books and papers and rocks are flying

Yarn all around

I'm so very ready for 2011. I feel like I'm done with this year and I'm impatient for it to be over. I have 3 new projects I want to work on next year. New avenues for my business, photography, and family. That may be too much for me to accomplish in one year. If so, it'll be the photography project that gets pushed aside, as it has for the last 2 years.

I just now spun this yarn here. It's going to be called Moshi, similar to this roving, but in Corriedale X instead of superwash.

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A little while ago I had an epiphany about my business and since then I've been overwhelmed by all the possibilities and choices I have to make and the new things I have to learn. Sometimes I wish there were someone who would just tell me what to do and in what order to do it. I'd like to be able to press the EASY button, please. Pretty please?

This is the active single. You spin the yarn, wind it on the niddy noddy, tie it up, take it off and this is what bounces out at you. That's my favorite part. With the ties in place, it's a controlled chaos.

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I'm not someone who can just relax and know that the answers will come to me. It's in my head every waking moment, driving me a little crazy, until I can figure it out, get my process down, know that it's going to succeed. It's not a headache, it's personal growth really, but my head feels full. And I expect I'll have that feeling for the next several months, if not longer.

I took that controlled chaos of yarn and wound it into a hank - the simplest form for the yarn to take. Then I'll set the twist so it'll stick.

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Now I just need to do the same inside my head. Control the chaos, find the simplest form for this to take, then set the twist. On to 2011...


I'm Spent. There, I admit it.

The past several months - actually the past four years - have been exhausting. We've moved a lot. We've had disappointments and setbacks. And just when I thought there were blue skies with big, white fluffy clouds ahead, another road block.

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Along the way (thanks to Gwyneth's Goop), I picked up a book called Spent: End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again. When I read the symptoms of Spent, I said, yes, that's me. I feel like I could go to sleep for the night at around 4pm every day (though I don't seem to get there until midnight). My whole body hurts. I lack motivation to do things I really want to do. And I can't take it anymore.

So what am I doing about it? The first thing is that I'm overhauling my diet and losing some weight. I'm not following the program in Spent by itself, I'm sort of mixing it up with things I've read in another book called Eat to Live.

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While Eat to Live isn't for everybody, I think it's a good, healthy way to lose a lot of weight quickly. I've followed the program before and I know that it works. I know that it will lower my blood pressure and cholesterol and clear my head. I know that its claim to "lose 20 pounds or more in 6 weeks" is not an over promise. I know that I never felt better in my life than when I was eating all those fruits and veggies and healthy fats. My problem is sticking with it for the long haul - try and wish as I might, I'm no vegan. But I can pretend for 6-8 weeks while I figure out what to do next.

I call it my Salads as Big as Your Head Diet.

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And I am feeling better. I started last Monday and I've lost 8 pounds. And I just feel better. Not perfect, but a very definite improvement. My brain's not so cloudy. I have more energy. I feel more positive and happier. It's such a relief, I can't tell you. But I still have a long way to go. This week, I'm going to start on some of the principles outlined in Spent. I'm going to move more. I'm going to relax more. I'm thinking about how I can find my balance.

One thing that's difficult about it is feeding V. She likes a good salad - occasionally - but I find that I'm feeding her other things that I don't think are quite so good for her just because they're quick and easy. She doesn't like a lot of vegetables right now, though I continue to put them on her plate. She's beginning to flirt with cauliflower, if only because she likes the way it sounds when she says it.

So I need more recipes we all can eat. I have some good resources, but I need more.

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V and I used to bake something once a week and I wanted to start that up again now that we're in the new house. I'm looking for healthier things to make so we can still enjoy cooking together, but I get to have a little taste too. This week we made Yummy Banana-Oat Bars (click here and scroll down just a bit for the recipe).

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We used Craisins instead of raisins and it was a tasty treat.

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So I've started working on our diet and this week I'll be working on moving and relaxing more, but there is a third part to the plan - the part where I both learn to do something I've always wanted to do and use my new-found skill try to replace some of the income I lost. I've never had a job before that I loved with my whole heart, but I'm hoping this is it. I'll talk more about that in a few weeks.

If you've gotten this far, I thank you for sticking with me. I try to make a pretty blog, but real life isn't always sunshine and kittens. I do what I can to make it so. My question for you is - are you Spent? I certainly hope not, but I have the sneaking suspicion that I'm not alone in this. Is there anything you're doing about it? Got any veggie-centric recipes or websites for me? I'd love to hear from you.

it doesn't matter what you say I just can't stay here every yesterday

We walked out to the car Friday afternoon and, as V buckled herself in her car seat, I went around to the other side and put all the stuff I was bringing in the backseat. When I closed the door to go sit in the front passenger's seat, V started to cry - she thought I was going to sit back there with her. So I did.

I was hoping to knit in the car on the way to the botanical gardens, but I get dreadfully carsick, especially in the backseat. So eventually I resorted to one of the few things that work for me - I rolled the window down a bit and breathed in the fresh air. The other things that work involve copious amounts of chocolate and/or fried foods.

It was cold; my cheeks were immediately numb. Cold never bothers me, so I closed my eyes and watched the lights change colors from behind my eyelids as we passed by alternating trees and open spaces. It was then that I started to remember.

When I was 6, the neighbors said they would start taking me to church with them to leave my mom and dad only one child to deal with for a few hours. The Thompsons were an elderly couple who went to church on Saturday and were out to evangelize us. The Perrys were the neighbors on the other side of us who would occasionally take me on Sunday so we wouldn't be evangelized by that crazy Saturday church.

The Thompsons took a woman to church with them too, Miss Ruby Love, and we'd have to drive to her apartment and then to the church. I was miserable sitting in the backseat of that pea green Chevy Nova with no air conditioning and not allowed to roll down the window. I would remove the small metal ashtray from the handle of the door and stick my mouth down into the hole to breathe in the tiny bit of air I could get. I did this all the way to Ruby Love's place and then would spend the rest of the trip sitting up properly, trying to keep from turning the same color as the car so that Ruby wouldn't think I was a bad child.

Back in the present, we passed the church that the Perrys used to take me to on Sundays. Up high on a hill, the church has one of those Jesus Saves crosses out front. I remember Mrs. Perry discussing with the preacher that I had never been "saved." I was eager for their help once I found out that I couldn't go to heaven unless I was saved. I thought it was going to be some sort of elaborate ritual, and I was excited to be let in on the secret. It was disappointing when all it involved was the preacher putting his hand on my forehead and praying for my precious soul. When I told my mom that I'd been saved at church that day, she wouldn't let me go back.

Our route to the gardens also takes us past one the mills where my grandfather worked and his father as well. This was the mill where he started out sweeping the floors because that was the job an 11-year-old could get when his parents told him it was time to quit school and go to work to help out the family. The mill is abandoned, but the little mill houses are so very cute now, each painted in a different bright color. I'm fairly sure university students live in most of them now.

Finally, just as I think I'm going to have to request that R and I switch places, we turn onto what my brother and I always called Puney Road. That rank smell in the air is the cows and horses the university keeps for agricultural study. I remember Saturday afternoons at 10 years old, riding home the long way after church to avoid the gameday crowds with the car windows rolled down in the orange Ford Maverick, keeping my carsickness at bay while we three yelled, "Puney Road!" from one end to the other.

And then there's the botanical gardens, just where I remember it, midway down Puney Road. These days, whenever we want to get somewhere, I have to picture the end of the journey and follow the road backwards to our starting point. Often I'll remember a shortcut along the way and yell, "Turn here!" Or I'll narrate the whole way - here's the skating rink where Sarah broke her arm except I wasn't there that day, here's where Roses used to be where Leanne put Nair into a bottle of shampoo and a lady bought it! Very probably the same stories over and over again. But I can't help it because the rose garden isn't where it used to be.

When my grandmother was alive, she loved going to the gardens. We went all the time. This was back before they built the conservatory and the only things they had to look at were lots of trees, a trail that ran into a swamp area halfway through, and the rose garden. But I'm living here now, a stone's throw from this town I hate, where I can't bear to take pictures, where I can hardly stand to write about it, but with a million pictures to take, a million stories to tell, and they moved the gd rose garden.

In the light of day, I had the most wonderful time there at the gardens. It was something different for us to do and there are nice trails now and pretty new landscaping. We spent two hours there, letting sweet V run all her energy out. We loved it, can't wait to go back. As we walked to the car to go home, an employee passed us in the parking lot. When he noticed our Tennessee licence plate he said, "A long way from home, aren't y'all?" I have a hard time lining all that up with how I feel tonight, writing this at 11:30pm. How sad and frustrating it is to be home when I can't go back to the people and places I love most. I can only ride through a city that feels so empty to me, the window down and the wind tangling my hair as I try to keep from feeling sick, because the people and the places I love are gone.


R is in Nashville this week. When he asked me to post a lot this week while he's gone, I'm not sure if this is what he had in mind. Ha ha.

I'm not doing Flylady exactly. But I'm going to gather info from the site and do it my own way. Maybe once we move I'll do it more like she suggests. Anyway, I'm also doing it backwards. She wants you to have everything basically clean before you start the decluttering process. Um...I didn't do it like that. I was too eager to do the set-the-timer-for-15-minutes-and-see-how-much-I-can-accomplish thing.

I've identified many, many hotspots in this place. The bookshelf, changing table, my desk, the top of the dresser - anything with a flat surface. The entire kitchen is a hotspot (mainly because it's TINY and not everything has a place to go - not even the food. That's what you get for moving into a place sight-unseen.). My goal here is not to get this place picture-perfect. Since we plan on moving soon, it doesn't seem worth the time/energy to me. My goal is to get it decluttered enough so that when I do get a moment to myself, I can actually think in here, and so that we don't feel like we need to take an entire weekend day to clean it. And then to keep it at that level of cleanliness (ay, there's the rub).

A few weeks ago, I found this table/desk for sale on Craigslist. It had been available for a while, so I offered the guy half price if he hadn't sold it yet, and he hadn't, so I got a pretty decent desk for not a lot of money. Of course it has a giant scratch down the middle of it, but who can see it anyway with all this junk on it?

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So I set my timer for 15 minutes and spent 10 of it clearing off just one part and putting it on the dining table. Then I spent the last five minutes (and a few more after that) putting that stuff away or throwing it out. There was nothing to donate there, that's for sure. Mainly what there was to put away were papers we need to keep, toys/V's games, and a few other odds and ends. And I dusted (while V dusted her play kitchen). Here's how it looks now. I never know what to do with wires. Other people seem to know, but I never do. They can sit on the desk, or they can hang down to the floor. Neither option is particularly appealing to me.

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The rest of the desk still looks the same, though I will probably put away the big stack of V's books that are sitting on the corner. These books came to us all the way from Oregon and they're fabulous (thanks Rachel!)! They just haven't made their way to bookshelf yet, because we've been reading them all over and over again. V loves her books!

So, what was V doing while I was doing all this? Surely not making another mess ...

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Now there is cat food all over the floor in the playroom/office, so we'll be vacuuming later. Sigh. Anyway, I'm thinking it's going to take me three days to completely declutter this desk at 15 minutes a pop. Frightening, isn't it? Then I'll start on something else, maybe the bookshelf. In the meantime, I'm going to shine my sink later today (naptime, I think) and try to keep the toys in their rightful places, instead of all over the living room floor.

But right now I say it's time for watercolors with my girl!

Baby steps

This morning, I made V miss her favorite show (Bunnytown) so that I could watch Dooce on the Today show. It was horrid. The way Kathy Lee and that other chick talk and laugh over each other was almost more than my already frazzled nervous system could bear. If I wanted to watch women talking over each other hysterically, I'd watch The View. So they flew Heather and her husband out to NYC for THAT? But I was just happy to watch it. I have been sick for a couple of days and yesterday I barely left the bed and when I got up today, I had 198 blog entries on my Bloglines and was thrilled that I hadn't missed something. I was also down 2 pounds from all the soup and Jello, so I celebrated that with a lunch of scrambled eggs and cheese and 2 slices of cheese toast. My throat still hurts, my nose is stopped and the coughing is just beginning, but at least my appetite's coming back.

I am slowly coming to the realization that if someone's going to keep this joint clean and presentable, it's probably going to have to be me. I seem to be ill-prepared to do the job. I remember before we had V, we talked about how wonderful it would be - R would work, of course, and I would stay home and I'd keep the house clean and play with the baby. Oh the fun! I told another mom at the park the other day that having V has really knocked me on my heiny. She looked at me like I was crazy. Of course she has three kids so she's probably thinking that I have no idea what I'm talking about. And she's probably right.

But it's true. I'm a low energy person. My motto is why go outside when you can stay inside with the air conditioner on? I've never kept a really tidy room/car/house/desk. And I hate it. Right before V's nap, R popped in and gave me some sushi. His boss is in town and they went to lunch and he brought me their leftover sushi. But his boss stayed in the car because we have CHAOS. I keep telling myself that it'll be different with every move and yet it's not. So, while I'm not planning to join the FlyLady mailing list (all those emails freak me out), I'm going to start checking the site every day and working on it. Baby steps!! My excuse is that when V is napping, I'm working (except right this minute, since I'm blogging, but I'll be working, um ... soon), which makes it hard to find the time to clean up. And I think, especially after yesterday (he took the day off from work because I was sick), R would agree with me that hanging out with V is a full-time job. But I can set the timer and do 15 minutes of decluttering. I can do a load of laundry a day. Right?

What I can't do is clean that bathroom toilet. It is out of control. So I'm hoping that R will read this and clean it for me because I'm afraid that in my weakened condition, I could take a nasty spill down the stairs and subject myself to further school absences.

The scent is green tea

Green tea soap

I was reading this yesterday.

I really identify with Yvonne's feelings about her body and her weight. Almost everything she's ever written about it, I could've written at one point or another (me and a lot of other women - I don't even have to read the comments to know that they are there). Presently, I am kicking myself for regaining a significant amount of weight between November and today. About 25 pounds. Or so. It's hard for me to think about, really. I was so close. Not to being "thin," but to achieving the goal I'd set for myself before getting pregnant again.

I had read this diet book that made a lot of sense to me and I followed the plan very well and lost a lot of weight very easily and everything was extremely rosy. Then my brother came to visit. And with one simple brunch I started back down the path I'm on today. Then with the Christmas cookies. And some really good Thai food.

But I had an idea yesterday while I was grocery shopping. Because I am so very tired of it all. I don't want to go on another diet. I don't want to count calories or eat all salads, all the time. I don't want to spend hours at the gym. I just want to live. My life. Now. And be happy. Considering all my other blessings, this is not too lofty a goal.

So my plan is to put into place the good habits I want in my life, to create that "no-fail environment." Eat good and healthy food. Exercise. I'm going to lift some weights. None of this is revolutionary. But I also want to start taking care of myself now, as I am. For example, I have one pair of workout pants that I've been wearing whenever I go out. I need some clothes that fit and that I don't hate. That's quite the feat, I'll tell you, but it can be done. And it doesn't have to happen all at once. None of this has to happen all at once.

Yesterday I bought a pretty soap. I know that doesn't sound like much, but right now it means a lot to me. Right now I'm not even washing my face and putting on lotion every night. If the me from three years ago could look ahead and see me doing that now, she would not even be able to wrap her head around the concept of not caring about going to bed with a dirty face. Yes, things have slid. Lots of things.

But I don't just want to say I'm going to love myself as I am and use that as an excuse not to get healthier. Goals are good. What I want is to see things straight enough to live in the moment and not feel embarrassed by my weight, no matter what it is. If I can't weigh 50 pounds less rightnowthissecond, then I can dress like I care what I look like, like I deserve to be here. I can put bottles of lotion around the house for my hands. I can shave my legs more than once a month. I can wear some earrings once in a while. I feel rough; I don't like it. I don't feel like me.

So while I was picking out my pretty soap I had the idea that if I start taking care of myself in a few small ways, that will give me the strength to keep reaching for my goals. One action will lead to another and I will pull myself out of this rut.

I have this recurring dream that I am walking in a circle and I can't stop. The wind is blowing and books and papers and rocks are flying around the room in their own mini-tornado, as I walk endlessly around and around and around. Until just this moment I always wondered what that dream could mean and why I would have it repeatedly; I couldn't even venture a guess. My issues aren't magically solved by this revelation, of course, but I am feeling more peaceful. And hopeful.

It's all a work in progress, this life.