Monday, August 24, 2009

so which will it be?

I've written about this before (and so have so many other folks, not just knitters): when we are immersed enough in a hobby, the "hobby lessons" often parallel the "life lessons" that come up in other parts of our worlds.

Well, it took my knitting to point this out to me, but it is becoming clear that at least a couple of my "life lessons" may just be at odds with one another.

Here's an example, At present, I am knitting a shawl.

See? There I was yesterday, a slow Sunday morning spent in North Beach, lavishly knitting over brunch and a cappuccino, when I notice this:

For those of you that don't knit, that arrow points to a place where there should be a lacy little hole. That space is supposed to look like it's neighbors. It does not. Not a huge deal. It certainly does not impact the shawl's wearability. Actually, once the shawl is wrapped around me you'd probably not even see it.

The problem, however, is that even though you might not know the mistake is there, I know that the mistake is there.

Oooo, let me pause for a footnote.
Maybe this is a good time for me to mention that this exact same knitting error occurred on another shawl I started back in spring, and that poor dear hasn't seen the light of day since I realized it.

But let's forget about that, and get back to the current shawl.

Ok, so I notice the mistake. Now comes the point where I try to decide what I am going to do about it.

* I could leave the mistake there. This would tie into the "life lesson" I have been working on since childhood that has to do with issues surrounding perfectionism in allllllllll it's various forms. Some favorite versions are pushing myself to ridiculousness to be perfect, believing that I even have to and can be perfect, not attempting something for fear I will not do it perfectly, feeling like a complete failure for coming close, but not perfect...blah blah blah. To be honest with you, at age 42, I've worked most of this out of myself by now. Not so much with my knitting though, it seems....and now wouldn't this wee little mistake that nobody will ever see, would this not be a good exercise for me? Might this not be a good time for me to "practice letting go" of the need to be perfect? Perhaps.

But then there is the other option, of course:

* I could fix it. This would tie into the "life lesson" I seem to be working on right now which is that if I see something that needs to be done, the "right action" would be to do it. It's got something to do with "follow through". For example, if I recognize I am thirsty, I should drink (I wrote about this at lenght, and damn if I can find the post). If Ellie asks me for a hat, I should knit it. If I know the mistake in my shawl will always catch my eye, and it is in my power to fix it (which it is--it will just be a pain in the arse for an hour or so), then the right action IS to fix it. No?

Do I practice letting go? Do I practice right action and fix it? Or is it maybe that the right action is to not do things that feed my drive to be a perfectionist? Ha!

I'm sooooo open to opinions on this one people, so have it.

I can tell you that I DID cast-on for a new shawl today though....
Some patterns never die.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


It's high time I start introducing y'all to more of the cast of characters that comprise my life.

I interact with a whooole lot of folks as part of my volunteer work. I belong to an organization called LITA (Love is the Answer). They match you up with a buddy in the hospital who does not get visitors, and then you see that person weekly for some one-on-one time. My first buddy was when I was in my early 20's. I visited her for a couple of years, and then she passed away. After that, I took one very long break from the commitment, but more recently I have been matched up with James (whom I have written about before, and will write about again very soon).

But really, the visits have not been all that one-on-one. I have been coming and going from the hospital to see James for close to three years now, and I have gotten to know many other residents. I always stop and chat with three or four of them for a few minutes on the way out. My time with them has such a profound effect on my thinking and feeling, I can no longer leave them off the blog and still be able to try and explain what's going on in my head or heart. They are an integral part!

Today I'll introduce you to one, and over the next several weeks I will sprinkle in a few more here and there, including the other convalescent gig I do, which is a knitting group. That one is a hoot.

Ok, so here we go.

Sadly, I am going to be starting this process with someone that is no longer with us.

November 2008

This is (was) Elinor. Pardon me if I get the tenses wrong throughout this description, but I just found out about her passing this week, and it still has not quite settled in yet.

This woman was a kick in the pants. Definitely one tough cookie. Kind of a no-bullshit, "I grew up in the midwest and almost froze to death during the depression" sort of gal. I dont know how many kids she had, but she definitely had a couple of sons in their mid to late 60's that would come to visit her at lunchtimes, right around the same time of day that I would be visiting James. We'd all sit around and talk and tell stories. I always loved listening to their accents. There was also a granddaughter that would come from time to time, not much older than myself, and she was a knitter.

I think that Ellie was in her late 90's. She was very hard of hearing, blind in one eye and pretty close to that in the other. When I first met her she'd put her hand out near my legs and feel around to make sure that I was "that one legged chick". We eventually got familiar enough that she recognized my voice more quickly, I think. Mentally, she was sharp as a tack. She would always ask me about MyFavoriteKid, and if I had told her I was going to do something interesting during the next week, she'd always follow up to ask me how it went. She was a straight shooter. I would not call her a complainer, but let me tell you, she called it like she saw it....especially when it came to the hospital staff and how they handled her.

Now, right around the time this photo was taken (last November), Ellie was complaining about how cold it was in there, and dang-nav-it, what she needed was a hat. She wanted to me to knit it, and she wanted a beanie, but not too tight, and she wanted it to be blue, light blue, so it complimented her eyes (and I think most of her wardrobe).



I never. knit. the hat.

The day she had asked me for it, I came home right away and found some yarn that was the right color, and then I realized it was wool, and that she would definitely need something that could be tossed into the hospital laundry. It took me weeks (it may even have been months) to get my arse into a shop that carried that sort of thing...and even then, even after I had the yarn, I still did not knit the hat.

A HAT, people.
(for those of you non-knitters out there, my skill level should have me banging out a hat in a day or two...this is not rocket science)

this is the yarn I had purchased, intending to do some fair-isle sort of thing

Then came our early spring her in Northern California, where we had temps in the upper 90's in what was it, March?? ....and was no longer cold, which was another perfect excuse, and I just never knit it.

About a week ago, I got to thinking that fall was coming around again, and I had the yarn, and still no hat, and I had this guilt hanging over me, and dang-nav-it...I should knit the hat. And that is when it occurred to me that I hadn't seen Ellie in a few weeks.

Now, this is not entirely unusual. Sometimes a resident will have a spell where they take their lunches in their rooms, in after a fall, or a bout of...well...whatever....any number of things. So I went down to her room to say hi, and guess what?!

She's gone. She passed away about a month ago. Passed pretty quietly, with no trip to the "hospital-hospital". She just left.

And with no hat.

It really hit me hard, in a small part because this "not following through" theme has been cropping up all over the place lately, but mostly because....well....I'm just flat out going to miss her.

Monday, August 17, 2009

timing is everything

today's pickin's

MyFavoriteKid and I started "practicing" getting up at the asscrack of dawn today, since school starts on Wednesday. As I result, I have gotten a whole lotta stuff done today, but my "timing is off". It's now late (well, not very late if this were last week, but now that it's this week and I need to be up a couple of hours earlier?? It's LATE.)

So I'm going to bed.

Enjoy the tomatoes.
We did ;-)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

give her an inch, she'll take a mile

I can't even count how many time I heard my parents say that about me when I was a kid.

Some things never change, I guess. I take a couple of days off away from the blog (at that point it was mostly due to travel and internet access), but then I get home and I can't get back on the horse.

Not for lack of content, to be sure.

The truth of it is that a whole bunch of stuff has happened worth writing about, but it is all charged with heavy emotion. Now, I have no issue getting all "emo" on the blog here (sing it with me!: we've done it before, and we'll do it again) but it does require some extra effort for me to translate matters of the heart into the words of my mind (I like to call the distance between those two points "the longest 18 inches").

So what happens then is the same old pattern. I feel like I need to "catch my blog up" on recent events, but my deeeeeep emooootional f-f-f-feeeeeelings need to be translated into words, and so I do that, and in my head I have the general gist of a blogpost....and then pretty much just as I sit down to type....the next big "emo catastophe" strikes, and I'm stuck in processing-mode again, not to mention behind.

What is making this even worse is that the events that have been happening in the last couple of weeks, are pointing to the fact that I have f-f-f-failed to follow through on things, and so the associated f-f-f-feeeeeelings smack of total inadequacy.


Yah, if not, here's another cute photo of one Riley on Vacation:

Not as cute as yesterday's of course, because this one was taken when he was being left in the RV alone for a few....forget the fact that he has food and treats and a dog bed and toys....oh no, he wants OUT.

The general gist is that on the logistical side, things are proving to be quite busy these last couple of weeks of summer (losing my wallet in the middle of this has not helped)...and on the emo side, I've had a close friend just out of the hospital, I've lost two of my convalescent home folks to the big home in the sky, it's the 10 year anniversary of losing my mentor, I'm getting older, people around me are getting older, and I've sort of become a crabby old hermit lady that doesn't like people so much.

Wait. Here's another cute pic.

That is so much easier.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

snaps on saturday

not taken today, but while we were on vacation in the van a couple of weekends ago....

Riley on Vacation


A real post tomorrow. This is just my attempt at getting back in the groove ;-)