Monday, September 13, 2021

Our Trip To The New Jersey Sheep and Fiber Festival September 11, 2021

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Today was the NJ Sheep and Fiber festival Hunterdon County 4H Fairgrounds in Ringoes NJ on the usual 1st weekend after Labor Day Sep. 11-12, 2021.

The Sheep & Fiber Festival is presented annually to showcase the beauty of sheep and other fiber animals, as well as to offer a variety of products for sale by breeders, vendors and artisans.

This is the fourth time we've been to this one. They didn't have it last year because of Covid-19.

The weather forecast was sunny and for temperatures to be in the low 80's.

We left after breakfast at around 9:30. We had two stops to make before we could begin the actual trip. First we picked up a prescription at CVS and then filled the gas tank at WA-WA.

According to GPS - Seri - the trip to Ringoes, NJ would take us about 90 minutes.

The first hour of the route was very familiar. It's the way we go to my daughter's house.
The road, Route 539 is a two lane county highway.
There are many traffic light intersections along the way. This breaks up the traffic pattern into strings of about 4 - 10 cars steadily moving, caravan style.
Much of the route passes through isolated areas of the Pine Barrens and the eastern end of the Fort Dix entity of Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst. In these stretches, the route has a speed limit of 55mph, one of the few two-lane roads in the state to carry a 55 mph limit. Along much of the road, there are passing and no-passing zones.

Now I am a strict observer of the speed limit. In the sections of the road where passing is allowed, it's annoyingly obvious to me that most drivers do not obey the speed limit because I always get passed. I never understand why these impatient people feel that those perhaps five minutes they may save by passing me is so urgent. I must admit I gleefully love it when I catch up to them at the next traffic light.
Even at my steady, obeying the speed limit speed, we arrived at the fair grounds in the 90 minutes that Siri predicted.

As we pulled into the entrance, there were people directing cars into the various parking areas. I think I was supposed to stop and pay an entrance fee. But I thought they were waving me on, not waving me to stop.
Oh well. Sorry, Sheep Breeders. I'll catch you next time.

Compared to other fiber festivals we have been to, this one is fairly small. There are four barns. Two of the barns are where the animals are being shown. The other two barns are filled with vendor booths. There are various types of vendors all having to do with fiber, and fiber crafting. I would say the majority of the vendors are selling yarn that they have hand dyed.

There were not a lot of people in the first two barns. They were the ones where the sheep and goats were being judged and shown.

The vendor barns were quite crowded. This posed a dilemma for me. Mask or no mask. I would say 2/3 of the people were not wearing masks. As we entered the vendor barn, I told Ross we should mask up.

Once we started through, Ross took his mask off. I kept mine on.

These festivals are typically tough to navigate through. Most of the vendors have single booths and they are small. Once the booths are filled with product displays, there isn't must room for customers to comfortably browse.

I was a little concerned about how Ross would do today. There is a lot of walking. Also, it can get quite warm in the barns. He is now a slow mover. He also gets distracted easily. In times past, I would usually be walking ahead of him, not worrying about whether he was in sight because I knew we would eventually catch up to each other.
Today, we walked side by side. Since he is somewhat unsteady on his feet, I suggested that he bring his cane and it did help.

Because customers were elbow to elbow in the booths, I wasn't comfortable being that close to others. I was constantly making sure I kept track of where Ross was which made browsing and shopping nearly impossible.

I personally know four of the vendors. I had another couple of favorite vendors that I wanted to visit.
I found the way the layout of the booths were described in the brochure difficult to understand.
For instance one of the booths I wanted to visit was listed as being located "4 SE Wall'.
Huh? I assume the 4 meant barn 4 and SE was the South East Wall? Again it was probably just me, but I couldn't even find where the barns were labeled as being 1, 2 3 or 4.
Even though we walked through the entire two vendor barns, I never found the booth at "4 SE Wall".

We did find Helen and Mary Beth of the "Crafty Toads" but they and their booth were so busy we just waved, said hello and then moved along.

We were able to chat a little with Christina the owner of Chelsea Yarns. Christina is also one of Ross' favorites. He enjoys exchanging quips with her. She helped me pick out yarn for a sweater pattern that she and a designer collaborated on.

The yarn is gorgeous! That turned out to be the only purchase I made today.

Normally, at these affairs, I would buy single skeins of yarn from various sellers. I have quite a stash of those singletons without a specific idea for their use.
I am quite happy with my one purchase this time because I bought enough yarn for a planned project.

After completing the tour of the two vendor barns, both of us had had enough.
I started out tired from 1-1/2 hour drive to get the fair. Knowing that I had another 1-1/2 hour drive back, I knew it was time to go.

There's a diner right near the fairgrounds. We decided to stop for lunch. We both had grilled cheese sandwiches and pink lemonades. It was a good break to be able to sit and relax before the drive home.

We got home around 3:30. We turned on the Navy game and chilled out the rest of the evening.

Yarn haul from Chelsea Yarns
Even though these fairs are hectic and sometimes impossible to navigate, I still love going. It's yarn. Yarn for for the hobby I love. Yarn and the hobby I love both keep me sane and giddily happy.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Sun, The Water, Loud Jet Skis, Ice Cream and Angry Bees

Friday, September 10, 2021 This afternoon we drove over to Ship Bottom.   There is a fishing dock and boat launch just over the last bridge         onto the island.  I wanted to have Ross take pictures of me in my new shawl, which I had just finished knitting. I like to post photos of my latest completed projects on instagram. I also thought it would be nice to sit by the water and soak up some sun. It was very breezy.

There was a man and woman in the parking lot with two jet skis loaded in the back of their pickup. They were trying to fix one of them. They kept revving the motor which produced a lot of smoke and loud engine noises.

It was a gorgeous day. Puffy white clouds floated around in the blue blue sky. The sun light played on the water creating sparkling bouncing jewels.
Even though it wasn't very peaceful, because of the loud noises coming from the broken jet ski, I could have stayed a little longer.  But Ross had had enough and i t was time to go. 

A new ice cream store/stand opened up near us in Barnegat on Route 9 north. It's across the street from the local animal hospital, which is my point of reference for finding the new ice cream store.

We went there after we left the island.

They have an outside terrace with umbrellaed picnic tables. We usually sit and eat our ice cream right there.

Since it's right on a busy highway, it's not very scenic or quiet but they have really good soft serve. We like the vanilla in a plain old fashioned sugar cone. It's delicious.

Today, though, the terrace was loaded with bees. Yellow jackets. This is the time of year for those bees to become aggressive.

According to the google machine, "Yellow jackets are hand-to-mouth feeders for existence, particularly in the fall after the queen stops laying eggs and there's no young to feed. When the weather turns colder, food sources disappear and they begin to starve. Starvation makes them angry and aggressive as they work hard to seek food."

Because of those hungry, angry bees, we had to get our ice cream to go. Since it was a fairly warm afternoon, we couldn't get the soft serve. It would have melted before we got home. We got the hand dipped hard ice cream in a cup instead. Two scoops of bing cherry for me and two scoops of butter pecan for Ross.

I told Ross that the ice cream was dinner for tonight. I really didn't feel like preparing anything. He seemed okay with that until later in the evening. I heard him foraging in the refrigerator and cabinets. I heated up a portion of eggplant parm for him and a piece of chicken for me. I guess it wound up to be that we switched it up and just had our desert before dinner. The benefit of adulthood, right?

Thursday, September 9, 2021

A Caregiver's Dance.

September 9, 2021

A dreary rainy Thursday.  I'm tired.  I don't admit that often.  Perhaps it's the weather.  Perhaps it's the anticipation of seasonal change going from long summer days to short winter ones. 

Regarding my caregiver situation, many of the comments I receive from friends, family, and internet buddies are some variation of this one, "I don't know how you do it".  

My answer, said with a wry smile, is usually some form of this one, "I don't think about it, I just do. " 

Sort of like Nike, you know, I "Just do it!" 

To be honest, there are woeful thoughts which lay low in the recesses of a dark and smokey tango parlor that is my mind.  Like seductive dancers bumping up against each other they spin and twirl until I am dizzy with dread. 

I instinctively know I would not survive if I surrendered my emotions to lamenting lyrics which tell tales of the nostalgic musings of unfulfilled dreams.  

So like a simple six step Waltz, 

I Step back with my right foot. ... 
Move to my left. ... 
Close my right foot to my left foot. ... 
Step forward with my left foot. ... 
Move back and to my right. ... 
Close my left foot to my right foot...
and just keep moving. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Our 2021 Ocean City, New Jersey Vacation Part I

 Sunday, June 27, 2021

We are away.  Not that far away, but at least it's a change of scenery. 

Our family has been vacationing in Ocean City New Jersey for at least the past 10 years.  Ocean City is on the Jersey shore and is a 45 minute drive from our house, which, by the way is also on the Jersey Shore.

But, like I said, it's a change of scenery.  For instance I can look out the front door of the cottage that we have rented and see the beach.   Can't do that at home. 

In 2019 and 2020 health issues and Covid put a hold on an OC vacation for Ross and me.   

But, the kids have carried on with the tradition and haven't missed one summer.   It's always the same week, this week.  The last week in June. 

This year, at the last minute, I decided I might take a chance on an OC vacation.  I have to say I was quite hesitant.  I wasn't sure how Ross would react to being in a different house and a different routine.  But, I truly have missed spending that special time with my family. 

Anyway, I figured it's only 45 minutes away from home.  If we have to leave, it won't be a big deal. 

In the past, Ross and I shared a lot of the preparation for this vacation.  Together, we would come down here some time in March to look at places to rent.  

This year, I "shopped" online and took a chance on a house that I had not seen in person.  Luckily, the place is clean, vintage cottage cute and a block from the beach. 

The kids are staying a few blocks from us.

In the past, Ross would take care of the practical things, like making sure the the mail and newspapers were put on hold.  He'd let our neighbors know we would be away, and ask one of them to put our garbage out on Tuesday.   

This year, I took care of the mail, and we no longer get a daily newspaper.   I forgot to let the neighbors know we weren't going to be around for a week.  

He would do any last minute grocery shopping.  He'd check to ensure that we had new sun tan lotion, bug spray and aloe. He'd make sure the car was in tip top condition and would gas up the car.

This year I did all of the grocery shopping, and found some sun tan lotion from last year.  I'm sure the car is fine and we do have a full tank. 

Ross would spend weeks prior to the vacation, thinking about what he was going to bring.  He'd always say, "All I need is two pairs of shorts, a couple of tee shirts, a pair of jeans and a bathing suit."  Of course, on packing day the list of items would grow.  He'd always throw in extras of everything.  

This year, I packed for Ross.  That might seem like a small thing, me packing for him.  But Ross was always very particular about not only what he was gong to pack, but how he packed.   He was quite the packing expert, making the most of the suite case space.  😊

The other thing Ross took pride in was packing the car.  Before he loaded up the car, he'd study the mound of items we were bringing.  And "magically", everything would fit and usually there would be room left over.   Oh, and he'd also do all of the carrying and lugging.

This year I think I managed to bring everything Ross might need.  And I guess I actually learned a thing or two from him about packing, suitcase and car, because everything fit just fine.  I have to say, doing all the carrying, lugging and packing is exhausting. 

Of course, Ross no longer drives.  I really miss being a passenger.   I never really enjoyed driving.  But, I have gained experience and understand just how tiring driving can be. 

So, we got here yesterday.  We picked up the key from the realtor and found the house.  I tried to unlock the back door and the key wouldn't work. I went around to the front door and couldn't get that one to work either.  

In the past, no matter how rusted or weather worn the lock was, Ross would always, always manage to get the key to work. He'd patiently jiggle and move the key this way and that and "magically" the door would unlock. 

After a few impatient attempts, I called the realtor.  He said he'd be right over to help.  After impatiently waiting, I tried Ross' jiggle method and managed to unlock the door. 

I did all of the unloading of the car, unpacking and putting away.  And in between I made lunch. My back ached terribly and I didn't realize how tired I was until I finally got to sit down for a moment.  

As I sat, looking out the front window, (did I mention we can see the beach?) I silently, had a bit of a melt down.  I thought about how much I missed my vacation partner.  More importantly, though,  I thought about how much I took for granted and now appreciate all of the little things he did. 

Last night, the kids came over for a visit.  When they walked in, Ross' face just lit up.   Mine too 😀

After the kids left Ross and I took a walk to the beach. It's magnificent!  Nothing like the Jersey shore. 

I don't know what the rest of the week is going to be like.  There may be difficult moments. 

But I promise, I'm gong to appreciate all of the little things Ross and I can still do together.  


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Only One of a Many Caregiver's Stories

April 28, 2021

It's a Wednesday.

Writing provides a satisfying and gratifying way for me to take a deep explorative dive into the depths of all of me.  I generally start out with a glimmer of an idea and soon find myself curiously wandering in and out of the nooks and crannies that make up my being.  I like looking around, seeing what's there.  I have become familiar with some of the paths I find myself on, but there is always more to discover. 

Lately a path I have been distressfully visiting way too often is dark and cold and colorless with boulders of angry criticism blocking the light.  I don't like it there.  But it's there, and stubbornly refuses to be ignored.

These days I don't often have the luxury of the alone time I need to totally absorb myself in my writing. 

For instance, right now, this very moment, I am distracted with the anticipation that my trance will be interrupted.  Thoughts of the morning tasks that caregiving requires are begging for attention. 

I expect that I soon will  be called upon to help selecting the appropriate clothing for the day.  

I hear my name being called from the bedroom.  "Lynda".  I think to myself, it's a sweet sound, really.  

He comes out of the bedroom, walks over to me, and bends down for a kiss.

And he brings with him the light. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

My Memory Blanket

 Today is going to be a beauty of a brisk bright blue, not a cloud in the sky, spring day.   

It's Tuesday, and like every other Tuesday, the low guttural noises of a motor and high pitched squeaks of  brakes coming from a garbage truck woke me.  

We used to live next to an elementary school.  A convoy of school buses would pass by our house early morning and late afternoon.  The not so melodious refrain coming from the buses is nearly the same as our Tuesday garbage truck. 

Sometimes, the Tuesday garbage truck noise tricks my not quite awake brain back into a time warp of long ago.   Before I am fully awake, as I lie in bed,  swirling memories of kid shouts and giggles chase each other around in my head.  

I hear my own voice calling to my children, "Come on now, hurry, hurry, or you will miss the bus." Of course that was the first warning.  The second, third and hopefully not too often, the fourth call would probably not have been as gentle. 

There are no school buses in my neighborhood.  Just us old folks, no kids allowed.  Most times I like the peacefulness and the quiet of the mostly empty streets. 

But this morning, like my worn, but still warm, flannel sheets, the thoughts of little kids and school buses are fuzzy but cozy and I want to linger just a little longer under my memory blanket. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

My Red Ceramic Mug, The One From Starbucks

 Saturday, March 6, 2021


having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks.
able to withstand great force or pressure.

In my life, during particularly difficult times,  I've been told by well meaning family, friends and even mere acquaintances to "be strong" or "stay strong" or "you are stronger than you think."

Ironically,  hearing those "supportive" phrases during the hardest of times, usually makes me feel quite the opposite.   

Today is one of those days where I feel quite the opposite.  Today, I will acknowledge that I am tired.  All the way around tired.  Physically, emotionally, intellectually, sleep deprived, just plain tired.  

Why is today a day for this admission?  I mean it's been a year of tough, tiring days, right?

We, billions of people are tired, right? 

The whole world is being told to "hang in there", "be strong". 

Unplanned and without much thought, we, Ross and I, (mostly me, Ross is having a harder time) have fallen into a routine which may be our (my) way of coping.   Probably having a routine has created some kind of normalcy, for me, at least. 

There are designated days for laundry, food shopping and house cleaning. On a daily basis we basically do the same things at the same time each day.   The days have turned into weeks and months and now a year. 

My mornings are my "me" time.  I usually get up an hour or two before Ross.  I come into the kitchen, turn on the light and open the blinds.  I fill my tea pot with water.   While I wait for the water to boil, I cross off the previous day on the calendar, write the new date on the white board and empty the dishwasher. 

Then I usually take my tea into the living room, turn on the news, scroll through my phone and just sit and sip for a few quiet moments.

When I hear Ross start to stir, I know the day is off to its usual start, breakfast, straightening, running whatever errands there are to be done, lunch, straightening, TV, dinner, straightening, maybe a Facetime or phone call, TV, then bed.  Of course, knitting has its place throughout the day. 

Our life is simple, I suppose.  We are comfortable.  I am truly grateful for the ability to have food in the fridge and pantry.  

We have our challenges, though and life isn't fair.  There are the days when I need to step outside, in my stocking feet, onto the hard concrete front porch and feel the shock of icy cold all the way up from my toes to my face. 


lacking the power to perform physically demanding tasks; lacking physical strength and energy.
liable to break or give way under pressure; easily damaged.

Today, I poured the boiling water into my favorite mug.  It's the red ceramic one from Starbucks with the lid to keep my tea nice and hot.  And as per my usual routine, I headed into the living room to settle into my comfy chair.  It's the big oversize leather with the matching foot stool.  

On my way to the chair, I noticed drops of water on the floor.  I also noticed that my hand was wet beneath the mug.  Condensation? 

I took the mug back into the kitchen, set it down on a paper towel while I wiped up the drops on the floor. When I went back into the kitchen to get my tea, the paper towel was wet.  My favorite red ceramic mug, the one from Starbucks was leaking.  

And just like that, my routine, like the red ceramic mug, my favorite one, the one from Starbucks, had been broken. 

Perhaps that's what made today a culmination  of all those particularly difficult times, the hardest of the hard.  

It made today, the kind of day where I long for  a moment, please, to lay down the heavy weight, and give way to the pressure.  

The kind of day where for a moment, please, I need to crawl into myself,  pull the softness all the way up over my whole being, and rest in my cocoon.