Monthly Archives: July 2017

Make Do and Mend

I so want to be that woman; the one who can just fix those pants in a jiffy and smile beatifically while doing it. But we must all deal with how things actually are.

How I Mend Clothing:

  1. Procrastinate for at least a month, promising every day I’ll do it tomorrow.
  2. Get out sewing machine and put it on the kitchen table. Dust the case.
  3. Make a snack for fortification.
  4. Plug it in.
  5. Do a little a laundry. There’s always a little that needs to be done and even laundry is better than mending.
  6. Get the sewing bag.
  7. Dig out a color of thread that matches the material, sort of.
  8. Put the spool of thread on that thing that sticks up on the right side of the machine.
  9. Find the box of bobbins and check for a bobbin already loaded with matching thread.
  10. Decide it doesn’t matter and pick a color that’s close.
  11. Place the bobbin in the bobbin hole. (Be quiet. You’re lucky I remember what the bobbin is called.)
  12. Consider calling my mother-in-law and asking her to do it.
  13. Remember she is currently in another state.
  14. Cry a little.
  15. Get a drink of water to rehydrate.
  16. Take a deep breath and pull the thread from the spool through the machine, following the arrows put on the machine for idiots like me. I’m sure these arrows were not necessary back in the day when people knew how to do things.
  17. Pull the thread from the bobbin around the little hook thingie (again with the arrows) and replace the plate over the bobbin hole.
  18. Place the garment on the machine, lining up the seam with the guiding marks.
  19. Say a little prayer.
  20. Press the pedal gingerly.
  21. Stop, try not to curse, and carefully cut the resulting knot away from the material of the garment.
  22. Ponder whether it could wait until my mother-in-law gets back.
  23. Decide I am not dumb and I can do hard things.
  24. Take the bobbin out of the bobbin hole, and carefully reexamine the idiot arrows.
  25. Realize it was going the wrong way.
  26. Spend some time feeling like an idiot.
  27. Get up and switch the laundry to the dryer.
  28. Sit down again.
  29. Rethread the needle.
  30. Place the garment back in the machine.
  31. Say another little prayer.
  32. Press the pedal gingerly.
  33. Check the seam.
  34. Marvel that there seems to be one.
  35. Finish that side of the pants and do the other one really quickly before I forget how.
  36. Put everything away and congratulate myself for not actually incurring an injury.
  37. Blissfully decide that it won’t be nearly so bad next time since I won’t wait so long to do it and I’ll remember how.
  38. Contemplate my own naïveté.
  39. Realize I’m late getting supper started and panic.

As I write this and castigate myself for not knowing how to do stuff, I am reminded of a story about my Aunt Wilma. She was also not much of a seamstress, so maybe it’s familial, but it was the Depression and there wasn’t a lot of money and she was trying to make a dress. She worked on a sleeve. And worked on it and worked on it and worked on it and the blasted thing just would not fit into the sleevehole. It wasn’t even the right shape, and she couldn’t figure out how anyone managed it, ever. Before deciding to throw the whole thing on the burn pile, she went over to the neighbor’s house and asked her to look at it.

“Oh, Wilma,” the neighbor said. “How on earth did you get this sleeve into the neck hole?”

And my Aunt Wilma, who I possibly take after just a little, said, “WELL IT WASN’T EASY!!”


Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

What a weekend we had.

It started early with a parade (SO LOUD).

We dropped the candy haul off in the car after the parade, and on the way back up the hill to the festival, the boys were holding hands. Without being prompted. My niece pointed it out to me and I snapped a few pictures. My sister wondered aloud if I’d recorded the last time it’ll happen.

Then Saturday night we had a party and there were at least a hundred kids in the pool.

Oh, fine. It was more like ten. It sounded like a hundred, though. They had quite a good time. There were lots of grownups there too, although they generally hollered a lot less.

I’d been watching the weather forecast all week because of the party, but also because we’d been offered Indians tickets on Sunday afternoon. Things were not looking good. For most of the week, the forecast was for rain the entire weekend. Saturday morning looked pretty bad, but things cleared up nicely. The Sunday forecast was still very wet, though.

Sunday morning early I checked and things had improved. Mostly sun and clouds with a probably thunderstorm at 2:00. Well, I thought, if we get a little wet, it’s not the end of the world. Around 9:30, I checked again, and the thunderstorm had shifted to 6:00. I don’t think it actually ever arrived, and the day couldn’t have been prettier.

The boys got duded up in their Indians gear, special not just because it was appropriate to the activity, but because it was all part of a previous gift from our friend John, who was also the benefactor providing the tickets for the game. (As it turned out, the guy on the shirt was pitching and the one on the hat hit a home run as we watched. Serendipity was strong for our outing.)

Not very far into the ballpark, we ran into Brayden, a neighbor and Levi’s classmate. With 30,000 people in the stadium, it wasn’t surprising that we knew a few, but it was a little surprising to actually encounter them in the crowd.

I had to encourage the boys to stop staring and keep walking, especially as we got farther into the park. These are children who still get thrills riding the one-floor escalator at the children’s hospital, remember. There was a lot of looking around to do.

I’d warned them about wandering off or not paying attention as we walked down the sidewalk on our way in. “You need to stick close,” I said. “You’re just not used to crowds like this.” They clearly felt maligned, but quieted down when we got closer to said crowds.

Still, as I craned my neck around someone to see if we’d found section 172, I called Levi by name, and a voice said, “Levi? And are you Elias?”

It was Mike. John had intended to join us, but couldn’t, so he sent someone down to greet us. With goodie bags.

These boys are absolutely not spoiled rotten, and I don’t know why you’d even ask that.

Here they are just before finding our seats …

… and here’s the view we had. Pretty great.

The boys and I missed most of the last two innings to stand in line to run the bases after the game. It was worth it. Paul stayed in the stands and watched the end of the game, and texted to see where we were and when we would appear on the field. We waited in a line stretching several floors up a concrete ramp, descended back down the ramp and then even deeper into the bowels of the stadium, and at one point we had turned around so many times I texted Paul: I could not find my way out of here to save my own life.

About thirty seconds after that, I saw daylight around a corner, and about a minute after that, the boys stepped out onto the field.

We jogged – with pauses to high-five a mascot or two – to third, where there was a bottleneck. That was fine, since it gave me the opportunity to get this shot.

The nice Blue Jays fans behind us took this for us when we’d rounded home and were standing by the dugouts.

Which is where we accidentally backed up and stepped on the grass because we weren’t paying attention and also we didn’t know it was a sin. (They were very nice about telling us to move.) Levi had some questions about this on the way home, probably because because no one in the family golfs and we have no respect for our yard, so the concept of grass with which you must be careful has never come up in his young life.

Paul’s knee was twanging hard, so I offered to get the car and come back. (I was driving anyway. I do cities, he does highways.) The boys wanted to go with me, but came to regret their choice. I walk too fast.

They did make it back to the car with me, where they fell into their seats with abject relief.

It really was quite a weekend.

And, I realized on the way home from the game, it was a really fun one. They are still young enough to be openly thrilled by cool new things, but they’re old enough that sitting in a stadium for the length of a baseball game is no longer an exercise in taking someone to the bathroom every twenty minutes and wondering what on earth you were thinking. They can do the walking, even if they whine. They can be made to carry their own snacks. They can ask questions about what’s happening on the field instead of what they’re going to eat next. (Mostly. Snacks are still very important.)

Going to the ballgame was not a chance for the children to have a new experience and the parents to manage juvenile enjoyment. We all had fun. What a revelation.

It was a very good weekend.

Happy Faces

Why so gleeful?

That there in Levi’s hand is his last IV. The PICC line will come out tomorrow morning and swimming may commence.

I am of course delighted and also I would like to take a mammoth nap. I was talking to Paul this morning, and we agreed that one part we really dislike about IVs is the uncertainty. Are we done today? Don’t know. If we’re done today, will the line come out today? Don’t know. When can I swim, Mom? Don’t know. These are only three questions, but they’ve been repeated to me approximately one zillion times. Will I need to leave work early for another week to make it home to do infusions? Don’t know. Will we have to take a cooler with us for the meds on our outing this weekend? Don’t know.

I don’t know why uncertainty is so draining, but it is. So I am happy for answers.

Done. Tomorrow morning. Yes to swimming.


A Word Problem

I’ll be honest, I never liked word problems much in math class. Words were so much my friends in other contexts, and in math class they just seemed confusing. But Paul has requested this one specially, and even I will admit it’s kind of cool.

This is my Uncle Harold in 1944, when he was 12 years old.

1944 Harold Stoller 12 yrs

Is he not adorable?

It runs in the family, as I used to say when I was four or five and didn’t know better than to parrot what my older siblings had brainwashed me to suggested I say.

Anyway, he grew up and married my Aunt Luella, and they had three boys. The boys were born in three different years, and they were all single births.

They will all be 56 on their next birthday.

This statement was true yesterday and it is true today.

If you want to figure it out on your own, stop here and have at it.








A hint, you say? Okay. This happens regularly. Specifically, every four years, for two days, all three sons will be the same age on their next birthday.








Don’t feel bad. I’ve known about it forever and I still made Paul type out the dates for me so I wouldn’t get wrong. And I still might, because it’s been that kind of week. But here you go.

The first two boys are almost exactly a year apart. The third came a year and a half later, on a leap day. Doug was born on July 18, 1961, and on his next birthday (tomorrow), he will be 56. Art was born on July 16, 1962; on his next birthday (a year from yesterday), he will be 56. Tom was born on February 29, 1964, and in about 2 1/2 years, on his next birthday, he will be 56.

I don’t know when Uncle Harold figured this out, but I have been hearing about it all my life. It is so quintessentially Stoller-nerdy.

If you didn’t know Stollers are a little nerdy, I think you haven’t met a sufficient amount of Stollers. My brother (our mother was a Stoller) was strictly rationing his driving at one point so that on New Year’s Day, he could drive the last mile required to make his car odometer read 100,000 miles even on the date 01/01/01. I found this hilarious and told everyone I ran into, which is how I discovered at Christmas dinner that one of my mother’s brothers was doing the exact same thing. Neither of them knew about the other until that moment.

Ner. Dy.

Me, too. It just mostly manifested in language instead of numbers. (Ask me about apostrophes sometime. When you have a lot of time.)

I don’t know whether the off-topic rambles can be attributed to the Stoller influence or if that’s just me, but regardless, it’s kind of a fun one, no? It’s good for two more hours before it expires, but it’ll be back around again.

July 2021, baby.

Daddy Eggs

For breakfast this fine holiday morning, we had a bit of nostalgia.

As Paul and I lolled in bed at a shocking 7:00 AM (remember, this is a man who rises daily without an alarm at the inhuman hour of 4:45), he said, “Ugh. I don’t feel like making breakfast.” He does, most days. He wasn’t really asking me for anything, just indulging in a little kvetching, but I had some bacon left from a recipe, and some time.

“Hey!” I said, “I’ll make Daddy Eggs.”

Daddy Eggs start with bacon strips cut into small pieces and fried. Going into the skillet, they look like this.

I hate frying bacon. I much prefer baking it and skipping all the popping grease. But I’ll fry it for Daddy Eggs. Even if I think up creative nonswears (Lucifer’s flaming hairline!) while I do.

Once the bacon’s done, you drain it. Then you beat a bunch of eggs with a little milk, start them cooking in the same pan, and sprinkle the bacon on top. That’s it. It’s not really a recipe. It earned a name by virtue of being the only thing my daddy ever cooked.

Daddy Eggs were company food. We had them on Sunday mornings when we’d had out-of-town overnight company. It never occurred to me as a child to question the timing, but with age and experience, I have come to realize that Daddy Eggs were a life preserver.

My mother, whose theoretical enjoyment of hostessing was sometimes compromised by the reality of same, was coming off two nights of extra people in the house and company meals, and facing the Sunday morning flat-out dash to church. My father was trying to make sure she didn’t go under.

He probably didn’t much like doing it, really, but he did. In other words, he was a grownup.

I have to be a grownup this week. Tomorrow morning, Levi and I will go to the hospital so he can have a PICC line placed for IV antibiotics. We’ll likely come home Thursday, and for the next couple of weeks, my phone alarm will yell at me multiple times a day so I don’t miss any infusions.

Levi is a little nervous, but mostly fine. I am cranky and resentful and eating all the cookies. It’s not so much the overnight hospital stay, or the IV routine, though both of those things are a pain in the neck. It’s that I don’t want to have to think about cystic fibrosis, and I can’t avoid it for the next little while. I hate it, worse than I hate frying bacon.

You probably didn’t think this is where this blog post was going. Honestly, neither did I. Sometimes in writing, as in life, we arrive in unexpected places. So often, the only choice we have in the matter is how graciously — or not — we go to our fate.

I am, though I sometimes wish it were not so, a grownup. I will attempt to be gracious, and to make memories of the mundane. We won’t have Daddy Eggs at the hospital, but we’ll have something else. (Chicken fingers and pizza in bed has played well in the past.)

And we will, as before, be fine. Just don’t hide the cookies.