Luck and Simple Progress

I am due for another round of rituximab next week and then two weeks later.  I must cancel.  I am not sick.  I mean, there is no indication that a flare is coming soon.  I am cheering very quietly, trying not to disrupt the natural flow of good luck here.  Speaking of luck, it may be affecting my real estate situation, too.  I’m all set to occupy my next home, and the not-yet-sold house has been getting more attention lately.  I am whispering when I say that someone liked it enough to take a bunch of photos this week.  Don’t want to put any pressure on that luck thing, but an offer would be great…

I am light-years beyond the state of mind that says we can bargain for luck.  I can be as good as gold and not be lucky.  I appreciate it when I see it, but I know I don’t deserve it and that it could trickle away at any time, without explanation.  In spite of this, my recent days have been filled with fortuitous occurrences.  For example, despite a delay in making our trip to Athens, my daughter and I moved her things without difficulty and were back just in time to catch a visit from my Minneapolis sister.  Tied to that was my recent good health, which allowed me to be at IHOP before 8:30 a.m. today, to enjoy pancakes and see her off. 

I can think of so many “lucky” things that I’m aware of an undercurrent of anxiety today.  When I start seeing lucky occurrences, it is my nature to accept and enjoy them, but to leave a small piece of consciousness focused on waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I start trying to work out things in my head, things that aren’t yet at the working out stage.  I ponder the nature of my luck and try to predict the duration of it.   I poke it and prod it and wonder where it came from, and if I can send it away.  I blow it up to mythic proportions, embuing things with luck even when they aren’t particularly lucky, by calling myself lucky to have avoided the opposite.  For instance, I might say to myself that I’m lucky to not have a boyfriend, because it means that at least I don’t have a bad boyfriend.

Okay, now I’ve spooked myself.  I can’t stay on the topic of luck any longer without losing sleep over whether I’ve  interrupted this good spell by talking about it.  Instead, a summary of recent projects.  The Chattanooga Market seems to be full of folks who want items of clothing for babies and children.  Since that has been the greatest interest, I’ve knitted and crocheted a pile of  small hats, most of them cotton.  I’m still working on cotton baby blankets, too.  I’ve been reveling in the use of Blue Sky Alpaca Dyed Organic Cotton.  It is ridiculously soft and cuddly, the stuff to wrap your little ones in.  Dayna’s chicken is finished, and it’s a lovely overstuffed creature.  She wanted it to be very full and round, rather than the slimmer silhouettes shown on the pattern, so it is well-filled.  The body is purple, crown and wattles are lime green, and beak and tail feathers are neon pink.  I had big fun making it.  I finished it in Athens and it hasn’t been unpacked, so I have no photos yet. 

I am actually contemplating staying home when my daughter returns to school.  She has recruited a couple of boys and her dad to help move her things into the new apartment.  I am not needed for hauling (thank God!).  I may go along later to help unpack things, if it looks like she will be busy with recruitment for her sorority.  We are doing this separation thing nicely, thank you very much.  It makes me feel like a better mom, backing off until I am summoned. 

A confession:  Tonight, after I prepared the house for a late showing, I put on my turtle necklace.  A friend gave it to me yesterday, a beautiful pendant with a dragonfly on the turtle shell, made by a Lakota woman.  I have come to appreciate the slow, steady progress of the turtle, and the density and strength of its simple shell.  Having a chronic illness like lupus requires a long view and a steady pace.  Nothing happens quickly, but I look back and see my tremendous improvement from last year. 

Peace.

On Feeling Safe at Home (in Your Own Country)

I haven’t written in eleven days.  It isn’t for lack of topics and events.  My mind and body have been moving at warp speed, busy, busy, busy.  (Of course, I mean that as what amounts to warp speed for me.)  It is both my reason and my excuse for avoiding writing.  Not only do I feel too busy (no time, no energy for the blog), but I also feel that so much is happening that I can’t adequately describe the events or express my feelings about them. 

That was yesterday.  Today I can see that President Obama’s criticism of the Cambridge police force and his subsequent conciliatory action toward them is still raising discussion, and I have two cents worth to add. 

In 1977 I was a married student living in a campus apartment in a building owned by Vanderbilt University.  There were businesses on the ground floor – a bank branch, a record store (the one I visited daily while I awaited the release of Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life), and others.  One day there was a bank robbery.  Soon after, my husband heard a knock at the door.  He opened it to find a group of Nashville policemen, their assault rifles drawn and pointed at him.  They entered, questioned him, looked around our apartment, and left without apology.  When we discussed the incident with neighbors who were home, we discovered that no one else had been similarly invaded.  My husband, the only dark-skinned tenant, was a target. 

There is a special vulnerability that comes from being threatened in your own home.  When the threat comes from those who are sworn to protect and serve, it leaves you with a horrible, gaping wound – an affirmation that you are not of value in your own country.  Dr. Gates should have been permitted to retreat into his home without further harrassment, surely already humiliated and embarrassed by the assumption that he was breaking into his own house.  Instead, he was handcuffed (- handcuffed!!!) and taken to the police station.

As for the African-American member of the Cambridge police, who says he completely supports the actions of his colleague – I imagine his family needs to eat.  He can’t afford to not be a team player.   

Dredging this up makes my stomach hurt.  If you know me personally, you know that my gut is made of iron.  My college days were punctuated by incidents like these.  All the feelings come back.  I’m a naive 17 year-old freshman, in a non-violent protest against some discriminatory practice at the office of the administration.  I am a 20 year-old married student, walking down the street with my dark-skinned husband, hearing some misguided citizen yell at me “Nigger lover!”  I am in a premed counseling session, with the program director assuming that I want to go to an all-black medical school-no, assuming that I cannot be admitted to a majority school. 

One person’s teachable moments are another one’s life.

Peace.

Organic Cotton Wrapped Hat – Free Pattern

A few days ago I posted a photo of this hat:  DSC04235  I promised to add the pattern, and it’s a bit late but here goes:

 

Organic Cotton Wrapped Hat  by Essie Bruell

 

The hat is knitted back and forth without joining.  The entire hat should be knitted loosely.  A relatively small needle is used because of rapid increases that make the beginning of the hat.  If this hat seems a bit big while knitting, remember that cotton shrinks up to 10% on washing.  I would advise washing in cold water and drying flat to keep that to a minimum.   

Materials:  1 skein Blue Sky Dyed Cotton (150 yards), size 5 circular needle at least 24 inches long, 5.5 mm (US I/9) crochet hook, yarn needle.

The hat is knitted back and forth without joining.  The entire hat should be knitted loosely.  A relatively small needle is used because of rapid increases that make the beginning of the hat. 

Gauge:  16 stitches = 4 inches

 

Begin:  Leaving 12 inch tail for sewing, cast on 5 stitches.

Row 1:  K1 *yo, k1.  Repeat from * for remainder of row (9 stitches)

Row 2 and all wrong side rows:  Purl all stitches

Row 3:  K1 *yo, k1. Repeat from * for remainder of row (17 stitches)

Row 5:  Same as row 3 (33 stitches)

Row 7:  Same as row 3 (66 stitches)

Row 9 and 11:  Knit all stitches.

Row 13:  Same as row 3 (131)

Row 15-35 right sides:  Knit all stitches.

Row 37:  Knit to last 10 stitches, then (yo, k1) to end of row.

Row 39:  Knit to last 19 stitches, then (yo, k1) to end of row.

Row 41:  Knit to last 10 stitches, then (yo, k1) to end of row.

Row 43:  Bind off.

 

Finishing:

Using crochet hook, start at top of hat, single crochet down under-flap edge, around brim, around point of flared edge placing 3 single crochets in the point stitch, and up to beginning point at top of hat.  Cut yarn leaving 15 inch tail for sewing.  

Overlap brim of hat to desired size.  Pin and try on to make sure.  Underflap should extend about 1 cm below the overflap, so that crochet edge shows.  Turn up pointed edge to join upper side of overflap, making semicircular end to overflap.  Stitch invisibly along edge of overflap, joining overflap and underflap from row 13 (last full row of increases) down overflap, around semicircle, and across bottom.  Making sure to leave a little slack for stretching, stitch inner edge of underflap to inside of cap.  Weave and trim ends. 

 

 

This pattern is copyrighted.  For personal use only, do not reproduce for sale or sell products made from pattern.

Everything I Know About Tangents…

My fourth grade teacher taught me everything I know about tangents.  Ironically, the lesson was not part of a geometry instruction, and I’m not sure she knew how effectively she was teaching it.  Like many Army school teachers, my fourth grade teacher was married to a career soldier.  She had travelled the world with him, and had a wealth of knowledge to share with us – the places she’d been, people she met, customs and culture…Her way of sharing was to start on a curriculum topic, lecturing and writing on the blackboard (we still had chalk and blackboards, and the lovely honor of going outside to clean the erasers).  Suddenly she would hit on a topic that coincided with her personal experience, and off she would go, animated and voluble, giving me the same feeling as when I was immersed in a good read.  Eventually she would realize she was on a tangent, and say so, and make the leap back to the proscribed topic, leaving me a little sad that we couldn’t sail on and on, taking tangents from the tangent and navigating only by the desire of the moment. 

At the age of 8, starting fourth grade, I understood that tangents couldn’t exist on their own.  You had to have a starting place, a central core of agreed-upon topic, as your jumping off point.  And the jumping off didn’t involve a leap to another totally unrelated topic, but a sliding off the point onto something that arose naturally from the topic but moved out into another realm.  When I finally reached geometry (tenth grade?) I could picture that line with its single point in common with the circle, and remember our movement out of the circle, through that point, and down the line to parts unknown.  I would look at the tangent line and imagine how much of a leap it would take to get back to the original circle, sometimes impossibly long for a nonathletic child like me. 

All of this came to mind because I went off on a tangent yesterday.  I was thinking about hats while I knitted the projects that I’m working to complete, and suddenly I was putting down my needles and picking up a skein of tangerine Blue Sky Dyed Organic Cotton.  In my mind was a hat that wrapped, with some overlap leading to some kind of interesting adornment on the side.  I began to knit furiously, starting at the top, creating the spiraling increase in circumference and on to the stockingette body and big swirling medallion-like finish.  I went to bed satisfied that I had captured it, and woke this morning anxious to sew it together and see the completed project.  I even disturbed my daughter’s sleep so I could view it on a real head.  (I know, I am a ruthless mother when I am off on a tangent.) 

I must admit, this tangent went out a looooong ways.  After I did the finish work, I took the time to write the pattern.  I will publish it here as a free pattern tomorrow.  And I photographed the hat:

DSC04239

Including a top view:  DSC04237

It is time for me to get off the mother of all tangents and make that huge, light-years long leap back to the day’s tasks.  My garage is mid-cleanup.  I need groceries.  There are other projects still on the needles.  I have photographed baby hats and need to edit them and post them in the Turtletots store.  But wait, there’s more:  income tax prep, cactus planting, etc.  My tribute to Billy Mays. 

Oh heck, I can’t leave yet.  A few words about the Michael Jackson memorial tribute.  I have been a little tickled realizing how far some of the news announcers are from my world.  There’s been so much talk about his children attending (was it wise, will it scar them for life) and his daughter Paris making her own statement at the end.  The Black in my roots means memorials like this are the norm.  We take our children to funerals.  My daughter went to her grandparents for “day care” from 5 weeks of age until she began preschool.  She attended funerals with them regularly, knew that death came and was an expected part of life.  In my upbringing, it was common for children to be able to speak or sing or play a musical instrument at a family member’s funeral.  Their tributes were always welcome, and they were supported by family members in much the same way as the Jackson clan flocked around Michael’s children yesterday.  Thank God they have that sustaining family power. 

Peace.

Diamonds, Health and Houses

The word is out.  The Congressional Budget Office has scored the complete health care reform bill and it definitely looks affordable, hundreds of billions less than previous estimates.  Ezra Klein has summarized the results for WashingtonPost.com (Ezra Klein – Primary Documents: The Congressional Budget Office’s Score of the HELP Bill).  Definitely worth reading his brief post.  Here’s a bit more info on Alternet today:  The Results Are In: A Public Health Plan Saves Big Money | Health and Wellness | AlterNet.  The Congressional Budget Office is nonpartisan, has no political agenda.  Their role was to look at the provisions of the bill and tell members of Congress what it would cost and what they could expect as a result of passing it. 

Yesterday we shopped for houses.  I fell in love with a small house on a hill in a new subdivision.  It eclipsed everything I’ve seen before now.  I want to pack my bags, put my yarn in the car, and move across town.  The only hold-up is the home I’m living in, the perfectly lovely suburban house that I cannot keep and have not sold.  I climbed the stairs to the upper level four times last week.  My back and legs have been sending me nasty messages ever since.  Of course, cleaning out the garage may have also contributed.  I am trying to make it look less of a disaster zone.  One carload to Samaritan Center, one carload to the recycle center…the repeated litany of our debulking. 

I am up to the neckline and armhole ribbing on my father’s vest.  Can’t wait to show it.  I’m pleased with how it’s come along, and he will be happy, I think.  I have listed several new items in my stores-two pairs of fingerless mitts in the adult store (http://turtlefat.com) and several infant and child hats in the children’s store (http://turtletots.etsy.com). I decided to empty all the super-warm winter items from the adult store, streamlining the inventory to things that are seasonally appropriate.  I think it makes it much more shoppable. 

A last note for the day.  Rob Thomas performed at a Today Show concert today.  He sang Her Diamonds (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQgaGS4BL6I&feature=related), and it was explained that the title refers to his wife’s tears.  She has an autoimmune disease.  In the song, she says that she cannot take it any more, and she cries.  He feels unable to help her, but stays by and cries with her.  A mate that understands having the disease – out of my realm of experience.  I will download the album and imagine having that relationship.

Peace.