Debate Cookies and Other Good Day Stuff

I am in a way better mood.  I left my house and did stuff today, stuff being a movie with my sister, lunch out, a major haircut, and now I’m cooking.   I just realized that I don’t truly know what day of the week it is.  All day I have been functioning as though it was a combination of Tuesday and Wednesday.  I haven’t missed anything, but I’ve started early on some stuff, unnecessarily and uncharacteristically.


First, my one snark.  What are our elected officials thinking?  As my Korean cardiology professor used to say, “Gas station children are laughing at us.”  Too long to explain.  Suffice it to say, we are looking irresponsible and stupid to the entire world. 


Today I saw The Women.  I laughed and laughed.  Fortunately, only my sister and I were in the theater.  When I get totally silly and wild I have to kick and flail my arms when I laugh.  This movie was deserving of the full reaction.    It didn’t miss a step in its portrayal of women friends.  Not to say that it was predictable, but every line rang so true that I felt I had said or heard it in a friendship of my own.  I’m going to see it again soon.


My haircut was fun.  I don’t go often enough for it to be routine.  I’m still meeting people at my new shop, and today two women were talking about – wait for it….- gasp!  knitting!!!  I was ridiculously excited.  I rarely meet other African-American women who knit.  I don’t know why, but I know lots more A-A crocheters.  Yes, I crochet too, but it’s knitting that makes my heart beat fast.  Detour.  My niece presented me with four awesome crochet books today that might actually increase my heartbeat.  They are all filled with modern, non-grandmotherly patterns.  We will see.  Anyway, I got an amazing haircut.  Meaning, my hair is so short you could cut Obama into the back and it would be seen quite clearly.  I mentioned that to my stylist.  She didn’t know whether to be amused.  I can see that she thinks I’m a nut, but she calls it “bold” instead. 


Tonight I am baking cookies.  I looked up recipes and got started, thinking that I need them for tomorrow.   It dawned on me that tomorrow isn’t Thursday, the day of the debate, the night that I need the cookies.  I’ve invited a few friends over to see Palin and Biden go at it, and we need snacks.  Oh well, I’m gonna be ready early.  What a concept.  Anyway, one batch of cookies is done and I have to go back to my precision cookie drop procedure. 




Karabella Breeze Lace Scarf

Oops.  Two days ago when I began writing about the chocolate silk/cashmere scarf, I mistakenly called the yarn Cashsilk.  Cashsilk is a lovely, soft cashmere and silk blend from Laines Du Nord, but it is not the yarn I was using.  I ordered a few balls of Karabella Breeze from Flying Fingers more than a month ago, and when I opened them I was delighted.  THAT’S the stuff that you see in my scarf photos.  I went back through two posts and corrected the name of the yarn.  I hope I haven’t misled anyone in an irreversible way.  The two yarns have two of the same components, but they are blended in very different ways.  Breeze is a thinner, more tightly spun yarn that immediately says “lace” to me.  Cashsilk has that fluffy bounce of an animal fiber, and indeed it has 50% merino, with only 25% cashmere and 25% silk.  Breeze, on the other hand, has 40% cashmere, 60% silk. 


Any long way…I have finished the scarf and it will be sprayed and blocked tomorrow.  Can’t wait to see the stretched version. 


Meanwhile, I’ll be finishing the sweater-vest I’m knitting from South West Trading Company’s Saphire.  I was thrilled to find this single-ply, chunky, superwash merino.  The colours are variegated with fairly abrupt colour changes.  The green/brown has the dappled appearance of a young tree, but strung out into varying width stripes.  My camera is upstairs with the boarding cousin, but I’ll have some photos tomorrow. 


Can’t get through this day without a mention of our acute economitis-you know, my reaction to the economic breakdown.  I felt my stomach drop into my feet today when I read online headlines saying the bailout bill hadn’t passed in the House.  I hope someone in that crowd is acting wisely and showing leadership. 


The lupus walk to raise money for the Alliance for Lupus Research is happening in Chattanooga next weekend.  If someone asks you to donate, please say “yes”.   



Prayer v. Knitting

Sunday morning.  I am talking with God today.  The conversation doesn’t have anything to do with the day of the week.  I talk to God every day.  My discussion today is about the anguish of having three days with no sacroiliac pain, and then the recurrence of it today.  Why three good days?  Why let me build up hope, anticipate the long-awaited end of this flare?  Is it to emphasize my ignorance about this process, make me see the limitations of thinking of it logically and scientifically?  Am I supposed to learn some lesson here? 


I find myself in that humble, bargaining frame of mind.  I’m looking back over the past few days, trying to see if my behavior was too confident, too soon.  My only activities during the lovely three days without pain were a trip to the grocery store, the usual household stuff, and knitting group.  I didn’t overdo it.  Uh-oh, maybe I didn’t do enough?  Do you think, God, that I should have used the three days more wisely?  Maybe I could have spent that time engaging with the world on some more useful, less selfish level? 


Yesterday I was intoxicated with happiness, jubilant over a few days free from the lancinating back pain.  Today I am angry and low.  The flare that I’m begging to go away has been with me since springtime.  It is the fall, my favorite season.  I haven’t been able to enjoy the outdoor allure of the fall in years.  The whole time my daughter was in high school, I was entering flares in the fall.  For eight years, I didn’t see a live football game, go on the color cruise and enjoy the lovely fall foliage around the Tennessee River, take my wares to the Chattanooga Market.  I’ve had such great hopes for this fall. 


I am not having a good conversation.  I have no sense of why this is happening.  I have no feeling of when I can get relief enough to walk to my kitchen and stand up to make a meal.  Today I hurried to the kitchen, irrationally trying to outrun the onset of the pain.  I sat on a stool and rolled back and forth between counters, preparing my cup of coffee and a bowl of random food choices.  Right now, I’m sitting down, waiting for a pain pill to bring some relief, and hoping that nausea doesn’t accompany it.  It’s not so much the pain, as what it means.  The sacroiliac pain means those joints are still inflammed, meaning the flare isn’t gone.  Damn.


I am trying to knit my way through, as usual.  The beautiful Karabella Breeze yarn has gone a long way.  I will finish this scarf from one ball of yarn.  I’ve stretched it out to imitate the blocked shape, and it measures a good 52 inches.  I can finish today.  That will feel like an accomplishment, making use of what I can do while this stupid flare persists.  This is something that reminds me of my career in medicine-working until the job is done.  Every day, I stayed in my office until the last patient was taken care of.  These days, I sit and knit until I have a finished product.  I am proud of what I do.  It feels useful.  I produce beautiful products that perform well and last a long time.  Today this knowledge soothes me more than my prayers. 



Karabella Breeze Lace Scarf

Yesterday I didn’t mention my most exciting knitting project.  I opened the balls of Karabella Breeze that I had ordered more than a month ago.  Sometimes I delay opening packages until I no longer remember what they contain.  It makes for a pleasant surprise.  The Breeze has that lovely dry smoothness of silk and immediately I wanted to make it into something lacey.  The cashmere makes it soft enough to comfortably wear against the skin, so together they made me think scarf.  I made up my own lace pattern and started to knit.  Umm, actually I think I started to knit about four times.  *Rethink the design, rip it out, begin again.  Repeat from * until design suits you.  Right. 


My design is simple, but not so simple that I could execute it accurately without a cheat sheet.  It has an eight row repeat, and I had to mark off completed rows so that I wouldn’t skip ahead or lag behind. 

This is still on needles, so it’s unblocked.

A closeup.  I love the milk chocolate colour.

And the check sheet.  14 repetitions of the eight rows stretches to about 24 inches, so I’ve got at least that many to go. 


I began the project when I was at my daughter’s.  I also began a sweater-vest.  I’ll photograph it when its shape is more evident. 



Thinking and Speaking and Economitis

Have I really not blogged in a week?  What was I thinking?! 

That’s an easy question.  I was thinking about my back.  It has hurt so bad and so persistently that for several days I gave up on walking further than 10 yards or standing longer than a few minutes.  It hurt so bad that I remembered I had lidocaine patches to anesthetize the area, but also found that they were not very helpful with the more intense pain.  The pain was so bad that I bought another cane while I was out of town, because I left mine at home.  Finally, the pain plagued me so much that I didn’t want to answer when people asked how I felt, for fear I would really tell them.  And finally, I woke up today, and the pain wasn’t there. 


But that’s not all.  I was thinking about my daughter, and enjoying visiting her in the apartment she rents with a good friend from school.  We had a ton of laughs, I played school chauffeur like when she was a little girl, we didn’t shop (surprise!), and we had vegetarian burritos from Barberitos.  It was a wonderful visit.


But wait, there’s more.  I began serious thinking about my next housing move.  I scanned real estate websites, talked to my realtor, and made a loose inventory of what I must do before my house can be shown.  I’ve had in mind for a couple of years that this move was coming.  I knew it was time to downsize, and I definitely want to be closer to the hub of the city.  (No, that does not mean moving into the neighborhood of the new Volkswagen plant.)  I don’t want a floor that I can’t get to every day.  I don’t want any extra bedrooms.  I want a house I can clean all by myself.  And I want to save money.  A major drawing-in of tentacles, that’s what I want. 


And ladies and gentlemen, here’s the ginsu knives of the thinking thing:  I’ve been thinking about the economy so much that I have economitis.  Not having won the lottery recently, it concerns me that Wall Street and the whole banking/investing/insurance industry mess is so huge.  I’ve been watching television every day, waiting for the third shoe to drop.  Or is it the fifth or eleventh shoe?  David Letterman is on right now, talking about making a deal with a guy in the audience who has $13.20.  I’m beginning to feel like that.  Drop a nickel in the slot, please.  This is a for-profit blog.  Seriously, I’m gonna have to get out my “Will Knit for Food” sign.


Speaking of knitting (yeah, I was just waiting for that) I photographed some caps today and got back on schedule with posting new stuff in the store.  I seem to be stuck on cables.  No, I don’t need help.  I mean I’m obsessed with them.  They are pretty and curvey and they make extra texture and the cable part sticks out.  I’m in love with them.  Everything I’m making lately wants to have cables.  I hope there’s an antidote for whenever I get tired of this obsession, but for now it’s working for me.  If I hadn’t cut my hair off in the spring, I think I would be imitating cables in my braided hairdos. 


Speaking of hairdos, I went through the famous coffee drive-through today.  The guy on the microphone was a free-range talker, willing to keep up aimless but friendly chatter with the customers.  When I saw him I had to admire his tousled hairdo.  I tried to imitate it by pulling up on my front hair and bunching it up.  My cousin was in the car with me and she said it didn’t really look like his.  Oh well. 


No more “speaking of”.  I must have a good David Letterman, go to sleep, and prepare for my Saturday knitting adventures.  Oh heck, one more thing.  I put my Obama ’08 sticker on my back bumper today.  I am so ready.



Things I Do in the Fall

I just realized that I might have my first non-flaring fall in many years.  I’ve speculated that the increased light exposure from summer (even though I try and avoid it) eventually causes a flare that manifests itself in the fall.  I began to notice this because I was never healthy for football season, and missed seeing all my boys play.  My daughter was a basketball cheerleader two years in high school, and I missed the first games of the season.  Usually I was recovering by late winter, and feeling better in the spring and summer.  That’s the old schedule.  Now, with the help of the current therapy, I’m looking forward to a fall when I’m improving rather than flaring. 


Those fall flares have been more of an insult, because fall has always been my favorite time of the year.  The feeling of crisp, cooler air, the leaves changing colour, the summer drought ending-all those things make fall feel wonderful to me.  Much more than spring, they felt like a beginning to me. 


My adherence to an academic schedule rather than a calendar year schedule also made fall the beginning.  There were new challenges, new projects, new people…all the things that held my interest and made my work more interesting. 


This year, I’m determined to use some new yarns.  I opened two packages that came a month ago, and that I deliberately left sitting in the foyer, tempting me, until I couldn’t remember what they held.  When I pulled them open yesterday, the new yarns in them were a wonderful “surprise”.  All three are new to me:  Karabella Breeze (40% cashmere/60% silk), thin and refined; Buffalo Gals (70% bison/30% merino), tightly spun with some long coarse hairs; and South West Trading Company Saphira (100% merino), a fat superwash single-ply, beautifully dyed.  All of these were ordered with specific projects in mind.  I have pictured what I want them to be, and I will show them as they develop.  I am proud that none of these late purchases is a duplication of anything in my stash.  I am selecting yarns with increasing discrimination and thrift.  (Yes, thrift.  I said it, didn’t I?)


My fall will have some new people this year.  As I improve, I’ve begun to call people and make plans to meet.  I am expecting myself to become more mobile, and I am setting up obligations that rely on that.  There is a certain faith in that.  More than just being hopeful, I am leaping off the edge with the certainty that I will grow wings to sustain my flight.  If I hit bottom instead, oh well, it won’t be the first time.  My butt is padded. 


Two days ago I tackled the huge pile of belongings left in my front room by one of the boys as he departed for school.  “You can just send these to me,” he said.  I didn’t yell and scream at the time.  We were headed to the bus station with him and his three giant rolling duffles, and I needed my energy for other things.  I waited for him to settle into his dorm room and realize that he and his two roommates wouldn’t survive the influx of another pile of-largely unnecessary-paraphernalia.  This week, I packed five medium-sized boxes of essentials (yeah, he left his winter jacket, boots, sheets…), entrusted them to the U. S. Postal Service, and sorted the rest to charity or storage.  Now, if I can make it through the left-behind belongings of the other two before another year dawns…it’s a wonder that mothers don’t find themselves running down the streets of their neighborhoods, hands in the air, screaming undecipherable laments. 


I ordered some “Jesus was a community organizer” buttons this week.  More than most insults, the McCain/Palin portrayal of a community organizer as a useless citizen with an insignificant job was ignorant and cruel.  Yes, it was rude to all of us who have ever tried to organize a community movement, sit on a volunteer board, spread a public service message, or provide a needed service in an underserved area.  More than that, it was a slap in the face to the folks who are helped by all such community efforts.  It said to them that their loss of jobs, their unsafe living conditions, their poorly educated children, their lack of affordable health care, their dismally impoverished lives, are insignificant.  It said that they aren’t worth helping, educating, protecting or representing.  I have been a registered Independent all my life, and I always thought myself capable of separating the message from the party, but the conduct of Republicans in this election makes me want to change my affiliation to Democrat forever.


So, I guess that’s the other thing that this fall means to me.  This is the most ferocious, thought-provoking, history-making presidential election of my lifetime.  It’s all on the backdrop of a war that I consider unnecessary and national economic woes that are affecting my own bottom line.  So this fall will be remembered for headaches and heartburn along with the other features I’ve noted. 



The Stuff of Happiness

I wake up in the morning, get out of the bed and walk to the bathroom.  No pains, no stiffness, nothing calling to me.  I walk a little slowly, still conserving energy, but it isn’t from discomfort.  I forget my morning medicines and don’t recognize it for hours.  I take on physically demanding tasks, sitting on the floor to sort through boxes, carrying finished items outside to photograph them, packing boxes to send away.  I do laundry, carry piles of it to the bedroom.  I pick up the phone and call people for long discussions.  I make plans. 


That is the way I live when I am recovering.  That is the way I am living right now, today.  A vast improvement over a few weeks ago.  The biggest change is that all those things are done without a lot of thought.  I don’t have to list them, calculate the energy each task will take, figure in rest time between chores, knock the bottom ten off the list.  I can move from one task to the next, add in extra things, hold a conversation while I work. 


I know all this sounds so ordinary as to be boring.  That’s probably how your every day goes.  Not so for me.  I had a week or two of this in the spring, before I fell into another flare.  It feels like a miracle when these easier days return.  I’ve worked up to about 8 minutes and 1 mile on the exercise bike, my taste for vegetables and fruit has returned, I’m feeling the prednisone side effects less every day…pushing towards normal.


I have three or four knitted caps lined up to photograph.  Two are on the styrofoam heads, blocking.  I’m knitting a loose, casual wrap on size 17s, brown Rowan Big Wool.  It has a giant cable, knit in a separate panel, running down the middle back.  I have a tiny bonnet in the lilac llama blocking so I can finish the construction.  It has a rather elegant construction, if I say so myself.  I’m feeling some mittens coming on.  Real, full cover mittens, my first ever pair.  They will have to go to a for A (afghans for Afghans).  All kinds of ideas are in my head, projects waiting to be born.  I am happy working.