Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year, Lorri

Last day of the year. I was zooming along with my designated morning errands when Clara Parks of Knitter's Review put a roadblock in my path. She asked a new question in the KR forum - "what knitterly things make you particularly grateful...?" As I answered, I realized that the top of my list was the contact with people who share my love of knitting. I belong to two Etsy teams, two on-line forums, and a local knitting group that meets weekly. I correspond with a number of enthusiasts, some of whom raise sheep and provide supplies, others who are consumers like me. I thrive on this contact, and concidering it made me think of my best friend ever in this life, Lorri.

I met Lorri on the escalator in the main classroom building of Jefferson Medical College. We were freshman medical students, nearing the end of the year. Our class of 220 only had about 40 female students, but we hadn't officially met until that time. We were discussing the student talent show, which had featured some skits that were degrading and insulting to women. It was 1979 and I had found my first truly feminist friend.

Becoming close friends with Lorri taught me the wonderful difference in having female friends. We shared a number of interests, as well as many political and social views. In every situation, we had each other's backs. We taught and learned together, shared experiences, and planned our lives. Once Lorri was diagnosed with a brain tumor and I with lupus, we even contemplated our deaths.

Lorri died 14 years ago, just before computers became an integral part of personal life. We never exchanged email. She never joined an on-line discussion group or looked up patterns for a craft. I found myself mulling over that fact this morning, knowing that she would have rejoiced with the open sharing and international contacts produced by this new world of communication. Once again I feel the need to live my life better, appreciate this world more fully, make up for the absence of one who cannot participate because of leaving us prematurely.

Happy New Year, Lorri. Peace to us all.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26

Day after Christmas. In my mental barometer yesterday ranks as good, low pressure. That figures large in the way I'm spending today. I had dessert for breakfast, another dessert for lunch, a long nap in between. I'm not rushing to see anyone that I missed yesterday, nor am I hustling to get to knitting group. My daughter is with me, we're watching King Kong, there's peace in the house.

I think I've perfected the dessert-for-meal thing. I used to conscientiously eat a meal in order to get the desired dessert, netting twice the calories (or more). Now I eat what I want and stop there. If the desire is for something other than dessert, the principle still applies: eat the dressing, leave the turkey and greens and corn. It's a strategy.

Yesterday I saw my little old parents. This is their first Christmas with both of them in their nineties, and my sister had made it perfect for them. They sat in their living room, surrounded by piles of gifts, both wearing festive touches supplied by my sister - a light-up necklace for Daddy, a red flowered headband for my mom. They were delighted by their special day, the visitors, the love from family. I made a short video to preserve the happy time.

I cooked and entertained more this holiday than in the past five or eight years. I stopped for rest when I needed it, then resumed my activity. I am incorporating my ten minutes of biking each day without undue strain. This morning I felt the pain of achy foot pads and the difficulty of motivating myself to action. I stopped to think about it for just a minute. I have so much to get up for, so many reasons to keep moving, it has become automatic. I don't have to stop and brace myself before putting my feet on the floor. Forward, forward.

Peace. Happy holidays.

Monday, December 21, 2009

On a Healthy Note...

I am not sick. I felt like a flare was creeping up on me last week, but most of those symptoms have lessened. I still feel some weariness, but I truly believe it is appropriate, born of recent activities. Last week, with tendinitis creeping in, I officially went on holiday. I put off knitting orders and let my needles have a good daily nap. I put away crochet hooks completely. I've minded my posture, rubbed with Aspercreme, and propped my feet up.

In spite of these alterations, I'm still enjoying holiday activities. We cleaned out the Pod to prepare it for pickup, and emptied the boxes that were cluttering the living room. Suddenly it seems ready for our little forest of fake trees that takes up about two square feet of table space. We can turn on the lights, invite our friends, and be in the season. Christmas gifts are bundled in shopping bags, waiting for wrapping and delivery. Um, yes, that includes the ones for sisters in far cities. I've given lots of thought to what each person wants and needs, and how that fits my budget. In spite of far greater financial constraints, I find shopping was fun and I'm happy with my finds.

My holiday shopping never reaches the big mall. I began at the Chattanooga Market, took a turn through a sale that three artists had in a home, and pulled up some favorite places on the Internet. Of course my on line course included Etsy. I even did some shopping in my own store inventory. I was happy to use my needles to produce a few custom pieces, including the hat that my sister requested. One of my sisters (we all know who she is, but I can't say it here!) has a big head and lots of allergies. I made her measure the circumference of her head after she kept claiming that all the hats she tried were too tight. 24 inches! That's 2 inches larger than the average adult! I hope she donates her brain to science, or maybe I could just get a look at an MRI...I digress. The only fibers she is comfortable with are natural, non-animal fibers. You can see her hat and mitts: they are organic cotton, a very soft, thick and thin, undyed one with the vibrant red organic cotton from Blue Sky. The hat fits loosely at the top, kind of slouchy and cool. I'm finishing the second mitt now. My daughter has tried on the mitts a dozen times. I feel a request coming.
I'm getting some special cooking in. Made a 7-Up pound cake two weeks ago, some shortbread last night. I'm the designated turkey chef for Friday, and I'm planning a few other goodies.
Overall, you can see that I am not sick. Clearly I will not allow myself to be. There are fun things to do and I'm going to do them all. Not to mention the daily ride on the exercise bike - not fun before, but definitely great to look back on.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Flare That Won't Materialize if I Refuse to See It

I started my last post "Today was marvelous." I wrote one paragraph, then accidentally made it disappear. That's probably a fated ending. As I wrote, I realized that I was describing a day that was good, a day in which I accomplished a lot, but not a marvelous day. I worked hard with my daughter this afternoon. We brought all my Market supplies and products in from her car. Then we unloaded piles of things from the Pod. It felt good to know that we only need one more session to empty that giant box completely. I'd like to have it out of my driveway by Christmas.

While I performed all the physical work, I didn't feel the endurance and strength that I built up through the fall. Every lift and carry was hard. I was out of breath quickly. I didn't worry, because I know from my recent stress test that my heart is fine. I just felt a little discouraged, as though I've been working so hard and still don't see much in the way of sustained results. Later I stared in the mirror as I brushed my teeth, and noticed that my lupus rash is bright pink. I've been feeling the warmth in my cheeks for a couple of days, resting my hand there without the meaning of it really registering. When it sunk in this evening that I may be starting to flare, a familiar feeling of dread washed over me.

I understand why denial is such a powerful coping tool. It allows you to function without constantly fearing the inevitable--no, let's say the probable. I've pushed the mounting symptoms aside as far as I could, even the mild symptoms of colitis that showed themselves this week. Denial kept me from anticipating a flare or dreading a flare, or even acknowledging that my symptoms indicated a flare. Now that it is beyond obvious, I will call the oncology office and see when I'm scheduled to be treated. Maybe we can head this off without much fuss.

Still and all, this day and the one before it have had some of the properties of marvelous. I've been with my daughter and my newest adopted child. We went to an artists' sale yesterday, made small purchases, talked to people, ate fabulous snacks. I cooked. I knitted, coming close to the end of a very large toddler blanket that I'm making for a custom order. It is Knitpicks Crayon, very fluffy and soft with two strands drawn together. (See the pink and black above.) I began a pink and purple afghan from Southwest Trading Company's Bold, that expensive cotton cable yarn which I stashed when I found a sale.
Not only do I have yarn organized on shelves, I have art work on my walls. This place is feeling more and more like home. We've worked a simple system. We bring in a large load of stuff, put it away or organize it for donation, then we bring in another load. Gradually it is shaping up. One difference in this house is that my daughter is amenable to putting more of her own work out for us to enjoy and others to see. With fewer square feet of display space, they will take the place of family photos and art that I was not wholeheartedly supporting. Our collection will get better.
I failed to mention that I have stopped using my exercise bike for a clothes rack and book shelf and have been riding it. Ten minutes today. I was reading Dakota by Martha Grimes as I rode. It's a testament to her amazing writing that I didn't realize the time had passed. I've read all her Richard Jury mysteries and several of her other novels. Thankfully, I can look forward to a few more.
My Christmas shopping is finished. If you see me in a store, slap me silly.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dream Knitting

I am dreaming about knitting. I see myself designing flowing capes and stylish hats. My hands are busy with beautiful yarns, and I stroke them and sort through them, letting each inspire me with a new creation. This is my dream, but it is also my daily life. Taking the yarn from bags and arranging it on shelves and in bins has been a spiritual experience. The beautiful colours and assorted textures take away my breath and make me sigh with contentment.

There are wonderful products on my plate, some for my store, some as custom orders. Handling all those balls of beautiful, randomly striping Noro made me fall in love with it again. I am halfway finished with a Silk Garden loose cowl which has a feather-and-fan lace bottom and ribbed neck. I'm crocheting some heavy wools, mostly Brown Sheep Burly Spun but also some Artyarns hand-dyed, into a rug. That will be a fun felting project, probably in someone else's washing machine. A friend wants a ruffle scarf appropriate for Miami weather (my choice is a silky bamboo). I just finished a custom scarf knit from cream Burly Spun with two strands of Mini-Mochi in a gorgeous red/purple/rust colorway. I've ordered yarn for a custom pink and black striped baby blanket that will have the little girl's name duplicate-knit in the center. I'm using two strands of Knitpicks Crayon to make it fluffy and soft. My second order of Therapi has arrived, so I'm finishing a salmon-pink cap with cables all around. I made myself get out of a right-cable rut and learned to make left-cables without using a cable needle.

Lately I've come to think of my Chattanooga Market booth as a real store, not just a place where I tote my wares and set up a make-shift sales venue. I requested the same location for the remainder of the season, wanting to be associated with a specific place in the minds of our regular shoppers. I cried when I was too sick to attend Market this week. I had repacked my car the day before, making everything more efficient, assuring that I had the maximum number of products that are appropriate for the season. I woke on Sunday with coughing and wheezing. Still I bathed and dressed in warm "work" clothes and went out in the rain to sit in my car. I was so uncomfortable that I knew I couldn't go, but I sat behind the wheel for a while, savoring the feeling of being ready for market day. I have three more days-November 29, and the December 4-5 special holiday weekend.

Today is the day that I finish getting yarn on shelves. I'm off to Office Depot for a few more small, clear bins.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Ruffled Scarf and Other Market News

I am writing at 3:30 a.m. because I fell asleep before 9 p.m. My brain thinks it is morning, so I'm taking advantage of relative alertness to make this update.
Sundays frequently end early, as I'm up by 6 to start the hectic market day. I begin by loading equipment and products into the car, if I haven't completed that task the night before. Then I have a quick breakfast and get cleaned up and dressed to present a nice vendor image. After I drive downtown, I check in, get a cup of coffee, and unload my equipment. It takes about two and one-half hours to put my booth together and get all my products displayed.
Yesterday was a milestone, my first run of three consecutive market weeks. Now that I know I can do it, I have prepared for the rest of the season and the coming spring by upgrading my equipment a bit. No, I didn't hit for a fancy display setup (think $3000). I spent a few bucks at Bed, Bath and Beyond on snap-together cubes made of metal grids, a reduced flat bedsheet and two rolling hanging clothes racks. For less than $130, I now have a nice cube system that sits on top of my table and holds items like hats and wash cloths, plenty of hanging space for scarves, baby sweaters, baby blankets and adult clothing. I was thrilled to have a more professional looking, organized store yesterday.
With a proper display system, I attract more lookers and shoppers. People were stopping in awe just to say "Did you make all of these yourself?" and I could proudly say that I designed and knitted or crocheted everything in the shop. It was much easier to show what I had and help buyers select things for themselves and for gifts. I even had a proper packaging station set up, and room to write down my credit card purchases and special orders.
One of the most fun events of yesterday's market was recruiting neighboring vendors to help me sing "Happy Birthday" to my mom. It was her 90th. I knew I would be exhausted and that call would have to do for the day. We sung with enthusiasm. No one would have special-ordered that performance. I asked my mom how it felt to be 90, and she said "I feel old." She's entitled.

Special orders have increased lately. Last week I had three from the market, and I completed the pair of extra skinny fingerless mitts, the green ruffled scarf you see below, and an entrelac organic cotton wash cloth this week. The holiday hand towels you see were knitted for another special order, and I finished Valentine's Day and blocked them both for mailing tomorrow. The little Christmas trees and heart are duplicate knit. Simple patterns like that can be free-handed, but if I have any requests I will publish the diagrams.

Speaking of patterns, here's the ruffled scarf:

The scarf is worked back and forth on circular needles. The final length is about 74 inches. Gauge is unimportant.
Materials: approximately 220 yards of worsted weight yarn (I used Superwash Worsted from, but their Wool/Bamboo would have worked nicely, too.), a long circular size 6 needle, a long circular size 7 needle, and a yarn needle for weaving ends

With smaller needle, cast on 180 stitches loosely. You don't want a tight, uncomfortable edge around the neck.
Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: Knit into front and back of each stitch. (360 stitches)
Row 3: Changing to larger needle, knit.
Row 4: Knit into front and back of each stitch. (720 stitches)
Rows 5-7: Knit. You can make the ruffle wider by adding more rows here.
Final row: Cast off loosely.
Weave in ends.

A note about the hand towels. They are knitted from Cotlin, 50% linen, 50% cotton. It handles beautifully, softening as you knit. Most of my series are knit on size 5 straight needles with a fairly simple block pattern. The Valentine's towel is the exception, as the lacy pattern suited the theme. Keeping in mind where the center fold would be, I knit a section of stockinette into each towel to serve as a background for duplicate knitting motifs. You want this in the lower half of the towel so that it shows when you fold it over a towel bar. I have two more to complete this custom holiday series (I began with Halloween and Thanksgiving, and St. Patrick's Day and 4th of July will complete it.) I'll publish stitch counts and basic construction as I work on the final two.

My early morning awake time is fading fast. I think I can manage two more hours of sleep.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Am I Moved YET?

Holy cow. No, that's not it. HOLY COW! That's better. I've had three reschedules from my mover, followed by an incomplete removal of the last few items from my house. The trunk of my car (a rapidly aging Volvo sedan) contains ten cans of paint+kitty litter (don't ask). There is only a two-foot wide path through my new garage from the door to the driveway. My piano is in the garage. I've checked here on HGTV but there is no "how to" that will fix this.

On the bright side, this is the end. The End. Closing is this week. I will take a break before closing on the new house, which I have leased til now. I have no deadline for hanging pictures, unpacking winter clothes, getting the remainder of the books onto bookshelves. There is only what my sensibilities will tolerate, and I am feeling pretty darn flexible. I won't cry if I can't get Ringgold and Joysmith and Ali on the walls today. No, I am not hallucinating. I have a Mohammad Ali limited edition print from his art period. He hadn't moved much past keeping it in the lines, but the idea that he attempted it charms me.

Oops, relaxed too soon. I went back to the new house this afternoon to deal with a pile of stuff shoved in the attic by unnamed young people staying in the guest room. It includes enough hangars for the Russian army and some used sheets which were "stored" there instead of washed. 'Nuff said. There is nothing in Spock about this.

So...I'm on a first name basis with the receiver at my favorite center to donate unwanteds. He saw me coming today, waved and almost smiled. An almost smile is the max for him. When you see him collecting things from your car one bag at a time, you know that he doesn't waste any muscle movement. We're starting to get very real about the things that can go. I had a carload today and I'm sure I'll have another tomorrow. I am all about knowing that the memory will be with me always. I don't need any more physical reminders of anything.

Mary Z reminded me the other day about using professional shredders. They'll be here tomorrow. I see 10 more cubic feet of space becoming available!

I met my buyers today. That ordinarily doesn't happen until closing, but I've let them out of motel hell with their young baby to live in the house a few days beforehand. I think the baby likes me. He was all red hair and smiles. Me and mom talked about knitting.

I did a good bit of knitting in the drive-through pharmacy line just now. I've never seen the lines so long, wondered if it is an H1N1 epidemic thing. Glad I started a hat from my pink Therapi (the yarn with merino, silk and jadeite fiber). I managed to do all the increases that will go from the head band to the start of the flare for the kind of beret shape (knit 1, yarn over, knit into the front and back) and repeat all the way around. Turn on the car, move one spot, pick up your needles.

Keeping up the surviving. Peace.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Prednisone Blindside Response

I have been perplexed. The past few weeks I've noticed increased appetite and disrupted sleep. Increased appetite is an understatement. I've been ravenous. My usual lay down, close eyes, and fall asleep routine has been failing, and I awaken in the early morning, hungry and unable to return to sleep. I blamed it all on the extraordinary circumstances of my packing and moving, the excitement of house sale and new house. Tonight I it all came to a head. I was upset at my hungriness and the way it prevented sleep, and beginning to despair of having any improved health from my increased activity if all it meant was more appetite. As I bit into my low-cal, high-fiber, whole grain English muffin it hit me - my steroid dose is up. This is a sneaky steroid increase. I'm not taking a higher dose of prednisone. My oral dose remains at its baseline, not enough to cause these symptoms. However, almost three weeks ago I had a joint injection - a large dose of steroid (corticosteroid) medication was inserted directly into my left knee joint to treat an acute flare. We do this kind of treatment to put the medication directly where it is needed and to minimize the systemic affect of the meds, but a goodly portion is still absorbed into the bloodstream and disseminated to the rest of the body.

I am greatly relieved to realize the source of my symptoms. I've had such an increase in activity that I'm hoping to see better overall health. I thought it was being thwarted by my need to eat more, but now I know it is temporary. Moreover, having insomnia and being on an irregular schedule has never been good for my lupus. Keeping the wolf under control is much easier with adequate rest and a predictable meal, sleep and medication schedule. I should be close to getting over the steroid symptoms. One way I've been fighting them is to feed my appetite with huge amounts of plain steamed vegetables. My Publix had a $1 sale on microwavable vegetable packs, found in the produce section. I scooped up a pile and I indulge in them liberally. I also invested in several cases of my favorite sparkling water (yes, at $4 for 12 cans, it's an investment), and I fill up on bubbles.

A disease that has affected you for 17 years isn't going to be controlled or conquered overnight. I'm happy for every little insight that helps me manage better, even if it comes at 3 a.m.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting Buff

I am on the craziest exercise program. I didn't sign up, it just caught up with me. It's free, and a good thing, as I'd never pay for such torture. It goes something like this:

Hmm. Today I'm going to sort all the stuff in my daughter's old room. I know she already sorted it, but I'm sure her heart and her short attention span got in the way. Okay, here we go, up 14 stairs. Oh my God, there are forty-seven or sixty items left here. That's okay, we've nothing but time. Closing is a week away, after all. Just sit down and calmly go through them. Oops, need a couple of boxes. Get up, fetch boxes, come back. And a trash bag. Get up, fetch trash bag, come back. Lord, what is in this tote? Lead? Lift it up, empty the lead ten pounds at a time. Oh yeah, this is the rock collection from kindergarten. I think it can go now. Repeat forty-seven times. Now let's check the closet. I'm sure she emptied...oops, two prom dresses, hiking boots (complete with dried mud), a plastic drawer set with long-forgotten junior high school clothes, a bin of books from-oh yeah, that pharm tech program. Let's just haul everything out of this closet. Bend down three more times for tiny stuffed animals. They are falling out of every crack. Where is the donation box? Over there-that's okay, we'll get some jump shots in. Donate. Donate. Donate. Wonder if they care if I put clothes in with a cow-head vaporizer? Now just lift the boxes and separate donate from deliver to house. All those trash bags of donated linens can be tossed over the rail down into the living room. Heave-smack! Heave-smack! Heave-smack! Whew, the fun part.

Next, I'll finish the guest room...

I am not joking. This particular exercise regimen is building muscle where prednisone had stolen it. Some of the challenges are unexpected. One of my helpers brought his 66 year-old mother and 8 year-old son. Son is a whirlwind, and I move more just keeping up with his antics and making sure he doesn't unpack all the "interesting" stuff that I packed. If I stay one step ahead, I can keep him busy carrying things up and down stairs. The mother is a smoker and not in great health, but she takes the stairs faster than me and insists on making three trips up and down and I... will... not... be... outdone.

I can do things now that I wouldn't attempt six months ago. It is hard training this way, but the results are evident. When this little adventure ends (you know, after I unpack the pod and get all the yarn on shelves and hang all my art) I'll be ready to head to the rec center and lift some weights.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Counting Down to Closing

One week 'til closing, and the sale of my house is all consuming. I held my breath for inspection and came away with a short list of repairs and investigations to be performed in this brief final period. I had to miss knitting group to meet a handyman-a definite indication of the urgency of these activities.

The chaos of moving holds some treachery for me. After a few near-misses, I tripped over a box and fell, doing a slow, continually sliding, grabbing, descent against the side of my recliner, and ending with a number of bumps and bruises and what feels like a broken toe. This morning I am feeling the full effect, limping and learning which limb to favor for which activity. Adults are not made for falling. We think too much on the way down, rather than letting the natural instincts take over. Moreover, I was grabbing at a recliner that was slowly changing position as I went down. My chances would have been better with the floor.

Ah well, if this is the worst result of my real estate adventures, I think I've come off well. I finished the night reading aloud to my daughter from a favorite Agatha Christie. She had a migraine and was bored to tears with lying still in the dark. Why Didn't They Ask Evans always has her imagining herself to be Frankie, the sassy, adventurous daughter of an earl. My daughter's expressions and gestures had me laughing, contributing to my hoarseness from reading 11 chapters.

I'm in hand towel heaven with my current custom project. I've become very comfortable with Cotlin,'s cotton 50%/linen 50% DK blend. It softens very readily with handling, and knits quite nicely for me on size 5 needles. I've been knitting hand towels that are holiday designs. Christmas is ready for blocking, and I'll cast on Valentine's Day shortly and figure out how many hearts to throw across it.

I took on an experimental crochet project last weekend without the desired result. Dayna hoped for an interestingly patterned scarf from Spud & Chloe's Aztec Scarf pattern. She wanted a soft, flowing, indoor version, and we attempted it with Cotlin, but it didn't fill in the pattern enough. I may try again with another yarn, but she's already on to the next project. She had admired the bands of V-stitch on my crocheted baby blankets, and now that is the basis for a long crocheted scarf. V-stitch goes quickly and loooks lacy and beautiful. An easy teach is found here: I showed my "client" both the half-double and double V-stitch, and she preferred double, so my work is more open than the example photo shown at the link.

I've relisted all my hats and scarves, as the season is here. No sales at the store yet, and I've not been able to free up time and energy for the market. Maybe next week. I've no doubt that the heavy work of moving will make me much more fit for market days. Swinging those metal grids in and out of the car, setting up tables, hauling bags of product-none of those seems difficult now that I've dismantled and sorted the old house.

I finished all my cardiac testing last week. A summer of cooking less (no food odors in the house you're showing, please) and eating out more left me with an elevated cholesterol and LDL. I'm on medication now, but hopefully regaining my better habits will render that unnecessary. None of the other test results have been discussed yet.

Okay, first neighbor complaint. The folks directly behind me have a boat. Hubby insists on weatherizing it himself. He treated us to a good spell of deafening noise yesterday and I went out and hollered over the fence to see if anyone was dying. We had a congenial meeting and he explained his mission, and that he will save $200 by doing it himself. Hah! It is 8:45 a.m. and he has just started again, revving his boat motor and drowning out my thoughts. Hmmph. That ends my blogging for today.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nostalgicus Interruptus

It's Sunday evening and I'm suffering from acute nostalgicus interruptus. My undergrad alma mater, Vanderbilt, had homecoming this weekend and I was all signed up to attend. I was especially excited that there would be events for the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Association of Vanderbilt Black Alumni. There were many friends that I have thought about recently that I hoped to see. Alas, it was a typical lupus week. Chest tightness and palpitations led me to my doc and to an appointment with a heart specialist. Both thought my symptoms warranted a work-up (battery of tests to determine if a problem exists). I spent 24 hours wearing a heart monitor and I'm scheduled for a fancy nuclear medicine stress test in two days. Between the symptoms and tests and my already pressing need to sort out the old house, I had to stay home. Pooey.

Ironically, I seem to have already given myself the stress test. For the past three days I've worked hard at sorting, packing, and delivering stuff. I've hauled huge bags of trash, carried boxes filled with old office records, helped move a dresser from my daughter's room to the garage, spent hours feeding paper into the shredder... I didn't plan it this way, I just felt energetic and recovered from my recent Rituxan therapy, and so I worked when and how I felt like it. Needless to say, I've not had a single twinge in my chest. Not one. The cute little bottle of tiny nitroglycerin tabs that the cardiologist prescribed remains sealed.

None of the above means that I've had a bad weekend. I'm sitting on my bed, feet up, listening to Patti LaBelle's powerful voice. This evening I combed through YouTube to hear a variety of selections from Al Green, the Isley Brothers, and Patti. It was still nostalgia time, whether I made it to Nashville or not. I was focused on the music that I was hearing when I was in college. It featured strong voices, defined rhythms, and words that made sense. Lots of it talked about love and peace and the "good stuff" in the world. I was first married after my sophomore year at Vanderbilt, a whole 19 years old. My husband was in his mid-20s and had already mastered the art of using music for seduction, but our listening choices also extended to revolutionary soul (Gil Scott Heron, Stevie Wonder), jazz (Pharoah Saunders, Jazz Crusaders) and more instrumental rock (Santana).

Hmm, that could be a formula for a good Sunday evening. Stop all work, put your feet up, and focus on music that you love. I learned about formulas from my daughter. When she was four she came home from school and said, "This is how you make friends at my school. You stand by somebody in line and you hold their hand." The formulas were simple and straight-forward in those days, but she has continued to enlighten me on occasion, summing up her way of doing something and presenting it like a gift.

The association of men in my [past] life with music is a strong one. I wonder sometimes why many of the women I've been close to have not had strong musical preferences and affiliations. In the string of important men (members of that group shift from time to time) there is a very particular classical music fan and accomplished violinist, a rock enthusiast (but no "California rock" thank you), a jazz artist who played with a high school band as a kindergartener, a talented dancer who stayed current on the latest rap and contemporary music, and one man with a lovely voice and multiple instruments who used it all on sacred music. What a range. And of course, that's not the whole of the group.

Patti LaBelle is in my face singing "Love Never Dies", a tribute to one of her sisters who succumbed to cancer at an early age. This moment if feels like a commentary on the ability to focus on the positives in my past. Patti LaBelle is always in your face when she sings. Whether you love her or hate her, you cannot ignore her when she is singing. One of my favorite New Year's celebrations was Luther Vandross and Patti in concert at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

Hearing live music is still one of my favorite outings, and it has been far too scarce in recent years. I was every bit of grateful this week when I was able to attend a concert at a local church. The music was modern classical, a pianist, a classical guitarist and a violinist. Fab. Makes it worth taking your meds and getting out of your house. Once I had a list of performers that I wanted to hear. I envisioned traveling to catch their concerts, using my vacations and taking my daughter. Several years ago, Dayna and I saw Jill Scott at Ryman Auditorium with her informing me that she was the youngest attendee. I could have repeated that scenario a million times, following all my favorites, but I was too ill for that kind of plan. I see myself now at the point where I can make my list.

Good lord, am I still writing? Music loosens my fingers and lubricates that connection between my thoughts and my hands. I'll have to continue in my head.


Monday, October 12, 2009

South Carolina Makes Me Read

A friend in South Carolina - hmm, possibly my only friend in that state - sent me this link: about a woman who vowed on Oct. 8, 2008 to read a book a day and discuss it in a blog:

I won't do this often, but today you are privy to my top-secret email. This was my response to S. Carolina:

Hey in South Carolina! This is the perfect way to pique my shame. I have not been reading. It's been weeks since I closed my last book, and I would say that I have no time but there really is no such thing. I could open a book and keep it bedside to peruse instead of bedtime tv and midday Scrabble breaks. I could put a rack in the new bathroom and furnish liturature for the prolonged visits. I could even pop a borrowed cd into my cd player in the car and hear a story or two. I miss it and I have no excuse. I admire what this woman has done. I've ready about 20-30 of the books (so many titles from the past tickle my memory but do not give me a clear picture). I've read maybe 30% of the same authors, or more. She hit some of my favorites: Martha Grimes, my two favorite Japanese authors (they might as well be named Yamaguchi and Itchiguchi for the trouble I have recalling their names), my science fiction loves - Orson Scott Card and Ursula Le Guin and Octavia Butler (I'd read all of theirs including the ones she read), Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, Toni Morrison, Tana French. Overall, her list could be used for one of good varied reading, especially fiction. ...and E. Danticat! what a pearl she is. I'm still being reminded of things I've read and should read, favorite authors that I've abandoned in favor of - primarily - knitting and crochet.

What I didn't say to my friend was that I am going to the book shelf immediately. I will place a book on my night table, and it will be read. The last books I read were a young adult series about an alternate world with vampires and demon hunters: City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass. I finished them several weeks ago after my daughter recommended them, and I was impressed that they were much more intelligently conceived and written than the Twilight series. The plots were complex, the characters believable, and the sci-fi grounding held up nicely.

Of course, when I say I'm not reading that does not count knitting, crochet, and general crafting literature. Those books and periodicals are ever present, part of learning more about my trade and producing the goodies that I work on daily. That declaration also doesn't take into account the reading I do on the Internet daily. I might spend an hour going from blog to news to opinion site any time I open my laptop. This "machine" is tantalizingly full of information and entertainment, and if I allowed myself I could read all day right here. Not allowed, however. I'm going to the book shelf.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Singing the House Sold Song

I am singing a song. It goes something like this:

I sold my house.

I sold my house.

Dee dee dee dee you heard me baby

I sold my house.

Oh yes, I sold it,

I sold the house.

Dee dee dee dee I know they'll love it

I sold the house.

I promise you I was not waiting for an acceptable offer to post here. I've just been totally, daily, happily involved in moving. The movers made their official trip from old house to new exactly two weeks ago. My daughter and I made an immediate scramble, putting away enough items to get the boxes and bags out of walkways and keep us functioning with daily necessities. Since then, I have struggled to continue cleaning out the old house. If you remember, new house is less than half the size of old house, so we couldn't have the movers pick up all the old contents and dump them over here. Instead I am sorting, selling, donating, discarding at warp speed, managing the leftovers and spillovers and other overages.

During that process I decided to hire painters and make the entire inside of the old house an indisputably neutral color, something that would make the most white-bread buyer comfortable. I chose something that would erase that black/Hispanic zest for color that injects such life into our dwellings-vanilla brandy, the paint company calls it. The smooth, creamy cafe au lait color is nice, but the only way I could live with it would be to plaster the walls with my colorful art collection.

Speaking of art, I have not hung one painting in the new place. It also has contractor walls - a creamy beige with a hint of green undertones. Lovely and calm, and desperately in need of my art. Unfortunately, there are things that take priority, like getting curtains hung so that I am not parading in front of my neighbors in ugly pajamas. It will feel like a party when I finally select the spot for each piece and start hammering nails and slinging those frames up where they can be seen.

You might think that I've been too busy to knit, but something has to happen when I hit the wall and can't pack or unpack boxes any more. Most days I spend a few hours on moving, an hour or two on administration (schedule appointments, pay bills, change utilities, maintain my store) and several hours on knitting and crochet. I've finished two baby blankets for a special order. The red and gray stripe (sorry for the washed out colors in the photo) is for Ohio State U for a baby boy who isn't at all brainwashed, and the pink is a crochet piece for a baby girl, equally brain-washed but in a different mode altogether. The other pieces are for the store: First a blue and cream crochet cotton baby blanket, then a striped hat in Noro Silk Garden. Finally, a multicolored, hand-dyed cashmere/wool scarf and mitts, crocheted in a ring pattern. There are more items that haven't been photographed yet, including a pale pink cashmere bumblebee hat that I must get my model to show off. Nothing else would do it justice.

I have a whole set of hand towels to make for a special order. They are six holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and 4th of July) and one college emblem. I'm having a ball duplicate knitting symbols on them - you should see my turkey! Don't worry, photos coming. I'm making most of these in's Cotlin - a 50/50 mix of linen and cotton that is lovely to knit with. It comes in lots of colors and handles well, and I really like how my towels look. I haven't learned how to put my photos where I want them on Blogger, so scoot back up to the top and look at the unblocked Halloween towel. If you must ask which it is, we need to have a serious talk.
I think it might be evident that I'm enjoying myself. Just in case you can't tell, let me say it. I am enjoying myself. It's a good space here, sharing digs with my daughter, working on the new house, reveling in the down-size project (hmm, maybe becoming a little self-righteous about it). It's one of those times when my life seems to fit just right with no awkward bulges.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Missed While Moving

I am moving. Yesterday we took two vehicle-loads of boxes to the new house. While we were there, we met our two-doors-down neighbor. Today I unpacked seven boxes, inspected the new fence, and read two mail order catalogs in the new house. All this busyness has me missing the blog. I write all the time in my head, but it's not being transmitted.

These interesting events transpired in the no-writing interval:

1. The dog ate my pizza. We have very little food prep equipment left at the old house, so we've been ordering out. Today I left 70% of a wonderful barbecue chicken pizza on the couch in the box. I was hurrying to meet the fence guy at the new house. He wanted his money. When I returned home after three hours, the poor old crippled dog who hasn't been on the couch in four months had jumped way high and devoured the pizza. She'd better not throw up tonight.

2. I restarted my point-counting for Weight Watchers. Because it works and I needed to. Already lost some lbs.

3. I took two Rituxan treatments. At the second one, a couple was referred to hospice for end of life care for one of them. The patient asked questions and tried to sound light-hearted. The partner stood silent.

4. I visited the barber. He gave me a great haircut, then killed it with some awful sticky gel that turned my do to plastic. It was okay once I came home and washed it. No more hair gel! Who likes that stuff?!

5. Packing has continued in fits and starts for weeks. Recent concentration has been on essentials - kitchen equipment, dry goods, bathroom necessities, clothing. I've left a minimum to get me through the next week 'til the movers come.

6. Better than packing, sorting and discarding has continued. Many carloads of gently worn goods have made their way to charity. The trash volume has quadrupled. Faced with a 1325 square foot dwelling, your definition of "necessity" changes quickly.

7. There is a science experiment in my garage. Weeks ago I purchased 40 lb of kitty litter. My daughter and a friend pried the lids off every old paint can in the place and put in kitty litter to absorb and dry out the old paint. When they are dry and hard, I throw them away. Fourteen down, at least ten to go. My daughter recognized most of the paint. She pointed out that some was left from when we painted her bedroom yellow and purple - that's right, alternating walls. Because that's the kind of mom I am.

8. I've come across many reminders of my first host son, Kris. Dead of suicide at age 17, he was a bright light and happy voice in our lives for several years. We moved after his death. The house no longer felt right without his frequent visits and insistence on sleeping in the family room where the sun rose shining through all the glass. Moving again, now five years later, I am reminded of the emptiness and grief I felt that year. I found a photo of Kris in a stack of papers, and while I debated about my readiness to frame it and view it daily, the tears came without warning. Five years is so short and so long.

9. I purchased the carbon fiber plate to put in my shoe, and I'm walking on it daily. It reduces the pain in the one tiny area of arthritis in my right foot. Ridiculous for such a small area of osteoarthritis to produce so much pain. Meanwhile, the left knee is begging for steroid injections and the left shoulder is making terrible scraping if I move it right (or wrong).

10. At least three times a day something happens that makes me want to grab my computer and begin writing. I've gotta start making notes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Abstract Me

Today I was crocheting a water bottle holder and it turned into a cosmetic/jewelry pouch. A circle done in crochet can easily get out of control. One or two extra rounds and you have the base of a purse. Another couple of rounds and it's a placemat. Keep going, it's a bedside rug. It doesn't take long to knit a house cover when you're going round and round in crochet. That is one of the things I like about using that crochet hook. You can pick a stitch, use it mindlessly, and just keep going. When you are finished, you cut the yarn, pull it through one stitch, and voila! it's a whatever-you-want-thinga-ma-bobby. It is very easy for me to make three-dimensional shapes with crochet, making rows turn and take off in other directions, connecting parts to form cones and rings and knobs, or satisfying my desire for caffeinated, off-the-charts asymmetry. I know that there will come a time when I stop worrying about the sale-ability of my crochet pieces, and turn them into the abstracts that they long to be.

Sometimes I think I was meant to be an abstract. I am older, with the softened jawline and fuzzy dumpling shape of a 52-year-old who has lived on prednisone for almost two decades. As parts get saggier, lumpier, more affected by gravity and medicines and lupus, they show their asymmetry more. Seen in the dark, or as a shadow on the wall, I can imagine myself a mysterious, amorphous creature that is the sculpture made by a mad scientist-artist like...myself. Oddly enough, I appreciate this, or at least I do not run from it. I can look in the mirror and see interesting shapes and evolution without crying for that past body. I know that my slim, crisp, muscular shape, the 35 year-old body just before lupus, was healthier and more conventionally attractive, but this is the body that holds me now. Now I am older, wiser, experienced, more compassionate, much more patient. Now I let my creativity reign, enjoy my own humor, and listen to my feelings. In its own way, the body works well. It is hearty, flexible, endures pain well and expresses pleasure luxuriously. It is not a shell to be discarded.

I think about this when I meet new men. Can they appreciate the miracle of health and life hard-won, the number of treatments this body has endured to be functioning so well in the present? Or do they just see the asymmetry and lumpiness and "lack of self control" that modern morons see as the basis for all bodies that blossom with obesity? Unlike the stereotypical woman polled, I do not prefer death or stupidity (a kind of death) to obesity. I'll take what I've got and live in it.

In elementary school, my daughter would say, "Mommy, you are soft." She never asked if something was wrong, or why I wasn't thinner or harder like other moms. Now 21, she draws and paints abstracts.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

...Like a Chicken with His Head Cut Off

You probably think I haven't blogged because I'm laying out on my deck enjoying the sun and the mild weather, but no...that's not been on my agenda. In the words of my mom, I've been running around "like a chicken with his head cut off", taking care of all the details in my life (and a few others). It's time to move, my new place is ready for us, and that necessitates contracts like the fence-building and movers, shopping for a new refrigerator, and acquisition of fancier packing supplies such as dividers for crystal glassware.
In the midst of this, there is the unceasing health care stuff. I finally saw an orthopod (oops, orthopedic surgeon) about my year-long foot pain, only to find that there's some weird process making cysts in my bone and calcifications in the soft tissue of one of my foot joints. "Probably some lupus thing," he says. I lay on a hard, narrow table and slid into the ring of the CT scanner today so that thin cross-sectional pictures could be made to further delineate the process.
Oh yeah, not just my health care stuff. I have one sister in the hospital with a stubborn kidney stone, a child with an infection, and a dog still fighting ringworm. (Yes, the dog counts! Who do you think gives her the pills and the alternate day baths with fancy medicated shampoo?)
Actually, the fact that I'm able to move through all of this without a break or paid help is great evidence that I'm a lot healthier today than I was this time last year, and not even in the same league as I was in two years ago. Recovery is all relative.
So, what's interesting now? I've missed every political health care rally planned for this area. Today I got a notice about a meeting including speakers from various health-care and political arenas. It is planned for my county by my favorite state legislator, Andy Berke, and will take place Friday, September 11. If all goes well, I will have pushed aside some of the other work (maybe even completed it!) so that I can attend. Speaking of work, lately I've had some invitations to do easy, temporary work. It's nice to still be thought of as a doctor. I knew I should keep up those continuing ed credits for something other than lingering interest.
Other interesting developments include blossoming friendships. I could not have looked at my knitting group a year ago and predicted this, but I have grown much closer to some of my knitting mates, and it is lots of fun to be learning about them on a deeper level. I should have a visit to a scary three-D movie coming up tomorrow with one of them.
I know you are holding your breath, wondering what I am knitting. After all, that has to be included under "interesting". I'm two-thirds finished with a little boy's vest, using two balls of blue and grey Lang's Mille Colori, wool 50%/acrylic 50%. That's not a mix I use commonly (acrylic production is heavy on hydrocarbon use), but I bought it on sale, it feels soft and nice, and will be easy care for some busy dad. Photos soon. I'm on my nth Beehive Hat. More photos of those soon. (My model has been busy with school.) I've got a longish list of things for a custom client, including two baby blankets and two hand towels. Both the cotton crochet baby blanket and the hand-dyed cotton baby blanket are finished, and I am happy with the completed products. Photos soon, no model required.
Altogether, a very busy time. If you see me on the street and I give a blank stare, bear with me. Insist that I take a chat break. I'll love you for it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friends and Elevations

When Saturday morning comes and six or four or twelve of us are gathered around a table, knitting and talking, my thoughts inevitably turn to the topic of having friends. If there is anything in this world that makes my heart beat faster with gratitude, it is my relationships with family and friends. After a few years of isolating myself due to illness and an ill-chosen religious home, I am thrilled to be in contact with so many friends. Lately they seem to be coming out of the woodwork. I signed up for Facebook, and amazing people from my past - usually ones that I never suspected would hunt for me - have turned up and "friended" me. I've made friends at the chemotherapy suite who are still regularly checking in by email. People are stopping me in the grocery store, in restaurants, hugging me and vowing to get together. Younger family members have been calling and keeping in touch. My friendship cup runneth over.
I have grown close to my group of knitting friends, and I felt comfortable sharing with them today that I've been a bit manic lately - what a psychiatrist would label as "hypomanic". How can I tell? I am emotional - tears of joy flow very easily. I feel more religious fervor than usual. My everyday, normal-mood approach to religion is pretty dry and matter-of-fact. Today I was blasting gospel in my car and singing at the top of my voice, even entertaining the idea that I might detour and go to a church service instead of
to knitting group. I gave away a cashmere hat that I would have sold for $50 to an elderly lady at the chemo suite. Hmm. I might have done that last one under any circumstances. But you get my drift - when I am manic, my heart is open.
However, there is a downside. I may find that my opinion of something has changed completely from, say, last month, even though I felt very firm in my conviction before. I can be more irritable and short when things don't go well. I may confuse and frustrate my friends and family with my inconsistency or change of mood.
Does this need medication? Complex question. I took lithium at one time, when I was in my early thirties. The evening-out that it did affected some things that still seem surprising to me. Yes, my mood was more consistent, but I also had a more normal appetite and my music sight-reading improved. Those things were nice, but I had to give up lithium when I began some of the medications that were essential for treating lupus. At the time, there weren't good alternative medications. That has changed drastically with the introduction of a number of anti-seizure drugs which have been found to be quite effective for bipolar illness. At any rate, I have remained on antidepressants, which smooth out the other end of the spectrum and keep me from the most serious side effects of this disorder. I now recognize the occasional manic spike and can control my symptoms much more easily, as I have grown older.
What the heck?! I didn't designate this day as mental health blogging day. It has, however, been on my mind because of (1) my own change in mood and (2) the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, who championed the inclusion of mental illnesses in all health care coverage, something that has not yet been achieved. As much as I value my Medicare, it pays painfully little for me to stay in the care of a psychiatrist. The knowledge that I need an objective specialist managing that aspect of my health doesn't make it any easier to pay those giant-size bills.
So here we are, back at health care reform. No change in my opinions on this one. We need a public health care option. We need to provide health care for every single American. I missed the last rally because of joint issues. I will try my best to attend the next one.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Putting a Cap on the Week

Sunday morning. I'm taking stock of the past week. It was a whirlwind, helping my daughter get enrolled and find classes at the local university. We made a last-minute decision that she would stay home this semester, for a variety of reasons, but executing that was very difficult. I had the renewed experience of being "Mom" in a way that I haven't for four years. I drove to and from school while she waited for a parking sticker, I stood in line to help get some of the administrative chores done, and I helped with the search for classes that would be useful to her and have credit to transfer to her main school. It made me admire what these young people do when we drop them off at college and come back home. I hadn't seen the process up close before. As a so-called "transient" student, my daughter was not eligible for advising or financial aid, so this was a particularly difficult registration. It was gratifying to see her sail through it.

Recently, I put a new category of blog post in my long list of things to write about. I wanted to begin dissecting one of those constant parental worries - how to tell what kind of job you are doing (or have done). I suppose that this should be one of the entries - Watch Your Child Get Started in School. It was fascinating to see my daughter function this week. She was adept at maneuvering through the decision tree involved in registering at a new school. She didn't agonize over which section of which course to take - she started by getting one class locked down, then building around it to make a workable schedule. She knew that she was already late in the process and didn't worry about which instructor was better, nicer, more lenient with grades. She accepted pot luck and went to class with an optimistic attitude. She quickly made acquaintances in each class, exchanging phone numbers and email addresses so that notes could be shared in case of an absence.

Her approach to instructors in closed class sections (where enrollment had already reached quota) was especially interesting. When she confronted one professor with the hated blue form (permission to enroll in a closed class), she was told "No." Her response was to smile and ask if she could remain for that class section and speak with him afterward. After class, she made her case and was accepted into his section. Shades of Cher, in Clueless. Everything is negotiable.

The big excuses seem to be gone from her vocabulary. In one class, she began on the second day, and discovered that the teacher had made lots of assignments on the first day of class. The daughter didn't ask for extensions or release from those writing assignments. She dug in and worked until they were done, completing the last one an hour before departure for the Friday session. I read them and was impressed that her writing had matured in the past four years. Hmm, maybe the big tuition has been worth it.

So much for watching the offspring. I listed a half-dozen new products in my stores yesterday, and one has already sold. It was the second sale of the weekend, very gratifying. I have more to list, as well as pushing ahead with my plans for fall products. The beehive hats (photo above) are coming along, I now have three to photograph and list - two cashmere, one organic cotton. I think the fibers are exactly right. The hand-dyed cotton blanket lacks only 20 rows. I'm ready to start another custom order. Everything is moving along.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Welcome to EssieWB on Blogger

What a new day! This is me, writing in my blog and giving it a new address so that GoogleAds can fill the margins with little money-making notes. Had to do it, folks. The times, they are a-changin', and not for the better or the worse but for the poorer. (No, poorer and worse are not synonyms.)
I tried my damndest to bring the contents of the old blog, at, to this new site in its entirety, but neither of the sites has decided to bend their tools to that kind of cooperation. So...I've put notices on both sites and I'll start here by noting the old stats, and then we'll begin new.
I began to write this blog in December 2007, at a time when my then 15 years of systemic lupus was weighing me down with physical limitations and diminishing hope. As an optimistic person, I was grabbing all my resources to stay afloat, including resurrecting my lifelong love of writing to help educate others about this life and give me a way to express my feelings about my journey.
350 posts later, after 30,303 visits from readers (mostly a half-dozen great friends), I am still writing. I don't want to stop. Correction: I cannot stop. Writing becomes me. Writing soothes me. Writing is part of my healing. When I am not writing here, I am composing in my head, reminding myself to bring particular thoughts and experiences to this forum and open them up for perusal and comment.
A lot has changed since December 2007, and you can find it all by reading the first 350 posts of this blog. Okay, okay, just kidding. A brief summary: My health is much improved, due to the initiation of a new medication that is just beginning to be used for lupus. Barack Obama ran for president (and WON), bringing me back to politics and citizenship in a way that I never dreamed. My Etsy store, at, has grown to two stores, the newer one holding my children's creations at My daughter turned 21. I cut my hair and grew it out and cut it again. My posts have followed all of these happenings, in no particular order. Thank goodness they are searchable, so that the free knitting patterns and medical information isn't lost in musings about hair length and parenting.

The past week has been excruciatingly busy. I've tended to details about our new house, my daughter's semester at the local university, my health, my dog's health...and today I am tired. Matter of fact, I'm so tired that I just didn't get going this morning in time to make my rheumatology appointment. I'll call them after while and let them know I'm not dead.

One of the "funner" occurrences of the week was a visit to my sister's house for lunch. It was a spur-of-the-moment plan, me texting her at 7 a.m. to see if she wanted to get together. We went to the new house to meet with the builder about last-minute details (shelves for my yarn, darling!), then she cooked. I took my Alli like a good girl, then enjoyed wings and potato salad and strawberries. I fixed her stereo on the way out.

Oh my gosh, don't think I've even mentioned Alli. A few weeks ago I concluded that my eating away from home is a real deviation from what it should be, and I slowly began to take Alli with those much-more-fatty meals. It is speeding my weight loss a bit, a nice thing to see with my creeping metabolism. Alli makes a good deterent for me to eat too much high-fat food, because I'm not interested in having any side effects. (Read the label.)

As much as I'm enjoying chatting you up, I've got blueberry muffins to bake, bills to pay, one more college phone call to make, and a dog that needs a therapeutic bath.


Harsh Words, Soft Beehive Hat

Yesterday was a hard day. I won't call it a bad day, because in the end we accomplished what was necessary, but it was hard.
We made some decisions yesterday, as a family, about a direction for our near future. We set out to put those decisions into action. In the process, I walked a long way in stifling heat, waited patiently for service, and explained the circumstances that led to us being there. Then I tried to ask the questions that would educate us about necessary procedures and what we could expect in the future. In return, someone half my age greeted me with disdain and told me I should be "nice". I contemplated that for a moment, then asked the person if they were saying I had not been "nice". The reply was that I wanted a special service and should "at least be grateful".
I am being deliberately obtuse about the particulars of this encounter, but trust me when I say that the "special service" I requested was only the lifting of a deadline, and I was asking to pay my own money for something that should be available to everyone in Tennessee. I am afraid to be more specific in this public forum.

I was shaken by this encounter. It was humiliating. Degrading. It made me go home and question myself, look in the mirror to see what about me was so offensive that I could engender a negative reaction just by being there. I saw a short, fat, light brown-skinned woman with close-cropped hair and glasses. In private, I cried. I didn't know that I am still so vulnerable to that kind of ugliness.

In my teen years, I would have hurt myself after that experience - literally beating myself up for not being "acceptable". In my 20s I would have made a long, loud, eloquent rejoinder and demanded to see the person in charge. In my 30s I learned tact, and my response would have been modulated, but still extremely voluble. Yesterday I was at a loss, because I have not dealt with such a blatant approach in a long time. My guard was down, so I met it with puzzlement and quiet. I returned to my home and quietly did housework.
Last night I knit until my hands hurt. I worked out my hurt with my needles, relishing the solid metallic clash of one against the other, making something that I love out of the hatred that I met.
I just learned an Estonian cast-on that is very stretchy and decorative. The video where I learned (Nancy Bush teaches the technique) is here: It is very similar to traditional long-tail cast-on, and it didn't take me long. I used it as the brim for a hat. Having extra stretch at the forehead edge is always nice. The bottom photo shows the new edge. The bottom of the cap can turn up as a cuff. The second photo shows the "wrong" side. Still pretty.

The hat is a new design, my Beehive. The yarn is Karabella Supercashmere, about 110 yards (a little less than one and one-half balls). I cast on a purple one this morning, to repeat the pattern. I plan to do a couple more in organic cotton. I love the design, and it feels and looks soft, very flattering.
Design and knit - my dose of healing.