Introspection I

It’s time to change colours in a striped piece, and I pause.  Outside the door I hear a lone bird calling “Sweetie, sweetie, sweetie, sweetie” over and over.  It gives an odd feeling of spring, despite the constant hum of the heater working overtime on this 32 degree morning.  I’m in a garden-type hotel, with weather right outside my door. 


This week has plunged me into my head, once again taking stock of my feelings and progress, or lack of it.  I was gung-ho for this trip, physically ready to travel south and conquer the world.  I was in the midst of remarkable physical improvement.  Travel has pushed me back a bit.  I arrived tired and found I didn’t pack my CPAP mask.  The first two nights I struggled to sleep, propped on four or five pillows so that I could breathe.  It was an exercise in forced exhaustion.  The third night, I began to use a new mask, purchased from my favorite medical supplier, one that I’ve used again and again on my trips to the college town.  It took two days to regain my rest, and a dose of big diuretics to get rid of the fluid that accumulated during my folly. 


It is remarkable to me that this never gets easy.  No wonder that my patients used to come to appointments with such profound decompensation.  It takes daily, thoughtful, patient surveillance of my situation to prevent problems.  If I take my eye off the ball and try to be a little bit normal, I am slipping backward.  How clever of god to give me a medical background to deal with this constant test.  No wonder that I dream of being in school, training over and over, being quizzed and questioned and observed and never making it safely to graduation or completion.  How ironic, having to turn my knowledge on myself with the lack of objectivity always present as a stumbling block. 


My knitting is comforting this week.  It is a comfort, a constant, a place where I find satisfaction.  I feel competent.  I don’t dream of knitting tests or competitions.  When I look at the work of artists who are in a whole other realm from me, I am admiring, but not envious.  I can see the art and grace and skill in my own work. 


Fairly new for me is to see the art and grace and skill in me, recognize that there is no price to be put on my human worth.  In a recent mini-meltdown, with memories of a past crisis, I yelled “I am a good woman”.  Only the walls heard me, but it stuck in my mind that I need that affirmation.  I’ve looked at the press around an actress’ recent weight gain, and marvelled at the superficiality of our culture.  But that’s not the only arena where I have recently surfaced to sanity.  There is the guilt and self-doubt that seems to capture women, in particular, immersing them in quicksand, leaving them – me – immobile.  Immobile, lassooed by inertia, and doomed to repeat the same mistakes.  I am a good woman, indeed, good and aware and freed from my past, and not compelled to continue explaining myself. 


There are some days when I may only make sense to myself.  Pardonnez-moi.



Supermom to the Rescue

It’s a good thing I’ve been given superpowers.  Last weekend, I had to use them.  Saturday night my daughter called.  She wanted to come home, needed a break from hand-holding and mediating in her friend group.  Unfortunately, with a regular classload this week, home wasn’t an option.  I decided to come and prepare a homey nest for her instead.  I arose Sunday morning, threw some things into a bag, dropped off the animal at her favorite friend’s house, and got on the road.  I’ve checked into a hotel in the college town and invited my daughter over for a bit of mom-style pampering. 

These are things mothers will do for you: 

1.  Come when you need them.

2.  Detangle your wet hair.

3.  Listen to complaints about friends, and support your decision to turn off your phone.

4.  Tell you that extra five pounds will melt off when you walk back and forth to class.

5.  Hold onto hope even when it seems elusive and futile.

6.  Remind you of all your talents, skills and positive personality traits.

7.  Keep you safe in whatever way she can.

8.  Love you, love you, and love you. 

9.  Get you a pet even when she knows it will be her buddy for life.

10. Give you one more chance. 

11. Massage your temples and earlobes.


I’m fortunate to have a portable business.  Have needles (or pins, as my British knitting friends say), will travel.  I brought a couple of projects with me, and they knit just as easily here as in my house.  I made a dash to the Hobby Lobby today, needing some charcoal yarn.  After agonizing about the yukkiness of acrylic yarns, I finally chose a Caron Naturals wool/acrylic blend that is soft and handles quite well.  I don’t need to be 100% snobbish; I can compromise at times.


Two nights ago I stayed awake waiting for the number of Etsy Treasuries (Etsy :: Treasury) to get low enough that I could score a treasury of my own.  I was able to curate a twelve-item collection of my favorites from other sellers.  Etsy users (sellers and buyers) commonly graze through these displays, looking for interesting objects, leaving comments, assessing others’ taste and interests.  The number of visitors is logged, as is the number of clicks that individual objects receive.  The bigger the numbers, the more successful the treasury.  The “best” treasuries are used on the front page of   People congratulate one another on having nice treasuries, pay each other back for being included.


So much to learn in this selling game.  To think it all started with knitting too many Christmas gifts.  Wouldn’t trade it for the world.



Everything I Know About Raising Children

There are things on my mind this morning that I can’t say.  My life has always been an open book, but these thoughts come from pages that just can’t be read by everyone.  It’s a hard choice when you are blogging, and are a naturally open person, deciding how much to reveal.  It’s taken me a pretty good chunk of life to be wiser about those decisions.  Suffice it to say, there are things on my mind that I can’t push aside, and they are affecting my attention and my actions.


Everything I know about raising children, I learned from my sisters.  I don’t know if I can fit it all into one post, but I’ll try.  Please excuse the listing, but it helps my brain stay organized.  (Ha!)  Just a bit of  background:  I was the last of six daughters to become a mother.  My daughter’s closest cousin is three years older than her, and her eldest cousin is 24 years older.  Because of the wide age span among the sisters, I was able to see some of my nieces and nephews raised to adulthood before I was a mother.  Indeed, my eldest niece and nephew had their children at the same time as I did.  So, I not only saw my sisters’ techniques in action, I was able to see the long-lasting affects of their choices, the finished products, if you will.  That has given me a list of both do’s and don’ts. 

1.  Speak quietly.  My parents come from the “spare the rod and spoil the child” generation, and children were there to be controlled and yelled at.  When I first observed sisters 4 and 6 with their children, I was shocked to see what they accomplished with a soft voice.  Moreover, the peaceful atmosphere in their houses was enviable. 

2.  Don’t hit your children.  Controlling a child’s behavior by fear (a perfectly acceptable concept in earlier generations) doesn’t achieve the desired effect; it teaches them that the biggest, most powerful person always wins, and to not get caught.  No wonder that big, powerful teens sometimes turn the tables.  Research is starting to bear this out, by the way.  I raised a perfectly good 20 year old on one spanking.  Another story.

3.  Expect the best from your child.  Okay, we learned this from our parents.  Their expectations from us were formed by their knowledge of our capabilities.  The child who had real problems with math concepts was not expected to bring home an A; the child who learned readily was expected to bring home all A’s. 

4.  Don’t just talk about loving your children- show it.  Hard lesson.   Yelling I-Love-You-This-Hurts-Me-More-Than-You, punctuated by lashes of the belt, doesn’t get that message across.  Generosity with your time and attention, physical affection, letting your child know they are a valuable family member and you enjoy being around them…that says love. 

5.  If you are a parent, grow up.  Being a parent means your child’s welfare and best interest comes first.  Period.  You may not  use drugs, quit your job precipitously, fail to bring home groceries, stay out late without making adequate provisions for your child, choose to buy porn instead of children’s books, expect the school to take care of your child’s fever or sprained ankle.   You may not allow your child to take care of you.  You will be a parent every day. 

6.  Set an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance in your household.  How do you expect your child to interact with the rest of the world?  Do you want them to consider other people as inferior?  Do you want your child to judge them based on their race or gender or sexual orientation?  Do you want your child to be able to peacefully co-exist with their classmates and co-workers?  Then they have to learn that at home.  Stop with the racial slurs and stereotyping and blonde jokes.  Invite people of all backgrounds into your life so that your children see them up close and know them as individual human beings.  Take your child out of your neighborhood and out of your comfort zone. 

7.  Get medical care for your child.  Don’t let your own discomfort with needles or dental work prevent you from following public health guidelines.  Don’t make your child a victim of the latest fad, such as not getting immunizations because you fear autism.  Let your child see you having discussions with the health care provider about care.  Help your child to know what things are emergencies and what things can be handled at home with a kiss and a Band-aid.  Be an example by getting proper care for yourself. 

8.  Expose your child to new foods.  Cook and buy variety.  It is a handicap to go into society with limited likes and a reluctance to try new things. 

9.  Don’t stay in abusive relationships.  It has been proven again and again that witnessing abuse, even if you are not the target of it, produces lifelong changes in behavior, including  increasing the likelihood that your child will grow up to become either a victim or a perpetrator.   

10.  Let the youngest child capable of a task be the one to perform it.  This makes the younger children learn and grow and feel valuable.  It lets the older child know that you appreciate her greater knowledge and ability.

11.  Listen to your child.  They have important things to say.  They need to run their thoughts and experiences by you.  Your voice is not the only important one in the home.

12.  Listen to objective voices.  If family members or teachers are saying they notice traits that are a problem, don’t let your love for your child send you into denial.  Investigate.  Get professional evaluations.  Don’t deprive your child from being all he can just because you don’t want to face the truth.

13.  No–No 13!  This is enough for one day.  Take a break.  I don’t have to write like the house is on fire.  I’m going to live a long time. 


A Joyous Morning

Yippee skippee folks, WordPress has made it easier to insert replies to your comments, so from now on, when you ask a question I can answer it right there in the comments section.  That’s provided your question doesn’t generate a whole new post.  I know, who says “yippee skippee”?  Well I do, that’s who.  I am dancing in my head and whenever I put my feet on the floor.  Today is good.


I made myself breakfast (tofu and apples) and served it to me in bed.  My dog hates me.  She’s laying there on her doggie bed glaring at me, periodically turning her back to let me see her disapproval.  She could be eating, too, if she had gotten her lazy butt out of bed and followed me to the kitchen.  I draw the line at serving her breakfast in bed.  After all, it’s not like she couldn’t tell there was kitchen activity.  She’s got dog hearing!  She can hear me thinking about opening the refrigerator.  I love you, Lucy.  I’ll be back in the kitchen soon.


Who makes the executive decisions in your house?  Here, I make them, because I’m the only occupant.  I decided not to put the house on the market just now.  I looked at the bucks and decided I over-reacted.  My economitis isn’t fatal yet, and I can sit still and make a more considered decision.  I really have decision-making ADD (attention deficit disorder).  I feel better once a decision is made, so I am impatient with the process that gets me there.  At least I’ve learned to reconsider and stall a bit until I can think about consequences and kind of feel my way through a choice.  This trait, the quick decision-making, served me well in medicine.  You couldn’t debate all day about whether to intubate an unconscious patient, or which antibiotic to prescribe for their meningitis.  You made a choice, monitored the consequences, changed if necessary.


It is cold at my house.  20 degrees, 8 with the windchill.  I receive a daily email from one of my local stations, and today it began:  “You will be slapped in the face with cold and breezy weather this morning.”  At least my power was on.  Last week when it hit this temperature, the early morning demand was so great that the power kept going out.  I was terribly sleep-deprived with all the early morning disruption.  When the power cuts off, my CPAP machine quits, and I immediately wake up.  Oh, did I fail to mention that I have sleep apnea?  CPAP is fab.  I never sleep without it.  (Jeez is there gonna be a time when I can say that about a partner?) 


Okay, time to get this party started.  There are things to mail (an order and a birthday present) and things to knit (ha-like I have planned it and can just announce it right this minute) and maybe things to crochet, too, because I am multi-talented.  And it seems, a little manic.


Much love on this Inauguration Day.  May all the world be better for it.


Everything I Know About IVs

Every so often, I remember that I am reporting on this journey with systemic lupus.  It has been sixteen years, and lately I am experiencing a rapid, unprecedented improvement in all symptoms.  I credit everything:  my B-cell killing therapy, years of mostly vegetarian eating, changes in my state of mind, prayer (mostly from other people)…I’m always supportive of multifactorial responsibility.  These are things I can do now that I couldn’t do six months ago:

1.  Get ready from start to finish and leave my house in 30 minutes.

2.  Stay up until 4 a.m.

3.  Ride my exercise bike at 8 mph speeds for 10 minutes or more.

4.  Take a bath, brush my teeth, and not need to rest afterward.

5.  Hurry from one end of the house to the other.

6.  Go to the mall and other places that require reliable, long distances of walking.

7.  Plan for more than one big activity per day.

8.  Wake up without oral ulcers. 

9.  Schedule appointments in advance and be pretty sure I won’t have to cancel at the last minute.

10. Pick up things that have fallen on the floor immediately, rather than waiting for extra energy.

11. Carry many pounds of groceries up the stairs from my garage into the house.

12. Sit for three hours and not get huge leg swelling.

13.  Taper my prednisone below 10 milligrams daily.  (I am currently at 7 with no symptoms.)

That’s progress!!

A ways back I mentioned that I wanted to do some “Everything I Know” posts.  One aspect of being chronically ill prompts me to start with this one.  When you have an illness that requires frequent blood-drawing (venipuncture) and occasional intravenous  (IV) therapy, the quality of those procedures can drastically improve or negatively impact those experiences.  I knew this from an early age, having started with serious medical problems at age 19.  I was determined to be adept at procedures so that they would not be additional torture for patients who already had to cope with illness or trauma.


Everything I Know About IVs I Learned From…

…two incredibly talented, African-American students in the class ahead of me at Jefferson Medical College.  The two guys were friends, and not only were they some of the smartest people I ever met, they were willing to mentor anyone who asked for help.  They were masters of preparation for every medical encounter, from exams to patient care to the competitive, universal, sometimes antagonistic Socratic  teaching in clinical sessions.  These are some of the things I learned:

1.  Read first.  There is something written on every topic you can imagine, and it’s your duty to find good sources and learn from them.  Don’t just rely on what the instructor or professor says or the books they recommend.  Figure out how you learn and find a source that teaches it that way.

2.  Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice…you get the idea.  We used foam pads to stick our needles into at first.  We practiced pushing IV catheters into them and having the catheter end up centered under a single ink line.  We used suture kits and practiced surgical knots until they could be performed without thinking.  It was inexcusable to have your first practice be on a patient. 

3.  Lay out your supplies in advance.  You should have everything within easy reach, keeping sterile things untouched.  You should not require the precious time of a nurse to hand you your supplies. 

4.  You don’t have to make a patient scream with an inhumanely tight tourniquet.  Tourniquets only need to be tight enough to obstruct venous blood flow.  Arterial blood still needs to flow into the limb.

5.  Leave the tourniquet on adequate time for veins to fill.  Unless your patient is a healthy athlete, you can’t get a good idea of possible puncture sites in 30 seconds. 

6.  Look first.  Examine the limb that you’ve tied off, top, bottom, sides, from end to end, so that you don’t miss any visible possibilities.

7.  Feel, feel, feel.  Full veins are palpable under the skin if you use a gentle touch.  This is crucial in darker skinned patients where you may not see the blue of a vein through the skin.  You should develop such sensitivity that you can “feel the red blood cells slipping past your fingertip”.  You can also feel the tough, hardened cord of a vein that is sclerosed and which doesn’t have enough of an opening to thread with an IV. 

8.  Determine the course of your selected vein, and mark it with a pen if necessary.  Your IV will only thread if you hit the vein and push the catheter in the right direction.  Pushing directly against the wall of the vein, instead of into the lumen, results in a punctured vein and big bruise.

9.  Make your puncture swift and sure.  Draaaaaging your needle slowly through the skin is undeserved torture for your patient.  Keep one finger on the vein while you are sticking, so you don’t lose track of your target.

10. Tape neatly but securely.  Your patient should be able to use the limb while the IV is flowing. 

11.  Clean up after yourself.  Anything else is unfair to the nurses. 

All of this sounds very straightforward, but there was one additional element.  My guys insisted that you treat every patient with respect and compassion.  They never entered a room without knocking, introducing themselves, and announcing what they were doing.  When they sat down to start the IV, they would be in conversation with the patient.  Not only were they describing what they were doing and preparing the patient for it, they were chatting and engaging the patient in an experience outside the procedure.


Great teachers.  Great friends.  Thanks, guys.


Crochet Mitts, Handmade Selling, and the CPSIA

I’m in my house with my Friday night tv.  In two days I made two pairs of fingerless mitts for myself-the first one, from pink/purple/gray Kimono Angora, the second from Colinette Zanziba pale pink/gray/tan/teeny green.  They are both crocheted.  I also made a hairband or ear warmer from the Zanziba, complete with bow.  I am frustrated that camera troubles prevent me showing you.  I’m working on it.


As I’ve tried to expand my Etsy store, several issues have arisen.  Excuse me while I list them, but it makes them more orderly in my mind.  Actually, disorderliness of thoughts isn’t something that has bothered me in months.   I think all my lupus cerebritis symptoms have subsided-extra wonderful.  (Many thanks to the gods of B cell killing.)  Anyway, here goes:

1.  After the discovery of tainted toys made in China and sold by large U.S. manufacturers, Congress made an embarrassed knee-jerk reaction.  They passed a bill requiring testing of all children’s products in a particularly aggressive and expensive way.  As it is written, the bill (CPSIA) could put an abrupt end to small businesses that produce handmade childrens items-toys, clothing, bedding, anything that could be construed as made for use by a child under the age of 13.  There has been a rapid and intense response mounted by folks like me, and already concessions are being predicted.  You can read about it here, on
Hopefully, my still has a future. 

2.  I’ve joined two Etsy street teams, Etsy knitters and Etsy fiber arts, and I’m making acquaintances and enjoying the interplay of the two groups.  It could be a full-time job, just networking and communicating.  I have to figure out how to schedule this activity and make it an adjunct instead of a destination.  I’m enjoying the opportunity to help other members, I’m learning from members, and I have received a small increase in exposure, including two Treasury postings. 

3.  I must work on local exposure, and revival of the Chattanooga Etsy street team could be a large part of that.  Discussions in progress.

4.  I’ve gotta start my application for the Chattanooga Market.  March will be here before I can turn around.  I’ve already started making spring/summer scarves, and I want my other main item to be shells in natural fabrics.  By that, I mean womens sleeveless tops.  Probably tops for kids, too.  This will be fun.  I love going to the market, and I’m so much healthier that I know I can handle it alone this spring. 


Okay, now that we’ve said that, let’s get to today’s dinner.  Couple of days ago I read a recipe from with African-style beans and peanutbutter.  I know it sounds weird, but it’s a wonderful combination.  I cooked pintos and diced onion in my crockpot until tender, then added a can of diced tomatoes.  I didn’t have any peanutbutter so I used a half-cup of tahini (sesame butter), mixing it in well and letting the whole thing simmer a little longer.  I seasoned it with salt and Neo Masala seasoning from Alchemy Spice (see  I had a little avocado on the side, and some whole grain bread.  Utterly heavenly. 


There’s a blog I’ve been keeping from you, but I cannot hide it any longer.  The young student who writes  Everything Up Close ( has an uncanny ability to select great products for review.  Most of the companies that give her items for review also let her conduct a drawing for one of their products.  She has introduced me to some fabulous products.  Last week, she presented something that made me say “Hallelujah!”  If you are tired of looking at young (and occasionally old) women whose rear view consists of a shirt tail and low-rise jeans that do not touch, you will love the “Hip-T”.  Check it out here:  Everything Up Close: Hip-T Review & Giveaway!   If you go quickly, you might get in on the giveaway.  I couldn’t wait that long.  My daughter is getting one for Valentine’s Day.  I wish I could stand on the street corner and distribute them.  President Obama needs to give serious thought to requiring them before his daughter’s reach That Age.  You know, the age of the reveal.  The age of the exposed thong.  The Bare Age. 


Okay, time to go.  Getting obsessive. 

Peace.  Big ol’ sweet, smooshy peace.

Crochet and Angora Mitts

I am running on the bare nerves and elevated adrenaline of someone who stayed up ’til 4:30 a.m.  In my not-so-single days, if I was up all night it was for something you’d consider more exciting.  This morning I was up because I was crocheting.  NO I am not a traitor to the knitting world.  My two rules of creating are: 

1.  Craft and art merge at some highly subjective line.

2.  All creating is created equal.

During the holidays, I picked up a crochet hook to make two scarves for my daughter, at her request.  She wanted granny squares and soysilk.  I had fun crocheting those, and she was as pleased as I was at the results.   The past few days have been progressively colder, and my hands have been cold even in the house.  (I keep my thermostat at 65 degrees F.)  Yesterday I picked up a skein of the precious Kimono Angora and a 3.25 mm hook (yeah, that’s small) and started working on a pair of indoor mitts for me!  myself!  moi-pe!  (The latter is a term that my daughter made up when she was taking French in preschool, and fooled me into thinking was a real word.)


I don’t make many things for myself.  I’m either busy filling orders from other people or making stock for my store, and I’ve been even more driven about that in the past six months.  I am enjoying this luxury.  I’ve become convinced of the usefulness of fingerless mitts and would like to have them as a regular wardrobe item.  Right this minute I’m looking forward to making more of them, even more than making more socks.   I am wearing my new mitts as I type, and I’d love to show them off.  Unfortunately, my computer is having issues this morning.  Last night I spent an hour on the phone with a lovely man from Comcast turning things on and off and changing plugs and now I’ll have to figure out what I did that keeps my system from allowing the upload menu to show.  My two and one-half hours of sleep are not adequate for doing that now. 


Anyway, fading fast.