What’s up?

12Oct08

Greetings from sporatic blogdom… sorry not to have blogged again in so long.  To be honest, I craft 2-3 blog entries in my head during some of my 1-2 hour commutes on an almost daily basis.  I see things and think “I should blog on this.”  And then I get home… and then I sleep… and then it’s time to go back to work or somewhere and blogging doesn’t happen.

I’m making a concerted effort in the realm of self-care.  That includes cutting myself a lot of slack when I don’t get to things like blogging… and dealing with the plants on the back patio… and, well, did I mention I finally checked my mail and they had held my mail back at the post office until I emptied my box?  One of the downsides to paying bills automatically is I don’t feel compelled to run to the mailbox often.

Mom was back in the hospital last week.  I’m working to stay focused on the silver lining… My brother totally stepped up to the plate and actually spent two nights with her in the hospital to allow me to go home and sleep.  When things are serious, family pulls together.  I’m so incredibly thankful/inspired to feel Andy is playing on the same team.  I’m happy to “do the heavy lifting” as he puts it.  I’m double happy to feel he’s got my back when I need assist.  Yeah, team Family.

Mom’s illness coincided with a sudden increase in knitting time… afghan square one, complete.  Square two… uh… I can’t count to cast on when I’m stressed, so this slightly larger square will be a pillow.  Square three two has been cast on.    I also had an opportunity to practice my technique with nightime photography.

This one’s not bad… I love the fog blocking the tall building in the middle:

The second pic is from early, early the next morning: 

I love seeing the ‘low-tech’ St. James Cathedral juxtaposed against the larger buildings.  I particularly like the streetlights along the trees in the foreground.  I guess I’ll put a small tripod on my wishlist.  My current technique has to do with pressing the camera against the window, and is dependent on how firmly I can brace the camera.

Work is work.  Right now, life is about friends and hobbies.  There’s much joy to be found among my friends… and I’m very happily spinning my impossible cotton roving.  May there be many homespun washcloths in my future, as this cotton likely won’t be good for anything else… it’s true value is in the meditative value in spinning it.  Pure white, endless yards (miles?) of roving.

Yesterday, I helped my local yarn shop celebrate their 4th anniversary by purchasing beautiful roving I don’t technically need… and received a lovely gift box with a tea mug and tea.  I look forward to using it.  Today, I’m in a spinning class with Carol Rhoades.  I’m looking forward to a full day of spinning with friends.  Woo hoo!

With any luck, I’ll get home early and want to blog about it…

Have a great day.  Thanks for reading.


I have sporadic blogging habits… and spradic housekeeping habits… No surprise that my camera will sit patiently for weeks on end, and then suddenly be a core part of my daily existance.

This month has been a douzy.  2 weeks of pure too much at work, followed by a week of vacation which culminated in Mom going to the hospital.  Back to work and new trips to cover buildings that are too far away.  Why am I being paid to drive 90 miles to go to another building?  Too much.

Yesterday morning, I was feeling the cumulative effects of too much.  For the first time in months, I was looking into the gaping maw of my recurrent depression.  This happens.  What concerned me, is that numbness that comes with depression for me was calling to me.  ‘Let the depression out and you won’t have to feel…’  It’s a temptation to allow myself to be numb and just trod through my days.

I look around me, and I’ve lost ground with my housekeeping.  I have my nest on the bed.  I get why there’s yarn on the bed, but since when is it a good idea to sleep with a skeinwinder in the bed?  Who fired the dishwasher and when is a replacement coming?  Same with the person who takes out the garbage… where is that person?

I’ve started/returned to multiple knitting projects.  Yesterday morning, I sat at the spinning wheel and spun cotton on my slowest speed.  No tv, no music.  Just the light sound of the rain and the rhythmic click of the wheel.  It was peaceful, and soothing.  But, consistent with my current trend, no amount of self-care seems to make a deposit in my energy reserves.  It’s being spent as fast as I can find it.  One week after vacation, it’s like I never had one.

There are good things going on.  They annoy me. 


Sometimes, I’m a little slower than I give myself credit for.  Early this spring, I asked the extended family which week worked best for the annual family vacation in August so I can put in for my paid time off.  There was delay in answering…

My neice and nephew had camp, my neice was invited to play goalie in a soccer league (with girls 1-2 years older than her) which required traveling, etc.  It came down to one weekend where there were no plans.  No annual extended family vacation. 

I offered to take the kids to a water park for that weekend, and again there was a delay.  Last week, I got the ok, but of course there are no reservations to be had.  A sleepover at AB’s (Aunt Betty’s) doesn’t hold the same allure as a water park, though the kids and I have had great adventures together.  Also, no response to my offer to spend a chunk of change and wisk the kids away for a weekend of fun felt like being dissed.

Here’s the slow part.  I haven’t put in for any PTO.  I’m getting cranky at work.  It’s been hard to focus on what I need to get done.  One of my workmates helped shed some light on this for me last week when she said, “Well, think about it.  I’ve been working you like a dog!  And, when’s the last time you had a vacation that wasn’t for healing from surgery?”

Huh!  The week off for surgery in May doesn’t count (and, I should have taken two).  Two days in June to go to Eugene.  A day here and there.  A couple of half days to go with Mom to appointments… oh, there it is!  The week before Christmas was my last vacation.  No flipping wonder I’m cranky at work.  Since I made this discovery last week, I’ve been trying to focus on being patient with myself and getting in some gentle self-care.  I also want to look at the calendar and find a good time to take a few days off.

Over the past couple of weekends, I’ve decluttered my bedroom.  It’s finally been turned back into a haven for relaxing.  My yarn is back in the bedroom (in anticipation of decluttering the living room).  I’m having so much fun picturing all the projects that will come from that yarn.  One of the spinning wheels is in the bedroom, too.  And my laptop.  There’s more and more good music coming out of these speakers every day.  The tv is still present, but goes days without being turned on.  I’m not quite ready to give up on weekend marathons of Deadliest Catch, though, so it stays.

OK, so it’s more like a (shabby chic) hotel suite than a bedroom right now.  All it lacks is a my little coffee maker by the sink and I’ll have all my creature comforts nested in around me.  And, (pat on back) I’m keeping it from getting cluttered again.  Yeah!  Things have definitely changed since my surgery.  I’m slowly building the reserves that make starting a load of wash or bringing a coffee mug all the way to the kitchen something that just happens when I notice it needs doing as opposed to linking it to the 49 other tasks that should be done. 

I’ve also started FlyLady (www.flylady.net) again with encouragement from G.  (Thanks!) The last time I did this, I got totally overwhelmed with “shoulds” and didn’t get much done.  This time, I’m letting things that I’m not up for flow right past me (about 80% of the emails).  When I get an email that catches my attention I go for it.  Little, tiny, random good events in my household.  And, not so much that I feel I want to quit. 

FlyLady has this concept of Blessing you home with these little acts of kindness.  My first read on that was “dorky.”  But I now find myself thinking nice thoughts about my home while I fold laundry or stand on the deck watering plants or munching on peas.  I’m starting to think about wrapping up at work so I can get home and still have an hour before I fall asleep.

I had been overwhelmed by how cluttered things had gotten, and was overwhelmed by the thought of doing all the work to undo the damage.  I was ready to throw money at the problem, then got the bill for my surgery (shortly after the bill for my plumber), so I’m delaying there. 

I find emotional security in having things nested around me.  The discoveries for right now?  In my bedroom/haven, I have all my favorite stuff around me, and it’s not cluttered.  The two don’t go hand-in-hand.  The same way I always have a little knitting project in my purse, it’s just there.  And, an elephant gets eaten one bite at a time.

It’s a little daunting to think of the areas clammoring for my attention.  I need to check that the bills are still ok on auto-pilot.  The kitchen is… neglected.  I’m interested in doing the living room, because it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes of focused effort… but there’s lamb in the fridge to be cubed and frozen which means I need to do the kitchen.  See how that goes?  And, no, I’m not commiting to both.  If I do that, I won’t do either.

I’m still playing with the concept that things aren’t necessarily supposed to be easy.  Still not sure why I thought they were.  How many years have I been waiting for things to click so they just happen smoothly?  Too many to count.  Time to watch Finding Nemo… “Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.”

So… here’s what I’m coming home to tonight:

 

Thanks for reading.  Have a great day!


I found it!

28Jul08

I have a lot of thoughts running through my head… right now I think I could fill an alphabet with the topics: attitude, bigger, closure, deportment, eager, finesse…  None of the thoughts will come out in such a way that I’m ready to post.  So.  While I mill over my thoughts, here (finally) is a photo update.  My card reader was sitting in a small pocket of a tote bag I brought to Black Sheep… that I know I have looked in 6 times.

I got a burst of energy last week as the Tour de Fleece was wrapping up.  I finished spinning the color samples from the color blending class.  I ended up with 306 yards of color, and plan on making 3 hotpads for the kitchen.

Next up, I have a climbing rose that’s been limping along under my benign neglect… a former neighbor was unable to take it with them to Texas, so I adopted it.  This year, it finally bloomed.

I love the Manos silk wave scarf and the green boucle I finished a while back.  One of my knitting goals for the year is fashion scarves to take some pressure off my faltering wardrobe.

I’m very happy with how the felted totes came out.  The black/grey is in Toots LeBlanc jacob which I bought myself for my birthday.  Mom also wanted one.  I did her’s in Lamb’s Pride Bulky.  If the colors match her winter coat, there will also be fingerless mittens, scarf and hat.  I’m not sure how worried to be about this much matching.  It just doesn’t seem natural.

Lastly, the Tunis project.  Raw wool, in the washer on it’s second soak (it was way dirty), after washing, combing a sample, and then singles, and plied.  I am knitting a small swatch and am now convinced this fiber will never be a bedspread.  It’s a lovely ivory and quite lusterous.  It also feels like walking through a raspberry patch.  Much too scratchy.  Maybe I’ll make socks for people I don’t like… or take up weaving and make a rug. 

 

Thanks for reading.  Have a great day.

-Betty


Ahi –

26Jul08

I had the funniest email the other day (reprint with the author’s permission):


Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 14:20:33 -0700
From: Emma
To: Betty

Subject: SLF (Single Lonely Fish) ISO CTWF (Clean Tank With Friends)

Hi my name is Ahi, I’m a 2 year old fantail warm yellow goldfish in search of a clean new home with other friendly fishy roomies with a sense of humor.

Likes: regular feeding with slowly sinking pellet food
Dislikes: fish flakes (they aggravate my air bladder problem), small dirty fish tanks and cats who think I’m sushi.
Hobbies: floating upside down and playing dead

If you think you’re what I’m looking for I’d love to meet and discuss our future living arrangements.

Thanks
Ahi.


 
How Ahi knew to seek me out… well that’s gotta be from the comet goldfish debacle from a few weeks ago.  I happen to have a goldfish aquarium with room for Ahi.  Since I’m perversely pleased with my sense of humor… here’s my response:

 
On Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 2:53 PM, Betty E wrote:
Dear Ahi –
 
Welcome to TankMates*, the cool new way for Beautiful Goldfish of all shapes and sizes to meet!  We have carefully reviewed your profile and have determined that after 2 years of swimming solo ;-), your needs can best be met by 2 eager young orange Comet goldfish.  Cosmo and Bartholomew have been swimming together for several weeks and take turns hiding under the plants and basking in their own reflections in the sides of their beautiful 29-gallon tank.  Both of these fin youngsters had a rough start, each with their own little cup of water and no room to move around and explore, so care has been taken to limit strong currents and stress.  Also, your new environment will be feline-free.
 
The boys currently like their flake food (boys will be boys, after all).  But if you swallow air with your food, they’d be willing to accommodate your special dietary needs.  Please have your aquarium keeper call us at xxx.xxx.xxxx.  We’d be happy to set up a time for you to meet your new friends as early as this weekend!
 
Thanks again for contacting TankMates*, and we look forward to watching you swish your fantail for the boys soon!
 
Betty,
TankMates* CEO


Fish transport negotiations were planned, and I was just headed in to clean the aquarium in anticipation of Ahi’s arrival… Unfortunately, Ahi was found last night choking on a piece of gravel.  Ahi was made comfortable, and passed some time last night.  I will miss watching the cats watching Ahi, and I’m sorry I won’t have the opportunity to bring Ahi home with me.

a Social Worker, a therapist and a speech therapist walk into a bar?

Well, there’s no absence of good conversation and raucous laughter, I can assure you.  I have a small group of friends that is making a point of getting together monthly for good conversation and mutual support.

Last month, I left the group with a challenge.  To learn to sleep without the tv on.  Given a veritable barrage of information on why this is bad for my nervous system, and given significant resistance because I still remember the months of not being able to fall asleep and the vivid nightmares when I did fall asleep, I cautiously agreed to try trading out auditory + visual stim for just auditory stim.

I spent some time at www.librivox.com, and downloaded a series of books.  Alice in Wonderland is the current favorite.  Followed closely by The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Charles and Mary Beard’s 1921 textbook History of the US, and Thoreau’s Walden.  Each draws my attention in, and somewhere in the first, oh, 5 or 6 minutes puts me right to sleep.  The absolute (pardon the pun) best book for putting me to sleep?  Tom Bullock’s The Ideal Bartender.  Imagine a classy European accent reading recipe after recipe after recipe for mixed drinks.  I feel certain there are recipies that don’t begin with “a,” but I haven’t been awake for them.

Depending on the night, I can now continue to sleep after the book ends, and I would like to get to where I don’t need any noise to fall asleep (I’ve done it twice).  I am _so_ happy with this.  And without the challenge and support of friends, I wouldn’t have taken it on.

Last night, we regaled each other with stories and updates.  We applauded each other’s progress and created supportive goals for the next month.  I can’t wait to hear about P’s phone call, or J’s progress with her new practice.  My goal?  To be a little more clear about working hours vs. non-working hours. 

Given the needs of the two buildings I’m working in now, the schedules don’t flow, and I tend to have some down time during the day.  I am likely to just hang out at work.  The result is I’m in my work atmosphere for 12+ hours.  While I love the conversations I have with friends and workmates (some are truly special to me), I feel I’m denying myself the opportunity to have a better work/life balance.  As a recovering workaholic who has buried herself in work to cope with being overwhelmed outside of work, this is a huge step.  Success for me would look like meeting a friend for lunch or dinner instead of sitting at work to talk, and/or setting a time to leave one or both buildings and having everything done so I leave feeling ‘clean’ (not guilty).

I think I can, I think I can…

Have a great day.

-Betty


I feel like I’m finally recovering from the emotional stress of the past weeks.  I’m able to take a deep breath, look around me and see what’s what.  There are many, many good things going on in my life right now. 

  • I’m reconnecting with friends and welcoming new ones into my life.
  • I’m reconnecting with knitting and spinning with an eye toward using what I already have. 
  • As memories of my pre-surgery pain/fatigue/disability start to fade, I’m making headway in creating a home I am happy to live in (not to imply that my home was pristine before this). 
  • I’m settling into a routine at work and am working to set some boundaries. 
  • I’m feeling good about the “me” I’m presenting to the world, letting the authentic me be present instead of acting the way I think others expect (not that there’s a huge difference between the two…). 
  • I’m also spending less money and making headway on some budget projects.
  • I’m blogging again.  I missed this opportunity to pull my thoughts together and share.
  • I am reveling in the nature around me evident in my commute up north every day.  I have several spots that I anticipate seeing how the view has been painted a little differently each day.  If only I felt safe taking pictures while driving.

And, in true Betty style, it’s easy for me to quickly look past the goodness around me, and wish I was able to do/have more.  It’s dawning on me at a new level that things aren’t necessarily supposed to be easy.  There will always be trade-offs and choices to be made.  Despite my occasional proclimation that, as a Gemini, I have a right to two opinions about everything, I think I may need to take a look at the consequences of what choices I do make.

Last week, I was able to rationalize not exercising for a few days… I’m having some issues with voice fatigue that I haven’t ever had before (the allergies aren’t new, what’s different is the exercise and my posture).  Why did it surprise me that my back started to hurt?  I’m almost relieved to know that I continued to have some voice issues when I wasn’t exercising, so I suspect that crunches aren’t helping, but they’re not the primary issue.  It may be time for a visit to an ENT, especially given my recent thoughts about my history of singing, and wondering what would need to happen for me to be able to sing again. 

Ooh!  Put music on the list above.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Thanks.  The whole music topic is still a sucker-punch waiting to happen.  It’s like a brand-new crush and rediscovering a soul-mate all wrapped in one.  I’m a little afraid of it, and it’s power to change me… or to reveal how much I’ve let myself change since I was last deeply involved with singing.  When someone mentions music to me I’m not sure if I’ll sit and absorb every word or to flit away in uncertainty.

…and I thought I was blogging about how hard it is to make my morning exercise part of my happens-without-thinking routine.

I guess, what I do know is I’m back on the self-discovery path.  I’m at a point in my life where I like who and what I am, and like who and what I’m becoming.

Have a great day.

-B




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