Friday, March 30, 2018

Spring, Maybe

Miniature daffodils planted last fall out of spite after a deer-caused car accident. Behind them are deer-cropped tulips.

This week's snow storm was cancelled. My dog has been walked three days in a row. Crocuses are almost gone and there are leaves coming out on the lilacs.

Weeds are coming out too, lots of them. Yard jobs that were previously hidden under snowbanks are now painfully visible.

I should be outside working. My dad certainly is. So are the bees. Every patch of flowers is buzzing. I was even able to capture a few bees with my beginning photography skills and aged iPhone.

These violets are officially weeds. They grow anywhere we let them. This time of year their color is appreciated.
I've got poisonous, deer-resistant daffodils coming up everywhere. There can't be too much yellow this time of year.

The loudest buzzing comes from my parents' apricot tree, always the first orchard tree to bloom, which is why frost kills all the fruit six years out of seven.

Though I know we haven't seen our last snowflakes of the year, I am ready to, tentatively, call it spring.

THE PODCAST this week is spring-themed too. Emily Dickinson's poem, "A Lady red—amid the Hill," talks about early spring breezes sweeping the woods in preparation for a special guest. Who the guest may be is known only by the woods. Listen to discover the secret. 


Is making slow progress. I don't feel as kitty in warming weather as I do in cooling. The sleeves are almost finished on my Christmas sweater. Right now it is looking awfully heavy, and quite autumn-colored.

I still have the sweater body to knit. LDS General Conference is this weekend, which means 10 hours of church on TV and lots of knitting time. Finishing is a possibility unless I run out of yarn first, which is looking likely. I have 3 1/2 skeins left, plus more of the mixed color for the bottom. It will be close.

I've finished spinning the Corriedale from Beesybee. I'm still planning to dye it, probably light green, and am now considering making myself a skirt. That is brave for someone of my girth. But it is a strong yarn and is saying skirt to me right now, so I'll give it a try. The nice thing about knitting is it pulls apart nicely, so if a skirt doesn't please me, I can recycle it into another very warm sweater.

Dyeing is planned for Monday. To you normal people dyeing eggs instead, Happy Easter. May you have a beautiful, enjoyable spring.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Speeding up to Hit the Wall

I have a weird self-destructive streak. Sometimes I see a problem coming, know what I should do to head it off, but feel compelled to do just the opposite.

That's stupidly vague, so I will explain by telling you about my week.

I felt sick at church on Sunday. My back hurt unbearably and I was nauseous. I staggered home two hours early. My husband assured me I looked terrible, so I went to bed and did as little as possible the rest of Sunday and all of Monday.

But doing nothing is so boring.

Tuesday I felt better-ish, enough that I could drive my son to an appointment, read a little, knit a little. I went grocery shopping.

That's a pretty normal day for me. Night wasn't normal because I couldn't fall asleep until almost morning, but that happens a lot. Wednesday morning I recorded my podcast, which took more tries than usual, but at least is done sitting up in my bed.

 I didn't cancel Wednesday's plan to walk the Museum of Natural history with my friend. We wore out  before seeing the whole thing, which is fine because we got the membership. My plan was to go home and rest.

That lasted maybe half an hour. We moved a bookcase from one side of the room to another, which inspired some mania in me to completely rearrange which books went where throughout the house. I moved books off shelves and into boxes, but also up and down stairs until I was too tired to do that any more.

Instead of lying down to watch TV, I sat at my spinning wheel.

For three hours.

Again, I know better, One hour is a top limit if I want to prevent pain.

 but "Collateral" was on Netflix and the wool I am working with is so pretty as is that pattern I want to make with it. (I've already realized it won't work for that pattern, but reality hasn't kept me down this week.)

Wednesday night the fibromyalgia symptoms were extreme. I felt allergic to my own sweat and couldn't stop sweating.

The need to pull off all my skin was pretty overwhelming, but I keep my fingernails short for just that reason. The only resort was a middle of the night shower (a few hours after a bedtime shower).

Eventually I fell asleep and got at least three hours in before waking up at 9:30. The required task of the day was to edit and post the podcast. That includes updating the podcast website. Once I was done, I "rewarded" myself with a haircut and a trip to the aquarium. Since I was on the road, I also dropped flowers off at the cemetery and did a grocery store run.

I was running on no sleep and an amazing drug-proof headache. At this point I had known all day that the crash was not only inevitable, but had already happened. That didn't stop me from cooking dinner and working on the book project.

Last night I may have finally fallen asleep before midnight. I woke up at 12:30 in the afternoon. My body crashed days ago, but something in me has finally accepted reality.

Reality is that now I am too tired to do anything. I couldn't go to my nephews play tonight, nor will I be able to march for gun control tomorrow. Heck, I can't walk my dog, or knit, or read.

I may start to feel better some time tomorrow or some time next week. I may learn to pace myself too.

It is extremely fitting that this week's podcast poem is the dead awaiting resurrection. I'm right there with them.  Safe in their Alabaster Chambers

Friday, March 16, 2018

Time Tavel? No Thanks

We Mormons are highly encouraged to keep journals. 

Most of us have at least tried, but I’m guessing I’m not the only one whose efforts are pretty hit and miss. I wrote daily from sometime in middle school until I got married, but my adult life is recorded in poems, sporadic paragraphs, a few saved letters, and this blog.

Many of us use old age to make up for the lapses by writing life histories. Even journal keepers write shorter versions that are more accessible to the next generation.

This week at DUP, I had the opportunity to share what little information I could find about a pioneer woman who did not get the chance to write her life. All I could find was one page of anecdotes from a granddaughter.

Antionette Davenport Leavitt had an interesting life story. She crossed the plains from Illinois to Utah as a child and became one of the earliest residents of Wellsville Utah. She eventually became  the second wife in a polygamist family at a time when the federal government was cracking down on polygamy. 

We know she helped neighbors with illnesses and with stubborn milk cows, that she was a skilled seamstress and lace knitter. 

During at least one winter, her  children suffered from chilblains due to inadequate shoes.

Her husband called her Nettie and bought her a four-burner stove that the neighbors all came to see. 

Was Nettie happy? Did she love her husband? What did she dream about? 

There is no way of knowing because she didn’t have time to keep a journal and didn’t reach old age when she might have had the time to write a history. 

Nettie Leavitt died trying to give her birth to her tenth child. 

All of us at DUP (Daughters of the Utah Pioneers) enjoy learning about these pioneer ancestors, but none of us feel compelled to  reenact their lives. 

After so many of our meetings we chat about how hard it would have been. Every aspect of life was so much harder than it is now:

Tending to fires and cooking on wood stoves

Scrubbing laundry by hand

Sewing the family’s clothes, sometimes from fabric you spun and wove first

Growing enough food to feed the family year after year

Treating illness without modern medicine

Trying to keep anything clean

No modern feminine hygiene products


Outhouses and chamber pots

Weekly baths, reusing the same water for the whole family

Husbands often absent because they are 
serving missions, taking care of another family, in jail, or hiding from the law.

We admire our pioneer grandmothers, but would never want to trade places with them.

 As a chronically ill person, I’m especially grateful for modern medicine. FIfteen years without biologics would have left me severely crippled and I don’t know if I would have had anything other than frowned-upon alcohol for pain control.

Of course,  I would probably have died in childbirth before RA had a chance. Both of my big babies were delivered cesarean.

  Every once in a while when I was teaching a student would ask, if I could go to any time or place in the past, when and where would I go? 

My answer was that though there were many times I’d like to peek at, especially prehistoric times, there is no other time, and a limited number of places, even now, where I’d be willing to live as a woman.

THE PODCAST this week is not about pioneers, but it is about the prairie. Emily Dickinson has a very romantic view of grasslands, which I compare with a book I read about the dust bowl.

To Make a Prairie

My brilliant mom has been drawing Emily Dickinson coloring pages for me to use as a podcast fundraiser. the set is available in my shop for $15. As you can see, I've been having fun with them. I've printed multiple copies and if you buy the PDF, so can you.

THE KNITTING is back on track. I've finally started my "Christmas" sweater (above). Most years I buy myself yarn for a sweater to knit during the grey days. This one is a combination of my homespun and some great brown from Mountain Meadow Wool in Wyoming. The color is called "pinecone." The sweater will be Scandinavian in style with color work around the neck and above the ribbing at the waist and sleeves. It should be done by the time it stops snowing in May.

I also made myself this sweater out of natural sheep grey from Mountain meadows and my hands-on. In fact, the light grey is spinning fiber from Mountain Meadows too.

I enjoy the gentle exercise of spinning and the unique yarn it produces, so I am working on this natural Corriadale from Beesybee in California. I may dye it a light green or rose color when I'm done, which will only slightly tint the natural color changes.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sleepless and Stupid

Werewolves are sleep-deprived and have strange symptoms too.

Fibromyalgia is bizarre and frustrating--

And controlling my life this week.

 One of the symptoms is poor sleep. I think I've been getting 3-4 hours a night lately, even though I spend about 12 hours in bed. 

Only one of those nights is explainable. I forgot both my lunchtime and bedtime fibromyalgia drug doses. When that happens, and sometimes when it doesn't, I'm suddenly allergic to myself and my whole body itches. No sleep at all that night.

But I only got a few hours the next night. I'm not tired, just sort of strung-out. I keep postponing anything that looks complicated because I know I'll get it wrong. This is resulting in lost and unanswered emails and tasks piling up. I'm glad I paid all the bills last week.

Even knitting isn't working terribly well. I finished the complex color work on a new sweater only to discover it was over 100 stitches smaller than it was supposed to be because I missed one sentence of instructions. Pictures next week if it works out.

Of course, the fibromyalgia drugs work by freezing the part of my brain that sends out false pain alarms, so at my best, I'm functioning with a partially paralyzed brain.

But a Stellar's Jay is yelling at me through the window and my daffodils are blooming, so there is spring and hope.

And I got a podcast done on fainting robins and being kind. 

Next week will be better.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Sometimes it's Who You Know--and Who They Know

 I played the viola from middle school through college. Most of that time I played in orchestras. Though I never practiced enough to be good, violists are in short supply, so I was able to experience serious classical music from the middle of the Utah Youth Symphony. It was an amazing experience.

For that reason, I've always wanted to see the Utah Symphony more often.

But it’s downtown. Tickets and parking are expensive. I’m the only one in the family who really wants to go. It's smarter and cheaper to buy CDs of the pieces I really care about.

I had accepted this situation, but suddenly things have changed.

My friend has a friend who has a friend who is sometimes given handfuls of free symphony tickets. Now I’m part of a group who attends the symphony on a fairly regular basis. 

Glass sculpture in the lobby of Abravanel Hall--Utah Symphony's home
Since the new year, I have been to a Mozart/Hayden concert and a Saint-Saens/Bernstein one. There is a second Saint-Saens/Bernstein concert I can attend tonight.

The last concert left me with a major talent crush. 

Well, I have a crush on Bernstein to begin with. My mom made sure of that by never missing a Boston Pops concert on PBS while he was the conductor. The fact that he was old enough to be my grandfather didn’t keep me from finding him thoroughly attractive.

The new crush is likely young enough to be my son, but as this is a TALENT crush, it’s not creepy. For the Bernstein number, Age of Anxiety there was a piano soloist. Conrad Tao came out in skinny jeans and a t-shirt under his tuxedo vest and I was automatically charmed by youthful energy. When he started to play, I was blown away. His fingers are superhero-fast, yet he manages to be powerfully expressive.

 He’ll be back in April and I’m hoping we’ll have tickets for that performance too. Here are links to short clips from his solo and his thoughts on the piece.


This week Emily comments on frogs and fame. She certainly makes privacy  seem preferable--to be a "nobody." 

Yet, if I was content with a quiet, private life, I probably wouldn't be blogging and podcasting, or as Emily would say, telling my "name-- the livelong June--To an admiring Bog."  

Which do you prefer? Listen and decide.

Episode 1.3 I'm nobody! Who are you--

THE KNITTING--has been frustrating.

 Between getting wool that didn't quite match and having a pattern that needed to be altered because it didn't fit the size of yarn I spun, this sweater has taken three times longer than it should have. But it it finished and gorgeous. If it wasn't so warm (Menopause impermanently tropical.), I'd be tempted to keep it. 

It won't be in my shop because it's a commission from a friend, but there are other nice things there that you might like.