Friday, October 19, 2018

Feeling Waspish

  1. readily expressing anger or irritation.

    "he had a waspish tongue"

    "he's a waspish old geezer"

That's the Google definition. I love the sample sentences with male examples because that's the only time I know of that the adjective hasn't been applied to a woman.

I've  been grouchier than my usual self all year. My biologic may be slowly failing, or it may just be the stress of uselessness and Husband's job hunt.

I could also be described as a WASP--Almost. I'm a white, Anglo Saxon, member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So I'm not in the club.

 I'd also be excluded money-wise. Apparently the real WASPS come from old money. I haven't even managed new money. More than 7/8 of my ancestry is definitely peasant. I'm good with that.

But there is that one line, on my mother's side, that goes back to both Jamestown and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. There are even barons on that line. We don't know why Benjamin Hume Sparks, genuine old-money WASP, took a train to wild-west era Utah, but I bet it would make a good novel.

During our first summer in this house, paper wasps built a nest outside our bedroom window. I was really anxious about my husband discovering it. Sensible people would call an exterminator or attack it with bug spray. My stomach tied in knots when my husband called, "Come look at this." from our bedroom. He pointed to the wasp nest and said, "Isn't that cool?" I fell in love all over again.

We also had mud wasp nests inside our front porch because the screen door was broken.  When we got the door replaced, the installation guy proudly told me he had cleaned out the wasp nests. I thanked him because I didn't know what else to say.

I was stung by a wasp on Thursday. My only previous stings came while working in the garden--insect territory, but this happened as I opened the door to a therapist's office. She got me just below the elbow, just below my rolled-up sleeves. (All hornets that sting, virtually all hornets you see flying around, are female.)

 I was actually indoors when I brushed her off my arm. So my first concern was not to have an angry hornet loose in the office. I got a paper cup from the water cooler and an old shopping list from my purse. I trapped her against the glass door, then turned her loose outside.

The bite burned for the first few hours and that was almost a good thing. I felt better--much the way breaking a toe can ease a headache. My general misery had a focus.

Unfortunately, by bedtime it turned into an itch, which inspires sympathetic itching everywhere. Also, I couldn't leave it alone and did some scratching, so the swelling is now huge.

Wasps are fascinating creatures. You can find a lot of basic facts about them online, though sadly, most of the sites are sponsored by exterminators. Most of my pictures come from a good National Geographic article. 

There are more than 3,000 kinds of wasp. They come from the same biological order as ants and bees. Many live like bees in colonies. Most hornets who sting do so to defend a colony. The majority live alone and don't sting. Almost all hornets eat other insects. Many also help with pollination.

I hold no grudge against the little wasp that stung me.

THE PODCAST is about the nature of the human soul. It's pretty intense. Emily Dickinson uses a blacksmith metaphor and asks, "Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat?" I think if she asked me that in person, I would say, "No, thank you." and slowly back out of the room. 

THE KNITTING consists of two earth-toned projects, both out of yarn from Mountain Meadow Wool.  If you want to see some of my more colorful work and start your Christmas shopping, visit my shop.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Points of light

We're moving into the second week of colder, wetter weather. Each valley rain storm brings snow further down the mountains.

Because our ever-expanding suburbs are located in a desert and we essentially skipped winter last year, this is exactly the kind of weather good Utah members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints* pray for.
Peculiarly, since we don't care whether it comes as rain or snow, we pray for "moisture."

Selfishly, I don't.

Dark weather and heavy clouds depress me almost instantly. Add to that the extra ache that comes from cold and changing barometric pressure and I become slow, sad, and mostly housebound. That's a hard place to be optimistic from. As Husband is frantically job hunting and we're awaiting my disability ruling, it would be better if I could be a ray of sunshine instead of a miserable lump.

It is during these gloomy times that Daddy Bush's fairly dark vision of "a thousand points of light" actually appeals to me. There are always points of light available to help..

Monday night was filled with actual points of light.

 The first was my dad's bonfire. When tree trimmings build up and it's windy enough that burning is permitted, Dad will start a fire in the fire pit. He tends to sit there alone for a couple hours just watching. As my dark weather blues were inherited from Dad's side of the family, I don't know if that is a healthy habit or not.

Anyway, Husband and I didn't get out to walk until late. Drawn by the fire, we walked over to visit. But Dad's yard is a mix of orchard and forest that is challenging to navigate in daylight. In the dark, focused on the firelight,  I struggled to find my way. Just recovering from being stabbed in the ear by a branch, I caught my foot on a rope anchoring one of the fruit trees and landed on my face.

My face is fine. The lawn is soft. I do have a nice souvenir on my leg to remind me that my iPhone doesn't only have a step-counter, but also a flashlight.

After the fire died down and Dad went indoors, we crossed the street for three laps in the park. The clouds had temporarily rained themselves out, so the stars and planets were visible. Mars and Saturn look lonely now that Venus and Jupiter have moved out of view.

But there were shooting stars everywhere. We saw more than a dozen during our 45 minute walk. It was the peak of the Draconid Meteor shower. We had no idea beforehand--an unexpected gift of much needed light.
Sadly, not my picture, or my view. Must get to saguaro country sometime soon.
Another gift in the form of enlightenment came in my email. 7 Things to Do When You're Mostly Housebound Due to Illness by Toni BernhardI find her writing very helpful when my illness insists on being paid attention to. I will try to apply some of her wisdom to pull myself into a better spirit. 

Already she has me appreciating my large office window. I've rebooted the bird feeders for the season, and I'm considering some downstairs house plants. The geraniums on the front porch are now vulnerable to freezing, so Youngest may be doing some heavy lifting to bring them into my lair.

* This weekend, our prophet asked us to stop calling ourselves Mormons or LDS. He gave the very good reason that we are supposed to be focused on Jesus Christ. I am trying to cooperate, but it sure gets wordy.

THE PODCAST is a funeral poem for summer, so it didn't really help with my mood, other than it did get written this week, which helps. Writing and publishing still gives me a greater sense of accomplishment than dishes and laundry,

The first image in this week's poem is a gentian, which I've only seen once as a wildflower. For Emily it's clearly a sign of fall, but it's not very common around here. I'm not sure if Dickinson is referencing a wild or garden flower, so I've found pictures of both.

Look at the last stanza of the poem. I don't know what to think about it. Clearly cheeky, likely sacrilegious. Emily had the advantage as a writer of never planning to publish, so she didn't have to worry about offending anyone.

Here is the poem:

The Gentian weaves her fringes—
The Maple’s loom is red—
My departing blossoms
Obviate parade.

A brief, but patient illness—
An hour to prepare,
And one below this morning
Is where the angels are—
It was a short procession,
The Bobolink was there—
An aged Bee addressed us—
And then we knelt in prayer—
We trust that she was willing—
We ask that we may be.
Let us go with thee!

In the name of the Bee—
And of the Butterfly—
And of the Breeze—Amen!

THE KNITTING is a second baby set, this time in cheap fluorescent yarn I found in the bottom of my cupboard.

There's a blanket too, which is almost finished, but not quite because knitting blankets gets boring.
The whole set will soon be in my shop.

I also finished a hat out of a blend of leftover yarns that include silk, alpaca, Morino, and linen. I like it and it's in my color, so I'm keeping it. Too bad there aren't enough leftovers in this color for matching mittens. Starlit walks are starting to get chilly.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Judgement Day

Though you may be disappointed that this blog is not about The Terminator franchise, you should be relieved and thankful that it has nothing to do with the Supreme Court.

This week I finally had my Social Security disability hearing, so I'm going to tell you about it.

After two years of stress, it was quite anticlimactic. The hearing room wasn't very much like a courtroom. There were four rectangular tables facing each other. The judge sat at one that was slightly elevated. The clerk sat on one to the side. My lawyer and I sat at the table facing the judge, and the fourth table was for the work specialist, who actually attended by phone.

The judge already had all my work and medical records, so it was mostly a chance for me to talk about life with RA and fibromyalgia.

Everything is based upon an official government catalog of jobs, hence the work specialist. As I described my symptoms and limitations, the judge or my lawyer would ask her if someone with my abilities could do particular jobs.

Everyone agreed I couldn't teach any more, but the Social Security department initially ruled that I should be able to be an office assistant or an addresser. As my limited energy and fine motor skills were added, my lawyer may have proved that I am absolutely good for nothing. I'll find out if the judge agrees in about a month.

That is what we are trying to prove, but it still isn't great for my self esteem. I keep having optimistic thoughts about things I could do, then I try to do something, anything, more complex and tiring than emptying the dryer and I can't.
A Saturday afternoon mountain stroll--first snow

The hearing, the rainy weather, the reminder of my uselessness, took me down this week. I've done a lot of sleeping, too much eating, and everything is running at least a day late.

Those of you who were disappointed that there weren't more "Terminator" references in a blog titled "Judgement Day" may be interested in a strange book I just read, A Truly Remarkable Thing  by Hank Green. It is about the appearance of large machines or sculptures of unknown origin and how our society reacts.  I'm still deciding what to think about it, which is a good sign because it made me think.

Because I really like what Hank and John Green do on-line and in charitable projects, I bought four copies, which will go to my siblings and parents. So after Christmas I will have people I can discuss it with.

THE PODCAST is written, but not recorded. Maybe skipping this week and recording two next week will give me one extra for a while until my next down week

This picture shows the colors most accurately.


I finished the baby blanket and had enough yarn left over to make a matching hat and socks. I'm very happy with them and would like to give it to my grandchild, but as I don't have one yet, the whole set will soon be available for $80 in my shop. I know that sounds very expensive, but it barely pays for the gorgeous, hand dyed, American raised merino wool. Mountain Meadow Wool

My next project is a similar set out of cheap, but still soft, and nicely machine-washable synthetic. I can probably charge half as much while still giving myself a little for labor.

The colors are a little wilder. I would happily wrap a child of either gender in either set.