Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Over the Rainbow

I had no idea when I started knitting the project for this post last week, just how much the whole Wizard of Oz theme would play into it all. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be all depressing - more of a tribute to some great beings in my life, human and four-legged.

chasing rainbowsWe’ve seen no sign of 7 or her lamb, Tink. We’ve scoured our 120 acres (as well as the roads, the houses in town, the land of hundreds of acres next to us....)of swamp and ridge so many times that we’ve become almost like robots, trampling through the wet woods, marshy swamps, and all the while, keeping the grain can in our hand – though we stopped shaking it days ago. Looking for some sign of a track (though there wouldn't be any in the rain) or a tuft of wool on a bush (again, nothing) or just an answer as to what or who dunnit (because not knowing is crazy-making, even though we're scared to know because that is heartbreaking) Of course, our searches have been in between the unhelpful and relentless bouts of rain, more rain, and for added effect in the heartbreaking category – thunder and lightning. Each time it rains, one or more of us starts crying – knowing that this will only make the possibility of us finding them more obscure. Never mind the large cat paw tracks that we found over on the ridge, and the dark woods that we backed out of carefully when we realized that there was bear presence there. Here’s us, all naive and scared for our sheep, walking into bear territory shaking a grain can and totally unarmed – we’ve started to see the insanity of it all and, though we refuse to totally give up hope, we are beginning to see that the picture is not so much of someone (or two) being lost, but of the cycles of nature playing us a hand that is maybe a little hard to accept. I may have walked outside after round three of loud, boisterous thunder and lightening, shook my hands angry and ungrateful and screamed, ‘why are you doing this to us?’ Who knows who I was talking to – I just needed to do it so I could grieve with the reality of it all – a preliminary dip in the pity pool so to speak. I also need to retire the Chasing Rainbows batts that we’ve been making for this year (at least) and possibly permanently. 7’s silky, lustrous fleece was the pride of those batts and I just wouldn’t feel right making them with any other. I only make a limited batch each year because I wait for her fleece to do it with. I’ve pulled the rest of what I had and am saving it to make a blanket for the family to share. We’ll see, next year, what her yearling ewe from last season carries in her fleece genetics. Poppy is every bit like 7 but it is hard to see what a fleece will really be like until the second year.

I also lost track of the dates and, you guessed it, totally forgot to announce this month’s Great Giveaway. I am so very grateful for the comments, kind emails, and general vibes of love and compassion from all of you – you made me smile, laugh, and cry my eyes out some more. Susan turned me into a blubbering, sobbing fool with her comment: Oh my heart just goes out to all of you. But I promise you this. If I ever 'come back' as a farm animal I do so hope I get sent to your place. I can't imagine any more caring people than y'all are and not just caring in an emotional way, but caring in all ways. I felt undeserving of such a high compliment. So,I want to do something more special, more from the heart. Something handspun? This month’s Great Giveaway winner will be announced by June 21 – tell me something that you are or have knit that is so embarrassing, or so not ‘you’ that you don’t like to share it with people. C’mon, feed the sinister voyeur within – I need you to! The winner will receive one skein of super soft single handspun. It won't be the one pictured above - as that is my last skein of Chasing Rainbows from this season and I will not part with it no matter how you make me smile! Links to pics of said items might just get you a double entry into the random drawing hat! (evil grin)

I could go on forever, I think, being all sad and sinister but this blog post is to celebrate someone I dearly love, so I will move on and do just that. Heather and I have been friends for near 20 years, now. She’s one of those people who entered my life and we’ve just not let go since then – and I love her so very much. We met at the lake on the 4th of July, where we got to know each other lazing around on floats calling out to our cute friend, Howard, to bring us more beer and cigarettes. Times have changed since then (its been years since I’ve touched a cigarette but after this week I’m here to say that the instant the Surgeon General lets me know that all this hub-ub about it being unhealthy is a farce – I’m in line!) but so much of the change has only cemented us and I like to think both of us have learned so much from our times together. I know that I continue to feel privileged to know her and simultaneously astounded at the lessons I’ve learned.

Perhaps the most important in terms of my transition from being an angry girl (shut up to those of you who laugh – I am not an angry girl anymore – an angry woman?......) into being a person much more human was the realization that pity is the ultimate selfish act (ignore above admission that I was feeling sorry for myself, mkay?). It seems simple when you think on it, but harder to act on much of the time. No one enjoys being pitied. Being pitied makes you feel broken and humiliated. Compassion is much better medicine, though empathy runs a close second in times of dire straights to wrap a cloak of tender human energy around you and give you the strength that said times are draining from you. It’s not that I ever really thought of her as someone who needed to be pitied, which, come to think of it, might be why we were instant buddies. In the era in which we met, I saw us both as sort of battered and bruised by the swings of life, but getting back up and trying again all the same. Curious coincidences sparked our ability to pull each other through. Like the fact that we shared a day that each of us would count as the most traumatic shift in our lives. On the same day, same year, that she woke in a hospital in Germany to find out that she would never walk again, I was handed my freedom as an emancipated minor from the man who had spent the first half of my life terrorizing me. Sure, new horizons were ahead for us, some bold and beautiful, and some so scary that we were sweating bullets just anticipating their possibilities. I had no reason to pity her because while her wounds might have been more readily explained, anyone who looked at me at the time could see I was a big tangled ball of knotty ropes myself. But in knowing her, and watching her struggle for some equality in this world that too heavily values the norm and is panicked by an alteration to that because it calls us to swim in the pool of humility which is dangerous water, I saw many people revert to the selfish act of pity and forgo the opportunity to be more whole and human.

Ms. H 013Ms. H is recovering from recent surgery which means that she must be in bed a lot. We also share the fact that we hate recovering from anything. And a double low blow it is to spend your birthday this way – I hope someone brings you a good meal, a stout beer, and some funny conversation, my friend! I think that the only person in the world who understands how much I detest being sick with anything from a cold to pneumonia is my sister in that vein – Ms. H. So, I pulled out some hand-dyed in a rustic sari tone that will look dazzling with her gorgeous chestnut hair and eyes and began fashioning her some ‘ruby slippers’. Hoping they’ll help to keep warm but also be pretty to look at. So, I spun up some gold tussah silk, some brown with glitz, and red the same to embroider a flower to shimmer on the toes. Ms. H 006You can see that I free-handed the embroidery on the feet, as one foot boasts a more ‘to the left of the center’ flower than the other, but Ms. H will totally expect that. She knew from the time that I threw my favorite sweatshirt out the window (and yes, I was just before wearing it) to land on the windshield of the carload of cute, cute, cute boys that passed us whooting at the chics in the convertible on the way to the Rolling Stones concert. It would have been worth it just to see the look of surprise on her face and hear her explain later at the hotel how baffling it was that I was such a responsible girl – holding down a great job at a prominent law firm and trudging on only to disrobe on the highway, don a leather jacket over my bra, and proceed into the Dairy Queen at the next stop to order us some lunch. It would also have been worth it just to hold the memory of some of the persnickety peoples in the Dairy Queen picking up their burgers off the floor that had just fallen out of their shocked, gaping mouths. I was all about astounding people back then, doncha know. But, most worth it was the fact that the carload of cute, cute, cute boys pulled over, picked up my sweatshirt, and we saw one of them at the concert holding it up and screaming at Mick. Awesome.

I’ve learned that when you buy tickets to a Cowboy Junkies concert that you want to see sooo bad that you go out the night before to by yourself some sort of dress that rivals the getup I just described in terms of decency, you might want to actually LOOK at the ticket lest you pull up to the venue the night AFTER the concert and wonder why the parking lot is empty ten minutes before the show. Of course, I’d only want to go through that with you, Ms. H., because the fact that we sat in the parking lot and laughed until our sides hurt and then wet our tongues with some good beer and a movie or two from the movie store was totally perfect! It is important to laugh often, but vital to be capable of laughing so hard at yourself!

But we’ve learned some tough stuff together, too. Like last year when Ms. H’s dear mom died. Sylvia was a most beautiful woman (apple didn’t fall too far from the tree, eh?) and it has been so very hard for you to carry on without her, I know. We learned how hard it is to carry on a true friendship like ours when your life paths change so drastically and one of you is married, having kids and living crazy whilst the other is caring for her mum and various other family members, and living crazy. And, we learned how important it is to carry it on.

So, may your hind paws be warm, your life be full of the light you bring to so many others, and your goblet ne’ery be empty! Happy birthday, Ms. H!

Specs on the project: I used hand-dyed superwash merino yarn – dk wgt with the twinkle toes pattern from knitty.com. Since it is nigh impossible for me to follow a pattern unless I’ve made it myself, I set right to mutilating this one and instead of the ballet-style leg laces, I made a knitted i-cord trim around the inside of the whole foot and then attached two criss-crossing i-cord straps from the ankle to the sides of the toes – so that the shoes will stay in place and not twist around on the ankle. I stuffed them with tissues (they were clean and unused!) because it is allergy season so I have them right close to me at all times and I didn’t want to take a pic of a flat, deflated shoe….It just seemed a little too like a puddle of melted frosty the snowman to me.