Monday, May 28, 2012

Too Much . . .

Before I get started, just a shout out to all our men and women who serve in our armed forces all over the globe.  Thank you  :-)

Over on the Year of Stash Socks board on Ravelry, we've been having a "finish it up" challenge over this Memorial Day Weekend.

It's the last day to finish up what we can for this challenge, and boy, have I learned a lesson.  I'm much better as a more serial knitter.  I do not like having all these WIPs.  It's hard to come back to something long after the fact and finish it.  I'm going to be finishing or frogging a lot of stuff in the coming months.  This goes along with some other work I'm doing with Julia Cameron's book, Finding Water. I have decided that it's not best for me to have more than 3 WIPs at any one time.  That's how I used to operate, and I've gotten carried away. 

For the challenge, I had six things I put in my list because I "didn't know what I'd feel like working on."  Hmmmmm, there's a clue right there . . .

1)  My Augusta Cardigan.  I took it with me yesterday to a "crafternoon" with a bunch of my friends, most of whom are very good knitters.  The general consensus is that I have to either detach and frog the sleeves, or detach and narrow the back at the shoulders.  I'm smaller since I started this sweater - this is what comes of not finishing stuff - and now it's actually too big for me.  I made it as a jacket rather than a close-to-the-body-cardigan, but still, it's too big, and even though I planned to roll the cuffs, the sleeves are really too long . . . Of course my finish work is such that I can't even find the yarn to cut to detach anything  :-(   I don't know what I'm going to do here . . .  there's a huge piece of me that feels like I should just bag this as a hard lesson learned.

2) The Moroccan Backpack.  Oh.  All things Moroccan fascinate me, and when this pattern came up in an Interweave publication, I jumped on it.  I was relentless in the knitting of it.  I did nothing else for the couple of weeks it took for me to finish it.  Unfortunately, it didn't felt like the photo, and I ended up with more a messenger bag than a back pack.  And, also unfortunately, it biased when it felted.  I've held it in reserve for more than year, thinking that I was going to make an actual messenger bag out of it.  The choice is to finish it or toss it as a lesson learned.  I'm making my decision today . . .  :-(  Who am I kidding?  This one's going out . . .

3)  Vodka Lemonade.  My current sweater in progress.  It will not be finished this weekend, although I did work on a sleeve yesterday.  It will be finished, however, and soon.

4)  A felted lunchbox.  First I couldn't find the pattern, but I found it, and once again, I've let this sit so long that I'm going to have to do some frogging before I can actually finish it.   It's on the docket for some work today.  I would really like to finish it.

5)  Mulled Wine Socks. No progress here - these have been lingering since October.  They will be finished.

6)  Some gift knitting that is stranded colorwork . . .  too much twisting and then having to untwist the yarns.  If these weren't a special gift, there's no way I would continue . . .

7) Finish spinning some wool that I started two years ago.  Well, YAY ME!  I managed to do this yesterday!  :-)

8)  The Sofa of Doom.  You know, this has been on my list of goals again since January.  I made serious progress here on Friday night and have high hopes for today  :-)

MemDayChall2012_03

I have a sort of list of the unfinished objects (UFOs) or, if you prefer, works in progress (WIPs) over on the sidebar.  I have just updated it.  ====:-O   I'm going to have to work these down.  I must, or lose my sanity, I think.  As mentioned previously here on this blog, I am overwhelmed in too many areas.  It's time to get some things accomplished. and off my plate so that I feel like I have a little more control over things.

In other news of the day, a second loom may be on its way to me!  A dear friend found a loom in the effects of someone in his family, and he said, "A, do you know anyone who weaves?"  :-D  Um . . . me.  He's shipping it here.  I have no idea what kind it is, or even if it's all together, but I know plenty of people who can help me when it arrives.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I Forgot . . .

Memorial Day Weekend!

Time for a little catching up.  I have not posted any weight stats for the past few weeks because I have been struggling so mightily.  And in the last month I have learned a great deal. 

I had a belated birthday lunch yesterday with my high school friend, R.  She is the only person I am in touch with from those days - and I always find it to be so amazing that we have known each other as long as we have - and that we escaped from the high school we attended to become the awesome souls we are today.  Believe me, it's a miracle.  We attended high school in one of the most conservative suburbs of Chicagoland that exists . . .

Over our annual lunch of pear blossom martinis and deadly good steak, we catch up with each other's lives, and squeeze months of living into a few hours.  Yesterday's afternoon included a visit to Mosaic Yarn, where I got got spend my Christmas gift certificate  :-)  (no, I didn't buy yarn, but that big reissued knitting compendium, an Elsebeth Lavold book and the buttons for a cardigan that will get finished today, came home with me!)

One of the things we talked about is how amazed we are that we are both still learning so much about our bodies at this stage of our lives.  R is learning to live with a recently diagnosed chronic condition, and I - well, other than the size of my ass, I'm blessedly healthy, for which I am grateful every day. What I've learned, though, in the past month - that's what's interesting to me.  In the past month, I've gained about 7 pounds.  Knowing my body as I do, I know at least 3 or 4 pounds of that is water.  The rest is  - well, my response to workplace stress. 

Because I don't define myself by what I do to pay the bills, I have pretty much always been able to leave work behind me when I walk out the door.  But lately, that's not been the case.  My workload has increased to the point where it would take - literally - three people to replace me should I get run over by a bus.  It's never possible to catch up.  It's never possible to finish something and feel like it's done, and done well.  Mistakes are made.  Constantly.  Impossible demands are made - and are not able to be fulfilled, leading to a constant mantle of failure.

Do you remember the old joke about the man drowning in the ocean? 

A guy in a rowboat comes back and says "Hop in!  I'll save you."   And the man says, "No, no, I'm waiting for God to save me."  Awhile later, an ocean liner come by, and the captain says, "Hang on, I'll throw you a life preserver!  I'll save you."  And the man says, "No, no, I'm waiting for God to save me."  Then, a helicopter flies over and the pilot yells down, "I'm dropping the ladder down!  Grab on and I'll save you."  And the man says, "No, no, I'm waiting for God to save me."  The man drowns, and when he gets to the Pearly Gates, he says to God, "I was praying and waiting for you to save me, God - why didn't you save me?" 

And God says, "What!!  I sent you a rowboat.  I sent you an ocean liner.  And then I even sent you a helicopter!  What more did you want?!"

I brought work stress home with me - so exhausted by the time I would get home, that I wasn't capable of anything other than collapsing in a chair in front of the telly, and too tired to walk in the mornings.  That should have been my rowboat moment.

Eating fast food because I was too exhausted to cook and eat healthily was my ocean liner (because I don't east fast food - I just don't . . . JesusMaryandJosephthatstufftasteslikeshit).  But still, I kept on keeping on.

My helicopter moment was forgetting to pay the mortgage.

I forgot to pay the mortgage. 

Oh HELL no.  Multiple divorces, the death of my mom, every kind of life upheaval imaginable has happened to me, and I have always paid the mortgage - on time, every time.  Anyone who knows me in the real world knows that bills and personal finance are areas where I'm stellar. Stellar.  Friends ask me for guidance, stellar. For me to forget to pay the mortgage . . . it's truly unbelievable, and serious, incontrovertible evidence that something was really not OK with me.

Pretty big wake up call, huh?   I was panic-stricken.  The mortgage got paid.  I spoke to my boss, and things are in the process of getting back to a more even keel there (that's huge and I was worried, because that talk could have gone either way . . . ).  I am walking again.  Yesterday I made two very healthy and yummy salads to take to a BBQ today. 

Life really is what happens when we're making other plans, and it happens whether we are paying attention or not.  When I'm not paying attention is when I get into deep water.  The currents are rough and old habits die hard. And it's kind of funny in a macabre sort of way - I mean, really, how far out at sea do you have to be before you  have that "oh shit" moment and realize you can't swim back to shore on your own?  It pays to pay attention.  And it pays to pay the mortgage.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

And Another One's Gone, And Another One's Gone . . .

I'm not having a very good music year.

I cannot tell you the number of evenings spent in discos dancing to the music of Donna Summer.  This was one of my favorites - here she is in 1999.  She changed up the lyric in later years, it's worth the time to hear a real singer - no lipsynching, no autotune, just a mighty set of pipes that never quit . . .



And I've been a fan of the Bee Gees since I was a kid . . .


Waiting for the other shoe to drop . . . these things usually come in threes. . .

In other news of the day, Chicagoland is working its way through the NATO Summit.  One more day.  It should be an interesting commute tomorrow . . .

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day . . .

Yesterday . . . No, I'm not going to break into song, although, as those who know me in person can attest, that's not out of the ordinary for me.  :-)

Yesterday was quite a day.  I spent most of it with my cousin, ME.  We have been close all our lives, and we have both been attempting to help one of my other cousins, S, as he works through his mom's passing.  ME has done more of the hands-on helping than I have.  She's better equipped.  Mostly I talk, and listen, and occasionally read the riot act.  S loves us both, and he's doing the best he can.  Unfortunately, he's one of those men who never really had to grow up, and now that he's had to, pretty much overnight, it's not been an easy journey for him.  But, he truly is doing the best he can, and while he might not be doing things as quickly or in the way I or ME would, we are both learning to just take a step back while continuing to encourage him.

My Aunt died a year ago - on my birthday.  It took S a year to agree to an estate sale, which occurred two weeks ago.  I didn't go.  There were a few things I wanted, and I got some of them before everything was settled for the sale.  The estate sale went well, but there was so much stuff left that S had a second sale - a garage sale - on Friday and yesterday.

ME and I had lunch with her dad, and then ran over to the Home Depot so I could get some potting soil and some new pots for some plants in my sunroom.  She had spent the morning helping S with the sale, and we went back over there after our jaunt to look over what was left.

I had wanted a silly picture (The Picture) that had hung in my Aunt's home for pretty much as long as I could remember, and I had asked ME to pick The Picture up for me at the original sale if it didn't sell, but she forgot.  So I thought I'd see if it was still there, and then she told me she had already grabbed The Picture for me, and there was a blood pressure cuff, and I figured that would be a good thing to have.  I didn't plan on bringing home anything else.  I mean, I have been continually down-sizing and divesting in this house since I moved into it and my own mom passed, 8 years ago.

Two glass hurricanes, a Jello mold, a 3-part Christmas tray, The Picture, the BP cuff, a Christmas tablecloth that I'm sure was my mom's, a wooden TV table that is perfect in my sunroom, a 3-piece green beaded wool suit, a kitchen tablecloth with fruit on it, assorted other bits and pieces and a wedding gown later, I trundled on home.

Yes, a wedding gown . . .

I really had no intent other than The Picture and the BP Cuff.  It was sad to be in the house with strangers pawing the dregs of what was left.  And what was left was mostly junk.  My wacky Aunt, God rest her, loved junk. :-)  She was my mom's sister-in-law.  She was glamorous. She always wore wigs.  She was flamboyant (she had been a burlesque dancer!), and she loved sparkly sometimes fur-trimmed clothes, and she loved jewelry of all kinds - and junk.  Figurines, boxes of plastic Christmas decorations, snow globes, artwork from KMart.  You name your junk of choice and she probably had it.  And by yesterday, the junk was pretty much all that was left.  ME and I looked around again, mostly looking for things to buy so we could help S out.  Then, as I was looking around her bedroom, tossed carelessly into a laundry basket on the floor, I saw her wedding dress . . .

Many years ago, when I got married the first time, my Aunt sent her wedding dress out to Denver (where I was living at the time) with the hopes that I might wear it.  My own mother's wedding dress had been lost in a car theft years before, so I was very happy to try it. 

Simple, elegant, off the shoulder, long sleeves that came to a graceful point on the back of my hand.  Plain, cream-colored heavy satin. 

Dress 01

Princess lines, simple train, small ruffled underskirt, and around the shoulders, gathered cream  Brussels lace beaded with pearls and rhinestones. 

Dress 02

I'd seen the pictures of her in it (she was a stunner), and I adored it.  But, unfortunately, although I was pretty much bone thin then, my Aunt had been a dancer in her day, and even though I could get it on, it was just too tight around the rib cage for me to comfortably wear it.  I don't remember why I didn't try to have it altered - it was either because it was vintage late 40s/early 50s and there didn't seem to be a way to alter it well, or that she might have asked me not to change it.

At any rate, I disappointedly boxed it back up and sent it back to her, where, apparently, it remained, sealed in the box for more than 25 years until we found it after she died.  We opened the box that day and it looked exactly as it had when I returned it, still cradled in tissue - no apparent damage.

Dress 03

. . . I picked it up gently from the floor, wondering who had so carelessly tossed it there, and gently draped it over my arms and took it out to my car, and then went back for the box and the underskirt.  I paid S for it. 

I guess I will take it to Lansing Cleaners and see about preserving it.  Maybe one of ME's nieces will wear it some day.  Probably not, though.  I don't know why I think I should do this - I didn't keep either of the ensembles I actually wore.  A friend of mine has the dress and jacket I wore for my first wedding (and another friend has the hat and veil, and I donated what I wore for the second one to the Second Chance Shop a few years ago.  Why I felt compelled to rescue my Aunt's dress is beyond me at present, but there it is.

With my Aunt's passing last year, I became the matriarch of my clan.  It's not a mantle I wear well.  I'm not a mom, and I certainly don't have all the answers that my mom and my wacky Aunt did.  I miss them both, and many is the time in the past 8 years I have wished in vain for my mom so I could ask her what to do or what to say in a given situation . . .

On we go, each on our chosen paths.  If you still have your mom, honor her - not only today, but every day.  If you are on the outs with your mom, make it up - you will miss her when she is gone in a way that you can't understand until you don't have her anymore.  And if your mom is gone and you have regrets, forgive yourself and know that you both did the best you could. 

I work at letting go of the past all the time - I have a tendency to hold on too tightly I think.  Letting go of the past frees us for our journey - possessions sometimes weigh us down.  But there are memories of hope and promise embodied in this dress.  Memories of my sometimes contentious relationship with my Aunt (she could be mean, but we always made it up) are tied up in this satin and lace somehow.

I've decided that it won't hurt to hold on to this memory for awhile longer.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Struggling

Why is it that sometimes it's harder?

I'm struggling with food right now.  Just when I think I have turned a corner, I find myself back in old patterns. 

I am reminded of a story that Dr. Wayne Dyer tells in his most recent PBS special, about a woman who was describing her process.  She said something similar to this:

I walk down the street and I fall in a hole.  It takes me a year to get out.
I walk down the street and I fall in a hole.  It takes me months to get out
I walk down the street and I fall in a hole.  It takes me months to get out 
I walk down the street and I fall in a hole.  It takes me a week to get out.
I wald down the street and I fall in a hole.  It takes me weeks to get out.
I walk down the street and I fall in a hole.  I get out.
I walk down the street and I fall in a hole.  I get out
I walk down the street and I avoid the hole.
I walk down the street and I avoid the hole.
I walk down a different street.

Morning pages were on the docket this morning.  Yay me  :-)  And there is a piping lesson tonight.  Yay me.  And now, it's time to look at my day and get cracking.

I walk down the street . . .

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tea after 7 p.m.

I made myself one of my favorite dinners this evening:  shrimp, whole wheat pasta, broccoli, and garlic, with some olive oil, some butter and the juice of half a fresh lemon.  YUM, moderately healthy, and well worth the PointsPlus  :-)

And then, I was thinking how most people like to have a cup of coffee after dinner.  Well, I don't drink coffee, and although I do know better, I decided to have a cup of tea.  When you are pretty nearly caffeine-free, having tea after about 6:30 in the evening is a poor idea.  And silly me - I've done it at least three nights this week.  :-S

I am really, really tired because I didn't sleep enough this week . . . and here I sit, wide awake after midnight . . .

Goofball . . .

:-D

I had two takers on my Pay it Forward Challenge.  I'm not sure what that means . . . that only two bloggers read my blog?  That only two people read my blog?  :-D  Whatever it means, Michelle and Candy, I'm looking forward to making something for each of you and I'm glad you're spreading the challenge on your blogs! 

Since I left the post up for a week with only two takers, I have decided to close it down, and for the third item, I'm going to knit a Mother Bear for the Mother Bear Project.

I was up about 3.4 pounds last week (yes, these big jumps are unnerving, aren't they?), and then down again this week 1.8.  So, now that I don't have a lot of events, etc. to think about, I think my focus will be back on shrinkage.  With a vengeance.

I did speak to my trainer, and we are agreed that my next goal seems quite do-able.  :-)  Yay!

My blood pressure continues to drop.  It was 106/60 on Tuesday the 1st.  Yay Me!  I am back to the point of having to pay attention, though, when going from a prone to an upright position.  Because I'm relatively tall and my BP is now what many would consider low, the chances of my leaping up and subsequently falling over are real.  And yes, I have done that before, more than once, but not for quite some time. 

In the realm of knitting, I have a sweater on the needles that I've been working on pretty steadily.  It's called Vodka Lemonade.  I'm liking it.  I hope it fits me  :-)  I have a short jacket that seems to hit me in a pretty good place, and I'm going to measure it so I can get a similar length on the sweater.

And this weekend is pretty much my own.

I'm a happy gal!

And - finally - quite possibly a sleepy gal  :-)