Slow Crawl Time

Yarn store crawls are a ton of fun – and I’ve done a number of them over the years. It usually takes the form of a frantic weekend of driving all over the region to dash into a store and browse for a few seconds before grabbing the free pattern and maybe a stamp or punch in my store passport. It’s a special kind of madness, running into other groups of crawlers and checking out shops that are outside my usual fiber territory.

This year I’m participating in the Slow Yarn Crawl – PNW. It runs all summer, so it’s a less frantic way to plan the store visits; a few tucked into a weekend here and there with friends or while running other errands. I’m going to pick up my passport this weekend, and will be collecting my first stamps from B-Town Yarn and Makers Mercantile. A couple more shops are planned later this month, with friends.

If you are a knitter, crocheter, weaver, spinner, or other fiber person, I recommend you try a Crawl if you haven’t already. Grab a friend or two, pack some car snacks, and map out your stops. Knit on!

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Fruit Salsa Recipe

I threw this together last night and am enjoying it today with crackers.

1/2 granny smith apple, peeled and diced

1 mango, peeled and diced

1 peach, diced

3 persian cucumbers, diced (or part of one regular / English cucumber)

1/4 cup roasted corn kernels

dash of salt

2-3 Tbsp lime juice

A few mint leaves, chopped

Mix everything together in a bowl and allow to sit for an hour or so; tastes best the next day. Eat with tortilla chips or crackers, or serve on fish tacos or salad.

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Stick a fork in me

After fifteen months of madness, loss, confusion, and anger, another family member is critically ill, and I can’t help but wonder if we will lose another loved one at the end of the pandemic, as we lost one at the beginning, like grief brackets around a long year of global death.

We aren’t the only ones experiencing loss; several friends and acquaintances have suffered losses as well over the past few weeks and months. And I hate that my capacity to ‘be there’ for others is greatly diminished as we can’t seem to get out of our own family losses.

Can we just have some boring, predictable months? Please?

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Waiting for the Madness

I mentioned that I signed up for a couple of knit-alongs, right? Well, the first one is set to begin any day now and I’m anxiously awaiting it – Sock Madness! It’s via Ravelry, and some 3,000 knitters will compete against each other on a series of challenging sock patterns. I’m a little nervous, it’s my first year participating; but I’m also excited for the challenge. There will be cables, lace, colorwork, and beads (yes, beads on socks!), and all will have the ticking clock behind them.

There is no way I’ll be the ultimate winner, but I am confident in my ability to make it several rounds (there are seven or eight rounds total) before being eliminated. The emphasis is on both speed and accuracy, so no modifying patterns – which I generally do with gleeful disregard to the designer. Hehe.

In preparation, I’ve pulled sock yarns from the stash and wound them; I ordered beads for the three pairs that will use them. And I’ve been clearing up the WIPs a bit so I don’t feel quite as guilty neglecting them in favor of this madness.

Not that I generally feel badly about the number of WIPs I have, mind you. I have come to complete acceptance that I am not a monogamous crafter.

The second -along is actually a crochet-along, the Sophie’s Universe blanket. This one is being done via a LYS and we start on March 9th. A couple of months ago the Mr. found two totes of yarn in the attic that had been forgotten; one of them has enough Knit Picks Brava Worsted yarn to do the blanket so I felt compelled to sign up.

While I wait for these both to drop, I’ve been doing a bit of English Paper Piecing (EPP). I didn’t think I’d like it – I’m pretty much against hand sewing in general. But I’m pleasantly surprised at how well my stitches are turning out, and how much I like the process. I’ve got two projects underway, a scrappy bee-themed blanket and a slightly more planned one with flowers done by color (currently working on reds).

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Challenge year

I’ve heard 2020 referred to as “the great pause”, but I think of it as more of “the year that wasn’t”. It’s missing, almost the whole damned thing. And it overlaps into 2021. But as we near the end of February, and pass the anniversary of the loved one’s death, the world seems poised on the brink of rebounding. People are getting vaccinated. COVID-19 death rates are declining. Treatments are getting more effective. I now know several people who have had it, and survived – and didn’t need hospitalization (though at least a couple have ongoing effects, such as the loss of taste and fatigue).

Renovating the loved one’s house over the past eight months has been therapeutic; getting it ready for a new beginning has allowed me to make peace with some of the anger that has persisted. I rarely cuss the loved one anymore, though I do call him a dumb ass. I did while he was alive, too.

With this (healing? acceptance?), I find that my brain is a bit less foggy; I can think beyond what needs to be done today. I’ve begun making plans, putting things on my calendar. I even signed up for a couple of knit-alongs with friends, and have been sewing quilts rather than masks.

One of the knit-alongs I signed up for is Sock Madness, on Ravelry. We start in a couple of days, and I signed up late but have finished one of the warmup socks. It was a challenge, but I did it! I think 2021 will be the year I take on a few challenges, maybe sort of make up for the fog of 2020.

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Happy new year

Here we go, eh? Fingers firmly crossed that this year brings more laughter than tears.

I’ve been working on a Campfire Cozy shawl, with handspun i did a couple years ago. It’s soft and warm, and should be just the thing for cool firepit evenings.

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Bouncing back

Hello, blog. Long time, eh? I know it’s been quiet around here lately, but honestly I just haven’t felt much like writing. There’s been so very much to complain about, but I also have a lot to be thankful for.

Top of the list is two new additions to our family this year! We welcomed a nephew over the summer, and a grandchild a couple weeks ago. What could be better than new babies?? The nephew has gotten to the giggling/drooling/babbling stage and I just love watching the videos, it’s pure bliss. The new grandchild is still in that wonderful snuggly-walnut stage, which makes my heart melt. I can’t overlook the joy that the older grandchild brings to our lives, either! She brings much laughter, wit, creativity, and determination to the world.

Our youngest child (she’s an adult, it’s weird to call her a child) has moved back to our area, and it’s so great to see her in person again. She’s on her own journey of bouncing back, and I am thankful that we can be here for her. Seeing her with her brothers makes me overwhelmed with gratitude and love.

I’ve been working with my doctor to take control of my health. We’re stabilizing hormones during this rocky perimenopausal stage of my life, with a little chemical help along with shaking loose deep-rooted ideas of how to eat and exercise. We are seeing great response to an intermittent fasting approach; kicking that “frequent small meals” idea to the curb has been a challenge mentally but my insulin levels love it, and the hangry low blood sugar crazies are gone. The best part is that nothing is off limits – I am free from measuring, tracking, counting, portioning, or denying; my only task is to eat within a set period of time each day and that’s it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. I have a cookie on my desk right now, which I will eat later this afternoon when my eating window opens. Yum!

Our one and only vehicle broke down right before Thanksgiving… but today we found out that the repair will be covered under the warranty, and we can pick up a loaner car tomorrow. This is a pretty big relief!

And we are making progress on rehabbing the loved one’s house. It’s taken most of our weekends, and all of our savings, but the results are well worth it and I am looking forward to welcoming the next tenants in a month or so.

Happy Friday!

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Treading water

With our state stalled in its Safe Start plan (no counties are being moved forward right now), things have just settled into this weird situation that I refuse to call “new normal”. The weather is gorgeous, and in any other year us PNW’ers would be emerging from our caves, blinking at the sunlight and complaining about the heat but super excited to be able to go outside without a coat on.

Instead, we are emerging from our caves, blinking at the sunlight, and sweating into our face masks and trying to figure out what we are allowed to do and how to avoid infecting our friends and family with a virus that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

I don’t mind wearing masks in stores, it’s become a habit by now; but I greatly dislike wearing them at work… with one on, I don’t drink enough water and have been getting headaches; it’s difficult to hear people because voices are muffled and I already have a hearing problem; they fog up my glasses. My office contains paperwork that is accessed by several people, so even though I don’t legally have to wear a mask while I’m working in my office alone, I do have to wear it most of the time because of all the people that come in.We can’t congregate in the kitchen, so most folks eat at their desk, which grosses me out. Not to mention the full-stop on all of our normal team-building / camaraderie things we can’t do right now. Our annual holiday party is probably cancelled for the first time ever. Getting through the summer seems doable, but thinking about socially-distanced holidays is really depressing.

On a personal note (as if my blog isn’t personal to begin with), we finally got together for the family memorial for the loved one on Saturday. With the nice weather, we were able to stand outside, distanced and with masks on, and close a chapter in this story. The loved one joins several others, near the river at the base of a newly-planted tree on family property, where he can be visited frequently. It was low-key, with no formal service or speeches, just quiet reflection. What is already an uncomfortable event became even more so with very few hugs as everyone tried to respect the distancing but still offer support and empathy to each other. While it was good to see family, it felt somewhat stilted and awkward with the pandemic procedures hanging over everything.

The Mr and I have taken on the rehabilitation of the loved one’s house, with help from the in-laws. The process of cleaning, repairing, painting, replacing, and updating is therapeutic. Not as a way of erasing the loved one from our lives, but more as a “we could have done this for you if you’d just asked / if we’d only known you’d needed help” kind of way. It doesn’t assuage our guilt over missing the signs (were there signs?) but it definitely gives our grief a focus and will create a fresh start for another young family.

We keep a calendar on the wall at home, the old fashioned printed kind that you write on. Last night the Mr realized we haven’t marked on the days in an entire week. When the entire world is cancelled there isn’t much point to a calendar… Aside from the family memorial gathering, there has been precious little to remember to show up for.

We have a new baby in the family, but the pandemic keeps me from going to visit; I could not live with the guilt if I was responsible for infecting anyone outside my bubble. Especially a little one. But oh, the thought of snuggling a baby, with the way they curl up like a little walnut.

Also – I’m getting damned tired of video meetings.

 

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Finding the good

I can barely keep up with what day of the week it is — and today I realized it is JUNE. The year is half gone, and it’s been fairly shitty so far. Today I’m having one of those “I just can’t take one more bad thing” days, which means I need to focus on some good. Here are ten things that don’t suck (in no particular order):

  1. I’ve had time to work on a couple of quilts, which is something I really wanted to take up after the kids moved out. They did, and so I have. I’m learning, trying new things, and have joined a couple of groups online where I can ask questions without feeling dumb.
  2. I continue to make masks, mostly for friends and family, and have supplied my entire office with a colorful selection. I enjoy the bright fabrics and fun prints, which I’ve been buying from local quilt shops (thereby helping them stay in business).
  3. The backyard is looking fantastic – everything is so green, the garden is coming along well (we’ve been eating lettuce for a couple weeks), and we’ve been tackling projects that we put off for years.
  4. The warmer weather makes outdoor hang-with-friends possible (just a few, well-spaced, with masks), and my heart needs to not see people on screens now and then.
  5. A good portion of my state has opened back up, to varying degrees, and my county is on track to do so soon.
  6. We have been cooking more at home, which has made a positive impact on our eating-out costs.
  7. I had a frank discussion with a person-of-color at my chiropractor’s office about race and his experiences, and his has been mainly fair treatment and limited exposure to racism, for which I was very glad.
  8. I learned how to listen to audiobooks from the public library, which has been a great background to sewing masks.
  9. There are two babies due in the family this year, and I do love babies…
  10. I do not rely on my soap business to generate an actual income, and so despite losing more than three quarters of my sales this year due to cancellation of street fairs, it will not affect my ability to pay our bills.
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Things are just weird

The Mr. and I are fortunate in that we have remained at our jobs through the pandemic that sent so many people to unemployment websites. My office has had to respond to a decrease in business, but we will survive this – unlike many other businesses that have closed permanently. Neither of us has a job that can be performed remotely, so we have also been commuting to and from work five days a week – and this has lent a modicum of normality to our routine. We get up and go to work, return from work and make dinner and do a few chores. On the weekends we do some yard work or house projects.

But that’s pretty much where the illusion that everything is fine ends. I wear a mask for my train commute. We wear them to the grocery store, the hardware store, the produce stands – pretty much the only places that are open for customers. Meeting up with friends has gone online, which, after days full of online meetings at work, feels a lot less relaxing than it should. My office is devoid of employees, having sent them all to work from home I am the lone person in a 9,000 SF space; here to restart computers, load paper into copiers, get the mail, research old projects info that isn’t electronic, pay bills. The silence is deafening, and having walked through a deserted downtown tourist district that is usually busting at the seams with people, the solitude weighs heavily on me.

In the evenings I’ve been sewing cloth masks, since we are ‘encouraged’ (and in some situations, required) to wear them while in public. Social distancing means that even if I do get to see family and friends it’s from a distance, usually with a mask on, outside to reduce the risk of exposure. As an adult, I know this is a temporary inconvenience – but I worry for the children too young to have that perspective. Children like my granddaughter, who doesn’t understand why the playgrounds are closed and now assumes every person she sees is sick.

I worry for the people in domestic abuse environments, or with drug dependence, physical impairments, mental illness, or chronic health conditions. I worry for the people that are avoiding, or cannot get, routine health care right now. I worry for the people who cannot get financial assistance, or whose landlords are not abiding the emergency laws, or who are losing their livelihood.

I try to take sips of the news, as the overwhelming sadness is just too much in larger doses. I’ve been knitting a little, making soap here and there, and doing a lot of yard work when the weather allows. We are finally tackling some large landscaping projects that we’ve put off for years. The Mr and I have watched more movies and TV shows than is typical. I’d like to say the house is cleaner but that’s a lie – who is going to see it anyway? I’d also like to say that I’ve taken up a new workout routine, or that I’ve been eating better – also not true. Mostly I’ve been sewing masks, donating my time and a large number of the masks to people in need of them, charging for a few to help replenish the supplies. It’s a small gesture, but it’s something I can do, and people appreciate it.

We’ve been cooking at home, doing a little take-out here and there, and I’ve allowed myself a bit of comfort eating when the mood hits. I walk several miles every day, and try to remember to stretch now and then; digging has been the primary exercise lately and I suppose it’s a good one.

We are still grieving the loss of our loved one, not quite three months ago. We maintain the yard at his house so it doesn’t look as empty, have picked up some trash, go in several times a week to check on things. The family memorial is postponed until everyone feels safe to gather again, so grief is suspended in a weird way. His clothes remain in our house, clean and folded and boxed up, waiting for donation sites to open again. Cleaning out of the house is similarly on hold.

Everything feels like it is on hold.

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