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.