25 April 2010

In Which This Blog Returns to A Sole Focus on Illness

Shingles. Really? Shingles? Really. Not only did I have lice for the second time when I was 21, I now get chickenpox for the second time at age 26. (I know lice doesn't work like a dormant virus. I do know that. But it's the spirit of the thing, and the bizarre fact that I apparently got lice from riding the bus in Champaign, with my super long hair at the time.)

Anyway. The shingles has decided to take over the right side of my upper body, especially the neck, shoulder, upper chest, and right arm. Which is also where the damage from my repetitive stress injury is greatest, which is making for some weird perceptions of pain and numbness. Really weird. I had soreness in my neck and shoulder a week ago but didn't think anything of it--I am often sore there. I am getting intermittent stabbing, burning pain in my right arm--which is also not that new, just now has a new cause. And today, I woke up after 12 hours of sleep (plus a three-hour nap and 12 hours of sleep yesterday) feeling ... weak. And numb. Weak and numb enough that I asked Noah to bring me food to eat before I left the bed (yay oatmeal and blueberries!). I felt a little better then, and got out of bed, and have made it to the couch with the lappy, where I expect to hang out until I nap again and go to bed again, while taking 400 mg of an antiviral drug at four-hour intervals, five times a day.

So, knitting! Right? Not the lace knitting I've been doing, not the sock knitting either, but knitting with some bulky CashSoft I dyed for my uncle with the goal of making him mitts to wear while he does his woodworking business.

Knitting with hand-dyed bulky yarn in an easy pattern is definitely the thing for sick people to do. I mean, 3 stitches in stockinette to an inch. Really. I made one mitt over like three hours of knitting. Yay, size 10 bamboo double-pointed needles, and a nearby man-sized hand model to try them on (Noah).

Complications of shingles: inability to do anything except sit upright, sleep, and maybe knit with bulky yarn. And maybe read online. Also: contagious to pregnant women, young children, and people who haven't had chicken pox. So, now, before people come to our apartment, I ask them if they've had chicken pox. What an ice breaker. Also: Noah's company is hosting a cocktail party with jazz on Saturday, which I am/was excited to attend with him--fancy and dancing! Whee! Problem: crusted-over or weeping sores on neck, upper body, and arms, which is, you know, the realm of the cocktail dress. I'm working on that. I am hoping to feel better enough then to go. But that may not happen either.

Um, I'm going to put my head back down now.

15 April 2010

House Tour, Or, Why I Feel Like I Live on a Farm

Welcome to our home.

I thought you might need some photographic evidence of our urban-farm life.

"When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd ... "

And maybe you've never seen a chicken before?

This is a loud, angry chicken.

Angry because I wouldn't let her out in the yard to roam, catch worms, and take dust baths.

But she laid me an egg anyway. At this point, it is still warm. Like body temperature warm.

Anyway, what else have I been up to?

Dyeing yarn.

Making wild-yeast-only whole wheat sourdough baguettes.

And generally hanging out in the kitchen.

What about you?

13 April 2010

A Cautionary Tale

Looking for an (apparently) surefire way to trigger all your latent/not so latent repetitive stress injuries? Here you go.

Day 1: do yoga, including one downward dog pose (as in, put most your body's weight on your hands and bent wrists) and a few triangle poses.
Day 2: do yoga again, including one downward dog and a few modified cobra poses. Continue to do lots of dishes, yank at your sourdough starter, browse the internet, type a little, then manhandle two of the giant (3' by 2', maybe), badly made plywood drawers in your kitchen which are currently full of your heaviest pots and pans. Don't think, "Hmm, maybe I shouldn't pull on this so hard; maybe I shouldn't lift this entire plywood box of a drawer full of heavy things out." Instead, think, "It is so important that I do this right now! So important! Keep going." Reach in an odd way with your left arm. Trigger giant throbbing pain shooting out of your neck, into your shoulder, down your bicep, and down your forearm. Try again with your right arm, because you are that dumb. Trigger pain again in right arm. Breathe through it, try again, reach and fix the thing you wanted to fix, then lift the drawer back into the slot mostly with your knees (it was a weird maneuver). Collapse a bit, realize you are now in great pain in both arms. Realize the pain is getting worse.

Make a brief list of the things you can do without using your arms. Jump into a hot bath with epsom salts. Watch Project Runway. Vow to not be so dumb. Stop typing.

08 April 2010

Don't Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight

Or wear high-heeled boots to the farm, or make a sourdough starter the week before Passover, et cetera.

Welp, nobody bought yarn at the thing I went to last night. The yarn was petted by many people, however (good job, merino/silk blend!), and the colors were admired by many people, too. It became clear once I got there, though, that everyone else was selling yarn from their own stashes, yarns that were maybe 10-20 years old, commercially spun and dyed, weird old yarns, for very cheap. The woman closest to me was selling for $1 a ball. A DOLLAR.

I was not selling my yarn for a dollar. I was selling it for, you know, a real price that reflected the quality of the base yarn and my time in dyeing it by hand. So, no sales. No takers for my business cards, either.

But I will not lose hope! Okay, last night, I kind of did. But mostly because I'm not used to failure (how conceited does that sound? Goodness.) because of ... the perfectionism. I just don't do things I won't do well. Honestly. I'm working on it. I'm ready to no longer be a person who says, "I'm afraid to do that one thing I love (job, whatever it is) because I love it so much and I might not be good at it/it might not work out." I have been that person for a long time, and I feel pretty dumb about it. I mean, how much longer am I going to make myself wait before I do things, make things, try things that I want? A year? Ten years? Never?

And how much more of life is there? Segue: morbid thoughts. People die, people get hurt, people develop diseases, other life-altering things happen, and suddenly, there is no chance, there is no time, no money, no arm strength left to chop onions for dinner (remember that one last year? good times), and ... nothing to show for it.

So, new strategy: rely on the fact that I am smart enough to learn how to do whatever I want to do, stubborn enough to set my mind on a giant goal and make it happen (see: senior art show of 80 ceramic tiles made in three weeks, fired [without a bisque firing, which is beyond flirting with disaster] two days before the show opened), and good enough at translating the images in my mind to objects or words that, eventually, I can make things look how I want them to look ... that I can learn to ask for help, learn to listen to my body's limitations, learn to try and fail and try again.

Whew, that kind of turned into a manifesto. And, in the spirit of manifestos:

"Come, my friends!" I said. "Let us go! At last Mythology and the mystic cult of the ideal have been left behind. We are going to be present at the birth of the centaur and we shall soon see the first angels fly! We must break down the gates of life to test the bolts and the padlocks! Let us go! Here is they very first sunrise on earth! Nothing equals the splendor of its red sword which strikes for the first time in our millennial darkness."

We went up to the three snorting machines to caress their breasts. I lay along mine like a corpse on its bier, but I suddenly revived again beneath the steering wheel — a guillotine knife — which threatened my stomach. A great sweep of madness brought us sharply back to ourselves and drove us through the streets, steep and deep, like dried up torrents. Here and there unhappy lamps in the windows taught us to despise our mathematical eyes. "Smell," I exclaimed, "smell is good enough for wild beasts!"

(Just ignore the parts about war forever, getting rid of feminism, and hating on museums.)

05 April 2010

Now, Put Together a Business in Three Days

Wednesday night will be the first chance I have to sell my hand-dyed yarns in person, to people I don't know, and specifically to a group of enthusiastic local knitters. I completely forgot the Seattle Knitters Guild was hosting this "fiber frenzy" event, but they are, and since I'm a member, I can sell there.

But, but, but. I only have seven skeins that I've dyed on hand. If I count literally everything, I have six skeins of undyed yarn on hand. I don't have hang tags, I don't have an etsy shop up and running, and while I've claimed a blog for the yarn company, I don't have any posts on it either. And, of course, I have some freelance editing to do today.

Essentially I am completely overwhelmed and scatterbrained and trying really hard to focus on some very important editing work, when really, I would like to be making hang tags, reskeining things I've dyed, skeining out things I haven't dyed, creating blog posts, creating an etsy shop, applying for a business license, and generally already having all of this together. But no! Instead, everything is exactly as organized as it usually is in my life, and I am working at the pace I always work out when it comes to creative work--long contemplation period, short frenetic working period.

Thank goodness we have leftovers galore, from the seder and from a giant vat of lentil soup I made last week. Expect photos. And think diligent thoughts for me.

04 April 2010

Seder and Table Complete

I thought you should see this.

The table and benches are done. The seder was fun, delicious, full of remembrance.

And now, back to the relaxing.

01 April 2010

Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Edging Tool

So, I'm about to (try to) finish painting our kitchen white. I'm not working on the should-be-black-but-is-actually-purple trim. I'm not working on the cabinets, which also need new paint, but maybe on the back splashes.

But I really want to be painting and stenciling our bathroom. Like this, vaguely. I have mid-tone blue paint, the bathroom has black/purple trim that I'll paint new black, we have weird white half-tiled walls on the bottom ... I don't know if I'll actually make it to stenciling, though. I keep thinking there must be some easy negative stencil to use, since the walls are already white, that I could put up and then roll blue over ... but ... that sounds hard. And like I'd have to make my own stencil. And maybe just painting it blue would be enough. Then I would hang art/posters in there and be happy sitting in my giant clawfoot tub. Right? Maybe.

Yesterday I finished sealing the table and benches. I am exhausted. But I am ambitious! There is more to do before the seder on Saturday! Cooking, cleaning, painting, cooking. We aren't even cooking that much; I just haven't started, so I feel behind--stock, matzo balls, hummus, beef (that's Noah), chilled citrus-broccoli salad, fro yo, chocolate matzo crunch, roasted rhubarb citrus compote.

Maybe I will also plant succulent cuttings from the front yard in the kitchen windowbox. Surely I will need to go outside for some fresh air at some point, though we do have the zero-VOC paint, so it doesn't give me an immediate migraine.

Also, I still haven't made yogurt successfully since moving to Seattle. What happened? At least the chickens love eating yogurt. Seriously.

And we bought new napkins yesterday, and I am so happy, because they are one of my favorite blues and one of my favorite greens.

So, what does painting mean? It means listening to This American Life and Mates of State on repeat.