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

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sayonara 2008

“I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas.” Albert Einstein

spinning therapy 010The Holidays at our house went off without a hitch - mainly because it was just the five of us and there was an abundance of chocolate, good coffee, and some new games to play. Woot Woot! My special thanks to Lisa (knitmom-wi) for a lovely package containing said chocolate and coffee, which we enjoyed with cheers to you and yours, L! I hope that all of you had some time to spend with friends and family, some warmth restored to your hearts, and some cheer to get you through the lean times because I've yet to find a permanent antidote for them. Though, it remains what it has always been, a matter of perspective. Glass half empty, or half full and the other half is all happy inside your belly....it really can change depending on how you choose to look at it. I know, I hate it when people say that, too. So, I guess I hate myself! Laughs loudly at silly self and indulges self in a rendition of the Dead Milkmen singing, "I. hate myself. I hate myself. And you, I hate you! (Really, you know I don't but that's how the song goes)....etc.etc. with more silliness and the final dork stamp applied when my kids walk in the room and see me, roll their eyes, and re-affirm their notion that I am so NOT cool.

spinning therapy 014 There were socks finished (that's Sedona up top and Big Kitty knit for a kiddo so the gauge is a bit different, resulting in more stripes and less 'space' of tiger colors between them but he loves them all the same) and other stuffs like a cowl or two and some hats that were thrown together in those wee hours of stove loading with that fuuurrreeezing cold snap just before and during the holiday week (see previous post about why we just make it easy on ourselves and party all week long for fear that if not, we'll grow tired of it, and, gasp, forget some one's birthday, Solstice, or Christmas - insert panic and sweaty palms, here because it's easier to do than you'd think) and wrapped before I found the camera. The Esmeralda socks I made thing 2 are not here, either, as they are on his feet...where they have been....since they were opened, slung on the old dogs, and are now days into the wearing and have been ordered to washie land before they can be pretty for the camera or stop serving as the family smelling salts should someone be knocked out. And, you know, that's just all too possible around here. We're not often starved for what I kindly refer to as 'Gilligan moments' here at the funny farm. Just this morning, when loading the stove, with my back turned on the kids, I heard Thing 2 say to his brother, "Hey, toss me that tape measure, would you?" The hairs on my neck raised. My mommy alerts went off and the sirens were LOUD. Tossing tape measure - not good. Sounds like, 'fool, don't do that' started to come out of me but, too late. The 'thonk' of the tape measure hitting Thing 2 squarely on the nose was spine tingling. He grabbed his nose and started moaning and I could see blood between his fingers so I grabbed the paper towels and, while I was headed over to the couch to tend to him, his little brother was about to start crying he was so worried, saying over and over as he approached the brother on the couch bleeding, "Thing2, I'm so sorry, are you okay?" He leaned in just as Thing 2 leaned over to bleed on the floor, not the couch (such a kind, thoughtful child - and, yes, he's prone to nose bleeds so we knew he was probably okay) and his leg, having to come out from underneath him so he kicked it ever so gently behind hin which shouldn't have been a problem but....that was where thing 3 was standing doting on his wounded brother who was moving his leg and.....you guessed it, moved it right to the little one's nether portions....causing him to also double over in pain and big sis and I to apply nurse care and then run in the kitchen to laugh wildly, again. I recruited the huscreature for some of that gift knitting. He made an awesome hat for thing 3 out of some of my bulky spun but got through it too quickly for my tastes as I was going cross-eyed knitting socks into the wee hours to try to finish them all before present day. Life is just not fair, ya know?

spinning therapy 019There were some things that didn't make it to the finish line - like these handspun socks from the October Hooves batts called, "Harvest". Clearly, I am not even close to being done with my journey with this yarn. And, as weird as it may sound when you read on - I don't really mind. I don't want to rush it, which is odd for me because, when I'm excited about something, I generally like to jump in full bore and consume myself with it. This journey is different.....and it begs for patience and time.

A large part of this lingering is ego. I'm a little afraid of how they'll look. Usually, I would spin an array of color, such as the Harvest batts with their earthy browns, golds and wine contrasted with teals, yellow and red bits, sari silk, and angelina sparkles of excitement in a semi-calculated manner. I don't go ripping the batt apart color by color or anything. More, I'd tear each batt in strips, try to mediate the color distribution in each pile, spin them each onto their own bobbin (remember, these were wild cards so each single batt will look pretty different or, combined, they will look....well, pretty wild) then ply them into a 3 ply of wild, bold color that is still somewhat disciplined. That would be the sensible way to spin them. Only, as luck would have it, October was so not about sensibility. I did spin them into a 3 ply but, instead of stripping the batts and trying to control them, I just sat down at the wheel (it was a spinning 'therapy' month, not a spinning 'yarn' month) and unrolled the batt and let the wheel turn. I have no idea what to expect or how the colors will unfold. The nervous fluttering I get from that is both nauseating and titillating at the same time. It's part of how I dance with enduring.

A smaller part is sort of nervous about the journey because of the tender spots that still remain from our tumultuous Fall on the farm. It didn't really start in the Fall. In fact, I pretty sure it didn't even start when I started to notice it because, ya'll know, it just never does. We sort of slid into 2008 with all sorts of expectations, hopes and some fear and trepidation. It was a 'marker' year in our dream - which meant there would be the painful reconciling with successes that weren't (this means there were MANY arguments about parts of the house that are not complete, or worse, are a pile of lumber under tarps along the driveway and me still trying to keep a kitchen in a box the size of most people's closets and dreaming of a warm bathroom). It meant celebrating the growth we have accomplished and trying to make new goals that would breath some hope into the tenseness that we call living in Maine - the state of a real 4 seasons - off the grid (ahem - why didn't we know this was nuts?) This is to say there were beautiful moments of us all working together and feeling like the luckiest people/pets/sheep in the world. Appreciating those 'light bulb' moments where we might have given up and felt defeated but, instead, figured out an inventive solution that, get this, worked! Woohoo! It meant we had to struggle to put both of these highly charged aspects into a NEW plan that reconciles more with reality, walks the path we're headed down with more clarity, and vows to see it through, to love it dearly, even if it is kicking you in the netherbits. The reality that shepherd after shepherd was culling part or all of their flock and shaking their heads when we said, "no way, we're staying in," like we were lost children or something. The reality that shocked us - it's really not at all cheaper to live off the grid. In fact, you work lots harder for even simple pleasures like lights, power, baths, watering stock, even driving down the road that you are charged with maintaining all four seasons of the year. You grow most of your own food (though, not this year or we'd have starved - the garden was a mass heap of bug deception, slugs that don't pass out no matter how much beer you give them, and root crops that just laughed at us.....urgh)work so hard, and still, your bills are bills just like everyone else. We didn't decide to homestead because of frugality. We did it because we love our Mother. We did it because we love the land, the animals, and the peace and quiet. We did it because we believe it is right for all of us, however we see that we can, to try to make change in as many different ways as we can - so as to dismantle the old system of ignorance and consumption that keeps getting us in trouble on so many levels. Still, the knowledge that we've signed on to do some things the hard way and we're still working our rears off to pay the bills was a sobriety I wasn't at all prepared for....eeek!

It's no wonder that, for a few months there, we were hard pressed to find a sensible reason to answer the 'why's' that we hear so often. We'd surely lost hope. Looking at it, now, I think we had to come to that to 'marry' the homestead for real. To accept its flaws, invite it's lessons, and vow to stay with it - even if, sometimes, it really wasn't fun at all.
spinning therapy 009totally off topic but need to throw some yarn in here for cheap thrills, which we all need. This is my next pair of handspun socks. I know, I showed it to you a week or more ago as a hat for my friend, H. But, after spinning it, I thought about her colors and realized she'd like more purple and less red so I'm working up a skein for her with some brown sparkly batts and a strand of the same silk road roving. The sparkly skein is a vardo batt. I tore it in half, spun each half onto a bobbin, and plied them - 2 ply, 290 yds. from one 2.2 ozs. batt - Woot!. The other yarn is my 'Silk Road' roving - spun fine and 2plied as well - I just split the four ozs. braid in half lengthwise, spun each half onto a bobbin same as for the vardo batts. 370 yds., 15 wpi. Y---yuuum!

And, you know, for growth like that to happen, things had to drastically change - which means some people had to freak out, some cried, some tried, and some hunkered down at their (her) wheel and started spinning to save herself.

Times are better, now, and the new changes that we're making are seeming to make alot of difference in the day to day of the life, ya know? Simple things, really. Like, enduring, and searching for perspective when it's lost to us, and trying to find a way to view the glass half full even if we know ourselves to be thirsty and having not drank the half a glass. The whole endurance theme is kind of a private joke around here. Back when those tense discussions were happening and nice things to say to each other were few, maybe none for a while, we (meaning the huscreature and I) resorted to occasionally pretending we were children and spewing little criticisms at one another while pounding our brave chests like each of us was winning. One day, he thought to tell me I'm all about endurance and also a stubborn old goat and that I will continue to survive in the midst of pure misery just out of stubbornness long after a sensible person would head for the hills and start again. I countered with something equally silly and pathetic like that the whole house could burn down around him and he'd sit there smoking and flinching insisting that we all just WORK THROUGH IT. The silliest part is that we were both right, and both terribly wrong in assuming that either person should change those qualities. They are what makes our team work. What needed to change was the lack of love that we'd been putting into our own unique methods of making things work. Later, we'd laugh about it but he would admit that he often uses the blocking of reality through muscle and sweat theory and I had to admit that I'm the most stubborn goat I know.....horns clanking in the background...lol.

So, we had a holiday, a few birthdays, and some goodies. Huscreature turned forty and, though he had a black eye (and, I swear it, I had nothing to do with it - you know I'd take credit if I could!lol) and felt so tired he had to nap on the couch that evening, I did not turn him into a toad and he took to the half-full glass with vigor and enjoyed his favorite, red velvet cake. I swear, he does that just to freak me out because he knows I worry about the links to excessive food coloring consumption and increased asthma attacks in children....but, I'm learning to loose the reigns of control and let the man eat four pounds of red food coloring if need be. We learned that there is humor in every day. In the particular day of the black eye, it came in the form of mister 'work and hurry through everything' down in the barn, stepping on a rake that was left propped against the barn wall, and popping himself so hard in he eye that he sported a black eye for days! The funniest part is that he apparently came in and explained the whole thing to everyone but, we were so busy getting the tree up, the presents wrapped, the food on, that we all just brushed him off and didn't even realize what he was saying. A day or so later, I looked at him and asked, "Are you wearing makeup on your eyes?" Which, if you had to wear your sister's hand-me-down bell bottoms as a kid, is almost always a troubling question. "No," he says, "I told you, yesterday, that I hit myself in the eye." I, clearly, haven't finished growing up because I spit out my coffee laughing as he relayed the whole story, in slow motion of the feeling of the rake beneath his foot, and the knowing that it has a handle....sooo......pop! Ouch! picture farm-witch rolling on the floor screeching with laughter....

That pretty much sums up the perspective principle, non? Half empty? Nah! If you can laugh about it, it's all good... and it's not like it was my eye or anything....snork