Saturday, December 27, 2008
A lovely friend ... and I can't name her to thank her because I don't know her name ... has sent me a skein of --Drum Roll, please--Opal yarn, Dumbledore color. There's only one clue, well, aside from knowing that I would LOVE Dumbledore and don't already have it.
That clue is that the package came from Kay Mather who is a member of the Wednesday night Noble Knitters group and has recently opened a fiber business. That means that it's likely that my generous benefactor is one of the Nobles.
Thank you very much to whichever of you lovelies was so generous with me. I LOVE Dumbledore, and can't wait to cast on with it.
(I guess the fact that it came by US mail and not by owl suggests that it's Christmas magic, not the Harry Potter kind. Another clue.)
Again, thank you. I love all of you and am very grateful to know you.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
You know that whole "till death do you part" thing? That whole walking into the sunset, holding hands, with maybe a Viagra moment or two to break it up thing? It's a lie, a damned lie.
That stuff works fine if you have a job and go to work, oh, say, 40 hours a week. With commute that brings it up about 50 or 60. Throw in sleep, knitting groups, book groups, a trip to the grocery or two, and maybe an hour or two in the pedicure chair every so often, and that brings time with your spouse (or in this case, semi-spouse) down to about 49 hours a week, or really the time spent on another job. Hell, you can blow most of that playing solitaire on the computer or blogging or some other useless task.
Do-able, right? Well, yes, in some parallel universe, I guess.
In the olden days, when men had prey to hunt, crops to plant, animals to feed and milk, trees to chop, they were off doing things most of the day. The wife could go about her business of keeping the house and children without too much interference. In our own time, men can go out into the woods with other men to kill defenseless animals or hit balls around a golf course or ride motorcycles or attend sporting events with other men.
This is the glue that holds relationships together. Apart time.
I really do understand why the gays and lesbian groups are fighting for the right to marriage--civil marriage or religious marriage, who cares? I get that you need legal connections and some of us need spiritual connectivity to another person. But we still need apart time. We may need our spouses attached on paper, but the bottom line is, we need space, room to breathe, quiet time, whatever you want to call it. Or I do.
No, I'm serious--I do! I have had a man--Mr. Pug--joined to me at the hip for over a week now. It feels like he's joined to my jugular vein, and he's bleeding me dry.
Where I go, he goes.
What I do, he does ... or at least he comments on.
If I eat it, he wants some too. Or wants to tell me why it's not worth eating. Or how he could have made it better on the grill.
If the phone rings, he assumes it's for him. On the rare occasion it's for me, he wants to know who I'm talking to, what's going on in that person's life, who they voted for, and what their view on the auto bailout is.
If I take the trash out, he reminds me to keep the lid closed and that it really shouldn't go to the street until Thursday morning and that it needs to be brought back to the house promptly on Thursday afternoon. It wouldn't hurt to wipe it off with a damp cloth.
If the dogs seem fussy, he advises me on how to properly feed them (open can, dump, add dry food, put food bowls down and get hands out of the way).
If, God help me, I read a book, he asks questions about what I'm reading. If it's the newspaper, he has already read it and left it crinkled and crumpled.
If the mail has come, he wants his right away. If it hasn't, he's fussing about why the mail lady is 17.3 minutes later than she was yesterday.
If I'm knitting, he wants to discuss the intricacies of the pattern (what is that curved implement and why are you pushing it into the yarn--it's a cable holder, for God's sake! Shut up!) or the dying process that causes the yarn to be different colors--it's a miracle, I say, a miracle!
I have received helpful critiques on my driving (wow, you really hug the right side of the road, don't you? watch out for that red light! there's a cop up ahead--you might want to slow down), laundry techniques (if you fold the towels in thirds, you can get more onto the shelf), cooking (that last bunch of cookies was a little crunchy, hon--maybe if you took them out earlier?)
The one place he's uninterested in is the computer. That's why you'll find me here--blogging and knitting and pretending I'm single and live alone. I'm not hiding. I'm in here breathing all by myself in blissful silence. Ahhhhhhhh ....
Is this what retirement is like? If so, I'll be working until I'm 90 (or in woman's years, 75).
Friday, December 19, 2008
And he's sort of out of the picture, service-wise, these days. He's very much in the picture annoyance-wise, but that's another story.
But I am nothing if not resilient. I've lived alone several times in my life and have really enjoyed it--I think I'm really well-suited to be a hermit, emerging from my hovel only on rare occasions to forage for food and yarn. My point is that I am fully capable of caring for myself, handling my own affairs, and taking care of my own hovel--er, abode.
So I'm puttering around my house and realizing I really don't know much about where I live. For instance:
- Flashlight. Where does the darned thing live? Why can't I find it? Where are the batteries for it, because when you DO find it, it's dead?
- Buddy's hiding places. The other morning, while Mr. Pug was still in the hospital hooked up to God only knows how many good (legal) drugs, Buddy disappeared. Completely disappeared. At 5 in the freaking morning. And I couldn't find him--this isn't a big yard--it's the back yard of a half-acre lot--where the heck could he be? I walked the whole damned yard, in the dark, without a flashlight (see bullet above), checked all the gates--three if it matters--called his name with increasing shrillness, offered treats and kisses and every other desirable doggy option I could think of. Did I find him? No. Did I call Mr. Pug and ask him to come home--right now, dragging an IV pole if necessary--and find the darned dog? No, but it was very close.
- What does he do when he's hiding? Fifteen minutes later, he strolled through the doggy door. I swear his breath smelled like squirrel poo but I could be wrong.
- Bird Feeder. What idiot put it on top of a pole that is 3 feet taller than any of our ladders? Where IS the ladder? Okay, we seem to have six ladders. Which one is the appropriate one for the job? Are ladders like knitting needles--do you somehow have to get gauge? How are you supposed to carry a tub of seed and two suet cakes to the top of a ladder, assuming you're not scared to death of heights, which I am, and somehow pull open a rusted suet holder to slip in the suet cake while simultaneously grabbing the suet, clutching the large tub of seed, trying not to lose your hold on the ladder which is shaking and quivering? Then do it again, because there are two suet holders, each one more rusted than the other. That is definitely a four-hand task and I somehow have only been issued two.
- Gutters. Who is shaking these trees and filling up those stupid gutters? And who knew that when they fill up, water oozes in through the fake stones in the fireplace? Is it going to require finding the 12 foot ladder to fix this problem? If so, we're all going to be wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas.
- Christmas wrapping paper. Yes, I know I said this was the year of Grinchification, but I still needed to send off presents to the grands in NC. I know we HAVE wrapping paper, because every year I buy 10 or 12 rolls and use small scraps from 6 or 8 of them. That should leave a lifetime supply of partial rolls of wrapping paper, SOMEWHERE in that garage. (Not in the red-topped Christmas Wrapping Paper tub because somehow we always forget to buy one before the Home Depot runs out of them.) So, yesterday I went to the store and bought 5 more rolls (because it's such a lean Christmas), the remains of which will disappear into the vast Black Hole of the garage by next year.
- Once-a-year-kitchen equipment. What do I mean? You know--the roasting pan you only use for a Thanksgiving turkey or to make Chex Mix, the KitchenAid stand mixer you only use for Christmas cookies, the over-the-burner griddle you use for Christmas breakfast, that big white oval platter, the extra ...that stuff. Where is it? Where could it be? It's big, for God's sake. Do you have any idea how big a KitchenAid stand mixer is? It's like having the Tower of London on your counter without the Crown Jewels--which is why it's stored SOMEWHERE.
- The pantry. Actually we have two pantries, which is good because both of them are approximately the size of a smallish diaper bag. I suppose if we'd bought a full-size house instead of the midget variety, but we didn't.... One holds canned goods, some of which have been there since the Jurassic age and have the expiration dates to prove it. The other holds (a) whatever won't fit onto the kitchen counters, which were built for the Oompa Loompa family, (b) anything Mr. Pug thinks we won't need any time soon (see bullet above), and (c) his wallet, his keys, his extra shoes, coins from his pockets, old receipts from Publix, recipes that aren't good enough to save and we don't even like the ingredients but are too good to throw away, etc. It's like a giant junk drawer which we would have one of if we hadn't bought the dollhouse-size house.
Finally, there's the yarn problem. Yeah, yeah, I know that's sort of a me-problem that can't be blamed on him. Well, the fact is ... there's rather a lot of it. But I'm one of those people who are frightfully disorganized but still know where everything is. You know--the person who can look at a 3 foot tall quivering stack of papers on a desk and pull out the 1996 state tax return because she knows at which geological level it resides? That's me.
And that's the way my yarn is ... organized. Yes, let's call it an organization system. That's so much better than the reality, which is that it comes home in bags or mailing pouches, sometimes after months of ripening in the car trunk. Said bags/pouches get stuffed into various crevices where they can remain in relative hiding. Sometimes the yarn gets placed into one of the dozens of decorative baskets I've bought to hide ... er, store ... it. These baskets, bags, etc. supplement the nice storage shelves that Mr. Pug built to hold the wall-o-yarn in the office which were filled up within a week of their erection.
So anyway, when my kids were coming for Thanksgiving, I had to shovel out the bedroom. I probably should have done it over a period of time, keeping good records on where various things went. But I didn't. I got to the day before the arrival and started shoving, pushing, hiding yarn and projects everywhere. In closets in the office. In closets in Jake's old room. In my own two closets, under things. (The one place I didn't use was the garage--I knew I'd never see any of it ever again if it went in there. Abandon all hope, and all that.)
You know what's happened, don't you? I can't find any of my projects--those UFOs that I'm really going to finish someday. Or that yarn that I brought home and am really, really going to make something out of any day now. Well, the day is here--I'm home and ready to knit. Where the heck is the yarn?
In the distance I hear a grinding noise. I'm terribly afraid it's the sound of a KitchenAid stand mixer filled with Socks That Rock yarn and with the dough hook going. Oh, no!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Surgery (last Thursday) went well. The surgeons used a nerve block that worked like a champ. No pain, no swelling. With a few glitches which simply constitute TMI and won't be described here, he was soon walking the halls with the physical therapist and the walker.
The original plan was that he would go to 3-5 days of rehab in the hospital, but the workers compensation folks, who had agreed to pay for that, suddenly remembered it wasn't important and that was out the window. So, here we are at home. And life is exactly as I knew it would be.
So, what are you complaining about, sister? (I'm not talking to myself--I'm responding to my friend who told me to "put on your big girl panties" and suck it up. She thinks I'm whining because I'm having to nurse a whiny little old fart. Nope! Not even!)
You don’t understand—my problem isn’t that Mr. Pug is whiny or in unbelievable pain or requiring me to wait on him hand and foot. No, thank you, he’s doing very well.
In fact, my problem is that he’s so active that I’m scared to death that he’ll (a) trip over a dog and fall down the stairs—yes, he’s practically running up the stairs, down is a little slower, (b) throw a clot because he’s walking around without his brace or his “clot-preventing” stocking, (c) fall and pop his stitches because he’s not using a walker or a cane—just wandering around, 6 days after surgery, or (d) burn himself cooking dinner because, well, because he can. (So far he hasn't ventured to the grill in the back yard or gotten up on the ladder to clean out the gutters, but I'm sure that will be today's contest.)
He’s so busy proving he’s the biggest, baddest bear in the forest that he’s driving me nuts. “Must take care of woman—especially that woman who’s clearly incompetent to take care of herself.” And "must not ask for pain medicine--that would show weakness. Must get it myself, even if I groan all the way to the prescription bottle."
So, we get home on Monday night, about 6 pm. (Yes, they did say to come at noon to pick him up. Yes, they did say it would take "a little while" to get the discharge coordinated. Yes, he did decide there was no point in ordering lunch since we'd be on our way soon. Yes, the guard downstairs did tell me to park my car in the "30-minute pick up and delivery of patients area--we will tow your car at 31 minutes." (I'm not that stupid, thank you!)
Anyway, we stop for the obligatory McDonald’s snack and then he, the man who didn’t eat even one complete meal in the hospital, comes home and wolfs down spaghetti and meat sauce and garlic bread. I finally convince him to go to bed, with only one dog. Then about 11:30 I hear a noise downstairs—I race down and find him (and the dog) standing with the walker in the kitchen fixing a big bowl of ice cream. He and dog eat ice cream. Get him back to bed, with the dog (Lucy, if it matters).
1:30 AM – noise downstairs. I run back down the stairs to find him, standing without his walker, letting dog out onto the back porch. Back to bed, with dog. No brace, no stocking—they were irritating him. I’d like to irritate him!
7:00 AM—go to kitchen. Find man and dog in chair waiting for me to bring coffee and paper. Fix him his coffee. Resist impulse to throw coffee on him. Why waste good coffee?
9:00 AM—watch him sprint upstairs. No walker, no cane, no stocking, no brace, no nothing.
11:00 AM—leave, in high dudgeon, swearing never to return. Cell phone not working—I remind him to call 911 if he falls or if the “big one” strikes. I rehearse what I will say to police when they tell me where to pick up his body. "I just went out to get more pain medicine for him," I will say. "Poor guy," I will say. "I'm sure it was quick, that he felt no pain," I will say.
2:00 PM—I call. He’s napping with dogs. “I’m fine, thank you. Have fun shopping.” Hang up cell phone, throw across car.
4:00 PM—I return. He’s fine. Has eaten the lunch I left out for him. Has not started cooking dinner because he’s afraid it would make me mad. (No s&*t, Sherlock!) In the meantime, he’s moved back upstairs permanently, has his special pillow set up (thank you, Whit!), and is settled in there.
Fast forward to today—the visiting nurse is coming. He slept upstairs last night with all four dogs, came downstairs twice with them (I know because I slept on the couch to make sure he’s okay). He’s had his coffee and read the paper—he didn’t go to the street to get it when he got up because “I was afraid it would set you off again.” Good thinking, sport. He’s showering now, just told me to “come downstairs with a scraper if you hear a scream.” Whatever!
Now, for those of you who think I'm over-reacting. Yes, I'm happy that he's so resilient. Yes, I'm thrilled that he thinks he's the Bionic Man. Yes, yes, yes.
What you don't understand is that, in almost 25 years with this man, I've seen him do this before. But, of course, he was 25 years younger. (I was 35 years younger--that's one of the prerogatives of being a woman.)
So I know that the end result will be that he will heal very quickly, he'll stop doing his exercises early because he's so strong and invincible, and, finally, he'll go back to work long before he's actually ready. Then I'll start hearing how the surgeon must have screwed something up, because he's got pain in his knee. Within a year we'll be doing the other knee, which will have gone bad trying to overcompensate for this one.
He's (splutter, curse, splutter) fine. Today. As for me, I'm a nervous wreck--I haven't had a full night's sleep in 7 days and I'm just dreading the day he thinks he can drive--probably tomorrow.
I'm not a nurse--I'm a prison guard. An inept prison guard, inadequate to the job.
Okay, he's returned from the shower, struggling for breath but clean and dressed. I told him I was blogging about him and he said, "you can just tell them I'm a stubborn, ill-willed, nasty old man." Done!
Sunday, December 07, 2008
This makes me smile ... hell, it makes me laugh out loud. In fact, I think if it doesn't give you at least a chuckle, you might have a serious problem, like being dead or comatose.
And right at the moment, not much makes me smile. We're in the middle of an economic recession (yes, the same one that our current administration said we hadn't entered yet, that one). Jobs are insecure. My 401(k) could fit into a coin purse. My savings are nonexistent. Unemployment is high, crime is higher, and we're still at war. Christmas is coming and I'm experiencing some serious grinchification.
But that sock would bring a chuckle to the most depressed economist, in my opinion.
It's Opal, of course. And I say of course because, let's face it, Opal yarn is one of the Wonders of the Western World. How could you not love something that's just so outrageously beautiful while also being dependable and knittable and wonderfully wearable and washable. Opal, I worship at your (sock-clad) feet.
And I like it best in a very simple toe-up pattern like the one above. The pattern is my own, adapted freely from the Gospels of Ann Budd and Wendy Johnson, to whom I owe my allegiance.
And what I love about these two women, who do not, I don't think, have any connection to each other at all, is that they are Technique people. And by that I mean that, once you understand their methodology, you can adapt any pattern to it. Ann, of course, is seen quite often in the pages of Interweave Knits. Wendy can be found at www.wendyknits.net (thank you, Jane, for correcting me--you were right!) and has a new book, aptly called "Socks From The Toe Up," out soon.
Go buy some Opal, or dig some out from your stash--you know you have it! Then go to Wendy's blog and knit a toe-up sock. I promise you--you'll never knit one of those bulky slip stitch heels again.
Well, that's probably a lie. The pair of socks I just finished were cuff down and, in retrospect, the only possible reason I would knit cuff down again is to put on a picot cuff. But, since I've never yet knit a picot cuff, and have no immediate plans to do so, that probably won't constrain me in the future.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Today, an amalgam of miscellany. First, and not miscellaneous at all, it's Haley's 17th birthday, which is fairly amazing. Here she is at a recent soccer tournament with her dad. I love this picture! This weekend she's at another soccer tournament, this one in Raleigh, and that's why I'm missing her birthday. Well, I saw her last week so maybe that counts, but it doesn't feel like it.
Next, a picture just because I love it. Brandon, sleeping on the couch while they were all here last weekend, and Buddy, sound asleep atop him. Buddy is a very social dog and wants to be touching someone at all times. Normally, Brandon's good for a petting, but sleep does tend to preclude such things. In this case, Buddy was determined to be close to Brandon even if Brandon wasn't aware of it.
Next, a rare three-fer of Lucy, Lulu and Buddy. It's very hard to get a picture of any one of them and three is magical. In this picture, Bluto is probably trying to get a nap away from the rest of us. (And, yes, those are Mr. Pug's legs on the right. Enjoy the sight of them vertical--after next weeks' knee surgery, you may only see horizontal pictures of those legs for awhile.)
Next, an actual Finished Object. These are Spring Forward from Knitty.com socks out of Trekking yarn. I love the lacey pattern but these socks reminded me that I really hate cuff down socks. Actually, I was fine with them before I learned how to knit socks toe up, but now they just seem like old technology, like playing Pong on an old Atari. I hate kitchenering and I hate having to adjust the instep for the heel height and really ... I just need to make these socks again because I love the pattern but the next pair will definitely be toe-up.
Speaking of finished objects, here are some ... yes, I said SOME ... of the dressed teddy bears donated at this week's Atlanta Knitting Guild meeting. They go to (I think) the Dekalb County police department and are used with kids who've had traumatic experiences of one kind or another. Here are some more.
I never did hear a total number, but I'd guess there were over 200 donated. This has been one of the guild's major charitable efforts for many years and our members (myself excluded) are very creative. Usually it's all I can do to make a simple bear sweater--for some reason I just am not creative enough to figure out how to design around the bear anatomy--but I always enjoy seeing the creativity of others. Good job, guys!
Thursday, December 04, 2008
So why do I feel like something’s missing?
Well, that’s easy. It’s because I’ve had to learn to use my bathroom by myself again.
Yes, after only a few days of having my family around, I’m back to solitude in the bathroom, and it already feels weird.
I know… all you folks who haven’t had children are wondering if I’ve lost my mind, and that’s definitely the subject of another posting. But you parents … you know what I’m talking about.
Once I had children, a few decades ago, I seldom experienced the peacefulness of a quiet trip to the loo by myself. I would sometimes read about people who took their newspapers to the bathroom for a quick read. Or folks who kept a good book and a candle by the tub for those peaceful moments of relaxation. Not in my house. There always seemed to be a kid talking to me about some critical matter while I tried to find a moment alone.
And grandchildren kept up the tradition. How do people who don’t even live with you somehow know they can pop in to ask a question just as you’re turning on the hair dryer or stepping out of the shower?
Now, mind you, husbands and semi-spouses can be trained. You just lock the doors a few times and most of them get the message. Not your kids—mine seem to be able to pick locks or maybe they just wave a magic wand over them. Who knows how they get in? I certainly don’t. One minute you’re thinking you’ve got enough privacy to try out that new eye shadow and the next minute you’re defending your choice of green over brown eyeliner.
So… it’s very quiet. And I’m trying to acclimate myself to the silence. This morning I dried my hair and didn’t have to explain to anyone why I still use such an old school hair dryer (because I like it, that’s why, and besides it still works) and no one asked why I wear granny pants instead of a thong (because they feel good, that’s why) and no one told me that I really should give up using my old cologne and try something newer and no one borrowed my moisturizer.
Gosh, it was quiet. And a little lonely. I hope they come back soon.