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Archive for November, 2008

to perform CPR on adults, children and infants.  It was really fun, actually, and now I’m all ‘rah rah Red Cross!’  And the neato book they give you has First Aid instructions so I can look that over instead of worrying about doing that course right away.  I have to say, I feel much more confident in my ability to handle an emergency know that I know I can perform basic CPR stuff. And did you know they offer a CPR for pets class?  I don’t know if I’ll take it but I may just order the book.

Next up:  spinning, then crocheting, then sock-knitting once I have made my scarf.  Yeehaw!

Hee 🙂

I get so giddy when I accomplish stuff.

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She’s Crazy!

Herein lies a bunch of random ramblings in no particular order.  You have been warned.

Thanksgiving was lovely, although I was again reminded of why I really don’t like Mommy Talks.  For starters, I really don’t so much feel comfortable discussing other the birth choices of people not present, especially when they involve words like ‘natural childbirth’ and ‘crazy’ in juxtaposition.  Because, really, is there anything more insulting than the realization that people say the same things about your birth choices when you aren’t present?  I hardly think I’m some sort of Superwoman for giving birth without pain meds but if I hear you say that people who do so are crazy, I may just act like I think I am.

For the most part I try to stay away from such conversations when I’m talking to folks who I know do things differently.  I have no interest in the Mommy Hostilities and quite frankly, as long as your kid isn’t teaching mine bad things or causing me problems personally, I really don’t care if you cry it out, sleep train, only let your kid eat foods that are blue, what-have-you.  Parenting is hard enough without feeling like every choice you make is under scrutiny, right?

The baby has figured out how to remove diapers with velcro enclosures.  He did so this morning, and it wasn’t empty.  You do the math.

I got my yarn for the scarves and it’s all  not what it looked like in the pictures so I’m really disappointed.  I ordered some more so hopefully it will be here soon and I can get started.  I’ll use the too-dark stuff for something else–that’s the nice thing about yarn, isn’t it?  I got my drop spindle and wool but haven’t gotten it out yet because I still have to finish the Advent Calendar.  I only have 6 more pockets to sew so it should go pretty quickly though.  I’m going to have to do the whole thing over for next year because I started it while I was on the phone and did a shoddy job for the first row.  It’s going to be really cute, though.

My CPR class is tomorrow and I am really excited.  Really, really excited in fact.  It’s going to be good to cross something off of my Competence Project list!

Bub’s new favorite toy is an old doll of Lucy’s.  He likes to hug it, head butt it, and chew on its’ feet.

Last, but certainly not least, I am among the many sickened by the trampling of the man at WalMart on the Island.  I hope each and every person who was involved is happy that they took a man’s life for a deal on a new tv.  It’s disgusting and shameful, but unfortunately not a surprise.  This is what happens when giving gifts is turned into a competition.  This was no accident, tragic or otherwise.  People saw a group of employees trying to keep the doors from collapsing in, they pushed anyway and knocked the doors down, and then STEPPED ON AND AROUND A DYING MAN, not because they were starving, or in danger, or under attack.  They did this all BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO GET GOOD DEALS ON CRAP THEY DIDN’T EVEN NEED.

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A Little Lost Again

The thing about therapy is that invariably things come up that blindside you.  This was my yesterday, and while I’m pretty philosophical about it, I’m also feeling a little ragged around the ol’ edges this morning.  The hardest thing about the painful stuff is how easy it is to lose sight of the positive and good while you try to navigate your way back from whatever mental wasteland you’ve found yourself in.  Maybe this is where healing comes in–being able to make your way back still clutching the stuff you took in with you.

This morning I am disheveled.  I am uncombed, unwashed hair and in my clothes from yesterday.  I am gray and stiff and dry skin.  None of this is about how I look, this feeling ragged, but for a minute I wonder if I can cover it with shiny new make-up, a new haircut, a Whole New Me.   This would once have been the time that I ran off to Sephora (or the drugstore) for nail polish, eye shadow, some miracle product that would sit in my medicine cabinet like a religious artifact.  Now…what do I do now?

I really don’t know.  Hug the kids.  Dive headfirst into projects.  Do things that make the Inside Me feel better.  Take a do-over from when I was little and draw a picture without worrying about it looking perfect.  I don’t have any answers here, and I hate not having any answers.  Maybe this is the real lesson; it’s not getting back that’s important, it’s learning how to bring yourself back when you’re ready.

The other part…I don’t know if feeling unpretty is a separate issue or a side effect.

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The Competence Project is growing by the minute and I’m nothing if not a joiner.  Only I’m gonna make my own list, see.  And I’m gonna put it right here, see.  Right after I stop typing like this, see.

Ok, I’m done now.

Anyway, these are the skills I want to learn over the next year.  Why a year, you ask?  Mostly because there are some I need to research, some that are seasonal, and some I will need help with.  I’m going to start with the ones I can do soon and then work my way to the long-term ones.

  1. Knitting–this one is underway.  I can knit.  I can purl.  I just need to learn to bind off and I’m ready to do a real, live project.
  2. CPR–I’m signed up for class on the 30th.
  3. Making cheese–I haven’t done this yet.  Can you believe it?  This weekend, I swear.
  4. Making butter–this weekend.  This one is a Lucy request.
  5. Baking bread–maybe this weekend as well but most likely after Thanksgiving
  6. Basic sewing repairs–Started today!  Fixed a glove and a footed sleeper with a bag strap and ripped jeans left to do later today.
  7. Basic sewing with an eye toward eventually quilting–the advent calendar will be my foray into the use of batting.
  8. Basic sewing with an eye toward clothes-making–I have some fleece to make into cloth diaper covers.
  9. Cooking with meats–I have 3 oxtails in my freezer that I’m a little intimidated by.
  10. Cooking with beets and other root veggies–we get so many beets each year and only the baby likes ’em.  There must be a way to prepare ’em for the rest of us.
  11. Make spice blends–I thought Gina’s idea was so cool that I’m totally going to steal it 😉

Eventual Projects:

  1. Grinding grain
  2. Eating from a container garden
  3. Saving seeds
  4. Getting certified in First Aid
  5. Basic woodworking–I’m talking making a bookshelf here, not anything fancy
  6. Oh how I’d love to learn to spin wool but I’m hesitant to commit the $$$ before I try it out.
  7. I may be ready to learn how to ride a bike.  Then again, I’d just be happy if I could get a really big three-wheeler.
  8. Basic plumbing, like fixing a leaky faucet, clearing a plugged drain, that sort of thing.

There’s probably more that I’ll add, but for now this gives me something to work on.

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A Day in the Life

Yesterday was cooking day.  Despite my best efforts to make Monday mass-food prep day, it never seems to work out that way.  And so I cut veggies while the Bub ate lunch.  I browned chorizo while Lucy was on her way home from school.  While she was doing her homework, I steamed up some broccoli for a snack, and then started in on the kale and chorizo soup.  Seventeen hours later…

Ok, not really.  We turned the soup off briefly to bundle into our layers for the walk to the CSA pick-up.  It was a long mile in the blistering cold, and even with Chico in the ‘hawk with a sweater, hood, hat, and the Peekaru his little face still froze.  Back here, we started the soup back up and I made dinner for the kids–a freezer meal for Lucy (oh the irony!) and a sweet potato from the farm for el Chico.  I ran back and forth between the dining room and the kitchen for a while, and then I realized…

The soup was foul.  No taste.  I added salt.  Still nothing.  Thankfully I had some pre-prepared stock on hand and after a box of veg, a box of chicken and some paprika, red pepper and black pepper, it was edible.  I cut the sausage too big, and the recipe I used was not fit for human consumption, but all in all, it was a pretty good soup at the end of the day. Still, I don’t think kale and chorizo soup is my favorite variety so I’m not sure I’d bother with it again.  Sort of a waste of a perfectly good sausage.

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In between the chopping of the vegetables and the cooking of the soup, I got together a pile of stuff for an expectant family in the neighborhood, which both felt nice emotionally and also space-wise.  I’ve been really concerned about new stuff coming in for the holidays and now I feel like I can breathe a little.  The irony is that almost all of it is leftover from when Lucy was a baby and the apartment we lived in then was a good 300 sf smaller.  I don’t know how we weren’t tripping over baby gear at every turn.

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Speaking of holidays, I need to get started on the advent calendar for the kiddies.  I got some cats in santa hats fabric for the pockets and some bamboo batting to make it not floppy, but I have not sewed one stitch.  Nor have I fully thought through what to put in said pockets.  I think maybe I’ll get them each an ornament for the last pocket, and I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a cord and a bead for each of Lucy’s pockets so at the end she’ll have a holiday necklace to wear.  I’m at a loss for anything to do for Chico so maybe this will just be Lucy’s year.  I think she needs a little Just-for-Lucy anyway.

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On the roster for today is all of the stuff I should have done yesterday but ended up pushing off because of cooking/CSA.  I have laundry to pull off of the drying racks and put away, diapers to wash and hang, dishes to do, plants to water, toys to pick up, a trip to the Good Grocery for rice vinegar and something else I can’t remember, cat litter to change, summer clothes to put away and a Bubby who has taken to making his demands by pointing at me and yelling as loud as he can.  And that’s just before Lucy gets home from school.

Sigh.

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Last night I watched Life and Debt, which is a documentary about the effects of globalization on Jamaica, chiefly the effect of IMF’s lending practices on the people and economy.  One of the lines that stuck with me the most was when the spokesperson for the IMF said that people in the so-called third world deserve the same freedom to buy things that the rest of us enjoy.

Say What?

This hits home this year, especially as we’re coming full-speed into the holiday season.  Over the past, let’s say two years, I have gone from a self-confessed shopaholic to a person more able to assess whether I am buying something because I really want it or just because I want to buy something.  But the holidays have always been a sort of glut.  Much of that is wanting to show appreciation for family and friends, because it feels good to give.  But part is getting caught up in a frenzy, or worse, wanting to make sure not to seem cheap.  Meanwhile, my house is already filled with things we use with varying degrees of regularity.  FIlled, in fact, to the point that we regularly need to pass things along to others and I’m sorry to say, filled to the point that every so often we come across things we have forgotten we even own.

It doesn’t make me feel very free.

Lucy has been listening to the Little House on the Prairie audio books for the past several months.  She sits in bed every night and often puts them on first thing in the morning.  She is as in love with them as I was as a little girl when I would play ‘Long Winter’ by piling all of my stuffed animals and dolls onto my bed and pretending we were huddling together for warmth.  For her part, she pretends to take furs to town to trade for jackknives and candy because her ‘cousins are comin’ for Christmas and those can be their Christmas gifts.’  A jackknife and two pieces of candy.  Can you even translate that into today’s holiday extravaganzas?  Are we really happier now?

I don’t know yet what we’re going to do for the holidays.  I really do want to break this notion that it’s a lousy holiday if one doesn’t get enough gifts (for sure, I sat at a former friend’s house one year and listened to his sister stomp about for an hour because she hadn’t gotten as many presents as she had the year prior, and this was a college-aged person, not a child.)  I also don’t want to buy presents simply because we need to spend an equivalent amount as everyone else.  At the same time, I don’t want to seem cheap or worse, not thoughtful.  It’s gotten so complex over the years, and I really have come to dread the holidays in general.

I do know, as I told C when he got home, that we are paying strict attention from now on to what we are buying.  No more running up the street to the Gap because it is convenient, forgetting their sweatshop labor.  I’ve allowed myself to become complacent.  No more spending money just because there’s nothing else to do.  I’ve allowed myself to use shopping as a hobby more often than I’d like.  And this year, I really want to be able to enjoy the holidays instead of freaking out about the shopping or the money or both.  If I have the freedom to buy things, I have the freedom to not buy as well.  I’m going to try to exercise that one a little bit more.

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I’m taking the Buy Homemade Pledge again this year.  Hopefully we’ll be making some gifts as well as buying.

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A few months ago, right before my Chinese class started and I discovered how out of practice I was at managing my time, I bought a stack of used knitting books and kits on Amazon and borrowed a couple of books from my MIL.  I dutifully tried to figure out how to cast on for a couple of days, decided I had it down, and then carefully stacked everything next to our Tower O’ Craft Crap.  And it sat.  And sat.

Until yesterday.  WIth Chinese out of the way, classes for next semester chosen and enrolled for, I decided I was ready to knit already.  Out came the needles, the yarn, and the book I had the most success with before.  I gave it my all, grunting and squinting and trying to flip the page while holding the yarn and needle.  And it was sucking.

Thursdays are the day that my house is cleaned.  The woman who comes in is the loveliest person you’d ever want to meet and she’s an absolute whiz with, well, everything crafty.  She sews, knits, crochets, beads and cooks in a restaurant once a week.  And she took one look at what I was doing, showed me a far easier way to cast on, and now?  I have about two inches of knitting.  It’s going to be a red rectangle when I’m all done.  Maybe a scarf, although I’m a little leery of committing to any one design just yet 😛

And even better, I have a knitting teacher now.  She’s going to teach me to crochet as well.  And I, my friends, am thrilled.

But even more than the knitting, which I love like only an obsessive-tendencied person who finds repetitive motion meditative and who thrives in situations where there is a clear, observable result can, I am happy to have someone to pass this skill along to me.  It’s wonderful to have the books, and I will certainly use them as I get better and need patterns or tips or whatnot, but it is even more wonderful to have a real, live person to guide me.  It makes me feel like I am part of something bigger, and this has been a sort of mantra for me over the past few months.  Part of something bigger than myself, than my house, than my experiences.  People can change the world by being part of something bigger.

Sharon at Causabon’s Book wrote last week about The Competence Project.  She gives a list of skills that every person should have and I’ve been thinking about these, and the skills I would really like to have as I go forward.  Her list is pretty straight forward, and I was pleasantly surprised at how many skills on it I actually have:

  • cook a decent meal–simple meals, yes.  Healthy even.
  • handle an injury or illness crisis–not so much. I really need to take a first aid class.
  • tend a sick kid–yup, I can do this
  • fix a broken step–nope
  • darn a sock–absolutely
  • dehydrate a tomato–nope
  • tell a storyyep
  • grow a potato–I’m giving it a go but cannot claim knowledge yet 😉
  • build a sun oven–nope
  • bake a loaf of bread–again, giving it a go 🙂
  • put up a fence–I have helped with fence erection but would likely be screwed if I had to do it myself.
  • season cast iron–sho’nuff can
  • mend a rip–yup
  • care for a dying person–no
  • sing a baby to sleep–in *my* sleep
  • clean a toilet–again, in my sleep
  • knit or crochet a sock–soon.  soon.
  • fix a roof–nope
  • use a weapon–nope
  • plant a tree–nope
  • immobilize a limb–I could probably figure this out pretty easily.
  • make someone understand a counter-intuitive idea–yeah, I can do this if I try
  • save seed–not yet
  • sharpen a knife–yes ma’am.
  • chop garlic–absolutely
  • make beer–does ginger beer count?
  • have courage–surprisingly, yes if I remember to breathe
  • fix a bicycle tire–I can’t even ride a bicycle.
  • make soup–and good soup at that
  • give a pep talk–I am beyond lousy at pep talks.

The long and short of it is that I am lacking in a couple of big areas.  The big one is anything related to emergency care/medical stuff.  And having two small kids in the house, this is the big focus here.  I’m signed up for a CPR/AED class later this month, which will cover cardiac arrest and choking.  The other is the building of stuff.  I’m not entirely unhandy–I can put up drywall in a pinch although I’m better at the plastering and sanding.  But for the most part, I have no access to roofs or steps to learn to repair them.  That one will have to be put on hold.  The last is the seed saving, tree planting stuff, which I’m going to broaden into Learning about Plants and How They Do What They Do.  This one will hopefully be covered next semester in my science class which is about plants and how we use them, including medicinal uses.

The thing about self-sufficiency is that it forces me to admit that someday I may have to act alone.  Preparation takes some of the fear out of it.  And the more confident I have gotten in my ability to learn new skills and take charge of situations, the easier it has gotten for me to make decisions and act on them.  Maybe there will never be a time when I have to live off of my food stores but it’s sure nice to have them.  Maybe I’ll never need to perform CPR,  but it certainly will make me feel better to know how.  The more skills we have and share, the stronger we get.  And while I certainly can’t prepare for everything, building confidence where I can is one of the most important preparations I can make.  And that is one of the cheesiest sentences I’ve ever written.  Sheesh.

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