Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, Old Me

Every where you look this time of year, there's this catchy phrase front and center: New Year, New You. The idea that the mistakes of the past don't have to matter or should be forgotten as you strive to become a different (or better) person than you were before. You can overcome unhealthy life choices, erase bad behavior, eliminate the errors of the past year and do something wholly different. Let this year be the year you make all those changes you've been wanting to make! Shed all the issues that have been holding you down, shake off all the reservations holding you back. All you need is the resolve to become a new you! The problem, as I view it, with this idea is that it leaves you feeling like a failure when you don't live up to your own resolutions. It's an all-or-nothing approach that gives no quarter for the simple truth that you're human and fallible.

Ingrained behaviors are notoriously hard to change, and an arbitrary date on the calendar doesn't necessarily make change simpler. Often, people are pretty good with whatever for a couple of weeks, start to lose determination mid-month and begin to revert, and then by the end of January... backslide city. It seems to me that all-or-nothing rarely works. Resolutions smack up against reality and reality usually wins. I think goals make more sense, from a continuity standpoint. Goals aren't a hard and fast thing you must do. They're something to strive for - a thing to work toward. As a result, they remain in the forefront of your mind without being something you mentally shame yourself for not working toward every choice you make.

I'm making some changes (already started), but I'm NOT leaving myself behind. The person that is me is not a piece of clothing to be discarded with changing trends. I own my mistakes. I also own my successes and failures, missteps and purposeful strides. I'm not making resolutions - I'm setting goals. Instead of giving myself a list of things I must force myself to do, I am creating a set of things I would like to do and then figuring out what steps I have to take to accomplish those goals.

Happy New Year. May you find some goals to work toward, wherever you believe you need improvement. I'll be over here, working on mine.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Our House (will be) A Very Very Very Fine House!

17:19 4 June, 2016

We have lived here for 1 year, 9 months, 7 days, or 646 days; 15,024 hours; 901,440 minutes, give or take. In that time, I have not once felt it was “home”. A place for our stuff, sure. Someone else’s house that we were staying in, for a time. Not long enough to really do much.

Not an especially wonderful place, either, mind. A place with mice in the walls and stink bugs. A place with one working shower out of two present; of no bath tub; of two mostly functional toilets and limited hidden storage. A place with tile countertops in the kitchen (ugh), an odd layout, and not nearly as close to my job as hoped. A place on the edge of crumbly. A dark, depressing, annoyingly dirty, dull, MOIST place. Ah well, I tell myself, at least it’s green here, and our neighbors are awesome.

Last week, I was sitting with some very sage friends of mine who have been renovating their house, step by step. I was complaining about all the things I hate about this house and how upset I was that we’d felt we had to buy it. The advice my dear friends gave me, as I remember it, was to pick one thing. Just one thing. Something small we could agree on, something that would make us feel good, something we could afford both the money and time to make happen quickly that would make a solid impact on a problem with the house.

I had the idea that maybe we could actually finish the kitchen ceiling. When we moved in, there was very little electric light and textured paper lined the ceiling. The paper was pretty, but it didn’t reflect any light - it quickly ate the light and then belched dullness. There’s a large bank of windows right next to the kitchen, and that light just disappears into the ceiling. Marc installed new and very nice lights in the kitchen, cutting channels through the ceiling to put in wire and beginning the patch up. Then he began to rip down the light absorbing paper. Sadly, the ceiling paint rips off with the paper, leaving behind a right sad mess.

Additionally, we began to discover some water damage and dampness on the ceiling. The kind that comes from leaking pipes above. Marc investigated, only to find extreme amounts of mold in the insulation between the kitchen and the upstairs. He ripped out the insulation and cleaned the wood and patched the ceiling. And there both projects remained: spackled and taped, rough and torn-looking, grey where the drywall patch is unprimed. For...awhile. This is how things happened in the old house - we would begin a project and get about a day or so into it and then we would start something else without finishing. We finally finished most of those things when we needed to sell - preparing it to be a lovely home for someone else. We spent 14 years in that house, and in some ways only truly invested in it for the last 6 months we called it home.

So I suggested that we make finishing the kitchen ceiling our “thing”. Just finish the patching, and sanding, and painting, and finally be able to look up and not see construction. Marc enthusiastically agreed, which was a surprise. I did not realize how much it was bothering him, too, because he’s stoic like that. He covered most of the kitchen counters with drop cloths and the cluttered sideboard and stovetop with sheets, and began to scrape. As he scraped, I began actually looking into the kitchen. Into the dining room. Into the kitchen. Back to dining room, over to kitchen, back and forth. I realized that I don’t dislike the kitchen the way it is, and the changes I want are primarily surface things - hardware and countertops to start, an island, more site-specific lighting. Then, I looked into the dining room, thinking about the light in there and considering chandeliers that could move….and it clicked. Something in the universe shifted out of the way and I could see our dining room.

More, I could not only see the dining room: I could see this whole floor. I could see how to fix the things that were frustrating, annoying, or just plain wrong with this house. In virtually every room, and even more or less outside! I had all sorts of crazy, cool, practical ideas for how to make this place a “home” that we look forward to returning to and that we are comfortable inviting people into. I started thinking about upstairs and could see exactly how that should happen. More excitingly, I could see how it could all be done in an order that not only gives us the fastest bang for our buck, but allows us to continue our day to day lives and do most of the work ourselves.

For now, we have decided to begin with a new front door. One that is clean and bright and lets in the light. New light fixtures, a more organic landscape and maybe a railing for the sidewalk. For now we will purchase or rent a pressure washer and clean off the mossy green muck. There’s a plan in place, and a way to get it done. It will be hard work, yes. It will disturb our day to day in so many ways, yes. But we have clear vision instead of complaints; a plan that can be implemented and not just talked about. It’s a way to do it ourselves, and it will be slow but so very satisfying. It will make a place that is us, a place we want to hang our sign and pictures and call HOME.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Out with the old...

Sometimes, things happen around you that you have no control over. You try, really hard to keep your life on a certain track, work very hard toward a specific goal, and find yourself stuck in a place that is unexpected. When that happens, some people lose themselves, slide into a rut, and never come out. But some people go with the flow and find themselves delighted with where they end up. I thought I was one of those first people. I honestly didn't think I was a go with the flow sort of person. I viewed the choices and things I've done in the past few years as choices to maintain my sanity more than as a changing of gears and direction.

I never meant to be a stay at home mother. Don't misunderstand - I'm so glad and grateful that I could stay home for that first two years with my wonderful little boy. I've enjoyed most of the time I've had home (I'd be a liar if I said I loved it all), and I don't regret the life course that led me there. BUT. It was never my intention or plan to continue that way. When I couldn't get employment because I am overqualified and under-experienced (along with a startlingly large number of other law school grads), we made the very best of a bad situation.

Now, I am beginning a new path. Or, more correctly, I am returning to a path I followed before but lacked the conviction to stay on. And I am stupidly excited. There will be a number of adjustments to be made. I will be home less to be with and be here for my family. I hope they understand. Logistically, my commute is far and long; but, we hope to change that soon.

Life has suddenly become very busy. I hope I can keep up.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cause you gotta have faith

The night before the baby shower, I stood there, staring at it. I felt ... something hard to put into words. Joy, relief, some trepidation, a few other emotions I can't put names to, all crystallized into one moment.

"That's pretty cool," my husband joined me in staring at it briefly.

"I've finished it, and that means she's having a baby."

He looked at me curiously, "How long have you been working on it?"

The answer to that starts with a statement. This baby blanket did not start because someone called me and said they were pregnant. This blanket was cast on with the knowledge that one day a specific someone would tell me they were pregnant and would be given this blanket. The minute I saw this pattern, I knew I would knit it and I knew who I would knit it for. I bought the yarn and cast on the blanket in June of 2011. I got nearly finished and then put the whole thing into hibernation. It felt wrong to finish it before there was a baby to finish it for. So it sat. And sat. Never once did I doubt it would get finished. Never once did I wonder if I should just finish it and give it to someone else. Not. Once.

A little less than two years later, I got the call that I'd been waiting for to finish it. I did a happy dance. A silly, stupid, crazy, I'm-happier-now-than-when-I-knew-I-was-having-a-baby happy dance. I was at my LYS, where they know that I very rarely break out in great moments of gleeful foolishness. Whatever it was, they knew, it was something EPIC. Finally, the baby I had been wishing for, the bright shining light of wonder at the end of a long, painful, hopeful road for the dearest of dear couples, was on his way. So I went into the bin of hibernating projects, pulled it out, and finished it.

Welcome, Little Man! I hope you love your (yes mom it is machine washable) blanket. I hope it brings you warmth and happiness and brightness. Because that's what you've done for us, simply by being.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fantastic things are afoot

Once again, I find myself having allowed months to pass without writing to you few who click over to read my words here. Here's an update:

When we last read, our intrepid heroine was working on a number of sweaters and taking up boxing gloves. Of the three sweaters planned, one is complete and bringing much warm coziness to life. As for the boxing gloves, they are sadly riding around in the trunk due to a scheduling snafu that is resulting in few opportunities to be of use.

The boy is taking violin lessons because he is OBSESSED with the violin. Alternates between wanting to watch Bob the Builder and violins for tv time obsessed. Requesting, by name, Mr. David Garrett in the car and knowing whether the specific violin he's hearing is, in fact, being played by Mr. David Garrett obsessed. Being Mr. David Garrett for Halloween this year instead of a vacuum cleaner obsessed. Not. Messing. Around. Sadly for my waistline, his group lessons are on Saturday mornings, at the same time as the boxing class I wanted to take.
He looked impossibly cool.
I also have a new job, which may prove interesting fodder for the blog, maybe. I get to make things, and this makes me happy. I feel that I'm finally getting to where I belong. Stay tuned.

See that? I totally did that.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

So here I am...

I'm still here. I'm still trying to get used to the new laptop. Still not entirely certain I like Win8. But I haven't gone away, just been a little bit more busy with things I don't think make good blog fodder.

I'm on a sweater binge right now. A couple of weeks ago, I made some sweater swatches. Because it's sweater knitting season around here.

The one on the left is for the Beaubourg sweater, which I made* in Manos del Uruguay Maxima (it's so delicious, I can't even tell you). The colorway, if you want to know, is Eucalyptus. The center one is going to be the Iced sweater, the yarn is Berroco Campus. It's a very cool blend of purple, pale blue, and orange. Not my normal thing, but hey, why not. And I figured if the pattern was pretty simple, the end product would be a nice balance between funky and classic.

The third is the beginning of a very ambitious plan for a Chocolate Stout cardigan, my second Baby Cocktails sweater and not my last, in Cascade 220. Ambitious because I'm going to try to change the color. I haven't decided if I'm going to try to dye the yarn or the end project - I will keep you posted.

I'm also working on the annual installment of sweaters for N. He loves his yearly sweater, and I very much want to encourage that, so I allowed him to select this year's sweater. He picked one with a technique I had managed to avoid thus far, one that only his little face staring at me, combined with his little voice saying, "Momma, please can I have that one?" would make me agree to try. Intarsia. Tragically, I did not take any pictures of this process, but google it if you don't know (Mom), and you'll understand. Happily, that part of the sweater only lasted a little while, and I'm now on the simple straight stockinette (read boring) portion of the project. Pictures maybe later, if I remember. Getting pictures off my phone to the computer so I can upload them here is annoying. There must be a better way...

I'm also doing this new thing. It involves this package I got in the mail last week.

Yes, those are boxing gloves. Yes, I am using them to punch bags. Very hard, very heavy bags. It's hard, sweaty, the gloves smell bad, my hands hurt, and I'm having the most fun.

That's really all I've got for now. Again, I say I'll update more often, but I just can't make promises until I figure out how to make this computer not annoying. Technology sometimes gets in the way.

*Yes, I already finished it. I needed it done!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Playing Catch-Up

Since we last spoke, I got a new computer. I am currently writing this post on my old computer, so you can see how my relationship with Windows 8 is going... I'm sure I'll figure it out, but I prefer knitting to doing so, and so my shiny new tech is pretty much just a glorified web browser for the time being.

The holidays came and went. There was a tree and many gifts and cookie baking and decorating.
That's right - I handed the toddler tubes of gel icing.
And he made art.
His father made horror cookies.
My mom and I made matching W&M cookies, without even consulting each other.

There's been a lot of knitting. I can't be certain to show it all to you because I can't really remember and I don't have great pictures of all of it, but here are some highlights. I made yet another Turn A Square hat for the boy. This time, I made it in Encore, so I can wash the damn thing in the washing machine. Good thing, too, since he rarely takes it off. He picked those colors out. It is currently in the queue to be washed, and he is wearing the green one I made him earlier this fall. The Ichigo Tam (Rav link) from the Dream in Color Dream Club for January fell off my needles in a day. I just wanted it to be mine that much. Then I made Wanderlust from, with more Dream in Color Dream Club yarn that I had kicking about (I'm a sucker for DiC yarns...). I fully intend to make another pair, as those went to live with the lovely model wearing them here (I have yet another skein of DiC yarn to use). Turns out I'm also a sucker for because, as soon as I finished the Wanderlust mitts, I started the Political Process mitts, in Unisono yarn. I also made a garter stitch shawl kit, and cast on Loxley (Rav link) with some alpaca I had in stash (no great pictures of those, sorry).

My model is a beautiful lady with nice ear lobes... :-)
And a stunning manicure.
Ignore the old man hands and look at the colors and pretty cables!!!
February blew chunks healthwise, but also resulted in a sweater, so I can't complain too much. More on that in another post, as it has its own story to tell.

And now it's March and I'm still knitting (duh). Currently, I'm working to clear out the pile of UFOs I've had making faces at me from a giant bag next to my side of the bed. At the top of the pile is a baby blanket that I started almost a year ago. I made the Moderne Baby Blanket (Rav link) that I cast on for my god son and then never finished. I just...left it in a bag, wallowing in its personal garter stitch sea, for almost a year. Finally, I couldn't ignore the muttering from the bag anymore and pulled the damn thing out to finish it.

I feel much better now - thanks for finishing me.
There are a few other things kicking around that I'm working on, but several are stealthy secret projects that I can't show you (sorry). I guess that's me, for now. Maybe the next time we meet (and for the very few of you who actually read this, I really DO intend to make more regular installments), I'll be posting from my shiny new computer that I hardly ever touch. Maybe. We'll see. Stupid Windows 8.