Best Laid Plans

Today’s post should have been a parade of finished things. (Instead you’re getting this, and a series of asides.)  I had big plans to get Meg to model everything.  Two pairs of socks, a hat, a cowl, but two things went wrong.  The first thing was that I actually didn’t finish the hat- which is sort of an insurmountable barrier to showing you it finished. (Today’s specialty: The bleeding obvious.) 

The second thing was that because I’ve been in book hell (and I shouldn’t really call it that.  There are jobs way more similar to being engulfed in flames than being a writer, it just doesn’t feel that way right before a deadline) I lost track of what day it was (that’s a side effect of a deadline. It’s your brain’s way of trying to protect you from the truth about the deadline and when it is) and this morning when I asked Meg to model everything she said no, because she was proofing a ten page essay for finals at University.  (She actually didn’t say no.  She just looked at me the way that I would look at her if she asked me to model her knits right before my deadline. I got it.)  Seconds after that, while I looked at her and she looked at me, I realized that I really didn’t have time today for a photoshoot either, and we traded laptops, proofed each others latest essays and moved on.  (Hers was brilliant. She said mine was "good". I pointed out the inequity and she said that she was a kid and I was an adult, and therefore she wasn’t obligated to make me feel better the way that I was obligated to make her feel better.  I said "that sucks" she said "Being a mother sucks.  It’s why I’m avoiding it." There was nothing to say but "Touché".)

In any event, I’ve got a lot to do (which means that I’ve entered the phase of producing a book in which there is alternating waves of productive work and hysteria, punctuated by fits of hysterical laughter and desperate weeping) so I’ll distract you with pictures of the unfinished hat. (Because even in my desperate state, I can be distracted with pretty yarn pictures, so I figure it must be true for you.)

Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Honour (silk/alpaca) Colourway: (Holy Cow I don’t know)  Pattern: Forester (Ravelry link.)

Not Quite What I Meant

It’s been a crazy year here – really crazy, and on the phone with a friend the other night, either she said, or I said "I feel like I’m going into this Christmas with no reserves.  I don’t know how I’ll get through it" and that sentence has stayed with me since. 

I keep thinking that it’s a holiday, and you’re not supposed to need reserves, and it is supposed to be about family and happiness and not some sort of insane slog through eighty-seven stores and six days of Christmas baking before exhausting yourself with knitting schedule that makes Santa look like he’s on his down time.  There has to be a different way to do this, and I swore that somehow, I would figure out what it is.  "Less is more", that’s what I was thinking.

I haven’t really had luck with this as a broad premise so far, but I thought I would start small. Change is hard, and luckily I did think about this earlier in the year. In January I started knitting things and contributing them to The Long Range Planning Box.™ I thought about people all year, and I chose my gifts, and knitted them as I went.  This, I felt sure, would translate into a far, far less crazy Christmas knitting scene.  I still have to go through that box properly, but this morning, as I was gathering my yarn and my forces, I thought things were really going to be reasonable this year.
Here is my plan. 
These are socks.  (Not yet, but you know what I mean.)

These are socks.

These will be another pair…

So will these (These ones actually have hope born in them.) 

This is a hat.

Right up until I put all of that yarn in a pile, and took it’s pictures and then looked at the date and thought about the fact that I’m still on a book deadline,  I thought I was holding back this year.  It is, and I’m sorry to be saying this out loud to you, if you haven’t gotten there yourself yet… only 18 days until Christmas.  That means that I have to more or less, churn out a finished item every two days between now and then. 

I might not have the hang of this "less is more" thing yet.  I’ll keep trying.

Lost Days

Thanks for all the good thoughts and advice – all of you.  I’m feeling a lot better, though still moving slowly.  The spasms in my back seem to be easing up a lot, and I think that in another day or two I’ll be moving more like myself, and much to Joe’s glee, likely complaining and swearing less. 

Being laid up is something I’m really bad at, it turns out.  I’ve got too much pride to ask for help, so when I need it, I just reek of frustration.  Knitting has really been what kept me as sane as I have been the last few days, although there’s not a lot to show for it.  I’m a few days off of a book deadline, so whenever my back would tolerate me moving my arms without setting off a string of spasms, I was mostly typing. 

Still, I managed to finish the uber-cowl.  Details tomorrow, when I think I can get Meg to model it,

and I did manage to finish some soon-to-be-felted clogs, though the washing machine is still awfully far away for me to be staggering up and down the stairs to get there.  There’s a lot of time until Christmas – or at least that’s what I’m telling myself, so I’ll wait until the idea of going into the basement doesn’t need to be approached with all the fortitude and organizational zeal of an expedition to the Arctic.

I’ve knit many, many pairs of these clogs over the years, and how big they are before felting never stops being funny to me. (My foot added for scale.)

It appears however, if the reaction of Joe and the girls is any sort of gauge, that I might be the only one still charmed enough to discuss it in any real way.  (I’m basing that on how flat the conversation fell last night.)

For now I’m churning out a plain sock- and wondering if I’m well enough to tackle the ball winder so I can start the last pair of the self-imposed-sock-of-the-month-club for this year. 
Turns out that you use your back to turn the handle on a ball winder.
Who knew?

For Kelly

Yesterday my back was sore.  I sat around all day, taking it easy and putting a hot pack on it it. It was bad, but it wasn’t awful, and when evening rolled around I went to knit night anyway.  I thought the distraction would be good, and besides, I’d sat still all day and it was no better.  Maybe moving and walking would help. 

This photo is from last week’s knit night, but it still should give you an idea of what it’s like.  This is Jen and a large pom-pom.  I have included this picture because, well.  I like it, it was on my computer, and it actually has nothing to do with anything, except that’s the sort of thing that happens at knit night, and if you don’t go, then you might miss that- so I went.  Nothing like that happened (although we did have a good game of Would You Rather) and when I came home my back wasn’t good but it wasn’t worse, and I congratulated myself on the good choice, and went to bed.

I didn’t sleep well.  I was uncomfortable, my back hurt, but it only really ached, and I didn’t even think about getting up and taking something for it, which was probably a mistake- now that I think about it. 

This morning I went to step out of bed, and I couldn’t. I mean it.  I could. Not. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life, and I say that from the perspective of a woman who had three  8lb 4oz  babies au natural.  (All my babies were 8lb 4 oz.  I am nothing if not consistent.) The pain in my lower back was so intense, so much of a spasming, fierce thing that it moved me to some crazy half laughing-half crying place where I couldn’t say anything to Joe other than "DON’T TOUCH ME" while clinging to the edge of the bed, half standing, half collapsed, all naked and perfectly content to stay there all day as long as I didn’t need to move.

I got somehow to the bathroom and back, but it was the hairiest 5 metres of my life.  I was clinging to the stair rail in the hall and wondering, with every step if I was going to make it, sweaty and white knuckled while my lower back threatened to paralyze me and throw me on the floor.  It was gaspingly, incredibly painful, and I’m not even willing to discuss the process of getting on and off the loo.  I am a hippy, vegetarian,  tree-hugging, herb using, homeopathic remedy suggesting person, and this morning as I was trying to get myself back onto my bed I would have taken ANYTHING.  I would have taken the epidural that I refused years ago as I passed human beings through my body.  I would have let you shoot me.  I would have done anything that you suggested might even help a little- and I don’t even mean that I would have taken anything you suggested would help my back to feel better for the dayl… I mean I would have scored some crazy street morphine if you told me it would get me halfway into my bed.

I did eventually get there.  I had help.  It was embarrassing.  While I am very good at helping other people when they are hurt, I really hate people being with me while I’m hurt.  Pain turns me into a lone wolf- and somehow it was humiliating to have Joe bring all I needed to me in bed.  (Laptop, phone, coffee, ice pack – some horse tranquilizer called "Robax Platinum" that makes you so high that your back still hurts but you care less.)  The only thing he didn’t bring me before he went to work – was my knitting, and it is a testament to how spectacularly painful my back is, that after a coffee, muscle relaxant, painkiller, ice pack and a rest, I am not even considering thinking about going to get it. The pain is pretty manageable as long as I stay right here, and that trip down the hall wasn’t something I care to repeat, never mind down the stairs.  Megan will check in soon, and I’ll make her fetch my stuff.

In any case, this is for my sister-in-law Kelly, because a few years ago her back was really bad.  After years of working with women in labour, it turns out that I am who this family calls if someone is in pain and needs help.  I went over and got Kelly sorted, which wasn’t easy and now I know why.

I was really, really nice to her, but I’m apologizing anyway. I didn’t get it. I do now, and Kelly, if I had it to do again, I would totally score crazy street morphine for you.  Peace out.

Personality Reinforcements

I went to an eye specialist yesterday, at a big hospital near here.  I arrived at 9:20 for my 9:30 appointment (I’m like that) and was told that the Doctor had a "personal situation" which meant that he wouldn’t actually be in until noon, maybe a little sooner.

I sat then, and churned out the last of my November socks, and thought horrible, terrible things about him and how he probably overslept.  Probably overslept because he was up late partying. No, wait.  Probably overslept because he was up late partying and he’s hung over, which is morally reprehensible when he’s responsible for peoples vision.  Actually, I bet he’s a married man but he overslept because he was partying with his mistress, and his wife cried all night about his drinking problem. What a turd.

I sat there, finishing the November socks (modeled shots tomorrow. It’s too dark and crappy out today for proper pictures) and I thought horrible things about him.

Sock pattern is Lenore, STR lightweight, colourway also Lenore.

At 11:30 I went back, and his receptionist said she’d "fit me in" (because the whole morning of cancelled appointments were now waiting, along with all the regularly scheduled people) and she took my information and put my file in a stack.  I waited again, sock now finished, and took out the big circle scarf/cowl thing I’m devising, and I plowed away on that.

At 11:50 I saw the Dr. and while he didn’t look like a philandering drunk, I knew the truth about him.  I was polite anyway.  He talked to me for a minute and sent me off for a visual fields test in another part of the hospital. 
I left to do that, and when I came back I entered another phase of waiting. At 1:00 I was back in front of him (the philandering drunk) and he said that I he would just put drops in my eyes, and that I should go away for thirty minutes to let them start working, then he would see me again.  I returned promptly at 1:30. (Again, I’m like that.)

As I watched, the receptionist picked up my file, and entered it behind all others in the queue, and told me the wait was probably going to be about thirty minutes and why didn’t I go away and then come back, and I decided two things.

1. Her system was all wrong.  I decided that if the wait was thirty minutes, and that the doctor gave drops that would take thirty minutes to work, that she should have put my file in the queue when he put the drops in, because then my turn would have arrived as the first thirty minutes were up.  I felt sure that this was the only possible way to do this – Never mind that I was reckoning this from the perspective of a knitting humour writer who’s specialties are banana bread and sarcasm – not the perspective of someone who wrangles patients for a living.

2. The second thing I decided (filled with wrath for her organizational abilities as I was)  was that she was probably who he was whoring around with last night.

I didn’t say any of that to anybody though (I’m also like that.) I just sat there, trying to knit on the scarf/cowl thing and making colossal mistakes because the drops had rendered me legally blind. This only fueled my rage. About ten minutes later a very nice lady sat down next to me, and asked me why I was trying to knit when I was obviously legally blind.  I didn’t really have an answer for her, so I mumbled something about the wait, and how knitting (well-or not) was really the only thing stopping me from losing my mind because I had now been at the hospital for about five hours, and had only seen the doctor for about 8 minutes.  I said nothing about the philandering drunk and his organizationally challenged mistress, but I might have projected an aura of discontent with their moral standards. 

That was when she told me that the Doctor had told her his mother had died suddenly the night before.

In that moment, I realized that the knitting was even more important than I thought.  It doesn’t just take the edge off, because even knitting to take my edge off, I had invented the worst possible scenario for this guy (and his receptionist, who probably wasn’t having a fantastic day either) and that in reality the knitting actually creating a personality forcefield that keeps that nightmare that is my actual personality under wraps and makes it possible for me to interact with other humans at all because in reality – though I keep thinking I’m not like that… this proves that I am.

I left there, after seeing the doctor about 30 minutes later, being thankful that I knit.  It is probably the only reason I can go back.