The End of Things

This will probably be my last post. We will hopefully be moving in the next 30-60 days. I will not have my knitting space, or be able to work on projects for a while. We hope to move to Minneapolis, MN, while my husband continues on to Ft. Meade, MD. The separation will be for a few years, with hubby coming home on shore leave, as the Navy permits. It’s not a done deal, but the alternatives could be much worse.

And Then School Started

School started for our school district August 22nd. The sighs of relief from the moms of school age children weren’t really heard until today. I think they all probably occurred around 9 AM. I know that this Friday, the base Starbucks will be full. The line might even reach out the door, into the PX, also known as the Exchange or small shopping center. The moms will congregate with friends they haven’t seen since school let out. New moms, who’ve recently moved into the neighborhoods, will be meeting and making friends. I will probably be sipping my coffee at home on Friday. I have no urge to go join the brutal melee of a pack of on-duty airmen, jonesing for their coffee, retirees who have no idea as to why the line is so long, and the rest of the moms who are really just looking for familiar faces and catch-up news.

Two of my boys are quite happy to be back at school. Despite the autism, they relish seeing people and getting out of the house. My middle son, not so much. He’s a lot like me. He’s serious, set in his ways, and thinks that if he says it, it must be so. That last one only works if you are Momma. On Thursday, he went to school, played at recess, then ate lunch. After lunch, he looked at his teacher and told her that it was time to go home. Veni Vidi Vici, or so he thought. Lo’ and behold, he did not come home after lunch, he had a few more hours of class.

Thwarted by his teacher and an aide, he was quite grumpy coming home. During ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), he did not want to work. He’d been building up frustration from the day and weeks before. His tantrum lasted 45 minutes. His tutor, was taken aback. She also has an autistic son, but she disagreed with how things went down. I, as his mother, was a bit dismayed. We knew something was coming, but not what. You can watch my kids like a pressure valve’s gauge. You know they are gonna blow, you may even know why, but sometimes, you just have to let them blow.

Part of autism is the inability to regulate emotions, or express them in a proper, social conformity kind of way. For most people a tantrum is not productive. For my kids, learning to control them is very difficult. My youngest has multiple, little tantrums to bleed off the pressure. But my middle child is a pressure cooker. He simmers and compresses until he can’t hold it in. So, he hits his emergency relief valve. It has to be done. We can only guide and plan so much. Preparation can’t take care of everything. But it sucks. No ifs, ands, or buts. It hurts to watch your kid in pain. They have to learn to let go, and I don’t know that I can teach him that.

As a parent, you are supposed to relate to your kids, just not too much. I do know that after that tantrum, my middle child has improved greatly in his demeanor, and you can see that he’s got less stress pushing on him. That doesn’t mean he’s ok, but he’s back to his normal, serious self. I often find a good fight or explosion helps me level off. It’s just not done in society. I’m supposed to take him to the gym and let him work off his stresses, or find a creative way for him to express his anger. The problem is that those solutions don’t work for everyone. So I will have to help him find some way of getting rid of some of that frustration. But how do you tell a 6 year old that?

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?

Coffee Mondays…

Blarg! It’s Monday, last week of school, and I have coffee on my shirt. Not liquid coffee, expresso grounds. They might be in my bra too, tmi.

Round one: I was definitely awake before I made my first cup. I don’t know what happened. Honest! I had just ground up the beans, went to put them in the portafilter, and my hand twitched. Expresso grind, (fine ground), went flying all over me, my counter top and , well, just everywhere.

Round two: After dropping the kids off, working the Kiss ‘n Go, and talking books, puppies and ballerina slippers with Mary, I was ready for cup #2. Put in a coupla pumps of coconut, two spoonfuls of Ghiaradelli cocoa mix, and the cup was ready. On to the portafilter (aka Mr. Via’s handle bar mustache), coffee grounds made it in just fine. I went to make the twist, and my hand wobbled. Half of a double shot’s worth of grounds spilled all over the counter (again!), over the drip tray, and in between coffee makers. At this point, maybe I should just have a caffeine free day.

Nope, not gonna happen. I’ll wait for round three.

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Good Bye, Coffee Guy

Good bye, Coffee Guy. Sorry that I lied to you today. If it helps, it took hours to do. I hate lying. But, there are necessary lies. Best wishes for the greener pastures. Too bad we never made it to act iii.

All the things left unsaid when a door closes.

–mentor ship

Knitters are more and more often, learning on their own. Grandmothers and mothers didn’t have the art or didn’t share. The effect is a group of knitters without teachers or mentors. They guide themselves through the murky world of YouTube, knitting books and videos, to try and find their way. It takes a hell of a lot longer, and unless they are a ‘natural’, they can get frustrated or quit, when all they needed was a little push.

The nearest knitting group, meets a good distance from where I live. I could go to Sacramento or San Fran. The time and effort might not even prove worth it, as knitting groups tend to have their own atmosphere. Some are laid back, but cliquish. Others are open.

The local yarn stores are also a distance from my house. They also have atrocious hours. It’s quite frustrating. I not only have some terrific yarns that I don’t get to see, but I am cut off from valuable resources.

Right now, I have goals. I know where I want to be, but the getting there is a bit challenging. Coffee guy has been encouraging, but he says that I should find a mentor, to get me going in one direction, instead of 20. For a guy moving on, he’s full of a lot of shoulds. Of course, I told him he should try knitting, so touché, I guess.

A mentor is usually a teacher. The relationship starts with the dominate character. The student must have respect, but there is also mutual respect. It’s more than that, tho. There are lines that have to be defined in the roles. Rules that both have to accept, and be willing to give a little. Mentors usually build trust and friendship. Both sides have to be willing to listen. No one knows everything.

Most people don’t set out to find a mentor. You don’t just up and say, I need a mentor. It starts with a longing for information. Looking for someone who can teach you. Looking for someone who is willing to be open and willing to stretch, themselves. Most mentors develop. They see something in the student worth taking forward, beyond the end of class. They encourage and guide.

The student has to be able to see the value of what the teacher offers. The willingness to submit to criticism, and the ability to moderate their thoughts to follow the teacher. Both need a steady hand. Balance.

Yup, I’ll just go shopping for a mentor. Ha!

As a teacher, I’ve taught people how to do the things they want to learn. Some times, I have mentored in knitting, navigating channels to get help for their kids, or simply helped in life skills, when they get mired in the bogs and pitfalls of who they are. Teaching and instructing are not wholly different, but the playing field is different for a mentor. It’s not something you just quit. It takes as much dedication from the teacher as the student. You can’t force it, and it has to be natural.

I attract broken people. Seriously, it can be a pain in the a$$. Most of the time, if I can, I provide an ear, encouragement and advice. It is rare that I go further than that. A good cup of coffee and an ear, is all that most of them are looking for. Sometimes it’s teaching them to tink* back and redo some stitches. Other times, it’s pulling out a crochet hook, and finding the dropped stitch. Mentoring only comes into play, when they want to go forward, perhaps on a different path. You might get that, and you might not. I’m just a little different. It works in knitting and life.

So you see, finding a mentor for me, would not be simple. Teachers have to prove they aren’t idiots, to me. I take them at face value, then wait for them to screw up. It’s how they handle the screw ups, that counts. Also, I can’t ask. Supposing I did find a teacher I could trust and respect, I would want them to see the merit in me, the worth. I don’t believe you can force them to see you. I believe in Serendipity.

I’m still here, where I am, because the powers that be said to wait. So I wait. Change comes at its own pace. Soon, tho, change will come. Maybe I will walk into it, or maybe it will just hit with the force of a hurricane. Mentors and teachers start with a first step.

Creed had it in their lyrics for their song “Higher”. Taking that step, and a bit of asking for help. Good for pensive thought, fast paced enough to get a few rows done.

*Tinking is when you back track, stitch by stitch vs frogging, which is ripping out a section.

A Room with a View

I’m ticked. Angry. Mad enough to beat the bahoojaas out of someone. It’s draining, being this mad. So let’s go somewhere else.

In the military, we talk about our ‘forever home’. It’s a place we’ll settle in, when we get done traveling.

My hubby dreams of a castle-like cabin with a few side cabins for family.
He used to think Northern Minnesota. Brrrrr! Me, I can’t make up my mind. The city, where you are anonymous or the country, where you can be alone.

I would settle for a small villa in Arizona. I like the heat. It warms my bones. I love the storms that come out of no where. The desert, where colour and life flow at different pace.

My work room would have a patio door leading out to a porch. It would have a swing bench and fire pit. Inside, I’d have long cabinets, my machines on top, and storage below. I’d hang my skeins in a net, from the ceiling, or line them up on one long shelf, out of the sunlight. The floor would be tile, with rugs knitted to fluff, placed any where you’d sit. I hate cold feet! Long cool hallways lead to the other rooms. Bare walls, covered with lace shawls of many different colours and textures. The work room would be kept cool and dry, while the patio would be set for warmth- to soak up the sun. Across the way, would be an indoor/outdoor kitchen. Everything would be built off the floor. Maybe a white canopy bed in the bedroom. This is a slow house. Smooth, dry and dusty. Away from all the noises of people.

I’d have my truck to go to town. A nice bit of a drive, before having to deal with nosey people. Visitors would call ahead, and then stay for a few days if they wandered out. The silence, complete.

*******

If I lived in the city, I’d want a loft apartment. Something simple. One room with big windows for lots of light. Hard wood floors. Book shelves from floor to ceiling. Stands for my knitting machines, and most importantly, comfortable chairs. Maybe an easel for design drawings. Racks for my cone yarn and nice shelves for the skeins. Simple, clean lines. Lots of space. It would have an open kitchen, with a large island for prep and snacking. Maybe a small booth table to encourage a cozy dinner. It would be a place for friends to hang, for sunsets, for people watching. A place where I could work or teach. Ideally it would have a rooftop garden, no doubt planned by my ecologist, sister-in-law, to be self sustaining. I kill anything that is green and grows. I would not, however, have chickens (her latest hobby).

In the city, you don’t need a car. You can walk or take public transportation. Corner markets, delis, take out food of all sorts. Coffee bars and pubs. The silence is the hum of the city. Open air markets, small nook stores, that haven’t lost out to big business. Alone in the crowd. You can watch life literally pass you by.

Dream time over. I was calm. I was prepared to work on more clean up. The waves never quit hitting the shore. Hours later, I’m worse than I was before. Too much drama, and it’s not mine.

Something to Read

I am looking for something to read. I know what I want to read, but you’d think I’m crazy. There’s a book in Japanese that I want. I can’t read the words, but the store that sells it also provides a guide. I could be cocky and say ‘I’m so good that I can read Japanese after reading an 8 page booklet’, but then you’d think I was quite full of myself or bs. It would be hard to choose, if it were me on the other side.

But what I want to read, is not the words written on the pages, although a translation would be nice. I want to read the charts. They are knitting charts, over 400 of them. I’m looking for something, and I know this book has more than just one something I want.

So what’s the ‘big’? The book is $90 plus S&H. Worth it, no doubt. 8 years ago, I spent $84 on an Azerbaijani/Georgian, first edition love story. I deplored the cost, but the cultural references were invaluable. I also happen to love the fact that there’s an inscription from someone to someone else. That book has a history beside the story. Back then, I was making my own money, to save or waste. I could eat Ramen to make up for it. Now, with a family, it is a bit harder. I’ll save part of my allowance for that book, use some on my coffee habit, and the rest goes for yarn or gifts. It’s not that I don’t want it, could use it, and would feast off of its pages. It is that some things are more important, than right now.

But itches. This desire. All exacerbated by reading the news today.

I’ve given up on reading fiction for now. It doesn’t do what it used to do for me. I read the news, and the disgust it engenders only dampens the fix for information need. I read the BBC and CNN news sites. I know that CNN is liberal. That doesn’t bother me. I am educated enough to read thru the rhetoric. The BBC provides the international news, as well as a view of American news from a different viewpoint.

I could criticize the American public for their ignorance of international concerns, but it’s not worth it. They won’t even make sure that every child can read, or feed their own homeless. I doubt they even know what foreign aid is. I know they understand gas prices, but not necessarily the correlation between the two. Maybe I should go interview Joe Schmoe and see if he understands why the Arab Spring is such a big deal.

I found myself wanting to whoop and holler about a bombing. Me, the person who hates to read about car bombs, deaths, protesters being beaten. I cheered for this one bombing. David struck Goliath. It was a beginning parry. It was a step that could only have been done by that David in a world full of Goliaths. This was a bombing meant to save lives. It was an action taken, not in retaliation or aggression, but in prevention. While the rest of the world dithers and fails to act in so many situations, allowing hundreds of thousands to millions of deaths of innocent civilians. David said “Not us. Not our people, and not yours”.

The article I read, did not have a casualty count. If there were some, and there probably were, I mourn them. But the lives that won’t be lost, those I rejoice.

Do I sound like a fanatic? Cheering for Team David? After all, there is no gain for me. It doesn’t affect me or mine. Not in the now. In the absence of anything good to read, I’ve been watching the world. I can look at the facts presented, and the patterns I’ve been watching for almost 2 decades. It’s ******ing depressing. It is almost, sometimes, encouraging.

Change is painful. The world is growing and dying, and the people around me are oblivious. All of the people I could discuss this with are on the other side of the country. The debates, long nights of coffee and booze, fueling the educated debates of where the U.S. and other countries were going. We’d speak in several different languages, each debating their own point, backing it up with this or that article or report.

We weren’t the poly-sci guys. We weren’t lawyers. We were a good-looking, little rough crowd of scholars who will never be accepted into The world of Academia. We watched the world, but the world couldn’t watch us.

When I try to discuss these things with the people in the world around me, all I get in return, are the blank stares of the unknowing. I’m just a housewife. My world is small.

So yes, I want that Japanese book. It promises challenges that this, now solo flyer, can enjoy by herself. It has no wars, no battles or bombers. No flying through space on the back of a winged horse. No lovely little love affairs before or after divorce. No cancer or deaths. Just endless patterns of meaningless knots that end in something beautiful. Music for the fingers and the eyes. Peace and Harmony.