Thursday, April 23, 2009

The To Do List

What's on your To Do list? When I was in school I was big into keeping a list of the things I needed to attend to. I suppose if I were trying to juggle school, work and family now, I'd probably have some sort of electronic assistance to keep things straight. I do have a calendar, with my schedule, CB's travel dates, and when I am slated to watch Mr W. Otherwise, it's occasional notes to myself and the rest is in my head.

I have a kid free weekend coming up. Mr W's dad and I switch off weekends, and so far the schedule suits everyone. I imagine as he gets older, Mr W will have more of an opinion and we'll try to accommodate him. I used to get kind of squirrely (the word I've always used to describe it) when the kid would be with his dad. I felt unanchored, and when left to my own devices too long I tended to start to worry about all sorts of things that didn't need worrying about.

There is certainly no shortage of things to do around the house. I'm starting to reclaim my basement, which over the span of time I've lived here (3.5 years) has served as the "hmmm, don't know what to do with that, let's put it in the basement" place. About half of it needs to be put away neatly and the other half is going to Goodwill. I hope to turn the space back into guest space and a little sitting area. And of course there is the usual housework stuff I try to avoid.

What else is on my list of things To Do? There are those things that I'd rather do than the list of chores and maintenance/improvement stuff. I'd like to stroll downtown and go people watching. I'm knitting a pair of socks and one part has been a real challenge. Gotta exercise the dog - that's good for both of us.

Back when CB and I started dating, I burned through all of my vacation really quickly and had to work practically every weekend that I wasn't watching Mr W to generate enough time off for visits. Looking back, it was hard! The same amount of time off each month, just allocated differently. Now, I try to look ahead a bit and work just one of the weekend days. I also work a lot of the holidays, and have used my vacation time more wisely. Things feel more balanced.

So, I have Saturday off! I will meet up with friend D to work on knitting and drink wine and chit chat. I'll work Sunday, and try to get my housework done at some point. I'll work on my knitting, pay attention to the dog and work in the basement. It's hard to do it sometimes, but when I'm being objective, I feel like all the things on my list are important.

Now, where were those socks I was working on?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Project Notes

To say that I've embraced knitting is not an understatement. I usually have several projects going at once, and happily bounce from thing to thing depending on what I feel like working on. At this point, it's part of my day, and I feel like something's missing if I don't do a bit of knitting.

As to why this enthusiasm has developed, I'm pretty sure that being in a long distance relationship has something to do with it. There are long stretches of solo time, and it helps to have something to do that makes me feel like I'm living well, as opposed to just waiting for the next visit.

In terms of projects, I find it's good to have one or two that are mindless knitting that I can just do wherever. Then I like to work on something that forces me to learn something new. This may not seem the case to people who don't knit, but there are a lot of places to go once one has learned the basics. I think it's safe to say that knitters who consider themselves "experienced" have probably been doing it in earnest for at least 5-10 years. At least.

Keeping the "learning something new" think in mind, friend D and I decided to each start knitting the same sweater pattern. Long story short, we both stopped working on it, for different reasons. Speaking for myself, I'm just not there yet. It was not enjoyable at all. So I'm going to make Acer. (picture from that link).

I also started a pair of socks using a new method. I had lots of information on techniques, but not a specific pattern, so it has taken me a lot longer than I thought it would, with lots of ripping back and re-doing. Ultimately, I think this way will be faster and make a nicer sock, but it's frustrating as hell at the moment.

With those two stalled projects in mind, I started on a scarf called Clapotis (picture from here). Safe, predictable, useful. It had a new technique in it, where one drops a stitch at a particular point to create a really cool ladder effect. But it too has been an exercise in patience, as one has to knit a lot before getting to the good stuff. I was close to putting it aside when I got to do the first ladder, and now I'm hooked.

Then, there's baby stuff. I'd like to whip out a couple of gifts before the babies in question go off to college, so I need to get crackin'. The simple fact is that there will always, ALWAYS be more cool patterns out there than I can knit, so I need to choose wisely.

It's funny how this thing, a hobby, can go from something that is chosen to fill time, to something that engages me so much, to something that got added to the list of things that helps me define myself.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


For some reason, I've been thinking about Easter this year. Not so much the "Christ has risen from the dead" aspect of it, but more so the rituals my family observed when I was growing up. Maybe it's because I have not marked it in any way? I also have had a hankering for a ham sandwich, which tells me I miss the ritual vs. the message.

But it also strikes me that the way I celebrate holidays has changed since the divorce. I don't put a lot of effort into the big holiday extravaganza because it's just me and Mr W, and half the time he's at his dad's house.

Growing up, my mom would hide our Easter baskets around the house and I'm still impressed at how she found good hiding places for years. We always used the Paas dye kits, and to this day, the smell of cider vinegar reminds me of Easter. Like most of my friends, we'd be eating egg salad sandwiches for a week afterwards. We'd get dressed up, take the obligatory family picture, and go to church. Then we'd either have relatives over, or go to someone's house for the afternoon.

I guess I'm just feeling nostalgic. I'll get my ham sandwich craving satisfied today or tomorrow, and continue to think about springy things.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ugh, more snow? What I meant was...

This morning finds Colorado digging out from another spring storm. No one can really bitch too much about it, as we desperately need the moisture and that's just how the climate is around here. I get a little bummed out because the plows (a good thing) pile snow up in front of my alley, and it's hard to get my car out unless I shovel that plowed snow (a bad thing).

But I didn't really want to post on the snow. This week marked what would have been my mom's 72nd birthday.

I guess I can blame this one on Facebook. People have posted a lot of family photos, and it has been really fun to see both the families of people how they were when I was growing up, as well as of their kids and families now.

I also heard a statistic this week that unemployment hasn't been this high since 1983, the year I graduated from high school. The following year, my dad lost his job, and, being the selfish teenager I was, the first words out of my mouth were, "Can I still go away to college this fall?" I still cringe when I think of that, even more so now that I'm a parent and I know how much is involved in financing kids' activities. I did get to go away to college after all, by the way.

But I guess it's these things that have me wondering about what my mom would be like at this age, and what she would think about how I've turned out. She was certainly a product of her time. She and dad (who just turned 74 and is going strong) had three kids in the space of three years, which I know I've mentioned before but it never ceases to astound me.

She grew up in Pine Bush, NY, the daughter of a teacher and a large animal vet who worked for Cornell. She enrolled in nursing school at St. Luke's hospital, in New York City, and got her nursing degree. After she graduated, she and a friend drove out West, and spent 6 months sightseeing and working. To hear her tell it, all you had to do to get a job was to tell the nursing supervisor where you went to school and who your nursing supervisor was there, and you could get a job. I've always been impressed that, as two single women, they had the chutzpah to go on this adventure. I think it was the late 1950's.

She moved to Cleveland, I assume because that's where her friend was from, and at the almost-old-maid age of 24, met my dad at a party and they were married a year later. She stayed home with us kids until I was going to start first grade. I still remember getting her all to myself that year, when I only had half day kindergarten. Can you imagine? She almost had her freedom, the third kid ready to start school and.... she gets pregnant with my younger brother. Ouch. This must have been very difficult for her, for both of them, but she stayed a stay at home mom until he went off to school, and then continued working as a nurse.

Unfortunately, she was a smoker, and could never manage to quit. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had spread to her lungs (or maybe the other way around?) in 1993, during a summer that she was in and out of the hospital, and we were all firmly in denial of the incomprehensible idea that she could die. I regret that no one ever acknowledged that she was actually dying, she just got sicker and sicker and then she was gone.

I wish she and Mr W could have met. They would have been fast friends, and I'm so grateful that he's got his grandma on his dad's side that treats him the way a grandma should (treats, gifts, a good listening ear).

She was a huge Cleveland Browns fan, in the glory days of Brian Sipe and in the days when the team was actually a contender. We'd watch the games on Sundays, and I must have been in junior high at the time. She hated to watch the games alone, and my dad would get so worked up that he had to go upstairs and read, or go take a walk. She'd get all excited when the Browns would make a good play, and in her euphoria, she'd pinch the upper arm (hard, sometimes!) of the closest person.

To say that I miss her is not quite getting at it. It's like with my sister. There's simply a hole there that can't really be filled. We are so adaptable as people, though, that this stuff teaches what we can deal with ourselves and what we need to call on our support circle (that's so new agey, but still) for.

Happy Birthday, Judy!