Sunday, April 29, 2007
I've had such a busy month - it has just flown by. So I decided to finish up some things I've been doing. I finished this book.
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. I am a slow reader these days. I believe I first started this book 6 weeks ago, the weekend of St. Patrick's Day and I just finished reading it last night! And it's a really good, fast-moving book. Only 400 pages, not 4000. In my childhood or teen years, even in my early 20s, I would have finished this book in one or two days tops. Now a days it takes me forever.
I liked this book. When it first came out a couple of years ago or so, back when it was a hot Oprah book club pick, I resisted reading it. Since my biological father was an alcoholic, and I have bad memories of him, I never had much sympathy for alcoholics or addicts in general. But after hearing Dr. Wayne Dyer (one of my heroes) talk about this book on his tape set - I decided that I really needed to read that book. I was resisting it - and whatever you resist, you need to find out why and face it.
I'm glad I read A Million Little Pieces. The fact that not every incident in this book is a true-to-the-letter memoir of his experiences overcoming his alcohol and drug addiction, (he twisted and bent some events for storytelling purposes) doesn't make the book less relevant or meaningful to me. After all, the guy is a recovering addict. He may not even KNOW for sure the truth of every instance. His mind was impaired during part of it.
In spite of the fictional licenses he took in portraying some of the events and people in the book, I still found it very heart opening and inspiring. And from what I understand, it has helped a lot of addicts in their walk toward recovery. I have to admire anyone who sincerely TRIES to overcome this kind of profound addiction.
I can't seem to even handle a food addiction. When I get stressed out - I crave comfort foods such as meatloaf, mash potatoes, country fried steak, homemade chili, and most of ALL, macaroni and cheese. Mac and cheese is my ultimate comfort food. When I'm really sad or upset, that's what I cook. In fact, I cooked it twice this week. Whenever I find myself craving it, I try to step back and look inside to ask, "What's going on with me and how can I address it in some other way than food?" But sometimes I don't come into that awareness until I've already ingested 2 soup bowls of mac and cheese. So addiction is addiction. I learned a lot about it while reading this book. James Frey has given me some insights into myself and how I suppress emotion through various methods such as eating and shopping.
One thing James points out in the book is the fact that these recovering addicts often GORGE themselves on food, even the bland tasteless food of the Rehab Center's food. They are trying to fill themselves with something - fill an emptiness that seems to be a bottomless pit in many ways. He comments that he thinks they'd eat the chairs and tables too if they could swallow them. One sign of his recovery toward the end of his Rehab stay is that he can sit down and enjoy a steak and lobster dinner brought in for the patients by a wealthy patient. He can sit down and eat ONE regular portion of steak and ONE lobster and ONE small baked potato and stop there. Just eat it, savor each bite, enjoy it without filling himself to bursting.
I am not doing particularly well with my weight lately. I've been walking a lot more since the weather has turned to Spring, but I am still feeling very hungry lately - eating comfort food. I can't seem to get away from pasta and bread, even though I know I lose the most weight and feel the most satisfied on a low-carb diet. I'm feeling very emotional and needy right now. I'm trying to get into a better, improved state of mind. Since I'm having trouble controlling the eating, I'm at least trying to exercise more.
Bob and I have been walking almost every day. This morning, we woke up early and walked to Panara's before we ate our Spinach Quiche Omelettes they serve there. It's a delectible pastry. Yum! Okay, enough of that.
An interesting thing about this book, too, is that James Frey overcomes his addictions in spite of the fact that he's not religious, and therefore can't accept the "12 Steps" principles that are repeatedly presented to him by the therapists in rehab. Since he doesn't have a "higher power" to turn to, he must marshall the strength within himself. His rehab coaches repeatedly warn him that this is a bad idea, that he is almost certain to relapse by depending on his own strength alone, yet he makes that decision. He read the Tao Te Ching a lot, the taoist teachings, and he does gain a lot of strength and inspiration from it. But he takes self responsibility and primarily uses self-awareness to find his own freedom and his own way out of the tangle of profound addiction. I think he's a rare person who can probably do it his way and succeed, but I have to admire his strength and continued sobriety, however he achieves it.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
For months I've been seeing him. A mysterious man, dressed to the nines, very proper. He looks smart, dapper and elegant every single day as he walks to work. He always wears a suit, a hat (wool in winter and straw in spring). I drive past him every day at exactly 6:50 as I make my way into work each day.
I've told my coworkers about him, and mentioned him to my husband. It's very strange, seeing this man, a seeming mirage from the 1940's or '50s, ambling past the traffic each day on a busy street. In the half-light of early morning, I've almost believed at times that he wasn't real.
Remember me saying that TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee was one of my top favorite books since childhood? Well, call me crazy, but I swear, this man reminds me so much of how I've always envisioned him as I read that story. This is Atticus Finch walking among us.
Today was "Bring Your Child to Work" day. So with my girl in the car beside me, and her half-listening to my Atticus Finch story, I was armed today with a camera and asked her, as crazy as it sounded, to capture Atticus on film so I could prove to everyone that he really exists! Atticus didn't disappoint, in fact, today his stylish red umbrella was fully open in the rain as we passed by. She snapped the photo. What do you think? Am I crazy or what?
Now in case you think, "What a school-girl crush she has on this guy." No, it's not the guy himself, it's the yearning for a bygone day. It's a form of nostalgia. Though I'm glad we don't have to always be stuffy and wear suits to work every day, a part of me longs for something in that time that is gone. But there still remains a remnant of that time gone by. Atticus Finch, and maybe others like him, hold to simple routines such as walking to the office, even on a rainy day, and keeping step with himself. He manages to do so with elegance, grace and style. Refreshing.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Before I lose it - because I seem to be losing EVERYTHING lately, has anyone taken a look at the new Knitpicks catalog? The April 2007 copy? If not, do read through it.
There are so many "keeper" articles that not only am I going to buy a summer sweater's worth of Coral Knitpicks Shine Worsted Weight yarn, but I'm going to probably eventually get their blocking board for the "Approachable Lace" they have inspired me to want to knit. Wow! What a great issue. I love their article on Lace Chart Reading (p. 14); the article on Lace Blocking (p. 17) and finally there is an article on Lace Dying (p. 22). Makes me want to do it ALL. I am also getting their little chart magnetic board to make knitting lace easier. It was only $9.99!!! What a bargain. Sally Melville was just speaking last week about the need to have a good chart holder to knit lace more easily and ergonimically.
I am hoping to make the Cross-Over Top by Melville in the Knitpicks Shine yarn. The original yarn it was knit with, Classic Elite's Waterspun has long since been discontinued. So I'm substituting the Shine instead. I hope it works. I ordered the skeins for it this afternoon. It's cheap yarn, but it knits up very nice, as evidenced by my friend Laura who used it recently and showed it around the knitting group.
While I was originally hoping to mostly knit out of my stash for the Stitches projects, I did a full and complete inventory of all my stash this afternoon. I realize that most of the yarn I have in stock are the makings of heavy wool sweaters, but spring/summer weight cotton or blends are few. So therefore, what I have isn't so much.
I have this:
Lily Chin's yarn that I was originally going to use for another cardigan from Knitty, that I've long since decided not to make. I like the color and texture of this yarn and was figuring I'd make a short sleeve pullover out of that, but low and behold it is DK weight yarn which doesn't match any of the patterns I've decided to make. Plus, it would take darn near FOREVER to knit with that tiny, thin yarn.
Then I ran across this:
It's Pearls and it's pretty, I like it okay, but again, it is DK weight. What was I thinking? It was on sale . . . that's what I was thinking. But am I going to use it? Hmmm. Fast sweater - no, I don't think that one will whip up in a month. Maybe 6 months.
So you see, the patterns I have in mind are mostly worsted weight and one or two are Bulky weight. I have only one yarn in the stash which is worsted. It's Berroco's Cotton Twist.
Oh heck, I didn't take a picture of that. I will take the photo later, but it's a verigated pink/peach cotton yarn that is attractive and will make 1 spring sweater.
What I've learned from all of this angsting today and stash analysis is the following:
- I should avoid buying projects months and years ahead of time My taste CHANGE and projects that seemed oh-so-appealing then do not excite me now.
- When buying sale yarn, I should stick to the old tried-and-true worsted weight, in colors that always appeal to me, greens, browns, reds, oranges and rusts- just name a Fall color and I'm pretty safe to like it forever.
- Just buy one major project at a time so that I can more accurately gauge how long it will take me, and if I do need to buy more yarn, I can probably find it more easily close after buying it than 2 years later.
- I should stay away from KnitPicks catalog because there are so many delectible things I want to buy.
I also want to get a couple of small accessory or other projects done to supplement my wardrobe on the days I won't have a sweater to wear. For example, I might have a cute scarf or vest to wear instead. We'll see, I'll just get done what I can get done and that's that. I've said my peace and I've counted to three . . . . now I'm going to go knit a bit.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Although I've really stretched my knitting skills on projects like the Not a Poncho, it is something I can't wear to Stitches and don't enjoy knitting, so I'm temporarily setting it aside. I'll take it up again in the Fall or Winter.
With Stitches coming in just four months . . . yay . . . I want to turn my attention to a more production-oriented but fun and DOABLE effort to make a wearable wardrobe for Stitches. My goal, like Carol's (who is going with me), is to create a wearable garment, accessory or knitted item each and every day of the trip. I will be there Wed, Thurs, Friday, Saturday and leaving early Sunday. So I really will need to have 4 or 5 wearables for the trip.
One project I know I am loving and will be the first on my TO BE FINISHED list is "Forest Canopy Shawl" by Susan Lawrence. I am dearly loving that piece and I'm up to the 165 stitch point on that. I think in order to make it as large as I am wanting, I'll probably have to go to around 249 stitches - and of course it's lace, so even though it is easy lace, I'm starting to have to concentrate when I work on that project so that I don't mess up the stitch pattern. Thank goodness for lifelines! I've knit and reknit that ninth pattern repeat about 7 times. Hopefully if I sit down this weekend with some soft music, maybe I can get farther ahead on it, maybe even finish it? Is that too ambitious?
Already finished to take: my Freeform Vest.
I have spent the past couple of days sorting through my patterns and finding things I just LOVE that I want to make, and hopefully most of the needed yarn is already in my Stash. I'm searching out fairly easy and fast-to-execute summer tops. Projects I'm contemplating are: a denim jacket with freeform sleeves - that way I'd just have to knit the sleeves and it would be pretty fast? A couple of Spring sleeveless/short-sleeve tops. Perhaps Bistro by Oat Couture; also considering the Twisted sleeveless turtleneck by Sally Melville; the darling Crossover Top, a Sally Melville design that I'm holding in the entry below where I'm standing with Sally.
Could I knit 2-3 short sleeve tops or sweaters in four months? It means I'd have to knit about 1 a month. That's faster than I normally knit, but maybe because they are short sleeve they'd go faster? Thoughts anyone?
Sunday, April 15, 2007
The sweater Sally is wearing in this photo is the one that was made for the cover shot of her Color book. The sweater uses a combination of both intarsia and Fair Isle. It was one that didn't look nearly as cute in the book as it is in person. Now I'd like to make it too, but it uses Fair Isle, Intarsia AND duplicate stitch so I don't know if I'll get to it soon. Maybe it will be on my long-term project list. I need to update that list. I've been too scattered lately. If I'm going to have anything at all to wear to Stitches, I need to get moving and focused.
Well, she's not really "old" - but she's a true friend who has remained a friend since I was 5 years old. Does that count as "old" - we're middle-aged, but aging together. She's been my buddy since kindergarten when she grew up living 2 houses up the road from me.
In many ways, I'm amazed we were ever drawn together - really only by the fact that we lived within shouting distance of one another as children. We have absolutely nothing in common on the surface. Even now, she's slow and relaxed, I'm full of energy and frantic need to be somewhere other than where I am - on to the next thing - fast!!! But she's dear to me. She slows me down for a bit, let's me kick back and be a kid again. In many ways, when we get together (once in fall, once in winer, once in spring and once in summer) - we spend 3-4 hours together catching up on old times and new musings.
Pam remembers me back when I was a scrawny, really bird-like kid - always with a book in my hand and a loner "weirdness" that always made me seem like I was the new kid on the block, even when I wasn't. Pam was one of the few kids who immediately drew me into her nurturing and accepting middle-class family. I remember her when she was a tan, athletic girl who was as horse-obsessed as I was book-obsessed. Her parents were older and had been married FOREVER, mine was a fractured family. She brought me into her circle and always made me feel like I was a part of SOMETHING.
And it's really been Pam who has always made sure to write letters, make phone calls, arrange quarterly visits, even though we live in other states. When I was younger, I used to wonder why she bothered, since we really didn't seem to have much in common. Well, I'm so glad she's stuck with me and made the effort all these years. I don't always know how to be a friend, although as I'm getting older, I'm learning.
Now, in middle age, I value the friendships I share with many people, and each friendship brings me different gifts. Pam is definitely a treasure. Yesterday, we had breakfast together at International House of Pancakes. She had the strawberry crepes while I had eggs over easy with bacon, toast and a never-ending stream of black coffee.
Never of us are "skinny" anymore, but every time we meet, I think we're little girls again. We excitedly chatter together and giggle like school girls. Each racing to the next punchline of the funny things we did when we were young . . . why did we ever like HIM? Do you remember that hairstyle, oh gawwwwdddd! Remember when I first become a mother? I thought she was going to be a little doll I just carried around . . . . oh no, you were an excellent mother. And what are we going to do with these men of ours now? Jeeshh!! Why do they fall asleep in front of the TV and snore? I dunno. You gotta love it, Pammy. See you again in July. Love you.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I call this blog "Hanging by a Thin Thread" for a reason doncha know? It's been a weird, oddly schizophrenic and unproductive week. Though I've had a really good selling month at work (March was excellent too), I have felt scattered, dissatsified, and scatterbrained all month, and this week was the worst. I get so darned frustrated with myself when I'm in this disordered state of mind. When I'm overly tired, like tonight, I tried to take a knitting class and I was just so tired I couldn't focus on anything. I could barely knit in stockinette, and I kept having to start over.
I think the weird/wacky reversion back to winter weather may have something to do with it. Last weekend it was so cold that all my flowers froze, and we've been plunged back into winter. I have been coming home from work every night exhausted.
Tuesday night I went to a walking class that our local hospital is supporting. My friends Mary and Carol are doing with me. It was a cold, rainy, weird night. I wanted to back out of it altogether and stay home and knit in front of the fire, but I didn't want to whimp out on them, so I went along. Honestly, it was so damned cold. I was hot and sweaty on the inside and freezing cold on the outside, where my hair was dripping wet and my clothes clung to my skin. It was a weird hot/cold feeling. I walked 2 1/2 miles . . . yeah but . . . gripe, gripe, whine. At least I didn't catch a cold from it.
I just mentioned a few days ago that Kurt Vonnegut is one of my all-time favorite writers. He died at age 84 after suffering a fall several weeks ago. The Kansas City Star's headline read something about his having a "dark, morose vision" of the world. Gosh, it didn't seem that way to me. True, he'd been a young soldier (a prisoner of war) in Dreisdan during World War II , but I didn't think his vision of the world was dark and morose - he took a cynical view at times. Like most talented writers, he held a mirror up in front of society. I will really miss him. I think we desperately NEED some reflection and pondering how we can improve.
Having read his novels as well as his essays since my high school years, I feel like another little light in the world has gone out. I am glad I will always have his books to speak to me. It's true that writers have a bit of immortality that few others ever have. He lives on through his work. My favorites of his are his earlier works, especially Cat's Cradle and Sirens of Titan as well as Breakfast of Champions. I also really enjoyed his collection of short stories called Welcome to the Monkey House. Who else could combine science fiction, social commentary and cutting edge humor altogether like that? Amazing man.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
I also really like anything by Barbara Kingsolver, especially The Bean Tree and Poisonwood Bible.
Sue Miller (especially her book THE WORLD BELOW) but it isn't listed here.
The Secret Life of Bees was one that I especially enjoyed.
I used to adore the novels of Herman Hesse (especially Siddhartha). I loved Kurt Vonnegut's novels. Also Douglas Addams.
I also really enjoy Amy Tan's books and don't see them listed on here.
You'll notice that I have never read Harry Potter. Don't know why, but it just never appealed to me. I generally avoid reading things when they are a big craze. For example, I'm just now reading A Million Little Pieces by James Frey even though it was a big bestseller a year or two ago. I waited until he fell out of favor to read his book. I really am absorbed by it so far.
Ironically, one book on here that many people love but I never appreciated (in either book or movie form) was GONE WITH THE WIND. Scarlett's personality irked me to no end! I found her quite annoying. So go figure, my taste in books is out of the norm.
One more thing, I've noticed that while I used to be what I'd considered a slow but avid reader, I notice that since 2003, when I started knitting, I've been reading quite a bit less. I try to always listen to books on CD in the car to make my drive-time productive, but I don't get to sit down with a book nearly as often as pre-knitting life. I miss it!
Try this book quiz if you wish. I own (or have owned) many of these books in the past, but have had to purge my bookshelf quite a bit in all the moves we've made.
In the list of books below, bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of.
1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On the Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck) +
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)