Thursday, December 31, 2015

Is it over yet?

The clock is ticking down to the official end of 2015. I'll be perfectly honest, I am looking forward to this. The past year has been a lot of hard work. I am hoping that next year will be a little less labor intensive. I have been banned from working on Yule gifts for next year until the beginning of next year. As Beloved pointed out, I will have 365 days to work on it because it is a leap year.

I have been struggling with keeping up with the FLYLady thing over the last year. I am basically rebooting the process and starting over again from square one in January. I know that I need more structure in my days. FLYLady helped provide that. I am confident, however, that I can get back on that bicycle and ride with out too much trouble. I have the FLYLady book and my control journal. I don't necessarily need the website. Which, honestly, is looking like a good thing.

The emails from FLYLady are getting preachy again, and not in the sense of 'let's do this stuff to organize our lives' but in the sense of 'praise Jesus' variety. I don't have a problem with Christianity. It seems to be a faith that works really well for a lot of people. What I've read of the teachings of Jesus, there is a good deal of wisdom there. I take issue, however, when people that I am patronizing for an entirely different purpose begin preaching at me. I am debating removing myself from that email list.

I have started a journal where I track my mental state, my diet, and what exercise I do. It takes a little effort to remember to do so. It also takes some effort to remember to do some exercise on a given day. My goal with this journal, however, is to gather data that will allow me to get a good picture of how my moods cycle. In my other journal for daily writing, I am going to attempt to get a picture of a given day's major events. My thought is I can cross reference between the two and know what happened that day and how it effected my health. All of this is an effort to get myself healthier.

I am looking over things like where I want to be this time next year and what I want to have accomplished. I believe that my sense that I need to organize is a good thing. I think this is actually one of those times where I can make my anxiety work in my favor. I just have to stick to my rules for being healthy and such. As long as I can make it through with out breaking taboos, I think I can turn this into a very good year.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fiber Update & Yule Projects.

I have fifteen days to finish all of my projects. I am confident I can manage it. Considering that I am half done with Beloved's sweater (actually a little over that) and the remainder of crafting type things I have left to do are involving fabric paint, I don't think it is going to be a problem this year. I am presently stalled on my spinning. I still have that batt of pink fiber to tie onto my distaff and spin. I also have several other bits of fiber that I still need to card.

This doesn't include the backlog of work for the sheep study that the spinning guild is doing right now. I think, however, I have finally concluded what I am going to be using the samples for. I believe I am going to knit another sampler scarf for myself, this time less than 12 feet long. (I accidentally did that with the last one I knit for myself.) I have been thinking about fiber and what I am going to do with the samples of Lincoln wool that I've got kicking around. It is all less than an ounce each. And they're dyed in really vibrant colors.

Looking at everything, I am seriously trying to figure out how to make spinning off the distaff with the kick wheel work. If I can manage it, I am pretty sure that I can get a significant amount of my fiber stash spun. I am starting to run out of room for storing it. Thus, I need to start spinning it all.

I am looking over the Yule gifts that I made thus far this year. The large shawl that I made for E. came out fairly well. I still need to soak it in fabric softener and run it through a wash to soften up the fibers but I am anticipating that will not be a problem. I honestly think the only challenge with that is going to be transporting it to the laundromat for washing after I soak it. And that is something I can use a clean garbage bag or plastic shopping bag for.

I was attempting to make another wingspan shawl with the skein of yarn I had sitting from last year. I ended up with a small scarf. I still have to block it out. I am debating if I should sew beads onto it or not. I am not pleased with how small this thing came out. The yardage of it, according to what I had for directions, meant that I was going to get a small shawl out of it. Instead, I got two repeats of the pattern, which makes something just long enough to wrap about the neck once.

I have a pile of washcloths and kitchen goods that I made up earlier this year packed into a little recycled canvas rice sack. I am fairly sure it will be a gift that is appreciated as well as found to be useful.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Running low on spoons.

I don't know why I feel so run down and depressed right now. Today was not outrageously difficult. I took care of the thing that was a major source of anxiety over the last two weeks this afternoon. The kids are behaving relatively well. On the whole, everything looks just fine. No major catastrophes or trauma happened today.

But, here I am, feeling terrible. I wasn't feeling up to cooking dinner so I ordered a pizza special from the local pizza place. I got through most of my two slices before I became overwhelmed with revulsion. I tried eating some chicken wings. But I found myself so repulsed that I could only eat two. This wasn't just a case of dinner not agreeing with me. At breakfast time, I was utterly disgusted by the thought of the act of eating.  At lunch time, I forced myself to choke down most of a hot pocket sandwich. It kinda has been a theme today.

I find myself worried that this may continue. I am someone who has problems with a borderline eating disorder. I have a history of starving myself when I feel like my life is completely out of control because I feel like that is the only thing I have control over. I honestly can't pin down why I feel like my life is so completely out of control right now.

I am anxious about sleeping again. I have had Beloved reminding me to go to bed at a reasonable hour. I still lay there awake for a while or I wake up several times in the night. I haven't been having the nightmares that I am so afraid of having. The dreams have actually been surreal but not fear inducing. In many cases, I am reliving what was actually relatively pleasant times in my childhood.

I wake up feeling for a moment like I am that child in my parents house. I suppose that could be part of the reason why I'm on edge but I don't know for sure. I have been having dreams like this on a semi-regular basis for the last several months. I know it is because the downstairs neighbor smokes like a chimney and our apartment is well permeated with the smoke.

I have been feeling anxious when I don't get everything I plan to do for the day done. I find myself anticipating a beating or some form of verbal harassment. I have been a bit gun-shy on the idea of going out and socializing. It is like all of the anxiety from my childhood has popped up over the last few months and it has been slowly getting worse.

I know that the flashback that I had last Saturday didn't do me any favors. I have an appointment with my therapist next week. I am not entirely sure how that is going to go. The week after, I see my psychiatric care provider. If I'm still having problems with sleep, I'll be bringing it up and checking to see if I can get back on the medication I was on before. I don't like having to take 6 different medications to function, if you don't count my frequent use of Aleve for my arthritic knees.

I keep finding myself feeling ashamed of it. I keep hearing the old commentary that I was getting as a kid when I took medicine. The arguments made that I was becoming a drug addict and that I was faking my illness to manipulate people keep popping up in my head every time my eye falls on the pill bottles. As a result, I feel so much shame that it makes me nauseated and gives me terrible heartburn. So, I take antacids every night between the heartburn caused by my medication and induced my my psychological angst.

In all of this, I am struggling to keep some measure of gaiety and such in my demeanor. It is the holiday season. The boys are excited and happy. I'm trying to share it and not let my own issues with the season make me a bitch. I don't think I am succeeding, to be honest. I know that once I loved this time of year. Then... Then I 'lost' the holiday spirit because of how keenly aware I was of the differences between myself and my peers at school. And then N- happened, which kinda was the coffin nail on the holiday cheer. The subsequent trauma over a decade later involving C- really was secondary to the rest.

I don't know what to do with myself. There is a birthday party coming up this weekend that I am expected to make an appearance at. Beloved argues that it will be healthy for me to go out of the house and socialize. I suppose he is right. At the same time, I am already getting anxious over the thought of going to this thing. It doesn't matter that they are all people who are kindly inclined towards me. I am still getting a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach over it.

I tell myself that these are my friends. I tell myself that they are all people who care about me and wish me well. And in the next heartbeat I find myself torn between the feeling that I am being politely tolerated and the thought that they're all faking the friendship. I know these things are not true. But I can't break those mental loops. Which makes me feel horrible.

My therapist says this is because of how I was conditioned when I was younger. I don't have words for how much that makes me feel worse. I understand it. I know that there is no shame in it. It is simply a technical way to describe what happened and it is realistic. But I feel like I am somehow inferior for having been subjected to it and coming out on the other side of it with that garbage stuck in my head.

I don't know what to do about it. I'm not doing very well right now. And it is still the beginning of the holiday season. I dread the rest of it.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Day after NaNoWriMo!

So, NaNoWriMo is done for another year. I clocked in just shy of 70 k for my word count. I'm not finished with the manuscript yet. I am approximately half way through my plot map. I honestly wonder if I am going to have to split this up now. I want to finish it. I just feel a bit tired right now. I have spent a good portion of today attempting to catch up on blogging. I hamstrung myself with Facebook. Now, I am going to push to get more done in the evening. As a result, this post is going to be brief.

Here's a picture. Me with my implements of doom. And yes, that is a mechanical pencil tucked behind my ear. Not shown is my collection of calligraphy pens and pile of notebooks. Which I feel like will at some point reach an infinite value if I continue collecting in the fashion I have been.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Life Hack #2 - Recycling old clothes.

If you're like me, you may feel a bit bad when the clothes get worn out and you are in the position of having to throw them away. I look at all that fabric and think that there has got to be something environmentally better to do. I also feel bad about that financial investment going out in the garbage, even when I have gotten my money's worth out of the clothing. While donating clothes to the local community outreach program or sending them off to the thrift store is an option, it really isn't cool to send them completely worn out stuff. And, let's be honest, there are only so many rags you can use for cleaning. (I recommend using worn cotton t-shirts for your cleaning rags.)

So, what do you do with it? There's a lot of really great things you can do with recycled fabric. One of them is to make a rag rug with it. If you use t-shirt material, it comes out really great for in the bathroom. If you use denim, it is super effective for in a high traffic area of your house. We did this in my parent's house when I was growing up. In the end, we had a really interesting looking rug that stood up to years of use long after the clothes were no longer useful.  (If you are someone who does latch hook rug making, you have yourself an instant source of scraps!)

You can also cut up the old clothes into uniformly shaped and sized pieces. This you can sew together into a patchwork item. You can get a quilt top out of a bunch of old shirts pretty quickly. Use an old flat sheet for the bottom layer and an old blanket for your batting. Patchwork denim makes an amazing bag that you can carry a good amount of stuff in, provided you make your seams nice and strong and use a good, heavy weight thread for your stitching. You can also use those pieces to patch other clothing. (I will confess, I have cut off the good sections of the kid's worn out old pants to use to patch the knees in their newer clothes.)

Old clothing can also be used to make things for your home aside from that rag rug or patchwork everything. With a box and an old pillow, you can use a t-shirt to make a hiding spot for your pet. You can make rag dolls for the children in your life. You can also make puppets. Obviously, you can make clothes for dolls or the puppets out of pieces of your old clothes. You can cut out the logos from old t-shirts and make a display for your wall with a little ingenuity, a staple gun, and old picture frames. If you cut the leg off of an old pair of pants, you can stuff it with fabric from old clothes and stitch the ends shut. Boom! You now have something to block drafts from blowing in around door frames. Sleeves of long sleeved old shirts can make smaller ones for on the sill of your windows.

Old clothes don't just need to get thrown away. You can use a little creativity and make lots of useful things out of them. Expanding the life of your clothes can take on a whole new meaning with projects like these.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thoughts on Terrorism.

I have been thinking about lectures from a philosophy class that I took at college wherein we discussed terrorism. We redefined the term into asymmetrical warfare; warfare wherein one party targets civilians and non-combatants in an effort to disrupt the defense of the other party through the creation of divisive social responses, such as fear and xenophobia. We examined the logic of such tactics and what concepts they were rooted in. (Huge simplification, the terrorists don't see civilians, they consider the entire population as legitimate targets.)

One of the things that I came away from the class with was the understanding that you can not fight terrorism like traditional wars. You simply can not overwhelm them with force of arms. A lot of people make arguments like we should 'bomb the terrorists back to the stone age.' This is really saying that we should treat them like a traditional enemy. It plays into their hands because they want the collateral damage on their side because it creates a population of people who are ideologically ripe for recruiting. If a nation bombs another nation in the attempt to root out terrorist cells, they kill a lot of civilians. That angers a lot of civilians and they want to strike back at the nation bombing them.

Terrorists come in and basically play on the fears of the civilians that are angry. They set up a scenario in the potential recruit's mind where the nation they are in are either unable or unwilling to defend them from the other nation's aggression. Robbed of the venue that is traditionally accessible during a state of war for the angry civilian to strike back at their enemy, they get persuaded that the terrorist route is the only feasible option. This opens them up to the idea that the terrorist organization will enable them to prevent future assaults on their home nation by attacking the enemy nation until they are defeated.

Terrorists will make it a culture war concept in the minds of their potential and actual recruits. They spread propaganda in the regions where they are well entrenched to strengthen this idea. A culture war concept suddenly makes the targets for attack no longer strictly military. In a culture war, every person from the opposing culture is viewed as a combatant. It is probably the height of the US vs THEM mindset. Terrorists benefit from the target nation having this kind of mindset as well.

The target nation's increased fear and anger with the terrorists serves three goals. First, it creates a scenario where the culture becomes increasingly focused on the terrorists to the detriment of their own culture. (Don't believe me, take a look at how many rights have been undermined in the USA since 9/11. Take a look at how the culture's view of people from the Middle East has changed.) Second, it encourages the culture to become increasingly militarized which serves to legitimize the claim that there are no non-combatants. Third, it perpetuates the attacks upon the nation where the terrorists are operating which creates a larger pool of potential operatives.

But wait, this is not the only way that terrorists gain operatives. They actually have that population level off after things hit a certain ratio because of the amount of the civilian population that will flee the region increases with the increased aggressions against the nation where the terrorists are operating. The terrorists gain operatives in other nations and regions by demonstrating how the target nation is assailing the country they operate in. They gain operatives by way of spreading the culture war meme through a population that may potentially be sympathetic to the terrorists. They gain operatives by way of presenting the allies of the target nation as potential enemies and scaring their prospects into joining out of fear that they will be targeted by said nation and allies for various reasons. (This is where the culture war thing is really the terrorists strongest recruitment tool.)

Now, if you can't fight terrorists by way of traditional warfare and the terrorists are successfully recruiting operatives from people who have been taught that your culture is a threat to them, how do you defeat them?

There's two things, I think, that will be effective. First, resist the creation of fear from the terrorists and the erosion of culture that comes with it. This shows the world (and that population that the terrorists want to recruit from) that there is a distinction between civilian and military targets. It makes the people in the target nation and culture more human to the viewers. Second, actively work to cultivate the good will of others within and outside of the target nation. People will be less likely to take up arms and attack you when you present yourself as their ally or at the very least a non-threatening presence.

The real war in terrorism is not fought with bombs or bullets. It is fought with ideas. And right now, I am concerned that we are losing. When I see increased fear of terrorists and xenophobia in my neighbors, I see people who are fitting the mold that the terrorists are creating for them. I refuse to do so. Am I afraid of the idea of a bomb going off when I go out grocery shopping? No. My grocery store really doesn't make a good target for attack. Am I afraid of a bomb going of during Black Friday? No, because there is no logical reason for someone to attack shoppers. (Except for the insane shoppers who cudgel each other over toys. But, they're just acting in accordance with the brand of insanity that overcomes them in the scenario.)

Will I be afraid if something like that happens? No. I will be disgusted. I will be angry but I will not be afraid. I've got two reasons for that. Number one, I really don't enjoy when people tell me what to do (except for in specific circumstances with specific people). I'll resist it out of pure stubbornness and irritation with the concept. Number two, the terrorists, I have decided, are beneath my standard of people to worry about. They are almost always a small population and lack the formal organization of a traditional military to truly do any damage.

Because, terrorists can only do a small amount of damage in the terms of physical harm and loss of life. They don't have the numbers to do it. They want us to think they do. They want us to think that they could strike at any time, but realistically, they can't. They simply don't have the organization or forces to do so. If they did, traditional warfare would be an option because they would have a structure to disrupt, supply chains to break, and troops to eliminate.

You want to fight terrorism? Go about your day unafraid. Or, even better, go out and help someone and cultivate that idea that we're human after all and give a damn about the rest of the world.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fiber Fun Update.

I am taking a break from working on my novel and my spinning to make baby stuff. Beloved's cousin's wife is having a baby shower and I am working on a couple of quick gifts. Right now, I'm working on a hat. I expect to have it done this afternoon. Tonight, I'm going to whip off a pair of mittens and a pair of booties. Tomorrow, if I can manage it, I'm going to make a little stroller blankie.

I have this thing. For pretty much every baby that has been born into the family, I have made a blankie and some kind of garment for them to wear. It's just something I do. I only have one kid I didn't make something for and, in my defense, that was because the year leading up to him showing up in the world was really rough. I didn't get much, if any, crafting done that year. I am not thrilled with the colors of this baby yarn but I know it will be soft against a newborn's skin, which is why I'm using it.

The stroller blankie, however, I am going to go stash diving and make up something with vivid colors in a granny square. They don't know the sex of the baby. It's going to be a surprise. So, I'm trying for gender neutral colored stuff.

Here's a pic of the hat in progress. I started it about 10 minutes ago. I'm using sport weight yarn with an H hook.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mom stuff > Writer stuff.

So, my eldest is home from school today. He last night told me that his stomach was bothering him. He didn't eat most of his dinner. So, I decided that he was perhaps telling the truth and kept him home from school today. Now he is sitting up in his bed insisting that he is fine and he should get up and play. I, however, have been telling him that if he is sick then he needs to stay in bed and rest. If he is not sick, then he lied to me and he will be in trouble. As a result, his arguments that he is fine have quieted down.

I know he is bored. That was the plan. I decided last night if he was truly sick that rest would make him better. If he wasn't sick, then rest was going to bore him enough that he wasn't going to want to stay home from school again and lie about being sick. It is 9:30 am and we have had about 7 'Is it lunch time yet?' from him. He has his bear and the bucket if he feels sick to his stomach. Aside from that he's got nothing but his bed clothes. As a result, he is bored. Which is according to plan. It irritates me, mildly, that I have to sit at the couch and keep an eye on him rather than sit at the desk to write.

I have discovered that listening to music on headphones whilst typing has made for a more immersive experience, which equates to greater typing speed and inspiration. But, because I need to listen for him causing mischief, I can't do that right now. It is a bit frustrating. Still, I am attempting to do my work and get stuff going as I would any other day. I right now have a few bills to pay and to call in a few prescriptions for Beloved to pick up on his way home from work this evening. Aside from this, I have a sink full of dishes to wash and laundry to fold.

I was sick last week so I didn't get much housework done. As a result, I am playing catch up right now. I have been putting a bunch of stuff aside to focus on my writing. I am participating in NaNoWriMo again. I have met the 50K word count goal. I am actually close to 60K. But my plot is only half completed. Thus, my focus is on finishing the story by the end of the month rather than hitting a word count number. I also need to spend some time knitting because I've got Beloved's sweater only 1/4 of the way finished.

I have been doing some spinning over the last several days when I felt well enough. I am almost finished with the first batt of the raspberry pink fiber that my mother in law gave me last summer. It isn't as soft and as lush as the fiber of the same color that I used to start a scarf a while back. That is because the fiber content is different. That yarn is made from 50% merino, 30% tencel, and 20% silk, if I recall correctly. It was really nice to spin up and the first bit of yarn I ever spun using a distaff.

I have some fiber with the same content as this pink yarn. But it is in shades of grey. I posted a picture of it after Fiber Fest a little while back, you may have seen it. I am saving that to spin after I have finished the second batt of the raspberry pink merino. I don't know what I'm going to make with the stuff I'm spinning right now. I do think, however, I'm going to ply the singles from the two batts together on my kick spindle. I have fiber to comb or flick card but I just haven't gotten to it.

The spinning stuff is going to take a back seat to Yule gifts. I still have several things to finish up. I have decided not to make sweaters for the boys. If I finish Beloved's sweater by early December, I may make them new hats. I will, however, be buying them sweaters as gifts. They're outgrowing the ones they have from last year. I suspect that this winter is going to be as bitter as last winter was, thus the sweaters will be a necessity.

I have been working on a bag of fun stuff for one of my youngest nieces but I realized that what I gathered were all targeted at a lower age group than what she is in. So, I have to start that all over again. I don't know what exactly I am going to give her but I will figure something out. I will be ordering proof copies of my books soon and I intend to give some to my older nieces (and my cousin). I was really entertained to learn that one of the girls was super excited to discover that I am an author.

I honestly thought that everyone in the family knew this. Apparently this somehow got missed. I think she is going to be thrilled to get copies of my books. I have several people waiting for copies of book two. Now that I have gotten the last of the issues with printing handled, I will be getting hard copies to give as gifts to a few folks. I have a manuscript to finish that I wanted done by Yule. I don't know if I am going to accomplish that, to be honest. Getting sick last week put me behind schedule on the fantasy novel I'm working on. Which cuts into the time I have for working on the other project.

With Yule gifts still needing to be finished, I am going to have to put the manuscript on the back burner to get those done. Perhaps if I schedule my time properly, I will get some writing time in while I'm working on that. We'll see. In the meantime, I need to finish this post and get my chores done.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mondays suck.. the life out of me.

The last week has been exhausting. I found myself spending a significant portion of last week resting just because I didn't have the energy to get stuff done (even with loads of coffee involved). It didn't help matters that I had a migraine last week. And it didn't help matters that my psych issues were causing me problems. It was a taxing week.

This week is shaping up to be equally exhausting. Today, I took Cuddle Bear to the dentist. (If you're local to me and looking for a pediatric dentist, seriously look at Pittsford Pediatric Dentistry. They're really good.) That went fairly well. He actually seemed to enjoy the process. The boy was real excited to get a helium balloon when his appointment was done. We scheduled the follow up and then spent the rest of the day off running errands.

I made the mistake of taking him to Spirit Halloween. The costume that he decided was the best turned out to be nearly $40. It took a little trickery but I managed to distract him from it and convince him that putting something together at home would work best. He has finally decided that he wants to be a train engineer like the guys over at the Livonia, Avon, and Lakeville Railroad. So, we got him a neon colored jacket and I'm going to try to print of a copy of their logo to make a button with it so we can pin it on his jacket.

Tomorrow is going to be another busy day because it is Snuggle Bug's trip to the dentist. And I suspect we will have as much wandering around to get stuff done. I don't know if I'm going to be able to manage a quick trip to the laundromat to get a load of kid's clothes done or not. If I can accomplish it, it would be a good thing. And then Wednesday I have my appointment with my psych. So, that sucks up half the week with running around town doing stuff. Then comes Thursday and Friday, where I try to catch up on all the stuff that I haven't been able to finish over the preceding the days.

I feel like I'm doing a lot of whining here. Which, I guess is ok because it is my blog. But I'm not entirely happy with it. It's been a long day and after long days, I tend to see the bad side of everything. I mean, I'm looking at my plants and seeing the one that is unhealthy in stark contrast to the rest when earlier today I didn't even notice it. (I think I killed one of my six ivy plants. It's not even a big loss but I'm irritated with it. And the stupid mold came back despite my treating the soil with vinegar, which I think may have killed the plant.)

TL:DR - Mondays suck. And I think this week is going to as well.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Life Hack # 1 - Organized kitchen pans.

This week, I don't have a recipe for you but I do have something that still deals with the kitchen. If you're like me, you have a lot of pans and it is probably hard to sort through them all when you keep them in that drawer under the stove. (I think that there are stoves made now that still have this feature, but I know that there are shelves that get everything thrown on them too.) I was having problems with getting the right pan in quick order for cooking. Let me tell you, when it is a day where dinner's late, you don't want to hunt through a stack of pans to find the one you want. It makes everybody cranky.

There is, however, an option. If you have wall space free and it is a good sturdy one, placing some hooks to hang pans from is a fantastic idea. Some lucky folks have the money and the space to splurge on an over head pot rack. Those are pretty awesome for your light weight pots, but I don't trust 'em with my cast iron. Those I would still hang on the wall. Make sure that your hook is large enough to accommodate a little room for your lid to hang with the pot and you can keep your lids right with them.

Some of us are lucky enough to have deep cupboards where we can store more than just food. Here is where I use the free standing miniature shelves and paper sorters. I use the paper sorter to hold my light weight pans and my cast iron. It works well because it converts the space used from being the widest part of the pans to the narrowest. This means you can fit more pans in there. And you can keep the lids with the pans in another sorter right beside or below it. Or, if you don't have the shelf space, you can hang your lids.

Those command hooks from 3M are really amazing. I like the ones that you can remove eventually. This is because we are renting our home and someday we'll move. That means we'll have to get rid of the hooks. They hold a good deal of weight. I have two of them holding my kids backpacks next to the door. (I'll talk about how I made an entryway where there wasn't one next week.) There is usually enough distance between the door and the shelf itself that you can hang a pot lid in there with out any problems closing the door.

Those free standing shelves I mentioned I use for my sauce pots. I keep the lids on the pots and set them one over the other on the shelf. It effectively doubles your space. And, if your cupboard is wide enough, you have a little bit of space at either side where you can slide in another pan that fits. What you have left to worry about then is cookie sheets. And you can keep those piled up in that drawer under the stove with no big deal. Because you'll have the rest of your pans put away nice and tidy.

There's the first of my occasional life hack posts. I don't know how often I'll be sharing them, but I will be doing this instead of recipes when I have one of those days where I can't pick what to post. Have a beautiful day everyone.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fiber Update.

I don't have anything fiber related to post today. I do, however, have a picture to share. When I get stressed out, I will sometimes start drawing. Often, it is just something abstract. I misplaced my sketch book a little while back. But I just found it today. So I decided I'd share one of my abstract sketches. I did this with markers on watercolor paper.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Long Day is Long.

I would have posted Monday but it was a very long, very busy day. Cuddle Bear and Snuggle Bug had the day off from school. We stayed in for much of the morning just because I didn't have the energy to go out and deal with people. This may or may not have been a good idea. They watched videos and fought, alot. By the time lunch time rolled around, I was ready for them to be back in school.

We went out to Vitale Park after lunch. Cuddle Bear spent a good deal of time on the swings. He really loves them. I think it is partly because he is a sensory seeking child and partly because what child doesn't love swings, right? Snuggle Bug tried to get some swing time in but he got upset because I wasn't going to stand there and push him the whole time. My telling him that he had to do it himself almost lead to a temper tantrum.

He got distracted by the other kids playing in the sandbox. They had brought a bunch of toys from home. They had this thing that was kinda like an excavator that the kids could sit on and dig with the bucket. Snuggle Bug asked if he could use it. Then he started to resist letting the kids who owned it using it. This lead to my engaging in a lot of redirection and reminders to respect the limits of playing with someone else's toys. At one point, he was pestering the other kids so badly that I had to take him away from the sandbox and give him something else to do.

This set the tone for a good portion of the afternoon. Snuggle Bug wanted what he wanted and would annoy someone until they let him do it. And when we were home, he whined in an effort to get what he wanted. I thought that perhaps today he would be less prone to whining. I was wrong. As soon as he got off the bus from school, he started whining and being demanding. The only time he wasn't being a whiney butt was when he was eating snack. It has been a frustrating afternoon.

Aside from the irritations of the kids being difficult over the last few days. I'm not entirely happy with how this evening is going for another reason. I was looking forward to having pot roast with mashed potatoes and cooked carrots. The only thing that came out right was the pot roast. And, I don't know if I would say it came out right. It was pretty tough. I think I should have made it in the crockpot. The carrots were disgusting.

A little while back, one of our neighbors gave us ten pounds of carrots. Beloved put half of that in the freezer. I didn't think anything of it until I took one of the two bags out and discovered everything was mushy. I was optimistic that they would still taste good cooked. So, I gave that a shot and it came out very poorly. So, I have about five pounds of carrots that I have to get rid of because they are absolutely disgusting and none of my little tricks works to salvage them. I am not happy but I can console myself with the fact that I will be acquiring more real estate in the freezer and I didn't lose money on this failed venture.

I am, however, upset about the food processor that I bought a little while back. I assembled it as per the directions that came with it. When I first attempted to use it, the post that the blade sits on didn't move. I didn't pay a lot of money for it. At the same time, however, I have very rarely had problems with that brand of products. (It was from Aldi's and the Kitchen Living line. I got it on clearance because it was the last one.) I am trying to figure out what is wrong with it. So far, however, I've come up with nothing. I can hear the motor working and there is a tension in the post, so I know that the thing which is supposed to turn it is attempting to turn. I'm trying to figure out if there is some kind of locking mechanism that I have failed to disengage.

Honestly, I'm half tempted to hand it to Beloved and let him try. Because he is a bit better at mechanical things than I am. (We evenly split the minor house repair stuff that we do. Some time next week, we're buying plastic to cover the windows and we'll be putting that up together. It'll be fun. /sarcasm) I don't want to go through the headache of calling customer support and sitting on hold for a half hour or something only to be told I have to take it back to the store. I have a bad feeling, however, that might be the case.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Public Notice Re: Comments

Hi everybody,

I just wanted to make something crystal clear. You are welcome to comment on my posts. I moderate them to make sure that everything is respectful and above board. I would appreciate if people kept their comments on topic with what the post covers. That said, I recognize that sometimes it is hard to tell if a comment matches the topic. So, I try to keep that in mind with respect to what comments get posted up here.

That said, I do not take kindly to people using this platform to harass, belittle, or otherwise be a dick to people. It is one thing if you have something funny to say. Sometimes, vulgar humor is pretty funny. But, if it strikes me as offensive regardless of how well intentioned something is, I'm not giving you air time on my blog.

Additionally, if any sort of products, services, or other related material goes up on here, it is because I am posting it. If you want to recommend something to me or request a review of something, email me. I have an account that is set up to take messages just from my blogs. I check it every few days. (I'm actually going to do that right after I hit publish on this post.) I am not going to permit people to use the comments on my blog to bandy about some product or service. You don't get free advertising.

If you want to advertise, contact me. We can work out an arrangement. I'll even make sure that there is a Twitter post to the blog entry, provided you compensate me for it. You have any questions or comments about this, email me.

This is MY blog. My blog is a benevolent dictatorship. My word here is law. If you don't like it, don't post in the comments. In fact, I invite you to take my blog off of your reading list. Because if you can't respect me and my rules, I'm pretty sure you're not going to like what I post.

Mom's Carrot Salad

Today's recipe is a family favorite. My husband enjoys it so much that he asks that I make it every Monday. (Monday's are burger night and this always goes really well.) It takes a bit of work to make it but it is well worth the results. The quantities that I'm going to give will make enough for five people with some left over. It keeps relatively well when it is in a covered container in the fridge. If you manage not to eat it all the day you make it, it keeps for about five days in the fridge.

Take 5 lbs of carrots. Wash them, peel, and grate fine. In a medium bowl, place the grated carrots, a 1/4 cup of raisins, 1/4 cup of peanut butter, and 1/2 cup of whipped dressing. Mix together until all parts are coated with the peanut butter-whipped topping mixture. Chill in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes and serve cool.

You can use chunky or smooth peanut butter. I haven't tried it but I know this would work with a different kind of nut butter or sunflower butter.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

It's not a competition.

I have a hard time reminding myself that what I am doing is enough. It is more than enough. When I see other people running businesses and looking like they've got everything so put together, I get struck by this feeling of inferiority. It is really awful, to be honest. I am trying not to get sucked into that train of thought, but it is pretty hard.

My therapist says I shouldn't compare my days to someone else's highlight reel. Freyr tells me that it is not a competition. That I'm not in a race with anyone but myself. It is hard to keep that in mind. I look around the apartment and I find myself feeling like I don't do enough. I have bags of laundry sitting in the living room, one from last week, that are waiting to be folded up and put away. Most days, my kitchen is a mess until about four o'clock. Then I clean everything up, make dinner, and it stays a mess until about that time the next day.

I think about how rough things are with the boys and their behavioral issues. I find myself short tempered and waspish. Then I feel guilty because my boys are just being themselves. And a significant amount of their behavioral issues is a function of their brains working differently from mine. And I ask myself why can't I manage to be more patient with them, why can't I just let it roll off my back. I look back to my life before bipolar and see how I wasn't so hair trigger with my temper. I feel like there is some failing on my part that I am like this.

I have a whole heap of evidence (medical studies and the like) that tells me that my issues with my temper are due, in part, because of the bipolar. I have legitimate reasons for my problems having enough mental fortitude to do stuff. I have a ton of things that I'm trying to stay on top of, which puts me in the position of having some stuff fall through the cracks. All of these sane, rational arguments that my difficulties are not due to a lack of diligence on my part.

And still, that voice in the back of my head tells me that I'm a terrible housewife because my home isn't showroom clean all the time; that I'm a bad mother because I get short tempered with the kids and they don't behave all the time; that my problems doing stuff is because I'm lazy, not my illness; and that my illnesses are just a ploy for attention. It tells me that my lack of immediate financial success with my writing is a function of how 'bad' I am at it and that I'm a fraud. It tells me that my lack of success in running two businesses by myself (online) was because I didn't try hard enough.

It discredits all the legitimate reasons why I can't do things. It tells me that every rational rebuttal is a lie. It is really awful and I wish I could just rip that part out of my head and throw it away. I know that I'm working on this through therapy. I know that using my coping skills will make it easier to handle this. But right now, I feel horrible. I had an ok day. I got a bunch of stuff done.

But at this moment, I feel like everything I've done was worthless, done poorly, and that I'm not good enough.

I hate when this happens.

Fiber stuff.

I haven't gotten as much spinning time in this week as I wanted. I am just about half way through that mass of fiber on my distaff. I was spinning some this morning as we were waiting for the school bus and realized I have to readjust how I have my fiber fixed to the distaff. I am starting to get a small enough amount that it slides around a bit on the distaff with how it is tied right now.

Knitting projects are stalled right now. I have been having a hard time finding the energy to work on the sweater or the shawl. I wish I could find away to feel more excited about this process but it really strikes me as soul crushingly boring. Maybe I will rip out that sweater and just do one up with crochet. I think I need to save knitting for small things. Perhaps when I do something with more complexity to it I will enjoy the process more. I don't know.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Shoveling from a sitting position.

It has been a week of a lot of writing. I am on one hand pleased with all the progress I have made. At the same time, I keep catching myself worrying that I am going to run out of things to say. I am doing my best to just put those worries into my little 'box' and set it aside for the gods to deal with. There is getting to be a bit of a pile of proverbial boxes. It makes me glad that they're not physical things because I would have a stack a few feet high by now.

The other thing I keep putting into my boxes is the negative self talk. It has been pretty hard. I didn't realize how much I did that until I started actively monitoring what I was saying to myself. I discovered that when I am depressed, I am truly horrible to myself. I felt guilty for it when I realized it. Then it was explained to me that it was how I was taught to treat myself. It helped some to hear that. I am trying not to let myself get caught up in guilt over it. So, the guilt is going into a box as well.

I have a big pile of laundry waiting to be dealt with. I haven't folded a thing yet today. I just didn't feel up to it. I am going to try to get some done this evening after dinner, provided that Cuddle Bear doesn't have homework tonight. I am trying to steel myself for how tiring this weekend is going to be. My freezer is so full, I can't prep a meal and keep it in there to pop in the oven later. It is not a bad problem to have, but it is a little exasperating.

I am hoping that the weather will be decent over the weekend. The boys have a four day weekend this weekend. I am going to try to get them down to their friends's house. It has been a little while since we have visited them. With the cold weather coming, visiting gets a bit tricky because the one sidewalk in town doesn't get cleared off. And yet the paths at the park are shoveled? I don't understand that but I'm not going to try to make sense of what the local government is up to.

I'm making progress on losing weight. I just realized I hadn't said anything about this in a few months. I'm down 20 pounds. I have dropped two pants sizes and I can fit into a lot of my clothes from before I got pregnant. I am about fifteen pounds away from my goal weight. I think I might just manage to meet my goal of being 150lbs by the end of the year.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Grandma K.'s Recipe for Apple Crisp

As a kid, I asked for apple crisp for my birthday just about every year. I still love the stuff as an adult. While there are a lot of really great recipes for it out there, I have to say that the best one I've ever had was Grandma K.'s version. I don't remember if this is something that was handed down from Great-grandma but I know this is not one of those 'secret family recipes' that I'm not exactly supposed to share. You can use just about any variety of apple in this. I like to use Granny Smith apples but I have also used Pink Lady and Red Delicious. Serve this warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and you get the experience I had as a kid at Grandma's house.

Barb's Apple Crisp

  • 5 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup water

1.  Preheat your oven to 350o.

2. Grease a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Place apples in it and sprinkle with water.

3. Cut remaining ingredients into butter until coarse crumbs. Spread evenly over apples.

4. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is brown.

Serves 8 -10 people.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Spinning Raspberry fluff.

I've been working on this pink fiber. I have a batt of it. It was a really big one. So I split it into two and wrapped one half around my distaff. It is working out fairly well. I'm spinning it on my Ashfort Student spindle. I am giving it a Z-twist. I haven't decided if I am going to ply it with a Z-twist as well. I have decided, however, that I am going to spin the other half of the batt the same way I am spinning this one. I will be plying both skeins together.

On the crochet front, I completed a baby blanket for my cousin's new baby. I'd post a picture but it is put by safely until I pack it. I am trying to keep it clean and out of any possible irritants this way she doesn't have to worry about any allergic reactions for the baby. The baby blanket is the most basic of patterns. I used baby sport weight yarn. My first two and last two rows were done with a size H hook and the body between was done with a J hook. The visual interest of the blanket was in the yarn's colors. I was actually using up ends of skeins so I had multiple balls of yarn tied together with the ends hidden in the crochet where one began and the other ended.

Chain 95 st.
R1: Sc all st, chain three to turn.
R2: Dc in all st. Change to J hook. Chain 3 to turn.
R3: Dc in all st.
R4 - 51: Repeat R3. Switch to H hook. Chain 3 to turn.
R52: Dc in all st.
R53: Sc in all st. Break yarn after final st.

Knitting wise, I am still working on that basic top down shawl. I am also still working on Beloved's sweater. It is hard to hold them up and picture them with the laptop. I will get a picture of these two projects a bit later today and upload them via the camera and the desktop computer.

The shawl is a super simple pattern. I am knitting it with Caron's Simply Soft Paints in the Ocean colorway. Here's the shawl pattern. It is a minor alteration from the one I found on Ravelry. That one was entirely knit. The last shawl I knit in garter stitch, I got bored a quarter of the way through. This time, I'm using stockinette stitch, which keeps me a bit more interested.

CO: 5
R1: K across
R2: P across
R3: K1, yo, k2, yo, place marker, k, place marker, yo, k2, yo, k1
R4: P across
R5: knit first stitch, yo, knit to 1 st before marker, yo, move marker, k, move marker, yo, knit to 1 st before end, yo, knit final st.
R6: P across

Continue alternating rows 5 and 6 until shawl is desired length. After final purl row, knit one row. Bind off knitwise. Block.

Beloved's sweater is the sleeveless sweater pattern from WWI that was published by the Red Cross. It was printed in Piecework last fall. If you want to see what it looks like, check out the wonderful stuff on this blog. I had to adapt the pattern some because Beloved is a larger man. Still, it was really easy to adapt the pattern. I have, however, one problem. I'm five inches into making the back and I am already bored. I'm tempted to rip it out and crochet something to the same dimensions. Then I remember how many hours it took to get that done and I find myself reluctant to do it. I'm making it in royal blue sport weight yarn. I think it is something from Bernat but I'm not sure. I don't have the ball band to check what brand the yarn is.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ready for Work

Just derping around and writing about cartomancy.
I've actually been up all morning. I've accomplished a few things. I wrote some posts on my book writing blog, Tales of Evandar. I was really satisfied with how the one talking about my love of writing turned out. It always makes me happy to share the stuff I geek out over. I also think the one talking about wildlife came out fairly well.

On my blog The Veiled Witch, I got the first post about cartomancy up. It is linked under the picture to the right. I thought about writing up the meanings of the pip cards and decided not to. Because a lot of other people have written tons about it. So I found a good site with great information and linked to it. This week's post about cartomancy is focused on using playing cards. I am fond of using playing cards because that was what I learned to read cards from. I clearly remember the day of my first lesson.

I was in sixth grade and one of the older girls in study hall had a pack of cards. I was curious as to what she was doing because it looked like a form of solitaire I had never seen. And I was confused as to why she had so many people talking to her. This girl apparently learned to read cards from her mother and was using her skills for fun and profit. (Because after the first week of doing readings for free, she charged a dollar a reading. Amazingly, she never got caught by the study hall monitor.) She showed me the basics of how to do cartomancy with a pack of playing cards. I was always impressed with how accurate she was and decided she was really awesome because of it.

Now that I've got my blog posts for the day done, I'm considering doing some dishes. I am also debating writing something for Triond. I am not sure what to write, though. It seems that my posts of open letters to Loki got a lot of reads this month. Enough so that the amount waiting for me there jumped from around $5 to $20. It has me reconsidering my ban on writing for Triond.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Me and the Kids!

We're all out in the front yard right now. I have my laptop in tow. So I decided to take a picture to show you who the boys are that I have been talking about. On the left is Snuggle Bug. He is six years old and in first grade this year. Snuggle Bug is a lot of mischief and a lot of fun (most of the time). There is myself in the middle. I made that snood I'm wearing. I'll post the pattern and a better picture of it sometime later today. And on the right is Cuddle Bear. He is eight years old and in third grade. Cuddle Bear is a very active kid who is often thinking up the mischief that Snuggle Bug gets into. 

But, here they are, my pride and joy.

Sunday morning, what is it good for?

My kids have been wired from the get-go. I have no idea where they get all this energy. A part of me wants some of it. Another part of me just wants it to be calm and quiet. I didn't get much done this morning. I am coming to accept that my days for getting stuff done are monday thru friday, with the exception of the kids's vacation days from school. I am not entirely pleased with it because I feel like I've got a ton of stuff that I could be doing right now, but I am attempting to enjoy the experience of my children being small.

My kitchen is a disaster. I suppose this is what happens when you don't do dishes for 48 hours and you have 4 people in your household. I think I am going to take the table cloth off the table and wash it with the towels today. I have another one I can put down, so that won't be a problem. I'll probably clean the fish tank when I am dealing with the table cloth. I keep forgetting to clean it over the last two weeks, so the tank is kinda a mess right now.

Speaking of things I keep forgetting, I keep forgetting to measure my youngest's bike tires so that I can pick up new ones at the store. The back one kept getting soft over the summer. Now it is completely flat and no amount of air will keep it inflated. I have to say, though, it lasted pretty well for a third hand bike. Actually, now that I think about it, it technically is fourth hand. The boys's friend R. had the bike two summer's ago. His mother picked it up at a yard sale.

Then R. got a new bike and the old one was given to Cuddle Bear. Cuddle Bear out grew the bike, so it got passed down to Snuggle Bug. Now, Snuggle Bug is eyeing Cuddle Bear's bike. I think he is planning to take it over next summer. And that won't be too bad, because Cuddle Bear has almost out grown it. It is funny, the bike that Snuggle Bug has now lasted Cuddle Bear two summers. Now he's almost outgrown the bike he got last summer for his birthday.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Ah housework.

I'm presently sitting out in the front yard (with the laptop) and listening to the boys play in the dirt. I kinda want to just stay out here and chill. They're behaving pretty good. The neighbors are not being obnoxious. (I think they got that out of their system last night with the screaming argument at 9:30pm.) And the weather is pretty pleasant. I mean, even the mosquitoes are not too bad right now.

I totally do not want to go inside and start work on cleaning dishes and prepping to cook dinner. At the same time, paying bills this afternoon has me thinking I don't want to spend the money on buying a pizza today. It is pizza night and I know there would be a small revolt if I didn't have pizza for the kids to eat. I, honestly, am getting bored with pepperoni pizza.

Still, this is what we have on Friday nights. Just like Mondays are burger night and Tuesdays are tatertot bake night. I a getting bored with the menu. Everyone else in the house seems to be enjoying it, though. So, I'm reluctant to make any changes to it. I just want something... different. Having home cooked chinese food earlier this week was ok. That sauce was WAAAAY too hot for me, though. So I pretty much had pan fried chicken with broccoli and a bit of soy sauce on it with rice.

Beloved suggested that we have indian food for dinner earlier this week. And the day I had it planned out was the day that he didn't get to eat anything until 5pm. So, there was no point to making it. Because the kids are not exactly adventurous with their food choices. And I didn't want to deal with fighting to get them to eat anything. I know this is the challenge of making menus and cooking dinner for a household with small children.

Most days, I am pretty indifferent to it all. But tonight, I find myself wishing for something more unusual. Like a veggie pizza with artichoke, green peppers, olives, and hot peppers, on a white sauce with extra cheese. But,I know that would be a pizza that only I would eat. So, I never order it when the idea or the craving for it hits me. I don't think I am going to make indian food for Beloved and I tonight, because I don't want all the extra pots to wash.

So, we're having pepperoni pizza with cheese tonight. At least I have a pizza peel so I can get the pizza out of the oven with out burning myself this time. (I have a little scar on my left hand from where I burned it on the oven door a few months ago. Second degree burns suck, y'all.)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Yay fiber!

Here is a picture of one of my latest fiber finds. It is a super soft blend of 50% merino wool, 25% bamboo, and 25% silk. If you can't tell in the picture, it is a lovely range of grey that I think looks like storm clouds. I bought it thinking about spinning it up nice and fine to make a snood and add to a scarf that I started with the pink blend of this stuff that my mother in law gave me a few years back. I picked it up at Finger Lakes Fiber Festival on Sunday (9/20/15). I love the way this stuff feels in my hand. It is really wonderful.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why must adulting be such a pain?

Yep, I went there. I have been feeling unwell. Lots of exhaustion and depression. I'm still working on ferreting out what started this depressive episode. My thought when I was a kid was that being an adult meant no restrictions and that I could do whatever I dreamed of without critical commentary. Now, I look around and I find that I have critical commentary going on at the back of my mind. I have restrictions from my illnesses. It is a disappointment, to be honest.

I have also been spending a lot of time doing as this one meme said: being tired, wondering why your back hurts, and worrying about my bank account. I realize that as a kid, I romanticized being an adult. I am working very hard not to romanticize the past, because there is a lot that really shouldn't be romanticized. I just feel like I'm losing my edge because I'm getting old. And then I get ticked off with myself for feeling that way because I'm turning 38, not 88 this year.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


I just peeked at my account at Triond. Apparently there is twenty-one dollars and change sitting there waiting for me. I need to have fifty dollars before they send me a check. I looked over the statistics for the last year and noticed that my posts were starting to get readership over the last few months. As in, one post had over a hundred hits. It has me considering if I want to start posting on there again. I know the format is still somewhat buggy.

Still, there is potential for making a little money via posts. I know that I have about seven blogs I have out on the internet. I am seriously considering combining a few of them. I also am looking at what I have been producing and trying to decide just where I want to go with this. I know that I tend to write very specialized stuff. It lands me in niche markets that don't get very wide readership.

As I look at the trends that pop up on Facebook, I am wondering if I should start writing things to those trends. I am unsure of how to approach this. If I start posting again on Triond, I don't know how much readership it will get because Triond isn't very high ranking. I don't want to argue myself out of this but I want to make the right decision. The fact that I have a little money waiting for me at Triond after not writing anything on there for a year makes me think that perhaps I should resume writing for that format again.

I want to write stuff that gets read but I struggle to figure out where my efforts are best focused. I think that if I am going to write for Triond, I am going to stay within one subject area. The scattered shot focus that I had before contributed to my frustration with Triond. I want to get my work out there but I can't figure out what to do. My fiction is where a lot of my strength lies but it is hard to get much readership with out having a recognizable name behind it. I just can't figure out what to do. And that is a big part of my problem.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

I hate allergies.

I know it is autumn when my allergies go nuts. The last two days have been particularly bad. I am feeling a bit spaced out right now and I suspect it is because of the Benadryl I took earlier. I think it is the goldenrod that I'm allergic to because when they started blooming, my sinuses started bothering me. Now, most of the goldenrod around my apartment building is done blooming. Still, I feel like my sinuses are packed with wool and my eyes itch horribly.

Today was particularly unpleasant because my mold allergies jumped into the mix. Unlike my other allergies, the mold one makes me have an asthma attack. One of our landlord's employees was here doing repairs in the lower level. The floor was rotting out and there was a very strong, pervasive odor of mold. So, when the guy showed up and ripped up the carpet, he found a LOT of mold. I wasn't aware of this until I stepped out into the entryway and the overwhelming stench of mold hit me. About five minutes later, I was starting to wheeze. To say the least, I used my inhaler.

I don't know if having new flooring down there and new carpeting is going to resolve the mold issues. I sincerely hope they do. Because it has been an established problem in this building since we've moved in, if not longer. Talking with some of my neighbors, the trailers have had problems with mold as well. I know that the current landlord bought the problems along with the buildings. I know that much of these issues come from the slap dash way that the previous landlord handled maintenance. It still doesn't change the fact that this is a problem that needs to be resolved and I'm not exactly happy that it has taken months for the floor problem got handled.

A side from this, I am disappointed that my not feeling well got in the way of going out and seeing friends. I don't trust myself not to have wooziness problems for the rest of the day. I am not entirely sure if the wooziness was due to the Benadryl or of I'm coming down with something. I hope that I'll be doing better tomorrow. My mother in law will be stopping over to bring me with her to the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival. I'm not sure what exactly I'll be up there aside from looking at fun stuff. I've put aside a little bit of money to spend on something fun.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

First post!

Well, I am still getting used to this keyboard. Still, here is my first post ever from my new laptop. I am having some frustration trying to find an older version of MS Office that would  be compatible with the version running on the desktop computer. It turns out that I would have to buy Office 356 in order to get MS Word. That really annoys me.

Quite a few of my fellow writers in the NaNoWriMo group on Facebook have been recommending Scrivner. I haven't had the chance to really do anything like look at it yet. Beloved has a copy of it on his machine. I may ask him to load it on mine. I don't know. The only reason why I want Word is because all of my other stuff is in that format and I am roughly familiar with how to use it. Also, the self publishing programs that I work with accept that format. I know that with out any doubt. I don't know how Scrivner would save documents or how it would effect my ability to self publish my work.

I am totally unfamiliar with Google Docs. I'll be using it soon as part of a collaborative writing project in the near future. I am a touch nervous about that. While Google has an excellent reputation for the security of their programs, I feel uncomfortable with the idea that it could get hacked. Still, one of my friends who is Mr. Privacy (This may become a new nickname. The other option is Mr. Pervy.), feels that the platform is secure enough for us to use.

I am going to stop this post now because how small the font appears to be on the screen is bothering my eyes. Something else I am going to have to figure out how to resolve. My goal, however, is to eventually get to writing actual novels on here rather than just blog posts. Blog posts, however, are going to be how I get familiar with this keyboard and the device as a whole. So look for more with potential misspellings and funny spacing.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Hanging in there.

It has been a busy week. We had some behavioral issues with Cuddle Bear. I'm not entirely sure what to do. We're trying out this rotating toys out and seeing if this resolves the 'I want new toys, so I am going to take them.' I am running out of ideas. We've grounded him but that made no real effect on his behavior. We've taken away toys for a while. But that just hasn't worked either. We've told him that if he kept stealing, that we were going to give away one of his favorite toys. He did it again, so one of his garbage trucks is now going away. (It's going to be the broken one.)

I have been working on Beloved's sweater and have only 5 inches knit on the back of the sweater. It makes me concerned that I won't have it done in time to give it to him for Yule. My plan to knit sweaters for the boys has been scratched because I'm only 4 hrs into working on this sweater. It is going to take me quite a while to get this thing done. I have been feeling like I bit off more than I can chew. I am worried that the rest of my Yule gifts will have to be purchased at this rate.

I am slowly cleaning up my notes and organizing my materials from my multi-volume book of shadows. I don't know where this is going to go. I have a ridiculous amount of stuff and I'm somewhat overwhelmed by it all. I didn't realize how much writing I had done on this matter until I started to organize it. And I still have piles of research that I've done to organize and write up that I am finding in with my notes. I suppose I keep my nose to the grindstone and I'll eventually get it all done.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why am I so tired?

I thought that with the beginning of school, I would magically have more energy. Instead, I have been feeling more exhausted than I was during the summer. I was so tired I was stumbling this morning when it was time to put the kids on the bus. I took the opportunity that was presented by the kids being at school and fell back asleep as soon as Beloved was out the door and on his way to work. I slept for 3 hours and awoke feeling a bit groggy but no longer like I was going to fall over my own feet.

After I woke up from my nap, I took a short walk. I thought it would be refreshing. Instead, it was just taking a walk and not really anything else. Once I got home, I started cleaning. It took me about 2 hours to get the kitchen mostly clean. I had the boys clean up the living room and their bed room. It was like trying to bathe a cat. All but impossible and extremely frustrating. Right now, they're screwing around and being loud. I just looked over and saw that they dumped out their toy box. The room was clean for literally 15 minutes until they dumped it out.

A part of me wants to weep with frustration. I have been trying so hard to keep this place clean enough so that I could walk through with out stepping on something. But as soon as it is clean, the boys dump stuff out and I'm stepping on things again. I try to stay on top of the housework but I get so tired, so worn out and feeling hopeless, that it just piles up as I stare at it and quietly wonder how I landed in this situation. I suppose you could describe what I'm feeling is quiet desperation, though I don't know what I am desperate for.

I applied for disability a little while back. I got their decision in the mail today. It was upsetting and I keep trying to look for a bright side but I can't find it. They denied my application. They said that the information from my doctors wasn't enough and that my four hospitalizations didn't count. And they've said that I am beyond the window of time where I could apply again. Basically, Social Security said no and they're not going to talk to me. I am trying to take it as a sign that I'm not as bad as I could be. But I just come away feeling defeated and upset.

It didn't help that it happened while I wasn't feeling well. I know I should be seeing my therapist more often but even with the fee reduction, we really can't afford my going as often as I was. Right now, I still have a past due amount of almost $200 from when they initially did the rate change and I was in limbo not knowing if my application to have my fee reduced was going to be applied or prorated to include the time I was on the hook for the full amount.

I feel like I need to do something to bring in more money. Beloved tells me that my not having a job out of the house is not the problem. He tells me that I save us tons of money being home with the kids and taking care of all the household stuff. I try to remember it. But then I screw up the check book and suddenly we have huge overdraft fees and the balancing game of paying the bills gets completely screwed up. When my student loan was forgiven at the end of last year, I knew it was going to change how much our health insurance is going to cost. Because we are not going to have that debt hanging over our heads, the amount of credits given to us to help reduce the cost of the health insurance are going to go down. I am afraid that the cost of the insurance will double and we won't be able to afford it. The mess that is the ACA health insurance stuff, I was burned a bit by it last year. I was with BlueCross/BlueShield last year. Then, when it was time to renew my premium suddenly jumped to $800 a month compared to the $50 it was before. I am afraid of that happening again.

With out health insurance, my medication is prohibitively expensive. We burned through all of our savings on the cost of medications. We're trying to rebuild that but it is slow going. There is so much about this mess that I just don't understand, other than everything is expensive. I panic some when I think about it. This is one of the things that keeps me up at night. I wish I wasn't so afraid of interacting with unfamiliar people or of rejection. This way I could get my foot in the door on professional writing stuff. Gods, I hate my anxiety. I wish it would just go away so I could do stuff like I did before this Bipolar business began. At least then I could manage it somewhat. Now, it shakes me around like a terrier with a rag doll.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Victim blaming is bullshit.

What do these four memes have in common? 1. They're pseudo spirituality/philosophy. 2. They're surprisingly popular. 3. They blame victims and imply that the victim is in collusion with that which is victimizing them. To say this makes me angry is like saying that Vesuvius only popped a little smoke when it buried Pompeii. To say that this makes me disgusted is like saying that the Atlantic is a bit damp. Now, some may look at these memes and say, "I don't see the blaming? It's something uplifting and stuff."

You can take things and make them look acceptable and pleasant. These memes are beautifully composed with an elegant type font, most of the time. Some come with stunning pictures (no.4) and some come with charming ones (no.1). Appearance does not add legitimacy. They are as false as the memes putting Adolph Hitler's quotes with Taylor Swift's pictures.*  We're going to break these memes down one by one. Brace for a wall of text coming soon.

Meme No. 1: Image - a 'stained glass' heart done in shades of red and pinks on a grey background with a ruby colored border. Text - You do not attract what you want. You attract what you are.

Problem number one with this meme is it places the onus of responsibility for all events happening on the reader. In the case of happy or pleasant events, the reader believes themselves to be good and a happy person. In the case of hostile and distressing, if not traumatic events, the reader believes themselves to be a person who is hostile and distressing (if not abusive). Additionally, the meme encourages what psychologists call magical thinking** and leads the person to believe they are responsible for the events that happen to them. It sets them up for the scenario of insanely high self expectations because they believe that they must change who they are to prevent the hostile and distressing experiences from happening.

Problem number two with this meme is that it is generally taken to be affirmative of the 'good' interpretations. There is no consideration for the alternate views, which are equally valid because they're built upon the same premise.  It encourages outsiders to tell the person in the situation that they are solely responsible for what has happened, thereby reinforcing the dangerous message of this meme and encouraging the outsiders to take a position of false security. Consider the following scenario: person A is in an impoverished state. Person B perpetuates meme no.1. Person B then moves on to other circumstances falsely believing that this 'gem of wisdom' they have provided person A with a solution to their problem and believes themselves to be absolved of the responsibility they have to person A as per the social contract that implicitly tells them that they must provide assistance when in their means to those who have need of it.

In the case of poverty, this is a rather disgusting scenario.  This is related ideologically to the 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' meme, by the way. In both cases, the meme places the onus of resolving the problem solely upon the victim by way of the passerby denying the demand of the social contract that says they should assist the victim. This can be especially dangerous in cases of abuse and violence. It can add to a victims sense of despair and guilt, which work to keep them psychologically trapped in the abuse cycle.

Meme No. 2: Image - Male figure, back lit by the sky, looking upon an ocean scene. Image is in black and white, with greater emphasis upon the white elements of the picture due to composition. Text - Never blame anyone in your life. Good people give you happiness. Bad people give you experience. Worst people give you a lesson. And the best people give you memories.

This is one that made me so angry I started to feel a little bit sick when my eyes lit on it. My first argument is with this idea that blame is somehow wrong and to be shunned. Blame is another word for demanding someone take accountability for their actions. It is how we seek redress of our grievances. Yes, it can be used in a fashion to imprint the idea that a certain individual is responsible for circumstances that they did not create. It is a bit of situational irony that this meme does just that with how it is constructed. It oversimplifies people into four arbitrary categories. And those categories don't make sense.

You can gain experience from interacting with a good person. A bad person can at times give you happiness. Those kinds of experiences come from all walks of life and all kinds of people. Memories are formed every time you experience something. The strength of emotion and the force of the experience is what determines which memories are lasting. And lessons... Oh, lessons are everywhere. But not everything is a lesson.

Sometimes terrible things happen because people choose to do them. I guess if you stretch the concept a little bit, the lesson you get from that is to stay away from those sort of people. But that turns into the victim avoiding people who are not necessarily the ones that do terrible things. And the assumption that the people who do terrible things are something obvious like Snidely Whiplash. A better version of the people who do awful things would be Delores Umbridge. She looks and seems to be a pleasant person. Until she decides not to be. And this idea that the worst people are teaching someone a lesson makes it sound like the victim *needed* to go through the experience. No one needs to be victimized. If you argue that victimizing someone is a tolerable way to teach them something, you are well on the road to being a monster yourself.

Meme No. 3: Image - Grey background, upon close inspection looks to be Aida fabric. Text - A negative thinker sees a difficulty in every opportunity. A positive thinker sees an opportunity in ever difficulty.

Ok, my argument with this is grounded in two things. First, your attitude has literally no reflection upon the circumstances you are in. You can be pessimistic and still be standing in a rain storm. You can be an optimist in the SAME rain storm. That rain may pose a difficulty to both persons regardless of their opinions or feelings about it. If you're going to say that your feelings can cause rain to fall, you need to look long and hard at the statement and consider if you're going to commit to it. Because that opens up a whole different can of worms. Some magic(k) practitioners I know and a few govt. agencies are going to want to have a conversation with you.

The assumption that opportunity is a good thing has always irritated me. The word opportunity is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

1:  a favorable juncture of circumstances opportunity
for rest and refreshment>
2:  a good chance for advancement or progress

No where does it say it is a good thing. That favorable juncture of circumstances can apply to everything from growing flowers, violent crime, and the timing of hurricane landfall to cause the greatest amount of damage.

So, in brief, my argument with meme no.3 is that it is placing the onus of being responsible for the situation upon the mental and emotional state of the observer. It implies that positive situations arise because of positive mental and emotional states. And that negative situations arise because of the negative equivalent. It also paints a false picture of what opportunity means. It doesn't mean that the situation with suddenly transform from the proverbial rain that the optimist and the pessimist are standing it to a bright sunny day if the pessimist becomes and optimist or a howling blizzard if the optimist becomes a pessimist.

Meme No. 4: Image - A lush fantasy scene featuring mountains in the foreground and a celestial body (possibly a satellite but equally possible to be another planet) in shades of red and white, with touches of deep purple. Text - Accept what arises in this moment and surrender to it. Enjoy it and see that it is you. Everything that arises is your awareness - It is you - but you can sculpt what goes on. You can sculpt the human experience when you accept what is. Become aware of what is now and step back.

This meme is a mishmash of concepts. Some useful, some not so useful, and some that are dangerous. Let's start with the useful concept presented here. Becoming aware of what circumstances you are in and pausing to reflect before engaging in action is a wise thing to do. I don't have argument with this concept that the meme is presenting. I think they worded it too vaguely but I think that is because of all the other concepts they try to hang off of it.

Accepting a situation and surrendering to it is not a good standard operating procedure. There are times where you simply can not accept a situation, because accepting implies that it is tolerable and there are things in this world that are intolerable, things that would be lethal if you simply accepted and surrendered to it. It's a fast way to die of hypothermia, for example. Encouraging us to enjoy the moments we experience is foolish optimism. There are going to be experiences you are not going to enjoy. They're going to be ugly, painful, and quite possibly traumatic. You need to acknowledge this fact, not try to hide it behind some blissed out argument that we should 'enjoy the moment.'

You are not the situation. You are not the moment. You are an observer. You are a participant. You may be a victim. To say that you are the situation and/or the moment robs you of your autonomy. And more repulsively, presents that you are the one victimizing yourself. The assailant is completely absolved of responsibility from this worldview because according to the worldview, the assailant is part of you. The only circumstance where you can have the assailant be part of you is if you are engaging in self harming behavior. That is literally the only circumstance that can happen.

The supposedly empowering statement that we can 'sculpt' human experience is pablum. There is no real density to this statement. Yes, we can make choices and we can, to some extent, choose how we feel or what our reactions to a situation are. But we have no control over the total experience. There will always be factors beyond our ability to quantify that are going to impact each moment. And 99.9% of the time, all of the external factors are ones that we have limited control over, at best. But that limited control can fail because of yet other external factors. We can set the thermostat to 72o and the heater can break or the temperatures outside be of such a high difference from indoors that the thermostat setting does not reflect the ambient temperature of a room. If we can not have complete control over indoor heating, why would anyone think in their wildest dreams that they have complete control over anything.***

The worst thing about these four memes is that people trot them out on a daily basis and use similar ones to present this picture that we are in control of the world and our minds, that 'bad' and 'worst' people are recognizable immediately, and that victims are victims because they choose to be. No one chooses to be victimized. Let's drop this feel good bullshit, because it only makes other people feel good about turning a blind eye to the inhumanities of the world.

* This site is absolutely brilliant satire. There is also one out there putting Taylor Swift quotes on pictures of Hitler. That is equally hilarious. If your sense of humor is as bent as mine.

** Yes, I am a witch. Yes, I perform magic(k) but this is entirely different. The magic(k) that I perform is not based in assumptions that I am the primary cause of all events happening to me.

*** Yes, I recognize the irony of my stating this given my difficulties with the urge to control EVERYTHING about myself.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Pushing forward.

I haven't been feeling well. After several months of feeling relatively well, I find myself sliding into a depressive episode. Growing anxiety, paranoia, and depression make it harder for me to go out of the house and do stuff. It makes me look at the stuff I have been working on and feel despair over finishing it. A part of me is angry because I feel like I've been robbed of something good and wonderful.

That anger is part of what keeps me pushing forward. A part of me growls 'I'm not done yet." at the part of me that says I should give up on everything. I am beginning to suspect, however, that the anger is keeping me from dealing with the vital elements of my condition that impact my life. I can't just ignore my problems sleeping. I can't just ignore when I skip meals because I don't have the heart to make myself eat. I can't insist that I am fine when I'm slowly falling apart.

I don't know what to do about this anger. I don't know what to do about how my mood keeps steadily dropping. I have so much that I wanted to do as soon as the kids went back to school. Now I find myself ready to throw in the towel on it before I have even reached the threshold. And that makes me feel ashamed and a little sick.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Knitting and stuff.

I have been busy working on projects. I started a sweater for Beloved. I haven't worked on it much because I'm honestly rather bored with it. The back is going to be straight up garter stitch. I have many rows to go until I'm at the shoulders and I can switch to a pattern of some sort. He was kinda difficult to get an answer as to if he wanted cables on it. That is part of the reason why it took so long to get started on this.

I am adapting a pattern from Piecework's last issue. That is a pattern that dates from World War I and was distributed by the Red Cross for civilians to knit up as doing their part for the war effort. I had to change the dimensions of the sweater because as it was written it would have been two sizes too small for Beloved. He expressed a desire for the sweater to not be 'boring' and that lead to my trying to pry out of him what he meant by not boring. My plan, as it stands now, is to knit up the back in garter stitch. The front will have alternating rows of garter and stockinette stitch. There will be a center panel with a knotwork design on it. I am debating drawing out the knotwork design on paper and converting it into a knitting pattern or if I am going to use a cable that I saw in my big book of knitting stitches.

I have started a new anxiety project. This is something I work on when I'm feeling anxious. It is a basic top down shawl. The pattern called for it to be in garter stitch but I've been doing it in stockinette because I prefer the smooth feeling of stockinette.

I have three balls of this colorway. I expect it will be enough to make a fair sized shawl. I don't know if I am going to keep it or not. Beloved has expressed appreciation of the colorway. He looked at me like I had lost my mind when I said he could have it when I was done. So, I guess I'll have to get someone else to take it.

Then there is my anniv. gift to Beloved. It isn't finished but it will be a messenger bag. I'm going to line it with blue felt. If I can find it in royal blue, that would be fantastic. I haven't decided how I am going to make the strap. The last messenger bag I made, I did a basic crochet strap and it stretched out a LOT. I don't know if Tunisian crochet will work for this or not. I was amused, however, that Beloved didn't realize I was crocheting this for him until I hit the point where I knew it wouldn't be done in time for our anniv. When I hit that point, I decided I'd tell him what it was and that I'm trying to finish it up quickly. This Friday (9/4) marks 11 years of marriage.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Plurality of Love

I am always horrified and repulsed when someone says that they couldn't possibly have another child because they 'don't have enough love in their heart for more children.' This idea that love is a scarce resource has always repulsed me. People have this false idea that romantic relationships should be monogamous because they 'can't' love more than one person. It is one thing to be monogamous because that is what works for you.

Loving one person versus loving many people is a bullshit argument. I love my husband and I love my children. Right there, I am loving more than one person. Love is something that we can hold for many, many people to varying degrees. Romantic love is different from familial love which is different from platonic love. But here's the crazy idea, all of these forms of love are different on the basis of context and expression. That feeling of love is still there otherwise we wouldn't call it love.

I was talking with my old friend K. from high school who mentioned her repulsion with that idea I mentioned at the beginning of this post. We talked about it for a minute and decided that it was a complete cop out. If you don't want more children, own that shit. You don't need to justify yourself to anybody. If you don't want to be polyamorous, own it. Again, there is no reason to justify yourself.

Love is love. It is separate from how big your family is, how many friends you have, who your lover(s) are, or how much shit you own. We need to stop conflating love and its context. It is lazy and irresponsible. It also sets up this horrible standard that love can only manifest in X number of forms if you are Y type of person in Z situation. Love doesn't depend on the context. Love happens on its own. It is like water. It may take the shape of the container it is in (the context) but it is not the same thing as what is holding it.

And the glorious thing about love is that unlike water, the more you give away, the more you have. It is a self renewing resource. Emotional investment is a tricky thing. We can get exhausted from emotional investment but it doesn't negate the emotions. If I have learned anything from this bullshit with bipolar that I have been dealing with for the last six years, I have learned that emotion is separate from context. Correlation does not equate causation.

Yes, there are a great many things that can provoke an emotional response, given the correct context. That, however, is a case of you responding to stimuli and then interpreting it in an emotional context. Let's think about it for a second. The physical symptoms of the body's arousal response are all pretty much the same. The limbic system for humans is more or less the same for each human and does the same thing, most of the time. The frontal cortex processes the stimuli as it hits the limbic system. For a moment, all you've got is the physical response to the stimulus. But, depending on how the frontal cortex processes the situation, that response can be fear, anger, excitement, anxiety, sexual arousal, or something entirely different.

Love is the same set of sensations every time. That's how we identify it from other emotions. The context helps us assess what is provoking that response. It can be the face of our child, the face of our lover, the sight of a pet, a favorite item, or anything else you can possibly have that stimulates that response. Yes, the process that the love response comes from is somewhat more complex than that of the fight-or-flight response. It doesn't change the fact that it is the same response for different stimuli.

Damn near anything can provoke a fight-or-flight response given the correct context. Why can't anyone figure out that it is the same thing with love?