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Midland, Texas, United States
I write. I make stuff.


Sunday, March 01, 2015

Is It Saori? Or is It Memorex?

Or is it just a fake-saori mishmash of random bits of yarn and fiber and ribbon and stuff? I have no clue, because although I've been admiring saori weaving on Pinterest for a while now and have read  descriptions of it as "freeform hand weaving," I don't really know anything about it except that some of it—the very loosest, funkiest examples—are what I like about weaving. Until I started seeing these examples, I'd never cared for weaving: too symmetrical, too structured, too geometrical. In short, too count-y. Too pattern-y. Yikes! The stuff of OCD nightmares.

But this stuff? The texture and nubby-ness, the color and random wanderings? Delicious, and I wanted a scarf like this.

I've been thinking about this, vaguely in the back of my brain, for months now, trying to see how I could make it work, thinking about tension and size, about weft and warp (even though I never keep them straight, which is which.; it doesn't matter because I don't talk to anyone where I'd need to know which is which). For some reason, weaving seems to be An Icky Weather activity, and when we had yet ANOTHER freakin' ice storm, I decided to tackle the scarf. I'm having so much fun with this I had to share: it's definitely one of those if-I-can-do-it-you-can-do-it things, so here goes.

Wonderfully generous people have sent me all kind of fiber and wool, roving and yarn, and I'm using as much of that as I can. I bought some yarn I couldn't resist, and I've had some fibers for years and year—I pulled all that out. Big colorful mess.

First: there's a built-in bookcase in The Voodoo Lounge. It usually has orange and pink floor-length curtains over it, so there's a curtain rod there.
 When I first got this idea, I found some threaded pipe and bought two pieces. It's cheap, like $3 each. I replaced the curtain rod at the top:

 and then put in cup hooks at the bottom and put the other rod there. I used string to secure them.

[Note: to say I'm proud of myself for thinking to take photos of the set-up is kind of an understatement. I NEVER remember to take those, but I did. Yay, me!]

I figured out how wide I wanted the scarf and put in some nails on the front of each shelf
 Someone had sent me some hand-dyed indigo cotton string/yarn, and I used that for The Long Pieces (warp, I think, but I'm not stopping to look it up *yet again*). 
 I wound the outside strands around the little nails: when I was making the cuffs, I always pulled the rows too tight and made the middle bow in; I hope this will help prevent that, but I don't know yet. This structural part can be cut off if necessary; I'm thinking when I'm finished weaving, I can cut it down and do some hand stitching if it needs to be stabilized. It's all an experiment, and it doesn't really matter how I make it work. That's the excellent part.

This is the bottom, along the baseboard.

 Then I started at the top, weaving:

This is where I am this morning:
 Obviously, I have a *long* way to go.
 I've had to do this first part on a ladder. It's tough on the neck and shoulders and stuff, so I can do only a couple rows at a time and then have to go do something else and then come back. Back and forth, all day. It would go a ton faster if I could just stick with it, but that would be silly in the long run. I've got a really easy project—well, it's easy at this stage, as I do row after row of easy running stitch—so they make a good pair of simultaneous projects and keep me from doing too much damage (inflaming joints, etc.)

Here you can get a better idea of the size:
 I love this shot so much I made it my desktop photo.
So that's what's going on over here. This is keeping me sane: I haven't left the house in days. School was cancelled on Friday, and it's been icy and below freezing since, oh, I think Thursday. Grey, ugly, icy, cold. I loathe it, and having a project this new and this colorful has kept me entertained.

Trust me: if you have any interest at all in doing this, you should. Really. I don't know how this is going to turn out, but I'll make it work somehow. I'm thinking I might even sew a silk lining onto one side. Or add beads. I have no idea, but I'm having lots of fun so far.  You will, too.

Thanks for coming by—XO

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Worth the Effort, I Swear

It's tougher than it might seem to find new homes for things, but if you keep at it and stay alert to what's around you, you can can find some cool homes for stuff you no longer want. Sometimes, though, it takes a while, as in the case of my old iPhone Book Book. Y'all know those, right? It's a leather case for your phone that's made to look just like a book, and the more you use it, the cooler it looks, getting scratched and softened and funky. I first saw one at Art is You in Nashville, and I had to get one. And then, when I finally got a new phone (5, not 6, mind you: new to *me*), it no longer fit. I tried to find a new home for it, now that it was all nice and worn in, but everybody I know has a newer/bigger/wider phone. I couldn't bear to just dump it in the Goodwill box, though, so I kept it. Now that I've weeded out so much stuff, I can do that: I know where things can go until I can relocate them to better homes.

So: lately I've been whinging about our couch, about how it's too big and how we hardly ever use it and how it's just in the way. And I got tired of hearing myself whinge about it, and so yesterday I bit the bullet and did what I've been dreaming of doing:

When I bought the couch, I bought the whole set: couch, love seat, big overstuffed chair, all in fabulous soft, faded denim. I love the chair and love seat and have often thought how the love seat would be perfect in the living room. It's out here in the office, in a little alcove that is the perfect size for an extra-long twin bed. Wouldn't it be cool to get a bed to put in that space, since the ones who use the furniture the most are, ahem, not the humans in this house, and pile it with pillows and make it comfortable so The EGE and I would fit on it, as well? (Because the only important thing about the couch is that it is the only piece of furniture besides the beds that will hold all of us at once.)

So I went out yesterday and bought a twin bed. A rather nice one, Seeley, I think (or BeautyRest; some name I recognized) that's firm and has a pillow top, which I like. Not that anyone human is ever going to sleep on it, but it needs to be comfortable nonetheless: one of the twin beds already in use as a daybed is one I got super cheap, just for the cats, and it's not really even comfortable to sit on, much less lounge around on.

We're sitting there while the guy fills out the paperwork to deliver the bed next week, and The EGE sees a guy on the other side of the divider, and the salesman tells us that's one of his sons, that the family lives above the store, how he's done extensive renovations to make it into a home with 8 bedrooms and 15 ft. granite counters, and The EGE keeps trying to get a glimpse of this kid around the room divider because: I swear he knows almost every kid who's ever gone through MISD secondary schools. And sure enough, when we go over to see him, he recognizes my husband because, he says, he always wore pink when they had him as a sub. The EGE, of course, remembers him and later tells me he was a nice, polite kid (he's in college now, so this was a while ago), but I don't know that then. What I'm noticing is that he has a Book Book on his iPhone. I ask about it, and he says it's a piece of junk, that it's falling apart because he got it really cheap online and it's a knock-off, although he didn't know that at the time. He doesn't even think it's real leather. I notice the size and ask; he has an old phone, a 4.

Quickly to the rest of the story: we drive home, I come directly to the bin where I've put the Book Book (because now that things are weeded out, see above), take it out, hand it to The EGE, who hops in the truck and drives it over to the kid at the store. He reports that both he and his dad were surprised and pleased, and that makes me happy: it was a cool thing, too cool to just get rid of, and it just seemed that if I waited and paid attention, I'd discover where it was meant to go. And that's exactly what happened.

I heartily recommend this, seriously. I know that lots of people need to make a little money off the things they can't use, and I get that. We all could use more money. But if we're not in a bind, if we have the things we really need and aren't hurting, it's so much fun to bypass Craig's List and eBay and all the ways you can sell things and, instead, find ways to use them to make someone's day. In my case, it's not noble, it's not spiritual, it's not about me trying to be a good person. It's a huge thrill to me to make other people happy (I've talked about this before, about how I tried all my life to make my mother happy, an impossible task given her depression), and it's just like crack: the more you do it, the more you like it, and the more you want to do it.

[I'm kind of speculating here, since I've never actually seen crack and always get confused about which one you sniff and which one you smoke. Whatever. Y'all know what I mean. ]

Gloves, pins, hats, scarves, books: there's someone out there who would love to have it. Maybe they'll keep it forever, or maybe they'll pass it on. Who knows? Who cares? It doesn't matter: for that moment when you hand it to them, it's a joy for both of you, a little bit of light and kindness in a world that doesn't always seem to have enough of those to go around. Go, make someone's day (it will be your own). XO

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

It's a Wonderful Life!

George Bailey thought a wonderful life would be one about traveling and seeing the world, going to college and getting as far away as possible from Bedford Falls. We all know how that went, but I think that when most people think of a wonderful life, they actually do think of travel and adventure as being big parts of it.

I admit it: I eavesdrop a lot. Is that a bad thing? Nah: if you're in public and you're talking loudly enough for someone else to hear you, you should just expect that someone is going to listen. And most people, I think, intend for others to hear their conversations, esp. at The Wine Rack, where oil company guys meet for craft beer and conversation, a lot of which seems to be about impressing the other men with what a wonderful, albeit incredibly busy, life the speaker has.

The other night I'd taken a little wooden Buddha to give to a friend, and a guy next to me asked where I'd gotten it, if I'd gotten it in Thailand. So immediately I knew he had been to Thailand and wanted to work international travel into a conversation. I was supposed to say something like, "No, I haven't been there yet, but I saw something similar when we went to _______" And then we'd go from there, being all impressive world travelers and shit.

He was wearing a suit is how I knew this.

I don't like to play that, though, and I laughed and said, "No, it's probably from Wal-Mart." He was quiet for a while, but eventually we went on to have a really nice visit, with him telling me about his daughter's career as an at-risk neonatal nurse dealing with what she calls "hotdog babies," meaning babies so tiny they look like they could be swaddled in a hotdog bun. He was way proud of her, understandably, and it was way, way more interesting than a pissing contest about world travel or multiple homes or celebrity acquaintances, and by the end of the evening, when he'd had a number of fine craft beers, he was slapping me on the back as if we'd been buddies since childhood. (The EGE was on the other side of me, so it wasn't as if I were hanging out in a bar lone, talking to Strange White Men in Suits. I just thought I should put that in, in case you were wondering.)

I like to listen to what people talk about after they say, as so many seem to lately, "Yeah, I'm living the dream." I can never tell if they're being sarcastic or ironic or if they're lying or if they really mean they're living their dream. You hope it's the latter, but you never can tell because people are seldom honest about their lives: either they try to make their lives bigger and better and shinier than they really are, or they do the whole poor-me-it's-so-tragic thing to get sympathy.

But I listen, and when people, esp. retired people, talk about having great lives, they seem to mean that, yes, they get to travel a lot. And they have wonderful meals at famous restaurants, and they come home to spend time with wonderful extended families. Travel, food, family and friends. That makes sense, doesn't it?

But when I yelled out loud the other night, "It's a fabulous life!" I wasn't thinking about any of those things. I believe I have a totally fabulous life, and I don't travel much and care very, very little about food and don't hang out with either family or friends except those who live in the house with me. It got me to thinking: why does my life seem so fabulous, and what do I mean when I yell that out loud?

The short answer is because I get to do exactly what I want to do every day. I don't have to get up and leave the house to go somewhere and spend the day with people I don't like (I spent many years doing that, and it's soul-crushing because you begin to think those are the only kinds of people in the world. And here I'm talking not just vaguely annoying co-workers but junkies and prostitutes and drug dealers, courtesy the City of Midland and its once-lax hiring practices).


So here's my story. You've seen this duster I got and dyed. I made the larger pocket from the belt I removed and then added various green buttons I already had.
I took the collar off after I took these photos; it bugged me.

The other evening it got a little chilly—it's been getting quite warm some days and then cooling down rapidly, and it sometimes takes the heater a little time to kick on—and I slipped this duster on to keep warm and immediately felt like a Secret Scientist: it feels just like a lab coat to me, exp. now that it has no collar. I went out on the porch and asked The EGE what a scientist would have written over their chest pocket, and before he could answer, I yelled (I yell kind of a lot when I get excited about stuff), "MAD SCIENTIST!" and he's all like, "Umm, OK," like he sometimes maybe worries a little about his wife but still thinks she's pretty damn entertaining and so just rolls with it. Sometimes he'll say, "Whatever, White People." It's from an episode of MST 3K, and it makes me laugh until I snort.

And here's the part where it gets fabulous: I came back in the house and came to Wayne Newton (the iMac) and opened a document and went through my font catalog, trying out several until I found one that was exactly right. I did some test prints to get the size right, dicking around with the capitals to get them to work. I went to the sewing table in the living room, where the lightbox lives, and I used it to transfer the words to the chest above the pocket. I went in and found a scrap of green linen (for backing) in the scrap bin (a footstool that stays under the sewing table) and got a scrap of fusible webbing and set up the ironing board and fused the backing and then hooped it in an embroidery hoop and went to the floss drawers and found the perfect color and got a needle and thimble and glasses and scissors and put it all in a bag. I took it to The Wine Rack and stitched while we visited, and then after we came home and ate dinner, I finished it up.

 It would be difficult for me to try to tell you how happy this makes me:

Fabulous = I got an idea that was exciting to me and got to follow through, with everything I needed at hand and no delays because I had to hunt for something or wait until I did something else (cook, clean, grade freshman essays (omigod, that brings back memories of stacks and stacks of papers waiting on me to tackle them)) or wait until someone else didn't care that I took time to do this. I just did it, exactly what I wanted to do, and it was fabulous. This is the point of much of the work I've been doing in the last several years: setting up the sewing space so everything is right there, getting rid of clutter so I don't have to dig through stuff or hunt for stuff or move stuff out of the way, getting rid of things that I thought would someday become projects but that were just never interesting enough to tackle. All that stuff has helped me be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it, and that's fabulous.

Oh, yeah: here's the stitching I did up and down the front to encourage that part to lie flat. We'll see how that goes the next time I launder it.
 I used various skeins I dyed a while back. Not all the same colors, but I wanted that.

And, yes, I *do* thank The EGE—often—for helping make all this possible. I know I'm lucky, and I deeply appreciate it. I appreciate living with someone who isn't bitter than I have fun doing this stuff (and you know there are people like that) and doesn't scoff at my rampant enthusiasm for stuff that, in the larger sense, means nothing and is valuable to no one (not even me, once it's done: I've given most of it away).

This is what I'm working toward, this clearing and simplifying. I can well remember the days when I'd have an idea but would have to postpone it: to grade those stacks of papers, or to wait until it was daylight so I could go out in the shed (before The Storage Building, which has light) and hunt for what I needed, or until I felt like hauling out the fabric bins and digging through them for the stuff I needed, or until I wanted to set up the sewing machine or move stuff off the sewing machine table. Like that. At some point I began to envision a life that removed all those obstacles and made it easy to do what we love, that, in fact, *encourages* us to do those things. Shelves so The EGE can just grab whichever camera he needs to capture a certain shot, chairs set up so we can go out and catch the last bit of sun (without having to get out chairs and dust them off or check for black widow spiders). Places to sit with a nearby table holding glasses and scissors and an old mug for snips of thread.

I'm not there yet; I may never get there completely. There may always be parts of the house that aren't totally functional (like that behemoth of a couch we sit on once a month but that takes up a significant portion of the living room and has to be kept covered with a variety of rugs to thwart the barfing cats). In truth, the process of simplifying is so much fun that I kind of hope it isn't ever done. But days like the one above, when I yell out, "It's a fabulous life!" are proof to me that, slowly, slowly, I'm making perfect progress.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Stitching, Stitching

We all have some constants in our lives—gardening, reading, a daily ritual with tea and a nap—and one of mine is stitching. No matter what else is going on, there's stitching. Maybe just a little, maybe a lot. And sometimes I like projects that are about nothing *but* stitching. Nothing fancy, nothing difficult, just pulling thread through fabric, over and over.

This is a weird time of year. On Friday, it was about 80 degrees. On Saturday, around 70. Today it's 22, and whenever I look outside, stuff is falling, maybe sleet, maybe snow: I don't even want to know. Schools are closed, city offices are closed: The EGE had jury duty this morning and showed up only to find that it had been postponed until 10 am. He came back and got back in bed to try to warm up, and at 10 he went back downtown, crawling through icy intersections, only to find they'd just given up and closed everything. That's Midland for you: a thin, thin veneer of ice and everything shuts down. All government offices, I'm assuming. The library.

See, this is why people like us (*like we are* but never mind) have so many books in our houses. If, omigod, the library shuts down for, like, DAYS, we'll be OK. One reason we picked this house is because it's within walking distance of the library, the one I started going to when I was 13. But in the last several years, it's gotten beyond funky. They renovated it, and it was all spiffy, but then when the oil boom started, they built a brand-new, state-of-the-art (meaning: lots of noise and technology, fewer actual books) library to the north, meaning in the newer part of Midland, the richer part of Midland. The—ahem—whiter part of Midland. So now people don't have to drive down into South Midland, as they call it, to get books. So this older library cut its hours and closes every day at 6, and because it's just a couple blocks from the jail and the Salvation Army shelter, on most days, when it *is* open, it's filled with mostly people from there, many of them just looking for a place to sleep, most of them with behavioral issues and hygiene issues. A week or so ago they arrested a guy in the library for exposing himself to a woman. She wouldn't press charges, she said, because he obviously had some serious issues. In the past there was a guy who would come in and smear himself with vaseline, which he would then get all over the furniture. They were never really sure what was going on with him.

[I know all this stuff because I know people who work there.]

Wait. What was my point? Oh! Why I buy used books from That was my point. I knew I had one. Gah.

So today is grey and cold, and this afternoon I have an interview with a quilter, and in the meantime, this is what I'm working on, and I thought I'd show you because it's such a soothing, calming, interesting (to me) thing to do. I love the way the fabric changes as I quilt it together.

Remember this?
 A heavy Old Navy t-shirt that I'd dyed and a pink t-shirt I can't even remember.
 Cut into a jacket shape, above.
 Lined with the pink t-shirt and bound around the edges, above, with another t-shirt cut up and appliquéd to the back, below:
Here's where it is now:

 I'm using floss I dyed back when I did all that floss-dyeing stuff. I appliquéd some pink shapes on first and couched pulls (Alabama Chanin-ese for strips of cotton jersey, stretched so they curl). I'm just doing rows and rows and rows of running stitch, kantha style, to quilt the layers. The pink inside is funky in places, and I have to make little folds and pleats to take up the slack, and I like that, too. The thread is variegated—yes! I actually created variegated thread! Amazing to me, since it was the first time I dyed floss, and I figured it would all come out muddy—and that's fun to see unfolding, too.
I hope to finish the back soon (like: today) and will try to remember to get a photo of the whole back when I do. Then I'll do the front, which shouldn't take as long since there are more appliqués and, therefore, less space to fill with stitching. I've got two other long involved projects going now, too, but am trying to leave them alone until I finish this: I get too many going at once and have no where to put them. In this house, you have to make sure you put things where Moe can't barf on them. Even with his meds, he sometimes barfs every day, and he's so used to it he doesn't even try to move from wherever he is. Needless to say, we keep a lot of things covered, and I do a lot of laundry. But I love him, so it's no problem. I just have to keep things put away and out of reach, which is actually a good thing as it keeps me from getting all excited and starting a dozen projects at the same time.

Friday, February 13, 2015

This Week: The Kitchen

Yep: this week I tackled the kitchen. I don't use the kitchen much except for making coffee of various kinds, but I love a challenge, and getting this space cleared of stuff we never use without inadvertently getting rid of something The EGE *does* use was challenge enough. I cleared off every shelf, pulled up old shelf liner, vacuumed and washed every bit of every shelf and cabinet, put down $50 worth of brand new bright white rubber liner, and organized everything. What I was going for was that nothing would be stacked on something else (unless it was a duplicate, as in plates or the little heart-shaped bowls we use for pretty much everything), and everything would be visible and easy to reach, organized in terms of how often it's used. Here it is:
 I took the doors off the cabinets years ago and painted everything. I like not having doors, for the most part. I kept mostly 2 of each thing: we each have an ancient bowl we use: mine is heavy, with a blue stripe, and his is a Fortnum & Mason bowl. I don't know where either one came from, but these are the only ones we ever use except for soup, and that's what the latte cups are for (silly, as we eat soup maybe once or twice a year). There are two of each of several kinds of wine glasses, including some that were my mother's from the 40s or 50s that I used to keep stored away until I realized that was just silly; now we use them all the time. When they break, they break. So what? There are 8 of the little red heart-shaped bowls, and we use them for almost everything: fruit and vegetables and, well, everything.

The little pantry still has doors. I painted it white back when I painted because red would have made it too dark to see stuff easily.
 It was fun to organize this. At the top are spices and stuff, which we hardly ever use. Next is a shelf of teas, also not used much (I keep trying to develop a love of tea, but it's not really working). Below that is the shelf of vitamins and minerals, then the only shelf of "real" food: beans, rice, 2 cans of soup we won't eat, peanut and almond butter and some honey. The rest of what we eat is fruits, vegetables,  cheese and nuts. The bottom shelves are cat food and olive oil cooking spray, then a shelf of baking stuff, which The EGE uses a couple times a year, and then drink mixes on the bottom.
(This, above, is the set of shelves on the other side of the sink from the shelves of dishes) The middle shelf has our other "real" food: nuts, The EGE's breakfast stuff, and the popcorn he takes to school for lunch. Then the cat food—the easiest to reach because, of course, it's the most important.

Here are the cartons we're taking to Goodwill. Useful Note: when you buy cartons, spring for the "heavy duty" ones; these are pieces of crap, hence all the tape. 

 They've got a ton of stuff, including a can opener and a toaster (I sprang for new ones; I never use the toaster, but The EGE uses it almost every morning), a coffee maker (it was a spare) a duplicate French press, and tons of plastic storage containers, all with their lids and all unnecessary. Also multiple squeegees (for the shower, but these didn't work).
Because we're creatures of habit, we each have a favorite spoon (mine is one of the $1.99 ones in open stock at Bed Bath & Beyond; his is a Mickey Mouse kid spoon we got at Disney World about 30 years ago) and favorite fork (I mostly use chopsticks, though), a favorite glass and favorite mug. You get the idea. Everything else was just getting in the way. Some of it I put in a plastic bin to go in the storage building; if we haven't taken anything out of it in a year, it will be donated, too.

Tomorrow a friend is coming to give a new home to my antique oak flat file, a long-ago birthday gift from The EGE and my mother.
She's thrilled to be getting it; I'm thrilled it won't be languishing in the storage building, as it has for the past 8 years.

I know this stuff isn't earthshakingly important stuff, but I've been posting some updates on the whole simplifying adventure on Facebook, and some people say it's inspiring to them, and that's good enough reason for me to stop and take some photos to show you how it's going. I can't tell you how good it feels, how light and spacious and clear.

One of my main goals is this: the other night a song came on Pandora, something we like to dance to, and we stopped what we were doing and danced in the living room (western swing, so it takes some room). Even while we were dancing, I was making mental notes about what stuff (chair, ottoman) were in the way, and today I sat on the couch and figured out how to make more room in the center. This week we also danced in the kitchen/dining room, and I did the same: there are a couple things that are in the way that can easily be relocated, and that's what I'm doing. That's what's important to me: to be able to dance through the house when we want to, not to be surrounded by stuff we never use but, for some reason, have held onto. It's an on-going process, and our house isn't one of those behemoths that lend themselves to wild dancing in A Great Room. But we've made enough room that it's possible to spin around in almost any room in which we happen to be, and that's what makes it worth all the sorting and donating and finding new homes for. What I've learned that I should have known long ago: a house is a place to live and do what you love, not a place to keep pretty and pristine for Company or some imaginary inspection by your snootiest, least favorite aunt. If you don't use the couch, why is it there? We have a huge denim couch, one I was thrilled to find (along with a love seat and a huge cushy chair, all denim, all comfortable, kind of hidden in the corner of the showroom at the furniture store because they weren't "in style" any more). We hadn't had a couch, and we were in our 40s, and it felt like we were grown-ups but not really because, you know, we did not have A Couch. So we got this one. And we sit on it maybe once a month. For a while we'd sit on it on Sunday mornings and read the newspaper, but we don't read the paper very often any more, and we all prefer to sit on the day bed by the window in The Voodoo Lounge so we can watch the birds at the feeder outside. The couch can't be moved into another room because it's too stinkin' big: it won't turn any corners anywhere. I'd like to get rid of it, I think. The matching love seat is way more practical, and I could move it into the living room (it's here in the office, supposedly for naps, which I don't take; the only ones who use it are the cats, and they could just as easily sleep on it somewhere else).

See? These are the kinds of things you get to think about once you realize you can do anything you want to: have a couch, don't have a couch, make your living room into an art room or office or playroom or bedroom or dancehall. Whatever: it's your house, and you get to make it habitable for you.

Thanks for coming by. Now I've got to get back to work and move this bin of dishes out into the storage building. . . .

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

So Far, I'm Not a Fan

2015 is not filling me with joy so far. Nope. It's filling me, instead, with hassle and snot, pretty much, and I'm already tired unto death of it. I'm hoping that maybe it was just January and that February will mark the *real* start of the year, with joy in the land and a lessening of all things phlegm-ish. Because: bleah.

It started with getting iced in over New Year's, and then one of us—and I'm guessing it's the One of Us who hangs out every day with teenagers, those hacking, snorting nose-picking non-flossing bundles of nastiness (I may not have much of a memory, but I do get horrid things stuck in my brain, and one of them is the lovely image of the 9th grade honors student who would sit in honors history class and eat his own boogers. Yes, indeed). Anyway, so one or the other of us brought home the flu, and it was just delightful. Coughing, hacking, nose-blowing, fever-inducing flu germs. So there was that. And on the worst day of it for me, when I was wondering if anyone ever has fever so high their eyeballs begin to boil, the hot water heater went out. Quite spectacularly, with leaking and stuff. And so I'm lying under a pile of blankets, wearing layers and layers of clothes, plus a knit hat, texting to try to get someone to come help me. The plumbers had already come and looked at it and said they couldn't do anything because they didn't install it and didn't recognize it, and oh, that was fun: because I didn't want to give them germs, I went to the door in latex gloves and a dust mask, you know, doing the whole Very Weird White Woman Thing, which reminded me of a story The EGE told me about a woman for whom he did lawn stuff back when he was in high school and her very odd behavior vis a vis The Help, which will we not even get into lest I began to rant and chomp and slaver. So never mind. But, yeah: weird me.

So then we got all that done, a long drawn-out adventure involving multiple trips to Lowe's and The EGE's mastering both electricity AND plumbing, and then, this past weekend, the heater went out. We tried everything: checking the circuits, new batteries in the thermostat, all that stuff. The temperature in the house dropped to 71, and that made Lennie, esp., miserable: she kept trying to find something to crawl under. She likes it hot. Very hot. Damn hot. Satan-in-a-Speedo hot.

And then, without warning, the heater began working again. We have no idea why it quit, and we have no idea why it started.

So now, of course, I'm afraid to touch anything that gets plugged in, turned on, might leak or explode or die or catch on fire.

Oh, yeah: last night Safari froze for an hour despite all my attempts to help it (restarting, etc). Although it was a minor thing, in the scheme of Stuff That Doesn't Want to Work, I was sitting here thinking it was probably the opening salvo in the rout and downfall of all the household technology. After turning to Firefox and googling a solution (it worked, thankyoujesus), I began to breathe again, but not deeply. Not thoroughly. Not with any degree of confidence that Something Else is just waiting, biding its time.

Anyway. I haven't been idle, not all the time. When I was actually sick, as in with fever, I didn't do much, but otherwise, I've been stitching quite a bit, very simple, kantha-esque stitching.

Remember this?

I did it a while back, and it had some lines of stitching. (It was a Lucky Brand scarf, shop-faded and on clearance, lined with scraps of our ancient flannel pajamas.)

I liked it and kept thinking how much cooler it would be with lots more stitching, so I had started working on it, and it was the perfect project for being sick: no thought, no wrestling, no complications. Just stitch after soothing stitch. Here is it now:
 It's the same color as in those first photos—I didn't overdye it—just different light or something.

 It was fun to use all different kinds of floss. Below you can see the fuzzier lines made with 100% silk floss, which was lovely to stitch with, surprisingly enough. I thought it would be fussy and cantankerous, but no.

Then there's this jacket, which you've seen:
I'd lengthened the front panels  when I made it and wasn't loving them, so I cut them shorter, just a little, and zigzagged the edges, and now I'm going to add buttons and button holes, just to see how I like that:
 This is all just pinned in place; I haven't started stitching it yet.

 Then there was this pair of pants I got a while back. The tag was gone, but we think they're Completo Lino, which I love. Heavy linen. They were a kind of oatmeal color and very funky, with a dropped crotch and big pointy knees. Well, you know I couldn't resist, so I brought them home and washed them. Then I removed the pockets, which were down near the knees, and moved those up. Then I dyed them. You want to do the ripping and resewing first to avoid lines where the dye might not penetrate fully.

Then I made the pants into a skirt. I do not wear pants. I wear Levi's 501s, and I wear one kind of skinny jeans (5 pair) and one kind of skinny capri jeans (3 pair) and leggings (both long and capri). And that's it. I do not wear "slacks" or "dress pants" or anything else. In Levi's I need a 34" inseam, and my waist isn't that much smaller than my hips: I've always been built oddly, and pants were never long enough and always baggy in the butt and tight in the waist, and I've always loathed them.

But. But! Some pants are so cool that I can't resist them, and these were like that. So I made them into a skirt, and I adore it. I adore it because while it's not baggy through the waist and hips, the weird knee parts make it PERFECT for sitting cross-legged, as if it were made for that very thing. And because the cut is different, it looks really cool under almost everything in my closet: jumpers and asymmetrical tops and aprons and stuff. Yeah, I'm in love with this one:
 I really like the dye job, too. I start with Sky Blue and then add Blue Gray (I think), kind of dribbling it into the bath, and it does this:
 which makes me beyond happy. Chambray-denim-y blues are the only blues I like, and I like them a LOT:
 Here's the back. It fits me a little more snugly than it does Ricë. We're not exactly the same size, but pretty close.
 Then I tackled this weird jacket that, for some reason, captivated me. It's Cynthia Ashby and was probably a couple hundred dollars new. I got it second hand and faded on the shoulders. It intrigued me because it's made of circles, every part but the back and sleeves. It's a grey with black pinstripes, and it's been hanging around for a couple months. I decided I wanted to line it—all but the sleeves—with red cotton jersey. I had a bunch of old t-shirts ready to go, in various shades of red, and I cut those up and basted them in place:

I've been stitching on this, and here's where I am now. The top part is done, at least this stage of it, and I'm working on the three big circles.
 When I get all the stitching done (in about a decade), I'll toss it in the laundry and let it get wrinkly and funky.

Well, I have no idea what else I meant to write here. I was typing this and realized I was hearing a thumping out in the alley. I was pretty sure what it was and went out and confronted a guy in a shiny big pickup truck who was loading all our nicely cut-up firewood. I stood there and watched him as he put it all back. It felt really, really good: powerful and right to stand up to a strange man and say, "No, you can't do that." And tell him what to do and stand there, unafraid, while he did it. It wasn't about the firewood, as we don't really need it and will probably have to haul some of it away at some point. It's the principle of it, and the idea that I shouldn't do anything, and—I have to admit—the idea that a man thinks he can do something and not be confronted by a woman. (I'm willing to bet he wouldn't have ever done it after 5 o'clock when he assumed The Man of The House was at home.) Yeah, I have issues, and one of them is this.

The coolest thing for me was that I wasn't angry, I wasn't nervous, I wasn't afraid. Just determined. No yelling. No cussing. None of that weird shakiness and sweatiness I used to feel when I confronted people about stuff. I think I've grown into the woman I used to admire. Whoa. Talk about something to look forward to for the future.