MacKenzie Speaks: Happy Mother of Cats Day!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

For some reason the Mother of Cats thinks that she should have a special day. Silly Mother of Cats. I deserve a special day more than she does!

Yesterday the Mother of Cats left me ALL ALONE and went out to get some sushi with one of her sons. Did she bring me home some nice smoked salmon or tempura shrimp? No. She did not. I can’t believe that she is so thoughtless!

This morning she was happy to see, even though the war with the spider mites continues (Mother of Cats, 0. Spider Mites, 1.), one of her roses has bloomed in her favorite color.

Now that the weather is finally warming up she will be putting the roses outside for the summer where she can dust them with spider mite killers with reckless abandon. Watch out, spider mites, she is coming for her. How dare you mess with her roses? She is filling spray bottles with soap and Neem oil and my money is on the Mother of Cats!

Last week was snowy so the Mother of Cats went crazy and baked fun cookies, made spaghetti sauce and knitted a lot.

I have been helping the Mother of Cats with her new sweater all week. She even cut my claws again so I could roll around and yarn chomp all I wanted without snagging (what ever that is…) her knitted fabric. She is so touchy about these things. When will the Mother of Cats learn appropriate priorities? Anyway, the sweater is now done and I am left with NOTHING FUN TO DO since she won’t let me go outside. My life is so hard. I should have a special day too, don’t you think?

Now that the sweater is done she is wearing it and I don’t get to roll around on the knitting anymore. This sweater was really nice as that is 80% superwash merino and 20% silk yarn. I really like silk, don’t you? So nice on my fur, so squishy to sleep on, so nice and warm…. Mother of Cats!! You should give me that sweater for a cat bed!!
Can you see how much wonderful fabric is in this sweater? It’s almost like a little cat blanket with sleeves and an opening for the Mother of Cat’s head. It would be perfect for me.

The Mother of Cats wore the new sweater to the sushi place yesterday and it was just the thing for a cool spring evening walking the streets of Boulder, Colorado, which is where they went WITHOUT ME!!

While she was off having a good time wearing my new cat bed I was forced to sleep on the naked bed covers. I have such a hard life.
It’s amazing that I am able to cope with it all!

Anyway, Happy Mother of Cats Day to all of you knitters, Scleroderma Warriors, rose lovers and readers of books. Hugs to everyone, I hope you have tulips and/or roses where you are, and may you also have a good day with a plate of cookies.

Which reminds me, Mother of Cats. I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?


Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • We went to dinner at Sushi Zanmai in Boulder, Colorado, which is a place that transports me back to my early married days when I lived in Yokohama, Japan. I highly recommend this restaurant if you are ever in the area.
  • My sweater is the VNeck Boxy by Joji Locatelli. Oh, my goodness, this is a wonderful, comfy sweater and I am so very pleased with the results. My project notes are here.
  • I bought those cookies at the LYS. Of course, you say. Where else would I find such fun sheep stamps? The recipe for shortbread cookies came with the stamps, and the rest is yummy cookie history.

Lessons My Mother Taught Me

My mom was amazing. She had a life that could serve as the foundation for a novel, but to me she was just mom. The lessons that she taught me were a reflection of her time, but they have turned out to be good life lessons for any generation. Here they are:

  1. We are all citizens of the world. My mom was born in Japan to American citizens of Swedish descent; her first spoken language was Japanese. The family lived overseas due to my grandfather’s job, and she was raised in Illinois and Argentina. Along with the English that she learned in America, she was also fluent in Spanish and had some French on the side. After marriage she lived in Hawaii and Southern California. She had a cosmopolitan view of the world and would not tolerate any prejudice of any kind. If she didn’t like someone, it was absolutely personal. Lesson learned.
  2. People are more important than money. My parents valued service to others and the nation above making money. My mom was a nurse and my father was in the civil service. They gave as much money as they could to charity; one year they were in the newspaper because they had donated so much to The United Way. My mom was a pediatric care nurse when I was young, and she fostered some of her patients who needed homes after leaving the hospital. She always gave 10% of her income to her church. We weren’t rolling in money but we always had enough. I learned from mom that you don’t need money to be rich.
  3. The most valuable thing you acquire in life is your education. My mother was admitted to a university after finished high school, but her father wouldn’t let her attend. When I wanted to go to college myself she moved mountains to make it possible for me, and then entered college herself. We raced to graduation with mom finishing a few months before me. She told me we were making the best investments of our lives, and she was right. Cancer cheated her of her Master’s Degree, but I thought of her the entire time I worked on mine. The diploma on my wall is hung next to her picture. Thank you, mom.
  4. Get your vaccinations! My mom was a Red Cross nurse during the polio outbreaks of 1945. It was a dreadful time. She was a nurse at an outbreak in Illinois where hundreds of people became ill, and many died or were left with lasting damage. When the polio vaccine became available we were some of the first to receive our shots. She worked on the pediatric ward of a county hospital and saw many children die or suffer permanent injury from “childhood” diseases such as measles and diphtheria. Throughout her life she insisted that we get every vaccine available as soon as we could. To this day I regard vaccines as one of the greatest achievements of science.
  5. Take germs seriously when it is appropriate, but don’t worry about them the rest of the time. Wow, we learned draconian germ control methods when there was an outbreak of illness in the house. Safe food handling was a way of life for us. Otherwise, things were pretty casual. She kind of felt that your immune system needed to see germs to develop normally, and mom would have laughed at all the anti-bacterial products on the market. I have to say, I very rarely become ill. Mom knew what she was doing.
  6. Repurpose, recycle, reuse, and eat your leftovers! My mom was a child of the Great Depression. She did her homework writing in the margins of the newspaper. She invented Life Hacks before anyone else knew about them. She knitted, sewed, cooked, and made all of our presents. She empowered me to learn how to sew baby clothes, can peaches, tape drywall, lay tile and make plumbing repairs. This is also why I can’t seem to throw away all my biology teaching stuff in the garage. I just KNOW I can use some of it again for SOMETHING.
  7. It never looks how long it took you to do something, only how well you did it. Usually this was said as I ripped out a zipper to sew in for the third time. I think she meant it to comfort me, but it was really good advice. Don’t ever settle for less than your best.
  8. Feed your roses every month, prune them every three months, and if they don’t produce the way you want them to after a year, rip them out and go get some new ones. Mom took her roses seriously and her roses were amazing! People came off the street, knocked on her door, and asked her about them. I remember them as 6 feet tall and always blooming (OK, this was San Diego and such things were possible). When you think about this, her advice for roses is also good for life. Sometimes, no matter how much love, care and time you spend on someone or something, there comes a point where you should cut your losses and move on. You leave that job, your marriage ends, best friends get downgraded. That’s life, mom would say. Move on.
My mom in 1986. She died of cancer a few months later.
My mom in 1986. She died of cancer a few months later.

My mom died 28 years ago this week, but her lessons live on. It is not possible to minimize the effect that she had on my life. Her lessons grounded me, and I’m still trying to live the example that she set for me. She surrounded herself with books and read every day. She established a scholarship to allow a woman to enter the ministry, created nursing courses to meet the needs of her community, and wrote her congressman when she wanted action. She was a woman of faith who demanded evidence before she made a decision. She has been and continues to be the role model for my life. I love you, Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day!