Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Goodbye Grandma, I'll miss you

On May 25th at about 1am my Grandmother, Alta Wilburn passed away from a fatal heart beat. She had broken her shoulder and had had a heart attack, aside from her primary billiary cirrhosis, scoliosis, and polymyositis, which she had suffered from for a long time. This post is dedicated to her and how much she meant to me. She had 4 Children, 7 Grandchildren, and 2 Great Grandchildren. Other survivors include: Her Mother, Step-Father, brother, and her sister.

Alta was born on October 19, 1938 to Grace Mabel Reed-Green and John Marshall Green in Mountain view Arkansas. The family eventually moved to Leedy, Oklahoma, where Alta was soon joined by a baby brother, Robert Hugh, born on September 11, 1941. Unfortunately, the marriage ended somewhere around this time. Alta didn't really remember her father but did get a chance to speak with him shortly before his death in the 1980s. Eventually Alta's mother Grace was remarried to Albert Warden, and Alta was given the present of another sister, Albertine, also known as Tina (or Aunt Tene-Tene). Alta really thought her sister was her present, because she was born on Christmas Day, which was pretty neat for everybody else, but a bit difficult for her (which is a whole 'nother story!).

Alta loved living in the openness of Leedy, Oklahoma. She often recounted times spent running barefoot through the red dirt, feeling the hotness of it beneath her feet. She had much room to run and explore over the family's many homestead acres. She recounted fondly happy times spent riding horseback with her brother Bob and cousin Leon on a horse named Pearl. They all piled on the poor horse, it's a very good thing they were all small at the time.

Alta recounted the perils of being chased by a mother copperhead when she ventured too near her nest, going to the Nazarene Church in Leedy, the Red Star cemetery where all the family is buried, having a treat at the General store, what sitting out a tornado in a shelter feels like and what it's like to pick cotton (and she made it very well known that she didn't like it). She described coming home in the evening brown, bruised, dirty, and very tired, but about as happy as one person could be. When Alta was a sophomore in High School, her family moved to Florence, Oregon. Some of the family had already preceded them because there was work available in the area. The family built homes in a small circle (what would now be called a cul-de-sac) on N. Loftus Rd. in Florence. Alta felt a bit alien at first. She felt like she had moved to a foreign country and wanted to go home. She had an accent and it made her so different from the others at her high school. It was cold and damp in Florence, everything felt so different. But even though Alta would always say she was shy, and even though she felt nervous about meeting new people, because of her openness, honesty and kindness she had a way of making friends, and she soon fit in and was doing quite well. She graduated from Siuslaw High School in 1956.

Alta married Gary Lee Morris Wilburn Sr. in December 1957. Their daughter Debbi soon followed and a year later came their second daughter, Tammy. Lee was in the Navy, and Alta tried to make a home for the new family at the naval bases. Alta's sister Tina recalls a time spent helping her older sister when they lived on the Navy base at Coronado Island. Alta and another Navy wife, (later to become her lifelong friend Pat) were both pregnant at the time and were craving canned Chinese food. It was a warm day and the smell of the Chinese food was getting to the two pregnant women. They asked Tina to shut the doors leading to the area they were in, leaving Tina to deal with the smell of the canned Chinese food, they got a bit of a laugh when it was ultimately the young Tina that got sick, not the two pregnant women. Alta recounted this story of God sending someone to help her in her time of need. She told this story to her daughter several times when they discussed God and how they knew in simple terms that God existed, that he cared for us and what happened to us:

"My father was stationed in Chicago. We were moving there to be with him. He was supposed to meet us at the airport but something went wrong. It turned out at the last minute he was sent somewhere on orders and there was nothing he could do about it. No one was there to meet us and mom was so young and naive, from a very small town, and absolutely lost. She was standing outside, with a small baby, and didn't know what to do. It was very cold. She hadn't prepared us for the cold weather because she didn't know how cold it was. I just had something like a light sweater on and someone went by and made a nasty remark about how "some people take care of their babies." Mom felt so terrible - they didn't stop to notice that she didn't have but the lightest weight clothes on herself and was freezing. She was so scared and was crying, not knowing what would happen next because she didn't know where my dad was and didn't know a soul in Chicago and was scared to be there in that big city by herself. Then she heard someone ask if she needed help. By that time she was sobbing so hard she said it was a miracle that the man could understand her. The gentleman was an off-duty police officer (I don't remember what he was doing there, this part of the story is a bit blurry in my memory). He took us home with him and he and his wife took care of my Mom and I until Dad came and got us. Mom said that she knew without a doubt that God had put these kind people in our paths to take care of us at a time when she was most desperate, and she never forgot them. And I never forgot the story."

Then finally, Alta and Lee had their long-awaited son Gary Lee Morris Wilburn Jr. Lee left the service, Alta became a homemaker and the family lived in Florence, Eugene, and eventually made Portland their home in about 1965.

Alta and Lee bought their first home on SE Raymond Street in about 1966 and paid about $16,000 for it. Their oldest daughter remembers them being very scared about signing the papers for something so expensive. Alta loved tending the garden and growing flowers. She ran the kids to little league, girl scouts, cub scouts, and brownies, served as chairman for the cookie drive one year (which she vowed she would never do again), and shuttled kids to camp when needed. About three years later, the family was given the great gift of all, the last child born to the family, Lori Ann Wilburn.

Alta tried very hard during this time to teach her children, as they were growing, the value of hard work. She enrolled them in a summer program picking berries and beans. Her children would leave home very early in the morning to meet the bus and would work diligently to pick their quota so that they could keep their jobs and earn enough money to pay for their school clothes each fall. That is, until they realized one morning that they just missed the bus. Oh darn. Unfortunately, this gave them the idea that if they hid behind a few cars the bus could pass by them without them being seen and, well, they could just never seem to catch that stupid bus.
A few years down the road the family was doing better financially and, having outgrown their starter home, contracted to build a larger home on acreage in Pleasant Valley. Alta again had a great time putting in her flower gardens (which her children will tell you were built with slave labor). The family enjoyed their new home and the beautiful countryside in Pleasant Valley. Unfortunately there were several things that went wrong about three years later - many pressures conspired to end the marriage and Lee and Alta ultimately divorced. This was a very difficult time for Alta. She felt very lost. She would be the first one to tell you that she made many mistakes during this period. It took some time and the help of some very good friends, but she eventually found her footing, began working and started to make a home for herself and her remaining children. (By this time, two children were no longer at home, and one was just about grown.) Time has a way of slipping by, and before she knew it, all her children were grown. Alta eventually began living with her friend Judi Spence, and it was during this time that she seemed to have some fun and experienced a bit of the freedom and maybe a bit of raucousness that she had missed during her earlier years. It was during this time, that the famous rose tattoo incident took place, for which her oldest daughter teased her mercilessly. Alta often reminded her daughter that the prior Governor Barbara Roberts sported this same tattoo and that if it was good enough for her, well she could have one, too. And that she should probably lighten up a bit. By the way, when did she get so old???

Alta's health began deteriorating very early. She was plagued with scoliosis from childhood, and it worsened so considerably that she could not straighten up to walk. Eventually she moved to Eugene to live with her mother and step father and was granted total medical disability. While she used a wheelchair to get around for distance, she found she could use crutches for short distances. Unfortunately she had a number of health issues that continued to plague her, including the autoimmune illness primary billiary cirrhosis which could eventually lead to liver failure, polymyositis (a severe form of arthritis which continually attacked her muscles and led to severe muscle weakness) and developing heart problems which were leading to congestive heart failure.

When her health continued to deteriorate, Alta moved into Assisted Living in Oregon City. It was a difficult transition for her, but as always, Alta made friends wherever she went, and she fit in well, eventually becoming a bingo-shark and teaching the other residents the game of Skip-Bo.

Unfortunately Alta's health declined further and after hospitalization Alta's daughter was told that because of her frail state (at this point she was about 103 lbs.) she would not be able to stay in assisted living but would need round-the-clock nursing care. Alta's daughter had just a few hours to make this decision, so she went to the director of the Assisted Living Center and asked her where she would put her mother. The Director told her about the Oregon City Health Care Center. After visiting the Center and a few other places, the decision was made. It was a tough decision, but It was the right decision.

Alta went from 103 lbs. To over 140 lbs. It's enough to say that she was worried she was gaining TOO much weight. Mind you, she complained about the food, everybody knew that, but the staff were kind, and snuck food for her from home - the things she liked - within reason. Alta hated institutional food of any kind and she could be pretty resourceful about getting what she wanted! At times it seemed Alta had a difficult time adjusting to living in the nursing home because she loved having all her "things" around her. Her daughter takes editorial license here by noting the fact that her mother was a notorious packrat (her mother, on the other hand, would slap her if she could right now). Alta's family believes even if her health had improved it would have been difficult for her to move because of the kindness of the staff at Oregon City Health Care and the attachment she had formed with them - she had made a home.

A Few things about Alta:

  • Her favorite flower was the Iris.
    She loved music.
    She enjoyed going out for Chinese Food.
  • If you didn't save her some of the stuffing at Thanksgiving you'd better watch out!
  • She used to force her son to eat liver and onions and tell him "With liver you can live" - it made him gag.
  • She loved dum-dum lollipops
  • She had a bear collection
  • She liked Cheetos and she ran around with orange fingers.
  • She loved Dr. Pepper
  • Once she got carried away during a water fight and ran inside the house with the hose on, full blast.
    She carried all kinds of stuff in her purse, you never knew what you'd find - often it would be her teeth!
  • She misplaced her teeth so frequently, her daughters threatened to put ties on them like you would on children's mittens.
  • She had a nail polish fetish
  • She loved American Idol, Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Phil, and Oprah
  • She liked to read People magazine
  • She was a great gardener and a good cook
  • She loved the movie Fried Green Tomatoes

    Her Obituary appeared in the Oregonian on Monday 29th, not on the 28th as it says.
    Alta Mae Wilburn
    Sunday, May 28, 2006
    A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, June 1, 2006, in Wilhelm Funeral Home for Alta Mae Wilburn, who died May 25 at age 67.
    Alta Green was born Oct. 19, 1938, in Mountain View, Okla. [It was actually Arkansas]She moved to Florence in 1956 and to Portland in 1964. A homemaker, she also lived in Eugene. In 1957, she married Gary; they divorced.
    Survivors include her daughters, Debbi Lucas, Tammy Jones and Lori Bjornstrom; son, Gary; mother, Grace Beier; sister, Tina Senften; brother, Jerry Warden; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
    Remembrances to the Arthritis Foundation.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Hard dives and hard drives

Well, we all know what hard dive stands for. As for hard drive.....

Not to be outdone, my laptop needs surgery too now. It has the death rattle! I did coax it out of the coma long enough to grab some cherished patterns that I hadn't backed up yet, but I was unable to get my purchased sock pattern pdfs. I'll keep working on it. I'm really kicking myself for not backing those up. I kept saying that I'd do it later. I guess because my laptop isn't really that old I didn't expect it to die anytime soon.

I'm healing slowly, but healing. There have been some interesting complications (broken blood vessels in the eyes, peripheral edema, numbness and tingling in the opposite hand, coughlactationcough) but enough about that...how about a bruise photo? Aww, you know you want to see a good bruise. I'm nice enough not to show what's under the bandage though :)

I go get my pain pump taken out tomorrow. If you look closely, you can see there is a tube where the tape is creased. I don't usually post photos of myself, so you can't tell that I am very swollen. I was told this is normal, but my ankles really have the swelling down to an art. I can actually feel the fluid moving as I walk.

I'm not able to knit yet, and I'm really getting antsy to knit something. Anything! I'm getting my fiber fix by keeping soft yarns with me at all times. I can't knit it, but I can become one with it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

What's white and yellow with purple all over?

Back from Surgery

This email has been typed up beforehand, and will be sent manually by me when I am home from surgery.  Most likely I'll be feeling crummy, but I wanted to notify you that I am home and probably on my way to sleep on the couch.  If I feel well enough, I'll add some comments below the dashes. 
had to stay overnight, home now.  Very sore, but already making progress.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Second try at surgery

Surgery has been rescheduled for tomorrow at 7:30am. Assuming it doesn't get cancelled again, working shoulder, here I come!

Wanna hear something funny? The second I got home my blood sugar and temperature were both normal. They were only abnormal in the hospital. Go figure.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Surgery no-go

I was all ready for surgery this morning. Don and I were in the little room for a few hours when they told me that my blood sugar was very high and my white cell count was as well. I knew my blood sugar was, but they had told me not to take any insulin...so I didn't. Then they took my temperature...99.5. When my blood sugar gets very high it tends to up my temperature, but I've never seen it go over 99. So....I had some insulin and waited. I started to feel that it was coming down. They rechecked my temperature...100.7. Not. good. My surgeon and anesthesiologist decided it would be best if I get on some antibiotics and then do the surgery on Thursday. I guess this was just a surgery drill.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Heather's gifts

A very good friend sent me this, and it sent me into a soul-searching journey to find my own gifts.

When God first made the world, He looked at the bare and barren hillsides and thought how nice it would be to cover them with some kind of beautiful tree or flower. So he turned to the Giant Oak, the biggest and strongest of all of the trees he had made, and asked him if he would be willing to go up to the bare hills to help make them look more attractive. But the oak explained that he needed a good depth of soil in order to grow and that the hillsides would be far too rocky for him to take root.
So God left the oak tree and turned to the honeysuckle with its lovely yellow flower and beautiful sweet fragrance. He asked the honeysuckle if she would care to grow on the hillsides and spread her beauty and fragrance amongst the barren slopes. But the honeysuckle explained that she needed a wall or a fence or even another plant to grow against, and for that reason, it would be quite impossible for her to grow in the hills.

So God then turned to one of the sweetest and most beautiful of all the flowers - the rose. God asked the rose if she would care to grace the rugged highlands with her splendour. But the rose explained that the wind and the rain and the cold on the hills would destroy her, and so she would not be able to grow on the hills.

Disappointed with the oak, the honeysuckle and the rose, God turned away. At length, he came across a small, low lying, green shrub with a flower of tiny petals -some purple and some white. It was a heather.

God asked the heather the same question that he’d asked the others. "Will you go and grow upon the hillsides to make them more beautiful?"

The heather thought about the poor soil, the wind and the rain - and wasn’t very sure that she could do a good job. But turning to God she replied that if he wanted her to do it, she would certainly give it a try.

God was very pleased.

He was so pleased in fact that he decided to give the heather some gifts as a reward for her willingness to do as he had asked.

Firstly he gave her the strength of the oak tree - the bark of the heather is the strongest of any tree or shrub in the whole world.

Next he gave her the fragrance of the honeysuckle - a fragrance which is frequently used to gently perfume soaps and potpouris.

Finally he gave her the sweetness of the rose - so much so that heather is one of the bees favourite flowers. And to this day, heather is renowned especially for these three God given gifts.

I realize that my biggest gift is friends who would send me something like this to make me feel special.

Friday, May 12, 2006


Well, it's official. I'm having shoulder surgery on Monday. My surgeon is a knitter (not to mention a very respected surgeon, lol), so I'm confident that she'll do a great job. I'm having open surgery, not arthroscopy since there is so much instability and likely to be more than one issue that needs fixing.

I'm not really concerned with the procedure itself, I have a lot of confidence in my surgeon. I am concerned with anesthesia though...my family has troubles with anesthesia. I've woken up during surgical procedures before. I've expressed this concern with my anesthesiologist who has assured me that he will monitor me very carefully.

I went in to my surgeon's office today, and she was so impressed with my booga bag. Funny thing is, she's an incredible knitter and could make one in her sleep. She knits all of her clothes that she wears in the office, and brought in this gorgeous sweater she made. It has lots of bobbles and cables and the finishing was incredible. I bet that knitting has helped her dexterity with preforming surgeries...I'll have to ask her about it. I told her I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up with a wool shoulder. She commented that it would probably hold together better than my current shoulder.

Okay, off to get ready, not much time.

In lieu of flowers, send yarn. *lol*

Wish me luck...I won't be able to knit for a while....I'll blog when I can.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wanna know what I've been doing?

Do ya? Really? Are you sure?

Please send food and a port-a-potty.
There's another hank after this one....please send all fiber wishes this way that it isn't nearly as bad as this one's been. It didn't really help that this hank has a knot every foot or so. Okay, enough blogging, back to the hank from hell.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Why my Mom is so wonderful

As I'm sure you guys know, my Mother is a glass artist, bead maker, and all around craft goddess. She went to the Oregon Glass Guild and Portland Bead Society event at the Oregon Convention Center, and the Portland Handweavers Guild was there! She called me tonight and said that she had a surprise for me. Of course, I jumped in the car and raced over there. She bought me two hanks of Teresa Ruch designs 4 oz bamboo in the most gorgeous colorway, and what my Mom thought was some mohair roving, but it is actually just very hairy yarn. It is 60 yards of Yipee tie-dye yarns in Aurora B colorway. It is gorgeous, but Mom was upset that it wasn't roving.

This is the gorgeous bamboo yarn. I'm sorry that the picture is a little blurry, but it was the best picture for showing the color. Mom said it reminded her of a peacock, and I agree. I'm thinking of making a shawl out of this...I have no idea which one to make though!

This is the Mohair Yarn. Gorgeous colors as well!

Separating the singles, so that you can see that it isn't roving. Poor Mom.

:( I'm still trying to convince her that I love this in yarn form!

Uh oh! I took the bamboo label off and it immediately tangled itself into a huge mess. I have a lot of work ahead of me....but it will be worth it in the end! (I think I can...I think I can...I think I can....)

Booga bag and Comments

Karen commented: Your handspun looks great! I really like the green skein. Are you using the drop spindle that you showed on your blog a few months back?

Thank you so much! I think it is by far the most even yarn I've spun, and I'm really proud of it. Yes! I do have another one that I bought a while back because I was having problems with that one. Do you remember how the first one I got in my kit was split, so the hook kept falling out? This one was also split but it didn't have the hook problem. The more I use it, the looser the hook gets. I've only test spun the new one, because I'm rather used to this one. Thank you for getting my yarn and needles to me so fast, that really was incredible service. If anyone in blog land is looking for a customer service oriented supplier, I highly recommend Karen.

Patti commented: As far as I'm concerned, Noro has improved over the years, at least as far as vegetable matter. Some I get no knots, but even when I do get some, not as many as before. I've used Noro (various yarns) for probably 10 years or so and I think they've heard the complaints. I don't worry about the knots if I'm felting as they don't seem to show. I completely agree with your assessment of Marge Wiley. She is the best. Patti

As I was knitting with it, I did come across a few knots, but nothing that would be considered excessive. Yeah, Marge is such a wonderful woman. When I was sitting down with her to go over the Shop Hop stuff, she wasn't just interested in the bottom line of how everything would work, she actually asked about me. She was interested in what I was knitting, how long I have been knitting...it was surprising to me. With the majority of the vendors and stores we have a strictly business relationship (with the exception of Karen, who is also a very friendly woman) so it was surprising that she wanted to get to know me. I hope you had fun on the Shop Hop! I was so tired (not to mention sick) that I think I was mostly just there in a physical sense. My Mother thanks you for your support, by the way. I'm working on getting her website up, and you'll be able to see things she's made in the past, things she's just finished, and her thoughts for future products once it's done. You can see a gallery of sorts on there now.

I finished the Booga bag, and it was such a fun knit! It was really fun watching the beautiful colors of the Noro emerge. I had enough yarn left over for a little coin pouch. Sadly, I got carried away with the felting and created a mini-booga. I still love it though!

This is the bag hanging from my front door after blocking.

This is the coin pouch I made. I thought a zipper might not work, but it really does! The sewing matted the felt down enough that it doesn't get caught in the zipper. You can sort of see how it is connected to the bag. I attached a key ring to the inside handle and had already sewed a key ring to the coin pouch before felting it. I just connected them together.

Open view of the coin pouch

Closer view of the sewing job of the zipper on the side. I started by pinning the zipper on, then used sewing thread to attach it. I went over that with the Noro yarn just because I thought it would be more secure.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Booga Bag and KSH Capelet

I ordered two balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze and needles from Two Swans Yarns to make a capelet. (Thanks for the super fast shipping Karen!) I think I'll wait until the Booga bag is finished to start this one, because it will need all of my attention. (I'm not great at knitting lace, so I have to be sure to devote my full attention to it)

On the Shop Hop I usually just want to walk around and play with all of the fiber-y goodness, then come back to buy stuff. I went back to Wool 'N Wares yesterday to get the stuff for my booga bag.

I've never knit with Noro Kureyon before, mainly because I've heard many stories of vegetation and knots. I've only gone though one skein, but I haven't encountered any knots, and very minimal vegetation. So far, it is a very fun knit. I love watching the striping because the colors are blended so well.

If you are ever in the West Linn area, be sure to visit Wool 'N Wares. The owner's name is Marge, and she's the sweetest woman you'll ever meet. She wasn't there yesterday, she's having a rough time right now. If you could take a moment and send a nice thought her way, I'd appreciate it :D. Never underestimate the power of knitters!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How not to dye roving with Kool-Aid

Please excuse the order of the photos, blogger doesn't seem to want to put the way I want them, it must choose some random order.

I thought It'd be fun to try to dye roving with Kool-Aid, so I did a little research and set up in the kitchen. I picked some colors, followed instructions, then knocked over the cups containing the Kool-Aid all over the roving. What should've been a beautiful purple green and yellow turned into a muddy brown and putrid yellow. There are some spots where you can see my intended colors, but boy are they few and far between. In spite of all of this, I spun some of it up and it doesn't look too bad. I know I can use it for something. Maybe. Hopefully.

Here's some of the best spinning I've done yet! I'm so pleased with how I'm doing.

This is how the brown/yellow/purple mess spun up. Really, it wasn't as bad as it looked in roving form.

Well, try and try again. This time I went with a pink, red, and dark red. This one turned out much, much better.

This is the best parts of the mistake dyed roving. The other parts look rather brown and muddy green. I love the purple in it, though.

I also went out and got some more pre-dyed Targhee top roving, and I had bought a pound of Corriedale Cross while on the Shop Hop, so I've got lots of spinning to do.

Now that the Shop Hop is over, I'll have more time to do blogging. It was a great time, but it was a lot of work. See some photos and a synopsis here.

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