I have no friends on Ravelry.
If you are on Ravelry, would you please be my friend? Pretty Please?
(I could give you some lovely 100% acrylic wool . . .)
A ball of elastics. You know, like you put together in your first job when you were bored out of your skull, and couldn't think of a single thing to do? Possibly you even spent days working at this, but all you had were the ugly, boring beige elastics, because your company was to cheap to get coloured ones. Maybe you even stole a few of the ones that come with broccoli at home, in your mother's Fenian drawer, because they were good for starting the ball. And possibly your ball was quite large, and weighed a bit, and yes, you really were that sort of child who came home with notes in her report card about fidgeting.
Possibly. But, not quite. These elastics were colour co-ordinated, and the ball was perfectly round. It was just perfect.
And, this ball of elastics cost $12.50.
Think for a second. Who sat in a marketing meeting and thought "I've got it, we are going to sell a ball of elastics, red, blue, yellow, green, all wrapped up, and we are going to charge, umm, $10, no better make it $12.50? It'll be a best seller man, we'll make our fortune."
And then, after I had spent more or less the whole weekend with this ball of elastics running through my head(2) - mostly wishing I had given into my baser self and seen if it would bounce off the wall of self help books next to it, just as I was typing this,
(No, really, I did)
How do you put that together? Do you suppose there is a machine? It can't be by hand, that would be demented. And how would it feel to be the inventor of that machine? Would you go to cocktail parties, and with a glass of white wine in one hand and a shrimp voulavent in the other, would you look at the other guests and say "I'm filthy rich because I made a machine that puts elastics into balls. Yes, that's right, any colour, any size ball(3), we hold US Patent 2211028, and baby, I don't mind saying, that little patent has us rolling in the dough."
And who comes up with this sort of thing? What kind of a life do you have to lead? We've got war torn regions, anopheles mosquitoes, Jon and Kate divorcing, and someone came up with a machine that puts elastics in a ball. Who is that person?
All of that aside, I can't help but think: I bet the ball really would have bounced off the cupboards above my co-workers' heads. With a thunk and everything.
(1) like Borders and Amazon, if they also sell useless office supplies, in addition to being out of every book you might want to buy on a given day.
(2) Yes, it does disturb me that I spent that much time thinking about this - but there you have it.
(3) I know what you are thinking Aunt Becky, and I'd just like to remind you that God is watching.
I think one of the best things about getting to know people is that you learn to know not just them, but their families. Their stories, who they are, what they are a part of, become part of your life.
until reaching heaven. And Brown Owl's dad, the gardener.
I knew a bit about Brown Owl's dad, and I knew a lot about his garden. I have always thought that our gardens are our gifts to the world, and never more so than Wednesday night, as I walked through it. I have a pretty nice garden.
This garden? This was the garden of a life time. A real life time. Decades. 50 years, if I recall correctly. This is the garden of a man who planted an oak tree, about 10 years ago or so. This is the garden of a man who loved growing things.
And perhaps, perhaps the ultimate in honour. To bring things home to my garden, to carry forward more memories. To write, on the back of plant markers, "Al's garden, 2009".
A week later I sat in my GP's office and he told me that he wasn't sure that 3 months would do it, but it was a start - come back if I needed more. There is, for the record, 1 pill left in that bottle.
Perhaps it would surprise you, those of you who have not lost a child, if I told you that there are places in my grief life I do not - cannot go. At some point in this process, you look hard at places in your sorrow, and you shake your head, and you realize that if you go down that path, madness lies at the end. However much, in the midst of our most personal moments of agony, we might wish for madness, we seem to know that it is not an option. We sit in our doctor's office and we quietly explain that our baby has died, and we are very sorry to trouble, but we cannot sleep, and could we have some help with that. Not Valium or laudanum or entire bottles of rum, but a pill so that when we close our eyes, we can sleep. Our overworked brains can rest, if only for a few hours. And our outward behaviour does not match the pain and the fear and the sorrow in our hearts.
The truth is, I can see him at 18 months - reddish hair, his mother's temper, his father's logic. It doesn't take much, and those thoughts are never very far from me. But I do not spend time there. That way madness lies.
I'm talking real madness. Not slightly crazy, distraught. No, I'm talking the have-you-committed, lose-your-job-your-house-your-car-your-will-to-live. You can spend so much time on what should have been, and the gross unfairness of it all, that you stop living. You can spend all of your time in what should have been, and lose your grip on what is.
I have never really lost it at Gabriel's death. I have never screamed or wailed in public. Indeed, I've never done either in front of Mr. Spit. I have screamed once. Wailed beyond all comprehension twice. That way madness lies.
And so, most days, well, really all days, I move through my life. And more than moving through life, I actually like my life. It's not what I wanted, what I planned, but it is what it is. And it`s a good life.
"Did you hear the announcement about our baby in church?"
A note on my Facebook page asking if we had heard the announcement at church about the new baby. An announcement on Father`s day. And I looked at this note, turning my head sideways, trying to figure out how to explain. Struck by this gap. I understand how they wouldn't "get" the conjunction of the day and the news, and how hard that would be for Mr. Spit. I understand that. I get it, even if they don't. And I am left confused and saddened. Because there is no way to explain a hurt that is so wide or deep. There are no physical signs of it. I am, solidly sane.
Because I do not scream, because I ask for mild sleeping pills and not tranquilizers, that doesn't mean that some times don't hurt more than others, and that doesn't mean that we are the way we were, and that doesn't mean that some days don't take us too close to those places that madness lies.
1. It would appear that I will be going to get my ears pierced. Not tonight, because I am busy, and tomorrow is my wedding anniversary, so I shall be busy. Wednesday might be ok, and I know I have a bunch of meetings on Thursday night, so maybe Friday? Does that sound like a think that the cool kids do - go and get their ears pierced of a Friday night?
2. I need to wash my windows. I have lived in my house for 4.5 years now, and umm, I have never washed my windows. I'd like to imply that I'm letting you into a secret, but really, you look at my house and it's not so secret is it?
Have you any suggestions? Obviously I can do the insides, but how do you wash the outsides? It's not my fault - I grew up in a house where either the housekeeper did this, or after things went sideways, we were in apartments where washing the windows was the least of your problems. I asked my mother, and she said she had a guy that did hers. I don't have a guy.
Please - how do I wash my windows?
3. Mr. Spit says thank- you for your kind words. They meant the world to both of us.
And a bonus - I am insanely jealous of the UK - they get to say things that we could never say on TV, and we all laugh, and they get Top Gear when it's on, instead of having to download it. I suppose on the bright side, and we aren't telling Mr. Spit, but it does limit my, ahem, fascination with Jeremy Clarkson . . . .
(and look, I know money's tight, and it doesn't help that free loaders like Mr. Spit and me are enjoying the show without paying taxes, but really BBC, 8 episodes? Honestly? Could you let me know where to send my 20 quid?)
But, no. Let me tell you a secret - there are only 2 Father's Day cards out there. There is the "can I borrow $20 bucks type - clearly identified by it's reference to cars, beer, and bbq's" and the "You're my inspiration - with the attendant river-at-sunset scene" and I think we can all be clear that a living child is a clear pre-requisite for the purchase of both of those cards.
Oh, I can put together a gift, BBQ stuff, M and M's, an F1 car magazine, things to celebrate Mr. Spit's particular interests. I can put together presents, but I wanted the card, to make it legitimate. So that I was not the only person saying that Mr. Spit is a father. In our shared remembrances, in my memory - when I see him cradle our Gabriel. My hair, his father's hands. A mix. With a mother, and a father. Two parents to grieve and celebrate.
The clerk at the Hallmark store suggested a sympathy card, and I realized the problems were larger than card selection. There is a time and a place for sympathy, for tender care and concern, for abiding. But equally, there is a time that recognizes what is. Mr. Spit is a father whose son is not here, not close enough to touch, and not able to make an ugly pencil holder. And frankly, when your son is not here, no one remembers you on this day. You don't count. But, this does not mean we cannot, should not celebrate. Gabriel was here. And in those 30 minutes of here-ness, Mr. Spit became, forever, irrevocably, a father.
Here you go.
Ok, except maybe for the blocking, but there's no need to talk about that, is there?
Niobe and Loribeth did it, and you know what, I howled with laughter when I did mine.
- Unfortunately, Mrs. Spit finished it off with a pair of huge glasses (in this case bigger isn't always better) and a trucker hat. [What's a trucker hat? Just asking?]
- Unfortunately, Mrs. Spit made news for all the wrong reasons later that year when she was convicted of assaulting a toilet attendant. [Whoops, bit of temper there!]
- unfortunately Mrs. Spit ran out of time. Social change agents are putting most of their emphasis on execution. [Time to update my resume, I guess]
- Unfortunately, Mrs. Spit did not make the finals but her life will continue to catch fire as she lives it to the fullest.
- Unfortunately, Mrs. Spit has not been getting much love from me lately - you know, because of that whole sex on the bus thing with a married man. [Really, this isn't me!]
- Unfortunately Mrs. Spit returned to Barstow where she worked as a piano teacher.
- Ok there are people that can eat whatever they want without piling up a pound.....unfortunately Mrs. Spit doesn't seem to be one of them. [Gee, I guess those of us with the same name have more in common than we realize!]
- Unfortunately, Mrs. Spit has problem. She's better at looking the part than realizing it. Mrs. Spit is consumed by consumption. She has a little shopping problem ... [I can stop any time I want to. Really]
Type "unfortunately" and your name into google. Really, it's that simple.
PS - slight confession, if you type in Mrs. Spit the only thing that comes up is my blog - so I used my real name.
PPS - No, Mr. Spit doesn't actually call me Mrs. Spit. I call him Mr. Spit though.
PPPS - No, I'm not going to tell you what my real name is.
I am trying to decide - should I get my ears pierced again? I've had them pierced, but I finally let the holes grow in. I haven't worn earings in about 7 years.
On the Pro Side
- I have a lovely pair of earrings that Mr. Spit bought me for our wedding day.
- I could finally buy those sets of necklace and earrings, and wear the earrings.
- I think it would look cool.
On the Con Side
- I stopped wearing earrings because they poke into my neck when I'm on the phone. I'm on the phone a lot.
- It's going to hurt to get it done.
- It's going to be expensive, because I am picky, and will only have it done at the local tattoo/body art place, because they know what they are doing and are hygienic. So, instead of it being free, I'm going to pay the better part of $100.
(going to try and sort out the carrots from the quack grass)
It teaches perseverance and dedication and possibly (although, not in your case) co-ordination. In addition to this, you aren't selling drugs on our street corner, or getting drunk and having fights on our sidewalk (Big plus in our neck of the woods)
It's just. . . . .
Well, I've been watching you skateboard for 3 years. And, I just have to say -
You aren't getting any better at it. At all.
In fact, you are still trying that same trick as from 3 years ago, where you jump up, and have your board spin around, and
And I like you, and I think you are a wonderful young man (except for the spitting, knock that off already)
I'm wondering, how about another hobby? I hear women like men who cook?
1. I did confront this person. They don't believe they are acting the way they are. A number of other board members do believe this. Unfortunately, short of throwing them off the board and out of the organization, there's not a lot I can do.
2. I'm not leaving the board until my term expires in November.
3. The challenge is that I had planned to leave in November - before any of this happened I had planned to leave. I have been approached by another board, that I would like to be a part of.
So, my problem is whether or not to continue with my plan to leave the board in November, knowing that the bully isn't likely to leave, or even admit that they are a problem.
Now, this actually isn't a problem. Community involvement is something that really matters to me. It's deeply embedded within me, and not just within me, but it forms a part of who I want to be. Community volunteerism, leadership, participation, those are things that I aspire to be.
There's always a but, isn't there?
I think it started subtly enough, and suddenly it wasn't at all subtle. I could tell that it was a problem when I started dreading meetings. When I spent entirely all too much time thinking about agenda items, and trying to ward off, well, problems.
The sudden moment - when things came to a screeching halt - happened a week ago. The truth became painfully apparent. I am the chair of a board, and this board is being held hostage by a bully.
Yes, that's right. We are 7 grown-ups, and one of us is a bully. And there's a funny thing about adult bully's. It's not as if they go about throwing sand in your face, or punching you in the side of the head.
No, it's subtle. So subtle that you find yourself asking, examining, reviewing. Trying to figure out exactly what to do, to say, trying to understand.
All of this is made further complicated in that this was my last year with the board. I haven't told them yet, but I have been Chair for 4 years now, and it's time to move on. Not actually because of the bully, but because it's time for someone else to take the reins, bring in new ideas, new blood. I had plans to resign in November, at the AGM.
But, if I leave now, I leave the rest of the board, trying to cope with a bully.
So tell me, Oh Wise Internets - what would you do?
On Sunday morning, the Philosophical Knitter and I were preparing to learn about sock knitting. I'm quite enthused. I am working on my first pair of toe-up socks, and I'm hating them. (Non-Knitting translation: you can start a sock at the cuff or at the toes.) And I'm grooving, because my idol is saying that she thinks that toe-up socks are just dumb, because among other things:
"You cannot knit a heel flap with short rows on a toe-up sock".
My eyes travel to the sock I am, at this very instant - this exact instant - knitting. In her class. This toe-up sock.
And, um, more or less, it has a heel flap. Modified. But there was a flap, and then I turned the heel, and then I picked up the stitches along the side of the flap and I knit them, and then decreased, and that gave me a gusset, and yep, this is a heel flap. There are only 2 kinds of heels in hand knitted sock, and I'll be honest, I don't even know how to do the other kind. This *is* a heel flap.
And I look at PK, and sure enough, she has the same heel. I know she has the same heel, because neither of us really used a pattern for our socks, and we had a discussion at lunch, and we decided on a heel flap. And in fact, we knit a heel flap. Indeed, when the time came to do the first one, I was in Emergency with Mr. Spit, and I had no Internet, no pattern book, no nothing. I couldn't even use my phone (and while I'm mentioning it, does any one find it odd that my $20 cell phone will wreck multi-million dollar equipment?).
So, I turned the heel. I sat and looked at it, figured out a plan, arsed it up 3 or 4 times, and then just finally dug in and knit the darn thing. And you know what? It worked. Really, it did. As you can see, it looked like a heel! It had short rows, and a gusset. It's a heel man, and I assure you, I started at the toes.
So, now I have this sock, and friends, this sock should not exist. There is a possibility that this sock is bending the time-space continuum, and it is also possibly responsible for every strange thing that Micheal Jackson has ever done. This sock is a problem. And it is sitting, plainly existing, in spite of the impossibility of the situation: a toe-up sock, with a heel flap.
Umm, Erm, toe-up sock with heel flap?!
I start knitting my freak-show sock under the table.
I'm not sure what to do. Do I rip it out? Bury it in my back yard in the dark of night and never, ever speak of it again? Holy yarn, help me. Woolly nylon, this is bad. Cheap acrylic bad. Getting to the end of a 300 stitch lace pattern, out one stitch, bad. Very bad.
I keep listening to the class, learning lots, but honest to wool, my world has been rocked. Finally at the end of the class, I put my hand up, very gingerly. I don't want to ask this question out loud. I want her to come over, so I can very quietly say:
"Umm, Stephanie, I have this toe-up sock, see this one right here and it's really a toe-up sock, and it's really got a heel flap, and yes the gusset goes up the leg and not down the foot, and I made the flap smaller and picked up fewer stitches, but really it's a heel flap and I knitted it on toe-up socks and oh, please for the love of wool, tell me I haven't broken knitting, and you aren't going to take my needles away from me, and strangle me with acrylic, and I'm really sorry, but you see I just didn't know that you couldn't do it, so, well, I did it, and I'm really sorry, and if you can't have a heel flap heel in a toe-up sock, tell me what I've done. Please?"
The Harlot says it's ok.
It's the same style as an absolutely brilliant designer named Cookie A came up with in 2006. It's called Baudelaire. And if I broke knitting, she broke it first. Also, she is teaching at the Sock Summit, so I don't think she broke knitting.
It's from Robert Heinlen's Stranger in a Strange Land. No, I didn't get the reference either.
I brought my Yarn Harlot books to Saskatchewan, all 5 of them. I was truly not sure that I would have the courage to ask. It's one thing to ask a favourite author to sign a book, 5 books seems a bit excessive, and signing 1 story about a baby born still seems just off.
I was looking forward to the book, in early November, 2007, when it shipped with the Amazon order: a few of Dr. Sear's books, Barb Colorosso's Kids are Worth it, and The Secret Life of a Knitter. And I will tell you now, as I go and look at these books on my shelf, knowing that I gave away the book on ages and stages - because I knew that I would read it after Gabriel's death, read it and imagine things as they were not, could never be - I will tell you that it seems slippery, illusory, transitory, that I should remember any of this, any of that time, at all.
I fell into bed that night and I started reading. The Yarn Harlot is a humorist. Or at least - you will find her books as Knitting - Humour. It is, as she she said in her talk, a niche market. And it's true, the Yarn Harlot is uproariously funny. She is a story teller. To tell stories, all stories, and especially funny stories, is to see life, truly. And I suppose when you see life this way, all things are not funny.
Some women, some women, tell me that they knew their baby was going to die. There was a sign, a feeling, a knowing. I will tell you that I did not know. I did not know Gabriel's story. I did not know that babies died.
I brought the book to the front on Saturday night, my name tag marking page 153. I asked her to sign a story, and opened the book.
"You liked this story?" She asked, question in her voice.
No, no. A thousand times, no. But at the start of November, 2007, I did not know that babies' died. I did not know.
A month later, in a dark hospital room, my midwife quilting in the corner:
"It is a horrible truth that you must finish what you start, even though it seems too sad to do."
Pearl McPhee, Stephanie. "'One Little Sock': The Secret Life of a Knitter". (Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing) 153-156.
Husband arrives home from business trip. Puts GPS in car. Announces that Muenster, SK is not in Jane the GPS. No worries, you have map. Also, Humbolt in in GPS.
Saturday - 9:30 am.
Finish putting baggage in car. Finally important deliberation on what knitting you are bringing. Plug GPS into mount. Get crash course in using. Kiss husband, dogs and cats good-bye. Drive away.
Circle block. Park in front of house, go back in. Get maps, also registration information. You are really leaving this time.
Arrive at other member of knitting-philosopher's group. Do not actually knock on door to let her know you have arrived, rather, walk down the side of her house to check out her very nice looking garden. Is ok, she saw you arrive, and knew to find you looking at garden. Get back in car.
Arrive back at your house to give Mr. Spit key to your mother's house, so he can feed her cat. You really are leaving now. Honest.
Arrive gas station for fill up. Realize that you can't remember what side the gas tank is on.
Also, you don't know where the hood release is, so that you can fill up the windshield wiper fluid. This is going well, isn't it?
At Tim Horton's for coffee, breakfast sandwich - out of eggs, extra sausage, hash brown thing and 40 timbits. There are only two crueller timbits left. Resolve to try to cope as best you can. Leave with no hash brown. Sandwich has egg.
Ahh, on the road.
1:00 - ish
Holy yarn - how far is it to Lloydminster for bathroom? Also, discuss need for scale of washroom suitability. Decide that you could do scale with woman looking increasingly uncomfortable, with legs more and more crossed. Possibly lowest score could be bush beside highway. Ahh, Tim Hortons.
You know - Jane saying "recalculating" could get slightly annoying.
North Battleford. Pizza place. Have to beg them to sell you and knitting-philosophy partner 1 pizza, at the 2 for 1 pizza place. Also, as always, get lost. Jane does seem to be sounding depressed when she says "recalculating".
Wow, they really do the speed limit in Saskatchewan. Completely the speed limit. Exactly the speed limit. Precisely the speed limit. Kill me now.
Why are there cows on the road? Not cows. Pigs? Pigs. There are pigs on the road. Herd pigs back into farm yard with car. Wonder if you should get out, but decide you can barely see the back end of pigs. Wilbur was cute. This sow and her piglets were not cute. But, would have been waste of good bacon to run them over. Realize you forgot to take picture of pigs on road.
What is that smell? Ugh, that's awful. Open window to find out. Opening window at 120km/hr is perhaps not clever. Paper goes flying past you. Paper called "map". "Map" will tell you how to the Abbey in Muenster. Express worry. KP partner grew up in a small town. Assures you, can't be hard. Muenster is small town. Abbey is big. Abbey has Cathedral. Cathedral has spire. You can find the spire in a flat Saskatchewan town. Also, still not sure what smell is, but opening window didn't help.
Jane announces you have arrived at your location. Except you haven't. Pull out Map from Google Map, to figure out how to get from Humbolt to Muenster. Map from Google does not seem to bear any resemblance to present location. For example, none of the highway numbers seem to be the same. Also, no Muenster or Humbolt on map. Town called "Prince Albert" on map. Still not sure where "Prince Albert" is, although Jane keeps "recalculating" and trying to turn you around, as you.have.arrived.at.your.destination.now! Perhaps a few moments of un-philosophical language ensues. Decide to continue to drive straight. Must be sign or something.
Muenster - 8 KM
Odemeter - 42,368 KM
Muenster turn off
Odemeter - 42,371 KM
(more un-philosphical language)
Reach end of Muenster. Do you see a spire?
Jane continues to "recalculate".
Which parking lot are we supposed to be in? And what building? Oh, that was on the map. . . .
After locating knitter (we saw her shawl, determined she was our kind of person), arrive through front door of Cathedral. Door SLAMS shut behind us. . . .
Back on Monday.
Have a great weekend.
A grey suit, stunning heels that were a thoughtful and explosive punch of colour, styled hair, manicured hands. A warrior like me, who does not quite have the luxury of laziness in looks. How we dress still matters, still affects how we are treated, it is part of our image, the bedrock of our armor.
I watched her, this woman that is so often me. I watched her greet the mother, hand over the gift, talk to the little boy, the other mother, the pregnant woman. I watched her look at her watch. I felt the stirrings of almost anger in me. It seemed I looked, I perceived, I understood. A kinship, that I at least, felt.
I watched her pick up the baby, hold it. And she was practiced, she knew what to do, the crooning, the movement, the smiles. Holding focus. I could see other customers looking at this odd group, wondering. The food, the table, well, this place is not family dining.
And in the middle of this, such is the power, the draw of mother and child. A woman in a suit and nice heels does not quite match. Hours later, I find myself angry on her behalf, on mine, that we the well dressed ones do not quite measure up, apathetic clothes and dingy shoes are somehow a mark of honour.
And I watched her, and I almost saw myself. The only suit at the table - in the room. The woman with the high heels, wearing make up. A clean and co-ordinated outfit. The woman who, gasp, got a full night's sleep last night. Who slept in last Saturday. An achiever whose announcements, news, promise, promotion, success, fall flat compared to a baby that rolled over.
Perhaps not an interloper, but surely a guest, at a club. There on sufferance, present, but with sanctions. Held back by those silly ropes and stanchions - a discreet sign that says "members only". I watched her, me, the others. I watched and I remembered. More than memory, cogitation. Not then, but also now. Perhaps, perhaps is what was so singular, so unique, so poignant about my pregnancy with Gabe -
I was, for a few moments, part of the club. If you asked what I grieved in Gabe's death, oh, the answer is so many things. But, somewhere, somewhere in all of this, is live memory, that I am no longer part of the club.
Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon, The winds that will be howling at all hours,A nd are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night.
But Ah, my foes, and Oh, my friends, it gives a lovely light.
Once I'm sure there's nothing going on, I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.
And summer's lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd; But thy eternal summer shall not fade
(And really - I`d love neighbours who had that sort of a sense of humour!)
call someone and get it.
- So, Mrs. Spit has a stupid question. I was listening to a song on the radio, and umm, what's a homecoming queen?
- More time in the garden this weekend. I'll get some photo's up later this week. Things are really starting to take off. Mr. Spit did herculean labour to get rid of the dandelions behind our garage. In fact, the pile is so spectacular I have photo`s of it.
- We had our regional baby loss service yesterday. I read this.
- I`m back in Calgary today, helping Allan close accounts and fill out paperwork. I have bought $40 in books. Allan doesn`t want to go back to the house to get Emma`s books, so I bought her more. I wish I could fix the bigger problem that easily.
And finally, Dr. Tiller, I pray that the angels carried you away. Requisat En Pax.
Wish me luck on the Queen Elizabeth Raceway.