The Long Game

Have you ever heard of chess players who can keep the game in their heads, so much so that they can keep the next 20, 30 or even 50 of their next moves in their heads? They play the ‘long game’. Their objective is clear. They aren’t surprised or distracted. Each move played against them has a counter move. They may win or lose, but the idea is to hold on to that goal. A child prodigy could lose to an old fox, not by lack of intellect, but experience.

Chess can be a short game or a long game. Knitting is the same. Your first goal is the knit stitch, then the purl. After that, the world is your oyster. You can make scarves the rest of your life, or you could learn to knit in the round to make a hat. From there, sweaters with cables and then lace… the possibilities are endless.

At some point, you may want to sell what you make. Maybe you want to do your own designs. You start to play the long game. What do you need to do, to make your ends look good, hide your loose ends, tighten up your ladders. You find yourself drooling over technique books, not just patterns. You start playing. If you can afford it, you take classes. All of this is a long game. You have a goal- to make the best, maybe even to be the best. Or, you could just be a very good hobby knitter. It’s up to you.

To play the long game, you have to have a goal. As knitters, we tend to find one thing and repeat. Generally, we call them our hat phase, top down sweater phase. Some knitters become spinners. There are distractions, some new yarns that call to you, some pattern you have to knit. That’s okay, as long as you refocus back to your goal. Or maybe you find your goal needs to change. Knitting, like life, is adaptable. Sometimes your chess piece disappears. You adapt and go on.

My right hand is in a brace. My chess piece got swiped. I spent the weekend watching knitting classes. I can always improve my technique and learn new tricks. One of the instructors had a funky left handed purl. I copied it, adjusted it to my needs, and while not perfect yet, I’ve adapted.

So what about the sly old foxes? In this long game, it doesn’t hurt to shut up and learn, to ask questions. Sometimes losing teaches you new tricks. In knitting, you learn as much as you want to. That’s the beauty of it. The game can be long or short, takes twists and turns, but it never ends. You are your own competition.

Good Morning People!

I’m throwing as a lefty. I can’t not knit for 4 more weeks. I can’t do it. Sooooo… I’d say 10 years of piano lessons is paying off. As a teenager, I taught myself to write left handed. I’m not really sure why, but it seemed like a good idea. Maybe it was the geeky coolness factor. Piano lessons definitely played a part. All that training on teaching my left hand to think independently seemed like a superfluous thing, but it wasn’t.

If you’re a knitter, you might know that ‘throwing’ and ‘picking’ are labels for English vs. Continental styles of knitting. Throwers hold their yarn in the right hand, and use the fingers to wrap the yarn around the needle. Pickers hold the yarn in their left hand and pick the yarn up with the needle. I’d never heard of those terms, until someone asked me if I was a picker or a thrower. Me, clueless, doesn’t happen often. I had to look it up.

Both ‘picking’ and ‘throwing’ require right wrist motion. I also seem to have a problem convincing the yarn to comply with my needles’ request. I discovered that I can still throw with my left hand. I’m working on my gauge, but after a few attempts, I think I have it down. It’s still a bit slow going, but if I ever need to teach a lefty, I have more experience. It might even help with double stranded color work. I must admit, I was rather jealous when someone posted a video holding a yarn on each hand, knitting beautifully. I tried. I couldn’t do it.

My mother told me to start reading again, to kill the antsy crawling up my fingers. I quit reading books a little more than a year ago. I had been reading a book a day. 350-500 pages, is nothing to me. The books are started and done.

Alas, I gave my Nook to my oldest when I sent him to her. Now, knowing that he is her favorite first grandson, much like my daddy was his mother’s favorite second son, my mom wants him to be able to keep his Nook. She’s sending me her old Kindle, to help avert major disaster. After several months, he wouldn’t want to give it up. It’s quite funny, really, how we both spoil this child!

Of course, I will have to work on a few things. I used to Nook and knit. I do watch the TV and knit, but I usually prefer books, as they provide a more in-depth view of a story. Working left handed and reading would be a challenge. The idea, though, is to not knit.

There’s just one problem with all of this. Knitting can be set down, the television turned off, but a book has page after page. I can’t put them down. Not until the end. I will have to cross that bridge, and it won’t be easy. I’m an addict, and I know it.

It’s going to be a long 4 weeks.

Dear Lt. Jones

Dear Lt. Jones,

You walked into your chop shop of a medical clinic, with your uniform looking like you’d slept in it and unshaven, to find a fat housewife with two kids, one wearing a portable EEG on his head. She had a brace on her arm, and hey- a little overweight. Okay, a lot overweight. You made assumptions. And while you were being politic in your phrasing, you called my kids obstacles. Impediments to me getting excercise. Let me tell you about those obstacles you nodded at.

I have three children. The oldest is 13. He has autism and ADHD. He is also behind on the growth charts. We held him back a year due to his difficulties, but he’s too smart for his own good.

The oldest twin has a portable EEG once cause we are trying to catch him having a seizure. He also has autism, but he can think at logic levels that would astound you.

The youngest twin has already been diagnosed with seizures, and you guessed it, autism. He’s the drama queen and prankster. He also had heart surgery at 33 weeks, 2 weeks after he was born. I’ve watched him quit breathing and turn blue time and time again.

My husband serves in the Navy and has done so for the last 16 years. He periodically travels for his job, and until this post, he had been absent 65% of our marriage.

Yes, I see how you, maybe a year out of residency might think they are obstacles. But for me, I have sacrificed my career, my needs for them. So when I actually make an appointment, it’s because regardless of those obstacles, I hurt and made the time to come in.

I dare you to carry my load and maintain a perfect body. I dare you to see what’s in front of you. You can’t even look presentable in uniform, how would you deal with the blows I’ve been dealt?

I know I’m fat, or if you want to call it medically, obese. I’ve gained and lost with the ups and downs. I’m just like anyone else with obstacles. Either help or don’t. You just told me I can’t knit for the next 6-8 weeks.

You are an obstacle, not my kids. You are an impediment. You have no clue. I’d tell you to go to hell, but I don’t want company.

Sincerely,

The Fat House Wife

My hubby wouldn’t let me email the bastard.

Sitting on the Water’s Edge

My right hand is in a brace. You might ask ‘why’ or ‘oh no!, What did you do?’. Those are the most common questions.

I could tell you that it started with a baby blanket and ended with a hat, but that might not make sense.

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I could also say that it began with an act of kindness that bit us in the ass. That would be the truth, as well.

The baby blanket is for a friend, who is due next week. All I have left is the sewing and stuffing. The blanket is a crochet confection made of cotton candy. It looks that way.

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Please note: it ain’t done yet- these are just the pieces. Designed by Linda Cyr with Red Heart’s Baby Clouds in Pink Lemonade. It’s a fairly quick project, although I used almost 6 skeins, instead of the 3 the pattern called for. I did check gauge, but I must’ve been off.

I haven’t crocheted that much in years. I normally only do lace borders or neck lines.

I stress at night. While my body likes a 9 o’clock bedtime, my mind really gets going after the sun goes down. Maybe that’s why I like sunsets so much. The calm before the storm.

So- due to some unwanted stress, I made a hat for my hubby. I knitted almost an entire night, then finished the hat in two days. One skein of Paton’s Classic Wool, the Naturally Comfortable
slouch beanie pattern by Lisa Gentry, and a trip to Alaska for my hubby this August, resulted in this…

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Hubby prefers it snug, and I will have to sew up the center hole a bit better. We don’t want him to have a cold spot on his q-ball. Better to find out now, but it IS supposed to slouch. Oh well, it’s his to wear.

So that act of kindness… We are not business people. We see the people renting our house (in Maryland), as a family. We let them out of their lease early, because the dad got transferred short notice. No 60 day notice for us, and we were out $800. They moved in with a 9 mo old baby, and apparently had a newborn while they lived there, as well. Dad had already left, and the mom was packing, by herself. We took pity on them.

I remember moving into that house with 6 mo old twins and a 7 yr old. My mom came out to help, and I was still overwhelmed.

We thought if they got out 2 weeks early, we could do a quick clean and turnaround. No such luck. They had trashed the house to a tune of $3300. new carpet, new paint over the three rooms they painted, new bath tub, minor repairs, including damage to the brand new kitchen cabinets we had just put in.

Before they moved in, that house looked better than it did when we lived there. All in all, a single act of kindness, totaled up around $6,000 of loss to us. We thought we might lose the house.

So I knitted my hand into a brace. It was bugging me before, but I pushed too hard.

We had put money aside, in case we lost our renters. Our realtor, who helped me carry the twins from house to house searching for just the right one, is still our realtor today. She cut her commission. Our property manager also cut her take. One act of kindness, leads to another. It may just be a house, but it was our first home, and may be again, in a few years. Everything goes full circle.

These were my thoughts, as I sat at my knitting spot. Not being able to knit, one handed. But I think I may have a new pattern in mind. If I can find the right yarn. If my hand gets better. I do my best thinking on the water’s edge.

Atlas Shrugged

More than 50 years ago, Ayn Rand wrote a book called “Atlas Shrugged”. (Sorry, no underlining). I find that this book applies today, just as much as it did in 1957. The individual will always be punished by the masses. It doesn’t matter if the issue is Railroads or Autism, innovation or just individuality.

Atlas was a Titan of Greek mythology. He stood larger than the gods and had more personal power than they did. He sided with the Titans, the losing side. His punishment was to hold the sky, keeping it separated from the earth. Later, he was elevated to holding the earth on his shoulders. He’s been a character throughout history, as carrying this huge burden. The idea of him failing- the end of the world? We often use the phrase “carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders”, this is Atlas.

Ayn Rand made him shrug, shattering the social order. As if one person could do that. John Galt did. Or did he? Dagny Taggert, the protagonist, tries to preserve order. She’s assaulted on all sides by forces seen and unseen. John Galt is a mysterious, ephemeral spirit, tugging at the anchors to her world. The government and society ripped her apart, railroad track by railroad track.

But for a moment, we see her exalted as the train and tracks she worked so hard for, were proven, as her train pulled into the destination of the John Galt line. Her success. Her gloriously shining moment, glittering like gold. She had accomplished what most called ‘impossible’.

The visible forces against her were a society and government corrupted by the ideas and money of the weak. The men who politicked with words and money, to take what they had not earned. Government supported the weak, aided the entitled, and punished the individuals who dared to succeed on their own two feet.

The same can be said today. Promotions for the sly of tongue, but inadequate workers. Those who take credit for other’s work, they get promoted on the backs of the hard workers. Politicians who succeed by money and media, not deeds or accomplishments. The people content to live off of welfare, on the backs of the working man.

Who is John Galt? Today’s JG are the people taking whatever job they can, to pay the bills and taxes. They are in the shadow of the poor and the wealthy. They quit innovating, because their worth goes unrecognized. Today’s JG has no utopia in the back roads. Today’s JG can’t disappear. It is not that they are not as smart as the trio of men who brought down the world. They can’t hide or fool too many, the world is bigger than it was, in the story. We are all riding the Internet, like a wave of surfers, failing to notice the ocean swallowing us whole.

John Galt was the most elite. He worked behind the scenes to bring down the corruption on the heads of the corrupt. He planned and succeeded in collapsing the world.

Instead, our world was brought down by greedy men and corporations who thought the wealth was endless. They conned people into a false sense of security. Lives of the working man were sold for the American Dream. Our nation survived because the working man has a strong back. All the foreclosures, lost jobs, cracked companies- they broke the working man’s back. And they wonder why we suffer.

John Galt would’ve been the man who cried foul and shored up his kingdom. He would’ve stepped forward to provide a solution, only to be ignored. The Konrad Kellen of finance. But if these men existed, nobody was listening. Only history a century from now, will be able to see them.

Back to Dagny Taggert- who is today’s Dagny Taggert? Who among the Titans of the world plays fair, fights clean and works hard, with a rigid honesty and clear dream of where we should be? Could such a person even survive in our world?

There are companies out there, declaring their faith in the productivity of Autistic people. I’ve read several articles of companies who would be leaders, by hiring those who see what gets missed, who are labeled as less than ideal. Will they be the next DT? The next victims of a world who has no ability to realize the true wealth of such individuals? They see things as they are and how they should be. Will these gifted, labeled disabled, people be able to survive? Or, will they need a John Galt to show them that the social and societal machinations are simply not worth the effort? Will there be a John Galt to save them?

Who is our John Galt? Who is our Dagny Taggert? Who will fight for the world as it needs to be? As it can be? Is there someone out there to make a place for the individual, the innovators and the hard workers?

It’s 3 AM

It’s 3 am, and I’m wide awake. I went shopping and picked up a couple of pattern books today. After taking my boys out of the house for a treat, I came home and my hubby dropped a bomb. Just more of the usual.

He could lead with decent news, but he doesn’t. He always throws the worst at me first. I just go numb. It doesn’t matter if there is a solution or not.

On top of that, my ABA tutors seem to be taking over my house. One makes veiled requests. The other tries to manipulate. And they think I’m dumb enough to not notice. Really, they don’t know what they say with their faces. I know there are no replacements. I will have to put up with them for now.

So I don’t sleep. I knit. I knit till my hands hurt. My fingers swell and my wrist refuses to bend. I’m knitting a hat out of one of the books I bought. I had some wool in my stash, just perfect for the pattern.

You might think knitting is a stress reliever, but it isn’t. It isn’t an attempt to make the world quit spinning, quite so fast. It is production. Making something. Creating.

Everything works to destroy. I like to make things. The duality of it, doesn’t escape me- in order to create you must change or destroy something else.

Funk Busting

I hate inactivity. As a housewife, or stay-at-home mom, or even a Career Child Development Explorer, there’s not usually an opportunity to be inactive. There’s always something going on. But given the last few weeks’ funk, inactivity has been the big problem.

I woke up this morning feeling like I had an extra twenty pounds tied to my extremities. My head was swimming through molasses. Really. I know it’s the new regime of meds, dehydration and all other sorts of things, but that first latte took forever to make.

The problem with being a SAHM is that the entire house is my area of work. Hubby is outstanding when it comes to helping out, but the work is all mine. I’m glad that routines are established. Everything has its place. A few weeks of my inertia, and it doesn’t come tumbling down, making things worse. Hubby’s kept the ship going, and if I can get back in the saddle, things will be fine.

My twins are eating breakfast now- 2 hrs later than usual. They weren’t hungry, and I was working on a clear head. I’ve updated my “On The Needles Page”. I could do that sitting down, coffee in hand. The pups got their romp at 0830, sprinklers on in full force. We’re supposed to hit 104 on the mercury today. They won’t be romping outside again until the sun goes down. It’s 10 now, and I think I actually escaped the molasses.

So funk busting plans…

1. Water the dying flowers out front. We planted them a few weeks ago, and the thirsty little beasts require water twice a day. I do not have a green thumb! I’ve barely been getting to the front door, much less, out of the house.

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2. Work on the puppy blanket, which is not on my “On The Needles” page. I didn’t want to get up and boot the computer to get all the info I needed for giving credit. The blanket is in that awkward stage, between looking fantastic and looking like a yarn tangle. My goal is to finish up the blanket portion and start the head and ears tomorrow. It is doable, but it’s only a goal.

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3. Laundry. We had a serious leak from our washer, which Hubby fixed last weekend. I think I can get a few loads through the machine. That still leaves the folding and putting away. 7 baskets and growing. If I can get the kids to help, I should be able to knock out 3 or 4. I’ll hide the rest. Hubby won’t notice. Well, probably, anyway.

4. Dishes- the other never ending battle. I might be able to convince the twins to help, before lunch time. Might.

There are half a million things to do. Vacuum, mop, clean the bathrooms, clip puppy toe nails, not to mention getting an ad in the base paper. Baby steps and goals. That’s how I’m gonna roll today. Baby steps… and coffee. Funk busting at its best.

In A Funk

I’m in a funk. Knitting gone wrong. House in a mess. Clutter is accumulating at twice it’s usual rate. Puppies getting too big for their britches. Hot weather and swollen limbs. Nothing but pain. Well, and poo. Lots of puppy poo.

I got a massage yesterday. Normally you walk out feeling good, but after three months of playing hookie, my back was in knots. For a few days, I will be hurting until the soreness goes away. I go back in two weeks. Maybe the rest of the knots and kinks can get worked out.

So… Why all the stress

Lukas, the oldest twin, has been having seizures. Itty bitty ones. Jamie has them on a bigger scale, but he’s diagnosed and on meds. Lukas is new to the seizure thing. Nothing showed up on the normal EEG, so he’s going to have to do a 48 hour backpack EEG.

He’ll get a few dozen wires stuck to his head and wear a backpack with a little data recorder in it, connected to the wires hooked to his head. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Unless you are an active 6 yr old who has better things to do. I’ll be chasing him around with the pack.

Then there’s the mysterious diagnosis on the referral. I’ll just have to wait till August to find that one out. But I have new and old meds to try out. I went of the Butran patch a week ago, but I can’t drive until I know how I will be on them. I’m phasing them (the new drugs) in this week. The kids had Superhero camp last week, and I was too paranoid to risk driving them on unknown meds. I slept most of today, because of them.

I wasn’t allowed to drive for a few years due to my epilepsy. For me, that is torture. I hate asking for help. I couldn’t ride my bike everywhere. Most bases and forts are set a ways from town, and Ft. Gordon, GA was no different. The whole base sprawls. As a single mother, it was hell. The worst thing was not driving off my stress.

I love highways, and Highway 20 is an incredible drive on nice days. Atlanta is only an hour and a half west, and Savannah (not on 20) 45 minutes East. For a girl from West Texas, trees still are a novelty.

Having only two kids at home and one surly teenager out of my hair, is supposed to be less stressful. But I called to check up on Sebastian, who is at his Gammy’s house, and my mom tells me that my Dad had an angiogram this week. His heart isn’t great, but they think the meds he’s on are doing their job. So nothing further is to be done for now. That’s what I get for waiting on my kid to call. He and Dad are doing fine, I guess. I could wish I was closer, but if wishes were horses…

Superhero Camp was a bit stressful, too. The first two days were particularly difficult. Camp was two hours every morning for a week. The boys were introduced to new people and things to do. They settled in on the third day, but I had to stay for most of the first two days. I also had to rescue Jamie from an ABA tutor, who went with physical prompts before she should have. We only touch the boys for positives- hugs and high fives. That got settled quickly.

The twins did end up having a great time. Lukas loved the capes that were made for them. Jamie did not. They loved gymnastics, flying and water play. It ended up being a wonderful experience for them. Just a wee bit stressful for me, especially after being called a ‘helicopter mom’ indirectly. Labels and more labels.

Knitting wise, I’ve been a bit stymied. I made a dress for my niece. It’s cute and lacey, but for some reason I just haven’t blocked it. It’s hard to let things go. I don’t by not finishing them. Just like the baby blanket that still needs its ends sewn in. It’s sitting on my machine. I’m working on a baby blanket, yes another one, but it is crochet.

I also have hubby’s ‘Aran’ sweater in my knitting bag. I’ve reached the front shoulders, and I think I found a mistake in the pattern directions. I worked on it tonight, but had to pull out two rows. I’m frustrated with it. I did go to catch the sunset while working on it.

The biggest knitting factor has been pain. When the heat kicked in, my hands and feet got big. Swollen. Every joint in my body let me know how unhappy they were. It makes for hard working conditions. That’s on top of all the other things that normally hurt. (Fibro myalgia, back aches, etc). Really, how much stuff do I need to put up with?

Then there’s my side job- Puppies. At ten weeks old, they are cute and cuddly. If you walk up to their pen, they sit. We’ve been working in the ‘sit’ command with treats. If you put your hand in, the little rascals are like piranhas, tugging and pushing for treats. Horrible little cads. But cute. They’ve decided playing and chewing on the poo pads is a sport. Like we don’t have enough toys in there? They are terrific and funny, running so fast they collide. I will not miss the poo though. I am having trouble putting an ad out for them. I wonder why?

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Needless to say, writing anything down has been difficult. Sometimes just moving, is difficult. Losing my muse, has been difficult too. I’m in the down and outs, but I’ll claw my way back up soon.