Thursday, August 28, 2008

Acceptance Speech

Obama outdid himself.

Politics & Donkey Talk

I've been glued to the tv and watching the DNC this week. Lily Ledbetter's story blew me away. As one blogger said, "Hillary Clinton shone like a new penny." Hillary sure has pluck. Our very own governor, Kathleen Sebelius, did well too. I'm not ignoring the guys -- Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton are awesome -- I was inspired to see these strong articulate women on the anniversary of the 19th amendment. I'm pleased that women now have a place in the senate, as governors, and as leaders. 1920 was only 88 years ago.

A woman in Michigan (we work together -- albeit remotely) got to talking about donkeys with me. I have a stuffed donkey on my desk, and it has nothing to do with my political preferences. I like to take pictures of it and send it to people as the mood strikes. Sometimes they get a picture of the face, and sometimes they get a picture of the other end. It all depends on the message that needs to be sent.

The Michigan woman heard about my stuffed donkey and said she has her own, real live donkey named Luke. He's a miniature, which means he is about waist high. He likes to break branches off of a dead tree and romp around the pasture with them. Sometimes he nips at the horses or trips them. He's real ornery, and she sent a picture. He picture looks so sweet and he's got all of that mischief bottled up. Looking at his picture just makes me happy.
But back to politics, Obama speaks tonight. I can hardly wait to hear it. The last time he spoke at the DNC, he inspired so much hope that I wanted him to be president right that moment. Since then, I developed a deep respect for Hillary Clinton. I'm still wistful about not having her as a candidate, but I know that Obama will be an extraordinary leader too.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sassy Cow

The negative thinking is worse than I knew. I've started to openly expect things to go wrong. I'm a firm believer that many situations are neutral and the person brings their own perspective and energy to the party. Responsibility for making those situations pleasant belongs to the bearer of the attitude.

Yesterday's mail brought an envelope from my sister. Even though I was excited, I didn't open it right away because I was mowing the lawn; I set it inside and thought about it while I mowed. The more I thought about it, the more I was certain it was something bad. Maybe I'd made her angry? Maybe something was wrong? I hadn't sent her a gift or letter recently. Surely it had to be something bad.

When I opened the envelope, it had a 3" x 2" tag with a picture of a black and white spotted cow. The camera is zoomed in so the cow's nose is disproportionately large. Her head is slightly lowered, and she also appears to be looking demurely through her eyelashes. The caption says, "Sally. Her extra long whiskers make her the envy of the herd." I had to sit down and laugh. Sis likely plucked this off of her bottle of milk. She likes to shop locally, and the emblem on the tag says, "Sassy Cow Creamery." So let that be a lesson. Good things are just a likely around the corner as bad things. This lesson has been brought to you by Sally the Sassy Cow.

Meanwhile, back at the yarn ranch, Tamara taught us how to read patterns and crochet in circles. The crocheted circle appears to be the next step to crocheted flowers, and if I told you how giddy the prospect of crocheted flowers makes me, you all would doubt my sanity. So, I'll settle for saying that crocheted flowers sound very nice. The circle posted here is worked using pink dish cloth cotton, which has striking similarities to the picture of annual vinca if you squint your eyes. Flowers!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Little things

This has been a wet and rainy which is good for thinking about the garden. The picture on the left is a snapshot of purple fountain grass. At a distance, it really does look purple. Looking at all of the colors in the photo surprises me. That grass is just as cream-colored and green as it is purple.

Speaking of odd colors, Oscar the Furminator is looking as much the wild man on the outside as he is on the inside. As a kitten, he's basically a seal-point mutt. My sister adopted a cat that was half Maine Coon, and the woman who gave her the cat said, "The mother was a Maine Coon, and the father came in through the basement window." Oscar's coloring shows a similar up-town meets wrong-side-of-the-tracks mashup. The kitten fur is turning into cat fur, and the seal points are turning into tabby points. (Yes, I made up the term "tabby point" right this minute.) Where his face was a dark brown, it is turning into dark brown stripes. The cream on his body has a barely discernible, reddish tabby pattern to it as if someone painted a henna tattoo on him and it faded. His tail is showing white spots through the brown. He's gonna be one crazy looking cat, and I can hardly wait to see the results of this transformation.

I'm pretending it is fall. Baking gingerbread, knitting sweaters, and reading under a down duvet are starting to sound appealing. Of course the low temperatures are only in the 60s, so all I've done is throw open the windows to enjoy the cool the inside of the house. Stove top cooking is back on the agenda too. Reheating a homemade soup for lunch or dinner. Going to an apple orchard or picking pumpkins also sound like good ideas.

Andie, Bean and Jill came over for a potluck dinner on Thursday night. We had a great time talking too much, eating home-cooked food, and going for a walk. Jill arrived with a lovely blue bag that had gifts! She knitted beautiful cream colored wash clothes. One has a heart-shaped design on the front and the other is moss stitch. She also put in a bar of acai and pomegranate soap. She noticed that I've been feeling down and wanted to cheer me up. It never fails to surprise me that people have so much love and caring to share, and I was delighted to get such a thoughtful gift.

Today's the day for Crocheting 102 at Twist. I'm so excited. This is where I will learn enough to move onto the Crochet Embellishment class that Tamara is teaching in September. I know that I talked Shelly's ear off about learning how to do this. It all happened because Tamara started to show me what she made the last time I bumped into her at the shop, and I started hopping around singing a tuneless song: "Me monkey! Monkey see, monkey do! Monkey, monkey, monkey!"

Tamara is a very savvy shopper and her story sounded much like this. "One day I was walking down the street and a fairy godmother was selling the a boring, but perfectly good sweater, for one cent. I bought that sweater and snipped off some pieces, crocheted beautiful things, put them on the sweater. Now I have this. I think it is okay." The thing about Tamara is she says this just as if this sequence of events and talent could happen to any ordinary person. At this point, she's holding a lovely sweater that is tastefully trimmed in lace and has several flowers and leaves on it. Anthropologie would sell that sweater for a pirate's treasure chest of gold. (Love ya, Anthropologie, but you don't fit my budget). By this time, the fantasy I had in high school where I am Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) from Pretty in Pink and I make my incredible prom dress cotton candy and fireflies has come back to life. Now, I have to practice my crochet, find the fairy godmother with the perfect sweater for the right price, and take Tamara's class. I can hardly wait.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Peaceful Evening

This evening is so calming. The cicadas are chirping. In Charlotte's Web, they would sing, "Summer's over, summer's over." It's a good night for reading. Mom loaned me The Guynd by Belinda Rathbone, which is about an American writer who marries a Scotsman. He has a large estate that has been in his family for centuries. The money to maintain the estate ran out sometime around WWII, but the duty to maintain it continues. She has the fortitude to see it as a place she would like to be. I really enjoy the author's strength and her ability to give herself over to the dream.

Thank you for all of your supportive comments about the situation. Sunday are the worst days for self-pity. I should just turn off the computer on Sundays and do something for people who are truly needy. The Lord's Diner always needs help. Or I should remember that the Ex has divulged information about the Hot Water Closet that would horrify her. It is about human nature. He's probably unhappy and struggling too although he looks pretty damn cheery these days. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The intermediate crochet class is Saturday afternoon. I'm looking forward to it. I've been practicing the single stitch. Then I realized I don't remember the double or the half-double. I may have to spend the rest of the week preparing for class. I just love that I can spend all week with a hook and yarn and saying I'm studying -- as if it is virtuous. That yarn is such torture.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gooseberry Pie

I remember picking gooseberries with my cousins. My aunt and uncle lived near a creek that was lined with gooseberries. Five of us could pick the gooseberries for what seemed to be infinity, but in reality was probably an hour. It was well-suited for our favorite make-believe game of Little House on the Prairie. Then we'd go back to my aunt's kitchen, wash the berries (which usually amounted to two cups), and make gooseberry pie. The pie is pretty tart, and the standard 1/2 cup of sugar that I add to fruit pies isn't nearly enough to cut the tartness of the gooseberry. It takes at least 2 cups of sugar. The pie should definitely be served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream -- just in case it is still too tart.

On the subject of pies, Kitty Pi is finished! The Pi dough is loose and stretchy. My assistant tested it by biting it, kicking it, and pouncing on it. He indicated his approval by crossing his paws. I cooked it in hot water for 45 minutes and stretched it over a plate to dry.

Oscar and Norah have both slept in it. Norah hops out when she sees me. She must be too cool to be seen snuggling with something woolly.
The divorce is really bothering me this week. At first, I kept going because of shock and anxiety. I've seen other women go through this, and (please forgive me) I wondered how could it take months and months to realize this person to whom you are committed and whom you still trust is not considering your best interests at all. Of course, he's not going to tell you that. Of course, it hurts him to see you hurt. But you aren't a team anymore. He doesn't have your back.
When I went to visit Atticus last week, I pulled up in front of the Hot Water Closet's (HWC) house. Her yard has never been particularly tidy, but I noticed that it had been trimmed and edged. That was the Ex's job at our house. Inside, her carpets were vacuumed and the tile freshly mopped -- another thing he did at our house. HWC never seemed to care about that before. The divorce seemed so real at that moment. I almost left because I was starting to cry.
Atticus was happy to see me. He meowed, let me hold him and pet him. The Ex wanted me to take the kitty downstairs. HWC wasn't supposed to be home for this visit, but the first floor looked suspiciously as if she had abandoned her drink and tv watching in a hurry. I took the kitty downstairs. He freaked out and howled, which makes sense. These days, whenever someone picks him up, they put him in a cat carrier and he ends up in a new house. Then I sat on the couch, put him on my lap, and he squatted and peed on my lap. He's only peed on me one other time -- the day his brother died. I felt so bad for Atticus. He wants normal as much as I do, and normal will never be the way it was even though the Ex and HWC obviously treat him like the spoiled, princely cat he is. Cat toys are strewn throughout the house.

I really cried then. Everything is so different. I'm tired of coping and I'm tired of handling it. I know I will get a second wind. I know my friends will cheer me up and work will distract me. That evening was just too much. I left.
The Ex sent an email to apologize for the cat having peed on me. The funny thing is, that incident didn't bother me. The cat was stressed out. I got his point. I belong to him. He wanted me to stay, but I didn't belong there.
The apology really stuck in my craw. He apologies for all of the inconsequential stuff. I would like some apologies for real things. While I realize it will be a cold day in hell before I get any apologies, the beginning of my suggested apology list:
1. I'm sorry I ended an eleven year marriage with a note and without discussing it
2. I'm sorry I lied to you for all of these years
3. I'm sorry I ruined your trust
4. I'm sorry I didn't stick up for you with my family
5. I'm sorry I made you wait eleven years for a child and then left (see #1)

I'm not so different from those women who continue to trust their Ex. I thought he still had loyalty to me and to what we had shared for all of those years. Imagine my surprise to have a very personal, very intimate detail about myself mentioned in casual conversation to me by a friend. Thank goodness it was Jill because I almost crawled under the table from embarrassment as in I-liked-to-died kind of moment. She understood my horror when I explained to her that to my way of thinking only two people had known that: the Ex and me. Clearly that is not the case. I thought about calling him and telling him to just shut up, but that would be silly. It would probably hurt his feelings, and he'd tell more people in the process of working through his feelings.
There are still so many wonderful things in my life that delight me, and I'm so lucky. Right after Jill's revelation woke me from my stupor, we went down to Twist. Becca, Sugar Bunny and I had decided that Saturdays were good days for spinning. Fortunately Shelly agrees. My wheel started to take up yarn again, magically. Becca's proximity does really good things for my wheel. It always works better in her presence. (She won't take any credit for it either. She's sitting so modestly in this picture; but, she's always modest.) She brought the elegant Victoria.
The lovely Jackie took time to spin. She wears the cutest clothes. They look like they'd be comfortable to wear, don't inhibit activity, and they are fetching. If we were the same size, I'd be truly jealous of her closet. She brought Sage, the cheerful spinning elf. Sage doesn't mind kneeling on the floor to work the treadle on bit. She even looked happy about it. Who needs an electric wheel when you can have an assistant like that?

All in all, it was a lovely Saturday spent with friends. Just the sort of thing a girl needs to snap her out of the doldrums.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Last Five Rounds

Kitty Pi has five more rounds before felting begins. The Furminator attacks it every time I blink or look the other way. Felting is very forgiving, thank goodness. He has got to learn that yarn is for me and cat toys are for him. He refuses to cede the point. No matter, because I will soon have a critter that has eluded me for months, a finished object.

You all are so sweet. I've gotten the most supportive comments, emails, tweets, and even a few hugs. I feel whiny and mopey sometimes. I try to keep things on the blog happy and perky. The last few weeks have slipped away from me, and I've had a pity party. They're really pretty gloomy and I don't recommend them. I feel so fortunate to know or meet all of the positive folks who are sympathetic and cheery. It keeps me moving in the right direction.

What is the right direction? I'm not absolutely certain. I think it involves keeping my house tidier and cooking diner at home. Seriously, cooking for one is a drag. Food is such a social activity for me. I've always got friends who will go out to eat or a drive-thru nearby. It's brainstorming time. I've got a bunch of ideas about how to make it worth my while to cook:

1) Get together with 3-5 friends and each one cooks a dinner. The night someone cooks is the night that person hosts dinner. Home cooked dinner 3-5 nights and cleanup once a week sounds good to me.

2) Blog it all. That would be hard on y'all and it would be one heck of a lot of work for me. Why not eat meals that don't have to be photographed. Ugly food often tastes great. Whoever said presentation is everything obviously never tasted burnt marshmallow s'mores.

3) Another item for friends. Grab 3 - 5 friends and have them buy matching Tupperware. Everyone cooks a main dish and divides it into appropriate serving sizes and freezes it. Swap once a week for a week's worth of entrees.

4) Rotate a potluck once a week among friends.

5) Declare a certain night to be picnic night in the park and meet the gang on the green.

Fortunately one of my friends has decided that she's my momma. She invited me over for dinner on Monday and tonight I reheated some Taco Soup. It was delicious and I have a new recipe. I've still got a persistent, self-sufficiency dream. One day I could cook my own food. It is so turn of the century.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The good stuff

The weather today was unseasonably welcoming: mild temperatures, sunny, blue skies, barely breezy. It was the perfect day to get out of the office at lunch. Several co-workers joined me on the excursion. We bopped into the Palette to pick up lunch. Then we strolled over to Twist in the next block, chatted and ate.

I knitted a couple of rounds on the Spring Forward sock. The yarn is Sox Appeal, which is a soft blend of colors and fibers. Leave it to Shelly to find something softer and silkier to tempt me. Baskets of Panda Silk are dotted around the store in strategic spots. Still, I have vowed to finish at least one project before I buy more yarn or cast on again. Kitty Pi is only ten more rounds away from the bind off and felting. It won't be a long wait until I cast on with the Panda Silk.
The only thing that would have made the afternoon more perfect would have been to hangout in Riverside Park with friends. Or hang out in Riverside Park with friends and a latte and yarn. Eh, employment has its merits too.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Where I have been is where I am

Being a grown-up about getting dumped isn't working for me. Moral superiority, sobriety, and being respectable (whatever that means) suck. Maturity is still a goal. I haven't abandoned it entirely. Each little twist and turn brings me more humility and less pride. The supply of resilience is pretty dog-gone low.

I live very close to where I grew up -- within three blocks. My house is nearly the same floor plan as the house where I grew up. Sometimes I wonder if I never grew up. Maybe that's why I married the man who always said, "No." No adventure, no fun, no spending. Feeling guilty and working was very important. (See Nathaniel Hawthorne for more details.) If he said, "No" to everything, it remained a dream, and I remained the same. Sometimes I wonder why I let his veto stop me.

Last night it poured buckets of rain and this morning was very damp and misty, but I was stir crazy . Since I'm here, in the same place I never left, and I went exploring by my old high school.
The bridge has Indian and buffalo motifs to match the high school, and the work crews have spent a considerable amount of effort repairing it. Construction probably won't be finished when school begins, but it should be closer. The art work looks so different from a few feet away than it does from a car moving at 30 mph. These old relics are historical landmarks, and they are made from local materials that are specific to Wichita.

The Ex was part of the reason I was anxious and wanting to roam around the neighborhood. He visited this afternoon. The visit had been arranged one week in advance. He had some books to bring me, and he preferred to meet in public. That isn't so unusual except that we don't usually meet in public. We meet at my house. We first arranged the visit via instant messenger. He wrote this : "I have some of your notebooks." I responded: "You have my journals?" He must have sensed that I was highly aggravated by this because the display said, "The Ex is typing" for a very long time. When he finally responded, the message said, "It is school notebooks. I closed them as soon as I saw your handwriting." My confidence that he will tell me the truth is dropping.

My Ex moved into his parent's basement. I know that cannot be pleasant because his mother has superior guilt-trip skills. I also know what she thinks about his behavior because she wrote me a letter to say she hoped we would get together and save our marriage. She liked having me for a daughter. Also, she is concerned for his soul. I knew there would be no peace for him in his childhood home. I was okay with that.

When deciding where things began to go badly in my marriage has been difficult. It is like unravelling a sweater. It never really stops until the entire garment is gone. Ex has been involved with another woman although he denies it. This other woman and I have the same employer. I can go months without seeing her, but she walked by my desk last week and had an hour-long meeting at a table near my desk. It was excruciating. Thank goodness my iPod was in my purse to drown our her voice. Make believe can be a good place to go at times like this. A very understanding co-worker named her: Home Wrecking Cunt. He recommends calling her HWC for short or Hot Water Closet.

Here's how the marriage unravels:

11 years ago we were married
10 years ago he met her in grad school
8ish years ago they started an online publication together
6 years ago my mother and grandmother thought I should be concerned about the way she looked at him
2 years ago I expressed my concern and was told that I should feel more secure about myself
1 year ago Ex's best friend started saying that I would get a divorce because Ex and Hot Water Closet were having an affair
5 months ago Ex moved out
4 months ago he said they weren't dating -- they were just hanging out a lot
2 months ago we got divorced

Today he came by to bring the books and told me that he'd moved into her basement. They are roommates. Only roommates. Whatever. I feel so bitter and stupid and used. My bullshit meter is off the charts. For an added bonus, he told me that Atticus, the cat, really likes her house and really likes her. I just hate this wondering if we were ever in love, if anything was ever good about our marriage, and if I imagined it all in my head. At least he told me in person. It would have been much worse to hear it from someone else.

Thank goodness Ms. Naplover knew about the errand and knew that I had really bad vibes about why Ex was visiting. She told me to come visit after he left. I got TLC, knitting, and talking and calmed down. Her daughter is cheery and happy and excited about starting school this week. It's hard not to feel blessed with friends like that. It will get better. I believe it will get better. It's already so much better than I feared it would be.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Summer Heat

It's hot outside. The only thing in the garden that isn't wilted are the french white marigolds. Marigolds are sturdy cheerful little plants. I'm in awe of them.

Mom and I went to the Eaton Hotel Steakhouse for lunch, which is in the lobby of the Old Eaton Hotel. Allen Ginsberg lived there briefly and even wrote a poem called "The Wichita Vortex Sutra." Carrie Nation smashed the mirror behind the bar in her quest for prohibition. Lots of things have happened in that old building. This morning was very tame. Eggs Benedict, cloth napkins, soft lighting, Gerber daisies and ice water. (It's really hot, remember?) I took pictures and Mom wasn't even embarrassed.

Sedgwick County has a primary election on Tuesday. Candidates on the ballot are for the US Senate, US House of Representatives, KS Senate, KS House of Representatives, KS Board of Education, County Clerk, District Attorney, Sheriff, judges, and all manner of things. If you die a little inside when your out-of-state relatives ask you about Sam Brownback's latest goofy scheme, you should definitely go vote. If you like Brownback, you should go cancel my vote or stay home and watch tv. If your deepest wish is to never see the words "Kansas" and "Evolution" in the same newspaper headline, you should go vote. If you care about the next D.A., the Sheriff, or family court, you should go vote. If you aren't registered, it's too late for this round. Get registered anyway. There's a presidential election this fall, and voting is the thing to do.

I wonder if Carrie Nation had an opportunity to walk down this staircase before she commenced to busting liquor bottles and scaring the men in town. Oh, and all of you knitting women, women have the vote now, so we don't need to use our axes. Just our ballots.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Slips and confessions

Slips abounded this week. Sadly, they aren't as amusing as Mrs. Slipslop's unfortunate slip that ruined her virtue. (Yes, I've been sorting through books trying to decide what to keep. Since Joseph Andrews is available at the library, it will probably go. Operation Books Live on Bookshelves is a ruthless effort.)

The plucky, sassy, determined Ms. Lemon-Says took a spill from her attic to the floor below. Although I've never met her, we've swapped comments online since 2003. She crocheted beautiful clothes and dyed her own yarn before I ever considered using knitting needles and yarn. I look forward to seeing pictures of her children and hearing how her husband is doing. She's now undergoing a series of surgeries to repair a shatter pelvis and a broken elbow. She's resilient, has a wonderful support group, and has the promise of a full recovery. I want to send her all of the good wishes and hope that can be offered. She has a special place in my heart.

The yarn that needed to be plied slipped off of the bobbin with the help of my kitchen shears. It began innocently enough. When I started to ply the yarn, it stuck, snagged and was very resistant to my efforts. Edward Scissor Paws and his mentor, Miss Tangles with Paws, twirled between the bobbins and the wheel and dragged several yards of yarn across the room. Distracting with toys has worked in the past, but toys with feathers couldn't compete with wool from a real sheep (and probably the faint scent of genuine sheep poo). For the first time in their furry lives, I squirted them with water from a spray bottle and they acted as if they'd been burned by acid.

Next, the drive band on the wheel snapped, and I dissembled whole wheel apart before determining that the drive band would not go onto the wheel as a continuous loop. I snipped it, tied it and reassembled the wheel. A person with good sense and this level of frustration would not continue to spin at this point, but I did. Shortly thereafter I concluded that spinning was more about process than product and bid the Kool-Aid Border Leicester adieu. In the cold light of day, I can sincerely say that I do not miss it. Finishing every project is over-rated.

Slips abound. I'm off the caffeine wagon. At this very moment, I'm drinking an iced, white chocolate mocha from Starbucks. It is nearly impossible to feel penitent while sipping this concoction. The regret will not begin until I crash from the coffee high later this afternoon. Eric Clapton's Cocaine may or may not have been playing on the radio as I took my first sip. I know what I'm doing. Really.

Not even half-way through my year off from men, I'm struggling with that decision. It's hard. However, everyone from pop psychologists to Mom to good friends have recommended it. I have enough relationship judgement left to know that my perspective in the dating area is skewed after being dumped by my husband with a note that said he was leaving because he loved me. Sometimes the bitterness is all I can feel, and then other times the relief and forgiveness washes over me. A year would help me get perspective on Men and Relationships or even men and relationships. All of this leads to my confession: I've been watching Swingtown. Someone mentioned that the dialogue wasn't very good, and I was thinking, "What dialogue?" The beautiful people, seventies music, vintage clothes, and, um, cheap thrills are plentiful.