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.

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.

how many is too many?

I have three containers in the guest room closet. One container is for holiday gifts that are done. (Done is defined as the knitting is complete but needs the ends woven in and possibly requires blocking, just FYI) One container is for projects for myself. And the final container is for charity projects.

Holiday gifts = 1 thing

My container = 2 scarves and 4 shawls

Charity container = 4 scarves and 3 washcloths

On the needles right now I currently have:

  • a beaded lace cowl for myself
  • a charity scarf (these are plain old garter stitch with a slipped first stitch)
  • a charity washcloth (super basic garter diagonal thing)
  • a shawl for a holiday gift
  • a lace scarf for myself

I have the variety because I have different knitting moods. That beaded lace cowl is going to be amazing but it’s slow as fuck because of the beads. The holiday gift shawl is easy enough but it’s the sort of thing that you really need to have time to do a whole section at a time; way too easy to get lost if you don’t. The lace scarf for me is a very simple two-row repeat. The charity pieces are very simple and are perfect for when I want to knit but not think.

I also have some projects that involve beads and recycled jewelry. I just need some time and a bit of ambition.

Eric’s projects all involve naps

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!

holiday weekend hangover

I very much resemble this remark today

For those of you in the States I hope you were able to enjoy the Labor Day holiday weekend. For those of you living elsewhere, I hope you were able to enjoy a regular weekend. Every weekend should be a holiday in my opinion. That perfect blend of “getting shit done that I’m too fucking tired for during the week” and “sitting around in elastic-waist pants watching horrible TV and eating sketchy food.” It’s really a beautiful thing.

We really did get a good quantity of stuff done which made me feel fantastic. We ran a few errands and then tackled the pantry. Our house was built in the very late 1970s so the pantry is not original to the house and is, in all reality, a nicely oversized cabinet that was added to serve this specific purpose. All I really needed to do was another Magic 4th Grader Allowance Makeover (TM) by moving one shelf and adding some organizer basket-y things. Lancelot was an amazing help with this. So now we have things better organized and that makes it easier to do things like this…

Tofu & Black Bean Nachos

Yesterday was Meatless Monday and my friend K had come over to hang out with me and learn how to crochet. We had a blast. And she was able to stay for dinner and is into this whole vegetarian thing so she spiffed up the beans while I got the tofu in shape. It was super yummy.

On the knitting front I have managed to finish two scarves for charity and I’ve started a third. I’m about halfway, maybe more, on the first holiday gift and I’ve identified two others. And I purchased a gift, which makes two so far, both for the same person, so as soon as the knit thing is done that person’s goodies are finished. Yay.

All of that means I have not been working on the beaded cowl for myself, but that’s totally fine. I’ve realized that half the joy of knitting for me is just the knitting itself. It doesn’t matter if what I’m making is for me, for someone I love, or for someone needs to know that someone out there gives a shit about them. The act of knitting connects me on a spiritual level with my grandmother who taught how to do this when I was eight years old.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to cry quietly in the corner after realizing just long ago that was…

getting it in a pile

My friend Dr. K had an expression “getting my poo in a pile” that is simultaneously really gross and very descriptive. Right now it mostly fits.

I’m doing better now than I have been in a bit. I feel a little more balanced and in control of my situation, and that’s good. Part of it I think was having last week mostly actually suck so that I could get my poo in a pile and make this week not suck. I realize that today is only Monday but work with me here, ok?

Over the weekend Lancelot and I spent some time “renovating” our guest room. My favorite way to reno/redo/whatever you want to call is to try to see what all I can accomplish with a budget roughly equivalent to a 4th grader’s allowance. Mostly this involves moving things from one place in the house where they’re underutilized to another place. So we did that, plus I bought 4 mid-sized storage boxes at Target. It was a huge success.

I also ended up go through my yarn stash looking for ideas for holiday gifts. Yes, it’s not quite September. No, I’m not crazy. I’ve got a few people this year that I want to knit things for and I don’t want to go all goofy crazy trying to finish in time. And I’ve somehow lost a skein of yarn. Dammit.

Anyway, while I was digging I came across the separate stash of yarn. One of the older gentlemen at the university knows I’m a knitter and so periodically he brings me gifts of yarn. I suspect that he and or his wife grab yarn that they find at garage sales, which isn’t what I typically knit with but it’s yarn and it’s a very lovely gesture. So I’ve just been hanging on to it, waiting for the universe to tell me what it should be.

It’s going to be used for charity.

I started a scarf yesterday with one small skein. I’m thinking I’ll make some scarves, hats, maybe mittens. This is almost entirely acrylic yarn that can be abused and not mind one bit. Winter here gets brutal and there’s routinely a shortage of winter gear at the local homeless shelters. It seems like a very appropriate thing to do, take one kindness and turn it into more.

Now if I could just find that missing skein of yarn…

yarn and beads (a very tiny update)

lace! and beads!

I did very little this weekend, and I’m ok with that. We had my mom and stepdad over for dinner Saturday and that was pretty much it. On Sunday I sat on my ass and knit. I finally finished the Feather and Fan scarf, I started a very basic wrap thingy, and I spent some time on that mess in the picture above. It will eventually be a beaded lace cowl, assuming I don’t go blind first.

And now I must go. I have an appointment for COVID vaccine shot #3 this afternoon, and I am quite happy about that.

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.

stop the world I want to get off… and I want my money back… and get off my damn lawn!!!

Every time I think my life is dull the universe grabs my little snow globe and shakes the ever loving shit out of it, like out of spite or something. For example, over the weekend we had 96mph straight line winds in the middle of the night. That’s hurricane force from what I understand. And I slept through it. That’s the ridiculous part, especially considering that wind at that speed is honestly fierce enough to uproot mature trees. I have some friends who are still, STILL, without power because power poles were snapped in half, trees fell on them, the grids got overloaded… It’s been ugly here.

For reference, Lancelot is just about 6ft tall. And we discovered that there were TWO large branches wedged in my lilac hedge. Two.

When the universe shook my little bubble it was kind enough to spare us any major damage. The power lines out in this part of town are all buried underground. My family has owned this house since 1979 and the power has only gone out for any length of time once. And the branches that we lost all landed in the lilacs, nothing hit the house. It took awhile to clean up but we had power the whole time and no holes in the roof – I’ll take it.

I wanted to prove to y’all that I am indeed still knitting. I’m within spitting distance of having the big shawl done which of course means I haven’t worked on it lately. But I have been working on the feather and fan scarf. The other scarf is at work since it’s actually even easier.

Wow, this is an awful photo…

Anyway, I’m still knitting. Yesterday was “Doctor Day” so it spent a fair amount of time in waiting rooms with me. Everything is good with the docs, just waiting to find out about a med change but hopefully that comes through today. And the bruises from the blood draws will fade.

Recycled plant hanger

So before I left yesterday morning for my “adventures” I decided to make a tiny project I’d been thinking about for awhile. This is an empty spice jar that I got the label removed from and some random wire and beads that I had laying around from other projects. It’s hanging from necklace chain on a curtain rod in the guest room. The plant is a “baby” from my spider plant. It had outgrown the other container I had it in, which now feels kind of like a nursery for these. At any rate, I feel quite proud of this.