Thursday, January 28, 2010

Maybe I Should Unwillingly Fast More Often

Maybe a steady diet of saltines and store-brand sports drink for three days was the tipping point.

Maybe it was two days of sitting and lying down, not needing to do anything else, or thinking there was anything else to do (which was good, because I couldn't do it anyway).

Maybe it's a combination of good medications.

Maybe the moon is in its seventh hour.

Faithful readers will remember that I've had my ups and downs with chronic anxiety and its cousin, depression. I've probably been dealing with them for the better part of my life, but only recently with a full onslaught of better living through chemistry. And while things have improved, the nagging sensation remained that this is as good as it's going to get. The best I could hope for was an absence of outright pain, with a few enjoyable (albeit temporary) moments thrown in randomly. I didn't seem to see evidence of it getting better than that. What has been happening was all that was going to happen. Not because I didn't deserve it, or was unworthy, but...that was it. No feelings of impending doom, although the thought of another possibly 40 years of bleh didn't exactly charge my battery either.

If you've met me in real life prior to the last two years, this would probably surprise you. I've always been relentlessly optimistic. Perhaps foolishly so, and in several situations, naively so, but somehow I always knew that things were going to be OK...and probably a damn sight better than OK as well. And if they weren't, I just knew it was a temporary situation. Everything would come out in the wash. Even when I got divorced: it was painful, it was confusing, it was round one of major depression, it was self-isolating while I tried to figure which way was the hell up. But through it all, I knew this wasn't "me" forever. My friends circled around me, never leaving, but giving me room. They were there when I came up for air, and still there when the sun rose again. I knew things would get better.

This time, I couldn't see it. The situation so thoroughly shook my foundation that I wondered if I even had one anymore-or ever did to begin with. My friends were still here, but I couldn't come up for air like I did before. I managed to drag myself out of the deepest pits, and knew I was done being there. But that's where I felt I stopped. I wasn't in free-fall, but I wasn't moving forward. I began to feel like this was "me" forever. The wash had already come out, and someone ran black jeans in with the white towels. Both are still perfectly functional, but neither will ever be quite the right color again.

Then Wednesday happened. Yesterday. Around 4:00, literally. I realized that my body felt different. I sat for a moment, wondering if this was a new wave of nausea, but it wasn't. I sat a little more, and found that the space above my heart felt different. As in, space between my heart and my breastbone. Breathing room. As if a weight, like a ten-pound bag of flour had been lifted from there. Something came in that hadn't been there for a while, and that's why it took me a little to recognize it.

I'm not sure what exactly it is that was taken, but I feel no need to find it and pick it up again. I don't need its suffocating closeness, or its false sense of security. Whatever it is, it's gone. And what keeps going through my mind is, "That wasn't me forever."

I don't know what the future holds. I'm pretty sure that all my problems will not instantly be solved (obviously, or they'd be gone already, seeing as this happened yesterday). I'll still have to go to work, and teach lessons, and find a way to make time to do the things that make my heart sing in between. But my heart has room to sing again. A sense of possibility has returned, and while I don't know exactly where the road is going, I am able to see a road in front of me once more. if I squint a little, it looks like it's heading into a meadow of flowers.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Time for a new look over here at Herself. What do you think? I like it. The old harbor background had nothing to do with anything, other than not being a plain blank page. I'm also home today with the latest version of a stomach bug that's going around school. I think I started coming down with it Sunday; as soon as I started feeling wonky, I stopped eating (except for Saltines and Vitamin Water). I believe this has kept me from kneeling before the porcelain god, but the constant waves of queasiness are not conducive to productive teaching. Yesterday I survived because my afternoon is all small-group lessons, and I could stay sitting down. Not so today. Sitting still seems to be helpful, and when updating with Blogger, you know there's plenty of that.

The picture in the header is yarn that I dyed with indigo, cochineal, walnut hulls, and such. I plopped it in a basket and trotted it down to my LYS to see what happened. With pretty much no effort, over the course of a year, I sold almost all of it (which is fine, because I didn't need to pay the electric bill with it). I was mainly interested in recouping the cost of the yarn plus a little, since it was all experimental. I promptly spent the profits at the very same LYS.

Like many kitchen dyers, I'll admit I harbor fantasies of a little naturally-dyed yarn empire springing forth from my efforts. However, I fully realize that this is a fantasy, at least during the school year. Whether you use acid or plant dyes, dyeing rather chains you to the stove/microwave/crockpot when you do it. I just don't have that kind of time until about July.

I do love the process of natural dyeing. I love not quite knowing what's going to come out. (Have I talked about this before? I should read my own archives.) Just because the dyestuff is one color doesn't mean that's what you'll get. Red onion skins don't give you that purple-y color that they are when you peel them. You can make an educated guess, and then you can even temper your results by adding mordants. I haven't played around with those much yet. I've been too happy with what I've gotten, doing what I'm doing. I need to experience the joys of test skeins. Remember the "Perfect is the enemy of the good" post? Right there. Test skeins are not wasted materials.

I probably have more stockpots in my collection than the average bear, and I need to get a couple of smaller ones for testing. Luckily, I live just up the hill from the Corning-Revere-Corelle Factory Store, where things like that turn up all the time, for not much money. I need to bug a glass artist to set me up with some glass rods (though Pyrex would be even better...hmmm...I know they aren't at the factory store, but I know people who work in the labs at Corning Inc.) for stirring. Spoons + wet yarn = nightmare. Even spoon handles. Even plastic spoon handles. (ESPECIALLY wooden spoon handles.)

Some days, the planning is as good as the doing. Well, almost...but particularly on days where you know the doing would probably make you barf. Off for more Gatorade...

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Have Arrived.

That last post? It earned me my first spam reply. I'm so proud. wipes tear from eye

Saturday, January 23, 2010


It's a tremendously beautiful day here. Mid-30's, blue sky, no wind, and plentiful SUN. I just got back from a walk up at the nature center, where I haven't been in a while. Probably should wear my hiking boots instead of my ducks next time for a little extra grip, but no bones were broken.

I've also bought paint for my bedroom. "Polaris Blue," a darker smoky blue. I'm trying to decide if I want to start tomorrow afternoon and get one wall done (knowing I won't be able to do any more until next weekend at the earliest) because I can't wait to see how it looks; or wait until I know I can spend a whole Saturday getting one coat on the entire room. This is assuming I could then spend the Sunday immediately following getting the second coat up. A third coat will probably be necessary, too. We'll see.

The Trickey Dickey was finished last night, and it's just right. I'm just about onto the eight inches of ribbing for the hat (it folds in half for two 4" layers). No spinning yet, but there's time.

Now, onto the post title. I wanted to be sure I started with the not-philosophical stuff.

I'm kind of lonely. Not lonely for People. I spend every day except my weekends up to my neck in People. Well, some of them only come up to my waist, but you know what I mean. I even spend extra time after my regular job with more People. I like these people, and I'm grateful to have them in my life. I know many of you spend 24 hours a day with such People, and perhaps are thinking, "Well, at least you have time to yourself. I'd kill for that." Yes and no. I'll explain.

I'm lonely for a Person. And I don't know how to meet one. Or any, apparently...not ones who aren't already married, or looking for someone to raise their three children from two marriages, or in their 40's looking for a 25-to-35 year-old Greek goddess, at least.

The only advice I seem to get is, "You have to get Out There and look!" My first question is, where the hell is Out There? The bar scene? Right. Online dating? Sure. Three months on eHarmony seeing all of those "matches" either never contact me, or never respond when I contacted them...that did my self-esteem wonders, and I had the privilege of paying for it. Art openings and wine tastings and such? Well, here the problem is two-fold:

1) I have yet to go to one of those things where there's someone else looking for company. Generally speaking, you go to them WITH a date or a mate. I'm acutely aware of being The Single One in these groups. Others probably aren't, but I am.

2) And there's the other side of the People problem. By the time I get done with a week of work, I am Peopled out. I've put so much into work, both through the kids and the adults, that I don't have much left. I'm on the introverted side of the scale. Once I've hit my People limit, I start to withdraw, and it's extremely difficult (and rarely successful anyway) for me to fake being social. I know it, and it makes me even more uncomfortable, and the circle continues. I'm not likely to be putting my best foot forward when I'm that strung out, such as it is. I'm not physically tired for the most part, but I'm mentally toasted.

Quitting my day job isn't an option, of course, and financially, I need to keep teaching privately for a while still. This may be faulty logic, but that leads me to believe I won't be meeting anyone anytime soon, given my personality quirks, and I don't like that. I'm tired of going to bed and waking up alone every day for the last three years. I'm not talking just about sex. I'm talking about going to social events alone, and coming home alone, and cooking supper for one. I have friends and family over; like I said, I'm grateful for their presence in my life. But they go home, too. Even I reach my limit of No People, Please. I'm not a hermit or agoraphobic. I take my hikes, and do my shopping, and stop at the LYS and chat. It would be nice to have a lap to rest my head in now and then, too. A Person. For me.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ahh, Friday.

This is the first one in about three weeks that doesn't feel like I need an entire additional Friday to feel caught up. While not absolutely everything is done, what wasn't finished can be filed under "manageable" instead of "hide under my desk and suck my thumb." I believe starting the first week after the holiday break by receiving some truly fabulous new technology (a SMARTBoard, for those interested) put me behind the eight-ball right away. Because once the board was delivered, it was discovered that my computer didn't have enough whatsie to run the necessary software (to which I said to myself, NO KIDDING). We also discovered that day that my phone, while not ringing in my room, was making the night doorbell by the main office ring. (It would have been OK with me if they didn't fix it, but I was outvoted.)

Finding a place for the board meant removing a bulletin board and moving a whiteboard into its place. That meant patching the holes and removing another smaller bulletin board, only to discover the previous wall color was "used Band-Aid pink." Which, of course, meant painting the wall.

Hanging the board where I did meant placing the cart with the projector on it in just the right place (eventually it'll be mounted from the ceiling). That meant moving my instrumentarium so that the kids could sit and see the board. Which meant moving my desk.

The only place to put my desk then became the front corner of my room, which was great, except for the piano that usually sits there. Once I discovered that the piano actually fits quite tidily into a closet I have (I don't use it much for classes...I hate playing standing up and I can't hear the kids sing over it anyway. I use my guitar), all was solved. Regular classes and lessons happened all around this, of course, and the dust and filth that was stirred up didn't help any. I just couldn't get settled in to do what really needed to be done until this week. I feel a lot better, much less antsy.

So, this weekend I plan to finish up a Trickey Dickey from EZ's Knitting Around; I finished it once, but I cast on too many stitches and the neck was heee-YOOGE. I'm using some handspun Peruvian Highland wool and I lurve it. (No, not "love." LURRRRRRRVE it. Two-ply bulky soft deliciousness. Natural grey. Pictures when it's done.) I have that hat from the winter Vogue that's on its fourth incarnation; I should have gone down one needle size the last time, when I went down two. I went from having a snood to having a kippah, neither of which were acceptable in this application. I really want to spin more, too. Might just happen.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I prefer...

Gleefully stolen from "Life in A-Town" over thar in the blog list...

Wool to anything else.

Tea to coffee.

Whisky to wine.

Double-treadle to single, worsted to woolen, combed to carded, double-drive to Scotch tension.

Bamboo to nickel-plated.

Clogs to heels.

Bare feet to clogs.

Baths to showers.

Crunchy to smooth.

Chocolate to vanilla.

(Is there really a choice on that last one?)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why I Don't Watch Network Television Much

It's Sunday, about 9:20 here at Herself. I'm watching the one network program a week that I choose to watch: "CBS Sunday Morning." Not surprisingly, so far this week's program is about the disaster in Haiti. I won't go into the details; only if you're living under a rock do you not know what's going on there.

After the first segment, a commercial break (also not surprising). The definition of "bliss" according to this garbage? Smooth, sexy LIPS.


Without Blistex, bliss is out of my reach.

The juxtaposition of the description and images of Haitians injured, without shelter, food or water, or even a place to bury their dead, and a lineup of super-slim, ultra-hip, perfectly groomed models is beyond the pale.

I'm not the first person to question what on earth Madison Avenue is peddling. I'm not the first to be ashamed of what I worry about, when in reality, I have more than I need and just about everything I want. I'm not the first to wonder what the world might be like if we consistently put our attention towards the well-being of our fellow human beings as often as we did the condition of our lips. I know it's more complicated than that. We can't control the events that have shaped what Haiti has become now, and couldn't then.

But the one thing I know is this: nothing will change as long as we have that damn box telling us day after day, that smooth lips, and wrinkle-free faces, and toned abs, and new furniture, and expensive cars with red ribbons on them in the driveway for Christmas are the true keys to happiness. That being sassy, smart-mouthed, clever, and addicted instead of compassionate, thoughtful, patient and gentle is the model for real people, the ones who get ahead and make "things" happen.

They can have it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Throwing Up the Knit-Signal

I'm afraid I'm stealing bandwith somehow with the graphic, or stepping on toes, so if I am, someone PLEASE tell me and I'll take it down. Immediately.

If you read the Yarn Harlot, then this post won't surprise you (unless you're reading me first). I want to make sure that Bookish Girl gets credit too, since that's where the graphic comes from (hence, my fear about stealing the bandwidth...I'm not very savvy about exactly how it's done, but I'm sensitive to it being a no-no).

If you haven't visited the Harlot today, the Knit-Signal is up because of the unbelievable situation in Haiti. Akin to the Bat-Signal, when Gotham was in dire need of Batman's aid, the Knit-Signal is a call-to-arms for the knitters of the world.

I see requests all over Facebook for "prayers for Haiti." Certainly prayers are appropriate, if you are of that persuasion...but on a more practical level, so is food, shelter, and medical supplies and equipment. More than "appropriate," I would say the latter are more a matter of life and death.

If you are in a position to do so (forgive me a moment's proselytizing: we are, because pretty much anything we have is more than what most Haitians have right about now, and will have for a long time to come), please make a donation to your favorite charity. Stephanie's support of Medecins Sans Frontieres is well-known. I choose to support them as well, along with others, and I made an additional donation today.

This is a time when knitting, although it is wonderful and warm and full of love, is not what is needed most. Cash dollars are. Help if you can.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

How about some pictures?

My sister's completed Hemlock Ring Doily Throw

Spinning for an eventual Vine Yoke cardigan

Flowers at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, from a trip three years ago. The weather has been vile here, so I thought a little brightness wouldn't hurt. Actually, the sun is out today. I almost forgot what it looks like.

OK, I have to have a brief whinge here. I *know* I live in the Northeast, and I *know* we're better prepared to deal with snow and cold. I *know* we're more experienced in driving in more than a dusting of snow. But please bear in mind that doesn't mean the roads are scraped clean before we have to leave for work. Nor does it mean that we ENJOY driving in three inches of slushy snow that's also freezing over. Things don't close down (including school) unless it's a whole lot worse, which makes for very unpleasant travel more often than not.

Thank you. That is all.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gems from the music room, part four.

Student: "I'm getting married tomorrow in North Carolina!"
Me: "Do you have a plane ticket?"
Student: "Well, no."
Me: "Student, then you can't get married in North Carolina tomorrow. You won't get there in time."
Student considers this, then replies,
"Maybe she'll move to Pennsylvania."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Thank you, Voltaire.

"The perfect is the enemy of the good."

This has been knocking around in my head for a few days, mostly because of that list of things I mentioned in the last post. Not so much the refinishing of the trim; that's going to be a learning experience no matter how I slice it. (I've enlisted a high-school friend who now lives in Seattle and knows her way around a piece of wood for help. Facebook has its uses!) Not the hat. There's a difference between fussing because a hat isn't PERFECT and fussing because a hat isn't WEARABLE. The hat is not meant to be a work of art or a statement on society's subjugation of the's meant to keep my head warm, and so changes had to be made. I mean the things that didn't make it onto the list.

I spend a lot of time tap-dancing around things instead of DOING them, because the time isn't right, or the day isn't right, or the house isn't in order, or the moon is in the wrong phase (not really, but you get my drift). I don't ever want to start something unless I know I can finish it, and finish it well. REALLY well. And there's a lot of creative things out there that don't lend themselves to being "finished." They're about process, not product. Creativity is about doing ... muddling ... fiddling ... messing...leaving...returning. But there is a product at the end, and if the final product is less than satisfying, it engenders the next exploration.

I find that I can sit down and MAKE something quite easily. Give me the yarn and needles and directions and I'm off. I can modify as needed and finish and be pleased with the product. But I have the urge to CREATE as well, and that makes me nervous at the same. I know it'll be messy. I know I'm likely to make mistakes and possibly gasp waste materials. Because, you know, the world may run out of wool and onion skins and walnut hulls if I'm not careful. It may not be right the first time I try, and then what will I do with the pile of crap that results? Throwing it away would be wasteful and keeping it is a reminder of my screw-up. It'll take time, and time is precious, and using that time on screwing up is a poor use of time. You need to have something to show for your effort, and why bother showing crap?

And so I have to have The Perfect Environment in which to work. The house needs to be tidy first, which it never is. I realized the other day that I spend more time organizing my stash than I do using it. (OK, it was for the GOOD of the stash, it needs PROTECTION from MOTHS, alright?!?) Since when is washing the dishes Sooper Important? When it's used to postpone something that makes me uncomfortable, of course; even if that is something I desperately want to rediscover in myself. I have to be perfectly rested in order to begin. Yeah. Well. (You can all stop laughing now. I know.) I've thought that the need to have the house tidy was a way to control some of my anxiety, and I'm sure that's part of it. But it's also a defense mechanism, a stalling technique against myself.

So back to Voltaire, whose quote graced the beginning of the post. What my heart wants is to create freely, to welcome back the girl who wrote plays and puppet shows and figured out how to sew a 12:1 scale-sized mattress for a dollhouse bed (with the side panels and everything) without a pattern. I remember that, and I remember throwing a few of them away. It didn't matter; it was only for me, to see if I could do it (and also, if I didn't figure it out, I wouldn't have one). The Perfect, the need to have it just right for someone else's approval (who else's? I don't know), stands firmly in the way. It eats up my time and my energy. It doesn't mean that I shouldn't aim for quality in my work. But it's time to realize it's a multi-step process; that I have all the time I need to take as many steps as I need; that no one is standing behind me with a stopwatch. I am the only thing in my own way. Experience is a teacher, not a slave-driver.

Now, given this that last stash organization I mentioned, do I get credit for throwing away three skeins of obviously-felted KnitPicks laceweight from two summer's ago dyeing experiments? Huh? Do I?

Friday, January 1, 2010

First of Many

There's a good 364 of them left, too. (Is it a leap year? Can't be, 2010 isn't divisible by 4. Someone straighten me out if I'm wrong; I'd hate to leave out one poor lonely day.)

GIven that last year feels like it stalled around April 6 or so, when my first mortgage went down the crapper (feel free to check the archives if you're new or want to relive the hysteria), and didn't regain much momentum Thanksgiving, I am relieved to begin a new one. I know it's just another day on the calendar in reality. Twenty-four hours doesn't make that much of a difference...unless we choose to make it so. I honestly have just recently begun to feel like this house is MY house. Despite the curtains I made, and the very little painting I've done, and the pretty new bathroom, my start here was so distressing that it really put a pall on the new-homeowner experience. It's finally, finally starting to feel different. I think putting up my first Christmas tree in three years went a long way in putting my stamp here, even though it too was a temporary marker.

I had some pretty grand plans for this past week, between Christmas and going back to work on Monday. Firstly, I had to finish my sister's blanket, which I did last night. (Pictures to come. I discovered that the blanket is essentially the same color as my carpet, so once it's dry, I'll drape it on the dark blue love seat.) I have cast on for Dad's sweater. The swatch was a success in both tension and washability, and I think he's going to like it a lot. He won't be wearing it until next winter (52"chest), but he won't be able to shrink this one. I also decided I wanted to...

*sand and possibly seal the stripped trim around the door
*paint another room
*make the curtains for my office (just one window, luckily)
*finish a hat for myself (one that nearly derailed any hope of finishing any Christmas knitting)
*really start spinning the fiber I want to use to make the Vine Yoke cardigan for this year's Ravelympics

With a whole week off, and no ankle-biters at my house, this should have been a SNAP.

Oh, the hubris.

Well, not hubris. Not really. I didn't overestimate my abilities; I am quite capable of pushing myself to some pretty crazy extremes to finish things once I get my teeth in them. What I didn't count on was the depth of my tiredness. I didn't need naps (except for the first couple of days). I needed sitting. I needed to not be in constant motion. It finally occurred to me that I essentially work almost six days a week, when you add in the time I spend teaching private lessons. I had decided a while ago not to teach this week. That's one of the smartest decisions I've made in a while.

There were other factors involved, too. The trim, being made of either oak or chestnut and also being from about 1927, is as hard as a rock, and a light sanding is not going to do the trick. I may have to resort to a gentle power sander (do they still make the Mouse?) for the flat areas to save my wrists. But now I know. I'm in color-lock for painting, so I'll whack out the last little bit of trim in the bathroom instead. I didn't have lining fabric for the curtains. Mom rescued me on that with a hunk of muslin she bought for another project, but doesn't need after all. They'll be an afternoon's work. (Two big rectangles, my kind of sewing. It's more work getting the damn machine out than doing the actual sewing.)

Finishing the hat? Probably not, as I started over. I had begun with silk, which looked wonderful, but I realized would grow and grow and grow. Take Two is with a "Rare Gems" skein of Socks That Rock. All hype aside, I love that yarn. It's a pleasure to work with, and it will make a much better hat.

And today, since I decided I wanted to do things today that I wanted to be sure I did more often this year, I began by having a decent breakfast, working on my hat, moisturizing thoroughly (that is a regular habit...I've always had dry, dry skin), and then took a walk. I made a quick trip out to the dreaded mall to reload the moisturizer supply (yes, I use one of those fancy department-store brands...I also have very sensitive skin). Came home and worked on Dad's sweater a little. (It starts with 236 stitches and increases after the ribbing.)

After that, I managed to accomplish one of the things on my list: I sat down at my wheel, and began spinning. I had no illusions about finishing anything here, as we're talking about two pounds of fiber (more details next post...I even have pictures). But I haven't spun in I don't remember how long, and today I went for a good hour and a half before my back complained. How do I know it was 90 minutes? I had "The Holy Grail" in the DVD player while I spun.

I plan to laugh more this year, too, and that was a great way to kick off what I hope will be the easiest resolution to keep.