Hump day!

It’s my virtual Friday. I have a conference tomorrow, which is almost like not being at work, and then a vacation day Friday. Of course I feel sort of bowled over by the amount of work I have today, but it’s all good, right? (nod to my CIO – that’s his catchphrase and he’s proving to me that hearing something enough times makes it feel true even if it doesn’t actually become true).

Today is the first day I made a smoothie in my brand-new smoothie maker. We went and bought one of these at Walmart last night, despite my shuddery dislike of all things Walmart. I was tired, and Target is all the way on the other end of town, okay? So I made up my typical smoothie, or the current typical one anyway. If you’re curious, it’s been a scoop of vanilla protein powder, a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a cup of low fat vanilla Greek yogurt, and a cup of frozen fruit (current selection is the cherry-berry-blend from Giant). Well. The new cups are just not that big. And I made a bit of a mess, because my how-much-more-will-it-hold eye is quite inaccurate. Tomorrow I think I’ll try it with 1/2 cup of yogurt.

While I was drinking my still very delicious if rather messy breakfast, I discovered two quite interesting things on Facebook. I don’t spend a ton of time on there anymore, I sort of check in once a week or so. I treat it like I treat Twitter, basically. Jump on if I have something to share, but mostly try to consume chunks when I don’t have enough time to get into my current book but have too much time for something like daydreaming. So anyway!

The first very interesting thing was a message from an old friend with whom I had a falling out almost four years ago. I think maybe we have been un-friends longer now than we were friends, but that has no effect at all on how much I’ve missed her. She’s a pretty awesome person in general, and she really hurt me there at the end, and then this out of the blue missive. I started replying but realized I couldn’t just reel something off like it was nothing because it is so much more to me than nothing. I asked Wayne what he thought about it and he suggested I sit on it. Sitting I am. Hopefully I will compose something worthy of what we shared but not too weird and pushy and not too push-over-y, and compose it soon, because if nothing else she deserves my answer.

The second thing was less shattering but still interesting. My sister, who seems to be a different person now than she was a year or two ago (not my story, not sharing it), posted an update that said she’s glad she doesn’t look like all she’s been through. Wow, did that resonate. And it set my brain scurrying off on a list of what I’ve been through, and what I’ve done to others, because I am far from blameless in my personal drama. Are any of us, really? But still. My mind took me in a curious direction, and brought a few thoughts to the fore. For example:

  • I told someone recently that I write every day, and didn’t realize when I said it that I was lying. I stopped writing every day some time ago, but did it for so long that it still feels like it’s part of me. I felt a twang of guilt for this unintentional lie, and then I got out one of the journals Wayne gave me for our first (paper!) anniversary and I wrote and it felt good.
  • I thought about the fact that I now spend more time with non-readers than I do with readers (the former friend was a reader). Part of what attracted me to Husband One and Husband Two was that they read some, more than most men do. Wayne is not a reader. I don’t think he’s read the book I wrote, and I’m his wife. He reads news articles and sometimes he reads my blog posts, but he’s not anything like the type of reader I am. And you know what? He’s making me think that being a reader is really not as important as I thought it was. Readers hurt me, and he does not. Thanks for tossing yet another long-held belief on its head, dear and darling husband.

Thinking big thoughts in the morning is sort of fun, you know? I bet, though, that the “it’s all good” guy, and my actual boss, would prefer me to do work rather than think, so to work it is.

Happy VF, everyone!

Knitting group!

I’ve been strongly encouraged by my dear and loving husband to get out of the house more. I was fighting it, let me tell you. There is little I like more than curling up on the couch with a book and my knitting (super easy if the book is on the Kindle) for an evening. But then…

A couple months ago, I talked Wayne into joining me at a program at the library. He was miserable but he hid it well and did it for me. I, however, felt that I had found my people. The lady sitting next to me commented on my knitting and asked if I was part of the knitting group that meets at the library. I said no, but the question sort of layered itself on top of Wayne’s encouragements and I thought this might be the thing. I could knit with others, right? Surely the knitting would not suffer from being done at the library?

Well yesterday, I went. And I am over the moon! I thought the book people were my people; I was wrong. The knitters are my people (to be clear, it’s a knit and crochet group – I don’t want to denigrate any of my fellow fiberistas!). They welcomed me with open arms. About two minutes after I sat down, I felt as if I’d been hanging out with those women for months. The stories! The yarn! The patterns! The jokes!

The pizelles!

I copied down the address for the next meeting. I put it on my calendar. I squeed and shook hands and barely restrained myself from hugging every one one them. I’m a hugger, what can I say? But even I know better than to hug people I met two hours earlier. I’m saving that for next time.

This morning, I woke early and refreshed, still feeling a bit of the warm-and-fuzziness from yesterday. I did some yoga and a bit of meditation. I wrote in my journal. And then I went upstairs, pulled out the plastic tub that holds my yarn stash, sorted, and dreamed. Noel followed me up and sat on a box across the room, watching me and making the little cheep-purr noise that she makes to remind us that she’s there and happy. I re-rolled balls and thought about what I want to make next (a pair of toe-up socks, a pencil skirt made from granny squares, a toy for Breccan, baby booties, fingerless gloves – all of them at once!).

Sometimes I just need to feel my fingers plunging into yarn, what can I say?

I closed up the tub and put it in a new spot; front and center so I can see all that yummy yarn waiting to be made into beautiful and warm things. I picked Noel up (she butted her nose against my chin – kitteh kisses), and carried her downstairs. I got ready for work, feeling this wonderful combination of excitement and calm, sort of like I have my feet so well grounded that my head is able to go exploring. I’m catching myself smiling, thinking about the yarn, the knitting group, and how smart my husband is. Life really is good.

Getting Gauge

Gauge is crucial when knitting or crocheting a fitted garment like a hat, gloves, socks, or a sweater. Printed patterns always tell you what their gauge is – so many stitches per so many inches, so many rows per so many inches. They might say something like “24 sc and 22 rows = 2 inches.” The very first thing you should do when trying a new pattern is grab a hook or needles and make a gauge swatch. You’ll learn over time whether you work looser of tighter than the average crocheter or knitter, and based on that you’ll learn to start with the recommended hook/needle size or go up or down in size. And when you finish your swatch, if it’s not the same size as their gauge notation, you either rip it out or grab more yarn and do it again.

It’s sometimes a bit of a pain, especially if you’ve found some terrific-looking new pattern and you just want to jump right in. But it’s really quite necessary. Taking fifteen or thirty minutes, or even an hour, to get gauge saves you from spending a month working on an awesome garment in expensive yarn that doesn’t stand up well to being ripped out and re-done, only to find out that it fits no one. Including the person for whom it was made. A small amount of preparation always pays off in the end.

I am learning, as I get older, to apply the concept of getting gauge to life in general. If I have three hours before a meeting and I have five things that need to be done, I will spend the first few minutes reviewing what needs to be done and figuring out what will fit best into that three hours, rather than just jumping in. If we are spending a few days out of town and going somewhere I have never been before, I will take a look at what we can do there before we leave so we’re not walking into things blindly.

Getting gauge works in other places, too. I outline, or at least summarize, bigger writing projects before I start them, for instance. I know that I will spend months on a novel, with some long periods of time when the rest of my life or my job take precedence and writing just cannot happen. When I get back to it, I need a reminder of what the general plan was. Without it, I will go off in some crazy direction and spend twice or three times as much time rewriting, or just be saddled with something unreadable.

Jumping into things does not get anything done faster. It always makes them take longer and come out worse. Always. Preparation, in all things, matters. I like to imagine how different the world would be if everyone stepped back and took the time to get gauge. Think of all of the gifts that would not be returned because the giver took time to figure out what would suit the recipient. Or how about the abortions, divorces, and emergency room visits that would never happen? The would is full of big and small things that would simply go more smoothly with a little bit of planning and forethought.

Random things I’ve done since I last posted:

  • Knit several lace repeats on Multnomah
  • Convinced myself that when it is finished, I need to do a clapotis
  • Found a crocheted wrister pattern that I want to try to use up some stash sock yarn
  • Written another chapter in Megan, and copied everything into a printable document, preparatory to printing it and starting the first round of editing
  • Shared the news of our upcoming nuptials with the families
  • Got a pedicure (big deal – I hate paying people to do things for me that I can do myself)
  • Read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Alice Munroe’s Dear Life: Stories,  Wilkkie Collins’ The Woman in White, and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (that’s a lot of reading)
  • Met our new CIO (he seems pretty awesome, so far)
  • Walked/rode a large number of miles
  • Lost two more pounds

Some things that will happen before we talk again:

  • We’ll get married, and I will start the process of recreating myself with a new name
  • Another book, or two, or more will be read
  • I will see Maia and Amy, my two oldest friends (Maia and I became friends in seventh grade, or 1981. Amy and I met in Japan when we were in the Navy, or 1989). 
  • Knitting, and maybe crocheting, will be done
  • If a new project is started, I will take the time to get gauge.