July 21, 2014

I finished my first screenplay--well, finished it enough to send it off to someone who knows enough to tell me what to edit first. 

I bought two dress patterns in celebration. (MonetaCoco.)

Laura and I are currently having a little sew-along; both of us are making Emery dresses. As of two weeks ago I have thrown myself on to the dressmaking bandwagon with no hesitation or decorum. 

 I got a new shirt.

I got a new shirt.

I filled out my tuition grant application. 

I trimmed Simpkin's claws. 

I thought about fitness goals and ate with a mind to "making my macros". This fervent intuitive eater is test-running a switch to calculated nutrition. What can I say? Intuitive eating saved my sanity and helped me gain a healthy attitude toward food. Now I want to know that I'm eating in a way that supports the development of a stronger, abler--and yes, more attractive--body. I just want my abs to show up. Today this quest involved a smoothie made with 60 grams of whey powder . . . 

 oregano flowers

oregano flowers

Thinking about fitness made me think about Allison. I suddenly wondered if I'd ever heard her sing. I looked her up on youtube, and promptly had a cry to this song.

I wrote a thank-you note.

I squished all visible worms on my cabbages. I transplanted about 20 chamomile plants from the driveway to the backyard.

I was envious of Glynis's morning project. So quotidian, specific, pertinent, consistent. It's extremely refreshing.

Tim and I are about to watch the last episode of the new Cosmos series. I'm going to try to knit the last couple inches of the second sleeve for this sweater.

 coffee mirror

coffee mirror

 

Good night kids!

introvert holiday

bananas, with spots and cupboard doors

yarn from Stokurinn in Reykjavik

breakfast--with unseen, just-planted sprouted garlic 

a sweater torso

breakfast again

sprouted ginger root
bedside
this will be a lopapeysa

pears, avocado pears (as S. P. would say)

sourdough rye bread

spring spit bubble


to make 100% sourdough rye bread
(adapted after trials and tribulation from Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley)

- in a large bowl, mix together:

125 grams rye sourdough starter (at a 2:1 ratio of water to flour)
150 grams dark rye flour
300 grams warm water

- let sit, covered, in a warm spot for 12-16 hours

- remove 125 grams of mixture and return to fridge (your starter for the next batch)

- add to the remaining sponge:

350 grams dark rye flour
10 grams salt 
200 grams warm water
caraway seeds (optional)

- mix with a wooden spoon or spatula--dough will be extremely wet and sloppy (not knead-able)

- scrape into buttered 9x5 loaf pan, sprinkle with 

more caraway seeds

- let rise, covered loosely, until risen to top of pan (2-8 hours)--to avoid cloth or plastic wrap sticking to the top of your loaf, you can slide the whole pan into a large ziploc bag

- preheat oven to 450 or 500 degrees F

- put risen dough in the oven, reduce temperature to 400 degrees F

- bake until inserted fork or thermometer comes out clean (between 30 and 60 minutes)--if crust isn't burnt, err on the side of a longer baking time

- remove loaf from pan and leave in open air (to cool and lose excess moisture) for at least 12 hours 



The bread adventure continues. This is the recipe I came up with after wasting around 10 pounds of rye flour on bread that wouldn't rise. The most major changes I made to Whitley's recipe were to increase the amounts of both starter and salt. If you have a trustworthy, vigorous starter, you may be able to use significantly less (Whitley suggests only 50 grams). In my opinion, this bread needs at least 10 grams of salt. 

And if you're slightly daft (as I am) when it comes to sourdough, make sure you are using (and refreshing) all of the starter in your jar every time you make bread. One of my main problems in the beginning was that my starter's acidity balance had been thrown out of whack by the extra starter that never made it out of my jar. 



medieval sleeping

I'm up at 2:30 am to drink fennel tea and knit. It's been a long week and I have a few things to say:

This introversion thing is real. I realize this when I wake up at midnight in order to sit alone not-talking.

Too many days have gone by without my being able to do this. My balance is off. I ache. I am confused and helpless. I can't see myself or anyone else. By the time I finished work yesterday, I was hardly functioning. Introverts are in vogue at the moment, but it is still a tiny bit socially unacceptable to announce that you feel strung out and unhinged and hungover from too much social interaction, especially if you work in customer service. Well, I feel all of those things. Sometimes I resent the fact that so much of social energy is used up by my job and not with my friends. Sometimes going for coffee is the last thing I want to do. Sometimes a party is a house-sized hell. Sometimes I find it difficult to live with my own partner. Sometimes I find it difficult to live with my cat.

Solitude is not a luxury for me. Coming to this 3:00 am conclusion feels surprisingly rebellious. I am under enormous pressure to ignore my need for time alone, for personal work, for self-direction, for slow, for quiet. Even I have measured my level of mental health by my ability to cope cheerfully with social situations--and of course, being able to "cope cheerfully" is a necessary skill, something that makes my life easier. It's a mistake, however, for me to set the bar there, where I'm merely coping and not thriving.

On the cusp of three days off, a defiant list before bed.

To Do:

- spend a whole day reading
- walk in the cemetery
- take a weekend off from email, facebook
- binge-knit a sweater
- write on a non-project (i.e. do the work from which projects emerge)
- plan another solo trip
- plan a smaller dinner party
- make a new zine because I love to, not because it is a good career move
- protect my little routines
- do a fast day (for the first time in ages and ages)
- bake sourdough bread



(if you're curious about the post's title)

nerd



Tim and I have become obsessed with the first two seasons of the BBC's Sherlock. When I found a fair isle chart on Ravelry for the motif from Benedict Cumberbatch's wallpaper, I remembered that Tim wanted a sock for his tablet, and cast on immediately.

(Raveled here.)

Resolutions in March



- learn to make my own happiness (because it is not Tim's job, and because circumstances will not always be peachy)
This month, this has meant reading quite a lot on emotional eating, giving myself permission to stop eating food I'm not enjoying, buying a bracelet, sleeping when I'm tired, showering in the middle of the afternoon, baking myself a birthday cake, having little conversations with the Simps, buying tulips, starting Guns, Germs, and Steel in the middle of the semester. 




- complete one wearable sewn garment (hello brown paisley dress)

- master fair isle knitting (in order to make things such as this)
Finally! Progress. This is a Kate Davies cowl pattern called 'Hazelhurst'.







- remove makeup every night (this has never, ever been a habit--now that flossing is down, it's time)
I would say I'm at something like 60%?

- reach goal weight once and for all (140 pounds)
See first item above.

- pay back money owed Tim (so very close)

- pay off student loan (not so close)

- repair book cubes (damaged in the move last spring)

- further improve backyard (especially firepit, but also hope for fruit trees, removal of gravel, chopping of hoary huge evergreen)

- write something (anything) every day (this should be at the top of the list)

- learn more about math and computing (calculus, number theory, Python)

- publish in at least one magazine (which means submitting)
The Blue Hour came out with their first print edition, and were kind enough to include my poem from January.

- give excellent presents (better than last year)

- apply for at least one "real" job (something outside the service industry, something challenging, something that utilizes my skills)

- properly repair bathroom ceiling and baseboards (and begin to learn about renovating a house)
We have a plan. Now to buy supplies.

- play the violin again (Vivaldi's "Winter")

- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)
Rye sourdough is proving a challenge. I have a live starter, but my first two loaves did not rise well. I bought some whole rye flour, since I suspect that part of the problem is the dark rye I've been using. We'll have another go this weekend. 

- get a tattoo (at last at last)
Progress here too. Now to scrounge up several hundred dollars. Tips.

- put more of myself into relationships (especially that relationship with one Tim Put)

- use my nice things (and remember that I have many)
It was jam our friends made last summer (thanks Mel and Jessie!), my own chocolate mint tea, marzipan which had been sitting in the freezer for a year, cloth napkins from Emily, Christmas shower gel, a hand-wound clock unearthed from the "keepsake" box and set ticking.

- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg)
The keepsake box contained another clock, an Alice in Wonderland clock my parents gave me when I wasn't even a year old. The battery-powered mechanism wasn't working, so Tim ordered me another one, and new clock hands. They arrived today. Also, five years later, we ordered a  Blendtec.  No more semi-disposable 30-dollar affairs.

knitting things + more of the famous windowsill + new plant


The grey? is a sock. One of Hermione's Everyday Socks, actually.
The Ikea yarn has by now become three inches of legit fair isle. I'll show you tomorrow. 
Sometimes I feel apologetic about unintellectual knitting. 
But this is silly.

Notice the new and tiny tropical plant,
and the gemstones. They're on their way to becoming something else.

Today I'm making toasted-almond-allspice-and-marzipan biscotti for Easter.
I'm also writing my second of four final, final papers.
I'm trying to eat only food that tastes good, and I actually want
--less than I thought. To quote Geneen Roth,
"No one's hunger is bottomless".
I'm wearing pants for the second time in eight months.
They're army green; they sit low on my hips and cinch at my ankles.
After the last snowfall, it's gotten warm and the whole city is a lake.
I am wild to ride my bike again.
I'm bracing for the mountain of good work there will be to do once the snow is gone.
Last week I bought this from this talented woman.
I've received two letters as well. Plume and Glynis--thanks thanks thanks.
Heath emailed back. Plans are developing and I have a pile of money to secret away.
I am tired. But the daylight is growing.
I fully intend to wear shorts this summer.

And how are you? I would love to hear your day's news.

Resolutions in February


- learn to make my own happiness (because it is not Tim's job, and because circumstances will not always be peachy)
It was paying to get my hair cut. Painting my toenails. Walking in the cemetery. Making a good effort at work. Spending time with friends, in spite of that fear that I am socially awkward. Drinking beer while making supper. Singing--which I hadn't really done since moving in with Tim. 




- complete one wearable sewn garment (hello brown paisley dress)
I actually have all the cutting and marking done. 

- master fair isle knitting (in order to make things such as this)
This is for March.

- remove makeup every night (this has never, ever been a habit--now that flossing is down, it's time)
Something of a fail. Must get back to this simple thing.

- reach goal weight once and for all (140 pounds)
Indulge me while I digress for a moment. The more I think about this, the more I realize that what I want for my body is a hell of a lot more than a smaller number on the scale. I want to be really strong. I want to be able to run when I feel like it. I want to take a bike trip this summer. I want to feel good after eating. 

I am becoming attracted to the idea of more serious lifting. Since Christmas, with a lapse in the middle of February, I've been doing both strength training and short bouts of cardio. I feel amazing after lifting free weights, holding a long plank, actually feeling my chest touch the ground during a push-up. I adore my biceps. Today I squatted for the first time, holding one of the dumbbells Tim uses on his arms. 8 hours later, my whole body hurts in a very, very good way. 

- pay back money owed Tim (so very close)
Closer. Almost.

- pay off student loan (not so close)

- repair book cubes (damaged in the move last spring)

- further improve backyard (especially firepit, but also hope for fruit trees, removal of gravel, chopping of hoary huge evergreen)

- write something (anything) every day (this should be at the top of the list)
Like washing my face: so easy, so hard. I must, I must. And notes for poems too. 

- learn more about math and computing (calculus, number theory, Python)

- publish in at least one magazine (which means submitting)

- give excellent presents (better than last year)
My friend Amelia got married. I bought her this book. If that isn't a good present, I don't know what is. 

- apply for at least one "real" job (something outside the service industry, something challenging, something that utilizes my skills)

- properly repair bathroom ceiling and baseboards (and begin to learn about renovating a house)
I watched Tim repair a window frame, and watched Tim's Dad rip up three layers of lino and lay down tile. I have a lot to learn.

- play the violin again (Vivaldi's "Winter")

- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)
As you know, this is going well. I'm through the first chapter on basic doughs. I've started the sourdough chapter. 

- get a tattoo (at last at last)

- put more of myself into relationships (especially that relationship with one Tim Put)
It was continuing to talk. Trying very hard to nip passive aggression in the bud. Not spoiling Tim's birthday with impossible expectations, but leaving a miniature cherry pie at Transcend for him to find when he opened the cafe. Making friend dates.

- use my nice things (and remember that I have many)
It was yarn that had been "stashed" for a while, turned into a cowl and a sweater. Hoarded coconut milk turned into rice pudding, and saved butterscotch chips turned into cookies. A tiny handsewn notebook filled with grocery lists. A perfume bottle emptied. 




- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg)
Tim's sweater is done, after trials and tribulations. I'm in the middle of a mildly overwhelming repair/restoration that I hope to blog about this week. As mentioned, I repaired my rubber boots. 





starting and finishing

After I had to rip back the entire yoke on Tim's sweater (those blasted shoulders!), I wanted to knit something less heartbreaking. And so: the cotton candy running cowl.

Reading Week, so far. I am trying to do everything I ever put on hold in order to finish a paper or go to bed on time. The bread experiment progresses splendidly, and I am working on the brown paisley dress. Tim and I have been on a walk. I'm trying to root four little aloe vera cuttings; upstairs, my father-in-law is starting to paint the walls dove grey and lay porcelain tile. On Monday, mending a tear, we managed to superglue my fingertips to my yellow Tretorns. I walked to work in full light this morning.

Fourth recipe in Bread Matters--baps. 


Saturday, February 16, 2013

February is the oddest month. Last year in March I said, "It's February's fault". Much like last year, I've spent the past week arranging for new tenants upstairs. Right on cue, we have renovations on the brain again. A dear friend is getting married on Monday. For me at least, this is the month of new beginnings before I feel ready.

But--joy!--the Reading Week break starts today. As a student, I am granted the privilege of catching my breath. Today I am going to start the final (read: most terrifying) part of Tim's saddle shoulder sweater--the saddle shoulders. Knitting Without Tears is on the bed beside me, and it is now time to plot my attack. Have a lovely day, readers.

Adventures in Darning


before

after

I want to be someone who knows how to fix things as well as make things. Repair has been at the top of my mind for several months now. When a faulty knot (I know, I know) in the sole of one of my striped socks gave way, leaving me with a small hole, I decided it was a good time to follow tomofholland's advice and Darn It!

For my first darn, I think it's not bad. Of course, there's lots of room for improvement. This method of darning, mostly suitable for small holes, is called a Swiss darn (or duplicate stitch), and, theoretically, it can be almost invisible.

I'm also in the process of (more creatively and obviously) repairing a nasty gash in a black cardigan of mine. Perhaps pictures within the next few days. Have a lovely Sunday!

quagmire mittens

I've entered the quagmire of the semester--I hope to emerge alive in two weeks' time. Today I wrote an imitation of JFK's inaugural address for rhetoric class. Around the 500 word mark it came to me that I would like to start running again, and paint my nails. I feel lethargic and dowdy already, and I fear it is only going to get worse. I have plenty to say on the subject of why it is ridiculous to base 50% of a student's GPA on work accomplished mid-panic attack and on three hours of sleep, and how no one in their right mind could call my generation lazy (though they often do).

I've been procrastinating by finishing these mittens.




The wool is from a Canadian company called Briggs and Little. It's wiry and sheepy, and apparently will last forever. 

I had to do surgery on the cuff of the first mitt I knit. I had to unpick two rows after the second cuff turned out to be shorter. Did you realize that knitting only unravels one way? I feel that I am learning a lot on this knitting-front lately. 





view from indoors

When it's this snowy outside, and the internet says -20 degrees, what do you do? 
Well, you buckle down and do homework--you write 1200 words of the progymnasmata for rhetoric class. 
You drink coffee with milk, listen to Ella and Louis Armstrong.
You shovel yourself and the cat out of your basement cave, and carve a path to the garage.
 You knit mittens, socks, and cocoons.


Cat! The cocoons are finally, nearly finished. Expect some mail soon.

stash


On Ravelry, one's 'stash' of yarn is a major fixture. It can be photographed, catalogued, looked up, and organized by weight, colour, fibre content. Some members have thousands of skeins ready and waiting. These are pictures from my own little 'stash'. For the first time, I have yarn for more than two prospective projects.


And it is beautiful yarn. Some of it was hand-dyed in France. The green skeins above are from an Irish spinning company; I'm going to knit Tim a cabled sweater out of them. Once I learn how to work cables, that is.



I have yarn for Christmas presents, for mittens for myself, for my first attempt at fair isle knitting. But this wool-hoard--with a wee bit of silk and alpaca and nylon thrown in--makes me uncomfortable. 


Buying this yarn, which I've done in a frenzy, all since August, has been as easy and pleasurable as sharpening my pencils or buying new notebooks. Or, for that matter, buying interesting ingredients from Superstore. Is there anything more appealing than provisions and supplies? It's easy to forget that the point is the writing and knitting and cooking, and afterwards, the reading and wearing and eating. 



And it's easy to get caught up in "learning", too. It's easy to spend hours reading forum posts, self-help books, lovely blogs. But it can be an ordeal to practice a new technique, to scribble shitty first drafts, to try to live some kind of good life. 

Mostly, I want to spend more time doing than preparing. It's quite hard.

On Mess

I thought that by now I would have permanently escaped mess. Escaping mess, I would have also escaped cleaning up. By now,  I thought, I would be able to start existing in earnest; in a pristine and well-oiled environment I could start the perpetual-motion machine which would define my adulthood as one of accomplished glory and efficiency. Now that I didn't have to deal with the mess my mother dealt with, I could write, carry on a clear-cut yet passionate relationship with my husband, excel in school, save scads of money, and finally, steadily begin to acquire gorgeous new possessions instead of haphazardly replacing the victims of breakdowns, wear, accidents.

Escaping mess was probably my penultimate childhood goal. My bedroom was as minutely arranged as a nativity scene on a mantel. Everything that didn't fit the schema was chucked outside the door. If something broke, I hated myself and threw it out. If I ate something too messy, too large, larger, crumblier than a carrot or an apple, I hated myself and threw it up. I panicked over the relentless advance of kipple, and drew my circle ever smaller. The dream of a poised and perfect stasis dies hard. However. 



By now I see that since I left home, started eating, and grew up, I have been actively courting mess. The mess of living with a partner. The mess of transplanting in the kitchen. The aphids in the pepper plant. The mess of house-training a cat. The mess that is academia. The disappointing grades. The mess of moving. The mess of a mortgage. The mess of our very own water pipes, leaking through the ceiling. The mess of hauling gravel around the yard. The mess of tools and sawdust in the livingroom. The mess of writing-anyway (with my terrible penmanship, feeling ugly, in spite of noise, without a speck of inspiration). The mess of oiling a bicycle. The mess I never admit is mine. The mess of relationships: coworkers, family, tenants. The apologies. The mess of homemade food. The mess and mud of a garden. The failed radishes. The mess in the laundry room after replacing the windows. The mess of learning how to do something. The knitting ripped back 6 times. The mess of publishing poems that make me cringe a little. The mess I try not to clean up so I won't drive Tim crazy. The mess of grinding a knife. 


The knitting that got ripped back six times. But look at it now! It's a poppy pod.

Though I am living and managing, though I am making things, fixing things, though I am doing well, everything I want is a bit of a mess. So strange, and a little sad, to realize it.

This turned into something a little more vague and moralizing than I had intended. I would be very interested to hear about your views on specific or general life-messiness, should you care to comment or send off an email.


settling

Things are settling down and I have a new laptop. And 3 days off. (Really off. No classes, no shifts.) I've got a clogging cold, but I'm taking it slow. The biggest items on the agenda for today?
- drinking tea 
- drinking hot ginger
- drinking water
- reading 160 pages for rhetoric
- baking cookies to console us and the tenants
- finishing this sock:


I think I'm getting better at coping. 

Before all the robbery drama, I had been meaning to show you yet another two images of knotted red yarn. This is something I finished during post-Thanksgiving video games at Tim's parents' house this past weekend:


I promise that subsequent knitting projects will be in purple or green.

Have a beautiful weekend!

P.S. Tim, Alice, Kathy, Peter, Carolin, Jim, Elliot--if you're reading this, Thank you.