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Ok. So I can’t seem to get more than a third of my to-do list tackled on any given day,* but I can totally manage to start new projects.

The stuff that’s sitting on my list right now is mostly the hard stuff: some emails I need to send out (two of which require me to be brave), an art submission (which also requires me to be brave), and some handwritten letters that need to be sent out (two of the five require me to have something to say, and one more requires me to organize my notes into a comprehensible letter after reading someone’s poetry manuscript). Also, I need to call the health insurance company about optical, find all three of us new PCPs, arrange a dental appointment for Our Man Cub, and arrange for our car to be serviced.**

Yeh. So my plan today was to make mail. To sit down and write letters and pack stuff up to send out. I didn’t do that, so much. I handled the ironing and the changing of linens. I cleaned and finished a scarf and posted a couple new listings on my Etsy. And then this happened:

I’ve been aching to try out arm knitting for what feels like forever – A woman I worked with shared a video of it with me and I became intrigued like whoa. I even pinned*** it, intending to try it out when I got a chance. Ok, really, intending to try it out when I found the right yarn (chunky) at the right price (cheap – I’ve never tried this, so no need to spend a lot of money on it). I haven’t found said yarn yet. Also, I’ve heard tell of making yarn from tee shirts, and have been just dying to try that out. Then I mentioned to a friend the tee-shirt yarn thing, and she mailed me a pin about how to do it, and omg, SHOWED UP AT OUR HOUSE WITH A BAG OF TEES! Squeee! Thank you, Sarah!

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Ok, so I’ve been awol for a couple weeks, right? Here’s the scoop (anti-scoop, maybe?) –  I’m working on a project that I can’t talk about just yet (it will be revealed over the weekend, and then I can talk about it), and it’s just killing me. I’ve actually been picking away at this for about a month now (ok, almost two months), and it’s all I want to talk about, but I can’t, so instead I haven’t been talking about much of anything. Except the day-to-day business of being around here, natch, and that doesn’t feel really blogworthy. But then I realized that, indeed, things are happening. So let me tell you about things that are happening (that I can talk about)!

I made them a fanceh logo!Let’s start with the part where I got adopted by a slam team. Nono, I didn’t make it onto a slam team.* The 2013 Worcester Slam Team asked me to be their coach, and I couldn’t be more honored to work with such an osm group of poets. Watching them come together with their writing has been really great. Also, I would love these people, even if they weren’t writing super poems – they’re just really great people, and I love being in their presence. I feel a little gifted, really – two of them are housemates, and three of them are the ladies with whom I meet to write on Monday nights. It’s been lovely to reconnect to the slam while not having to actually compete – totally fun!

And I’ve been working on a scarf thing. So I saw this really sweet scarf on Pinterest, right? All made up of tiny little crocheted hexagons – so dainty! So pretty! And I was hoping for instructions at the pin’s website, but alas, it’s a picture of something that a blogger had just purchased. And I don’t know how to make hexagons. So I started to dig around to learn how to make hexagons, but in the middle of researching** I had this (somewhat related) idea that I could make a scarf from different sized circles.

And, whoa – surprise! This has been the Most Relaxing Thing Evar. See, I have issues with relaxing, across the board. I always feel like I should be doing something.*** And having something to do with my hands while Screwing Off On Purpose (what most people call Relaxing), calms that business down like no other thing. Guilty pleasure admission: I love to watch teevee and do needlework. So I’m making this scarf, and all of yesterday was spent in front of Hulu, watching episodes of comfortable junk-food teevee like Merlin, and crocheting circles. I’m about half way to Scarf, and plan on showing it off like whoa when it’s all done.

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Omg, I did that thing again where I forgot that I had a blog for, like, a month and change. True story: life here has been all over the map.

For starters, I’m still looking for a job – either a second job or a job with more hours – while working part time at a place that’s only going to be around until the end of the year,* and it’s a bit exhausting.** I’m doing some freelance page layout, and still working on selling my art, which totally is helping make the ends come together, but I would really like a bit more security. That aside, household finances are still afloat, even if there’s been some belt-tightening and credit card using involved. Also, I’ve been dealing with an AS flare-up for the last few weeks, which is also exhausting, but finally starting to ease, thank goodness.***

On the lighter side of things, my head has been better than it has been in months. It turns out that not constantly worrying about people being crappy to me at work is pretty osm. Who knew, right? While not being stressed out about that, I’ve managed to get some pretty cool stuff in progress –

Like the  zillion little seedlings in my sun room! The garden is ready to go, and Dearest Will and Our Man Cub were kind enough to rake out the yards and ready them up over the weekend. And on Saturday I went with  Man Cub to the DPW and we filled the cat litter buckets (we’d saved up since autumn) with compost – last year the tomatoes didn’t really get enough sun, and so didn’t ripen well; this year we’re planting them in buckets so we can move them around and find the best spot for them. We thought we would plant this weekend, but it’s still sorta chilly here and there’s a chance of flurries predicted for Tuesday (whut). So we have cucumbers, peas, peppers, squash, melon, and greens in the window, all ready to go into the ground this coming weekend.† And beets! And carrots!

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So after 22 months at the temp job, I was unceremoniously released with no reason furnished. Maybe they just didn’t want to pay the agency’s fees anymore, who knows. So I packed up. That’s what you do with temp jobs, you pack up and don’t ask questions, and then you call the agency.  Within a few hours I had another part-time temp job (not related to my agency), and was answering the email to HR. Also, I came home that afternoon to a note that I had been accepted as an instructor for a night-life class next month. And I had a high school fiction workshop to lead for the next day. I am grateful – I got out of a job I kinda hated, and I had some things lined up, as well as a few days off to manage my emotions and re-do our family budget. The Universe, clearly, is taking good care of me.

So I re-did the family budget, and we’re going to be ok, but it’s going to be super tight until I get some things rolling. The new job has fewer hours than the last job (many fewer, unfortunately), and pays less, but it’s a steady little something, so I’m thrilled. Also, it gives me time to look for another job. While I’m shifting through Monster and Craigslist, tho’, I thought this might be a good time to put out into the Universe and to you, dear reader, some of the things that I’m good at. For example:

♦ I lay out a brilliant chapbook. I can make your poetry gorgeous and ready to sell at readings. I do these at very reasonable rates,* and at the end can either send you a ready-to-print pdf, or assemble and package them up for you in pretty paper so it feels like Christmas when you receive them. I can also lay out a newsletter, set up post- and greeting cards, posters, flyers, cd packages, and other pretty paper things. You can check out my services here.

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I will admit, it’s been a little hard to blog lately. Every time I open up the page, there’s Serge staring back at me – I miss him terribly, and it’s a little heartbreaking to look at him there in that picture. But also, it’s been everything else too. I’ve been really sad about what’s going on in the world this month, in a hard-to-bear-up kind of way. So in a proactive move toward self-preservation, I’ve decided that I cannot listen to the news for any kind of extended period anymore. I used to come into work in the morning and turn on NPR to keep me entertained while I pushed around the paperwork, but lately that only leads to soggy paperwork. I’m limiting that business to while I’m driving – which means half an hour a day at most.

Which, I think,  is helping. But more than the moratorium on news shows, so is the little stuff that just involves physical doing: getting on the yoga mat for twenty minutes every day, making things with my hands, cooking, cleaning all the things stuff. And trying new things. New things keep my head in the good-space game as much as the physicality of making stuff is soothing by dint of keeping my hands busy. So here’s what I’ve been up to:

For my birthday a couple weeks ago I was gifted with a bookstore gift certificate, so I went kinda hog wild in there – after grabbing some sweet sweet Ursula K LeGuin paperbacks* I headed over to the crafting section and pored over the needlework books. I picked one out for its lovely pictures, only to find out at home that the pictures weren’t terribly detailed, and some of the descriptions of stitches were off. Luckily, I am privileged with internet access, and so YouTube, and dude, I learned some really cool stuff! Look at this pretty thing:

It’s called a broomstick stitch,** and it’s crochet, but it also requires a knitting needle. A huge knitting needle – size 50! So basically, you make loops and hold them on the knitting needle, and then you go back at the end of the line and single crochet them together in groups. I’m kind of in love with this – so far I’ve made two Christmas gift scarves, and a smallish scarf for myself.*** I plan on making a few more for the Etsy shop in the coming weeks.

Also, over the weekend I got busy with bread. Last year (the year before, maybe?) I tried to make a challah, and was unimpressed with the recipe – there were, like, a dozen egg yolks in there, the dough gummed up my stand mixer in a terrifying way, and the finished product was meh with a side of dry. The only redeeming bit was that it made marvelous french toast after everything was said and done. So I’ve been hesitant to make another one. But then the cookbook showed up. Omigod, the cookbook. For Hanukkah, Will Dearest got me a copy of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook , and, seriously Sister, it’s ON.  Deb Perelman  is one of my all-time favorite bloggers, and I cook a lot from her website, so this book has me head over heels.
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So this happened over the weekend.

I couldn’t take it anymore – the beautiful sun room, the place where I started seeds in the springtime, and the wonderful library space with the comfy wicker chair that Snowball likes to call His Throne, had become a disaster. It started to collect stuff in the corners, becoming a catchall for random stuff. Basically, it became nigh unusable except as a place to stuff, well,  stuff. And when I walked through the apartment last week, it felt like more and more of it was becoming this combination between catchall and clearinghouse (oh, kitchen table!) and less sanctuary. Which, really? Was a pretty clear reflection of my headspace, which has been super chaotic for about two months now. Something had to freaking give – either that or my blood pressure was going to become yet another thing that I was going to worry about.

Well, my family will be in town this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I needed to clean the house till it sparkled anyway, so this seemed as good a time as any to move some stuff, right? Right.

So we moved stuff. I spent a month working up to the decision of what to do with the sun room. I knew that I needed to make it into a dedicated space in order to make it function, but I couldn’t decide between a yoga space or a studio space. We started moving stuff out of the room, because I figured that once it was more empty, I would be able to visualize what it was I wanted from the room. It wasn’t until we moved Queen Coleus that I started to get a clearer picture.

It was also when we moved Queen Coleus that things started to get really hairy. See that pretty red trunk? That was where we originally had the papasan chair. Which now I couldn’t bear to put back in that spot, because it would block the view to the trunk and the plant, which looked totally pretty together.  So I moved a bookcase on the other side of the room and stuck the chair there. Which made me want to move the table holding the teevee and assorted other electronics to the other wall.  (Only I hated it there, and in the morning would wind up moving it back.*) Did I mention, this took place at, like, nine o’clock at night?? But in the end it was worth it, and by the next morning, I had made a decision: project space it would be.

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I know, I know, it’s still August – I’m picking tomatoes and peppers as they ripen, watching to see if the pumpkins will fruit from the blossoms, getting a kick out of the bumblebees that have been flirting with our sunflowers, and pickling the cukes for later (exciting! I’ll post pix of the jars soon). It’s garden season, right?  Absolutely.

BUT! Autumn is on the way, and if I may be completely honest, I could not be more thrilled. As much as I love the garden,watching stuff happen and change in the dirt, as much as we have enjoyed the hell out of home-grown zucchinis  and all the dreaming about how we’ll improve on it next year, I’m super tired of being hot. There it is, all of it – I can’t wait for the weather to cool off and my blood pressure to drop. And red leaves! And the  smell of autumn – zomg, the smell! And sweaters!

So, um, I’ve been knitting in anticipation. Hats. HATS WITH EARS!

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Zomg what a week!

In addition to dailies and boss fights in Firelands, real life goes on, and it has been going on in a rather full manner. Man Cub is finally back from vacation in FL (where he had a blast, thank you), I’m still temping four days a week, and my application to vend over at the Holden Farmer’s Market* was accepted.

Which means that I’ve been sewing my little heart out. On Sunday I stitched and stitched while both  The Fifth Element and Serenity played, as well as three This American Life podcasts, and two episodes of Firefly. And I made a whole bunch of rather pretty (I think!) shopping totes =D I put some up on Etsy this morning, too, if you’d like to check them out.

And speaking of Etsy – the lovely Ms. Lavoie over at Maple Street Shoppes has rounded a bunch of us MA locals  together on her webbie. If you go visit my page by her, you’ll find a coupon code you can use at my Etsy shop.

The rest of the week has been awash in gardening and taking care of business. Read the rest of this entry »

Who gets up at 6am on a Saturday when they don’t have to work? For reals- Will will tell you out of hand that Saturdays are for sleep till eleven. Man Cub would make that nine instead, for there are video games to be played and cartoons to be watched on a Saturdays, amirite? Regardless, Saturdays are customarily for sleeping in at No. 208.

But this last Saturday we all rolled out of bed and got our butts in gear. We packed the car all full of tee shirts that I had batiked up in the basement over the last month, the hats that I had made over the course of a year, and a bunch of sticky labels with ‘Apple Batiks’ printed on them, and headed up to East Brookfield.

Super fantatsic Ms. Kris Lavoie has put together a really great concept – she’s doing home-grown craft fairs at her house, under the moniker of The Maple Street Shoppe (the link is to FB – go ahead and like her, meow meow). The idea is to support local community by purchasing from artisans that live in the area.

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Monday was an ambitious day in the basement, where I keep my studio.  I had gotten some special orders, and they required two tub baths, so at 7:3o, as soon as Will and Man Cub were off for the day, I headed down and dug in. I think I finished around 4 in the afternoon?

I’m definitely getting better with the colors, and that’s super exciting. I even stopped the second dye bath early because the first had turned out so rich, and I wanted that one to come out less saturated. In the end, I got a dusty-grapey purple with some blue mottling, and a yummy clay red/wine stain. Also, the under-painting on the sugar skulls (pix under the cut) came out bright and vibrant the way I had hoped. \o/

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June 2023