Sunday, June 26, 2011


I'm rather unsure how I feel about pronouns these days.

Growing up, and still today, my mom would start telling a story with any number of involved characters and midway refer to them only using pronouns. There could be 8 women mentioned in the anecdote and suddenly everyone is "She". My mom's stories, while highly detailed and information heavy, are hard to follow when multiple people have been assigned the same pronoun. My dad would tease her, asking which "She" my mom was talking about now. For whatever reason, that actually really made a strange impact on me and has always forced me to carefully review how frequently I have used a repeated pronoun and when it's probably important to reiterate the proper name.

When Roger died I was very calculated in the continued use of the pronouns "we" and "our". I felt anything otherwise was disrespectful or hurtful. Of course, all stories I had from the past going on 5 years were about "us".

More specifically, I can point to the dozens of people that have asked me if I'm going to sell "your" house, in which I have always responded that, no, I like "our" house... and have put WAY too much effort into it at this point to abandon it now! (see pictures of my bathroom cabinets below)

I think that subconsciously, pronouns have been my way of keeping Roger involved in my present life. Recalling the past with my husband keeps him a part of the life I had but not the life I have. Don't misunderstand: he will always be a part of my life as a whole, but if it's still "our" house, "our" doglets, what "we" planned to do with the bathroom, Roger is still a semi-active character in my story.

The first time I heard the words "my house" escape from my mouth, I felt really guilty. My mind and my heart were instantly consumed with feelings of betrayal, a need to silently apologize, and the completely irrational idea that I had somehow stolen the joint ownership of our home for myself. I honestly have no idea what else that conversation held because I was so buried beneath the thoughts of absurdity that have plagued my very logical brain the last several months. It's like I'm trying to protect him from an outcome I can't change through diction.

I am settling into singular pronouns.

It's less... not painful but awkward... to declare the work I have done on "my" bathroom this weekend. The one venue I pretty instantly, without a second thought, was able to deem "my" was the yard... Hell, if I'm going to be the one mowing the dang thing then it's frickin' mine!

The other day I was talking with a friend and heard myself call it "our" house again. I hadn't done that in while. I was almost as shocked then as I was the first time it became mine. I didn't feel like it was a backwards step or anything. It was just bizarre to give reference to a time that I am really starting to accept as no longer.

As plural pronouns become nostalgic, I'm finding ways to keep myself pretty busy this summer. I have kept up my end of the laptop bargain: the rule I made with myself was that if I bought a laptop, it's main function was to allow me to write in non-confined spaces. I actually have several different writing projects I'm hopping between this summer. We'll see which, if any, see paper.

I've obviously done a lot of crochet work while firmly planted on the couch, draped in puppies. I feel like "draped" is a pretty accurate verb choice... you should see the awkward positions they find to sit with me. Scarlet has recently discovered that she can sit on the back of couch with her head hanging over my shoulder. I always imagine that she probably looks like a parrot. I took an hour or so on Saturday to whip up this longer version of the necklace I learned to make, also with a smaller, tri-colored flower. Easy, breezy.

My big project for the weekend was the bathroom cabinets that I have wanted to reface since we stepped foot into the house. I say reface... I actually just wanted to get rid of the horrible, mid-90s honey oak, builder-basic look. I primed and painted yesterday and today. I still need to do the fronts of the doors, plus add hardware. I detest cabinets lacking hardware. It's like earrings... Are they necessary? No. Do they complete the look (
even if they are the same pair you've worn for probably 10 years because you forget that the option exists to change them, and plus you don't like change that much)? Yes. 

All in a weekend's work with time for  Housewives to spare. :) 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Anniversary and Project Catch Up

Last week was our wedding anniversary. I chose not to tell anyone.

At these SOS meetings I've attended I have made lots of mental notes of things I consciously will not do because I can see as the other members talk that perhaps it's not the healthiest approach. One of the common themes that emerges from out meetings deals with approaching dates... birthdays, holidays, wedding anniversaries, etc. Especially those of us coming upon the firsts of any of those, it's pretty common to let the anxiety build, wondering what it is going to feel like when the day actually arrives. At SOS the more experienced members say that usually the anticipation is far worse that the day in question. So I decided weeks ago that I wasn't going to think about it but maybe more importantly wasn't going to mark it.

I did a pretty good job, I must say. It wasn't until I went to bed the night before that I got a little emotional. There is a really beautiful picture of us walking through the vineyard at Becker on the bedroom wall. I was looking at it, thinking about that moment in time: all the sticker burrs I got in the bottom of my dress trampling through the grass so we could get the perfect shots, how great the lighting was to give the pictures a very fairy tale-like quality. I thought about walking down the aisle with my dad and the look on Roger's face as we approached. I thought about the guitar guy serenading with Satie's Gymnopedies, the Newly-wed Game we played at the reception, and how many times I caught myself just smiling at Roger, excited that we were "official". :) All bittersweet memories now.

I went to bed with pleasant thoughts.

The next morning, our actual anniversary, I woke up fine. I taught sectionals and made it through the bulk of the day just fine. It wasn't until the final student left and I sat at my desk that a picture from my sister's wedding broke the bubble. My functionality for the day was done, so I left. A very dear friend of mine met me for frozen yogurt and let me blubber for awhile, reminding me in the process that while I can make every conscious effort not to be sad, it IS sad, and, without sounding trite, being sad is the best way to handle sadness.

That time over frozen yogurt allowed me to recognize that the date does hold importance still but was enough to let me go home and enjoy the evening with my doglets and my yarn without the emotional wreckage that might have ensued otherwise. Thank you for talking with me over yogurt and not judging my horrible choice of toppings.


Oh my goodness, am I behind when it comes to all of my project adventures! Over my birthday my dad and I installed a new light fixture in the kitchen! We used to have this horrible florescent light in there and after several years of verbalizing how much I hated it, I actually did something about it.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to repaint the kitchen this summer a steely blue color. I loved the green when I painted it our first summer in the house, but it doesn't flow well with the living room.

I have become a crocheting demon this summer. My wrists and joints aren't overly excited about the volume of my yarn work, but I only have a month left until Ireland and I need hats!!! The humidity over there is so high that I need something to tame the curly beast this time around.

First is the hat that I spoke of in my previous blog: 
please ignore how dorky some of my crochet poses are... It was late... like post-Craig Ferguson late... oh my gosh his voice... His jokes are actually quite stupid, but I could listen to him read the phone book with that Scottish accent... :) 

I only had to frog this one twice, but I decided that the pattern author had the brim all wrong, so I re-invented it to do what I wanted. Unfortunately, despite my satisfaction with the hat's outcome, I look really dorky in it...

I've also discovered that with my new camera I'm having problems figuring out how to focus on myself when I take a self portrait.

THEN I went back to Hobby Lobby and bought some yarn to make this cute necklace in the picture to the left. I haven't blocked and steamed it yet, so the strands will be straighter, but I think it came out really good! I got the pattern from the CREATIVEYARN blog. I also chose to do a different flower.

Finally, today after yoga and some delicious Taco Deli, I finished my second Ireland hat. I think I probably look better in this one.

I also improvised a bit on this pattern too to get the slouchiness I liked and the midget brim I added to the front to make it more newsboy-ish. :) 

This will be a good "my hair looks like crap because it's rained for the last 6 days" hat! 

And yes, that's a pillow pet... The girls like sleeping with it. 


Sunday, June 12, 2011


A few years ago, I had a student that came to me during our advisory period to show me her new found skill of knitting. I was really quite amazed, first of all, that she as a 13 year old was interested enough to learn to knit to begin with but, second, that she understood what all those loops did and in what exact order and under which exact string you pushed through the needle to get the desired result. She spent a few minutes with me crudely demonstrating the process while trying to simultaneously explain just what she was doing. She then handed me the needles – bright pink – to have my own go. I managed, which coaching, to make a few loose stitches and was quite proud of myself. She grinned, went back to her seat, and promptly undid the stitches I had just completed.

I spent several months learning to knit before my tendonitis-ridden wrists rejected the hobby. I discovered last Christmas that crochet was a little easier on my joints and have been addicted ever since. The art of taking one continuous piece of yarn and through the process of a seemingly jibberish series of loops and pulls ending up with a scarf is pretty cool.

There is a term belonging to both knitting and crocheting that I fell in love with the moment I learned its meaning: frogging.

Frogging is basically a mulligan; you remove your needle or hook and pull the loose end of your yarn, unraveling the stitches you’ve previously created all the way back to the beginning, or to the point of your desire, and start over. It’s called frogging because you “rip it” out… “Rip it” … frog. J

Back in January I found the most wonderful yarn I had ever touched: bamboo yarn. The fibers are incredibly soft and silky, but the interior of the yarn has an odd, stiff quality which makes for interesting crochet work. I just had to make something, anything, using this yarn. Over Christmas I had just finished a cowl that I loved and figured that a second with this new bamboo yarn would be an excellent edition to my wardrobe. I started crocheting, full force, with no regard to the weight of the yarn the pattern called for. I also decided, having completed a total of 4 previous projects, that I was skilled enough to adjust the pattern to what I thought would make it better.

The yarn did not lend itself well to the this particular project. The cowl was supposed to be this bulky, fluffy piece of clothing that billowed around the neck. The bamboo yarn was surprisingly heavy and lay flat, creating interesting but unintended layers. This was also only my second attempt at crocheting “in the round”, or in continuous circular rows, like a tube. My first attempt had been less than perfect, but the bulky weight yarn I used on the previous cowl hid some of my mistakes. There was no hiding the imperfect rows or the fact that I don’t keep an accurate stitch count while watching movies.

But I was positive that somehow it would work itself out. I adjusted the number of stitches here and there as I thought would rectify prior mistakes. Halfway through I realized I had forgotten to “chain one” after I joined each round, as the pattern called for, but figured I could just go ahead and start that midway. After all, the first half didn’t look that bad. Ultimately, as cool as I thought the term frogging was, the thought of pulling it all apart and starting over seemed less cool. So I persevered through the final stitch, and the outcome was not unexpected, though disappointing nonetheless:

A lumpy, uneven cowl with gaps where I had dropped stitches, bulges where I tried to add them, and a mess of a knot about ¾ of the way through where I tried somewhat unsuccessfully to join two skeins with a poorly executed square knot. My square knots have drastically improved, probably because they are correct now.

Yesterday I started my first hat. It’s a vintage-style cloche in a really beautiful shade of blue that I hope to wear in Ireland next month. ….. next month….

This hat, like most crocheted hats, is stitched in the round. At this point in my crocheting career though, my individual stitches are far more consistent, I have learned easier ways to keep track of my stitch count, and my skill of working in the round is far better than it was even just months ago. I was about a third of the way through the pattern when I noticed an odd bump forming in the fabric. Sometimes you don’t have a good idea of where the pattern is going so I continued on.

About an hour and 7 or 8 rows later, I had a full fledged camel hump in the back of my hat. Not attractive while semi-crumpled as I worked and less attractive on my head. I sighed, realizing what I was going to have to do… I was going to have to frog it.

Even knowing that the lump looked ridiculous, there is something both sad and satisfying about frogging hours of work. It’s sad to watch concentration and dedication quantified, in material form, disappear before your eyes. It’s satisfying to pull the loose end of the yarn and watch each loop uncurl itself and be left with straight fiber waiting to be reshaped to my desire. Any trace of a mis-stitch is erased with no record of the break in pattern left in the messy pile of yarn (at least my piles of frogged yarn is messy… surely there’s a neater way to do it).

So I frogged it.

I worked through the entirety of another movie, rewrapping the same yarn around my hook, pulling it through therapeutically, with instant gratification as I watched the fabric rebuild. And then I reread the pattern for a billionth time…

I had been slip stitching the end of each round, and I wasn’t supposed to until the end of round 25. (I do realized that probably 98% of you have NO idea what I’m talking about when I use these terms, but it doesn’t matter, doesn’t take away from the effect of the story, and makes me feel intelligent to use the right terms. J )I have no idea if that affects the ultimate outcome of my hat, but I’m approaching the project perfectionistically, and so in a moment I will probably go inside, get comfortable, and frog the last 15 rows of my hat for a second time in one day and start again. I want to do it the right way, and I want that dedication to live through the posterity of a great hat.

It’s sad and frustrating to know that life cannot be frogged. My life, all our lives, is far more like my bamboo cowl: dropped opportunity, added responsibility, and messes where we try to join it all together. Some are lumpier than others. Mine has gaps. I’ve learned that while I can’t micromanage my own life, I can at least micromanage my stitches, and this is going to be a dang good hat.

Pictures to follow…

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Facebook Tells All

I finally finished one of my crochet projects that I started months ago. It was so long ago that I don’t remember which month it was… Anyhow, here’s a picture of the simple shrug that required almost as little brain power as the collective intelligence of the Real Housewives of OC. The hour or so I spent finishing the shrug really reminded me how much I enjoy crocheting, even if that puts me in the good company of women born during the first of the Roosevelt’s administration. (Yes, I know this is a ... "special" outfit....)

I’ve been watching a LOT of Real Housewives… Like a day’s work worth at a time.  The bulk of my Saturday and Sunday were spent on my butt, snuggled with puppies, 100% committed to the witchy words spewing forth from over-inflated lips. I loved every minute of it. J And not just OC; I’m primarily addicted to the New Jersey crew. As jacked up as my life has been for the last year, I can watch Housewives and be thankful that not every second of my life is a scene from Mean Girls on crack. My life, I have to hope, will one day go back to “normal”, where every other thought is not focused on things I can’t change, explain, or rationalize. 

I changed my relationship status on Facebook… I’ve debated it for a while.  There’s a big part of me that was violently opposed to choosing from a drop-down menu the qualifying descriptor of my personal life - the part of me that has put out more pictures than I had out before, the part that won’t move the tennis shoes in the bedroom, the part that despite all I may believe (or not) has silent conversations when something important happens.

But there was the other voice, the voice that is far more logical and maybe even truthful than I like hearing from on issues like this. How is it that the approaching week makes 4 months? How is that possible? I feel like I’m in some sort of limbo; I’m obviously not married, but I certainly don’t feel single. What an important choice to make though… I mean, the status you choose on Facebook, as we all know, is exceedingly important in defining who you are and your general course in life. (…feel the burn of my fiery sarcasm…)

But still – the act of clicking that drop-down menu took a lot of energy.

I opened it, looked at my choices, and closed it, no changes made.
I sat there for a bit, thinking, mulling over my options.
I opened it again.
I’m not married. I come home to dogs.
I’m not single.
Or maybe I’m just not ready for that word.

But then what does that leave me with? I opened it again. There’s the “W” word I could choose, but that seems a little more real than I want to advertise.



I clicked it… Leaving it set to “married” doesn’t make it any more true. Not changing it doesn’t make my current situation any less real. If nothing else, at least it’s a truthful representation of 2011, and if I’d like to come across as anything, I’d prefer it be truthful.