Friday, March 31, 2006

Knitting interrupted

I've been sitting on this story since last week and it is just too funny not to share, and I want to share it before I forget. It was a proud shining moment in my parenting decisions.

Pork Chop found an old teddy bear in the stuffed animal box named Grandma Moses. It was my Mother's, then mine, now her's. She loved it for a week. She swaddled it like a baby, and took it almost everywhere. She made sure it was fed three meals a day and tucked in safely at night. She took very good care of it.

Last Friday as we were picking up toys I found Grandma Moses laying by the couch. I didn't want to put her away since she would be heading upstairs for bed soon, so I sat her in the rocking chair. Then I found the children's dress-up kitty ears. I put them on Grandma Moses so they could go upstairs at bedtime and be put back with the other dress-up clothes. She looked pretty cute.

Pork Chop came downstairs from her bath and just laughed at Grandma Moses. She wanted to know how the ears got on her. I told her I didn't know, Grandma Moses must have wanted to play dress-up too. Then Pork Chop wanted to know how Grandma Moses got in the rocking chair. Again I replied that I didn't know.

I was thinking this could be a fun game. I could put things on Grandma Moses or put her places and we could pretend she was real. Wouldn't that be fun? What a great childhood memory that would be. Isn't imagination great?

Well, to quote Thomas "sometimes good imaginations imagine bad things."

At bedtime Pork Chop informed me that she wanted to put Grandma Moses back in the stuffed animal box in her brother's room. And maybe we might want to think about keeping her in the basement. I was puzzled. After a week of having Grandma Moses as her constant companion I didn't understand why she wanted to put the bear as far away from her as possible. I asked her why and she told me "that bear is kinda freaking me out." I buried my face in The Greatest's shoulder so she wouldn't see me laugh. I couldn't help it. I took the bear and promised to put it away.

I tucked Meaty in and went to tuck Pork Chop in. She was in her bed just sobbing into her pillow. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that she was concerned that the troll who made Grandma Moses real would come back and put horrible magic on her. I don't know why she thought a troll had cast magic on Grandma Moses, and I don't know what horrible magic she thought the troll would work on her. I just felt terrible for having upset her so. I instantly confessed that I had put the ears on Grandma Moses and put her in the rocking chair. She felt better but still didn't want the bear that night.

She has since reclaimed the bear as her own. I'm glad. I guess when you open the door to the idea that magic can be real, that there really are fairies, unicorns and teddy bears that turn real you also open the door to the idea that trolls, wicked wizards, and horrible magic can also be real.

Poor Baby. I was really looking forward to pretending Grandma Moses was real. Hope I didn't scar her too much. But I have to giggle everytime I think about her telling me the bear was "freaking" her out.

Stripey Goodness

I'd like to thank everyone for their kind comments on the pink sweater. I don't think I'll go around calling myself a designer until I'm more comfortable with what I'm doing, especially with sleeves. But I'm on my way. And I don't mind if you guys call me a designer. *wink-wink* *giggle-giggle*

Now onto the parade. Next are the Sweet Tart stipey socks, and their friend "Mini-me" (FO's #3 & 4). Forgive the photos. It's hard to take pictures of your own feet!

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Pattern: None, just me playing with some yarn

Yarn: Knit Picks Simply Stripes in Sweet Tarts, 3 skeins for all four socks

Needles: 2 size 0 Addi Turbos

Review: What could be better than having a matching pair of socks with Pork Chop? I made the socks for myself first, and for a pair of stockingnette socks they were a real learning experience. I tried making a 2 st border of garter stitch on the heel. Elizabeth Zimmerman promised it was much prettier this way.

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Elizabeth Zimmerman lied. My sock is on the left, Pork Chop on the right. I prefer the traditional sl1, k1 all the way across heel. I also take issue with her theory on the infinite superiority of knitting all things in the round, but that is a different dissertation. Next time I'll just chuck it all and try an after-thought heel, so the stripe pattern isn't disrupted.

I also tried decreasing for the toe every other round instead of every round. That didn't really work out either. My feet are Fred Flintstone feet. They are very square. I can never comfortably wear a pointed toe shoe. Rounded shoes are pushing it. Decreasing every other row makes a too pointy sock.

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Again, I'm on the left, Pork Chop on the right. I much prefer the look and feel of the round toe you get from decreasing every row. Hey, live and learn.

I also learned a very important lesson on gauge. I've learned a lot about gauge swatches. I've learned the importance of making them, and the importance of washing them. Last week I learned an important lesson on stress and it's effect on gauge. I knit my gauge swatch while Big Booty Knits was at my house. I have the most fun with her. We knit, and fondle one another's yarn, and say outrageous things. I'm very relaxed with her when we are together laughing. My gauge swatch created with her was 7 st per inch. I cast on accordingly. Evidentially there is a lot of stress in my life that I can ignore with her, but not in my normal life. My gauge for the actual socks turned out to be 9 stitches per inch. That's a huge difference. What can I do but laugh at myself and enjoy my very snug socks, lesson learned. If I weren't so lazy I suppose I could rip them out and re-knit them. But that's too much work. I will wear my slightly tight socks as a constant reminder of these important lessons.

So Pork Chops socks were knit with the nine inch gauge, with a traditional heel and rounded toes. I knit them slightly larger for her feet. I'd like her to wear them longer than a week. She loves them. She's worn them around the house for a week straight. She even sleeps in them. It's nice to have my hand knits so deeply loved. Not like that ungrateful Bird. I'm going to order one more ball to make her a matching pair of socks, and she's going to wear them, and she's going to like it!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Pretty In Pink

or Finished Object #2.

I actually knit this a month or two ago, but I couldn't display it until I gave it to the recipient. Who by the way had her baby on Monday. She's 6 lbs, 15 oz and stunning.

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Pattern: well, it started out as this,

Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Sport, in Blush, 4 skeins

Needles: Size 6 Addi Turbos

Modifications: Where do I begin with the modifications. I subbed the yarn. And I changed the gauge. I added butterfly eyelet lace along the bottom and next to the button band. I took off the hood and added a collar. The collar is a bit more mandarin than I had intended but I think it turned out just fine.

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Review: I'm just loving the knitpicks Shine. And now they have Shine in Worsted weight. What's a poor girl to do? I'm pretty pleased with myself over the pattern changes. I think I'm dangerously close to creating my own sweater patterns (more on that later). As you know buttons are the bane of my existence. I can never find the right ones when the sweater is for me, my still unbuttoned, and unworn Cardigan in Alpaca with Glitter can attest to that. But cute baby sweaters? Perfect buttons jump off the shelf for cute baby sweaters.

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I love the butterfly lace design. The pictures all looked fine on my computer, but for some reason they aren't showing the eyelets to their advantage now. And since the sweater now lives with the intended I can't get a new picture. So you'll have to take my word for it that it's really cute.

I'm thinking of making a sweater for Bird with the butterfly eyelet. But with an empire waist. And possibly little bell sleeves. Don't all children need bell sleeves to drape and drag through the sandpit, and their ketchup, and the dog's water bowl. How could life get any better than that?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Let the Parade of FO Begin!

I've got finished objects. I had to occupy my time somehow when I was offline.

I made these hats for my girls in Dec. 2004.

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Notice the look of extreme displeasure on Bird's face. Also notice that I made them in 2004 and they still fit in 2006. Gotta love stretchy rib! Don't they look cute? And for the record Bird will usually wear this hat without protest. This morning she was just angry that the photo session interrupted Dora. Actually they all love these hats. Even Meaty has been spotted wearing this hat around the house, atleast he's partial to the blue ones. I just love the way they look in these hats. So cute, and feminine.

So when it came time to make a hat for me I decided to try one for myself. I wanted to look cute and feminine too.

So allow me to proudly present FO #1.

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Pattern: Fun Flapper Hat, size large

Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, color 8, one skein

Needles: 16 inch size 6 bamboo circulars

Modifications: I knit this circular instead of flat, so I only cast on 80 st. I ran out of yarn, so I couldn't do the second row of sc around the tops of the flower, but I don't think that was a big deal. When I was finished I had only four inches of yarn left. I was very proud of myself for not wasting an inch of yarn.

Review: Still looks cuter on the kids.

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But I'm loving the Silk Garden. It really was hypnotic to watch the yarn shift colors as you knit. I could see a real addiction in my future.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Random Zen

My search for software has revealed no usable disks. The Greatest left this morning to go out of town for three days. I wonder if he hid them to keep me from inadvertently breaking his newly-fixed machine. I'll show him. During nap time I'll just download what I need from the internet.

In the meantime I hate to let my quiet blogging time go unused when I've got so much to blog about. Being pictureless I will tell a tale of biscotti.

My Secret Pal sent me a message asking if I would mind if she baked something to go in my next package. Obviously she has never shared a meal with me. Obviously she has seen pictures of me and thinks I actually watch what I eat. Obviously she has mistaken me for someone else. I love food. I love food. I love food. There are very few things I won't eat. And I eat in quantities that can be considered obscene sometimes. I love the smells, and textures, and colors of food. I love the temperatures and tastes of different foods. I love cold creamy ice cream, and warm crumbly brownies. I love steamed broccoli that is still slightly crunchy. I love deep fried pickles, and tea with honey. I have yet to meet a baked good I didn't love. So would I mind my SP baking for me. Hell no, bring it on.

My SP warned me that what she was making was a little "adult" and the children might not like it. I immediately think dirty when something is classified as "adult", I can't help it. I giggle at farts too. Now I was pretty sure she wasn't sending an erotic cake so I was intrigued. When I think baked goods, I think cookies, and cakes, and brownies, all very kid friendly, and things I consider to be staples of childhood. Aside from an erotic cake, I have no idea what an adult baked good would be.

Then my SP sent me a message that my package would take a few more days while she soaked the cranberries in brandy. Whoo-hoo. Brandy! I am a basic baker, like I said, cookies, cakes, brownies. Nothing in my repetoire includes brandy soaked cranberries. I could not wait to see what it was.

Long story short this mystery adult baked good was Cranberry Cashew Biscotti. But it should be called Ecstacy. I offered to share some for breakfast with The Greatest who informed me that he did not eat cranberries. I took my first bite and was immediately pleased that I would not have to share with him. I needed it all for myself. It was so good.

Enter the children, stage left.

Being my children, wonderful though they may be, they completely lack the ability to see me eat something and not demand a piece for themselves. Evidently this love-of-all-baked-goods gene that I carry in my dna has passed to them. It is a grand love dating back to a time before time, but at that moment I wish it had ended with me. They each got a tiny piece and turned feral in their desire to get more. They turned on each other and on me, the hand that feeds.

To avoid future carnage, and having to share, the biscotti was immediately stored in the highest cabinet in the house, where it would take two chairs, three phone books, and a see-n-say to reach. I hoped that by the time they got to the second phone book I would realize why they were being so quiet and could intervene to save the biscotti.

So having established that the biscotti must be eaten in secret or shared I resorted to eating it at night, in the dark, after the children had been put to bed. It was so good. I can not impress upon you how good this was. Not better than sex, but as close as anything I've even known.

Yesterday was a very turbulent day for me. By mid-afternoon I needed a break. Being a stay-at-home mom means breaks are a dreamy memory from a past life. You never really get them. But I had a plan. I turned the tv to noggin. Usually it is glued to NBC soap operas at that time of day (what can I say, I've invested over half my life in these people, I can't abandon them now), and having forbidden noggin got their attention. I made a cup of hot chocolate, so far so good. I grabbed the final piece of biscotti, the children haven't so much as blinked yet, for fear of missing these contraband cartoons. I snuck upstairs to the bathroom with the lock that works. SCORE. With a sigh of contentment and complete peace I sank to the floor to enjoy my snack. Two bites later I hear

"you in there Mommy?"
"where Mommy go?"
"Pork Chop, we can't find Mommy"

They continued in a similar vein for the duration of my snack. Yet their search did not diminish my pleasure because a) the door was locked, and b) atleast I knew exactly where they were and what they were doing and c) what they were doing didn't involve two kitchen chairs, three phone books and a see-n-say. Complete Zen.

This must be how Bird felt the morning we lost her. Meaty came to me because he couldn't find her and he wanted to play. Being the good Mom I am I jumped right off the couch to search, and by jumped right off the couch I mean, I sent Pork Chop to look. Pork Chop returned to report that she couldn't find her either. The Greatest and I exchanged looks and began to search the closets. We called her name and searched the house. No Bird. We called louder and looked again. No Bird. At this point I'm feeling quite panicked. All the doors were still locked from the inside, so she couldn't have gotten out of the house. We search again. I decide to look under my bed. There isn't a lot of room under my bed, and if she's in there, she's probably stuck. I got down and look and to my surprise I see her, not under the bed, but under the computer desk, hidden by the chair.

I rush over and there she lays, sucking her two fingers on her left hand, her right in her belly button, her zen position.

"What are you doing?"

Out pop the fingers. "I hiding." Back the fingers go.

She was the picture of happiness. Hiding.

That was me yesterday. Me and my biscotti. We're hiding.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Happy Happy, Joy Joy, Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Does anyone remember that, or am I showing my real age?


It only took nine hours of cell phone minutes, seven different Dell "technicians", and three visits from a local computer repair company. Through out this ordeal the local company was magnificent. They could only do the work that Dell authorized them to do, and they felt very bad each time they left without fixing the problem. They even donated a part to us to try to repair our old Compaq computer so we would have something to use. I firmly believe the only reason my computer is working is because they got on the phone and argued with Dell to get the parts we really needed (only a new motherboard and processor, nothing major). They were wonderful and I might name our next child after their company. I would give a shout out to them and their names, but you know, I have kids, and I like to keep a minimum level of anonymity here.

I have so many things to blog about. I've got a whole boring rant about Dell. A package from my SP to brag about (with the best biscotti in the entire world). Not to mention a very special package from Katrina (I love you too). And Five, count 'em, FIVE finished objects to show. Sure they're small things, but hey, still, I've got five of them. With my computer down I had tons of time to knit. It was heaven.

One of the things we did in the course of trying to get the computer fixed was re-image our hard drive. That means all of our files and software are completely gone. As soon as I find the disk for our camera so I can upload pictures I'll be showing off all my fun stuff.

In the meantime I just wanted to say "HI". I'm so happy to be back.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Miss you guys

Hello (echo)(echo)(echo)

Hello (echo)(echo)(echo)

Is anyone still here?

Sorry for the silence. My computer is broken, it works for about ten minutes a day.

Dell sucks and their warranty means nothing. I'll tell you all about it if they ever fix it.

Miss you all and love you all.

Friday, March 10, 2006

My son

My daughters are little nudists. They are the kind of children that protest the imposition of clothing with every cell in their body. At the age of three Pork Chop used to strip off all her clothes, throw her arms out wide and declare herself "soooo naked." There is nothing cuter than a chubby toddler body running around the house giggle from the sheer joy of having so much flesh exposed to the breeze. At the age of four Pork Chop's limbs lengthened until she no longer had that cubby toddler body. She had a little girl body and so much exposed flesh was suddenly inappropriate. Bird still has an innate love of being naked. When changing her clothes you must be quick. Otherwise the moment you get all her clothes off she will pop up and run before you have a chance to replace them. Oh, the joys of childhood.

My son is the complete opposite. Something about being naked disturbs him. As an infant he screamed his way through every diaper change, only to immediately stop once his pants were back on. At the age of one he covered his nipples with both hands whenever they were exposed. Taking him to the pool was always a treat. He is now obsessed with not showing his privates. Peeing in the potty is suddenly torture because his bottom is exposed. The meanest thing you can do to him after he has wet his pants is to refuse to give him new underwear. I tell him that if he is going to pee them, he can't have them. He hides in the bathroom until I give in. The moment his pants are removed to change his clothes one hand covers the front and the other hand covers the back. His discomfort with his body is a little disconcerting. I hope he grows out of it and becomes more comfortable with his skin. The boy hates being naked.

So imagine my surprise when Meaty bared his bottom and rubbed it on his cousin's head chanting "Nakie butt, Nakie butt."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Grandmothers Grow Restless

So here we go. Let's start off with some sisterly love.

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Check out my future GQ model

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My pretty Baby.

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Cheaper than bunk beds.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

My Manly Socks

Let me distract you from the raw gaping wound that is my soul with some fine-ass knitting.

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Pattern: Manly Socks, by Mamma (that's me, tee-hee)

Yarn: Knitpicks Essential, two skiens, in Fawn

Needles: Two size 0 Addi Turbos

Review: The heaven's opened and the Angels sang. I have finished a project for The Greatest. Before anyone freaks out and sends me a razor let me assure you they were modeled by The Greatest for these photos. This sock yarn isn't as soft as I had hoped, but it got better after washing. And they say it wears like iron, and we all know how reliable they are. Wearing like iron is a good thing, because goodness knows that man is hard on his socks.

This was my first attempt at sock design with a top down formula. I love socks! Once you understand the basic construction it is so easy to add in a stitch pattern, or modify them to fit the intended owner's feet. It makes one feel very smart and clever. I just took some foot measurements (which did entail actually *ewwwww* touching his feet, but thank goodness that part didn't last long). Then I handed The Greatest a stitch dictionary and told him to pick something. He chose a Giant Diamond stitch.

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Very manly don't you think? No sissy yarn overs or complicated increases/decreases for him. Straight knit and purl baby!

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My favorite part is the heel. Ignore that tiny hole. I love the k1, sl 1 stitch for the heel. And I like turning the heel, it's magic. I'm so happy with the way these turned out. And better yet so is The Greatest. Hooray for successful knitting.

Just in case anyone else has a picky man in their life, here's the pattern. It's a bit rough and it assumes that you know how to knit two socks on two circular needles at once, sorry.

Co 76 st
Work 2x2 st for 1 inch
Decrease one st on second needle during last row of ribbing
k one row
Begin giant diamond pattern as follows
row 1: *k1, p13, k1, *rep to end of round
row 2: *k2, p11, k2,*rep to end of round
row 3: *k3, p9, k3,*rep to end of round
row 4: *k4, p7, k4,*rep to end of round
row 5: *k5, p5, k5,*rep to end of round
row 6: *p1, k5, p3, k5, p1,*rep to end of round
row 7: *p2, k5, p1, k5, p2,*rep to end of round
row 8: *p3, k9, p3,*rep to end of round
row 9: *p2, k5, p1, k5, p2,*rep to end of round
row 10: *p1, k5, p3, k5, p1,*rep to end of round
row 11: *k5, p5, k5,*rep to end of round
row 12: *k4, p7, k4,*rep to end of round
row 13: *k3, p9, k3,*rep to end of round
row 14: *k2, p11, k2,*rep to end of round

Work in pat until piece meas 7.5 inches or desired leg length
On first needle only, beg heel gusset
row 1: *sl1, k1, * rep to end of row
row 2: sl1, p to end of row
continue row 1 & 2 until gusset measures 2 in

row 1: sl1, k24, ssk, turn
row 2: sl1, p12, p2tog, turn
row 3: sl1, k12, ssk, turn
repeat rows 2 and 3 until all rows are knit ending with a knit row

Pick up 18 st along left edge of heel flap
work second needle in giant diamond pattern as set
on first needle pick up 18 st along right side of heel flap
knit across first needle in st stitch
work across second needle in giant diamond pattern as set

needle 1: k1, ssk, knit to last three st, k2tog, k1
needle 2: work in pat as set
Continue in this manner until first needle has 38 st per sock
then continue knitting first needle in st stitch, and second needle in giant diamond pattern until foot meas 9.5 inches or desired foot length

beg toe decreases as follows
knit both needles in st stitch
k1, ssk, knit to last three st, k2tog, k1
work this pattern over each needle, every round until there are 10 st left per needle.
BO using kitchner st
Weave in ends
Have a very strong drink for surviving my ill-written pattern.
Give socks to hubby and expect expensive shopping spree in return.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

No Knitting Content

It's a small box. One of those grey velvet boxes you get from a real jewelry store. Nothing really special about it. It fits in the palm of my hand. It's pleasant to touch. Meaty loves to stroke it. He likes tactile sensory experiences. He's a bit like me that way. Just a little box, but it weighs heavy on my mind.

Six or seven years ago when my Aunt was dying she gave my Mother a ring. It's a beautiful 3.25 caret Pink Tourmaline Ring. It is shiny and stunning. When I came to visit my Mother she let me borrow it. It was joyous to wear. It was larger than any piece of jewelry I had ever worn before. It was heavy and I was constantly aware of its beauty on my finger. I talked with my hands, waving them around so I could see the pink color in motion, hoping that others would see it as well and admire this small piece of beauty. Wearing such beauty made me feel more beautiful. It was fun to wear. I was a bit sad to return the ring to my Mother.

The next time I came home for a visit my Mom she gave me the ring. She told me she couldn't bring herself to wear it. I protested that my Aunt had given it to my Mom and she would want my Mom to enjoy it. My Mom told me she just couldn't do it and the ring would be better on my hand than in her jewelry box. I took it but told my Mom it was only on loan and she could have it back any time she wanted. She's never asked for it back. I've even had the ring resized for my finger. It's my ring and I love it.

I've never understood my Mother's reluctance to wear this ring. It is a beautiful thing that was loved by my beautiful Aunt. She wanted my Mom to have it because she knew my Mom had always loved that ring. It made me sad that my Mom couldn't enjoy it.

Now I understand.

Inside that small grey box is a matching pink tourmaline necklace. My Father bought it for my Mother. It is on the most delicate gold chain I have ever seen. It is so dainty and feminine. From a distance of a few feet the chain almost blends in with the skin so the pink pendant appears to be hanging there of it's own volition. Almost as if the jewel were part of the wearer's very skin. The effect is stunning. I've always loved this necklace. My Mom was so happy to receive this necklace and always looked so pretty wearing it. I've borrowed it from my Mom on occasion. I even think I've broken the chain and had to repair it before my Mother found out. It is another piece of beauty that makes the wearer feel more beautiful.

My Mother is dying. She's given me this necklace. Had she given this to me for my Birthday I would be overjoyed. Or for Christmas, or for Flag day. But she has given this to me because she is dying, and she won't need it anymore. She's given it to me now before her death. There will be no more occasions in her life where she will want to wear a pretty pink necklace. That makes me sad. Endings are sad.

I tried the necklace on yesterday. It was beautiful, but heavier than I remember. Unlike the heft of the ring that was a fun reminder of a small piece of beauty on my hand, the weight of the necklace was crushing. When I placed the necklace around my neck I could feel the weight of my grief hanging from that slender chain. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't move to take the necklace off. I crumpled to the floor sobbing, my legs giving out under the weight of my pain.

The Greatest took the necklace off and put it back in the box.

The cost of owning this necklace is too high. The price is my Mother. I'd like to return it. Maybe someday I will be able to wear it and take pleasure in it's weight. Maybe I will enjoy the connection with my Mother, the way I enjoy the connection with my Aunt when I wear her ring. Maybe someday I will wear it and remember my Mom and smile. Or maybe someday I will give it to Pork Chop or Bird. They will thrill at owning something so pretty. They will enjoy the way it feels against their skin. They won't understand the price paid for this necklace, what owning it really means.

It means my Mother is dying.

Just a little grey box. But it sits on my dresser, larger than it's actual physical dimensions. I hate having it, but I can't leave it alone. I stare at the box. Touch it as if holding this box that belonged to my Mother will keep her spirit here on Earth with me. I want to wear it. I want to enjoy it. I want to feel connected to my Mom. But mostly I want my Mom.