Enjoying the Rain

We have had yet another set back. My husband got the news he was being laid off with less than a dozen others this week. This is the second time in two years he’s been laid off because he was the last hired when the chops came. He’s got a back-up job, but it’s just an income. Not a career. Not his career.

So we went for a hike. A walk in the woods, really. As we drove, the rain sort of drizzled down and we began to wonder if we would be rained out. We parked at a trail and got our sweatshirts on. The girls seemed excited to get wet.

I love the colors of rainy days. I love navigating the root systems beneath our feet. I love watching our girls walking together, looking out for each other. Making up games together.

These woods seem to have a lot of trees that begin their journey together and form a strong base. They grow up and away from each other, but are always connected by their roots; their base.

It made me think about the kind of roots my kids will have. That they do have. How they are each so unique and yet, obviously, family. We may be going a little crazy these days. Too much time together. But I’m trying to soak up every moment. I can see their paths branching away from us soon. These moments won’t happen as often in a few more years. And I am grateful for these ‘roots’ moments.

Sweater Pockets

This is it. The last stretch of this epic adventure and I’m terrified. Sewing is not one of my skills. I’m capable enough, but am severely lacking in practice. I want to get this right.

This sweater and I have been through a lot together. Buying a house. Moving. Kidney stones. Hectic life. No more plum yarn anywhere. Changing gears and making many mistakes in my eagerness. Now I’m just sitting here staring at it, frozen.

I mean, I thought I was done when I sewed the last button hole. But when I put it on, my hands kept searching for pockets. Knitting them up was a delight. And I’m really happy with the mix of cables I chose. I just hope my sewing is strong enough to hold up and straight enough to look even.

Ok. Deep breath. I can do this.

Long Story: About Discovering a Good Book

It’s funny how you can forget what you like. As if the years of becoming push out what was. Only fragments remain, fluttering in the breeze of all the empty space.

I was always an avid reader. Even before I learned to read, books called to me. In elementary school I was the kid in the library corner reading everything in sight. At home I was curled up on the couch with a stack. Or in bed straining my eyes using the dim hallway light to read one more chapter.

I read in the car, on the bus, at church, between assignments at school. I never went anywhere without a book. The fear of being caught with nothing to read was ever present.

People gifted me books or gift cards for books. My mom even let me take, and keep, her treasured Nancy Drew books because of my passion. Those books are still in really good shape and have a place of honor on a shelf in my home.

Then life got busier. I got married and a few years later, we started our family. I couldn’t read a book to save my life. I missed it. So my mom started giving me magazines. Women’s Day, Good Housekeeping, AARP,… I started buying fitness magazines, knitting and crochet magazines, clean eating and recipe magazines. I consumed them with the same veraciousness I had with books. It went on this way through three babies and their toddler years.

One day, I came across a unique reading list. I had been dabbling with reading books again and this list illuminated something in me I’d almost forgotten. A challenge to read 24 books in 12 months. A book with a number in the title, a book you read for school, one written by someone who is not a writer, a memoir, … Some were a challenge to find, others fell into my lap. Books sitting untouched on my shelves got to come down and breathe life back into me. This list brought me back home.

This list also broadened my genre choices. I was enjoying subjects I had once thought dull. Deliberately choosing things out of my comfort zone. I only made it to 22 books, but it was such a rewarding challenge. And with three kids, at least one still in diapers at the time, I am impressed with getting to 22!

It has been several years since then. I read in fits and spurts, now. Some books really capture me and others get drawn out over weeks or months. What I’ve been learning about myself is that my memory of what I read as a kid had been dimmed for a long time. My young adult life was dominated by dark fantasy series. Anita Blake, Sookie Stackhouse, Harry Dresden, Twilight (yes, I’m a big fan). Easy, quick reading. Intelligent enough to keep me challenged, but slightly predictable and comforting. I, somehow, used this phase to overshadow what I read before high school, college, and several years beyond.

That’s not to say I didn’t read a lot of horror and fantasy as a kid. I did. But I also read mysteries, historical fiction, adventure, classics, brand new science-fiction, books from my parents’ youth, … I read almost anything and everything. Then I narrowed down because I just wanted an escape. My type of relaxing read settled into a comfy spot and stayed for a while. Well, there’s only so many of those authors that I actually enjoy.

Between trying the books on display at the local library, and at Barnes and Noble, I have rediscovered some lost loves. Murder Mysteries can be a lot of fun! As I find the ones I like, I have started remembering fragments of the mystery books I read as a kid. I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew, but there was Encyclopedia Brown, and a host of others I can’t quite remember.

My books on neuroscience, behavioral science, and sociology are piling up. History books about our stories as humans. Some of that is also inspired by my work. I’m fascinated by the brain-body connection. Influencing the nervous system to allow the body to relax, in order to get the brain relaxed, so the body can stay relaxed.

I used to read a lot of thrillers too. It took me a long time to distinguish between thriller and horror. I like thrillers, but I seem to be really picky, or hard to please. Or I’m just bad at finding good ones. Recently, I’ve felt the need to try again. I can’t watch anything really suspenseful anymore. A lot of story lines are off the table for me. Especially since I’ve had kids, there’s so much more I refuse to expose myself to. But I’ve wanted a good thrill. A darker mystery. So, I picked up The Sanatorium, by Sarah Pearse. It’s been about two days of reading and I can’t put it down. Ok, so, obviously I can physically put it down, but this seems to be what I was looking for and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. There’s enough information being given that my unhealthy anxiety isn’t being disturbed, but there are still so many questions that I’m spurred to keep going, taking in all the clues. It’s the kind of details that put you in the story instead of feeling like an onlooker.

The short version. The Sanatorium, by Sarah Pearse is a page turner. I’m only halfway in, but I’m hopeful I’ll be satisfied at the end. It feels good to remember I’m a multifaceted person who hasn’t lost herself. In fact, I am still becoming while remembering who I have always been. What a journey I have had!

Color Therapy

The kids colored on the back at some point and tore the page a bit. Oh well.

Everyone has been a bit frayed lately. This has been a rather gloomy winter after some really difficult years. Stress fatigue is setting in hard. So I pulled out my coloring book and picked up where I left off on this page.

The yellow bothers me a bit. Need to find a gold pencil.

I’ve been ping ponging between feeling really grounded and centered, and almost completely disconnected. Playing with color in a pre-set pattern is rather soothing.

I was trying to get my kids to join me. I don’t color often and thought it would be a relaxing activity. No dice. So I sat and finished the page after they all retired for the evening. I think I need some more pencils.

Dear Knitting,

Can we please find our rhythm again? My anxiety has been sky high lately and you’ve always been able to steady my hands. To ease my chest. To smooth the dangerous rapids in my brain to a babbling brook.

But we’ve had to rip out a lot of the progress we’ve made. Many months I have searched with no plum yarn to be found. So I am adapting with a soft compliment. Deep breath. Pull the thread.

So off we go! All my detailed notes at the ready and they are still missing key clues. We’ve talked about this. I need to write everything down, no matter how obvious at the time. I’m no longer the person I used to be. Past me is often a mystery. Future me is always evolving. Present me just wants to relax.

Don’t even get me started on this one. The tale of my first design, and my first wool sweater, is for another day.

So, my darling Knitting, I’m rather tired of learning my lessons. May this letter find you well and may your calming effect be restored. 🙏🏼

Sincerely,

Anxious Knitter

Favorite Things

The plan was to take a hike today. It has been a long time since we have voyaged into the woods and long overdue.

I wasn’t too hopeful when rain greeted us this morning, but leaned into a slow morning. After some oatmeal and dressing, we made our way to the woods. And of course there was much ado about it from our younger two. (We’re enjoying a rather mellow oldest at the moment).

When we arrived the sun was shining and no one else was on the trail. It was a fun adventure of mud, snow, and some ice.

The girls had a blast and helped each other traverse the obstacles. Their dad and I almost wiped out a few times ourselves.

We made sure to pause periodically and take it all in. Enjoy the beauty and take stock of the trail ahead. I thought this was all ice, but their dad proved it was crunchy snow, so onward we penguin walked.

It was a wonderfully warm day after such an icy grey winter. We picked up subs for lunch and made our way home to relax. Some of the the girls’ friends have come over and I’m just knitting and reading. One of my favorite things besides enjoying Nature with my family.

First Design

This sweater will truly be my first original design. I could not find a pattern and so just began taking measurements and making a gauge swatch. I’m not aiming for perfect, but do want it to be easily adjusted for a lot of sizes.

Back during the beginning of the Covid adventure, I bought myself a bit of beautiful merino wool and saved it until I knew what to make with it. After making several sweaters with other yarns, I realized I did not have enough for a sweater. So the yarn continued to sit.

Then a friend of mine asked if I wanted some yarn and other craft things she found cleaning out her house. I was very excited to receive this package. Especially when I found this beautiful brick mixed wool! After that, the sweater began to take shape in my mind.

At many points through the process I have doubted aspects of the design. It wasn’t what I had imagined, but sometimes that’s part of the journey. So I kept plugging along in the hopes it would all turn out.

The wool is delicious to knit with. I took very detailed notes through the whole process. Once it was done and set for blocking, I rewrote the entire pattern with all the adjustments I wanted to make for the next one. Sadly, I’m not happy with the finished result and am steeling myself for frogging. I have also never frogged an entire sweater before.

So here’s to new adventures and the lessons we learn along the way.

All Souls

I read the All Souls trilogy a couple years ago and decided to re-read them around Halloween. The first book, A Discovery of Witches, starts out in the Autumn. Timing lined up well. Then I began the second book, Shadow of Night, which happens across the winter holidays, around the winter holidays. I have been slowly making my way through the third book, The Book of Life. I think I have slowed down with this one because, a few chapters in, hype around the third season of A Discovery of Witches was amping up. After talking to a few other people and reading lots of reviews, I succumbed and began to watch the show.

Personally, I prefer when the visual version is it’s own thing. There are definitely pieces that need to be right, and scenes that are necessary, but it is a whole different way of story telling. It requires a certain skill to appropriately adapt books so loved by the fans. I have been thrilled with the tv show, but trying to read the third book while trying to watch it is rather disorienting.

I will say I was disappointed they did not include the yoga class. I was really looking forward to that. And there are some characters that just weren’t given the depth they deserved, but time is of the essence and pieces need to be lost. I did appreciate the added depth for other characters. And certain aspects of the story make more sense now.

Basically, the show adds a richness to the whole epic tale, even if nothing beats the books. It has a bit of everything. I never quite know how to explain a book about a vampire research professor of genetics (to be brief) who falls in love with a non-practicing witch professor of alchemy (to avoid magic) who falls in love with him, too. There’s self-discovery, and fighting, and time travel, and plots to fight back against an oppressive system of governing, and family, and a race to find a book that contains mysterious secrets about everything and so much more. So expertly woven.

This is definitely one of my favorite works, and the show has delighted me quite a bit. I have enjoyed the interpretation and added adventure of seeing the story fresh. I highly recommend checking both out. I will add, I am a binge-style sort of viewer and am looking forward to rewatching it all together, instead of week by week. Happy reading!

I Bought More Books

I need to start devoting more time to reading. I’ve been so overwhelmed lately that I’ve been soothing myself with cross stitch and watching Downton Abbey for the hundredth time. The hyper focusing helps me quiet the inner monologue.

I had planned on taking the girls to Barnes and Noble, and since my mom is visiting, we went. So, of course, I bought more books. I’m not sure why there were a couple Bridgerton displays. I’m assuming another season is coming. Since I enjoyed the show, I figured I’d try the books.

Then I saw this book and have always been interested in these topics. I’m looking forward to what I’ll be learning. My mom enjoyed Kate Moore’s other book, The Radium Girls, and it’s another on my to-read list.

Then I remembered I have been wanting to read more thriller/horror novels and saw this. I don’t really enjoy watching scary stuff anymore. It’s too stressful. I’m also really picky and get disappointed by books that were really hyped. There are also certain plot lines I refuse to subject myself to. My imagination takes care of those ones for me. No need to feed the lion. This one sounds really good and right up my alley. Horror used to be one of the only genres I read for fun.

Then I realized what book I had just picked before this one and thought it was funny.

I looked at my choices. What a variety. I thought about the pile of books waiting for my attention at home and bought these three to add to it. I’m hoping as the weather warms, I’ll spend time reading on the porch. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

Until then, I will be content to make my way through this canvas and my comfort shows.

Panic in the Morning

I had planned to write about something else for today, but then had a bit of a panicked start this morning. I looked at the time and realized the only kid going to school this week was going to be late. Then I couldn’t find her anywhere in the house. I felt I should have been more concerned. I might have still been waking up.

Her school bag, her shoes, and the house key that is for the kids to use were all gone. I was pretty sure she had taken herself to school, so I called to be sure. After they called back to let me know she was, in fact, at school, my middle one found the oldest’s note that she had left on the fridge, letting me know she had gone to get the bus for school. My ever maturing oldest had gotten herself up and ready and to school all on her own.

It has been a strange, exhausting, frustrating several months (years really), and realizing your kids are growing up despite your desire to hold on is wild. We are really proud of her, even if it gave me a fright. I guess we’re getting a few things right along the way.