Category Archives: knitting

Books & Reading: Legacy & Healing

My parents met because of books. Mom was a bookseller, Dad a book collector.

Books saved my life. For decades, I read compulsively first thing in the morning and last thing at night. They were my only constant: no matter how bad or good the day was, the words on the page remained the same.

The abused, wounded little girl I was to the young woman I became, desperately needed a constant. God had been blocked from me, as had any belief system or group of people — as part of that abuse.

Then I met this quiet 6’1 man who decided he was going to take the person he said was, “the most cynical person I’ve ever known,” and be the rock she needed. It worked, but it took years.

During those years, I still read compulsively. I opened the shop, in part to thank the literary world for saving my sanity/life. Then, at 45, I was diagnosed with PTSD, and the therapist, DH and I slowly but steadily unpicked the knot of my abuse and traumas.

My therapist said that when people get PTSD, the first thing which eases the pain becomes the addiction. In my case, I was 3 and it was books and reading.

stack-of-books

(Not sure where I got the image, I’ve used it before, sorry!)

More years, more books, more healing. The store closed in 2005. Sometime afterwards, about the time I started knitting (2015), I stopped reading compulsively first and last thing every day.

I’d gotten to where I almost resented books. I had too many, they cluttered up my life and were a continual reminder of how wounded I’d been.

I count people who write, illustrate, publish and edit as some of my dearest friends. There are 6 books with my name on the cover, and two more scheduled to come out late this year or early next.

One of the future books is the memoir and that’s the period, for me, on the end of the abuse/PTSD sentence. If one person, just one, doesn’t commit suicide or tries to find another way — just once — the ten years it took me to write will be worthwhile.

Behind that 10 years are hundreds of hours of therapy, both effective and not. Also behind it are thousands of hours of reading: recharging my batteries, giving me hope, giving me respite, and telling me to try again and again.

Recently, I plucked a copy of Helene Hanff’s Q’s Legacy from a box. I was completely prepared to get rid of it, and will, but I hadn’t read it. I’ve read everything else she wrote, except her text books, and I skimmed those! So I picked it up and started.

In the course of reading about how she became the person associated with the Marks & Co. bookshop and all that happened to her because of that association, I found a new way to adjust for my past. Having books and reading is fine. It’s no longer my refuge, safety and salvation, it’s a pleasant way to spend some time.

I still have way too many books — but somehow, it’s hard to resent it.

 

 

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Craft Supplies: What to Use or Cull?

I have too many craft supplies, of course. I need to either use the stuff up, sell, toss or otherwise cull this collection down A LOT.

I have been trying to think what I have to do/get rid of/cull next? And I don’t know. I have fabric at a seamstress currently to turn into \ throws. I don’t need more, those will do us year round, with the one my MIL made.

So, then what? I have pillow forms, fabric, beads, yarn, basketry material, and paper crafting supplies.

The obvious thing to use some of that up would be to do the knit the pillow covers project. The not so obvious thing is whether I have yarn in the right sort of colors/textures for the living room. That I do NOT know, I’ll have to look.

After that project and making myself a new hat. (Remember this? I decided to make myself another hat.) I have no idea how much yarn I’ll have left, how many pillow forms I’ll still, and what to do with what I DO?

I also have no ideas about the rest of it. I need to work harder to find projects or just decide to get rid of the stuff, in quantity!


Okay I sorted. I have enough, with an additional skien or two, to make pillow covers. One or maybe two? We’ll see. I also seem to have enough to make another hat. After that? I have a bin full of yarn, most of it with no particular use in mind. The one exception is the rug which was being knit/crotched for the bathroom, the one that takes about an hour to get 1/4 of the way around and 1/4″ thick  per row. In other words? To make that rug takes a LARGE amount of time/effort, which is why it got dropped to begin with. I either need to ‘fess up and admit I won’t ever finish it OR I need to actually finish it. Storing the tools and supplies and 1/2 finished rug just is dumb!

Ironing the Driveway & Other Skills You Never Knew You’d Need…

The result of the traumas related to knitting etc. caused me to lose much of my enthusiasm about making things. I’m not all that good at knitting or crocheting anyway, but I have a few pieces I’m proud of. I had crotched a hat of Malabrigo wool, and have two scarves, one for DH one for me, of Eco Yarn which I knitted.

malabrigo wool

(Malabrigo wool, image via images.google.com, NOT mine!)

The hat disappeared about a week ago. Last weekend I gave up and bought a hat, which is far too big for me, but it was better than having a cold head.

I got home yesterday from the storage where I’d worked on the transfer from one unit to a smaller one. I went back outside, opened the tailgate to get the first box of books I intended to deal with and there was my hat, on the ground  — frozen solid on the dirt driveway. So, we tried various ideas to get it unstuck: heated bottles of water and put on top of the hat, a hair dryer, chipping around the edges with a screwdriver, and finally? A travel iron, which created much steam, but I got the hat thawed enough to pull it from the driveway.

I put a shovel or two of snow where I’d been heating the drive, just in case. I wasn’t very worried, it was 23 degrees outside!

Kneeling in the driveway, running an iron on something which couldn’t be seen from the road? I was just waiting for someone to ask WTF I was doing?

But that didn’t happen. It’s not a skill I’d list in a resume, but it certainly is something new to me, and one I never knew I’d need!

I’ll probably take it apart and make a new hat, after I wash the wool.

frozen driveway.jpeg

(Image via images.google.com, it is NOT mine!)

I am so lucky

By sheer dumb luck (?) I didn’t get disassociation; Gawd knows, I’d never have come back. Likewise clinical depression, I avoided it too.

I think if I’d been physically or sexually abused one or both of those would certainly have been my reality.

The journey I took was hard enough because of a variety of factors: the biggest one being that no one seemed to think (including my early shrinks) that there was anything really wrong with me I couldn’t just change. Little girls didn’t get PTSD in the 1950s. I was white, upperclass, etc. What problems could I have? Well, yes I didn’t have a mother, but I had caretakers, dorm mothers, camp counselors, doctors (and more doctors), shrinks . . . .  what was my problem?

The description I’ve got in the memoir is that it was like I was a balloon, with a large rip underneath, which no one else saw. They all expected me to soar! I had all these things going for me: beautiful home, enough $, educated family, etc. etc. etc. But I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried  —  they didn’t get it. No one did. And that just layered atop the Abuser’s narrative: there was something wrong with me, at my DNA or such. And for whatever reason, for 42 years before diagnosis, I just kept trying to prove her wrong. I kept trying to get my family to tell me they approved of me. I kept trying. I’d win once in a while, but I’d lose more often. Then I’d despair. I became increasingly more bitter and cynical.

Then this 6’1″ miracle happened to me. And things started to change because I believed one person didn’t think I was horrible. I called him my “shield against the world” for most of the first 10 years we were married. Whenever he was out of town, my anxiety went back up to the old levels  — I was back in the hell I’d lived in before: the hostile universe, the world where people would take anything and everything they could from me, because it was me.

It took a long time and a lot of work on his part before I really got that people didn’t see some devil mark on me, that said they should be nasty or whatever. That many people in the world would like me, if I gave them 1/2 a chance. That I wasn’t sub-human, stupid, ugly, and inherently unlovable.  I was starting down that path when my hormones went ape for the 2nd time and I had my midlife crisis, over 20 years ago now.

And got a hugely lucky break. The marriage counseling we got was from a woman who knew about PTSD.

She diagnosed and helped me learn how to  deal with it. We learned to deal with the things we hadn’t been able to and I kept seeing her, over 12 years by the time she retired.

Somewhere around 55, I stopped hurting. That was so phenomenal! The really odd thing for me was that no one noticed! I wanted a parade, a statue put up, something !!! It had been my goal as long as I could remember: “Don’t hurt.”

I still carry the pain, but these days it’s not ever-present, it’s associated with my past. And, yes, I still chose every day to deal or cope with it, or not. But because it’s no longer associated with HERE and NOW I can make that decision nearly automatically to NOT deal with it, not have it be part of my narrative today. I finally have a life which is not wrapped around hiding the pain, excusing the pain, explaining the pain, showing the pain or denying its existence.

It’s there, and most days I don’t have to deal with it any more; most days. Of course, this is PTSD, which means that at any moment, life could just pick me up and throw me into the fun house and away we go. The Hallmark movie not too long ago was one. A bigger one was the knitting. Both completely unexpected — SURPRISE!!!!

Gee thanks.

 I still say I’ve been incredibly lucky. And that’s a good thing. I’m sure I would have otherwise not attempted suicide; I would have killed myself.

Without my husband, without diagnosis, without the work from all of us: myself, husband and therapist, I would still be living in that fun house, that hostile and pain-filled universe. It was unbearable at 16, when I first attempted suicide, because as I said at the time, “I can’t imagine living this way until I’m 40.”

It was hard. It was awful. And I’d love to find out if life has something else I can do? We’ll see. My luck may have been all been used up, getting here — or maybe not?

(The image below AND the quote (obviously) are not mine!)

P.S. I don’t know if I agree with the quote actually, but it fit the post nicely! (I’m enough of a writer/editor to find that irresistible.)

P.S.2: The more I think about it, the less I agree with the quote. It was good luck that I was born white, privileged and into an educated family. Had nothing to do with my work or willingness to work. Although if I hadn’t done the mental health work, yes, I would still be where I was. Change takes work AND luck, but luck (or lack of it) starts with things out of your control: skin color, relative amount of available money for education, educational levels of people around you, area of residence, etc. None of that has anything to do with a child’s work when it is born.

Walter Mosley, the author, was a McDowell scholar one year. He came in the bookstore. He is an educated, articlulate man, who was born and raised in Watts. We were the antithesis of each other, as I was raised in a white, well-to-do enclave in Los Angeles in the same period. My mental illness and such caused me to not make use of many advantages I was born into. His hard work and abilities caused him to become the celebrated man he is.  Which of us is lucky? Him for being able to become the person he was or me for becoming the person I have?

Without the money, etc. I had behind me, I could not have focused on my mental health. I would have had to focus on making money to eat and put a roof over my head. In that way, I was really, really lucky. And, again, I had nothing to do with it.

Quotation-Barbara-Sher-The-amount-of-good-luck-coming-your-way-depends-on-66-82-62

I find the “just work harder” notion promoted by many really bizarre. If you are working 3 jobs just to feed yourself and your kids getting a PhD or even an AA isn’t an exercise in hard work, but a magical ability to make 24 hours into more.

Equally, the “save 1/2 of your food bill” idea only works if you can do things like buy 5 lbs of flour instead of 1 or buy a pot roast to cut up, or go to multiple stores to buy things on sale, or . . . when you are truly on the edge of or just over a survival level that is not realistic.

It’s easy to forget that.

And that’s my problem with the quote above. It presumes that you have the resources to act on your behalf, not that you are doing everything you can to simply survive.

Monday’s Six and Backlog

Here’s the six for today:

  1. Wash the rug which had been in the laundry and put it back.
  2. Clean the dry stores shelves. Right side done 3:50. Complete 4:30
  3. Get the supplies for the knitted pillow all in one place so you can finish it!
  4. Get the rest of the better paint into the attic.
  5. Clean the office chairs.
  6. Sweep the decks, porch & entry (fill in).

Backlog:

  • Sanitize the water pic.
  • Find a place to put away the dehydrator racks and do so when appropriate.
  • Use up the ice cream base in the freezer.
  • Wash the net curtains. First pair pulled from over the dry stores 4:30.
  • Go thru the record collection, cull.
  • Put garden hoses away for winter.
  • Recaulk the bathroom as needed.
  • Make pepper jelly (or use up the peppers somehow). Mon. 9:30 a.m.
  • Figure out a new way/place to store the yarn and put it away.
  • Look at the stored snow tires. Need new ones? In the budget?
  • Make cookies with the frozen oatmeal. Recipe found. Oatmeal removed from freezer, put in fridge Tuesday. Tossed Monday, sigh.
  • Empty my desk, again. Mon 10/23 9:00 a.m.
  • Make up/try the Naval Academy brass polish.
  • Examine winter coats for flaws, etc.
  • Put ice scrapers in the cars, examine and see if they need replacement?

Chores on hold or in process, for whatever reason:

Use up the eggplant from last week. Used the first one for Sunday’s dinner. 

Fertilize the lawn. Did the dooryard lawn and the lawn on the street side of the bulb bed. Tues. 4:30 p.m. Lots more to do!

Cut more sage and other such from the garden. Kale Fri. 10/13, most of the rest of it 10/15. Need to pull some tarragon and that’s it. Finished Tues. 10/24 9:30 a.m.

Cull books from one “holding pattern” bookcases. Either they’re out or they stay!, in process Thurs. a.m. (I did the 1st shelf.)

Put family photos in the album. Can’t be done. Photos located, album missing!

Clean off DH’s desk. This is going to be delayed until he and I catch up. I pulled everything from the top drawer on his side of the dresser, we’re still going through all of that.

Lapfull of Warm v3.0

(and the last one — promise!)

DH wanted me to recreate a shorter version of the original muffler, for him. I did. It’s finished, except I have to weave in the 2 ends.

This time I’ve been watching Hart to Hart. All those TV shows in the 80s I missed because I worked until Gawd knows what hours? I’m up late, knitting in front of my computer. Works!

Interesting catching up with my youth, now. Certainly not a 2nd childhood, but regressing to some extent, you bet. (Also enjoying myself!)

No more planned knitting right now. The rug I’m working on requires too much concentration for me to do it and anything else.

I keep hoping I’ll have a dream or something and remember the stupid trauma, so I can absolutely, finally put it to rest. In the meantime,  if I knit you something, realize it probably meant not only did I spend a long time on it, but I burned a lot of midnight oil doing it as well!

J

 

 

Lapfull of Warm: Completely Unexpected Result

DH and I went to my fave yarn shop last weekend. My holiday gift was yarn this year.

While we were checking out, the woman working asked about my muffler. What yarn had I used, how big were the needles? Would I tell her the pattern? She wanted to make one!

OMG!!!

I was shellshocked. The 2nd piece I ever finish and someone who works in a yarn shop wants to copy it???

I haven’t posted anything because I think it’s like the first book. For months I was waiting for someone to say, “No. Sorry, we really didn’t mean it.” and I refused to let myself get excited about the book. This was similar. I haven’t really let myself even think about it. But I sat in the car last Saturday afterward, and nearly cried.

Long way in two years ‘eh? From a 10 stitch square which traumatized me so much it took me 4 hours to knit to a piece which is good enough for someone who works in a yarn shop to want to make!

I still shake when I’m knitting and I think about it. If I knit and I’m not distracted by something I still want to cry. I still have issues with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th stitches casting on and casting off. But if I distract myself enough? I can knit some, and I guess I do all right. . .OMG!

J