having a salad for lunch and following it with a chunk o’ chocolate cake = balance at it’s finest

I didn’t do that, not today, but it certainly is in keeping with my idea of balance. Life is not something to be suffered through, depriving oneself of all pleasure, subsisting on only healthy food. I have no desire to die extremely old and leave behind a well preserved corpse. So much better to enjoy life now while I can and leave my meat-suit stranded along the side of a lovely avenue when it’s finally my time to shuffle off the well-worn mortal coil.

Yikes, that’s way more morbid that I planned. Moving on…

A bouquet of flowers that’s actually safe to leave on the dining room table

I may have mentioned that Lancelot has gotten pretty heavy into LEGO lately, or maybe I didn’t, but he has and I think it’s awesome. Putting together kits was something I had done many years ago and enjoyed, but then stopped doing for some reason. I’ve picked it up again, though not with the same excitement that he has. (I have yarn, he doesn’t. This is also balance.) I’m also kinda picky about what I want to do, and that limits my choices.

I have seriously enjoyed seeing how the keen folks at LEGO have managed to come up with this botanical series, but the end result really does look like flowers. So fucking cool. We’ve also explored a new little shopping strip in town because L found that there’s a store that sells nothing but LEGO and sells used kits, which turned out to be a total score because they had a Doctor Who set that L really wanted. And they also had the tiny Baby Yoda mini (micro?) fig that is perched on one of the flower leaves.

In that same strip is a fantastic Indian grocery and a really good bar & grill that has the most amazing soft pretzels. Our Saturday was packed but in an extremely satisfying way.

And now, we knit. I had purchased some close-out yarn online and then immediately found the perfect pattern for a vest. Progress!!!

Nothing is sillier looking than a cat in the middle of yawning

just do the damn thing

I’d like to tell you where I heard that, which one of my friends dropped that nugget of truth on me, but I can’t. But think about the profundity of it – it’s beyond the trite Nike slogan “just do it.” This allows for not wanting to do the thing, the DAMN thing, but getting on and doing it anyway.

It’s a really fucking adult thing to say and think. And so today I will endeavor to Just Do The Damn Thing.

I’ve made the bed, washed some dishes, took a shower and got dressed, made myself a healthy breakfast, and (most importantly) I got out my sun lamp and set it up on my desk. If I do nothing else today I will still consider this a win because I didn’t want to do any of those damn things, yet I did.

I’m not actually quite as grumpy as I appear in this picture. I actually took it because I’m wearing the very first sweater I ever knit, which was an accomplishment.

If I were to leave you with any advice right now it would be to set yourself up to just do the damn thing, even if it’s something small or something that feels silly. Doing that one damn thing might lead you to feel like doing another damn thing, maybe. And that’s probably a particularly good thing.

one foot in front of the other

I’ve been in a weird kind of “mood that isn’t a mood and is maybe lasting too long but then again so is the anxiety that’s ever present everywhere these days” kind of place and I have to say, it sucks.

I love the change of the seasons in an intellectual and visual sort of way. The change in the temperatures, the extra rain right now, the changing leaves are all really pretty and a very pleasant departure from what summer is around here. But if I’m going to have any mental issues they tend to happen during the changing of the light – sunlight that is. Too little in the autumn and winter cause one set of issues and the switch back to lots of it in the spring and summer causes a different set of issues.

Being mental is just such a fucking treat.

Once a month I haul Lancelot in for a haircut and beard trim and I usually get my mop of hair dealt with. This time I decided that enough was enough. I’ve been trying to grow it out but it was looking very much like how my grandmother wears her hair and I was not loving that. Changing my hair is actually a pretty standard thing with me. When I feel like it’s time to shake my snowglobe I will typically either go for a drastically different cut or, back in the day, a radically different color.

I’ve actually had my hair like this before, and it was most certainly a different color. I like the asymmetrical thing, especially since my hair’s natural curl makes this a ridiculously easy style for me in terms of what it takes to fix it. Approximately 3 minutes and a small dab of hair goo, that’s what.

I’ve been trying to spend some time getting back to meal planning and all of the other things that kind of feel like “life hacks” for me, because in all honesty, right now I need that shit more than ever. Apparently it’s working, at least at the surface level. One of the people that works in our office suite made the comment that I have my life together, which she totally meant as a compliment, but all I could think was, “little sister, if you only knew.”

All of the hacks and the prep stuff is really because I have a terrible, ugly secret…

I am hella lazy.

insert catchy title here

I keep thinking I should sit down and write and then life happens, so I don’t. The good thing is that I’ve been spending much more time doing creative stuff and a lot less time glued to a screen. I seriously think that’s a win. For example, consider the following exhibits:

I made a headband and channeled my inner Keith Richards
I constructed a Bird of Paradise LEGO kit
And I’ve spent some serious time on the Plant Place in our sunroom. It now includes not only a variety of leafy things but also a dendrobium orchid and three different carnivorous plants.

I’ve also still been knitting other stuff, besides headbands (though I am on #2 of those because they use just a wee bit of yarn and work up pretty quick) I’m working on a lace scarf for myself, the damn beaded lace cowl for me, a holiday goody for a dear friend, a birthday goody for another dear friend, a kitty amigurumi for my soon to arrive niece, and the scarves I’m making for charity.

And a partridge in a pear tree!

In the “not creative stuff” category I’m also trying to be more mindful about unwinding at night by coming up to my office and reading for about an hour before going to bed. It sounds so simple but it really does seem to make a big difference for me. I’m also try to remember how big of a role food and proper nutrition play in the way I feel. I’m not losing weight anymore, but I’m also not gaining, and that in and of itself feels pretty good. I was able to go clothes shopping with my friend K last week and being able to purchase “normal” size clothes in “normal” shops was just downright lovely.

My goal is to get back to eating / drinking in ways that are healthier and to get back to including much more activity and exercise into my routine. Right now it just feels like every time I try to establish some routines I find myself confronted with some minor catastrophe and someone shouts out “PLOT TWIST!” It’s interesting and yet simultaneously exhausting.

PS – the clear shelves hooked to the windows in that picture of the plants are from Amazon and they are so totally freaking worth it, especially if you have small children or animals. I have them in those windows and upstairs in my office and the guest room. You can’t put anything extremely heavy on them but they are amazingly pretty with small things, especially colored glass containers.

the labels we wear

I’m not sure if it’s the changing weather (could be) or the odd schedule lately (could also be) but my brain has taken to wandering all over the damn place. I’d be concerned but she’s taken me on some lovely little journeys and I’ve had some truly delightful deviations from my normal meanderings so really, it’s been pretty nice.

One of the things I was thinking about the other day was labels – the ones we get stuck with because someone else applied them and the ones we apply to ourselves. For example, I would apply the labels Wife, Daughter, Critter Mom, Crafter, and Educator to myself with great joy. And while I openly admit to having mental illnesses, I prefer not to attach the label of Mentally Ill to myself. It’s certainly not that I’m ashamed of my illnesses, but I really do try not to define myself by them.

So it was really even more interesting that the same day (yesterday? maybe? time still has little meaning to me) I worked on campus and gave my BFF the lovely K a ride home and they were talking about how they had honored the anniversary of a very significant non-relationship based anniversary and how much life and self-definition and so on changes in the span of just 7 years. Oh yes, so much change. And that, combined with my thoughts about labels, all sort of tied together.

I certainly do not define myself the same today as I did in 2014. At that time I was working on a Graduate Certificate in Technical Communication and trying to get my second husband to take working on a welding certificate at the community college seriously. I was dealing pretty well with my own mental and physical health issues, but he was not. I also had a young step-daughter that “we” had custody of every other weekend. I say “we” because he seldom wanted to be an active participant in her visits. (cool side note – I found out this morning that she’s going to a college in the Pacific Northwest now and looks really happy) At that point in time I was edging closer and closer to the impending divorce which came in July 2015. I certainly was not happy and I didn’t much like myself.

I sometimes joke that in 2015 I lost 250lbs, and in a way that’s entirely true. I lost a husband who was really just dead weight at that time, and I really did feel physically lighter when I divorced him. The way I thought about myself changed, the way I presented myself to world changed because I felt much more emboldened to be my authentic self.

Making my own labels for my own self was amazingly liberating. And I love that Lancelot has only once ever applied a label to me.

Lest you think I’ve stopped knitting, I haven’t! I am working on holiday gift #2 plus I’ve been making scarves and washcloths for a refugee support organization. And I’m teaching K to crochet so that they can make scrunchies, and I figured what the heck, I’ll make some for their collection as well. Fun with yarn, yay!

i finished reading a book and other things that really aren’t exciting to anyone but me

Before I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder back in 2006 I was a voracious reader. I’ve always loved books and a good story is actually one of my preferred drugs. Back then I was only sleeping a few hours a night because I was almost always hypomanic so I would read a full length novel every few days. There was a book case in my living room that was easily eight feet tall and four feet wide. My husband made extra shelves for it and pretty much all of them were stacked double deep. I had read 99% of those books.

The medication to control the symptoms of Bipolar made it so that reading wasn’t enjoyable, it felt more like a chore. Books no longer held my attention. In the time since 2008, when the second husband and I divorced, and quite recently, my book collection had dwindled to few enough that they all fit on a single shelf.

Now you kind of see why actually finishing books is a big deal in my world.

If I’m counting correctly, the book I just finished is the fourth book I’ve read this year. (don’t trust my math, I never do) I can concentrate again and I find myself getting very into the stories, which is amazing. I’ve found a few authors that I hadn’t heard of before and I’m totally loving this. Yay me.

Still life with scarf and dog

I am still knitting, mostly on this scarf, though the dog makes it hard some times. She thinks I should sit on the couch at night so that she can rest her head on me. There are several things about this that make knitting difficult. First, I end up all contorted with the arm of the couch on my left and her very solid self on my right, making it hard to get the wings to work. Second, she puts off body heat that is roughly equivalent to the temperature of the surface of the sun. And finally, she expects me to pet her. Constantly.

Don’t get me wrong, I love her, she’s a good pup. But I have realized that for any knitting progress to be made I have to sit in my chair. I am starting to wonder if this scarf is going to be mine or be gifted to someone. I’m waiting for it to tell me.

shoes

There was a time when I would have described myself as a bit of a Shoe Whore. I love shoes and I’m not against paying big bucks for beautiful shoes that are also comfortable. That’s no easy feat (ha ha ha) for someone with feet like mine – long and wide. My favorites have long been Birkenstock’s, though I’m also fond of Clark’s and several other higher end brands. I don’t have a ton of shoes, but I do love what I have.

And then the pandemic happened and I stopped going to work and so most of my beautiful shoes have been languishing in the bottom of my closet. Most of the time, especially over the winter, I wore house slippers instead of shoes. When I had to leave the house I wasn’t ever “dressed” (not like I would have been for work) so I wore sneakers or boots.

All of this to say, I think one of the hardest parts of getting back to working on campus is going to be wearing shoes all day long. I’ve been trying to get myself to stay “dressed” until I start to cook dinner but I’m going to be honest, some days I change into PJs and slippers as soon as my last meeting of the day is over. Some days I don’t wait that long and I cover my t-shirt (typical PJ top for me) with a hoodie jacket thing as soon as I get home from picking Lancelot up from work.

As of next Wednesday I’ll be back on campus, dressed like a responsible adult, and wearing shoes. Heaven help me.


I’ve still been trying to add new recipes to the weekly lineup. Last week I did a Thai Noodle Salad thing that was pretty damn tasty. As usual I did not follow the recipe precisely, I never do, but it turned out great. I added chicken thighs that I had cooked in the air fryer and I didn’t feel like chopping an onion so I added some shishito peppers instead. L damn near licked the bowl clean. I will definitely be making it again.


I’m still feeling like I NEED to have the whole house organized and cleaned and just like everything before I go back to work. I’m not totally sure where this is coming from other than a place of anxiety, but I’m trying to put it to work. (interesting note – I have yet to actually clean the house)

So far I have cleaned out and organized…

  • the closet in the guest room
  • the big dresser and the cedar chest in the guest room
  • the fridges and freezers
  • my craft supplies (including the massive yarn stash)
  • several of my drawers and my clothes closet
  • the closet in the office (might get another pass, not sure yet)
  • my desk area

There are still parts of the kitchen that need serious love, like the junk drawer. And the cupboards above both the stove and the fridge. And probably the island. But, as part of cleaning up the craft supplies I decided that I was not keen on how the sunroom looked with random basket and binders and stuff and a completely mismatched little cart. So I managed to pick up a very nice cabinet on a “prime day” sale from Wayfair, and with much help from L I was able to turn that area into…

The plants are on top (there’s one hanging from a wall hook off to the left and several are on the window sill) and hidden behind the doors are 95% of my craft supplies, though not all of the yarn. The boxes off to the right are L’s big LEGO thing from our trip.

I utterly love this. My stuff is still there, but it’s organized and visually this is so much cleaner. Plus, since it’s up on legs it should be a lot easier to retrieve critter toys. Yay!!

one day at a time

Today is the day I go for my latest blood draw, get the stuff to do my 24 hour urine collection, and have an ultrasound of my kidneys. You’re jealous, I know you are. At least I don’t have to go to the hospital to have this done, and that’s good. We’re still a red state, and this is a red county, and that goddamn Rona got me all twitchy. And that’s mostly because not everyone around here is taking this seriously.

Moving on…

I’m still working on Off Kilter, 10 repeats of 25 done on the main body, so that’s good. I took the time to print a few more patterns I had saved the other day and put them in my little tote bags along with the yarn I’ll be using. I also spent a few minutes updating my yarn inventory. And now we pause.

Does anyone else have a spreadsheet of their yarn or is that just something odd that I do?

It actually started because Lancelot made an off-hand comment at one point about how much yarn I had and didn’t I have enough already. (and yes, I did still marry him) So by way of proving that I did not actually have too much yarn I did what any reasonable knitter would do and drug every last skein and ball out of storage and cataloged it. (maybe I should mention that my undergrad degree was in Library Science, but I’d have cataloged it anyway)

I seriously recommend doing this, for whatever craft or hobby thing you’re into. You’ll come out with a much better understanding of what you have and you’ll likely notice some trends. Like for me, I have WAY more sock/fingering weight yarn than anything else and a lot of that is from Knit Picks.

That’s a piece of my spreadsheet. Ain’t it purty?

I really do find it helpful. I try to add the information about new yarn when I get it and then once I use a skein I highlight that row and make a brief note about what I used it for and when. Ideally I would love to go back and get pictures of the things I’ve made and be able to tag the photo with what yarn I used and when the project was completed. I know a lot of people do that and I think it’s a great idea. It definitely appeals to my desire for order.

And since we’re talking about new yarn…

Wooly Wonka Arianrhod Sock yarn in Peacock

That lovely yarn arrived earlier this week. Lancelot picked out the color and it’s so stinkin’ pretty. I took the picture right next to the window so the color is pretty close. The two skeins I got of this are going to become a Sunset Lights shawl. I think it’s going to be absolutely stunning.

So yes, I desire order. I think I’ve mentioned this before but I don’t deal well with chaos, not in my physical surroundings and not in my head. And unfortunately the more chaos there is in my physical world the harder it is to control what’s happening in my head. The one feeds the other. This is part of why every morning (except Fridays) I make the bed. I also usually take time to straighten up the house (if I didn’t the night before) and I try to run a load of laundry as soon as there’s enough to do so.

If my home, and now my office at home, are tidy and orderly then it’s easier for me to feel like my head space can be more orderly. Knitting, and cooking to an extent, are also part of that. Having that time to relax with something I enjoy is crucial.

I know it’s hard for all of us right now with everything being different and scary, but my tiny bit of advice is to control what you can and roll with the rest of it.

Or you can be like Eric and bury your head in your paws while you nap

it’s a sickness

I’m one of those people who pretty well has to be busy all the time. I have this sort of compulsion to be doing things. I love lists and that feeling of crossing things off of them. My idea of a good day off is getting a ton of shit done.

Seriously, I wonder if there’s some kind of medication for this?

I’m only partially jesting. I know that part of my compulsions could easily be tracked back to the bipolar, so I keep a close eye on that shit. When I get to the point where I feel like I need to do ALL the things all at once, I call the good doc.

Right now I think that more than anything this is a need to have some kind of control over my world in an effort to experience some normalcy. And who doesn’t need/want that these days?

So this weekend we spent some time getting ready for the Halloween party, in addition to getting things done around the house that had been put off for too long. Laundry got caught up again, the utility room in the basement got cleaned, and we just sort of tidied up in general. And I knit.

I keep thinking I should take a picture of what I’m working on but then I forget until the lighting is just horrid, but this is at least a try…

Off Kilter

This is my Off Kilter shawl, using size 3 needles (I’ll have to switch to longer ones soon), with La Jolla yarn from Baah in the Pink Tourmaline colorway. The color in this picture isn’t quite right, though it is delightfully bright. The pattern suggested a yarn with a nice color change in it, which would be great, but I think this is going to be wonderful. I’m figuring that the unusual construction will be even more obvious in the solid color. And the pattern is a great balance of “mindless” and “gotta count right here.” Just a fabulous project all the way around.

the best laid plans

So that was not really the weekend I had in mind, but it’s all good. No one ended up in jail or the ER, so we’ll call it a win.

In the category of productive things we did get the grocery shopping done, we got our flu shots, we finally figured out the pressure cooker thing, and we had our monthly “big outing” to our favorite Italian restaurant. I finally got to wear the dragon bracelet Lancelot got me. I felt swanky.

We really are kind of cute together.

I appear to have caught the rotten seasonal Fall cold that’s going around. Joy. What that usually means for me is lots of drainage and headaches and sometimes a very upset stomach. I got all of that on Sunday. I was MISERABLE.

I did manage to get some knitting done. I’ve reached the lace portion of the S shawl (I cannot spell it right, sorry) and this is the first time, at least that I can recall, that I’ve done lace from a chart. It scared me, I’m not going to lie. And I’m not really even sure why other than it’s different. I’m also not going to lie and tell you that I haven’t screwed up a bit, but you know what? Who cares. It’s my shawl and no one else will know. So there you have it.

I’ve finished the first 24 rows and have started on the second set. I’d like to maybe do three repeats but I don’t know that I’ll have enough yarn. I am planning to use as much of this second skein as possible.

And I started the other shawl I had lined up on Sunday. It’s called Waves of Happiness, and unfortunately it’s no longer available. If you want to see a picture you can still see it on Ravelry. I had printed a copy of it ages ago and stashed it in my binder. Anyway, I’m using a very lovely dark purple tonal yarn from Knit Picks. L ordered me more knitting needles on Sunday because I realized I didn’t have one long enough to work the body of this shawl. That’s love, let me tell you.

For anyone else interested in what’s to become of the yarn I got last week, the three very pale purple balls of Palette are destined to become the Ennis Lotus Cowl, the two balls of Chroma will become the Caterpillar Shawlette, and I’m thinking the green skein will end up as a Greenfield Shawl. I have no idea yet what to do with that super funky skein – suggestions anyone?