Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Here's to 2010

the year that was not quite as bad as the one before. I'm not going to be sorry to see it go, though it was much better than 2009. In 2010, I learned about loss, about family, about love, and about myself.

This year, I lost my Aunt Joan. She was my grandmother, and I think about her often. My Aunt Anna Marie lost her mother, who was another grandmother-figure to me, and another strong, wonderful woman. I miss them both, and will do my best to honor their memories. We lost so many other family members that one of my hopes for 2011 is that it will be the year nobody dies.

In 2010, I learned what it's like to enjoy your job and to contribute in a real way to a company's success. Conversely, I learned what it's like to be told you're no longer contributing, and to handle professional adversity with professionalism and class (mostly, anyway).

This year, I reminded myself how strong I am and trained and raised money and walked in the SGK 3 Day for the Cure. It's still one of the best things I have ever done, ever, and is likely to remain high on the list. I didn't honestly think I could walk as far as I did, or that I would be as moved as I was to participate in such a huge, joyful event. It turns out, sometimes my body doesn't fail me.

2010 was a year of love. I spent more time with my Jersey friends and my family than I have in a long time, and I have made some amazing new friends who I am honored to know so well. I put as much love out into the world as I could, and have had so much love returned to me.

I learned that I can push myself hard and that I can do amazing things. I also learned that when I push myself too hard, I make myself sick and miserable and that nobody benefits from that. So for this next year, I'm going to concentrate on making time for myself, to do the things I do for me. Blogging is on that list, and so is cooking. I can count the number of home-cooked meals I have eaten this month on one hand. That's not healthy or fun.

What 2010 wasn't a year of was time or balance or rest. It ended up being a year of frantic running and squeezing time for me and the practical bits of living (like laundry and vacuuming) in around everything else. I gave so much of myself and my time that I didn't have any of me left for me. So I'm working on deciding between two themes for 2011, either peace or balance. I could use more of both in my life.

So here's to a 2011 with more blogging (some of it might be interesting), more relaxing, more real food, more enjoying the moments I'm in, and just as much love (can't start slacking now). Here's to a 2011 with less insane schedules, no major losses, and much less drama.

In Review:
--Phew, 2010 was a bad time to be part of our family. We had a lot of losses.
--2010 definitely = love. Much love. So hey, mission accomplished.
--2011=? Either peace or balance. We'll see which speaks to me more over the next few days.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

I love Christmas. It's my favorite time of the year. I love the magic, and the glow that everything has, and that for one small part of the year, people are willing to give and to create joy for others. But here it is, two weeks before Christmas, I'm not feeling it. I'm not ready. I have looked within myself to find that inner child who glories in the lights and the songs and the giving and you know what? She seems to be sleeping. Or maybe she wandered off.

I don't know quite why it is, but I am just not thrilled for Christmas. The house isn't decorated yet, we don't have a tree, and I haven't done any of my shopping yet. I'm not humming carols, I'm not baking cookies, I'm not bullying other people into enjoying the season.

Maybe it's because I'm tired. I feel as though I've spent the entire year running, filling every spare moment of my time. I have been better about saying no sometimes, but my free time is still packed full. I keep telling myself it's only a few more weeks, and then things will calm down. But that never actually happens. I'm starting to realize that there is no calm. And I take a day off every now and then and spend the day in bed lounging. But that never-finished to do list keeps niggling in the back of my mind.

Maybe it's because I enjoyed Thanksgiving so much. The day with my family at the parents' place was great, and Second Thanksgiving here was a lot of fun. We finally finished most of the leftovers (which I loved) and I got to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, which is something I love. Goodness knows I have so much to be thankful for, and that I remember it every day.

Maybe it's because I got demoted at work. Last week, I was called into the HR office and told that I was no longer qualified for my job, and that it was being phased out of our social media strategy. I'm back to answering phones, working in the Customer Service department. I lost the first job I've ever actually liked, and there's no chance of my being able to do anything similar to it. I'm good at customer service, and that's where my company plans to use me. So hey, I'm not unemployed. I'm not even making any less money. But I hate customer service. And I hate feeling like I've taken such a step backwards in the company.

Maybe it's because things with Jim still aren't great. I talked to him in October and told him what I need, want, and won't compromise on in the future (marriage, children, and a fair division of housework). I told him he has a whole year to figure out what his goals are (for us and in general), and then we can discuss whether those are compatible or not. But I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that he is going to decide he's not prepared to discuss marriage and children as a definite (i'm not saying we need to be married in a year or anything, but i need to know that jim is okay with it and it will happen. same with kids. i am by no means ready yet, but when i am, i don't want to find out that jim can't stand the thought of having children). It feels like I'm spending the next several months trying not to say goodbye, which isn't fair to Jim. He has plenty of time to do some soul-searching, and he may yet surprise me. I am certainly hoping he is.

So I don't know if any one of these things, or a combination of all of them is keeping me from getting in to Christmas this year. But really, if we were to skip it all together this year, I'd be okay with it. I'm really hoping that I'll get into the groove next week, when we get a tree, finish the decorating (we'll start this week) and I do the grocery shopping for Christmas dinner. We'll see. Here's hoping that you're ready and waiting for Christmas morning, with better spirits than I can scrape up.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Quickest Blog Ever...

Since we had Thanksgiving dinner with my parents (it was wonderful) but also had a free 20 pound turkey from our local grocery store, we are having what I think of as Second Thanksgiving today. Mainly because I need leftovers. Though, there will be ten of us tonight, so I'm not sure how many leftovers there will actually be. Between me, Jim, Colleen, my parents, his parents, Kate and Patrick, and my wonderful friend Laura, we should give that turkey a pretty good go. It's soaking in a brine upstairs now (coldest part of the house, and I don't want this to go down in history as "the year emily gave everybody food poisoning") so I have to go turn it and put it in the oven soon. My secondary goal is to finish the handspun scarf for me. I have a tiny ball of yarn left and no plans for tomorrow, so this might happen. Hope you're having a fantastic weekend!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

WIP Roundup

Fair warning, this is a picture heavy post! I have long suspected, and today confirmed, that I am much better at starting projects than I am at finishing them. I think I've rounded up most of my current WIPs (and if i haven't, i'm pretty sure i don't want to know what i'm missing), and I'm going to list them here.

I'd planned a couple of blogs over the last week or so, but after visiting my family for the Halloween candy swap, I came down with a nasty bug and spent the last week pretty much going to work, coming home, and going to bed. Now that I'm able to stay awake past ten pm, I should be able to get some decent content going again.

Here's everything all jumbled into one big, glorious pile of potential. It doesn't look like a lot, but I knit at the approximate pace of molasses heading up a hill in the snow, so it's going to take me a few months to whittle this pile down a little. A surprising number of these things are for me, which means that they will probably take longer to finish than anything else in the pile. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
(please note the excellent backdrop--it's the blanket that Roxie sent me last year and it is wonderful. they're "friends from outer space")

This is the first item for me, it's a scarf made from some pretty merino handspun. This is the one you saw at the beach, and it was doing really well until I realized I left out a row and that the wrong side had become the right side about ten inches back. It's only a four-row feather and fan lace pattern, but as I keep discovering, I can't count to ten on a regular basis.

Detail shot of the handspun. I couldn't get the colors quite right, and this is the closest I was able to get. There are a lot of colors mixed together, and it's a two-ply so there's a lot of barberpole going on here, but it's pretty neat to see the blocks or rows of one color develop as I knit.




This is a random rectangle I was knitting, probably while I was drugged last summer. Near as I can tell, it's a small dish towel. I'll probably finish this one fairly quickly and put it aside as a Christmas present or use it to wrap something in. It's just a big, plain red rectangle.


Here we have a long-standing WIP, it's the beginning of a huge scarf for a huge guy. It's bulky weight yarn knit on small needles, so it'll be bullet proof when it's done. It's sort of a pain to knit with such chunky yarn, and I don't think I bought nearly enough, so this one needs some supplies before I finish it. Guess I need to buy some yarn. What a hardship!

Here's a detail shot of one of the socks I've been working on for forever. It's an easy pattern (lacy mock cables by kat @ the island of misfit patterns) but it met with an unfortunate accident involving some scissors in the work basket. I'll need to frog a few rows back and try to repair it. I'm at the last few inches of the foot, so I should really stop putting that off, now that I think about it.


Here we have a triangle made out of recycled sari yarn. It's going to be a gift, but I ran out of yarn for this (i'm starting to pick up a pattern, are you?) and I'll need to order more. The yarn was a Christmas gift, and it's fun to work with, but it freaks my poor camera out (why is there a "cuisine" setting, but not one for knitting?).


I mentioned that I knitted two pairs of gift socks while training for the 3 day, right? After all that, I decided to treat myself to a pair of socks for me. I'm not normally a pink person, but this shade of baby pink doesn't bother me...much. It's actually kind of pretty. I'm getting ready to work the heel flap on the first one, I'm using an easy two row pattern but the heel instructions are a little weird, so we'll see how that goes.

This is a picture of not one, but two Brangians. The red one will be a gift, and the green one in the background is for me. The green is Knitpicks shadow in Cattail and the red is Jaggerspun in Zephyr. Both are beautiful yarns, but I like the Shadow just a little better, it feels softer to me. I think I'll work on one of these today while watching the good (BBC) version of Pride and Prejudice.

Last but not least, we have a proto-sock for Colleen. It's the same pattern I'm using for my pink socks (i'm picking up another theme here, i just love making multiples of things. no issues with second sock syndrome here) and since they'll be short and Coll has tiny feet, they should be reasonably quick to knit. The yarn is something I picked up at a really deep discount, it's very soft and pretty thick for socks. They'll be bed socks, rather than out and about socks.

That wraps up the WIP list, thankfully. It's time to put a movie on and try to make a dent in the pile. I have enough here to keep me busy for a while, and I'm sure I'll get distracted along the way by something new or different to add to the list. I'm optimistic, though--most of these will be finished by about 2043 or so.

Monday, October 18, 2010

All Summer In one Post...


and the first part of fall, too. Between training and fundraising for the 3 Day, trying to catch up with friends and family, and well, life things have been insane. Good, but insane. So here's a catchup post, to let everybody know where I've been. After this, I should be posting fairly regularly again, since the 3 Day is over and I'll have time again. At least until it's time to think about next year's event.

I spent most of my training on a treadmill. It gets boring really, really fast. This is the first pair of socks I knitted on the treadmill, they took about 6 weeks, I think. I'm immensely proud of them, since they're both the same size, and they fit the friend I made them for pretty well.

This summer, we had a ton of tomatoes. I vastly overestimated the number of plants we needed, or could really fit into the garden bed. They overflowed their supports and we lost a few. But for most of the summer, we had fresh delicious tomatoes that were such a deep, rich red it was hard to believe they were real. Along with tomatoes, I planted sunflowers and marigolds. Sadly, the marigolds never came up, but I'll try again next year. I love the colors of those simple little flowers, and I'd like to see how they do as a dye product. I also planted a little thyme plant, because it's one of my favorite smells ever. And there's a basil plant in a container that's hip-high and smells wonderful whenever I brush by it. We'll be getting frost overnight here soon, so it will be time to bring it inside and see how well it does over the winter. I might have to investigate drying my own herbs in the near future.

I went to my sorority alumna formal this August. That's me in the blue dress in the middle of the picture there. We all look a little demonic because of all the flashes going off at once. I found the dress at a local Ross, after trying on several others that just didn't work. It's floor-length, deep blue, and I felt like a lady in it. My hair was pulled back in an elegant bun, until the dancing started. It was a great night, and I got to re-connect with a lot of wonderful women. Colleen was my date, since Jim doesn't do the dancing, crowds of women, or sorority traditions very well.


Speaking of Jim, he and I took a couple of days and went to the beach before our anniversary this year (we went kayaking to celebrate officially, but i wasn't going to bring my camera out there, since i'm rather fond of it). We snuggled, walked hand in hand down the boardwalk, lost a few dollars at the slot machines, and walked on the beach in the moonlight. It was a great trip, but it led to a long, serious discussion. Jim reads the blog, and I don't know how much he's comfortable with me sharing, so I'll just say that he isn't sure what his plans for the future--our future--are, and that when the lease is up, I'll have some things to figure out, and we'll leave it at that. I'm hoping things work out for the best, but I don't really know where things will go. It's tough.


This is Nom Nom Bronto. He lives at my office on the wall of the cubicle I share with a great guy named Phil. We use a company called Bronto for our marketing emails, and they send these little guys out to all their clients. Those clients then take the brontos all over the world with them when they go on trips. The bronto has never been to a 3 Day, though, and since I hate getting my picture taken, he made a great stand-in. This is a picture of him at the very first stop on the very first day. I carried him all the time I was walking, and he was a great conversation starter. Lots of people wanted to know what he represented, but since we were usually walking, I tended to go with the short answer--he's awesome! I have a ton of pictures of Nom Nom, and one of him at closing ceremonies that I wanted to upload, but blogger isn't cooperating right now, so I'll put them up later in the week.

I'll spend a little more time on the 3 Day and then try not to dwell. I walked mostly with one of my teammates who is awesome, and did some walking with a teammate that I don't like, and can't make myself think well of. The cool teammate and I finished the walk, and we walked about 50 miles over the 3 days. It was hard as hell, I won't lie. We took a bus or a van a few times, since we didn't want to injure ourselves. But we helped raise some of the 5.7 million dollars that Philadelphia brought in, we met some wonderful people, we helped raise awareness about a disease that takes far, far too many women from us, and we pushed ourselves to do something pretty amazing.

I realized that after that, I don't have any excuses. What I mean is, I can't really tell myself something is beyond me any more. I also can't hate my body, or dismiss it. This body, this willpower, carried me through an amazing journey. I did something I didn't think I actually could, something that a lot of people can't. It was hard, and it hurt (ask me how much fun I had hobbling and treating my few blisters--and i'm in relatively good shape) but I trained and pushed my limits and found that it was harder to reach those limits than I thought it was.

I am incredibly fortunate, I haven't lost anybody I love to breast cancer. My family is full of survivors of various cancers, though, and I walked for them, and for some wonderful people who've been lost to other kinds of cancer. I walked for myself, to prove that I was "back", and I walked for the daughters I might have one day. Most of the walk felt a little surreal, and since I wasn't a breast cancer survivor and hadn't lost someone, I felt a little out of place. And then, we walked by houses decorated with signs that said things like "A survivor lives here. Thank you for walking" and "I'm a living statistic. Susan G. Komen saved my life, I wouldn't be here without the treatments they helped research." and suddenly, I felt like I was a part of this, and I was helping and making a difference. That's an incredibly powerful feeling, and I want to be part of this event for a long time. I can help change the world, who can possibly say no to that?

It's getting late, and I have to go back to the real world tomorrow, so it's time to wrap this up.
In review:
--Holy shit, it's been a long time since I wrote a real entry.
--I'll be back to posting semi-regularly again, though. I miss blogging, and I have a lot more free time now.
--I walked about 50 miles in 3 days and helped raise a buttload of money for a great cause. Sometimes, I don't suck.
--This summer I grew some things, went to the beach a few times, got dressed up for a formal, and walked a lot.
--This fall I am going to take more baths, spend more time relaxing and spinning, and knit a pair of socks for me (since i've knitted two pairs as gifts this summer. that's right. two pairs, one summer).
--I really, really want a cookie.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quickie....

...to let everyone know that there will be a full entry (sadly, the first in months) on Monday after I've completed the SGK 3 Day for the cure. Training to walk 60 miles in 3 days and raising the required amount of money had taken over my life and a lot of things have fallen by the wayside. The only thing that hasn't, now that I think about it, is my knitting. I've finished two pairs of socks in less than six months, it's a little crazy for me. So, pictures and a retrospective summer blog on Monday. I hope everybody has a fantastic weekend.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Simple Gifts

Momolla's post inspired me today, so I'm going to throw a quick blog out. Things have continued to be hectic, in a more subdued way, and I think it would be good to spend a few minutes being thankful. Right now, I'm grateful that:


* I managed twenty-five minutes on an eliptical machine today. A year ago, I wasn't allowed to go near the things.
* I am healthy and strong enough to walk ten miles at a go (like i did this past saturday).
* I finished my first treadmill socks and am sending them to a dear, dear friend. I also have another quick present in the works for someone special.
* It's nice to be in a position where I have enough to pay my bills and a little extra to buy presents with sometimes.
* I picked two handfuls of tomatoes from my garden today. A few cherries, some romas, and a couple of beefsteaks. They should be delicious.
* There's just been a thunderstorm and everything is fresh and cool and smells wonderful.
* The kitchen is (relatively) clean. And the laundry is done. And the bathroom is clean.
* I'm plying the merino I've been spinning since May. It will be gorgeous.
* Today, I woke up next to a wonderful man who I love deeply. I'll probably fall asleep next to him, too.
* There is about two pounds of fudge in the fridge (please feel free to come eat some of it! there's plenty to go around)
* I have a job that I like and I work for a company that regards me as an asset, not a hindrance.
* I can wear high heels to work. They make me feel so feminine and confident.
* I have a group of wonderful online knitting friends who I can share these things with.
* There is a nook in the mail for me, it should be here tomorrow (courtesy jim and a friend from work, mostly!).

That's all I have for the moment. I hope you all have a day (or night) full of sweet things to be thankful for. (i am fighting the urge to add a smiley right here. stupid day job on the internet!)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

100* In The Shade...


...and I only wish I was kidding. Seriously, the weather forecast looks like this:
(picture courtesy of noaa.gov)

The coolest it has been in days is about 80*, at night. If we are lucky, we will get massive thunderstorms on Saturday that will cool things down some. In the mean time, we are using the window air conditioners to sleep (i am dreading the electric bill this month), taking lots of cool showers, and not moving around very much. Jim and I work in the air conditioning, but spending the whole day being cool means you are very much unprepared for the massive, blazing wall of heat that greets you as soon as you step out the door.

The tomatoes are turning yellow, the impatiens gave up days ago, and the wildflowers are all looking pretty singed. We haven't had any water restrictions yet, but I have to be careful when I water things, so as not to steam the plants during the day. I'm hoping that this weather doesn't last past the end of the week, or I might not get any tomatoes this year. Thankfully, they seem to be sturdy, determined plants--they have crowded out the peppers I planted along with them. If I'm lucky, we'll get a couple of jalapenos, which I can make some salsa for Jim with (i am not so much for the spicy peppers, but they were a birthday gift from jim's mom).

I'm walking five miles tomorrow night after work. I'm getting a lot better at walking, as goofy as that sounds, and all the training is paying off. However, my feet are getting rough and callused. I'm 'lucky' I haven't lost any toenails yet. This is about the time where I start wondering what I have gotten myself into. We are having a bake sale at work next Friday to try to raise some money for our 30Day team, and I need to put together a few fundraisers of my own. I am always open to fundraiser suggestions, if you happen to know of a good way to make a few dollars for a great cause.

Time for bed now, since we're getting up early to drop Jim's car off at the shop tomorrow morning before work. We might get to take the especially scenic route.

In review:

--It's hot. Very hot. Random-people-walking-up-and-asking-if-it's-hot-enough-for-ya hot.
--This used to be my kind of weather, but I am not doing so well this year.
--The plants are giving up, and I don't blame them.
--Five miles of walking tomorrow. Ten miles Saturday. Six miles Sunday. I must be crazy.
--Jim and I had a date tonight. We went out for pizza, all by ourselves. It was lovely.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Something Gave...

...and it was the blog. True to my promise to myself, I have started saying no. I am not always very good at it, and I still say yes to so many, many things before I say no. But mostly, I am being realistic with myself and letting myself have time to decompress and relax. Unfortunately, that meant that something had to give. That something, as you can tell by my lack of entries, has been the blog. I miss it, and I have been neglecting it shamefully for months now. But when faced with a choice between getting a little more time to relax/sleep/run errands/etc and blogging, everything else won out.

This makes me pretty sad for a variety of reasons. For one, I love writing this blog. It's a way for me to keep in touch with so many of my wonderful friends, and it's a record of where I've been and what I've done, and as narcissistic as it sounds, I like to go back and read entries. For another, I have been maintaining the company blog pretty much by myself, which is a daily reminder that I don't have the willpower and energy to maintain my own. Also, even when I'm not blogging, I get ideas for blogs that start kicking around in my head, asking to get out. These days, they get written in my head, and sort of filed away for later.

Well, I will be neglecting the blog less. Things have settled down into something of a routine. And really, I miss writing here. I miss reading and commenting on blogs (i read a lot of blogs regularly but almost never comment now, which also makes me sad) and I miss feeling connected to my bloggy friends. I've never been good at corresponding or anything that required discipline, but this is fun, and it's one of the few things that I do that is purely for me. Blogging here is purely selfish, and I love it.

And now for something completely different. Knitting! I finished a pair of socks in just a little under two months. Not anything to write home about for most knitters, but I feel like I broke a land-speed record with these. They're plain vanilla socks that I will take some pictures of before I give them to my friend Amy. I discovered I can knit while I walk on the treadmill for my 3-Day training, and that knitting while I walk makes me feel more productive and less like a hamster on a wheel, walking to nowhere. After five miles, I have a good couple of inches of sock to show for the walking, not just some numbers on a screen. I've also finished a scarf I started for Colleen ages ago, plus the second ugly scarf, which is for a friend of ours. I have another plain sock (this one in 1X1 ribbing, for variety) on the needles for working out, and I'm making Jim some handwarmers for the office (when it's ninety degrees outside, it's about sixty-five in our office. we don't like the thought of warmth where we work). I've also cast on for the excellent Brangian shawl, which is lulling me into a false sense of security, thanks to the simple, addictive beginning. I know that in the next day or two, I will be getting to the actual lace part, and punished for my complaisance (not by of the pattern [by the way, uncharts are a great idea], but because i am trying to knit something challenging, and i subconsciously undermine myself a lot when i knit something challenging).

Through all that, I am also spinning. I took a break in spinning the-merino-project-that-won't-end-but-I-don't-mind-spinning-it-because-it's-so-pretty and spun up a little bonbon of fiber. It was angora and something so soft I couldn't stop petting it. After a quick, rough spin, I have a very small quantity of this yarn as a single (it was two ounces, and I spun it rather thickly with lots of soft, fuzzy slubs. that was totally, totally intentional. yeah. intentional) and I'm not sure what to do with it, other than pet it. I am thinking I might use it to edge something, since it's so soft and fuzzy. Like, say, a second set of handwarmers for me.

It is time for me to go find breakfast/lunch/food now. Jim was hit with a wicked stomach virus earlier in the week, which he passed on to me just in time for me to miss the fireworks yesterday (i may sort of hate him a little for that. i love the fireworks) but I am feeling pretty well today and can't wait to eat more than two slices of toast and an egg (yup, all i ate yesterday, and i almost couldn't keep the egg down. thanks, jim). We have tomorrow off for the holiday (Independence Day here in the US) and we are planning on sitting around, drinking cold liquids and not doing much, as we're expecting temps near 100* F ( 37.7 *C) and we don't have air conditioning in most of the house. I hope you are all having a great weekend, and that you are blessed with cooler, milder weather than ours.

In review:
--I suck at blogging at home, for a lot of reasons
--My nemesis at work got fired. I feel sort of sad, sort of happy
--Blogging should happen more regularly here, hopefully
--Knitting is happening at frighteningly quick speeds (by my standards)
--Spinning, not so much. Still plugging along, though
--Stomach viruses make your natural inclination to motion sickness worse, and mean you can't drive to the next state over to see the fireworks with your family and friends.
--I miss you guys

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To My Father...

Thank you, for all the lessons you've taught me. I've seen a lot of parents in my time, and as far as dads go, I think I ended up with one of the best.

You taught me the value of hard work, that no job is ever beneath you, so long as you do it as well as you can. You taught me that there's no shame in being broke, and that no matter how much or how little you have, there is always enough to share with someone else.

You taught me patience, and the value of controlling my temper. You taught me how to fish (though i couldn't catch one today, if my life depended on it) and that tools are awesome.

I know you wished for a son, but you have loved your house full of women, anyway, and that daughters weren't a consolation prize for you. Watching you and Jim interact, and the way you've welcomed him into the family, gives me more joy than you can know.

You taught me that it's never too late to achieve your goals, and that there's no time to start working on them like the present. You (and mom) taught me what a good marriage is, and what it's like to love and respect your partner.

You taught me that a sense of humor will get me through pretty much everything, and that there is nothing, no situation, that is too serious to be laughed at. Gallows humor is some of the most cathartic.

You taught me what family is, and that it's not always the people we're related to by blood. You taught me what generosity, of time and of spirit and of self, truly are. You taught me that no matter what, I am loved, and that family supports one another.

Gods help you, you tried to teach me about beer (that one will probably never take, i'm a hard liquor girl).

You taught me about perseverance, and about not quitting. You taught me about strength, and courage, and loyalty. We have not always gotten along, we've actually butted heads pretty often (i was not an easy teenager, or an easy young adult), but it makes me proud and happy that we not only get along, but we enjoy one another's company now. So thanks Dadumms, for everything you've taught me. They're lessons I carry with me everyday.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Requiem...

...for my Aunt Joan, who died today. I never had much of a relationship with my grandmother, but thanks to Aunt Joan, I never felt as though I was missing out. She was strong, kind, loving, and tolerant. A Christian in the best sense (she believed, but never forced her views on anyone). The keeper of my family history, teller of the stories I would never have heard without her. The anchor that gave me a sense of history, of permanence, and the comfort of knowing about my family's past.

Today, the world lost a wonderful woman. Today, I lost a part of my heart. Today, I am trying to celebrate the woman she was, rather than mourning my loss of her. But I am not having much luck, and while I am celebrating her life, I find I can't stop mourning her passing. Today, I realized she will never dance at my wedding, meet my children, or watch me graduate college.

I realized, with a certain amount of horror, that I don't have very many specific stories about my aunt. She has been a part of my life, but I have more of a general sense of comfort, love, strength, and humor, than I do a stock of anecdotes. I'm not sure how to feel about that, but I am holding that sense of her close, and remembering her.

"And if you were with me tonight,
I'd sing to you just one more time.
A song for a heart so big,
god wouldn't let it live.
May angels lead you in."

--Jimmy Eat World

Rest in peace, Aunt Joan. You are loved, and missed, and will not be forgotten.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Off...

I have recently discovered several facts about myself. To help make things coherent (and a little quicker, since I'm still not blogging from my computer), I have organized them into helpful bullet points.

Discovery 1. I have a very had time telling people no when a)I am asked to help on a project, whether it be at work or outside the office b) a friend or family member asks if I would like to hang out/go somewhere/do something/etc. no matter how busy I am or how much else is going on or c) volunteers are needed for something.

Discovery 2. I am very, very good at managing my time when I am outside the office, to the point where most of my weeknights, and all of my weekends are so segmented it feels a little bit like I'm back in school, what with all the switching off and the segmenting of days.

Discovery 3. It is supremely difficult for me to balance work, sleep, feeding myself and others, training, softball (i joined a sport, go figure), keeping my house from becoming a health hazard, and my hobbies.

Discovery 4. Failing to balance these things correctly results in me curled up in a ball in my shower sobbing because the laundry needs to get done, the house is a wreck, I am exhausted, and there hasn't been a day off in weeks.

And there, my friends, lies the problem. I have been trying to be everything to everyone and to do everything all the time for months now. That has resulted in me needing to be 'on' all the time. You know, having to be awake and motivated and productive and functioning and whatnot. There hasn't been a weekend, much less a week, where my schedule has not looked like I was on some sort of twisted media tour from hell. What little time I've spent at home has mostly been used for cleaning, catching up on laundry, and playing 'what's that smell?'.

I'm not sure quite why I feel compelled to let myself be this busy. I know what my limits are pretty well by now, and I know what happens when I push them. I think a large part of it is that I'm compensating for last summer, when I didn't go anywhere or do anything and was barely conscious for two months or so. I don't want to feel like a lump sitting on the couch for days on end. However, I don't want to end up feel exhausted and overwhelmed all the time, so I think it's time for a break.

Yup. I'm going to start standing up for myself. I'm committed to some things, like my 3-day training and softball (they needed another girl to play, and i am a sucker), but I don't need to book my weekends or my off nights quite so frantically. I need to make sure I have time to do things like nap, and read, and stare off into space, and weed my garden, and spin and knit and generally just relax. I'm not setting rules for what I will and won't do, and where I will and won't go, but I am going to make sure that I have at least a day to catch up on the housework and relax.

Even as insane as things have been lately, I've managed to finish two long-standing works in progress. They're both scarves, so I feel particularly accomplished. And now, I'm allowed to start my lace shawl for me. I also started a plain sock over the weekend. I'm going to be daring, and see if I can finish a whole pair of socks before the end of the year. Since I have six more months, and no other small projects that I can travel with, this just might work. I wouldn't recommend placing bets on it, though. Especially because I just dyed my first batch of roving this week, and I have another neglected craft I'd like to start working with. Now that there's light, and I have space in the house, I'd like to start doing some lace work. And, since I am nowhere near my camera, I'll have to leave you with a picture of the antique materials I inherited a while back.

In review:

--Less insanity, more relaxing, probably more blogging. Total win. All coming soon.
--I actually finished two projects, but they are both one-row scarves, so they're not very exciting.
--I actually hit the ball and made it to first base in our most recent softball game. I am impressed with myself, as that's been my only real goal, aside from not getting hit with the ball.
--I dyed some fiber, but it hasn't been washed or dried yet, so we'll see how it turned out later this week. It's mostly sort of pinkish.
--Someone asked for a link to donate to my 3-day fund, so I am including one here. http://www.the3day.org/site/TR/2010/PhiladelphiaEvent2010?px=4909297&pg=personal&fr_id=1468

Monday, April 19, 2010

Why I'm Walking

...because I've been trying to figure out some easy, effective fundraisers so I can participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure this autumn. I'm committed to walking 60 miles in 3 days, and to raising $2,300 for breast cancer research, and the question I keep coming back to in my head is, 'Why?' Why would I want to train for months, sleep in a tent, use port-a-potties exclusively for days, buy multiple pairs of walking shoes, spend my time soliciting money that most folks don't have to give, learn how to use a treadmill, or spend 3 days away from home, exercising?

The easy answer is my family. Three of my dad's five sisters have battled cancer and won (one of my aunts just beat cervical cancer a second time, and unfortunately another one just found a tumor in her brain). His mother wasn't so lucky. One of my cousins was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 25, and we just lost one of my mother's cousins to pancreatic cancer a little while ago. Cancer runs strong and vicious through my family, and I want very much to see a day when none of my amazing relatives will have to go through the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process. We are a strong, resilient, goofy group of people, but enough is really enough already. I think we could use a break, and finding a cure for breast cancer is a key that could unlock a cure to other forms of cancer.

I'm also walking because the statistics scare me. One out of every 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. I know and love way more than 8 women, and it breaks my heart to think of any of them suffering and fighting through this disease. In the US, a woman will die from breast cancer every 13 minutes, and be diagnosed every 3 minutes. The biggest risk factors include getting older and being a woman--things which none of us can actually control. These are numbers, which don't always hit as close to home until you really think about them. In the time it takes me to write this blog, two women will have died from this disease. That's sobering as hell.

I'm doing this to honor all the people that gave me so much support and love while I was going through the Alien Spine Baby Saga. Because of all that love and support, I was able to bounce back from some pretty major surgery as quickly and well as possible. A big part of the credit for that goes out to my amazing surgeon, and to the hospital staff that took such good care of me. A bigger part, though, goes out to my family (my whole family, not just the blood relatives) who sent me get well cards and movies and toys and books and lovely knitted things, held my hand while I was crying, brought food when I couldn't cook, and surrounded me with so much love that I knew, no matter what, I was not alone. This walk, this gesture, is a way for me to help pay some of that wonderful positivity forward. It's a way for me to give some of the care and support that was given to me back out to the world.

So, that's what's worth it to me. Those things, but mostly those people, are worth doing something big and crazy and a little amazing for. They're worth sweating and training and raising money for. And if I can pull this off and walk in the 3-Day in five months, it will be something to be proud of.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Working BLog...

Today's blog is brought to you by none other than my work computer, since the home computer is still very much out of commission. I'm going to try to track down my awesome install disk so I can go back to enjoying the wonder that is having your own computer at home.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the wonder that is sunshine and warmth. This time three weeks ago, it was about 40* (which translates to about 4* for our Celsius-using friends) and we were wondering about more snow, while we were being rained on profusely. Currently, we're experiencing some serious warmth (87*/30*) and there isn't a cloud in the sky. This is the kind of day when everybody should have the day off, so they can bask in the sun on a nice rock like a newt.

The gorgeous weather has been great motivation to actually accomplish so many of the things I've been putting off. For instance, the bedroom is clean now (i even make the bed most mornings. i feel like a spokesperson for the bureau for adults acting like adults). There's nothing on the floor that doesn't belong there, and bag after bag of trash was taken out. That kind of cleaning requires a merciless mindset, and I had it. The rest of the house is looking pretty good, too. I still have some things that need a better home than the one they have, but the house is clean. The floors aren't sticky, there are no cat-sized dustbunnies, and you can actually sit on the couch because there's no clutter on it...Well, there's less clutter on it. A lot less!

I've been trying to get some time to play out in the garden, too. Now that there's light out when we get home, I've been trying to do gruntwork like breaking up sticks and turning the soil over, so that over the weekends, I can do the fun bits like planting things and shopping. Jim's mom gave me some plants for my birthday, so we have tomatoes and a couple of jalapeno peppers ready to go into the ground when the weather's a little more stable. The strawberries are starting to take off, and I'm looking forward to having some berries to show for them this year. We're also discussing adding some more flowers and pretty things, along with the useful ones. And who knows, I might give growing herbs another try.

I've been going to the gym at least twice a week faithfully, too. I'm starting to feel better already, in that I can walk up two sets of stairs before I get out of breath. It's good to feel like I'm making progress on that front, too. I saw a movie in the theater last weekend, and got to walk down the same hallway I did last July. This time, I walked tall and straight and laughed with my friends the whole way. I didn't even realize how big a change that was until we were out in the parking lot. It feels good to stop and think about how far I've come in such a short time, and to think about where I was and what was going on a year ago. I've come a long way, and that feels awesome. I lost so much of last summer to painkillers and just trying to heal (at best, i have very fuzzy memories of everything from june-late august), that it feels like I'm trying to make up for lost time.

My birthday this year was peaceful and fun. Jim and I watched a movie and ate pizza Friday night, then the family came over for dinner on Saturday. Momolla brought tacos and red beans and rice and Kate made a gorgeous cake. Kate and Patrick gave me some pretty roving, and Momolla and Dadumms enrolled me in a fiber bon-bon of the month club. I'll be getting cute little bundles of exotic fiber to play with every month for the next five months, which will be awesome. Jim gave me something shiny for my birthday--his great-grandmother's engagement ring. This is the fourth 'not an engagement ring' he's given me, and I very nearly hit him. We ended up having a good talk later that day and discussed things pretty calmly. Jim is either a) very confused about what he wants out of our relationship or b) particularly terrible at expressing himself. Apparently, when he said he didn't want to get married, he meant that he didn't want to get married now (what a difference a word makes, eh? i wish he had added that word the first time we talked about this). Things are better now, thankfully. Less tense and emotional.

Time is unfortunately up, so here is your review:

--Sun is good. Rain is less good, but we get much more of it.
--The house is clean. Like, really clean. It's amazing.
--Got some wool and some bling for the birthday. Good stuff.
--Bear with the crappy formatting, I had to type this in notepad, then copy and paste into blogger.
--Jim is taking me on a special date for my birthday. He won't say where we're going to dinner, though.
--Laptop still has computer disease. This makes me want to use a sad smiley. :(
--Smilies are usually pretty goofy.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hiatus...

Somewhere along the way, I lost a couple of months on the blog. I apologize for my unplanned, unannounced absence. I don't have much of a reason, except that when you spend your entire day on the internet, it can be kinda tough to make yourself hop right back on as soon as you get home. In order to catch everyone up on the amazing happenings in the World of Em, I have prepared some bullet points for you. Think of it as kind of a longer version of the review section at the end of entries.

--Snow. There was lots and lots of it. For ages. I was pretty sure it would never go away, and that the whole world would be covered in it forever.

--The snow melted, at long last. We've moved on to Pennsylvania's favorite spring-autumn weather pattern. Rain!

--That's all right though, because I have never had to shovel rain off my sidewalks.

--There have been just enough warm, sunny, beautiful days to prove that such things exist, in between the snow and the rain. We tried hard not to get used to them.

--This year, there will be a real garden at my house. Last year, I wasn't up to much maintenance or planting, but this year will be better.

--We already have strawberries planted, and a few that might have survived being weed-whacked last summer. We gave them up for dead and were pleasantly surprised to see some green on the stumps of the plants.

--There is no engagement ring in my near future. The whole 'go look at rings with my sister line' apparently was not an indication that there might be. In fact, Jim is actually not for marriage in general, or ours in specific (though, he wants us to live exactly as though we were married. just without the actual marriage process. no, i don't get it, either). Still not sure how I feel about this, or how this will impact us long-term.

--I turn 24 in a few weeks, not sure how I feel about that, either. Mostly, I'm pretty happy that I have made it another year.

--Are you guys familiar with the Susan G Komen Foundation 3 Day walk? I signed up as part of a team with some women I work with. We're pretty psyched, though I am secretly wondering what the hell I have gotten myself into.

--One of the things I have apparently gotten myself into is regular appointments at the gym. Also, buying a pair of athletic sneakers. Sneakers that are expensive when they're on sale, no less (i will be damned if i buy the hundred and thirty dollar shoes the nice man in the store told me all the walkers loved).

--One of the hazards of my job is that I keep wanting to use smilies whenever I type anything. And since I generally think smilies are kinda goofy, this drives me crazy.

--My computer picked up a malware program somehow, and then a particularly nasty virus as soon as I cleared that out. Jim is working on the virus, but I can't use my computer at home. I'm not sure how this happened, since I don't exactly open unknown email attachments or watch any internet porn.

--I have a nemesis at work. He's our new guy, and I think he has trouble respecting me because I am less than half his age. He's learning, though, and I'm learning the best ways to handle him. Having a nemesis makes for good work stories around the house.

--I am finally almost done with the red silk spinning. It has taken forever, because it turns out I'm not actually a fan of spinning silk. I changed my drafting technique, though, and that seems to be helping.

--I am also finally almost done with a number of warm, snuggly scarves. This is perfect timing for spring, no?

--Roxie sent me a hat. It is purple and has shiny bead dreadlocks on it and I love it.

--Eating healthy is all well and good, but fruit just isn't the same as potato chips with a sandwich.

--One piece of chocolate is also not as good as two, or many.

I am fast running out of time and things to say, so I will post this up now and humbly beg your forgiveness for neglecting you all. Here's hoping your weather is warmer and at least a little drier than ours is.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Work Blog...

...is what's been keeping me busy of late. My boss was 'let go' about two weeks ago, and I'm still not entirely sure why. I was reassured, though, that it had nothing to do with me. While I was pleased to be told that it had nothing to do with my performance (which i didn't get. why would the fire him because i was bad at my job? wouldn't they just fire me, instead?) I feel bad for him. Nobody likes to be fired.

What this means for me is that I'm handling any leftovers from projects he was working on, and now I'm sort of in charge of our company blog. Our readership is pretty low, but we're building. And we'd gotten to the point where we would have at least two entries per week, and some pretty good content. The original plan was to put the blog on the back burner, but I sort of persuaded my new boss (one of the owners of the company, which is pretty weird) that we didn't want to lose our momentum. And, being an ass who never knows when she has enough work, I told him I'd be happy to provide content. If you're so inclined, you can head on over to blogDOTamericanmuscleDotcom (i'd provide a link, but then my whole department would be able to find the blog, and i'd be paranoid for all eternity) and see some of my finely crafted prose. Anything that's by AMStanger is me. It's been an adjustment, learning to write for the company blog, since the audience is so vastly different (largely men, who read at about the eighth-grade level). It's kep me busy, but I think it might have earned me some points, too.

What else have I been up to, you ask? Well, I've been battling a sinus infection for several days now (i broke down and saw my doctor yesterday, and i'm glad i did) and it was a losing battle for a while. However, I now have good drugs, and am on the mend. I've also been knitting busily away on some of the many, many scarves I have in progress. I promised myself that when everything I'm making for someone else is done, I can start a lace shawl for me. I'm leaning towards Adamas, but we'll see how that goes. There is still no spinning to report. Christmas took over my living room, and it's more trouble than it's worth to me to try to access my wheel and supplies right now. Soon, though, the clutter will be put away and I can spin again.

In other news, I went to the mall with a couple of lady friends over the weekend and got my finger sized. It's a size seven, which is a good thing, since that's the size most jewelry store sample rings are. And while we were there, I happened to try a few one. And since Colleen was with me, she took a few notes to pass along to Jim. I know he won't be looking for a ring with any seriousness for a while, but it was kind of nice (and very, very surreal) to see a bunch of pretty diamonds on my hand. Momolla thinks this is a strange way to go about things, and that we'll be married pretty soon (not likely). I think it was just a fun way to pass some time at the mall. And it means more to me that Jim is thinking about us getting married, because he doesn't normally think of the future the same way I do. It's nice to know he's thinking about us spending it together, though.

In review:

--If you Google search 'alien spine baby', this blog is the first thing that pops up. It's probably wrong, but I think that's incredibly cool.
--'Alien lung baby' still lists the blog on the front page.
--Sinus infections suck
--I'm writing for the company blog now, which is a very strange thing.
--I love Christmas, but can't wait to pack everything up this weekend.
--I have too much stuff. Time to donate!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Here's to 2009...

...The Year That Could Have Been Worse. That's how I think of it in my head. Sure, '09 sucked it's share of unpleasant male anatamological parts, but it could have sucked more of them, and harder. And through all that sucking, I learned a lot.

For instance, I learned that you really do find out who your friends are when you need them. You find out right quick, in some cases. You'll discover who takes days off of work to come visit you while you recover, or who attends a fundraiser to help you get back on your feet.

I learned that there are more people than I ever imagined that care about me. That's an incredible, and an incredibly humbling, feeling. Just when I thought I was the most alone, the most isolated, I discovered that I had a huge extended family to lean on. My family spans continents, and the globe, and it's full of people that I'm proud and honored to be loved by. This blog, and you, my darling readers, gave me more support and love and strength and hope than I ever imagined possible.

'09 taught me that I am stronger than I gave myself credit for, by far, and that no matter what, I am never broken. My mate lost his job, I had major health issues, lost three months of income, and still made it through in tolerably good mental shape. In fact, I'm happier and more comfortable with myself than I have been in years. I have overcome major obstacles, and I managed to do it without spending too much time as a soggy, weepy mess.

In 2009, I learned to let go of the things I can't control, and to accept that sometimes, I can't control everything, even by sheer force of will. '09 also taught me the power of karma. If you put good out into the world, it will come back to you, whether you feel you deserve it or not.

2009 taught me about commitment. Through the entire Alien Spine Baby Saga, Jim went to every doctor's appointment, every test, and every procedure with me. He held my hand through everything, and was as strong and steady and hopeful as it's possible for someone to be. When times got tough, Jim got tougher, and taught those tough times that they didn't know the meaning of tough.

This past year was an eventful one. It had its good moments, and its dark ones. There have been worse years, and better ones. But if I had to pick one word out to describe 2009, it would be: love. Love may not conquer all, and it may not make heroes out of cowards. But it will grant courage to a failing heart, compassion to a friend in pain, and hope to a despairing family. So, since I'm not going to make resolutions this year (i have my 101 to work on still, and that's keeping me plenty busy), I'm going to pick a theme for 2010, and it is love. Plain and simple and beautiful. So, happy 2010, blogfamily. I love you all.

In review:

--2009 was crazy. Straight up crazy.
--I'm not at all sorry to see it go. Not even a little.
--Reading my blogs from earlier this year is depressing.
--2010=love
--Love is wonderful, but it would be okay with me if 2010 also equalled increased personal fortune. Just sayin'
--I have a girl date this weekend. We're going to the mall. Where there are jewelry stores...