on downsizing and the things that stick

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You know, it doesn’t matter how much stuff we have, Missy is going to judge us regardless, and we are all complete FAILURES in her eyes. Damn, that cat gives good shade.

I’ve been getting questions about how a person gets rid of things, which I have to tell you amuses the life out of me, because I frequently feel as though my own things are closing in on us. I know that this isn’t in fact true, but to have multiple somebodies asking for advice on getting rid of things strikes me as especially funny.

So, Wise Old Owl face on now:  the first step, friends… is to cheat and move so frequently in the beginning of your marriage/ life together as a family that you just can’t have a lot of stuff to start. It’s brilliant! Also, it still won’t exactly stop you: I had a prodigious book collection, truly epic, and probably more than a little heartstopping to any mover who had to take it on. I have no idea how we crammed that into our tiny apartment in Alexandria, but when we brought it into our Baltimore house it needed to live in boxes for months because we were too busy trying to figure out how we would put down floors around it in order to later put up bookshelves. (This is how I learned that large collections are not always good things.)

When you move as much as we did, it’s too expensive to accumulate a bunch of things, because you have to work around them so much, and stuff gets broken and lost as you transfer from one location to another. That helps a great deal with your sense of attachment to your belongings.

Really, once we settled down, the stuff did finally happen. Ten years in the same space comes with a certain amount of accumulation, and while we did periodic culls, there’s just this level of “what even is this” that shows up, including a few boxes of straight- up, “no, seriously, I don’t think these are ours” items that showed up after the fire. Sam and I don’t like having excess things- that horror of being owned by our property that I’d mentioned in an earlier post- but we don’t want to live a completely austere, minimalist life, either. There’s a middle ground, but it involves vigilance against the creep.

I started off- loading yarn earlier in 2015, as soon as I had any inkling that we might be looking to downsize. The Kids were thinking about moving out and the house seemed vulgar without them, excessive, plus the winter utilities were a beast, and THAT YARD, folks. It was easy at first; look for duplicates, the obvious largesse, and get rid of that. Then I went for anything that had been sitting for more than a few years; I clearly wasn’t chomping at the bit to use that, so let it go. All high- quality tools stayed, any duplicates going to friends.

It got harder then; emotion needed to get set aside. I can (and did) apply this idea across the board when getting rid of things, but the yarn and fiber was one of the hardest areas to work, because I was dealing almost exclusively with materials from my studio. All really emotional, all quite personal; some of those skeins, I remembered exactly who’d dyed them, the day they were dyed, and what we were doing that day. (I still remember who received/ bought them, in some cases. It’s all a thing.)

Here’s the rub: it’s just stuff. Inanimate. The feelings I’d projected on to those items are very real, based off of experiences that were real, but it had little to do with those items in that time in space. I was just keeping, hiding, hoarding. They’re made for use; I wasn’t using them and that was a shame. Nope, nope, nope. Out the door they went.

I went through this downsizing a category/ room at a time: yarn, clothes, shoes, books, kitchen, bathroom, etc. I didn’t use a book or website, just made lists and went through categories in a way that made sense to me- I felt that this might work efficiently, be more organic. Applying the same concepts I’d used with yarn to clothing, shoes, my kitchen: I ran into some mental roadblocks, the old “what if I need this later” Yankee thinking, but rational mind won. When I’d find myself stuck in that rut, I’d remind myself of two things:

  1. I need space and a sense of order more than I need this Silly Thing; and
  2. I haven’t used or needed this Silly Thing in x months/ years, if I randomly need one of these, I can borrow one from a Silly Thing- having friend.

You would be amazed at how many friends have the exact Silly Thing you need. Just last week, we had the Silly Thing someone else needed. Community is everything.

Anything multipurpose gots a second look, because we were moving to tiny house. Anything with storage came along- our coffeetable is also a storage cube, we have a gateleg table in the kitchen, my cedar chest serves as a mailing station, and what was the fiber cart now holds cookbooks, oils, spatulas, and water bottles. Wall racks are our friends. You get the idea.

Teamwork helped tons. We spent a lot of time congratulating each other on getting rid of things. It sounds silly & a little childish, but if you live with someone, making a game out of it, making it a goal and working together to make more space for your life is super motivating! I have noticed that even if your partner (or roommate) isn’t so excited about the idea, if you get started clearing the space, frequently they’ll sort of jump on board because it makes the space feel a lot better. THIS IS NOT ME ENDORSING THROWING SOMEONE ELSE’S STUFF OUT. DO NOT DO THAT THING. That is a terrible thing to do. But if you start working you might notice that your partner gets into it, too, even if they originally thought it was unnecessary.

A lot of this had to do with remembering why I wanted to do this originally: priorities. We needed to ask ourselves, repeatedly:

  • Is this item as or more important to me than a sense of space and order? (Because if I don’t cull items, I might lose my sense of space and order.)
  • Does this item have real, actual use to me?
  • Does this item add value to my life?
  • Does this item make me happy?
  • Will this item fit into our new home?
  • When did I last use or enjoy this item?

If I couldn’t answer those questions satisfactorily, then I needed to decide where the item went: trash, donation (thrift store/ internet), Craigslist, or a friend. We needed to come at this in waves, too; what seemed essential two weeks into the process seemed weirdly unnecessary after a month of clearing through things— don’t be afraid to double- check your work.

I have a one- thing- in, one- thing- out policy now (unless we are talking about groceries or art supplies, because you need to feed yourself to live & these are consumed), and we tend to ask ourselves questions before we purchase anything, too, which helps keep the amount of things down. Actually, I’m going to list my personal pre- purchase questions out, because that might be helpful here, too.

  • Is this something I could easily borrow, make, or find for free elsewhere?
  • Was this made in- country, locally, or ethically? (Support my friends first!)
  • What will do I need to take out of my home to make space for this?
  • How will this purchase enhance/ improve/ affect our lives?
  • How am I feeling right now? (ie, am I at Dick Blick because today is a pisspoor day, or because I actually need more paint?)

I’m not running this list every single time I’m picking up a head of cauliflower, but any time I step into a major retailer this is pretty much how I do it. It helps. I feel like we’re buying space and order by not buying physical goods. I generally prefer active choices- eating a healthy lunch, going for a walk, calling a friend- as opposed to passive ones like these, the abstentions. You can always “replace” an unhealthy habit with a healthy one, but it isn’t always the same— filling the ice cream gap with jogging just doesn’t work for a lot of people. This trade- off, though, works for us. I don’t want to spend a lot of time looking for anything. I’d never find it if that were the case, really- that’s just not how I work.

So there you go. There short answer is: we downsized via priorities. Funnily enough, I borrowed someone’s copy of Marie Kondo’s book shortly after we landed, because everyone kept telling me it mirrored so much of our experience, and while I’m not completely on board, I think there’s some good stuff in there, so if you’re asking me about these things, it’s probably for you.

Complete aside: if you follow me on FB, you probably saw that I made an Announcement this week. I can’t get into the nitty- gritty yet, although a lot of you have made some Very Good Guesses, but as soon as I’m able to give details, you know I will. I’m just happy I can talk about it! I’m terribly chuffed to have been asked, and while it means I’ll be buried in work for the next 6- 8 weeks, it also sounds like a lot of fun, and I’m in very, very good company. (I’m not going to lie, I’m thrilled to head out to Colorado for a minute, too. Mountains! Hallie! Travel! The great wide West!) I’ll keep everyone updated as news arrives. Thanks for all the support and good wishes, everybody.

 

on Friendsmas, and a reply

This weekend was Friendsmas, an annual tradition amongst some of my oldest friends; a whole gang of us get together for an orphans’ holiday of food, gifts, the whole nine. Most of us have families of our own- some of them perfectly acceptable families, too- but this act of coming together as just us, it’s been a touchstone throughout the years. Folks move, lives change, but Friendsmas, it happens and you show up for it, damnit. Even if there’s a blizzard warning like this year.

This was Friendsmas: the Fire & Ice edition, in which our 2- 4 inch storm warning turned into 6- 10 inches in a matter of 45 minutes, in which Derek ran a shuttle service (complete with interior Christmas lights) to and from dedicated parking because there wasn’t enough at the house, in which there were at least three oven fires that I was aware of, and in which Bruce told a gnome story that actually made Teresa laugh. There was the biggest turducken ever, and six (SIX!) piecakens, which- if you haven’t had a piecaken yet, fix that now, please. Sam and I helped out with food the night before, and now that I know how to make piecaken, I can’t go back to just plain pie ever again.

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This is a devils’- food + pumpkin pie piecaken. It is exactly as good as you suspect it might be. It is, actually, even better. I’m not even going to get into the blue velvet + lemon curd.

One of the long- standing traditions of Friendsmas is handmade gifts; if you’ve got the time/ funds (because nobody should ever feel stressed out by a holiday, it’s a rule, Friendsmas is meant to be better than and a relief from the standard holidays), folks are encouraged to make things to bring as gifts for everyone. I’ve made a couple different things before- last year, I made hand- knotted malas, but I was really short on time with the move, so I wasn’t sure what I’d do this time around. I had considered soap, but didn’t have time for anything to cure; I finally settled on lotion bars, which only need to set overnight and are easy to make allergen- free and organic. Hooray!

I posted a picture of the little bars cooling in the fridge and someone asked me for my recipe. I promised to post that once Friendsmas was over— it’s really more notes than a recipe, but here goes! Easiest thing in the world.

bars cooling

The tray is a silicone mini- brownie tray from Michael’s; anything similar would do, but I really recommend silicone if you’re using a smaller form; it makes it easier to pop your bars out once they’ve cooled. You can also pour these into a larger loaf tray and cut them into size once cooled, too!

I got turned on to these through Lush- when we moved back to the States from the UK, it took a few years for Lush to hit the US, so I needed to learn to make bath bombs, melts, lotion bars, etc, at home in order to get my fix for a bit; I could get it shipped, but that exchange rate + the shipping was painful on my paltry E-5 salary at the time. I AM SO GLAD THEY CAME ACROSS THE POND, but now that I don’t pass one on my way to… well, everything, really, anymore, I’m reverting to my old DIY ways.

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Aaaauuuugh, the light in our new place is just too good

To get started, you’ll need the following:

  • Coconut oil
  • Shea butter
  • Vitamin E oil (capsules can work fine here!)
  • Beeswax (I prefer pastilles/ pellets but block is good)
  • Essential oil for fragrance (check for skin- safety; lavender, rosemary, rose, sandalwood, jasmine, sweet orange, lime, tea tree, cedarwood, etc are all great options)
  • Kitchen scale
  • Slow cooker* or double boiler
  • soap mold, cupcake tins, brownie tray, whatever you’d like to use to hold your lotion bars as they cool!
  • cooking spoons, ladle

 

(*If using a slow cooker, you’ll really want to consider using a liner for easier cleanup with this project. Congealed shea butter is no fun to wash out of anything, ever, but you definitely don’t want to try and wash this out when it’s hot.)

Before turning on the heat source, combine equal parts coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax in slow cooker or double boiler. I went with 8.25 oz all around, which yielded approximately 64 smaller lotion bars. Add one teaspoon vitamin E oil; this acts as a mild preservative. If you’re using vitamin E capsules, you’ll need to cut them open and squeeze out the oil into your measuring spoon. (Your bars should last, kept out of heat & direct sunlight, for a year to eighteen months.) Turn heat source on low, check periodically; some ingredients will melt more quickly. Stir occasionally, as things melt.

Once your ingredients have melted, make certain they are well blended in the pot, then add any essential oils you may want for fragrance. I added one teaspoon of lavender essential oil and a half- teaspoon of rosemary (that’s some powerful stuff) essential oil to make some scented bars, but that might have been overkill. Shea butter can have a smell to it, depending on whether you buy refined or unrefined, and some folks love it, some folks hate it. I’m into it and I like to work with it; you might want to cover it up!

Stir your oils into the mixture, then turn your heat off. I used a ladle and a small funnel to get my liquid into my mold, but whatever works for you; this is the part where you’re pouring your liquid lotion from your slow cooker or double boiler into your forms/ mold. You could also try moving it to a measuring cup with a pour spout, but whatever you do move quickly, because this will try to firm up as soon as it begins to cool.

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I let these sit overnight in the refrigerator, possibly out of a surfeit of caution, who knows? They don’t un-set on me, though, so it seems to be working out, and they pop right out of my silicone molds the next day, too; I don’t think it’s bad for them to sit that long. I’m playing around with scent combinations, and I’ve ordered some new butters to play with, for this as well as some salves & soaps I want to put together. I’ve got some marshmallow root going now for a salve that I’m really excited about- it’s been so cold this month, we’re both getting chapped hands.

I had some extras, obviously (because WHO needs 64 lotions bars? NOBODY, that’s exactly who) so if you ordered anything from the shop this month, you got presents! I still have a few kicking around the house, and I’m slipping them into every knitting bag I have. They’re super useful to have in a pinch and I don’t worry about them coming open in transit and spilling all over everything. I’m looking forward to making some with cocoa butter and possibly some coffee essential oil (a real thing that really smells amazing) once I’ve burned through a little of this stash.

I have a request in my queue to talk a little about how we managed to pare down; I’ll be getting to that later this week, but for now, I have dogs to walk, knitting to get on, and a 16″x 20″ canvas to pack up for shipping. How does one do that exactly, anyway? I’m pretty sure there’s a Right Way To Do That Thing. Google and me are going to make some decaf, settle in for a bit, and get our learning going, figure that out. Wish us luck.

 

 

 

in which there is a reminder (February is coming)

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Hey, remember when some of us did a thing and it was super fun? Let’s do that again.

In an effort to be prepared (always be prepared, always have a list, always know where your towel is, etc, etc), I’ve been carefully setting out all my stationary supplies and trying to dig up my fun pens & art stuff over the last few days. February is the Month Of Letters, and I want to be READY this year. I’ve missed the last few! I’ve picked up a pack of blank watercolor postcards to work on, too, and I’m really looking forward to playing with those. Who wants mail? Drop me a note with your address and we can be pen- pals. You don’t have to commit to a long- term correspondence if you’re nervous about what to write! There’s something depressing about just sending and receiving hum- drum, routine mail, though, and this really, really helps.

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I really like the afternoon light here, friends.

I’m also loading a bit of yarn into the Etsy shop tonight— I came upon a big box of heylookatthat yarns when we were packing up the backyard studio in Baltimore, and now that we are settling in I’m looking around for the last bits of space and thinking, okay, where can I trim? Yarn is squishy, but I still have a LOT. Couple that with how old and creaky my laptop is getting, and hey, I don’t think I really need all this stuff- definitely not as much as I need a new laptop, that’s for sure. Interested in contributing to the New (or at least, New- To- Me) Macbook Fund? It’s okay, you don’t have to care about that at all, you only need to be motivated to buy New- To- You yarn, and I’ve still got a fair amount of that to spread about.

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Listing on Etsy can be problematic for a few reasons, not the least of which is their recommendations.

This came up when I loaded Etsy, by the way, and I’m sharing it because I’m already super low on wall space but someone should have it hanging in their house. Sometimes their recommendations are off the mark, but they got me right between the eyes with this one. Hallie, you had been hunting down textiles for your new walls, right? (Girl, also— I am making you a PAINTING, it’s kind of big; when do you land in your new place? I’m not sure how I’m shipping this yet, but I also need to suss out where.) I’ve been so pleased to see the trend of weavings and rugs as wall- hangings renewed; finding felt- paintings made me really happy, too. While knitting (and her very slightly less popular sister, crochet) remain relatively popular (as far as textile arts go) other handcrafts like felting, weaving, spinning, macrame, they seem to go through waves. It’s good to see them getting some well- deserved love.

Okay, don’t forget- LETTERS, who’s in? Send me an email if you want to get in on some snail mail.  That seems backwards, huh? I’ll be back after the weekend to talk about Friendsmas and Turduckens and very likely a whole bunch of snow, like everybody else on the eastern seaboard. Stay warm, friends.

in which we are trying to stay warm

It’s brutal outside, howling winds and temperatures dropping into the single digits in the evenings. Sam and I are all about comfort foods, snuggling with the dogs, and marathoning Netflix this week. (Who else is watching Jessica Jones? I have Such Big Feelings.)

Luckily, I have warm hobbies.

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Oh hey, that stitch marker is from Shannon (Purloff!) at Stitches West! My heart. <3

I’m currently working two projects in worsted weight yarn, which is sort of unusual for me— I tend to knit DK or fingering weight projects, but I think I’m in a rush to be as covered in woolens as quickly as possible. I’ve just cast off a gift which I’ll post as soon as it’s blocked and sent out; currently, I’ve a worsted pullover sweater on the needles, although only barely. I’m on the neck, which is where you begin, so I feel silly telling you “I have a sweater on the needles,” but I need some accountability on this one; I haven’t knit a sweater in over a year. I watched Stefanie Japel finish this pattern at Rhinebeck in the prettiest gold and haven’t been able to get it out of my head ever since. The pattern will be Daelyn from Swans Island– a really clean, modern pullover with some garter stitch detail. Neighborhood Fiber Co.’s Sheridan Circle seemed perfect; I’ve had four skeins in Studio Worsted in my stash for a few months, and I swore that once we settled in I’d treat myself to a new sweater. Karida’s semi- solid colorwork just glows in simple stitchwork.

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The thing about modest, subtle colors like these is that when they are intelligently dyed, they look even better once they begin to make a fabric. This one begins to look like the heart of a fire when worked up- it’s really exciting to knit. 

The other thing keeping me occupied this week are two skeins of Madeline Tosh DK in Dried Fruit, a colorway exclusive to Jimmy Beans Wool . I can’t show you what’s on the other end of that ball quite yet because it’s a design in progress, but it’s going to help keep me warm this winter and I’m super grateful for that, and also the opportunity to design in that color— just look at that. Oh hot damn, right? MY LIFE, friends. What even.

I’ve been feeling pretty fortunate lately, despite the weather (and the promise of an imminent Snowmageddon this weekend); things are simple and I’ve been feeling better than I have in a very long time. I’m beginning to have a bit of a painting problem,* but that hasn’t stopped me at all and the art supply store was having a canvas sale so I have six large blank canvases waiting for me in case we get snowed in this weekend. (I may be rooting for getting just slightly snowed in this weekend.) I’m still working through a backlog, playing catch- up, and trying to work through the last few boxes- okay, and the entire second bedroom, because we just never look at it- but none of that is crushing. that’s just the thing— there are things that need doing, some that really need my attention, and they get it, but there are no do- or- die, end- of- the- world, all- is- ashes list items here.

I hadn’t realized just how extraordinary the stress had gotten before the move. I know I had been setting boundaries, really super healthy ones, and at the time I thought I was doing it out of a surfeit of caution, but wow, I’m so glad I did. I said a lot of gentle, kind “no”s in the six months/ year before we moved. Where did that come from? That’s got to be partly Sharen’s influence. If I turned you down for work, didn’t return a call or email, or worse, if I shot you down for social time over the last year, it wasn’t you, trust me. I’ve been patching myself together, healing, and realigning. I’m happy I listened to those instincts. I should possibly listen to that little voice more often. It is so frequently (almost always) right. The sense of relief in this new space, now that we have settled and are beginning to really adapt to our routines, it’s wonderful. I feel expansive, open, free.

I’m signing off to get busy making a strata for dinner— we have some leftover grocery store challah (avoid the grocery store challah, friends, it never lives up to the hype no matter how awesome it looks) and good farm cheese, a slab of leftover meat, a fistful of herbs that need love before they go weird on us and way too many eggs for two people.

Before I go: what are you working on these days? I’d love to see what is in everyone’s knitting, crochet, & sewing baskets. Ooooh, and let’s talk about reading, too- what’s on your nightstand table?  I just finished up Sam Gosling’s Snoop; thoroughly entertaining and exactly the light non- fiction I needed to get me through the worst of the move, but I’m looking for something meatier now that I’m beginning to feel a little settled. Who’s into something good?

Hope you’re warm, wherever you are. I’ll be back with pictures of knitting, and more, soon.

 

*A Painting Problem, defined:  I live in an 850 square ft house, most of my walls are windows, and I don’t know how to price paintings. (If you know/ have ideas on how one puts prices to a canvas, I’d like to hear from you because these things are stacking up. Help.) Also, have any of my readers done any work with Society6? They seem like a possible venue for prints, etc and I’d love to hear real- world feedback/ reviews. Who wants a rainbow puddle on… a pillow, or a duvet cover? Or an iPhone case, I guess? I’m actually sort of feeling the pillows, now that we’re talking about it. They’ll do almost anything, it looks like, wall clocks and whathaveyou, I’m mostly interested in prints, etc, but if you have any experience with them at all, I want to hear it!

 

in which there is some free- form processing

My last night in Baltimore, I swung through to pick up some medications, see the kids (we now think of them as The Kids, and I think that’s about to become a Style Feature, sorry about that), have dinner with J, grab the last few remaining things at the house. I’d originally planned on grabbing a hotel, but we hadn’t turned off the utilities or sent junk men through the house yet; Kiddo’s old mattress was still there, the heat and power were still on, so I dragged her mattress into our old bedroom and slept, squatter- style, on the floor. It was strange: bittersweet and good, too— I had this time to just go through our home on my own terms, in my own time, to carefully say goodbye to each and every corner.

It was unexpected; we’d hoped to transfer all our medical business in time, but refills are never co- ordinated and it was my most important med that had come up- Gilenya. I’m not even going to get into the details of what a cock- up it was just to get this medication filled at a pharmacy instead of having it hand- delivered to a home (the no- shit automatic assumption being that anyone with my diagnosis is housebound) but there wasn’t any way to have it diverted to our new location on short notice because BUREAUCRACY, a word which I always need spell- check to complete and which never means life is going to be easier for anyone except, well, bureaucrats.

I didn’t really mind. We couldn’t do holidays with The Kids due to the move, so I had an excuse to drop off Kiddo’s present from an uncle, which was accidentally sent to us, to visit and give hugs all around, and to pet Barrett, who lives with them now, too. J and I had dinner at The Brewer’s Art that evening, and he hadn’t been there before; a chance at the winter menu and oh god, that’s right, they were serving the elk. (If you have a chance, get over there and try the elk. It is so, so good. I waited a year, hoping it would come back so I could try it; it was worth it.) J lives in Howard county so I know he won’t be getting out Mt. Vernon on the regular, but I’m glad to have shown him one of my favorite places in the city before I left. Missing him like wildfire, though; I keep thinking of stupid things I want to show him here. The absolute idiocy of geography, friends.

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You would want to visit a Barrett, too. He’s basically a personal Toothless: smaller & fuzzier.

 

What I’m avoiding talking about- working my way up to talking about?- is what happened right before I left. It’s funny, because I’d been texting Sam the night before about feeling a little like an old crusty about the entire situation, just- well, it felt like squatting, reminded me of my old, teenage self. There was a small risk to what I was doing and I knew it; the house had stood empty for a few weeks and hey, it’s a city. We’d been making very obvious preparations to move for weeks. People watch. They notice. It’s a good neighborhood, but we aren’t far from less- good neighborhoods because- well, you know. Any city is a patchwork. So.

I woke up at 9 to my alarm, stretched, started moving a little- just packing up the things around my bed, that sort of thing, like you’d do in a hotel. I thought I heard something at the front downstairs, but when I peeked out the window, nothing doing. I sat back on the mattress, picked up my phone, started reading the news, but after a few moments, something just felt wrong. I don’t know precisely how to explain this, but some of my people will understand; it’s that sensation in your stomach when someone is watching you and you can’t see them, or that moment just before something is about to explode. This isn’t any strange psychic thing, it’s a sensory one; de Becker writes about this pretty brilliantly in The Gift Of Fear. (Highly recommended if you haven’t read it, btw.) Your senses have picked up on indicators that something dangerous is happening, somewhere, but they aren’t so obvious that your mind has grabbed on to a clear “oh hey wait what’s this let’s freak out” moment yet, so you just go into hypervigilance mode. I suspect this is something that’s easier to trigger in folks like me- PTSD/ C-PTSD types, people who’ve experienced trauma/ multiple types of trauma and/ or violence, because we have more experiences to draw from. (I also think that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.)

So that’s me, sitting on my mattress, vigilant. At first, there was just nothing: the sound of the giant oak tree creaking in my yard, cars passing, wind. My neighborhood. Safety. I felt completely irrational, crouched on my kid’s mattress, in my own house, holding a cell phone in one hand and a metal water bottle in the other- some goddamned vet in pajamas having an episode, straight out of a bad sitcom. Well, I always knew this would happen, I remember thinking, and flashed on a friend making an awkward Vietnam vet joke almost a decade ago.

Then I heard the sound of fabric brushing against itself. I wasn’t sure at first- it  was coming from out in the stairwell, and sounded so very similar to the sound of the wind, because it was very, very slow. Cloth, though, as a person moves- it has its own noise, and it was getting closer as this person was moving up the stairs.

I look at this incident now and realize that I should have- and could have- taken so many different approaches. In the moment, I was just so shocked, angry, and I think also- possibly, probably crushed, too?- that someone had just walked into our home, I didn’t think to be afraid, although I definitely was. There in the room, I knew I couldn’t let this person find me- that I needed the element of surprise on my side, not theirs- but other than that, I didn’t have time for any plan, other than to type “91” into my phone and to grab the heaviest thing close to hand (my water bottle) before I started to move. I didn’t want to go out the window (and wasn’t sure I had that time) so confrontation was the option I felt I had left.

I’m 5’4″, y’all. The last physical altercation I had was with some drunk jerk who was beating the piss out of his girlfriend in the streets while she was holding her baby— and I was with my husband at the time. That was years ago, a team effort, Sam got the worst of it, and that guy was HAMMERED. Like, maybe- booze- wasn’t- all- that- was- in- the- mix levels of hammered. Old boy got one good shot in and a couple of really sloppy pushes. Buddhist. Non- violence is my game. Also survival, though. That, too. So.

I was in the room, thinking and looking and trying to come up with any sort of plan when the person hit the landing and I knew I needed to do something, anything, really. I hit this frustration point; tossed the door open and there he was, about ten feet from me in the hall, maybe early thirties, canvas jacket, stocking cap, 100% average guy, and he looked terrified. We were both so shocked to be looking at each other, there was just this weird moment where we simply stared at one another, me in my PJs and cowlick, him in his work clothes and wide eyes, before I said, “What the fuck are you doing here?” This tiny “whoashit” escaped him and then it was as though he vanished, he ran out of the house so quickly; if he hadn’t left such deep footprints in my yard on his way out- and left the door standing open- I might have suspected it was all a dream.

It’s funny/ not- funny- at- all, the way this comes right back, the way this is both mental illness and life skill; I felt that same absolute calm afterward, that “well, let’s do things proper now” that comes with any vaguely awful thing. I felt so very much like my father’s daughter in this moment: collected, pragmatic, and very, very slightly amused. A thing had just occurred: unusual, exceedingly unpleasant, but also decidedly over, without overt negative affect. I closed the front door, made rounds of the house: inside, top to bottom, rooms/ windows/ doors, then the outside perimeter. I packed up everything I needed, locked up, went to the gas station for a much- forbidden pack of smokes, and then, once I knew everything was 100% good, then I threw up and had a bit of a freak- out. You know. Like you do.

Afterward, I desperately wanted to be in the company of someone who would understand the reactions I was having; I wanted to be around ex- military friends Higgins or Jason, but I didn’t have time for that in this moment. In practice, though, simply knowing that there were people who would understand how strange and out- of- sync I was feeling was a comfort. (It’s okay to be not- normal when you know that you can be not- normal with other not- normal individuals who help to normalize you?) I didn’t want to investigate my emotions or hash it out, I didn’t want to talk or get hugs or have someone pat my hand, I just wanted to be in the same space with someone who would get it and not feel like a weirdo for about half an hour.

I settled for surrounding myself with people I love, and drove to the county to see The Kids like we’d planned. I didn’t mention anything about the morning, I couldn’t see the point; I’d come for hugs and to drop off gifts. I left feeling soothed. Calmer. By the time I’d put 100 miles or so between me and Baltimore, I found myself strangely grateful for the experience- not the hurty, ugly thought of someone intruding on what was our home, that’s quite painful and I’m still struggling with that- but while that was a frightening and upsetting encounter, I also appreciate the reminder. Walls, windows and doors aren’t as solid and significant as we enjoy thinking they are (I remember our fire). They’re more symbols than anything else. (I secretly feel like this might have also been: have another lesson about attachment, jerk.)

I left Baltimore that day as though I couldn’t get out fast enough; not because the incident left a bad taste, but because I was just so done being sad, so done with grief and looking back, so over attachment, so ready to take on something new. I’ll talk about what comes next soon. Mostly it’s more knitting, a bit of teaching, some painting, lots of editing, and even a little dyeing (yeah, I said it).

 

 

 

in which things are beginning to settle

Hey, happy New Year, friends. Happy Epiphany, too, if that’s your sort of thing. It’s not exactly ours, but I’m planning on taking down our little holiday shrubbery this evening with Sam tonight all the same. Some things feel like they just need to be done the “right” way, regardless of whether or not one is observant, I guess.

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This doesn’t show the unpacked boxes, but it does show the mid- day light, which is really great, and Tash was sort of killing it here too, so you know. 

I’m taking a break from editing and cleaning out my laptop to try and get some blogging done. The idea of taking time off of work in order to squeeze in a little more work seems silly when I take a few steps back, but this is such a pleasure when I sit down and get into it, it doesn’t seem like work at all. Why is it I don’t seem to make the time nearly as often? Largely it’s in knowing how easy the task is, I think: this takes just a second, I can get to it any time, so- well, I can get to it any time, so I’ll just get to it… later, right? Agh. I’m the worst for that recently.

Up until the last few weeks we have been so very overloaded, so anything little or easy has been pressed to the side- if it was a small, simple task that could be accomplished quickly, I’d plan to do it later, when I didn’t have any energy left, reserving my strength for the big, draining tasks. Seems like a clever way of taking on something massive like a move and a lifestyle overhaul, you know? And in part it absolutely was, except that you can only sustain that for so long before things start falling off, LIKE THEY ALWAYS DO, which I know, having used this technique with the EXACT SAME RESULTS before. The line will only hold for so long!

I’m catching up, and at least in this case it was mostly things like blog posts, not completely dropping big real life things. Without the pressure of an impending self- move, though, and all the associated planning, there’s all this room, now— space in which I can begin to really work, to think about work, to plan and breathe and really expand again. It’s been too long and the change is immediate.

It’s funny to write about having space in connection with this new home; we moved from a 1400+ sq. foot house with a shed, basement, and a studio to about a 800 sq. foot house (although there’s a basement here, too). We’d talked for a long time about downsizing and possibly looking into a tiny home, although with our pets we didn’t think we would go that route quite yet, if ever. 800 sq feet, though- that suits us beautifully. I was worried at first, I’ll admit— although some friends had commented on our having less “stuff” than other folks, Sam and I actually joke a lot about being hoarders between ourselves, because we are secretly terrified of being owned by our things. We occasionally feel a little oppressed/ tied down by how much we tote around with us— it’s just a bit much to worry about, take care of, CLEAN, etc. Especially the cleaning bit, y’all. I don’t mind getting into a little cleaning frenzy to work out some free- floating anxiety, but having a ton of junk that I need to clean, that’s for the birds.

We donated, sold, and gave away a LOT before we moved, and we are still coming up with creative storage solutions in order to make this place work for us. (It’s totally working well for us! We just need to use our thinking hats every so often, especially in the pantry.) While I recognize that some of our aversion to amassing possessions comes from a somewhat itinerant lifestyle and an overall fear of commitment (writes one of the most married people I know) there is something really awesome about being in love with most of the things in the house, as well as being able to lay hands on most of my things in short order. I mean, it’s 800 square feet; if I can’t find it pretty fast, it probably isn’t actually in the house.

I guess that also means this place could become a shitshow in a hot second, too- just a few poorly thought- through trips to Target could really throw this place into total disarray. So there’s that, too- a sort of built- in budgeting, or at least a “if I want to get this thing, I’ll need to take at least one thing out of the house to make space,” which appeals to the aging Yankee in me. It reminds me of some friends who live on a boat— as well as my folks, actually, who occasionally do the same! (Dad & Lily, you’ll get this new place in a serious way. I’m looking forward to showing you guys around.)

I miss Baltimore terribly, no surprise. I still read the Sun as my newspaper of choice- god, why, right? It’s so regional, and it’s really just self- torture. If I want something that’s good I should stick to City Paper- still regional, now owned by the Sun as well, but at least it is entertaining, damn. (I know. I’ll cut them some slack. But also, it’s the Sun.) It’s almost a visceral thing, this pull; I think of Baltimore as my home now, as where I’m from. A decade will do that, I guess.

I’m beginning to be seen as a new- regular in the gas station at the end of my street (there is always a gas station at the end of my street) and about two weeks ago the person making my coffee asked me where I was from. Without a hitch, I answered, “Baltimore,” and then realized, oh, no, not originally, is that a lie? How do you answer that question when you’re a grownup who has changed the definition of hometown in their own life too many times for the word to make sense any more? I didn’t correct myself— too awkward, who wants to know any of that about a stranger?— but it’s a weird spot. I would never claim Baltimore as my “hometown”, but I wouldn’t say I’m “from” Naugatuck, CT, either; I haven’t lived there since I was around 17 or so. I definitely grew up there, and don’t mind telling folks about the Valley, but nothing about that place is my home- there’s nothing for me there.

I am, though, all sorts of tied up in Baltimore. When I was in Afghanistan, sad & scared, heartsick & more homesick than I have felt in my entire life, I dreamed about Baltimore. Some of you know this story: I hung a map of the city on the plywood wall next to my bunk, pins in my favorite places- our house, Spinster Yarns, Kiddo’s school, Druid Hill Park- and I’d reach up and I’d trace them in the dark until I fell asleep when things were bad. My entire concept of “home” has been wrapped up in that city for a long, complicated time. (Leaving involved dealing with some pretty heavy concepts of attachment and aversion, friends. I’ve been giving my Buddhism a hardcore workout lately.) It’s amazing there, and for the right opportunity, I’d absolutely move back. There’s life in that city, possibilities, people. We have a family there— Kiddo, Zeke, friends, all our CY and yarnie people.

That’s another hard part— the hardest part of all, really; choosing to be apart from Kiddo & Zeke. It’s reminiscent of her time in college, but now it’s us making the decisions, and there is no summer holiday, no spring break. We had very good reasons- a lot of them!- for making this move, but we are not accustomed to being away from her, and it isn’t easy. I mean, we’ve kept our boundaries pretty clear, but we’ve also been companions for the last 21 years: I am used to having her here, with that droll commentary and infectious laugh. There is something quite gutting about leaving our daughter’s childhood bedroom behind us; I am much more sentimental than I want to be. (Feelings are fine and normal and good, etc, but inconvenient for daily living, you’ve got to admit.) Even writing about it brings up this desire to rush back and gather up that room, keep it perfect, still, museum- like and locked in time.

Things don’t work that way, though, and in reality what purpose would it serve, freezing that room? What a waste— of time, effort, materials, energy, everything. She’s off being a grown- ass lady, which is exactly as it should be, and we’re doing the empty- nest thing, which is this other exciting sort of thing. I do really hate not being able to drive half an hour to visit right now— okay, it was the Baltimore metro and we were using 695, so sometimes it was 30 minutes, some times it was an hour plus, but you get the idea, cities being cities, etc, etc. That part, that still feels something like having an appendage cut off, this strange emptiness. There are times when I catch myself thinking, I’ll text the kids, see if they want to- right, right, shit, not that. It’s jarring. We’re still settling into this- so much change within the span of six months. A year. Hell, two years.

Geography, like emotion, is inconvenient. Why hasn’t anyone invented teleportation yet? Engineers, inventors, tech entrepreneurs, I’m giving you all my very best side- eye right now. I don’t give a damn about fitness monitors, smart phones, foldable/ roll- up tablets, etc. Give me my teleportation devices and suitcase cars already. I feel lied to.

(Of course, it would be the Luddite who has the steepest demands from technology, right? You’d have the damnedest time trying to raise me on my mobile if I’m not expecting your call, but you bet your ass I expected a Jetsons future by 2016: if there are electric cars why can’t I put one in my purse? Yeah, that’s not how science works, me.)

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I paint a lot of giant rainbow puddles, galaxies, and lost continents lately. It keeps me occupied. 

And so we are adjusting. Working our way through boxes. Missing our Kiddo, and her partner, which makes it feel more like Kids; we refer to them in the plural, which confuses people. It’s cool. I paint a bunch lately, not terribly well but with loads of enthusiasm, which I think makes up for a lot. Sam makes lamps, which is new. They’re pretty cool. The dogs, they dog. We curl up together late in the evenings on the couch after dinner- which we can actually have together again now- and I knit while he tinkers. We are yet another step closer to our smaller life, and I think it’s all going to be okay. I really, really do.

 

in which I am hoping my feet don’t fail me now

It’s been a big month. I’ve been in and out of my house more than I can remember. Between my trips and his job, Sam and I are in a haze of gratitude for the time we do get to spend together. Kiddo turned 21 this month, which seems both absolutely natural and utterly impossible. Where did my sweet little mop- headed monkey go? While we are at it, how did it take so long for the world to acknowledge she’s an adult? TIME JUST DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE. Oh, and hey, Rhinebeck happened, too.

I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting, journaling, sketching, blank knitting, any sort of meditation I can get my head into while everything is happening. My physical practice is so scattered lately; mostly a few daily sun salutations followed by whichever poses I’m working on at the moment. (A lot of upper back and arm balance work lately, but I’ve been doing some interesting things with hip openers, too. I have ideas about splits, and that’s new, I’ve always kind of dreaded them previously.)

I feel as though I should be doing more yoga as we move through all this stress: for alignment, to keep limber, to work out knots before they happen, to keep my massage therapists from needing to do more work than they ought— all of that. It’s an issue of time, always. I work on my posture, try to be mindful of body mechanics and hope that’s enough, instead. I’m getting better at self- care, certainly, but still wouldn’t say I’m awesome at this stuff. When do we ever prioritize ourselves, or our own bodies, enough? And then we expect ourselves to be able to take care of our homes, our families, our friends and our lives like superheroes. Hm.

Yeah, I know. And I can hear a select few of my friends telling me things I never want to hear. I’m writing it down, I know the right things. It’s a learning process.

Along that vein, though, I think I did something good for myself today. I hope so, at least! I’ll know for sure by tomorrow morning. For the last few weeks, I’ve noticed this lovely shift in things. When I work in Fells Point, I frequently need to use metered parking, which means sprinting to the meter to pop my card in, add funds, and then jogging back to my job. Parking tickets in the posher bits of the city are no joke, folks- I think my last ticket in Federal Hill was about $32, give or take, and I just missed that by about 6 minutes.

Here’s the thing; it’s been maybe 3 years since my last real run; I gave it up after the relapse before my meds switch, the one where my left leg didn’t work correctly. The fear of a fall was just too much, especially at speed. Gilenya has been going so well, though, and my neuro PT & yoga have me in a really good place with balance- I think I’m better off than most people, unless I’m having a bad day. Working on it offsets both the disease and age, which is nice- I would never have thought of that without MS. Small, un- thought- of benefits. It’s those tiny things, you know?

Anyway. Those sprints to the meter have felt good. Really, really good. The weather has been just right, too; those grey, cool- but- not- cold fall days. I got to thinking about how much I missed my runs, so I pulled out my shoes this afternoon and gave my old route a go. I didn’t aim for the full 5 to 6 miles- that would be begging for an injury- but instead ran my old 2 mile warm- up, which seemed about right. It felt so familiar, like falling into an old pattern, with that sweet flying feeling once my muscles opened.

Hugo had no idea what to make of it all.

Hugo had no idea what to make of it all.

I know that running isn’t for everyone. It isn’t for every body! It can be brutal on knees, hips, and backs. I love it, though, when my body will allow it. For me, there’s a magic to running: timing my breaths to the pad pad pad of my feet, the single- mindedness of the action, the way it clears the head. Much like meditation, archery, sex, and yoga, running has a way of silencing the outside world and bringing me directly into the present moment: there is nothing but this, here, and now.

I’ll spend the evening carefully stretching, to be safe, but I think I’m pretty all right after my teeny run. I’ll admit, I wasn’t completely sure about it, but I’ve been feeling better than I have in a very, very long time, and I’ve been hoping this might be possible again. I’ll give it a few days before I try it it another time, but this was my day- before- my- birthday present to myself, and if this is how I come into almost- 40, that’s really great by me. Thanks a lot, feet. You’re pretty rad.

Complete subject change: let’s talk yarn. You all have some GOOD IDEAS, folks. And I have GOOD YARN. Let’s trade.

Jody, we are running with your idea first, which means two things— first, please send me an email, I’m sending you some yarn! The OTHER thing that this means is that for the next yarn giveaway we have a new set of rules, and you’ve written them.

Jody’s suggestion really grabbed me; I’ve been thinking a lot about kindnesses, love, and compassion lately. Here’s what she suggested: “What if everyone wrote about a kindness they’d done or that was done to them? The news is so full of bad things -let’s hear about good things!”

I AM INTO IT. Here’s what I’d like- in the comments, please share TWO THINGS: the last random kindness that was done for you, and the last kindness you saw done for someone else (it counts if you were the doer!) I’ll choose the winner late next week and send them yaaaaarrrrrnnnns, winner pays shipping.

Be kind to yourselves in the meantime, Gentle Readers. I’m working on remembering that I’m no good to the people I love if I’m not taking care of myself, which means I’m reminding everyone I care about to do that, too. So hey, remember that self care stuff, okay? Good good.

in which I am recovering from last week (but that’s a good thing)

Hey, everybody. I still do this, I swear. Last week was a bit of a blur is all. I was in CEUs last week in Arlington, VA, which is just outside of the District (for those who aren’t familiar with the DC/ Baltimore metro).

You know who was in the District last week, right?

Why didn’t I check the news to see if anything was happening in the capitol when I knew I’d be spending all week crossing through? Oh, friends. Friends. FRIENDS. After 13 years in this region, I know better, damnit.

It’s cool. It was actually great while His Holiness was in the city proper; everyone was too scared to drive, I think, but still, the commute was a lot, and CEUs were physical as hell (Thai yoga massage at the Thai Institute of Healing Arts, it was amazing). I basically woke up, drove to class, drove home, spent an hour with Sam, slept, repeated for a week. You don’t even want to know what the house looks like right now. It was absolutely, 100% worth it, but I’m still recovering, without a doubt.

This course was tricky for me; Thai yoga is a hands- on activity, and Hatha yoga is a very low- touch modality. Yoga teachers are generally trained to look at clients bodies from a perspective of there only being very specific, highly limited places and ways in which you touch; Thai yoga encourages creative touch by its very nature and has extremely few limitations on contact areas for both practitioner and client (although there is quite an endearing emphasis on being “polite”, which I just adore). Getting my head around that (and dismissing the image of all my yoga teachers’ disapproval of what I’d been doing to folks’ sacrums that afternoon) wasn’t easy. Once I could shake that off, though, it was so terrific to have hands- on access to that much raw anatomy. We are such remarkable machines.

Aaagh, that’s a different entry for a different day, I have housekeeping to attend to right now, but THAI YOGA, folks. I have things to say about it.

So: LET’S TALK ABOUT YARN.

I have these flat rate USPS Priority Mail boxes ready to go for my brave, awesome video- creators! You’re the best, frosh and Michelle. (I think it’s a pretty cool coincidence that you both chose paper arts for your subjects, too.) You both did really great jobs with your videos and Kiddo will be thrilled— I know I am. Could you drop me an email so we can talk about shipping? These are standard flat rate boxes, so no major surprises— outside of the contents!

Speaking of yarn, I GUTTED my stash this afternoon. There are some seriously good things up in the shop right now, including some Sochi Pride in Traveller, Barber Pole Hopper in Skinny, and Ponycorn in Beastie. That stuff will not last, if I know my market, so if you’re looking for the rainbow variegated stuff I’d get on that now. There are some tamer things up there, too- Montauk Monster in Bugga, Doune Castle in Traveller, a couple skeins of Fire Ant, that sort of thing, if you aren’t a screaming color sort of person.

IN THE MEANTIME:

I still have random odds and ends to get rid of. STILL. It’s getting down to the dregs, but there is still STUFF, folks. I’m looking for creative ideas as to how to clear things out, because I don’t believe most things need to be a drag, even housework. Actually, housework can be sort of soothing at times, performed mindfully; “carry water, chop wood,” etc, etc. Who has ideas? Here’s the next game: inspire a girl, please? I’m too tired this week to be creative on this front. Come up with the winningest idea (or two) for the next Great Yarn Giveaway, and I’ll send YOU the next box of random yarn from my house. It won’t have any acrylic in it, but I can’t promise anything else (but please, do tell me if you have any sensitivities, okay?).

YOU WANT THIS BOX, TRUST ME. I’m an old school indie dyer who dealt in luxury fiber; I may be down to odds and ends, but there are still some fun odds and ends lying around here. Let me know if you spin; I’ll throw fiber goodies in, too!

Drop a little inspiration in the comments, loves. I’m guessing the videos were a little intimidating? I get that. Being in front of a camera gives me the weirds, too. What works better for you? (I’m still feeling the idea of information sharing, so if you can work that in, that’s always a good angle with me.)

I’m taking names this Sunday, so get your ideas in by then!

in which there is anxiety and impatience and neither matter

There is so so so much going on right now, folks. Things went from, Hey, check that out, I could do about anything right now, what do I want to do? to I think I might want to do these things, to I have conflicted feelings, to WHELP, I GUESS WE ARE DOING A THING NOW, in very quick order. If you’ve heard something sort of hard to believe about us recently, it might actually be true! But hey, keep it to yourself for a minute, because we’re still telling folks and making plans.

I’m not getting into it details right now because nothing is actually set in stone and I have people who need I need to speak with first (VAGUEBLOGGING, everybody’s favorite), but I’ve hit at least 85% of my people so far. I’m still missing 4 super- important folks, at least, though, so mum’s the word til the end of the week. (Hey, J. Lunch on Saturday? Yes? Of course, yes.)

I’m writing because I’m a jumble of nerves and excess energy and it has to go somewhere. I feel like Hugo when he hasn’t had a good walk; bouncing off the walls, all anxiety brain and unperformed action. Bark, friends. Bark bark bark bark bark. I want to get a coffee with Cacie and ask for coping skills but coffee is probably the very last thing I need right now. My brain is full of stupid, silly contradictions that aren’t in alignment with my inner self; I need to stop and re- center so much it’s almost ridiculous. Anxiety brain is for the birds, y’all.

It’s all irrelevant, though. This period will pass (all things pass) and relatively quickly, too; I’ll come back to stillness and things will settle. It’s my impatience that’s the true issue;  I want things over and done with, I want to know the outcome, I want the space and time to just press through the work and be done already. Whoa. How greedy is that, right?

There’s a woman I know very vaguely from when we were in grammar school. She told me this story of when we were little: when were would eat lunch it struck her as funny that I’d always eat my bag lunch first, dessert after. I mean, “dessert” was usually fruit or a roll- up or whatever, but still, it was the best part. Some other kids, they’d tear into dessert first, then see if there was room for their sandwich, but apparently that wasn’t my thing. It’s a funny image. It stuck with her, and her telling me that stuck with me. I don’t remember that at all, and at the time I interpreted it as my having been a somewhat over- controlled child. “Dinner before dessert” is a motto for me, though. There’s something to that level of discipline, reinforced through the service: let’s just get through the not- as- fun parts so we can really lay back and enjoy the good stuff.

I’m feeling impatient now. Anxious, too. Worried over an uncertain future, okay, but since when is the future not uncertain? Every future is uncertain— even yours, Gentle Reader- who- might- not- be- enacting- any- immediate- change. Even yours. We just don’t think about it when we aren’t doing anything significant to change it. Boof, that’s easy to forget. That’s one of those things we likely need to forget in order to live our daily lives, but it’s helpful to hold on to in this moment: it’s all in the air, always. Submission**, etc, etc.

(It’s like you can watch me talking myself down, right?)

It’s good. I don’t have to be cool all the time. I don’t want to be cool all the time. I most definitely, certainly, 100% am not cool all the time, in case you were wondering, and if I’ve ever given that impression, shame on me, seriously. If you’ve met me in meatspace you definitely already know, I’m just letting the folks on the internet in on the secret, especially with this post. It’s normal to be a bit of a mess at times, and it’s fine to let other people see that occasionally.

Plan of attack: put on pants, Post Office, errands, wellness studio for short shift (hooray!), spend evening doing comfort activities with family. I’m thinking sorbet, fizzy water, dog- snuggling, and casting on some Dragonfly Fibers for a test knit, maybe a board game. I SHOULD be doing the embellishment of two test pieces I have in the works (a pattern I worked up in DK and fingering versions, Dragonfly Fibers and Neighborhood Fiber Co, so close to being ready) but I think that’s more daytime work.

What are you working on right now, friends? Yarn things or otherwise. I just want to know. And hey, don’t be afraid of the video contest on the entry from the 5th! There’s cashmere in that trunk, folks. I’ve had people promise videos but there’s nothing up yet- c’mon, let’s see what you’ve got. You don’t have to show your face, and you don’t have to go too far out of the box! Make a sandwich, make jewelry, make up your friend’s face, make a cable stitch. Show us stuff. :)

(Ooooh, hey, before I go: side note. Anyone want to do a test knit? DK or fingering, two complimentary & contrasting colors, 400 yds one color, 200 yds second, skills required are knit, purl, knitting in the round, basic embroidery. I can’t supply yarn but you get the pattern and you get to keep your sample; you’re free to put it up on Rav as well- I’d prefer it!- although please no identifying details until we go live, and you will be credited in the pattern notes. Drop me an email!)

(Last side note, I swear: I’ve updated the de-stash. I keep doing that and forgetting to tell folks on the blog. There’s a model that is doomed, right? I put up some Hawaiian Bobtail Squid in Traveller and Barberpole Hopper in Skinny Bugga, too- that was our rainbow self- striping colorway. Oh, and two things I kind of hid on the second page, half hoping nobody buys them because they’re lovely fall colors and maybe I’m going to keep them for myself? IS THIS A DESTASH OR NOT, SARAH. MAKE UP YOUR MIND.)

Barber Pole Hopper!

Barber Pole Hopper!

(**It is interesting to witness how very much I am actively engaging in my Buddhism these past two years, btw. I know folks tend to draw on their faiths in difficult periods, but Buddhism isn’t a precisely a faith, so I found this a little surprising. A subject for a different post, but it has been a strange and wonderful ride.)

on secret stashes

I’m giving away secrets today.

I’ll start out easy: Despite all this yoga business, I’ve never been able to turn a cartwheel. Just can’t seem to manage it. I thought it might be the whole “feet over head” thing- I had a thing about that for a while, lots of people do. I could do a handstand, but thought- maybe putting it into motion was the problem? I’m still not sure what the issue is. I don’t worry about it much. It’s just one of those funny things folks assume I can do because I do yoga and: NOPE. I wasn’t ever even vaguely gymnastic until WHAM: my thirties. Life is some kind of weird, right?

Also, I was pretty scared of dogs until my early twenties. There’s some murky, no- idea- what- it- was bad dog experience in my early childhood, and then another one involving being chased really briefly when I was in grammar school, too. I don’t remember ever being bitten or anything big like that, but we never had or were around dogs growing up, either, so there wasn’t a positive to outweigh those negatives. I’m so happy I learned we are dog people. Hugo is curled up next to me as I’m typing, and Lilu is on her bed in the corner of the living room, snoring away; they’re such a huge part of our lives. You’d never guess I wouldn’t have anything to do with dogs at all until I was about 23 or so.

Speaking of snoring, a guilty secret for you all, now. There are mornings when Sam will tell me he feels just awful and I don’t want to tell him the reason why: some nights, I will be in bed and he won’t be snoring, won’t be making a sound at all, not even that slow, heavy sleep- breath, and I will nudge him, because since his second stroke I am on alert. I know I should let him get every bit of his rest, but the less- balanced parts of me remember holding a compact mirror over Kiddo’s mouth when she was an infant, and wonders if this is a better option, wonders if Sam would trade better sleep for the undoubtedly upsetting conversation which would follow his inevitably waking up and seeing me holding a stupid mirror over his face. This is not 100% sane partner behavior, I know. His vascular neurologist assured us years ago I didn’t need to do things like this. I do them anyway, and consider myself “pretty all-right” because I don’t do that mirror thing.

Ooof, Sam will be annoyed when he reads that.

Anyway. (Ha! Another one: I said “anywaysforever, until my friend Teresa fixed me, and told that “anyway” was the correct form. It’s one of her top grammar peeves and she put up with it FOREVER because she is patient as Job. Now, I am so vigilant about it and it jumps out at me like a misplaced apostrophe.) ANYWAY— other not- so- secrets: I really dislike polo shirts, the only bodily fluid that truly sicks me out is spit/ mucus (Need someone to clean up anything else? A childhood in a home daycare/ with many siblings makes me your huckleberry!) I cannot stand bobbles and I do not care HOW GOOD THE DESIGN IS OR WHO KNOWS IT THEY ARE AWFUL TO MAKE AND TERRIBLE TO LOOK AT, I will always try any sour food presented, I have learned to love hugging strangers and that is a big surprise.

Also, I have this chest of wicked old yarn from I don’t even know when, folks, that I never even look at, don’t open for swaps or projects and don’t even really think about which is full of mystery and adventure and it is tied to what is currently my biggest secret of all, extremely tangentially, in that it needs to go. (This actual trunk, BTW, we picked up for all of twenty pounds in the UK when some sergeant was clearing house; I wasn’t even a knitter at the time and I straight lucked into a 100% cedar chest. How does that even happen? We are keeping the trunk.) It sits right in the middle of my living room.

Forgive my cruddy iPhone photo.

Forgive my cruddy iPhone photo.

There is some of my earliest dyeing in here, some old early 2000’s indies, some Kureyon Sock (come on, it’s pretty, I was a new knitter and it was that time), some handspun, it’s all over the place. I can’t vouch for what’s in here- some of it is amazing, some of it is embarrassing.  I’m not even sure what’s in here, it’s been so long since I looked. I think I saw a little Sundara? Anyway, it’s one of my saddest little secrets as a knitter; my right- out- in- the- open, utterly neglected, uncategorized, earliest real stash.

Clearly, I’m not using any of this. Ok, there’s one skein of Bugga in Sweetheart Underwing that I can see right on top— that colorway from the very first Sock Summit which was so, so pretty and almost impossible to make, we made maybe 36 skeins of it ever- I’m going to keep that. The rest of it, I think I can part with. Here’s the plan:

1.) I ask you, Gentle Reader, to do something silly, and hopefully you play along. See below for the “something silly”. **

2.) I randomly stuff four USPS Priority Mail envelopes (blank plastic envelopes of similar size for my overseas friends) FULL of yarn from this trunk. Sorry, no requests, but please let me know if you’re allergic to anything. All packages will contain wool, may also contain silk, cashmere, alpaca, angora, linen, cotton, nylon, bamboo, angelina, sea silk, baby camel, and other assorted textiles. There is ZERO acrylic in this trunk.

3.) I choose my two favorite responses and let the RNG choose two, as well!

4.) I’ll announce winners late next week. (I’m making Thursday, September 17th the cut- off to leave a video, everyone, although I won’t make any announcements until most likely a day or two after that- we’ll be travelling a bit around that date.) I will ask them for shipping for these– I know, I’ve been lax about it so far, but these will be heavy!

5.) I probably do all of this again, because I don’t think 4 envelopes is going to do the trick. We’re playing this by ear. And I’m going to have to do this with some Bugga/ Skinny Bugga minis in a minute, too, but we can talk about that later. Let’s get started on this trunk. Help me out, friends?

** Hey, what’s that “something silly” you have to do to enter, right? I’m not going to ask you to tell me your secrets, even silly ones. That’s a bit invasive, right? I am upping the ante for this Giveaway, though. There’s silk in that trunk. When I floated this to the family, Kiddo thought that it would be fun if we turned this into a sharing circle, and I’m into stuff like that. If you post a link in comments to a video of you making something, you’re entered for a package. You can show your face or just your hands; you can get really creative and animate yourself, too. Show us how to make things!

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