The Knitting Journeyman

Gathering Up One Thread At A Time As I Weave This Web Of Mine.....

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April Is Autism Awareness Month

            You may not get a great deal of valid and scientific information from this post.  This is just me.  Talking about something very important to me.
            My beautiful perfect son has been diagnosed as high functioning autistic.  Not aspergers.  Not anything else.  What I am going to present to you is my own opinion.  And my own experience.
            My son has been diagnosed as ‘within the autistic spectrum’.  Do you know what that really means?  It really means that doctor’s don’t want to spend the time or expend the effort to learn what it might really be.  “Autistic Spectrum” is the new ADD/ADHD.  It means doctors can slap this label on someone and never have to do much more than that.
            My son.  The boy I have said for going on six years has a hearing disorder.  He’s not deaf, per se, but he has radically reduced hearing in at least one ear.  That I know due to all the experiments I put the poor kid through.  Nothing painful or hurtful.  Just your basic every day can you hear me now tests. 
            My son.  The boy who inherited MY ADHD, as I inherited it from my mother and her side of the family.  The ADHD angle has never been explored by anyone, but it is ever noticeable.  I tap.  Constantly.  When I was younger, the tapping got me beat, literally.  I learned to chew instead.  I have scars on the inside of both cheeks and on my lower lip, although there are faint lines on my upper lip as well.  If I cannot move outright, I learned, I would do something inconspicuous so there would be no beatings.  Time outs are horrors for N.  He cannot sit still.  Neither can his sister, who has been diagnosed as ‘normal’ all her life.
            My son.  The boy who loves to wrestle and usually every week-end he is with me, I get cracked in the head, by his head, by an elbow, a knee or something.  The last time N hit me really hard—I took a head butt to the mouth—I still have a bruise on my nose where he smacked my nose ring, a month later—he grabbed my face and peered into my eyes—‘Are you ok, Mama?’  He turned my face this way and that to check me out.  ‘I’m sorry I hurt you.  Are you ok?’  He also gave me kisses to make it all better. 
            My son.  He wakes up every morning and immediately goes to check on his big sister, who sleeps later than he does, if he lets her.  He gives her hugs and kisses to wake her up.  This child will go running out of nowhere, darn near tackle his sister, and give her hugs that lift her off the ground, because he loves her so much.
            My son.  He likes to bongo drum the heck out of the carpet.  That’s his ‘stim’.
            My son.  Who has trouble hearing, so he has trouble forming words at times.  He tries so very hard to make himself understood, but sometimes he gets frustrated and upset.  Me, when that happens, I roll my eyes, figuratively stomp my feet (usually figuratively) and I leave the room.  N gets upset.  He cries.  Or screams.  If we can get him to hear us over his own crying, and get him to realize we are there and listening, he stops and he does try to get us to understand what is going on with him.
            My son.  He does melt down.  Who doesn’t?  He does get over-excited in a crowded situation.  So do I. I tend to avoid crowds as much as possible anyway, because I hate all the errant energies running amok.  His sister melts down, a lot more often than N. 
            My son, who speaks, sings, laughs, giggles, parrots back all sorts of dialogue and overheard conversation (OMG—is that scary—the repeating back of conversations part). 
            My son, who loves to tickle and be tickled, who loves to wrestle and rough house, who loves to sit up against me and play with my hair for hours on end.  R will tease me all the time that my son is going to be a hair dresser one day.  The insinuation, of course, is the whole gay hair dresser aspect.  So what if he is?  Gay or a hair dresser?  So what?  He’s still my son.  I will not love him, could not love him, any less.  I can only love him more.
            My son who loves to run around naked, although we mandate a strict ‘keep your underwear on’ policy. 
            My son who loves to take things apart, play on the computer, dig in the dirt, water plants, fold clothes, play drums and guitar and whatever other instrument he can find.
            My son who loves dolls, pirates, nut crackers, and octopus.  The boy I knit the strangest things for and he always loves them.  My son with the soft gentle compassionate side.
            My son, who does not have an off button, who can and will push all your buttons until the button breaks and you want to break him.  The boy with the wild and obnoxious sense of humor, who thinks wiping snot on you is so hilarious he will keep doing it and keep doing it until you have no choice but to give him a time out…which is nearly as hard on you as it is on him.
            My son, who understands when you talk to him like a person.  My son, who doesn’t quite understand that everything in the world does not belong to him.  My son, who is so perfect and artistic and wonderful and loving and giving.
            My son, the stinky little creep who stole my heart the moment he was born.
            He’s just like anyone else, with his own idiosyncrasies and foibles and nuances and layers, like an ogre’s onion.  The deep silent flow of the river is my son.
            Am I saying he has been misdiagnosed?  Not really.  I am saying he has been UNDER diagnosed.  I am saying that there are so many levels of ‘autism’, but no one wants to distinguish why this child has an uneasy grasp of some social interactions while this child is locked away inside himself unable to speak or move on his own.  How can those two people have the same disease?  They do NOT have the same disease.
            A “spectrum” is insufficient.  Low functioning or high functioning…no one cares once they hear the word “autistic”.  All anyone ‘hears’ once the word ‘autistic’ is uttered is there is no hope for this kid and trying to interact with him or understand him is a lost cause. 
            I don’t tell people, yes, my son is autistic.  I would prefer, for my son’s own personal sense of well-being and self-esteem, that people think I am a horrible mother when my son goes tearing off down the aisle in the mall, giggling like the Mad Hatter himself, refusing to listen to a word I say, because to him this is all a fun game of chase.  I would rather people look at me with disdain, rather than look at him with disdain and with pity, as if autism is somehow contagious, and he were some lost cause to be shut away in a nursing facility his entire life.
            I have read so many articles about the proposed dismissal of the term ‘Asperger’s disease’Asperger’s is a form of high functioning autism.  The term ‘high functioning’ alone gives many of these kids hope that they can find a way ‘out’, that people will stop looking down on them.  It gives them confidence to be real people, not some ‘thing’ with a disease that no one wants to understand, a disease that makes most people go out of their way to avoid interacting with that kid.  Let us take all that hope away, all that self-esteem and self-confidence, simply because it is so much easier for doctor’s to diagnose ‘autistic spectrum’ rather than Asperger’s. 
            Does anyone else remember the statistics, since Autism has taken over the public mind, where 80-95% of all children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD were misdiagnosed…but it was so much easier to put kids on drugs to make them behave a certain way, rather than trying to find out what might actually be wrong with them?  This is the autistic revolution.  Let’s slap any sort of label on a kid that makes our job that much easier and call it a day.  Who cares if they are high functioning or low functioning or even functioning at all?  Who cares if there might be 100 or more diseases currently labeled as ‘within the autistic spectrum’ that may be treated differently than the way ‘most’ autistic kids are treated.
            My son has a sensitive stomach.  He was born sensitive to chemicals and additives in foods.  That doesn’t mean that if prepared the right way the kid wouldn’t eat a whole barnyard full of animals and vegetables.  It means that processed foods and he do not get along.  Overall, his system has had to learn to adapt, although he still prefers natural and unprocessed foods over pre-packaged anything.  Cantaloupe and watermelon are his favorite things.  Not that cheesy poofs don’t play a mean second there.
            He also has my sensitivity to blood sugar issues.  Which means, when he doesn’t get enough food into his system, his blood sugar drops, and he gets cranky and whiny.  When his blood sugar is low, his ability to deal with other people drops.  Most of the problems we were having, with both E and with N, were solved once we see the kids getting tired and droopy and we feed them.  That fixes more than 75-85% of all the issues we have, right there.  The other bit is more trying to find something they will actually eat, sometimes.
            I am not asking for doctors to do anything more than their jobs.  Parents should not have to be forced to fight every single step of the way, simply to find the help they need for their children.  Doctors should not be able to take away things, like Asperger’s, when it means so much to the children’s self-esteem, just because it makes things easier on the doctor.  A doctor is supposed to serve his patient’s best interests, not his own.  Especially when that patient is a child.
            That’s it.  Really.  That’s all I have to say.

Here are some resources for you to learn more about people who are autistic in one way or another.
            Temple Grandin
            Daniel Tammet
            John Elder Robison
            Kim Peek
Just to name a few.
            Google ‘Autism’ or ‘Autism Awareness’, anything in that range, and you will come up with so many choices, so many sites.  There is a great deal of information out there.  Do your research.  Make up your own mind.
            I will probably post more throughout the month of April about autism, and about my son and our journey through and with autism.  Please stay tuned.

Last Wish For March

            Jamie is so GOOD at those questions that seem to simple, but upon examination tend to explode into this deep catharsis type thing.

            My original intent was to just say—I want to meet all my goals.  Ok, well, it is obvious I am not finishing the diotima shell today, as my goal was to have it done by the end of the month.  All my writing goals.  All my house cleaning goals, at both houses.  All my goals in regards to the small people.  All my goals in regards to the pets.  Yada yada yada.

            So, yes, those are very respectable goals.  Yes, I very much want to accomplish these things, as well as all the other goals I have set for myself, written down in a variety of different places, note cards and notebooks…but that’s not the crux of the issue.

            I want to be happy.  Funny, the closer I get to it, the more happy I have, the more I actually want to have in my life.  I have been happy deficit for so very long that even the smallest taste of it goes a very long way.

            I want to live out away from human society.  Strange for a Healer and a Priest like me, I know.  I like my people.  I pretty much hate society.  I will openly admit to being a misanthrope, every single day.  I want to find that niche between the here and now that is the world and the world before it all went to hell in a hand basket.  I was born in the wrong century.  We all know that.  I want to find that place where I am happy and comfortable, somewhere between the 16th century and the 21st century. 

            Maybe I said that wrong.  I do not want to FIND anything.  I want to create that space for myself.  I want to create that balance between the past and the present, between Society and Humanity (no, they are not the same things). 

            Yes, I think that is it.

            I wish to create my own space and my own niche in this world, from whence I can operate as Society would have me operate and from whence I can pursue all those myriad habits and art forms that once were deemed mandatory in life, like spinning, raising rabbits, growing food, self-sufficiency.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Let's Revisit The Full Moon, Shall We?

The original Full Moon Post appears here.

This current post is far you go:

            The Full Moon is, like so many other things, a Door.  It swings open; it swings shut.  I have spent many Full Moons working with, and working within, these Doors.  I never like to open Doors for others, but yesterday I had to open one for R’s dog Shadow.  Shadow passed last night, into the next world.  He went with peace, with dignity, and with grace.  He also went w a smile, as if he were a younger dog again and it was time for him to chase rabbits.  Maybe he’ll even catch some now.  I know he is no longer in pain, but we miss him dearly here.  He was more than just a good friend.

            It is not with a somber heart that I greet this day; it is with a light and open heart.  Death is not an ending; it is only a beginning. 

            The Full Moon.  I have listened to the whispers at the nape of my neck for long years, those soft sibilant seductions stroking my flesh.  I do not ignore them.  It may take me a bit to reach out to fulfill them, but I always move towards these goals.
            The whispers have been getting louder lately.  More persistent.  They are not things that I have never heard, nor never desired.  To say they are the same old, same old, however, would be misleading.

            There is the Rescue Ranch, which comes nearer and nearer every year.  There is the drawing and painting.  There is the writing.  There is the growing things.  There are the animals.  There is the spinning.  There is knitting and crocheting.  There is sewing. 

            If you’ve kept up w my blog for years, you’ll know, I have been trying to get out of the Priesthood, for lack of a better term, as my everyday life, for a long time.  I am not about to drop everything, as healing is in my DNA, but I have wanted for years to shift the focus away from my healing work and back to my artistic work, back towards my green lifestyle work.  I have also wanted to focus more on my family, have more children, firmly anchor us as a family and build upon the foundations and become the rock that I try to be in the shifting currents of the world.


Strangely enough, as we were going through the houses to gather things to donate to the abused women’s charity that came for their pick-up this morning, I kept thinking to myself, if I lost it all, what would that mean to me?  What would I really miss?

            See, my one year anniversary is coming up, the time to take stock of everything.  In early April.  Nearly a year ago, well, fine, more than that, but the ‘official’ date is in early April (more on that as it approaches).  In November, 2008, we had that accident.  We almost lost everything then.  The car.  All our stuff.  All my writing.  Anything that might have been important to me…was not actually lost.  The most important things to me…were and are…my children and the people who love us.  My dog was safe.  The dog traveling w me was scared, but who can blame him?  The bird was ok.  My daughter was fine, save for a small bump on her head.  The rest, it was just stuff.  In the end, I could have lost all of it and still been happy, still been alive.  Even now, as I watch one friend pass on, I am struck thinking, one day it will happen to all of us.  There is no way around that.

           Another thing that came up as I was sorting through clothing and whatnot at my own house to donate was one question:  why am I doing this?  Every time I would open a drawer, look in a cabinet, whatever, I would ask myself, why am I doing this?  It had nothing to do w why am I donating this…that answer is simple.  One, because I want to help those less fortunate and two, because I need to pare down and  stop holding on to things that really do not mean anything to me.  It’s a win-win scenario there.  I lessen my load and my burden, while helping someone else who has nothing, but needs so much.  My real question came more from the …am I getting rid of this because I don’t want or need it…or am I getting rid of it because I think someone else would want me to get rid of it?  

            R always spicks on me about my jeans.  I don’t like plain old regular blue jeans.  I want jeans w stripes, or with embroidery, or that are made differently than any other pair.  I wear jeans that have leather laces up both sides.  I wear jeans that have fabric cut-outs in places.  My favorite pair of jeans is an old pair of men’s jeans that I found in the thrift store for $1 that are worn and thin and velvety soft, with a button fly and weird bleach stains here and there.  The jeans have character.  I like that.  I will buy weird things because they are weird and I like it.  I went through my jeans and pulled out several pairs of jeans, some with purposeful bleach patterns, some with embroidery, yada yada, and every time I pulled out a pair of jeans to get rid of, I stopped and thought…am I doing this for me…or am I doing it because R would like it if I did it?  Am I doing this because I am trying to fit into some sort of mold that is not me…or am I genuinely doing it because I want to do it for me?

            You see, I have spent more than 30 years living my life for someone, anyone, else but me.  That is truly what is precious about my life right now.  I can and do live for me, not because some man thinks I should behave this way or dress that way.  Not because society says I should do this or I should do that.  I have had the worst issues since we moved out of WV, trying to figure out exactly who I am and what I want.  You would think I would know, having lived my own life for so long, but honestly, I never allowed myself to actually live my own life.

            The Rescue Ranch is something I used to think about now and then, when I was the walking dead, working as a telephone operator, stuck w T of the wandering pants.  I always planned to buy property and have a farm of some sort, after he died.  I knew I would never have a life of my own, until after his demise.  He would never allow that.  Now, with hindsight, I see he could not allow me to have my own life because it would have interfered so with his.  But I made the choices that kept me there, even though I thought I was doing it because I loved him.  I allowed him to abuse and torment me.  I could have left.  I should have left.  A million times over.  I don’t bother thinking about what might have been if I had had the courage to walk away from him at any point before we got married, before we took the SBC jobs, before we moved to St Louis.  The seed of the Ranch has always been there.  I’ve never really acted upon it.

            Now I can.  Now I am.  I get lost in the wonder of being allowed to do things sometimes.

            By the way, every item I got rid of, every piece of clothing I purged from my wardrobe, every dish, every skein of yarn, every knitting needle and bit of fabric I donated, I did it all for me.  One step at a time, I am reclaiming my own true self by pulling away all these fibrous layers of stuff with which I have long wrapped myself to protect me from…me…trying to please others over myself.

            There is nothing actually that surprising about the things worming to the surface of late.  All these ideas have been here lying dormant all along.

            What is so spectacular at the moment is how I am embracing the ideas, be it one at a time, be it at a snail’s pace, whichever way things come to be, but I am more than willing to see me, to embrace me.  That is the best thing.  That is something I did not count on.

            The picture of the Fortune Cat on my dreamboard is merely a representation of how I feel about the coming future.  Ever so lucky.  Good things are already on my plate.  More good things are coming, even now as we speak.  I am thoroughly enjoying this new round of nesting, the one where I am not building and clinging to my nest, but rather sorting out the wheat from the chaff and letting all the unnecessary things float away, on whatever breeze will have them.

            My only real goal is to hit the miscellaneous boxes that await in my basement.  You know the miscellaneous boxes.  After you’ve moved, you have this box where you keep sticking all this little stuff that doesn’t really have any other place to go, but you don’t want to let go of it and you don’t really have a use for it, but maybe one day you will, so you hold on to all this stuff in this box…well, I have a box like that for every move I’ve made since we left AR.  Sometimes I have shifted items around, changed things from one box to another.  I have even gone through the boxes, pondering what to do w everything, more than once after every move.  Now I have I think two, maybe three boxes of miscellaneous garbage sitting in my basement, waiting for me to do something with all that stuff.  My goal is to go through it without mercy and to toss everything that does not have a purpose…if there is no room to keep it, it’s gone. 

            This is more than just preparing to move in w R permanently, in one big house, rather than the way we’re living w him now, between the two houses.  This is my own nesting process.  I feel like a silk worm coming out of her cocoon. 
I like this.  The world is my oyster these days.  I like that.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Full Moon Dreams

         ‘T is a sad Full Moon upon us this day.  R’s 13 yo dog is nearing the end.  Nothing we can do there.  It’s been coming for awhile.  Yet, today, I look at him and think, there probably won’t be a tomorrow in this world for the old man.   How then to turn my mind to happier, more on down the line things?

            I made my Full Moon Dreamboard this morning, before things grew quite so dire.  So there is a great deal of hope and looking forward in the piece.  Funnily enough, the whole thing, other than the colored pencil background, comes from the children’s menu of PF Chang’s, which is where we ate last night, after running all our nefarious errands, after dropping N back at T’s house.

            As sad as it seems, I only have one set of colored pencils at R’s house.  I got up early and made this bitty collage—but there was no glue, no glue sticks, nothing useful.  Lucky me, I couldn’t get the gorilla glue open enough to use it.  Yes, I did contemplate it.  I ended up coloring in the background.  Then I cut out the pictures I wanted to use.  And taped them to the background, because that, after ransacking the house, and not trusting myself to finish things if I waited until we went to my house today, tape was all I could find.

            So, take this dreamboard for what you will.  I know it means the future is so bright I have to wear shades…but then, that has always been my future.
            The past is the past and I am not going to ask.  The future is so bright…I get to mix up song lyrics from songs from decades ago…
            More to come…enjoy your own dreams.  May you soar ever higher…every day.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Balancing My Act

            Pria asks a valuable question: How Do You Find Balance?  If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you have found that that strange sense of balance is something I often seek.  However, of late, things keep falling into place and my life seems to be balancing me, rather than me balancing it.  It is all about choices.  The choices I make and why, and how, I make them.
      There is work.  There are the children.  There is housework.  There is the boyfriend/lover.  There are friends.  There is extended family.  Where are the lines drawn?  Where do we find the time to make the space we need just to be, just to breathe?
      I have spent so much time fighting to find time, fighting to make time.  I don’t fight anymore.  Do I still feel overwhelmed?  Now and then, I do, of course.  Overall, however, I have found that peace, that space within, where my soul pauses to breathe in deep. 
      In the process of simplifying my life, I have found that I am naturally doing more than simply removing unwanted clutter from my physical surroundings.  A big lesson came this past week, when I went through my wardrobe yet again and walked away with three huge bags of clothing to donate to the abused women’s shelter.  I had thought that I had already gotten rid of more than enough clothing, but it seems, I was wrong.
      I am clearing out the spaces in my life that are not held by physical items.  I am making time for things, without real effort, because I decided to choose things that mean something to me.  I no longer will do ‘work’ that does not resonate with me.  I no longer take any client with whom I do not feel a genuine connection.  I do give recommendations to other services though; it is not as if I turn people out in the cold.  I am working more on the other genres in my work life: writing, painting, birthing spirit dolls.  I am knitting more.  The spinning is coming.
      It’s been more about slowing down.  It’s been about taking stock of who I am and what I really want, not what others want of me or for me.  This past Wednesday, I didn’t do Wishcasting with Jamie and the group, because I did not feel the question applied to me this week:  What do you wish to take a break from?  I felt this question didn’t apply to me because I have already dealt with all the things that would weigh on me so and make me need to take a break.  Not that a break from my daughter now and then would not be a good thing, but overall, it’s not necessary.
      I have trimmed away the things in my life that don’t mean as much to me, even when others are telling me I have to do this and I have to do that.  I tend to get caught up in trying to market myself and trying to maintain an online presence and trying to do all these little myriad things.  I don’t like myself and I don’t like my life then.  This is when the Universe kicks me a little something to say, it is ok.  Take that step back, or that mile back.  Read something like this, about how a writer got a two book deal without any social media at all.  This, of course, harkens back to my massage therapy and Yoga school doctrine of no matter what you do or how much you pay, word of mouth is always your most valuable tool to get more clients.  I take great refuge in that thought.
      Knitting takes time.  It is a meditative tool. 
I have adopted more pranayama into my every day world.  This helps me focus and calm myself throughout the day.
      Spinning takes time.  Combing and carding the fiber in order to spin it takes time. 
      Cooking and baking take time.  Cleaning the house takes time.
      Taking care of my family takes time.
      I take my time with love and care.
      I approach my art, whether writing or drawing or anything else, with that same attentive care and love.  Before I lay hands on a client, if it is a healing touch session, and even if there is no laying on of hands, I approach everything with love and care. 
      This is now how I approach my life.  If there is any sort of fear or anger or depression or anything that does not to me feel right, I don’t do it.
      This does not mean if I have writer’s block, I avoid the page.  I might collage something to get the juices flowing before going back to free write for awhile. 
This does not mean I have given up my schedule or my daily goals.  I still have a minimum of 1000 words per day to write, although since NaNowriMo, I have tried to keep the goal closer to 1800 to 2000 a day.  Poetry not included. 
      The extension I am seeing is terrific.  All I did was sit down and think, what means the most to me?  What best expresses me? 
      So, a 1950s housewife, coupled with a 1550s homesteader mentality, maybe?  Yes, that is me.  Some days I think I might just die without my computer to reach out and touch my friends and associates.  Some days I am more than glad that the kids overtake all the computers in the house and I have no choice but to ignore mine’s existence.
      Balance.  I keep my goals manageable.  I don’t feel bad if I let things fall behind as I pursue some other interest.  I don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, but clean laundry can lie in a pile for a week before I get around to folding it.  I write.  I play with my kids.  I snuggle with my boyfriend.  I see the future opening up again.  After everything that happened the past few years, it was difficult for me to see the way things were moving forward, especially when I focused more on getting somewhere rather than being somewhere.
      I always take the time to smell the flowers, to watch the wild birds play, to feel the wind on my face, to laugh and to be inspired.  That is how I maintain my balance.  I am finally very proud of myself, for the first time in a long time.  I am genuinely proud of myself and of who and what I am.

Gay Marriage

           Morgan, the Cape Cod Bride, wrote an incredible post on gay marriage—in SUPPORT of gay marriage. 
            I think the best part of her entire post is the last paragraph, where she remembers asking her parents what it was like to live with Jim Crow laws and the feminist movement.      
            It is so cruel to say being gay is the new being black.   Bit it does look that way these days, doesn't it?  It’s as if this country needs a cause to get behind, simply so we as a nation can pick out a sub-culture and put them in their place, for lack of a better what to put it, so we can feel better about ourselves as a whole.
            It’s getting to the point where we are afraid to pick on people due to their religion.  But, oh boy, if you are homosexual, you have no place to run.  We can all happily turn on you and tear you down.
            Has this country gone insane?
            I don’t care who you sleep with or why or how—the only time someone needs to step into someone else’s sexual arena is when there are children involved, animals involved, and/or forced activity is going on.  Ok, so necrophiliacs need some intervention there too, but still, that’s not the point I am trying to make.
            I know, we, as a country, are all about ‘helping our neighbor’, right?  What that means is I am going to stick my nose into all your business and ridicule you for not being just like me.  It’s retarded.
            Look around you.  I am betting that on a given day, for the most part, you cannot tell the gay guy from the Pagan soccer mom from the child molester from the mob hit man from the office tycoon from the struggling novelist.  Put them all in a line up and let’s see how you do.
            I am a staunch supporter of any underdog.  That is a given.  I am an even stauncher supporter of the Gay Movement.  I have gay friends.  I have gay relatives.  There is no way someone will look at me and tell me, you have to avoid X because they are gay.  No one is going to tell me to abandon either friends or family based on any sexual proclivity.  No one will tell me who to love or how to love them.  Ever.
            Dude, if it bothers you to think of John and Tom alone in their bed at night, think about something else.  If you can’t, seek professional help.  I guarantee John and Tom could care less what you are doing.
            This entire scenario of homosexual bashing reeks of fear and a need for power and control over others.  Someone needs a cause to support the fact that they are important, in their own minds, that they have to have  a mission to help these people.
            Check the history books.  The world over is full of actions brought forth by people who did what they did in the name of the good of all.  Genocide anyone?  Ethnic cleansing anyone?  Even though I speak of the world at large here, these are incidents that happened here on US soil as well. 
One person seems to need to find another person inferior in one way or another in order to solidify that first person’s hold on his own reality.  The white man comes to the Americas to escape persecution and bigotry in his homeland.  He finds the red skinned man.  Why don’t you stop today and ask a Native American how he feels about someone stepping in to ‘put him in his place’?  Did you think ethnic cleansing only happened in other parts of the world?  Germany?  Cambodia?  No.
The anti-homosexual ‘revolution’ is based on some person’s fear that someone else may take away his reason for living.  That one person needs to be able to have a cause…and anit-homosexualism is that cause.
Did your mother never teach you to love thy neighbor as you love thyself?  You must really hate yourself.  Did your mother never teach you to not say anything if you don’t have something nice to say?  Mine didn’t either, but she did teach me to speak the truth.  My truth is … no one really ever fits into the “normal” box and no one really should.  This country may be all about making everyone fit into the easy box, but, as statistics across the board show, that’s not really working on a grand scale.
            Need an example?  Read a book written in say, 1950 or so.  A regular over the counter romance novel of fiction.  Now read one written today.  I hear it over and over and over—you have to write where your audience is.  Namely, write down to the level of where your reader is.  The lack of education overall is all too apparent. 
            The best thing I know right now is so many of these anti-gay whatevers…are usually surrounded by the people they hate, and they don’t know it.  Be it the Pagan next door.  Be it the lesbian up the road, who is married and has children.  Secrets are always there.  Even in this day and age, when everyone thinks everything is right there available for all to see.  It isn’t.
            Don’t you have kids?  Don’t you know the more you tell kids, no, don’t do this, the more kids will flock to it because it is anti-establishment? Anything to be part of the revolution.  Anything to show the older set just how wrong about everything they are.  Same thing with adults as well.  Your bigotry is creating more of what you hate, not eradicating it.  People who would explore their sexuality and fall back towards what you call normal now determine to follow a more open homosexual path, simply because it feels good to thwart the Establishment.  Not that this is everyone's reason, but still....
            Read some history.  A hundred years from now, people will be HORRIFIED that this was such a huge topic and controversy.  Future generations will gape in horror at the atrocities committed in the name of I am a better human being than you are…mark my words.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yarny Tales

     I am simply in awe of the things going on in my life right at this moment.

     To say I am a yarn whore is an understatement.  I am the one to whom everyone gives their left-over yarn.  When Grammy dies or Auntie Em moves on, I inherit their yarn.  I have driven over an hour to places I have never before thought of going to collect yarn that has been stuffed into attics and into basements, simply so I could have more yarn. Because, as a knitter, you can never have enough yarn.

     Yes, I do as much charity knitting as I can.  Charity knitting does not count towards my personal knitting goals or stats.  If I am not doing it for me, I don’t count it…except to keep track on the database for Bev’s charity challenge, of which I have been a member since, I think, 2006. 

     I had told both my daughter and my mother I would go through my yarn and give them each some.  Along with the searching the house for things to donate to the abused women’s charity that is coming next week, I figured I would go through my yarn. 

     Now, I do have SABLE (stash accumulation beyond life expectancy)…and I have wanted to wean that down, and charity knitting hasn’t made as much of a dent as I would have liked…not between all the moving and the yarn being in storage rooms inaccessible to me for the most part.  Plus, I will still buy yarn rather than stash dive for projects, simply because it is easier.

     I think the idea really started weeks ago, when we visited Kirkwood Knittery.  All those beautiful yarns. I walked out of there, having spent over a hundred dollars, on just a few skeins of yarn…but the whole quality issue kept coming back to me.

     This is why those sweaters I find at the thrift stores aren’t worth as much to me anymore.  They may be cute.  They may be made from incredible yarns.  But in real value, they don’t have much worth.  If I had invested the time in myself and made the sweater myself, choosing the pattern, choosing the yarn, working my silly fingers raw if need be…then that sweater would be so much more valuable – and I would wear it more.

     As I searched through the house for more clothing, and other things, to donate this past week, I filled no less than three 33 gallon garbage bags, with more clothes.  One whole bag was full of sweaters.  I have roughly 10 sweaters left.  Ten.  I used to have probably ten times that amount, if not more.  I kept the ones that I really love to wear, which stunningly enough are the very simple ones.  I kept the ones w the best fibres.  I have one lace alpaca cardigan that I will not part w, no matter what.  Things like that, I kept.

     We won’t get into how many pairs of jeans also got tossed this time around either.  I can’t believe, after as many times as I have gone through my wardrobe of late, how much I tossed out without a flinch this time.  Honestly, at this point, R could move into my house and we’d have room for his clothes—and the man does not have that many clothes either.  Even w me buying him stuff.

     The yarn stash.  I went to my favorite local yarn store, The Weaving Dept, yesterday.  The Barn was open—and we went there first.  I bought my carding combs.  As well as an Ashford spinning book.  I figured it would be a good thing to have a book specific to my spinning wheel.  All I’ve done is skim the thing and my head is just spinning, there is so much in it.  Nancy #2 of course demonstrated the carding combs.  Every time I go there, I learn so many things from this woman.  Things that are not in books or on videos.  Did you know the carding comb you hold in your left hand—you hold as if you are about to stab someone in the chest? Hehehe.  Nancy said few people forget that when she tells it to them that way.

I also bought some fiber too.  Only 8 ounces.  Oh, come on.  I have to support my lys.  Really.

     Then, then, then, I went into the main building.  In the quilting store on the first floor, I had to restrain myself from buying a pattern for a purse, although I may go back.  It’s an Amy Butler pattern.  I love Amy Butler.  I did buy a little needle felting kit.  It’s a sheep.  It’s a beginner’s kit.  It comes with everything I need to felt said sheep.  I’ve wanted to learn needle felting for awhile.  So, again, supporting my local shops…and curtailing myself from really going hog wild around the fabrics and patterns they carry.

     Upstairs, into the yarn vault…I found it.  I found the yarn for my actual wedding shawl.  I bought two skeins, at $20 a pop, and I didn’t even flinch.  It is a merino/silk/nylon/silver blend.  Kraemer Sterling Silk and silver sock yarn.  I bought two skeins of ‘heavenly blue’.  I didn’t realize what the name of it was until I brought the label back to R’s house so I could do some research on things.  I have roughly 840 yards of this beautiful and sumptuous yarn with which to work.  I am in heaven.

     I bought this mohair, this ultra thin, brilliantly red (although the tag claims it as magenta—the actual shade of red was too pale and too pink) mohair, made in Wales.  I don’t have the tag here w me, so this is about all I can tell you.  It’s from Wales.  This yarn actually SPOKE to me.  I have to come home w you, it told me.  I HAVE to come home w you.  I’d be perfect for some frilly little something wrapped around your neck and draping over your arm, the arm with my own dragon tattoo on it.  Welsh yarn.  Welsh dragon.  Apparently, my dragon is in need of company.  Either way, the skein came home w me.  Just one skein.  It was more than enough, after all my other purchases. 

     I bought a set of leather double point needle protectors, so I could take them home to show R so we can make our own.  Yes, I really did that.  I bought a shawl pin, so my subconscious will shut up about it and I can move on until I am proficient enough w working woods to make my own.  Didn’t see that one coming, did you?  I am going to have to find my own wood working kit now.  R doesn’t have anything at his house that will help w the small and the delicate work I want to be up to for the dolls and other things.

     I bought some flax and wool yarn as well, simply because it was made of flax, it was beautiful, and I wanted to try it.  Again, no labels here w me, so details later on.
     I even bought a pattern book, at $15, for one pattern.  CEY Autumn Book 1.  One test knit vest in the store and I buy the whole book—without even flipping through it, without batting an eyelash.  There are other things in there I want to knit as well.  That’s just an afterthought, oh thank goodness.

     I came home.  Stashed my new fiber in the bench of the kitchen table (mwahahaha)—I love having bench seating w storage there.  Now both seats are full of good wool yarn and wool fibers—and alpaca fibers too.

     Then, the bee buzzed into my ear and sat down upon my bonnet.  I went downstairs, and sort of never really came up again until R called and we had to go home for dinner.  (Pearl Café, omg, beyond excellent food and incredible service)

     I started out by finding a small book box from moving to put yarn in to mail to Ma.  I was SHOCKED at how quickly the box for Ma and the smaller box for E filled up.  I really hadn’t touched the surface of my stash and yet, I knew I was willing to purge out a whole lot more.
     So, I found a medium sized moving box.  In under twenty minutes, I had half filled that box.  I stopped only because R called and we were going out to dinner.  I am going back today and do the same thing all over again.  I know I will have more than just the box for Ma and the medium sized box full by the time I am done.

     First, I am letting go of all that attic yarn.  Which, scarily enough, is quite a bit.  I want to keep most of the red heart and simply soft I have, simply because that is what I make the dolls and so on out of, for the most part.  The first rule I established was—if I didn’t buy it myself, it goes.  The next rule, since my dad did buy me a lot of stuff when walmart near his work decided to do away w their craft department, became if I like it and can use it, it stays.

     Do you know I found alpaca yarn in my stash?  Wool I had forgotten about?  I have so much really good yarn—and I couldn’t find it for all the donations and attic yarn and stuff I bought for specific projects that I was saving for something later on that I now just want to get rid of because I don’t like the memories it holds.  I found some gorgeous kettle dyed SOCK yarn that I know I received as a gift while we lived in MD.  A whole hank of this absolutely gorgeous stuff that needs to be wound into a ball …and it always had make me a scarf written all over it.

     Not only did I go on the yarn purge (and oh yes, if you want some yarn, I cannot promise you what kind you will get, but it is not all granny’s attic yarn, far from it, just drop me an email and let’s discuss things…my only request is you pay for shipping, but otherwise, you can have it…and if you’re local, please, come get some, honest), I decided to go through the hats and scarves and whatever else we have that I made for the family that we don’t use or need—and mostly to make room for new stuff too—and I threw all that into the donation bag for the abused women.  I do not knit ugly for charity.  The only times I do not really focus so much on colors or combinations is when I make the cage pads for pets.  I focus more on sturdy for those.  But otherwise, I honestly try to make things for charity that I would be proud to wear, to give my own friends and family, and that I would be proud to see on someone walking down the street and claim as my own.

     I think the going through and purging my yarn stash—to showcase more of the good and quality yarns that I actually DO own—has been more amazingly clarifying and freeing than any other purge project that I have undertaken thus far.  To shed these layers of yarn, to keep only the best, the highest quality, that means something.  I am finally taking real pride in me.  I am finally truly respecting myself.  I am finally finding that equilibrium and that happy place.  I am so glad of it.  It’s been a long harsh road, but all the troubles from the past are falling away, one by one.  As with the purging of the yarn, as the not best quality stuff is removed, the higher quality stuff is revealed.  Now that I have found where the real ‘I am’ lurks within my psyche…I am proud to have her here, out in the open, reveling in this new and wonderful life that we are creating for ourselves here.

     Blessings to all.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cast Iron Cookware

            I don’ think I went into great detail about my new all cast iron cookware the other day.  I was far too happy about all the bunny stuff going on that week-end.

            I have been researching non-non-stick coated cookware for a couple years now.  Why?  No matter how careful you are, no matter how good that cookware, the Teflon, or whatever the coating is made out of, is going to scratch.  Once that stuff scratches, who knows what sort of chemicals begin to leach into your food.  It was two? Three?  Years ago that I set out in search of older cookware at the thrift stores.  The kind that has no non-stick coating.  The kind w just plain old stainless steel or even ceramic for the insides.  Long ago, the ex had loved the glass corningware cookware, but I didn’t care for it, because it sucked to clean if anything got stuck to the bottom.  During my thrift store searches these past couple years, since I could not find an actual store that sold glass corningware cookware any more, I found a couple of those glass pots.  I love them now.  I did manage to find quite a few non-non-stick coat pots.  Most of them, however, were the huge ones, not the small we’re making a can of soup pots that we needed.  I bought them anyway, because I needed something and wasn’t going back to the non-stick garbage.

            Now, I used to have a set of cast iron.  Eons ago.  The ex might have gotten it for some holiday or another.  No one told me how to season them, really.  No one explained how to take care of them.  I was given very vague directions and left to do things on my own.  You grease ‘em up and then you cook ‘em was the gist of my information then.  I was working in operator services at SBC then and my wrists were far far weaker than they are now.  Even the smaller skillet was a bear for me to wrestle up and onto the stove.  I gave up on them fairly quickly and they disappeared from my life.

            R has the most amazing cast iron skillet.  I love that thing.  It is simple to use.  Despite it being one of the larger ones, I have little trouble lifting it.  It cooks like a dream.  There is no problem cleaning it, no matter what we cook in it.  Plus, he explained how to season things, how to clean them, and how to take care of them, in detail.

            Cast iron requires a small bit of work, but it is well worth that minimal effort.

            We found a seven piece cast iron cooking set, on clearance, at the local feed store.  The kids have since run off to play w the amazing wooden box the cookware came in.  R and I had plans for it, when we go camping this year. 

A skillet.  A two-sided griddle.  A Dutch oven w lid.  A smaller cooking pot w a lid.  And the hook  handle thing to lift the pots off and onto the fire when you’re out camping.  During our excursions to investigate buying cast iron cookware, which is anytime we went to stores like Cabelas in search of fly fishing rods or whatnot, R always said he needed one of the hook things to lift pots in and out of the fire while camping.  It was a fluke this set came w one.

            Now, this set came ‘pre-seasoned’ for instant use.  When I pulled it all out, sure, it wasn’t the bright shiny silver of unseasoned cast iron, but it wasn’t that nice uniform black that is so wonderful either.  They were a weird dull grey.  So, I seasoned them myself, just to be sure.

            I first washed everything by hand, to ensure that any garbage left from the processing or making of the stuff was removed.  I rinsed everything well.  I did not specifically dry anything though.  I made sure there wasn’t a bunch of water pooling, but otherwise, I didn’t much care about things being wet.  Note:  never ever let water just sit in your cast iron for an extended period of time, or let your cast iron sit in a sink full of water.  This is how rust starts.  Rust and cast iron are not friends.  Rust is BAD for cast iron.  Rust ruins cast iron.

            I grabbed my 100% vegetable shortening and rubbed the shortening all over, inside and out, of each piece.  Pots.  Lids.  Everything but the hook thing, which does not need to be seasoned.  My boyfriend uses a paper towel, dipped into the shortening, to rub everything into the cast iron.  Me, I use my hands.  The shortening makes a great skin softener too.  Not that I would use it all over my body, not since I was a teen-ager tanning on the roof.  But for hands, in the kitchen, it’s not half bad. 

            Also, make sure you have a drip pan or something on the bottom of your oven, to catch any of the shortening that drips off during the seasoning process.  That stuff hits the bottom of the oven and starts to bake there and you will have fumes for days.  I forgot I had the drip pan in the oven once I was done seasoning things, turned up the heat to make French fries, and the smoke that suddenly hit the whole house and set off all the smoke detectors on the first floor took me over an hour to get out, w ceiling fans running full blast and every window open.

My oven is not very big, so I only greased up as many pieces at a time as would fit into the oven, the pots I put in upside down.  I had the oven set at 350 degrees.  Each set of cast iron baked in that heat for no less than twenty minutes, although one set was in there for nearly fifty because I went outside to check on the kids and ended up talking to a neighbor.  The longer time did not hurt anything.

            This is the process you repeat until you are happy w the amount of seasoning, the color of the black, whatever, on your cookware.  Cover w a thin layer shortening and bake for twenty minutes or so.

            Now, when you pull this stuff out of the oven, it is HOT.  Cast iron retains that heat, which is one reason, I have learned, that cooking w this stuff is so amazing.  Be careful and let it cool down some if you are going to repeat the seasoning process.  Do not grab a skillet or pot out of the oven and think, I’ll spread some more grease on it and toss it back in.  Grease burns hurt, baby.  Be careful if you are pulling it straight out of the oven and planning to cook right away w it.  It is pre-heated and ready to go.

            Cooking w this stuff is a dream.  I love watching R cook.  I love using his skillet.  Yesterday, we were home at our house, and I made sautéed asparagus, which I dearly love.  I turned the burner on to a low to medium heat.  Let the skillet warm up a little.  Added the oil, the asparagus, the salt and pepper.  I don’t think I have ever made this stuff where it has come out so perfect before.  It’s not that the cast iron adds any sort of taste to it, but there is an absence of something, not really a taste per se, but something like that.  The food tasted, cleaner?  Purer?  I am not sure how to explain it.

            I also made Mexican hot chocolate.  In the cast iron pot, with the lid, I dropped a whole round of Abuelita chocolate.  I turned the heat on low.  I added milk.  I put the lid on.  The milk warmed faster than usual.  The chocolate melted faster and more thoroughly.  It was pretty amazing.  I am used to this taking ten minutes w a regular pot, without the milk actually reaching a boil.  In five minutes, the milk was starting to boil, all the chocolate had well incorporated into the milk.  I turned off the heat.  The milk in the pot stayed hot for the hour or more that it took me to drink it all.  That’s w keeping the lid on except to dip out more hot chocolate to drink.  There was a light scrim of milk solids on the top, as is normal when we make this, even when we left the burner on warm before we turned to cast iron, but it was nothing like usual.  When I stirred the scrim in, it dissolved into the milk, rather than retaining its skin-like texture the way it does in other cookware
            Clean up was also simple.  A hand-knit scrubby made from acrylic yarn and some dish soap cleaned both skillet and pot.  No sink full of water.  Just enough to get things wet and soapy.  I do not leave the water running when I hand-wash dishes, or anything else.  I rinsed them well.  I shook off as much water as would shake off.  I rubbed the insides of both pot and skillet w the vegetable shortening.  I set them both on burners, turned on the burners on a medium heat, and let the heat melt the shortening.  Now, here is where I will actually use a paper towel, especially if there is water in something.  I use the paper towel to wipe the shortening all around.  The towel will pick up any excess water while it rubs the melting shortening into the pan.  I even rubbed the lid of the pot down w shortening, inside and out, since the inside had been hit w condensation from the milk.  I simply left the lid on top the pot while the shortening melted.  I turned the lid over so that both sides could reach the heat.  Now, the lid, I did have to rub the shortening into more, as I did not leave the pot on more than it needed, so the shortening on the lid was not all melted completely and dripping.  It was warm enough to rub into the lid, while leaving just a bit of a hint of the white still all over.  I left the lid on top the pot when I was done.  The heat the pot retained afterwards helped work the not entirely melted shortening into the lid that much farther.

            Cookware done.

            Which reminds me.  I still have to go through things in order to donate to the women’s shelter next week.  This is a good time to put my money where my mouth is and donate all that other no longer needed cookware.  Brilliant.

            Thanks for listening.