Friday, March 30, 2012

Hey --- It's Friday

Which means I've begun my next book, worked a lot on a new knit jacket.

I'm also waiting for my son's girlfriend, as we have a date to go yarn shopping, then probably have a bite to eat, and come back here to knit/crochet.

What's up with you?

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Hebetude.  Lassitude.  They've all settled in at Chez Dean, and the animals and I are helpless to take up arms against them.  We're all just rather lying about, shuffling from room to room only when absolutely necessary.

And yet, despite the torpor, I finished the other "beach" sock, wrapped up a Noro scarf I had also been working on at the beach, and finished Gentlemen and Players (which contained quite a twist, let me tell you.)  I'll be casting on a dishcloth at some point today, and have already begun the "I" book: John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I began once, but did not finish.

Monday, March 26, 2012

How I'm Built

I'm good in a crisis.  In times of extreme emotion, I have the willingness and the ability to keep people calm, to do the things that need to be done.

My problem is, once the crisis has passed, I collapse.  Emotionally and physically.  Depending on the type of crisis, it will usually be more one than the other, but I rarely emerge from a period of intensity without some sort of suffering.

Today, for instance, I have a pounding headache.  This after the beach trip followed by a weekend of Hannah being at home, which always --- ALWAYS --- includes a cataclysmic fight between her and Briton.  

All that to say this: my nervous breakdown/extreme depression, when one stops to think about it, follows a number of crises/trying times:
Dale's death/raising Briton and Hannah
Daddy's death
Mama's declining health and death
Losing my job/dire financial straits.

I go all the way back to Dale's death because, yes, he died 14 years ago, but the crisis ran through until Briton and Hannah moved out on their own.  My work of holding things together, of actively parenting them, was done.

Obviously, losing one's parents is traumatic --- I held it together until both of them were gone.

The job/money thing is too obvious to comment on.

I guess what I'm saying is, I shouldn't be surprised that I broke down.  My work in all those areas ended, for the most part.  The next intense "event" is cleaning out Mama and Daddy's house, and making a decision on exactly what is going to be done with it.  I'll fall in some way after that is done, too.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Yesterday would have been my mother's 83rd birthday.  How hard it was not to shop for "just a card" (what she inevitably told me she wanted each year) and not reach for the phone to make the Happy Birthday call.

Finished the sock I began at the beach:
Just a fluke, really, that that was the sock yarn in my bag, but the turquoise and lime and pink are very beachy colors.  Working on the second one now.

Up to "H" on my Reading Alphabet.  Quick update for those of you scoring at home:
"A" --- Eight White Nights by Andre Aciman
"B" --- Keeping the House by Ellen Baker
"C" --- Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson
"D" --- Falling Man by Don DeLillo
"E" --- War Journal by Richard Engel
"F" --- The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry
"G" --- All I Did Was Ask  by Terry Gross
"H" --- Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris

And, yes, "I" has been chosen.

Made hotel reservations for Stitches South next month in Atlanta.  Hannah and I went its first year and had a really good time.  This round, I even signed up for 2 classes.   (And last year, finances were so dire, I couldn't even afford to drive up and just walk around for a day.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Acquired Tastes

I do not drink coffee.  Yet coffee houses are, generally, places that I like.  Ironically, my two favorites (one old, one new) both have canine-inspired names.  There's Fido, near Vandy, in Nashville (the old) and Lost Dog Cafe, (the new), in Folly Beach.  (Although, I got the best white hot chocolate ever from Black Magic Coffee in Folly Beach.)

I do not remember ever having been to Charleston.  After going yesterday, I know I would remember, as it is so pretty.  (At least the parts of town I drove through.)  Just for an example, look at the stunning Charleston Bridge:

The reason I went into Charleston was knit.  An internet search had shown 3 yarn shops within easy driving distance of Folly Beach --- one which sounded more like a needlepoint store, two which were definitely knitting-heavy.  Knit. was the nearer, so I stopped on my way back.  And, OH. . .  Just OH.  It was a fantastic find, if only for the amazing clearance room (yes, clearance room.)  My budget had not been broken at the beach, so there were dollars left to spend.  Rather than try to tell, or show, what I got, I will do my best to keep you updated when I use something I got there.  If you are ever near enough to downtown Charleston --- and you're a knitter, of course --- you must, must, must treat yourself.

I have begun this pattern with this yarn in this colorway.  That is a pretty bad photo of the color --- it pops with turquoise.  Maybe I can get a nice picture of it myself.  At any rate, both the pattern and the yarn purchased at knit.

So, now I am back.  Look how much Madeleine missed me while I was gone --- look at the excitement at my having returned.

And On My Way Back

I saw two things I'd never seen before:

In South Carolina, female prisoners on highway-side trash pick-up


in Georgia, a turkey in flight.  Right in front of my car.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Last (Full) Day

It would be hard to overstate what these four days here have meant to my mental health.  I cannot remember the last time I was this relaxed, unharried, dare I say it, happy.  I've walked and walked and thought and prayed and meditated and just been still and listened to the water.

The realization that tomorrow I have to go back to Athens starts a churning in my stomach, and all my pills immediately imprint on my brain.  While here, I've had to force myself to take them.  I'm recording little slivers of videos to have when I get back, so that, 30 or so seconds at a time, I can be back here again.

What I may need, this experience tells me, is to travel.  With what money Mama left me, I can take the occasional little outing.  And, honestly, into the marrow of my spine, I am certain I ought to buy myself a house on a beach.

Some of what I've done here, I'll do when I'm back in Athens.  I've knit
a lot.  I've read a lot.  But I've also gotten out at least twice each day and walked the town.  Went into funky little shops, found the most literal of out-of-the-way-places to eat.  As I leave tomorrow, I'm going into Charleston to visit a yarn store.  It's all the same, but so, so very different and so, so, so very healing.

Only things I'd change?  Well, first, check with my Twinnie and see if she's going to be anywhere near (we missed each other by that much), and second, buy myself a kite.

When You Can't Sleep at Folly Beach

You get to watch the sun come up.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's All But Ideal

For a lot of years, when I've thought of my perfect place, it has been a small, beachside house where I could throw open the windows to let the breeze and the sound of the water in.  I'd sit near the window and read or knit or write, I'd have a big, plushy, comfortable bed for naps, and a cute little kitchen to keep the Dr. Pepper cold.

Save for the kitchen, and the additional din of hotel guests at the pool just below my balcony, this is my ideal.  I want this.  I have to do all I can to save money to make this happen.  I am so relaxed and calm and content.

The hotel.

Generic seagulls.

Generic barnacles.

A freakin' pigeon?

Scarf crocheted in under an hour with Berocco Ric-Rac yarn.  Easy, easy, easy.
I see these colors with jeans and turquoise jewelry. . .
See?  I really am at the beach!
There's a pier and everything.  I may take some knitting out there one day.
There are chaises and seagulls and pelicans who never flew by when I had a camera.

Who knows what else I'll find?

Sunday, March 18, 2012


I am in Folly Beach, SC.  The pier you see on the right above is the same one that was on the left of the photo in the last entry.  As you may be able to tell, it is a cloudy, gray, rainy day, but that didn't keep me from taking a walk on the sand already.  Found several lovely shells and 2 feathers.  Feathers are practically sacred to me, so to find them my first day here, I take as a sign that I should be here after all.  That and the fact that my room number is a series of my lucky numbers.

The drive wasn't too bad.  About 5 hours.  The GPS directions diverged from my written Mapquest ones quite noticeably;  I don't know which would have been faster or easier, or which I'll use going back.

The hotel and the strip leading up to it are awash with people.  AWASH.  Who knew Folly Beach was a Spring Break destination?  I suppose anything ending in "Beach" qualifies.  Though I don't want to deprive myself of any local color, or fresh seafood, I don't know how far away from the hotel grounds I'll actually wander.  Really, as I said before, the most I want is to hear the water (the patio door is wide open as I type), sleep, walk in the sand, knit and read.

Finished Stephen Fry's book Friday (fitting.)  It is absolutely glorious.  If you aren't a fan of Stephen's, I'm not sure how you'll feel about it, but I could not put it down for long.  It is dedicated to Hugh Laurie, and much of it reads like a love letter to him.  Very sweet.

I brought two "G" books with me: Sanjay Gupta's Monday Mornings , which I mentioned a few days back, and Terry Gross' All I Did Was Ask, which was my original choice for my "G" author.  I rather think I can make time for both.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Even though I bought myself a GPS system (on deep clearance) the other day, I just got through handwriting the directions to my beach getaway.  Looks like about 5 hours, which is about the same as a drive to Nashville.  I'm packed as far as clothes go, leaving only the last minute toiletries, knitting and books.  I'll leave sometime Sunday morning, come back the following Thursday.  I'm ill at ease making a drive by myself to a place I've never been, but I am very much looking forward to feeling sand between my toes, sleeping late, watching the water and just chilling.

Made a sock while watching the Vandy basketball game yesterday.  Cast on the second one a little while ago.  I'm using Deborah Norville sock yarn again, and, again, it looks like I'll be able to get both socks out of one skein.  I'm becoming a true fan of this yarn --- its hand, its durability, its money-saving-ness.  I think I'll take a couple of skeins with me, once I find a pattern or two that I can use them for.  And I'm also taking a jacket pattern to be made from wedgwood blue.  Those, and the two books I'll pack should keep me busy enough.

Briton has just gotten back from a 3-day camping trip with his girlfriend and several others.  Save for a stormy night last night, they had good weather and good fun.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Extra March Madness interest around here this year, as Vanderbilt has made the NCAA tournament (their first game tip-off is imminent.)  Also, Charles Barkley is doing in-studio commentary, and I love me some Charles.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Benefits of Travel

Several weeks ago, my therapist "assigned" me the task of leaving the house every day.  It was to at least get me out of bed and showered and interacting with someone --- however briefly --- instead of staying secluded day after day after day.

I must admit, it's difficult to find places to go every day.  I'm not much of a window shopper, and there aren't that many no-money-required spots around here.  I will also admit that I haven't gone somewhere each day.  But I'm sort of making up for it with a trip to a beach next week.  After over a year of pinching and squeezing pennies, the insurance money from Mama's life policy has given me some breathing room.  And I'm being wholly, entirely selfish by giving myself a 4-day vacation.  It may be wasteful and reckless, but I am looking forward to it and counting on it making a difference mental-health-wise.

Otherwise, I've had one more drug added to my regimen, and my psychiatrist and I have begun discussing the possibility of electroconvulsive therapy.  It's scary.  And it may be just what I need.  But, like I say, we've just started thinking about it.  He isn't even sure if any hospitals in the area provide it anymore.

Back to the trip.  As all knitters know, the most challenging part of packing for a trip is deciding which project(s) to take with you.  I'm not quite there yet, as there are a few days between me and leaving, but knitting and reading* are going to be my main focuses.  Sure, I'll take a lot of beach walks, but my absolute ideal/dream/longing is just to sit on a balcony, or an open window and look at/listen to the water.

If that doesn't point me toward Healing, I'm completely out of ideas.

*Currently on "F": Stephen Fry's The Fry Chronicles.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


You're trying to knit, trying to actually make some progress on a project, and this happens:
Madeleine decides to be bookmark, yarn holder, lap warmer.  

And yet,

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Stream of Consciousness

1.  Why does ribbing take so blasted long to finish?
2.  And why do designers call for twisted rib, when you can rarely tell the difference anyway?`
3.  My girl crushes are Olivia Wilde, Sara Hess, Rachel Maddow and Rashida Jones.
4.  Why is the saying that money doesn't grow on trees?  Why not stalks?  Or stems?  Or directly out of the ground?
5.  I should start a list of the song that are in my head when I wake up each day.  Thursday, it was "Wanted, Dead or Alive."  Yesterday, "Another Saturday Night."  Today, "Horse With No Name."
6.  Still, if I have a free moment and don't have anything pressing to do, I think, "I'll call Mama."
7.  Knitting is still a chore --- I'll start a project, think things are going fine, and then find a mistake serious enough that makes me want to unravel the whole thing.  And start something else.
8.  Repeat #7.
9.  The only thing I've finished in several months is a simple garter-stitch shawl.
10.  No --- I take that back.  I got an order through hand eye for ten little cat toys.  Those I made without any problems.
11. The book I'm reading now is difficult to read, and difficult to put down.  It's infuriating: the profiteering, the lying, the disdain for decency that went on in Iraq.
12.  I'm still not looking for a job.  Or, at least, not scouring all the newspapers and websites like I had been.  My psychiatrist has added another drug to my daily intake, and he and I have tentatively --- very tentatively --- begun dancing around the idea of electroconvulsive therapy.
13.  But I have decided to try and get involved in some volunteer work around here.  It would get me out of the house, give me some sense of purpose, and give me new people to talk to.  I've only recently sent in the e-mail expressing interest, so I don't know where that might go.
14.  I so desperately need to go back to Nashville and check on the house, but I feel like I can't face it.
15.  Today is my 28th wedding anniversary.  I have been a widow for exactly the same amount of time I was a wife.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

In Order

Glad to know I'm not being a fuddy-duddy about Vogue Knitting.  It seems others out there are also put off by the density of patterns and photos.  Do you think there's any chance they'll change for the simpler?


Finished Falling Man Tuesday.  I don't know anything about Don DeLillo;  this is the first book I've read by him.  I found it hard to follow.  Speakers weren't always identified, which is a problem in a book written mostly in conversation.  The clearest passages were the ones about the terrorists, making them the easiest to read and follow.

What's next?  (I know this Alphabetical Program of mine is prime dinner table conversation.  "Primaries?  Primaries?  Who cares about the stupid primaries --- the real question is what "E" author is Kim going to pick?")  Well, here you are:

A favorite reporter and a return to non-fiction.  I already have "F" chosen, and know what I would like to read for "G," if I can only find a copy.

So you can all stand down.

Know what this blog needs?  A baby monkey.
See?  All better now.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

C'mon Vogue

Growing up --- even into my high school years --- my mother made every single piece of clothing I owned.  So, she and I spent a lot of time in fabric stores looking at patterns.  Vogue patterns were the most expensive and the "fanciest," so we stuck to Simplicity and McCall's.  If we did buy a Vogue pattern, it was a big, honking deal, and the garment was, undoubtedly, for a very special occasion.

I tell all this to explain the rather ingrained opinion I have of Vogue garments --- expensive, chic, and very often coveted.

Vogue Knitting isn't really quite the same, as you buy lots of patterns at once, and the price is bound by how much you do (or don't) spend on yarn.  But there is one thing that sort of gets under my skin.

Vogue Knitting has lost me.  Perhaps they're trying to stay fashion forward and artsy and all, but I have been finding it more and more difficult to find patterns in the magazines that are actually wearable, much less knittable (you know, if you actually enjoy relaxing knitting.)  TOO many cables and laces and bobbles and weird drapings.  And that's if you can even find the garment in the photos provided.  Too many colors and accessories and patterns and props and floral wallpaper --- it's virtually "Where is Waldo?", only with knits.  You know there's something in that picture that has been knit, but there's so much going on that your eyes get overwhelmed before you find the chevron-stitch skirt (knit) paired with the plaid blouse set against a backdrop of Blue Willow dishes in a cabinet decorated with flowers in front of a wall covered in ivy draped Grecian columns and vases.  And none of the colors match, or even compliment each other.

Maybe this is all cutting edge.  Or something.  But I like to look through a knitting magazine and find the patterns easily.  Study them without a compass and a magnifying glass.  And then, when I do find them, I like to have discovered something I can knit without threat of becoming lost in half-a-dozen or so strands of threat, working around stitch holders and cable hooks and rows held aside "to be worked later."


(photo from flickr.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"D" is for DeLillo

My next book.  I have to say I was a wee bit disappointed with the book about the search and rescue dogs.  Not that I didn't enjoy it, but it was mostly about the handler getting and training her dog, rather than stories about actual searches.  There was, though, a chapter on the search for remnants of Columbia, which was shudder- and tear-inducing.

"D" is also for "Dog-induced Disaster."  There are 5 cats in this house, and who causes this headache-producing mess?

I've been sitting here for an hour at least, trying to calmly work all the knots and tangles out.  I've given up. If the cardigan I'm making with this yarn comes up this much yarn short, well --- I did all I could do.


For some reason, this year I am constantly moving Christmas stuff around the house.  I'm not sure why things are so unsettled, but they...