Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

drive by photos

I was going to blog again today but I got caught up watching I Claudius and didn't. I took an ice day today to avoid falling down and breaking my other leg.

So here's Bob's hat.



I think Bob looks a little scary in the second one. Menacing. Which is so not him.

Here's the roses he brought me for my birthday.


Here's some scenes from our dinner on Sunday.

My mom and Lena, Lena by herself, and Bob and I.




I don't photograph very well. Ugh.

Anyway, here's some snow from today.


(That's the sage patch.)




And this one which kinda makes my head hurt.


That's it. Off to watch hockey.

Monday, January 26, 2009

May the candles on your cake burn like cities in your wake

Today's my birthday, which made me think of last year's birthday and the circumstances under which it was celebrated and that made me remember the cake nazi.

I don't like using the N word to describe people unless they're really and truly members of the nazi party and I don't think this particular nurse was one, but it was the best way I could think of to describe her.

My birthday last year fell when I was in the hospital. I had been to the OR four times already. The morning of the 26th was my fifth trip and supposed to be the last one for a while.

I remember going down to the OR in the morning and the usual trouble getting the IV going and the horribly uncomfortable gurney. I remember waking up in the recovery room screaming because the pain was so bad. I don't remember waking up, I just know that when I did, I was screaming and a nurse was yelling at me to shut up because there were other people here in pain. I think an x-ray tech had just done pictures of my knee with the portable machine and that was why it hurt so much. The nurse was so mean and hateful-her eyes looked like she would shut me up permanently if she could somehow manage it. Utter contempt. I didn't get a lot of that in the hospital but it did show up from time to time. Anyway, I shut up like she wanted me to, although my leg didn't feel much better. Back to my room I went. At the time, I was sharing a room with the world's worst roommate. She and her husband would come and watch TV all night but they'd complain if I made any noise. She was in for multiple hernia surgeries and her family would come in and laugh at me and make fun of me because I had a stuffed kitty in bed with me that my daughter brought to remind me of Figment. All this was of course before I got all the nosocomial infections and my own private room. I believe they are the same people who stole my coat and shoes out of the hospital room, too.


That evening they had me on a morphine pump. It was doing no good. I was in excruciating pain. And it was my birthday. My husband and daughter came in and brought cake and presents. During that time in the hospital, my blood sugar ran high (115-130 was what I originally said but it must have been more because that's not high. I guess it's good that I've forgotten, eh?) and they had me on insulin injections once a day or so depending on the reading and metformin twice a day. My blood sugar is normal as a rule so this was stress-related. Not unexpected. But of course everyone in the hospital was treating me like a pre-dead diabetic because of my weight.

So my daughter brings in this cake. I had a nurse who was not one of the nicer ones, Cathy, on duty at the time. Cathy had that look of contempt in her eyes, one I recognized as "disgust at the fatty" by then. She was very slow to bring meds, did not make eye contact, gave brusque answers to questions, etc. I was always anxious to see her shift end. She came in to check my vitals and give me a shot and I showed her the half a cake my daughter brought. She said "You're NOT going to eat that!" I said "of course I am! It's my birthday and I've had a really bad day, I'm having some damn cake." She said "well, maybe a little piece then." It occurred to me that she seemed to think I was going to eat the whole fucking thing.

An entire half a chocolate layer cake with chocolate icing. By myself.

The awesome dietary lady, Jackie, came in and saw the cake, and she went out and got cups of ice cream for us. We gave her a piece of cake. She said "Cathy said you couldn't have this. I told her it was for someone else. You don't have any food restrictions on your chart, there's no reason you can't have cake and ice cream on your damn birthday." Jackie was amazing. I loved her.

So we had cake and ice cream and the aides got some cake and Cathy didn't get any, though the night nurse did, I think. The extremely sweet one who gave me extra pain meds that night because I was in pain like I'd never imagined. She came in and tucked me into the bed and kissed me on the forehead and told me it was going to be okay. Pretty much made up for Cathy.

A couple of days later, I got moved away from the crazy roommate by the Dream Team of Kim and Lisa, aides who were trying to get me out of that room for a week because they knew how much of a pain in the ass my roommate was. They ended up just commandeering a room for me. And the day after I got that good room, I got a bed that actually worked for me and supported my back and leg.

So anyway, that was my birthday last year.

This year, we went out to dinner twice, one on Saturday with Mensa friends and once on Sunday with my mom and elder daughter. Today, the actual day of my birth, I stayed home and made pasta e fagiole soup. Best I've ever made it, too. Bob gave me the I Claudius DVD set and Eddie Izzard's Dress to Kill DVD, and I got a card from my younger daughter and a check from my mother in law, and some nice presents from my mom, so it's all good.

In crafting news, nothing really new. I made Bob a hat but I didn't take any pictures of it yet. It's just a simple ribbed brim cap from chunky handspun yarn in browns and reds. He likes it. I'm still working on the scarf and am spinning some gorgeous superwash merino that I got in a swap.

Here's the swappy goodness. I like swaps so far.

Pretty much been taking it easy this weekend. We did start our pool membership on Saturday and that was seriously nice. I want to try to go at least 2x a week.

And the Steelers are going to the super bowl, so hopefully by this time next week, y'all can scrape me off the ceiling!

Monday, January 19, 2009


In the end part of a lovely five day vacation here. I've gotten a few things accomplished, mainly a semi-organization and decrudding of the dog/craft room. The dogs, the spinning stuff, the yarn, and the upstairs books live in one of the spare bedrooms (we have two at the moment) and it was getting to the "dump stuff in, close the door, and run away" phase. So I got that wrangled mostly. It's a long way from perfect but you can see the floor, and if I wanted to sit in there and spin, I could do so.

Also got the kitchen mostly better. Again not perfect but we had ten zillion stupid plastic containers and ten zillion lids and none of them seemed to match. I sorted out the ones that matched and put the rest in recycling.

Laundry is ongoing. I still have to pay bills tonight, but I'm really not looking forward to that as I went a little crazy at Trader Joe's on Saturday. Fortunately we should get a decent tax return this year.

I am really looking forward to starting the pool membership. I think it'll do Bob and I a lot of good, even if I can only get there a couple of days a week. We were going to start this weekend but we got snow and were busy and it was WAY too cold most of the time. I haven't even started my car since I parked it (halfway up the driveway due to snow) on Thursday. I'm going to try to at least get it the rest of the way up tomorrow because I leave before Bob in the morning and he needs to get his car in ahead of mine... where I am now, there's no room for him to get around even if the driveway was free of snow and ice which it isn't.

I finished the socks I was starting last time. They're just a simple diamond texture-done toe up on size three w/magic loop. Very soft and squishy. Should be quite warm, too.


Couldn't resist shooting them in the snow. It was so perfect for the yarn. I made one bigger in the ankle and leg so it will fit puffyfoot okay.

I like them-can't wait to wear them.

I've done more on Bob's sweater though you can't really tell. Didn't bother to photograph it. Also started a scarf from some Silky Merino Malabrigo that I had in stash. I was sorting through everything in the dog/craft room project and couldn't resist making something out of it.


It feels as soft as it looks.

Speaking of soft, I also spun some cashmere, which I don't think I'll do again unless it's a blend. The staple was way too short, like cotton, and it took a lot of concentration for not so great a result, though it is as soft as kitten sighs.

I may like it better knit up. We shall see. I'm thinking either a cowl or some fingerless mitts-it's about 140 yards of fingering/sport weight. Not much to work with.


Other than that things are copacetic here. My birthday is next week. I'm coming to terms with the idea that I'm actually pushing 50. I guess I should start calling myself middle-aged now. I don't feel it, though.

Biscuit made a funny picture trying to get himself under the desk. Needless to say he didn't do a very good job of hiding.

And I also snapped Lily languishing in our bed.

She has such a tough life. She really does. Any dog would tell you so.

In closing, a photo taken out our back door. The snow is pretty, even if I hate it for walking and driving any more.


Sure wish I could go out and enjoy it. Ah well, maybe next year.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I like to sing-a, about the moon-a and the June-a

So, we're at Karaoke on Saturday night, which we do on a semi-regular basis. We'd each done two songs, had a third in, it was about 1130. A guy gets up to do a song and before he starts, the KJ, Joanie, (who is usually very awesome) starts talking about how if you're on south beach or atkins or weight watchers if you eat nothing but green beans you can have extra beer. Most of my readers understand my stance on dieting, but I was ok with this much, yeah, funny, whatever, moving on. She continued, however, with how she wanted to look good in a bathing suit and how she didn't want to gross anyone out, and how she'd surely gross people out if she went out in a bathing suit now. This woman is about five ten, probably wears a US 12. Not gross, and even if so, so what? So that started bothering me. Then the guy who was about to do his song piped up about how he and his wife went to Punta Cana where there are nude beaches and Europeans go around in bathing suits with all their fat hanging out and ew. I started steaming. Then he started in on this one guy "who must have been about 280 pounds! he was about six feet tall! ew! he was wearing a speedo! ew!" and how his stomach was hanging over the front of his bathing suit and how gross it was etc etc etc. He must have said "280!!!!!" about six times.

Bear in mind this was karaoke night. All this was taking place on microphones.

Bob was a little worried about me because of the steam coming out of my ears, so when I said "can we please leave" he did not argue. I was very sorry to disappoint him but I was furious. And sad.

Why sad? Because Karaoke Night was one thing I really enjoyed. I felt like the crowd of mostly regulars were okay with me, that I was appreciated as a singer, and that I wasn't grossing anyone out with my horrible fat fattiness. I wonder what arbitrary number they associate with me? I now no longer feel safe, accepted, or welcome at Karaoke Night. I feel judged. And that pisses me off, and makes me sad. I don't know how I'm going to feel next time we go back, if we go back. I love to sing. I love having that outlet. But I fucking hate thinking that when I'm up there singing, people are guessing how much I weigh and thinking how gross I'd look in a bathing suit.

Also, news flash, people mostly put on bathing suits to go swimming, not to appeal to anyone's aesthetics, so fuck you, punta cana-going asshole.

Enough of that. Over the weekend, it wasn't all bad. I made bread.


Nummylicious homemade italian bread NOT done in the bread machine, all done by hand. It was GOOD. And PRETTY.


Here's Bob's sweater in progress. I promise it's a sweater. It will be, anyway.


The yarn is a cotton/wool blend that I got from a ravelry destash. Nice stuff.

Broke away from knitting for a couple of days to get some spinning in.


If this looks familiar, it should. It's the other half of the "london fog" roving for our matching socks. I did not get the same yardage, though, so it must be thicker than the other skein. It's 284 yards.

Finally got around to photographing this.

It was supposed to be sock yarn. It's more a sport/dk weight. It's going to be socks anyway. This was a weird spinning experience. I started with a batt, broke it up into thirds, and spun randomly into three plies. While I was doing the singles, I was not liking the yarn much. When plying it, I started liking it more. Then, I loved it when I wound it off the bobbin. Then, when I washed and hung it, I didn't like it again. Now that I've split it off into cakes, I like it a bit better. I was originally going to do something seasonal, socks or fingerless gloves with peppermint candy or candy cane cables or eyelets or something but I think it'll be too confused looking with the colors.


So I think I'll go with something textured and simple. This will be a sock for size 3 needles so it'll go fast, and yes, it'll be for me too.

The green socks are moving along, I didn't photograph them but I'm up to the ankle on the first one, and moving fast. I'm happy with them. Maybe I'll get some photos later but frankly, it's been a busy week and it's not going to slow down any time soon.

More later in the week probably. Any input into the karaoke situation will be appreciated!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

And I learned how to get along

Recently, I came across a post on Shapely Prose where folks were recounting what they'd accomplished in the previous year instead of making hollow resolutions. It was a fun read. One woman posted that she had just survived, because her father had committed suicide that April and she was still learning to cope and still grieving.

There's some stuff I don't talk about much on here because it's pretty heavy but sometimes, things just need to come out. Reading her post (and her blog, where she talks about the sad events of her father's suicide, what lead to it, and what has happened since) brought a lot back to me. That's because I'm also a survivor of parental suicide.

I have conflicted feelings. My father was never in my life, except twice, briefly. First, when I was born, he and my mother were married teenagers having been forced into it by families and social strictures. Since he was pretty much gone by the time I was a year old, I had no memory of him as a child. Visiting his parents, once, I think he was there and came down the steps and left the house when he saw that I was there because I have a very vague memory of asking "who was that?" and being told it was my uncle. Except it definitely wasn't Uncle Jerry. I knew Uncle Jerry and his hair was darker, and he wasn't as tall. My mother never talked about it. I think she blocked most of it out for most of her life and I never got any information. Her parents were mad at him and his parents were mad at her and it was the '60s, nobody talked about anything.

So fast forward a lot of years. My grandparents, my father's parents, are having their 50th wedding anniversary. I guess I must have been in my early 30s when they had the luncheon where I met my father again. We shook hands. It was awkward. He moved to the bar next to the banquet room right after dinner and didn't make any effort to talk to me at all, and I was too busy getting over having met my half brother and half sister that I didn't know existed. Mostly, when I remember that day, I remember Nancy and Michael and trying to get my head around the fact that they were my half-siblings. Siblings. And Nancy had kids. I was an aunt. Shit. My father sat in that bar and did whatever he was doing and didn't talk to any of us. My aunt and uncle were there and they visited everyone, there was other family that I met and haven't seen since but it's a blur, really.

So a couple of months went by. I was working for Port Authority as a bus driver, doing OK, living in a crappy apartment with my kids. I'd talked to Mike and Nancy a couple of times, been out to north central PA to visit them. I decided to send my father a letter. I don't remember exactly what I said. I'd like to get to know you, you have granddaughters here, I want to hear your side of the story, I don't care about the past. I know my mother has hard feelings but really I don't and I want to know who you are. I got no reply, no phone call, no letter, no knock on the door. Nothing. Yeah, it hurt. He worked less than 3 miles from where I lived, too. I used to drive my route through Oakmont and every time a Daily's truck went by, I'd look to see if it was him. It was a couple of times, and I waved. Maybe he didn't see me and that's why he didn't wave back.

Fast forward a couple of years and Mike is getting married to his girlfriend, Elizabeth. They want me to come out for the wedding. Mike asked our father to be his best man. He'd agreed. About two months before the wedding, my aunt Gayle called me. My father had shot himself in the head, in his study or living room or den or something. He was dead. He wasn't going to be Mike's best man, after all. He wasn't going to be my father either, and he wasn't going to be my kids' granddad, and he wasn't going to get to know us or come over for dinner or wave hello from the cab of his truck. He was dead.

After maybe 15 years I still don't know how to feel about it. It hurts. A lot. He was a real asshole, married many, many times, probably left other kids all over the country, broke Nancy and Mike's mother's heart so bad she never got over it, made me distrust and hate yet crave the company and approval of men for most of my life, left questions and anger and heartbreak and hurt everywhere in his wake. And at his wake. My grandfather, his dad, was never the same after and died maybe five years later. That side of my family, never easy to begin with, I can't even begin to deal with now. I kept coming around for my grandmother but it was hard. I always felt so awkward and out of place.

So yes, I'm a survivor of parental suicide. But it's a parent I never really had. I never had the chance to love or hate him, to see if he was batshit crazy or an asshole or just misunderstood or the victim of some mental disorder. It's easy to assume he simply could not deal. That's what my mother says. She said suicide was typical of him; he never met a problem or responsibility he couldn't run away from. Maybe. I don't know.

Would it have been harder or easier if I'd known him? Would my grief have been greater and my anger less? Would it have been the same? And under all that, sneaky, illogical, the snake-thought of maybe if I'd tried harder, the creeping slithering question if I'd tried harder to get to know him maybe just maybe... the slimy earthworm of thought saying maybe I could have saved him. Right. Sure. I'm that fucking powerful. No, I'm not, but the thought is there.

I think part of it is that I've really never processed this as much as I needed to. How could I? Nobody will talk about it. My poor uncle Jerry just smiles and gives his stiff, awkward hugs and does the best he can. My aunt Gayle is too depressed and I can't seem to get the emotional door open for her because I don't want to feel that kind of pain any more. Then I feel guilty because I can't deal with them, I don't understand them, and I am not sure I want to. And then I feel guilty some more. It sucks. I don't understand enough to help my kids understand.

There aren't any answers, I know. The more answers I come up with, the more questions I have. But I think I needed to get this out here, and if you're still reading, thanks.

Happy crafty posting another day, promise.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Feature

Drive by post, just to mention that I've added a new feature over on the sidebar. I've been trying to get back into reading, so I'm listing my current reads there, partially as a poke to myself to finish the damn things already, and partially as a way to share, because I always like to know what others are reading as well.

I used to be a lot more voracious. I read on average three books a week. Since I stopped smoking (only 8 days until the 3 year anniversary!) I find reading more difficult to do and mostly only do it before bed and at odd times when I can't knit. The feeling of wanting to smoke while I read is gradually passing, thank goodness. I've missed it a lot.

Anyway, there it is.