Adapt or die

Your daily life is your temple and your religion.
Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.
Take the plough and the forge and the mallet and the lute,
The things you have fashioned in necessity or for delight.

What is worth my life?

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whispers

I’m supposed to protect my magic.

But I want to godzilla the world.

The kind of woman about whom, when her feet hit the floor in the morning, the devil says Oh shit, she’s awake!

Quiet, serene.

Mrs. Hempstock.

Someone so secure in her power that she doesn’t have to rage and flail and shatter the earth.  Because she already knows she can.

The black sheep.  Living by my own lights.  In the movies those women always look happy and unconcerned.  In real life those women constantly hear the background chatter about how they don’t measure up, how they’re less.  They’re not living large, they’re a living disappointment.  Following your bliss only counts if you’re thin, pretty, have a tidy magazine quality house and your bliss means canning shit you grow in the organic garden when you’re out there tending your prizewinning zinnias because your husband just won the Nobel prize and your children are busy feeding the homeless for a school project.  Following your bliss only counts if you’re a success already. Following your bliss doesn’t count if your bliss means not following rules someone else set for you.  If your bliss means not following your mother’s rules, your husband’s rules, your family’s rules, society’s rule, your bliss is inauthentic and you are judged. (SELFISH) And you’ll either cave and crawl back under the bushel with your light, or you’ll shake them off and stand up and break your rules and go.  But the whispers will still follow you.  They’ll speak in your mother’s voice, in your ear, long after she’s dead and her disappointments with her.  You’ll smile, you’ll live, you’ll enjoy, you’ll fail, you’ll crawl, you’ll weep and break and heal and die and live again, but always you’ll hear her whispers.

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Tomorrow my demons will cower at my feet
But tonight they lie beside me, intimate, close
whispering in my ear.

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Almost through.

Not with treatments, though I’m approaching the tail end of those too. No, I’m almost through with summer. October is when it finally gets beautiful (mostly) here in AZ. It’s still hot during the day (approached 100 this weekend) but morning and nighttime is lovely and the mosquitoes are almost all dead, so it’s nearly coffee-on-patio time. It’s been pleasant enough that I’ve been excavating in the garage too, and managed to locate our tent and our air mattress and we’ll be going to the scouting campout before long, too. I even have time, courtesy of no football practice during fall break, to actually erect said tent and blow up said air mattress to make sure we have all the bits. Whee!

Since last I blogged, Bubba has turned 9

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Smacky has lost his first tooth

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And Smallish Bear has learned “cheeeeeee” for the camera.

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Also popping wheelies.

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T and I are still working on training our brains to be positive, which is hard after many years of snark and the last year full of much crap and garbage. However, if we can manage it ourselves it will help us to help the children keep their brains on positive tracks (Bubba in particular tends toward negativity) so it will be worth it, for sure.

In the meantime, there is knitting. Just a little, but knitting just the same. There’s just something about lace…

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Oops, forgot a title again.

“…I asked if she had any regrets or unresolved issues she needed us to help with and she told me she didn’t. ‘I had fun. We laughed so much.'” -The Bloggess

Imagine getting to the end of your life and having no regrets. What freedom.

Anyway, the positivity is tough work, especially in the context of family and work and sleep and time and OMGSOBUSYHOWISLIFESOBUSY. But in that podcast I mentioned last time, in an episode that escapes me now, the guest was talking about how his sister was complaining about having the schlep the kids here and there and how this was so busy and she was so stressed and he said (paraphrasing here),”But isn’t this life the one you always wanted?” And she stepped back and realized it was, and she had everything she had dreamed about as a child and maybe she just needed that mental shift.
I can honestly say that I have things in my life that I didn’t want (bite me, cancer), and I don’t have things that I did imagine (where’s my chateau in Germany?), but I’m also not dead yet, so I’m trying to remember to enjoy the things I have and work toward the other stuff. Part of the issue is that some of the busyness? Is for things that come along with the other stuff. I couldn’t give a rat’s patoot about boy scouts but Bubba likes it, so off I go to pack meetings… I need to remember that a happy kid IS what I want, even if what makes him happy isn’t what I would choose for myself. Shift shift shift.

Another thing that’s happening is the return of the knitting. It’s been months since I’ve knat much of anything, but recently I discovered that my Madli had been knocked down behind the TV (out of its protective baggie) and the carpet beetles got it. I had to replace the yarn and got some Fyberspates Scrumptious, which IS. As it turns out, knitting beaded lace as the first thing after a hiatus, in a house with three small boys, two cats and a dog? Rough. (I left out the husband because he’s trained to not touch the knitting.) Plus I had added beads where I didn’t like beads, so I ripped and took them out, and now I’m all of six rows into the edging. Woo. But it’s knitting, and it feels good to do it again, and I may actually give some thought to grafting my Morning Glories. Joan offered to do it for me but I feel like I should at least attempt it before I give up and take the easy way out. 😀
(ETA: I think I paused here and started writing again without reading what had come before. I think it’s illustrative of my current disjointed brain, so I’m leaving it as is, but for this comment.)
Not to mention the fact that, as part of the renegotiation in terms of lifestyle and behaviors, one of the things that T and I both mentioned wanting to do better was to keep things tidy. That means more cleaning, more purging, and most of all, dealing with things immediately rather than piling them up for later. (Seriously, does ANYONE read those stupid mailers?) At the same time, I think the three boys and the two cats (and occasionally the dog) have conspired to be as messy as they absolutely can. (Nothing cuter and more depressing at the same time than coming out of the bedroom first thing in the morning, seeing Smallish Bear point to a pile of cat barf and say EW in his sweet little voice…) This fight against the tide of oncoming crap TAKES TIME, my friends. Where does it all come from?

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A mental shift

So, last post I mentioned some garbage going on in my life. Some soul-searching has been happening as result of the garbage – the garbage doesn’t deserve any mention beyond this, but the soul-searching surely does. If this sounds all mystical and woo-woo, tough, my blog. 🙂
Anyway, I think I mentioned… lessee, here! that I had gotten tired of the hateyness. This is true, of course. With the health issues I’ve been having and the other things going on, I’d started to feel like there was a big cosmic target on me and life was sucking, hard. I was snippy to my kids, kept my head down and ignored people at work, didn’t like my dog or cats (let’s be real, the cats still suck), got into the habit of being a cancer patient instead of a person. That is not enjoyable.

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

Frustration and anger were getting the best of me and the tension in my body was an actual physical sensation. Bleh. I started thinking about positive thinking. Negativity and downer self-talk become such a habit (particularly among a certain subset of society that values snarky humor and snide commentary over honest feeling) and it’s just so hard to break that. You’re actually having to change neural pathways that have been developed over a long period.

Did you ever hear the story of the two wolves? The good wolf and bad wolf battling it out inside you, and the one who wins is the one you feed. I recently discovered a podcast called The One You Feed, about the power of positive thinking and creating positivity in your life. I actually subscribed to it and let it build up in my iTunes for a while before trying out an episode (snarky habits die hard) but I’ve listened to a few and I’m enjoying. I’m actually sitting down and thinking and taking notes about what I want out of life all that. I’m talking about it with T, and even with the kids. I’m making lists, thinking about priorities, thinking about what I want vs what I need. We’re comparing notes. It’s a work in progress, for sure.

Years ago when I was engaged to Rick, I was considering a church wedding and we actually went through church marriage sessions. There was one in particular, about communication, that I remember a lot. Gail and Marty talked about how, when their child was young, they unexpectedly found themselves with two weeks of child-free time at their disposal, and how they’d completely forgotten how to be married and not just a mom and a dad. They took some time and had some hard conversations about their marriage, and they “renegotiated their contract”. I’ve been thinking about that, but even in the larger context of life in general. I don’t really have a contract with life, but I have some ideas about what I want from it and what I want to leave behind when I go, and I’m renegotiating. Marriage, parenting, employment, even citizenship. It’s all up for consideration, at least within the boundaries of the promises I’ve made. Stay tuned, there’s more to come here.

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And woodja lookit that?

It’s three months later. Man, you blink ’round these parts…

Anyway, I have nothing to tell. It’s blasted hot and I’m busy as a busy thing. Boys are back in school, and this year Smacky joins the ranks of the elementary chillens in kindergarten. (Yes, we start stupid early but we get out before Memorial Day.)
So I have no knitting. I have no quilting. No crafting of any kind to speak of. It’s too freaking hot. I had some other stuff going on in real life that I will not be sharing here, but it is kicking my proverbial behind. Things are abating slightly, though, and I was tired of spending my evenings staring at my phone playing Tetris, so I got out that Rosetta Stone I bought over the summer, and lo, I have been learning some German. I have only had a few lessons and can say only a short series of utterly random things, but I’m still enjoying the hell out of wandering around the house and telling the boys, “Der Apfel ist grün.” You might think they would be rote, but all my Äpfel are grüne.

True to form, the monsoons seem to be over and the dry heat is returning a bit, and it feels like fall to me. (You northern people undoubtedly chuckle at my idea of fall, but it’s all I got right now.) Fall means restlessness. Fall means dissatisfaction and frustration and tearing apart the house and thinking about exercise and … Fall is when I stop hibernating and start thinking about being outside, about fall cleaning and opening windows and airing out cabinets. Fall is when I look in that box and think, “When the hell did I ever think I’d use these purses again?” Fall is when it’s hardest to be patient. When I start thinking about planting flowers and gardens (and finding a taller Juniper Diversion Device). When I wish I owned my house so I could paint walls and rip out cabinets and replace windows. Note that even when I did own a house, I almost never did these things, I just felt the stirring in my blood to make changes. If ever I manage to move from this miserable hot dust bowl, it will happen in the fall.

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Done but not finished.

With a few things.
Most importantly, I am done with the Big Nasty Chemo.

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This is Last Chemo Selfie – you might even be able to see the peach fuzz a-growin’ on my pate.

Treatments are not over, nor have I worked through all the side effects of this last infusion, but I believe the worst of it is over.

Also over: the knitting of Morning Glories.

This ignominious picture does no justice to anything, but it is two halves of Morning Glories, awaiting grafting, ends-weaving, and blocking. These items require more brain power than is left to me during chemo brain, so I will be waiting a bit to finish this project. In the meantime, I will attempt to remember what size needle I was using for Smallish Bear’s blanket – apparently I never wrote it down…

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Two freaking months?

Really, it’s been that long?

Wow.

Apologies if this is news you’ve heard, either from Facebook or through the grapevine, but hey, my blog.
I have been a busy little bee these days, though not of my own design. In January of this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and in February I was told that it had spread a bit. Later that month I started chemo and have been dealing with that lovely thing every three weeks, along with working and family and a brief bit of travel last weekend. I have been very lucky in the side-effects department; most of the nasties like pain and nausea are handled by additional medication and I’ve only had to deal with a recurring cold (along with the standard hair loss and the exhaustion and what have you). After a while it all becomes a bit routine and I’m looking forward to the beginning of June, which means the likely end of my chemo (must be confirmed with MRI) and the beginning of the next phase, which is surgery and radiation. My cancer is responding quite well to the chemo and that is a good thing.

Early on I was obsessed with the knitting, and made it through probably 80% of Morning Glories. (And I reknit the mesh section of the second half because I’d swapped the purse stitch for Turkish stitch, not faggoting like I’d thought.) I’ve kinda given up on knitting these days, though – my mental state of late could predominantly be described as “I can’t even” and I mostly sit around and mess with my phone or listen to an audiobook when I have free time. I did manage about an inch of sock (still the Cryptic Notes toe-ups) on the plane last weekend but that was about it.

A couple of nights ago I got out the honeymoon quilt and have started working on that – it requires almost no thought at all so it’s easy to just sit there and stitch along. I still have the boys’ “Christmas” quilts to do, too – Bubba’s train top and backing are finished, but Smacky’s Batman top still needs the bat symbol and I need to piece the backing. The fact is that I never have enough time to get them out when the boys are either gone or asleep, before I crash myself.

I have plans for sweaters and socks and wraps and things later on, but right now I’m just relaxing.

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Moving on.

I’ve recently started the second half of the morning glories stole, so I’m dreaming of what comes next. (Because just past the halfway mark of a six-and-a-half foot long stole is “almost done”.) Awhile ago I purchased yarn to make Darrowby, but have been scared away a bit by both the number of errors in the pattern, and by the gauge of the project. Worsted-weight on size 3 needles didn’t sound fun. (I did a hat like that once and hated every stitch.) I happened to noticed Bonne Marie Burns’ Tauriel, though, and I think the shape is similar (and perhaps even more flattering) and also knit at a looser gauge. Plus, it seems to me that Bonne Marie has a good reputation for clearly written patterns. I still love the Darrowby cables, so I’ll be working them into the panels on Tauriel instead of the diamond cable on there. (Bonus, Tauriel calls for only half the yarn that Darrowby’s denser fabric required, so I’ll have leftovers.)
Still, it’s starting to get hot here, and I don’t know how much longer I’ll want a sweater. (I already use the fan in my cube more often than not.) So, I decided I’d get out that Knitpicks Shine I bought a million years ago. I poked around on the Drops website and found a few basic, plain tops/shells that I liked. I managed to find one that may be flattering (WHY do they make their models stand so weird?) and had some finished projects on Rav, and I’m reasonably confident that if I have enough yarn, I can make it work. The underarms are a little funny but some have added sleeves or a little panel to the underarm part of the scye so I think it will be a good work top. I imagine I’ll start my altered Tauriel a bit later in the summer, in the hope that it would be ready to wear next winter. Or maybe I should start it now so I can finish it for Air Conditioning Season? AUGH. So many choices.
Additional choices? I recently decided I needed a summer hat, and searched Drops. I found FIVE that I covet. I will not make them all this summer, but I do need at least one. I’ll have to narrow that down and start working on it soon too. And there are still the boys’ quilts and the honeymoon quilt! Clearly I do not have time to have a job.
And furthermore, I lost one of my second-favorite-ever stitch markers (both pairs of my faves were free gifts for buying something else, natch) and one of the few I own that’s sized big enough to fit on the size 9s I’m using for Morning Glories. I HAD to make new ones.
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