuing education programs. I thought of her once in a while, but until about three weeks ago, could honestly not say when I'd last seen her. I had no idea what was going on in her life. Early this month, I caught a glimpse of a familiar face in our hospital cafeteria. "Eva!", I shouted across the line of people. She turned and smiled broadly, rushed to give me a big hug. She had been shopping at our hospital gift shop. We are both lovers of Alaska Native artwork...another thing I'd forgotten over the years.

She told me some wonderful news and we were both a little amazed at how life can bring friends back full circle. She invited me to attend a special event today, and even though my schedule is usually written in stone six weeks in advance, coincidentally, today was already scheduled as a day off. Coincidence? Karma? Who knows? It really doesn't matter.

"You remember that you are the one that started this for me, don't you?" she asked. And I smiled, because honestly, I had forgotten so much in the intervening ten or twelve years.

Despite snow flurries and volcanic eruptions, I drove to the Federal Courthouse in Anchorage.

This morning with tears in my eyes, sentimental slob that I am, I watched my friend Eva,

along with 58 other individuals from 25 different countries take the Oath of Allegience to the United States of America. Her brilliant, beautiful daughter and several work friends were there also to support her. When Eva walked to the podium and said her name and the country she was from, she raised her certificate and said loudly.."My name is Eva -------, I was originally from Sweden, and today I am very proud to say I AM AN AMERICAN"!

First item on the agenda, after photos of course, was Registration to Vote!

After the ceremony, we had lunch at a delightful new restaurant, The Spenard Roadhouse. All American hamburgers, with homemade apple pie (from friend Kathy)for dessert!

Too often, we take our status as Americans for granted. I challenge any of you to attend a 'swearing in' ceremony. Reflecting upon the words of our Pledge of Allegiance, seeing the hope and pride in the eyes of new citizens, it is an amazing reminder of the good fortune to which we are born, the opportunity that is our birthright, the respect for ourselves and our neighbors to which we are beholden. It was a wonderful morning.

Let Freedom Ring!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Sweater for Freja!

It's been a while hasn't it? I've been working a lot (which is not an excuse)...only had 1 scheduled day off (last Saturday) over 12 days and more than a couple of those were 12+ hr days. Not complaining mind you, I normally have a ridiculously wonderful schedule. It's just been busy. Finally had a new carpenter come to do the finish work around the house (door and window trim, baseboards etc.) and a heating fellow come to put new covers on our 25 year old gas hot water baseboard heating system. All that's left is paint touchups and hanging the curtains in the dining area and repainting the entryway and hallway...I'm thinking "Marigold" yellow! An Alaskan girl can never have too much warm color going on. The painting and curtain hanging will likely happen over the weekend. I have an overnight L&D call tonight and then will be off until Monday! Hoorah!

I have been knitting, in fact, quite a lot of knitting. One raging abysmal failure. We won't talk about the's sitting quietly in timeout awaiting its fate (although the decision has been made to send it to the frog pond..sigh..a full bag of yarn invested in that own feeble design attempt..but the only failure is the failure to keep trying eh?) Let's move on shall we.

The successfully Finished Object is, of course, another Helena. This one is for dear friend Solveig's sister-in-law. Funny story...about 8 months ago Solveig asked me to teach her to knit as her brother's wife was newly pregnant and she wanted to be superaunt and knit the baby I sweater. A little yarn, a few needles, a book, some hands-on training...and well, a knitter was born....or so I thought. About 2 1/2 weeks ago, a frantic Solveig begged, pleaded, gave me "big eyes", promised me chocolate, pedicures, financial reward etc...if I could "just make a wonderful baby sweater for her before this Saturday..which is coincidentally the day of the baby shower. Loving Solveig dearly (and being a sucker for "big eyes") and having succumbed to the realization that my big sweater was doomed...I gladly complied.(Can you read "Suckah" on my forehead?)

So anyway, a week later, here is the finished Helena in all her glory.

The pattern: Helena from
The yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Superwash 100% merino in a lusciously soft dusty blue/green tone...depends on the light..but it's perfect for a baby of Scandinavian descent.
The needles: KPOs size 6, Addi Lace size 2, and yep, I broke another Brittany size 2 on those dang YO/K2Tog for the adorable picot edge hem. Save yourself the trouble..use metal.
Size: Used the numbers for newborn size but with the gauge of the heavy worsted 1824, it's closer to 6-9 month size.

Altogether a very satisfying knit. This is my go-to sweater for baby girls I think. The only modification was the closure, crochet'd double loop over 2 abolone shell buttons in lieu of the ties.

Solveig was thrilled. She will truly be super-auntie ;0

Until next time. Knit On!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Top Down Long Lacy Cardigan

C'est fini! Started around January 23 or so....finished up the knitting last weekend but didn't have a chance to seam the sleeves or weave in ends, etc. until the past few days.

The pattern: Top Down Long Lacy Cardigan by SweaterBabe

Super easy. I modified it a tad to make it tunic length and 3/4 sleeves. I probably SHOULD have carried the lace pattern down further an inch or two into the nifty knitted in pockets, but I wasn't feeling compelled to rip out and reknit. Besides, it's just awfully cute the way it is. It fits well and feels great. (teehee...Miss Bella Blue is watching through the window and probably wondering about our crazy antics!)

and no, there are NO side seams (just seaming the length of the arms and the pit area) but I haven't steamed out the blocking lines yet...

The yarn: Superwash Bamboo Cedar Shaded Solids (bag sale from June 08). I think I used about 16-17 skeins (held double throughout)

Gauge was slightly less than required but I made size Large and it fit just fine with a bit less ease than specified. Used my size 101/2 KPOs.

Re: the pattern. I really like the clarity of instructions and the stabilizing effect of the M1s (knitting into the stitch below) for the raglan increases. The yarn is super soft and drapey.

I'll be wearing this one for St. Patty's Day! And let's give the man a round of applause for the excellent photos!