Today I am calling my friends. It was the birthday of one of my closest, dearest friends yesterday, so I didn’t want to call any of them, as I knew they were having a party for her and didn’t want them to have this in their heads. I have only been able to tell three people. Apparently that is my limit. That is the most times I can say the words “Killed in a motorcycle accident” without completely losing my sanity. I can’t say it anymore. To say it again would be to make it real, and it can’t be real. Can it? It’s all some sick joke someone’s playing on us. It’s not really him. It’s someone else’s son, brother, cousin, nephew, not ours. It can’t be OUR Greg.

But it is our Greg. And it is OUR beloved son, brother, cousin, nephew. And there is no escaping or changing that fact.

I went over to my aunt and uncle’s house both yesterday and today and it was excruciating. No one should ever be a witness to that kind of pain. They have to be the two strongest people I know, because if I were them, I would be under the bed trying to figure out how to breathe, and talking to friends or family would be beyond my capabilities. But there they are, functioning, making decisions, talking to people. Breathing. And they humble and amaze me.

They left for Arizona today to bring Greg home. For one last time the entire family will be together for a road trip. If I remember correctly, to get where they are going they will most likely pass the spot where he died. I can only imagine what that will be like for them. Are there flowers? Candles? Are there little remembrances as there so often are at sites like this?

While we were driving back from Lake Arrowhead late Friday night, things kept running around and around and around. Aside from the memories of the past and the loss to come, a few images kept showing up.

This one was taken, I think, at his older sister’s birthday party. I don’t know what was happening when this was taken, but it makes me laugh every time I see it. He just looks so annoyed.

The next was taken at my Aunt J’s house. She always had family over for New Year’s Eve, and we’d stay the night. This must be the next morning, and it so perfectly captures Greg: full of energy, going non-stop, and a little bit wild.

And finally, this one. He dyed his hair blue about a year ago. I remember when he sent this picture to my cell phone. I laughed and laughed because it was so typically Greg, and I thought he looked good with blue hair! He had both the personality and the build to pull something like that off.

While searching for those photos, I came across a few others. This past summer I spent some time in Arizona and his sister came out to go with me to the Grand Canyon. We went to Greg’s school so he could show it off for me. We were standing outside the main building and I wanted a picture, so I said, “Hey, smile! I want a picture!” And simultaneously, this is what they did…

They are their father’s children.

This picture was taken before a homecoming dance, I think. The two brothers. This picture also cracks me up because Chris never learned to walk. He strutted from the moment his feet touched the ground. He was Mr. Cool, whereas Greg was the space nerd. In this picture, there Chris is… He looks good and he knows it. And I can almost hear Greg snickering at him and saying “Get over yourself, dude.”

There are other, better, more important pictures of Greg. Pictures of graduations, his senior high school photo, the family pictures taken with his siblings, with his parents, with his grandparents, but those pictures above are my favorites because they show his personality. They show how he really was. I’ll stop counting the days soon…probably after the funeral, but until then…

Today was the second day without Greg.

A Grieving Guppy

This weekend started out great. My mom and I were headed up to Lake Arrowhead with my Aunt K and Uncle J for this big conference. This year, my mom’s boss was going to be absent, so she was acting as host to over 300 doctors, nurses, and cancer researchers. This year, for the first time, I was able to get away and go with them.

We all left town in the afternoon and made it up there more or less by dinnertime. Mom and a few other doctors kicked off the conference by talking a bit about what was happening in the world of cancer research and what the programs involved were doing. After that was a “Social hour,” where we mingled, ate some snacks, and caught up with people who were there. At about 11 mom and I went back to our “condolet” and sat around talking for about 20 minutes or so before we both decided to call it a night. It looked like it was going to be a fun getaway weekend.

Then our family was shattered.

My Uncle J called just before midnight. He just got a call that Greg, his middle child, was killed in a motorcycle accident. Words cannot possibly do justice to the magnitude of our grief right now.

There’s this cliché that people use when someone dies. They say the person that died was the best of that family/group/office, whatever. And I also thought it was such a dumb thing to say. After all, how could it ALWAYS be the best person that dies? And here I am thinking just that very thing.

In my family, there are no dummies, but he was smarter than all of us put together.

He was going to school at Embry-Riddle to become an AstroPhysicist. While on summer break, he was building a laser. I teased him that he was living the movie “Real Genius.” And, believe me, he was TOTALLY the type to want to fill his teacher’s house with popcorn.

When he was young, like about 7 or so, my aunt came into his bedroom. He was standing on a chair holding two stripped wires and said, “Look mom! Sparkies!”

When he was younger than THAT, he got under my mother’s platform rocker and unscrewed every nut and bolt under there, but left it completely intact. He wanted to see how it worked. The problem was he didn’t tell anyone. We discovered it when the next person sat in it.

He was always building something or taking something apart to see how it worked.

When Greg went away to college, he was lonely and slightly depressed. His mother kept urging him to join a club. Get out. Meet people. He joined a skydiving club. She was thinking more along the lines of book club or movie club. This was not quite the hobby an Emergency Room nurse wanted her child to participate in.

I always felt an affinity to Greg. He and I were always the oddball children. There was 15 years between us, but we were always the kids that went and did our own thing, no matter what anyone else thought. We were the ones most likely to sit and listen to someone’s advice and we’d nod and agree and say “yes, absolutely,” and then turn around and completely ignore them and do it our way. In a family of extroverts, he was the only introvert. But once you got him talking about something he was passionate about, you couldn’t get him to stop.

I forget why we had it, but I remember my dad had this whistle. This whistle sounded EXACTLY like a train, and Greg was obsessed with trains almost since birth. And when he was about 4 or so, we’d sit in the living room and someone would blow on it, and his eyes would get huge and he’d say There’s a train! A train! And he’d race around the room looking for it, and we’d pass the whistle to someone else, and they’d blow it, and he’d run around to them. We could have kept this up for DAYS.

When my grandmother died about a year ago, we found a lot of things of my grandfather’s. And I remember telling Greg how much Granddad would have loved Greg. He was a carpenter and was always fixing or building something, and he would have ADORED his grandson. Watching Greg grow up, I always wished Granddad could have seen him. He and Granddad would have been tinkering with something every chance they got, and I can only imagine what kind of trouble they would have gotten into.

What keeps running through my head are all the stories I want to share about him. Things I want to tell people…tell anyone…tell everyone. Just so he doesn’t completely disappear.

Another thing that keeps going around and around are all the missed opportunities, like getting married, having kids, being there when his siblings get married and have their kids. Graduating college. Buying a house.

Turning 23.

I always thought Greg would grow up and go to college and do great things. I thought he’d find a new galaxy or build a better rocketship or something. Now…now I can’t even imagine a world without that amazing, brilliant brain in it. It is incomprehensible to me that the bright and beautiful light that was Greg is now dark. There is this huge, aching hole inside me and I don’t know what to do.

On the way up to Arrowhead we had heard Garth Brooks’ latest song, and, like the earworm it is, it got stuck in my head. There was too much noise during the party and conference kick-off for me to pay attention, but on the drive home I kept hearing in my head, like this endless loop, the following lyrics…

Waking a friend in the dead of the night
just to hear him say its going to be alright
When you’re finding things to do, not to fall asleep
Cause you know she will be there in your dreams
that’s when she’s more than a memory

And every time it replayed in my head I wanted to scream and cry and fall to my knees, but I couldn’t. I had to suppress all the grief and rage and every emotion just to make it home safely. Driving down the mountain in foggy, white-out conditions was probably the dumbest thing we’ve ever done, but there was absolutely no other option. Waiting for morning wasn’t even a consideration. We WERE going to get down. And we WERE going to do it safely, because anything else was not to be tolerated. This family could not have taken even one iota more of difficulty. My mom and I were reduced to banal conversation, small talk, chatter about her work or my work, because anything even touching on what we were racing towards would have broken us both, and we didn’t have the time for that. The goal was to get home. Get to my aunt and uncle’s house. Get to my cousins. Hug them. Hold them. And then and ONLY then could we take the time to start grieving.

When we exited the freeway and we were only minutes from their house, I had this insane urge to turn the car around and head back to Arrowhead as fast as I could. If we just got back there and went to bed, when we woke up everything would be fine. Greg would be alive. Our family would not be talking about how to bring him home from Arizona. Phrases like “head-on collision” and “medical examiner” and “release the body” would not be part of our family’s legacy. But I couldn’t. And we are discussing just that. And those horrible, hateful phrases are something that will forever be a part of this family’s story.

I remember my grandmother’s funeral just a year ago, and I remember how hard it was and how ANGRY I was. People kept telling me she was “in a better place” or “at least she didn’t suffer” and I wanted to slap them. Just scream at all of them to leave me alone! I remember thinking “don’t these people realize there is NOTHING to say to make it easier??” I wanted to yell at everyone that the best thing is just say “I’m sorry” and leave it at that. I didn’t want pathetic platitudes. I just wanted someone ANYONE to just acknowledge that whether or not we were ready for her to go, it still sucked and it still hurt and I was not ready to hear about her “better place.” Not then when my grief was so fresh.

Greg’s funeral is going to be a million times worse. We were ready and prepared for my grandmother’s death. We had been sitting vigil at her bedside for 3 days. Greg…it’s so senseless. A motorcycle, a crossed yellow line, a semi…And for him to be so young and to know he will never get any older…I can’t begin to wrap my head around it.

Our family has changed in so many ways in an instant. His family went from a family of five, to only four around the dinner table. Of the four grandchildren, there were two girls and two boys. Now Chris is the only boy. There were three siblings, and now the two remaining have to figure out a way to go on with this huge gaping hole in the middle. When you talked about them it was always “J, K, Allisongregchris.” How do we adjust to “Allison____Chris”?

My life was brighter for having him in it, and it’s now so much darker in this world without him.

Today is the first day without Greg.

A Grieving Guppy

Why are there so many
Songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side?
Rainbow’s are visions
They’re only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide

Here’s just a taste of what I saw while driving from the west end of the San Fernando Valley across the 101/134 to Pasadena. The pictures don’t do it justice.

And just so you don’t think I spent the weekend chasing rainbows, I finished a shawl!

Pattern: Tapestry Shawl
From: Just One More Row
Yarn: Schaeffer Nancy in…ummm…I don’t remember the color.

Modifications: Because I used the Schaeffer instead of the recycled silk the pattern called for, I went down to a size 13 needle. I also only did 14 points instead of 15, as I liked the way it fit at that point.

Also, my shawl is the “Featured picture” for that pattern on Ravelry! Whoo! This little guppy is just everywhere these days!

My coworkers have been watching me knit this shawl, and everyone LOVES the colors. (Trust me…the colors are much MUCH better in person). So after I finished knitting it Wednesday, I brought in something else to work on. My coworkers immediately started questioning the change. Keep in mind, these people have known me for exactly 3 months, and the conversation went something like this:

Them: What happened to your other project?

Me: It’s at home.

Them: Did you finish it?

Me: Yes, I just have to weave in the two ends.

Them: Is it REALLY finished or do you have it in a drawer somewhere with all your other projects?

Can you believe that??? Three months, NONE of them knit, and they’re giving me grief over my UFOs?!?!?! LOLOL They’ve got a lot of nerve doing that to a woman holding metal pointy sticks!

This weekend I’ve also cast on MimKnits’s Hidcote shawl in purple Malabrigo Laceweight, and EZ’s Baby Surprise Jacket in fuschia and acid green Cascade Superwash. I’m really liking both this pattern and the feel of this yarn. It’s been a while since I’ve worked with such a standard yarn. Don’t get me wrong. I’m far from a yarn snob. In fact I probably have more containers of Cascade than I do of Koigu…ok, that was a lie, but still! I have quite a bit! I’ve just been working on some specialty stuff, so it’s been Alpaca this and Merino that and Noro over there. It’s nice to do some basic, plain knitting. And since the baby isn’t due until the end of December, I’m hoping I’ll make the deadline. LOL

Wish me luck!

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks
Yesterday while at work we were in the midst of Storm Watch here in Los Angeles. We were supposed to be hit with the worst storm in September in nearly 30 years. Traffic will be horrible! Cars will be sliding! People surfing the L.A. “River”! Hail! Rain! Flooding! Thunder! and Lightning! Very, very frightening!

Or, you know, not.

Four hours later, though, things were quite a bit different.

And we did get some serious weather last night. There was in fact thunder and lightning. No hail, though, which the GuppyMobile is very grateful for, as she was parked outside through the worst of it.

Today it’s still raining off and on, but should clear up tonight. I love it.

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks

Straight vs. Circular…
Metal vs. Bamboo…
Knitpicks vs. Addi…

Personally, I prefer Circular, Metal, and Knitpicks, but, frankly, I’m always puzzled by the people who say “I ONLY knit using X.” How can they say that? I find that it depends on what I’m making and what yarn I’m using. And WHY, pray tell, would I want to choose only ONE type of needle when I can have all the needles in all the land! ARRRRR!

What brought this on? I just finished a shawl using size 13 Clover circulars. And now I’ve gone back to knitting on my cousin’s pink ruffle scarf on size 6 Knitpicks options metal circulars. I had forgotten how much I love the Knitpicks Options needles. Don’t get me wrong. I started on the Clovers and for anything slippery, they’re the first thing I reach for. But the Options…Oh, my, the Options.

They’re smoother, faster, pointer, and bendier. The cable join is smoother, the finish is slicker than the Addis, and the point can put an eye out if you’re not careful. I really, REALLY need to purchase more of these.

I know a lot of it is going from a large project with bumpy yarn on huge needles to something small with alpaca and smaller needles, but these needles just feel great. Has anyone tried the Harmony needles yet? I’ve got a few of the tips in my shopping cart waiting for payday.

On to other things…

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. So be sure to say an Argh, Matey, and perhaps a Shiver Me Timbers today and confuse the heck out of your friends and coworkers.

My most exciting news so far? I’m on the Yarn Harlot’s blog!!!! OMG!!!! It was a thrill enough when I met her and introduced myself and she said “Oh, I know who you are!” And I know it was the sock that did it. LOLOL But still…I’m there! And I’m about 2 seconds away from turning into FanGrrl. Somebody stop me. *ahem* Moving on.

I’ve ordered the pattern for Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Surprise Jacket. Does anyone out there have any suggestions for yarns? I want something superwash, as both parents work and they don’t need to be worrying about handwashing anything. Too bad Noro doesn’t do superwash. That would be perfect.

My mom is going to England in a few weeks. She’s visiting cousins of mine. The cousin I’m related to, Jeanne, is a knitter and my family is from a part of England where all the woolen mills were. Unfortunately, I can’t make it this trip, but Jeanne and my mom said they’d go shopping for me. When I told them I didn’t want to load down my mom’s suitcase, Jeanne replied with “Don’t worry. I’ll ship it.”

This is going to be so bad. LOLOL.

Jeanne sent me the link to a store and asked me to let her know “how I get on” there. Oh, my. My, my, my. I think I’ll get on just fine! I’ve been trying to figure out what to get, and here’s what I decided. Nothing commercial.

I see all the name brand yarns, and if there’s something REALLY spectacular, my mom will grab it for me. Between Jeanne knowing how something would knit up, and my mom knowing my tastes, I’m in good hands there. But if they’re going to the actual mills, I’d much rather have the raw yarn. I’d rather have the natural, undyed yarn that comes on cones. That way I can experiment with dying all on my own and truly have one-of-a-kind yarn. Bought where my family is from, by my cousin and mother, and dyed by me. Trully a family project. Plus all the commercial yarns will be very similar to what’s already available here.

Although if some Cashmere or Silk were to fall into someone’s suitcase I wouldn’t object.

Just sayin’.

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks
When I found out the Yarn Harlot was coming to town and that you needed reservations, I immediately sat down and made a list of all the people I thought would want to go, and RSVPd for 10 people. Of those 10 people, because of various spousal health issues, birthdays, vacations, etc., only three of us from the original 10 went. I gave my extra seats back to the library for the waiting list, and off A’Harlotting we went.

First off, it was at the Central Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. I have never been there before, so this was going to be particularly fun for me, as I’m a big fan of both books and the LAPL. LOL. Also, I had with me my knitting teacher, Anita. She not only is one of the sweetest, nicest people on the planet (not to mention has the patience of a saint…or former elementary school teacher), but she’s the one who taught me to knit. And I was going to see the woman who wrote the first blog I ever read, and we were doing it only weeks after my 2 Year Knitiversary.

So my friends Anita and Alyson and Alyson’s daughter M piled into my little Guppymobile and off we went. On the way down, we hit a little traffic. It seems a house crashed into an overpass while driving up the 101. Yes, you read that correctly. A house. I looked to see if there were any shoes sticking out from underneath, but it was on the opposite side of the freeway. But even with all that, we arrived at 1:45 and hooked up with Guilty Pleasures and Fiber Dreams. (Sorry for the bad picture!)

I took a look around the library. Remember, it was my first time there, if you can believe it. I DEFINITELY need to head back there and spend the day wandering. The place is massive.

This is standing at the bottom of the stairs looking at the library building with a “skyscraper” behind it.

Here’s only a portion of this really great ceiling…

Then we were off to the Mark Taper Auditorium. It started more or less on time and she was introduced by Ellen who has the best Los Angeles blog. I learn more about the town I live in from her than anywhere else.

Then…Stephanie arrived.

We were promptly informed that clapping was creepy and to knock it off. LOLOL. She took the obligatory sock photo…

…And so did we. In this next picture, click on it for the large image and look at the audience. LOLOL

She was funny, witty, charming, and had me laughing so hard I was wiping tears from my eyes and at least at one point I could barely breathe. She spoke about those who try to undermine knitters, why knitters are “super responders” to things like charities and helping one another. She spoke about so many things and made me laugh so many times that I can’t remember it all.

Here she is knitting on the Traveling Sock and answering questions…

And in this one, she’s stroking her yarn. She had just been telling us different response to “Wow. You have a lot of yarn.” And this particular picture went with the suggestion that we pick up a ball, pet it lovingly, and look at the person and say “Yarn? What yarn? These are my kittens.”

Here’s the Table Of Hats…

And my friends and I stood in line for a while to get our books signed…

While in line I met the charming Lori who helped pass the time with Alyson, M and I. She knit Stephanie a washcloth to freak out the muggles…It has a golden snitch. LOL. And I’m very jealous, because her picture is cute, whereas I look like crap in mine. LOLOL.


And what I’m holding in that picture is my first sock. I had read she wanted to see first socks that look like “arse.” And mine more than qualifies. BTW, she thanked me for a first sock that looked like this and very kindly suggested I might have started with the wrong diameter. LOLOL Here’s a better picture of it…

And finally, this next picture needs an explanation. LOL Mainly because I’m sure Stephanie is puzzled by my request, but she didn’t even blink. She just looked, said, ok, and put the Traveling Sock up there. LOLOL I think that comes from years of saying to random muggles, “Here, hold this sock.”

Through an affiliation with her hometown baseball team, the Hagerstown Suns, Nora Roberts got her own Bobblehead. It was so entertaining for herself and her fans, that her husband’s bookstore is selling them.

One of the moderators of her messageboard got the idea for Bobblehead Nora to go on an adventure. So people are taking Bobblehead Nora (BHN for short) to museums, on family vacations, to work, to the beach, and I thought “Why not take BHN to see another author?” I thought BHN would have fun at a Harlot Event. So I give you, Nora Roberts and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee…

And that’s it. That was the Grand Harlot Adventure of 2007. We had lots of fun, and it was a beautiful day spent with good friends.

What more could a Guppy ask for?

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish with Sticks

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