soup may just save us all

Yesterday was Monday and for us that means “meatless” for our dinner. We aren’t vegetarians, not that I have anything against folks who are, but I like the idea of at least one night a week having a meal that doesn’t involve meat. Partially this helps me get Lancelot to eat more veggies and partially it gets me to step outside my comfort zone and cook more stuff.

Given that autumn is finally showing up in our part of the country it seemed like yesterday was a good day for soup. I started the pot at 8am and let it go until around 5pm. It was amazing. There were onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, white beans, fire roasted corn, fire roasted crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, veggie broth, fresh spinach, and tiny pasta. No recipe for this, I just made it up as I went. Some of the veggies I used had been lingering in the fridge for awhile and some we picked up on an unexpected trip to Whole Foods yesterday. Honestly, probably one of the Top 5 pots of soup I’ve ever made. One of the best things about cooking a giant pot of soup for just two people is that I got 3 dinners and 6 lunches out of that one session of cooking. (the lunch bowls are in the freezer)

Part of how I show love is through food. I am by no means a chef, I don’t do gourmet things, and I’m not very good with baking. But I like to try new things and I find cooking to be a creative outlet. And I am known (sometimes lovingly teased) about offering food to my friends any chance I get.

But I do like to cook big batches of things that freeze well because it just makes me feel more secure somehow to know that there’s always nutritious food in the house that isn’t going to require hours to prepare. Call me silly, I just don’t find that I enjoy fast food most of the time anymore. And if there’s food already prepared in the house that just needs warmed up I’m far less likely to end up making questionable choices about my meals. (I said less likely…)

Garth typically takes his afternoon nap (one of them at least) on the doormat in the sunroom. He kind of just lays there in a melted little puddle of kitty and he’s so stinkin’ cute that I have to rub his little white belly. And then I bleed.

making the most of a monday

“Make it stop, please Mama?”

We woke up at 3:50am this morning because it sounded like the world was finally ending. Turns out it was just your typical Midwestern thunderstorm, but once you’ve been rudely awakened like that the only thing for it is to have a pee and make something warm to drink. Dog Blossom didn’t used to be all that phased by storms, but after the big bullshit we had earlier this summer she’s not at all fond. That picture was her this morning, camped out in my lap. She stayed like that for almost an hour.

I’ve been realizing lately that my routines are still majorly screwed up and it’s causing me to feel more than slightly off kilter. I’m trying to figure out how to unscrew them and get things a little more organized. I have no delusions that I will ever have my ducks in a row. The best I can, and will, ever hope for is that my army of squirrels all end up attending the same rave on the same day. It’s good to have dreams.

Lego!

This is the Lego Bonsai kit I had picked up when we went to Minneapolis earlier this summer. I had forgotten how much I enjoy doing these. I believe Lancelot is going to be getting me a few more of the botanical type things. I also spent some time making three pair of earrings and finally getting my creative spot in the sunroom setup the rest of the way.

I have been realizing that taking time to do these kinds of projects is super vital for me. L and I took a 3-day weekend together and were able to do a little shopping, watch goofy TV, and just hang out together. It was amazingly restful. I think it’s far too easy to forget how much we need to take that time for ourselves until we do take some and then remember how good it is.

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!

enjoying it while i can

So stinkin’ cute

We had our “village” over for dinner Saturday night. These people are the friends we can call on at any time, for anything. And they can do the same with us. We all have our struggles and our emotional baggage from the past and we don’t hold that against each other. There’s a whole lot of unconditional acceptance and love in our village.

Lancelot’s birthday is later this week and I wanted to do something for him, but he’s not super excited about celebrating it or making a fuss about it. So I invited our friends over for dinner and didn’t say anything to any of them about it, or to him, until K noticed on the menu board in the kitchen that next Saturday we’re going out for L’s birthday with my folks. I wanted to keep things very low-key so that everyone was comfortable. It was amazing.

And the scarf has finally told me that it wants to be K’s. I had made them a beanie / fingerless mitt set and the colors coordinate nicely. At any rate, the scarf will have a good home with a great friend.

I try to stay optimistic about damn near everything, but I also try to be realistic. I watch the news at least once a day and I’ve been paying attention to what’s happening with the COVID-19 Delta variant. I know that even though we’ve been vaccinated we could still carry it and spread it. And I know that the governor in our state is a complete jackass when it comes to certain things, issues of public safety and health being what come to mind right now.

So we’ll be back to wearing masks in public, minimizing our exposure to and from other people. And for me this means I’ll be wearing a mask when I’m working on campus. Better safe than dead.

Next week is our vacation and our anniversary. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since we got married. It’s been one hell of a ride, especially considering that we’ve been living in a pandemic for the duration of our wedded life thus far. But I honestly can’t imagine going through this with anyone else by my side.

Yup, so stinkin’ cute

yardsticks

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ll have no doubt noticed that I have a theory about damn near everything. I don’t know if it’s just a character quirk or a coping mechanism or yet another way for me to annoy the world, but it is what it is. So here we go, time for another of my theories.

I believe that each of us has a different method by which we measure success and/or happiness. Some people use dollar signs or other material goods. Some people use the amount of education they have. Some people use some combination of things. It seems that it’s sort of rare for someone to only use the Almighty Dollar, there are some out there. Unfortunately I seem to know way too many of those these days…

I digress. (as usual)

This popped up on Facebook and is why I’m standing on the Soapbox du Jour. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that some people are fortunate enough to make more than what they need to comfortably exist and can own more toys than they can play with at one time or can hire help to take care of basic tasks that most of us still struggle to accomplish. And it’s not like I would ever wish people like that would find themselves infested with crotch critters while both arms were broken and unable to be bent, and that all of that would be happening while on some exotic vacation in a remote part of the world that unfortunately still has less than amazing health care because the Big Pharma jerks and the other bastard billionaires on the planet are more interested in profits than people.

Wait, I went off track there…

I actually kind of enjoy not “having it all.” I’m more creative with my wardrobe because I try not to buy new clothes until I’m out of pieces that fit. I will happily make jewelry for myself, and I’m actually getting to the point of eliminating all of my costume jewelry because I just don’t enjoy it. I have *never* purchased a brand new car because it just seems a little dumb to me. (plus I couldn’t have qualified for a loan on something brand new until recently) And while I certainly wouldn’t call our house “simple” it also isn’t brand new or a McMansion – neither of which I would want anyway. One of my friends made a comment recently about how our place feels like home and that almost made me cry.

So…

I consider myself super fucking lucky that Lancelot and I have this beautiful home to live in, we have a car that is in good shape (and almost paid off!), that we have access to good medical care (and are both in damn good health). We have enough extra income that we can help out when a friend, or even a cause we feel strongly about, needs a little boost.

Mostly though I count our wealth in terms of intangibles.

We have each other. We have my folks and Lancelot’s family. We have a really tight knit village of friends who are BatShit Crazy and loyal as fuck. And we have the furkids.

According to the yardstick I use for such things, we are the most successful and wealthy people ever.

randomly random

This dog is just crazy

It’s been interesting around here. I’m trying to get myself in the right frame of mind to get back to working at work, I’m trying to get back to making healthier food choices, and I’m trying to take care of my health. Some times those things are at odds with each other. But I’m still trying.

The left mitt is DONE

The right one is actually almost done, like within just a few rows. I’m not in love with the pattern, I didn’t feel that it was written particularly well for the way that I knit. But I retyped what I needed to so that it made sense for me and then told myself that I simply could not knit anything else until these got finished. The really fun thing is that I’m fairly sure there’s enough yarn left to make a simple beanie.

Home made spice “packets”

We eat Indian food quite a bit these days, four recipes in particular. And I love it but cooking it is a bit of a chore simply because of how many different spices are used and have to be measured. I decided that the most efficient thing to do would be to make my own spice packet things. I had been doing this just for the curry recipe but that was before I expanded out to making Butter Chicken, Kheema, and Mattar Paneer. On Saturday I got out my tiny containers and my recipes and started measuring. I made four packets for each recipe except the Mattar Paneer, I only made three of those. To make it easy to tell them apart I put each kind into its own labeled storage bag. This should make it very easy to reuse the little containers and the big bags. And it’s going to save me a ton of time when I’m cooking. WIN!!!

My guys are just goofy

I find it difficult to get my folks gifts, especially since they can buy themselves anything they want/need. For Mother’s Day I told my mom to let me know what she wanted for dinner, anything she wanted, and I would cook it for her and R. I also got her a little trinket and a sappy card. I made the same offer to R so he and Mom came over Saturday night for steak, baked potatoes, sauteed onions, rolls, and corn. I also picked up a cherry pie from a local restaurant that has an amazing bakery.

At any rate, we all had a good time. It always feels kind of weird to refer to R as my stepdad because that has strange “feels” to me. He’s this super nice guy who makes my mom happy. I call him Pops. And he thinks I make the best steaks ever. He’s right.

Garth is too sexy for these pillows, but not for the raccoon

so there I was, hip deep in chewed on pansies and lilies trying to fit a tarp over a blow up kiddie pool

The yellow Asian lilies are stunning right now

So the title is partially accurate. I planted pansies in the front of the house and the damn bunnies are snacking on them. And there are lilies, right now the beautiful yellow seen above and some that are more of a copper orange color. I think there are white, pink, and red out there somewhere. There’s also a ton of yellow hollyhocks. Thanks to my mom that yard is full of pretty things.

Now that the Evil Robin has left we can actually get out to the yard and we did indeed setup a pool. I told Lancelot that I want a place I can park my hot old ass when it’s hot and hang out with Dog Blossom. So far we’ve only done it once but it was mostly fun.

There’s a flower on my nose!

I took a picture this morning to send to a friend of mine and figured I’d share it here. I’ve reached a point where I really don’t notice it’s there unless I catch the “shiny” out of the corner of my eye. If I smack myself in the nose or catch it on something then I notice it from a physical perspective, but most of the time I don’t. I’m quite pleased that I finally went ahead and did it.

Ilo!

This is my version of the Ilo shawl. I used Trendsetter Yarns Paradigm in the Golden Flowers colorway. I started this on January 16, 2020 and bound off this morning, June 16, 2021. This is my very first all lace shawl and I am stupid proud of it. I’m hoping to be able to block it soon.

You may recall that one of my goals for this year is to successfully finish all of the “legacy” projects that I started last year and didn’t finish. I have two left. I started a pair of cabled mitts for my friend K on January 20, 2020 and the Sunset Lights shawl on November 23, 2020. Maybe I can get the mitts done by June 20? That would be neato, and they are what I’ve designated as next in line.

I am still working on the feather and fan scarf and the Skewed Shawl but they can chill for a bit. The scarf is my “public” knitting right now. At any rate, I feel amazing that I’m making such good progress.

And I’m back to doing Noom, at least almost entirely. I’m not worrying about exercising just yet. I need to get my shit back together and so far just paying attention to what I’m eating/drinking and logging it is helping. The weight I had gained back is starting to go away again. This makes me happy.

I feel this so much

It’s hot here right now, which isn’t uncommon for this time of year, but that doesn’t mean we have to enjoy it. I’m not looking forward to going back to working on campus in part because of having to deal with weather. But deal I shall. I’m still working on planning and plotting and figuring out how to make the most of the situation. I think I’m doing well. But I still want to curl up on a blanket with my ginger babes.

rolling with the punches

I saw that this morning and it didn’t speak to me, it fucking shouted at me. That’s precisely what I’m going to do today, what I’ve already started doing. I will pull myself out and do what I do best. And I will shine like the sparkly rainbow glitter covered unicorn I am. Hells yeah.

I could waste time and energy on being pissy about going back to campus or I can start laying plans for how I’m going to take over the world.

Step One: New Clothes – I realized the other day that I do not currently own enough appropriate clothing to wear to the office even three days a week without wearing damn near the same thing every week, not that I have an issue with that, but it’s not me. So Friday afternoon I went shopping with one of my colleagues. I found some lovely new pieces that should see me through a few more sizes. Speaking of which…

Step Two: Get Back to Healthy – Here recently I have basically abandoned everything I had learned about eating and living healthier. As such I’ve gained a few pounds back. When I eat healthier I feel better and when I get more activity I feel even better, so, I really want to get back into it. I’m starting this morning by logging my food again and trying to make choices that will fill me up in happy ways. Over the weekend I made a batch of steel cut oats for breakfasts and we stopped at a farm stand over the weekend so I’m currently enjoying delicious strawberries for a snack.

Step Three: Figuring Out What “Back in the office” Looks Like – There are things I take for granted when working from home, like having access to the drinks and food I want. I’ll have to take everything to work again, and now I don’t have a whole office to spread out in. There is a closet back in the office that was formerly mine that we’ll be storing our personal stuff in, but that means figuring out some storage issues. Yesterday afternoon I ordered something that I think will help, I hope. I also picked up an extra phone charger that will plug right into my laptop, and it was only $1, and it looks like a koala. But there are things like that, silly seeming things, that I’ve come to take for granted. Think about it though – I kept those same things for granted going the other direction when I was working on campus full time and never considered that I wouldn’t work on campus. Bottom line with this is that I’ll be back to playing “turtle” and living out of my backpack, and that’s totally cool because I know I can do that.

Step Four: Figuring Out What “Two Days at Home” Looks Like – Working from home like I have has been wonderful for my relationship with Lancelot. We get more time together than we ever have before and than if I had stayed working on campus full time. I feel like this time together has been the best part of the pandemic and I truly believe that our relationship is as strong as it is because of this. L has already told me that he’ll take on more of the chores around the house since I won’t be here as much, and that’s going to help a ton. Every time I start to flip out about all of this and cry he just holds me and strokes my hair and reminds me that we can do anything.

Step Five: Breathe – There’s a lot going on right now and I need to remember to take care of myself. It is impossible to pour from an empty cup. On Saturday we went and got our monthly massages. We stopped at the coffee shop on the way and while L was in having his massage I worked on a knitting project. I refuse to give up that time. And I finished a book and started another, and I’m back to working on the lace shawl. I’m taking care of myself because it’s essential, and let’s face it, I enjoy it.

One day at a time, I will survive this, too.

words are hard, have some pictures instead

I am pretty sure I have some kind of sinus infection. Yesterday I ended up spending the entire day, Monday?, in PJs doing remarkably little. I needed it. I maybe could have used another today, but I’m going to try to get by with just calling it a day early. So the ol’ brain pan isn’t working that well right now, I’ll offer you some pictures in lieu of coherent thoughts.

Her new favorite place to lay at night, right in the middle of my lap.

Finished shawl; two repeats of the lace pattern. I need to block it yet. I had a ton of fun knitting this.

The start of Waves of Happiness. I’m 20 repeats into the lace border. Those are my favorite slippers, by the way. Oh, and L’s feet on the other foot thingy.

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?