Lynn's blog

Well! That summer just ripped by. We didn't even get summer here in Oregon until July, and then poof, it's September. Josie turned 11 yesterday (!), totally took me by surprise. Well, not that much; we have a party planned and everything. Just snuck up on me.

This has been the busiest summer in memory for us. I got a new bike and have started riding as much as possible. This is monumental. Less than two years ago, I couldn't walk to the end of the block, and I wasn't allowed to drive. We NEVER thought I'd be able to do some of the things I can do now.

We went camping. I am not a camper. I'm still not a camper. The people we camped with didn't understand that if I don't sleep the night before, I am no good the next day--really no good--and I will do what I have to do, namely take it very, very easy. We learned a lot about what we need when camping, though, and next time it'll be easier. Next time I'll remember a copy of Roberts' Rules of Order and motel reservations down the highway, just in case.

I completely lost the will to knit. No idea why. Today I finished two socks that have been sitting on the needles languishing, waiting to be bound off. I feel in the mood to knit again, in fact, even saw something in the new issue of Knitty that I might attempt.

And I've been writing. A lot. Nothing I can show you here, but it's felt very, very good indeed.

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This is Henry:

Henry
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Hello, dear ones! Things are nuts, and I am being torn in several directions right now. I'm still here checking on things, and eventually I'll be blogging more as I get things straightened around in my head and my life. But for now, hey, new pictures!

John, Josie, me and Louisa, taken in April--I think on Lou's birthday, but I'm not entirely sure.

Me and the girls, taken the same day. Pix courtesy Gramma Arlene (hi mom!). I'll be back, I promise!

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She won! she won! she won! squeal! If you heard screaming, it was the girls and me. :D

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You KNOW how I am about Dancing with the Stars. Kristi totally pwned the boys tonight, though, you know, I am so not sad Jason and Cristian made it to the finals. Holy cats, them are two gorgeous men, and I could look at them a lot longer than these last few weeks. But Kristi deserves it, completely and utterly. She is shorter than they are and still stood head and shoulders over them all.

Go Kristi!

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Louisa Mei is seven years old today!

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Have you gotten the Great Respiratory Virus of 2008?

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INVISIBLE LOLZ!

Totally invisible, because I'm miserable. I've been trying to muster the energy to update the software here, and I just haven't had it. Now I know why. I'll try to make sure JJ goes through the comments queue tomorrow morning.

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I've noticed a lot of visitors to the site are using "Fun Web Products." There's some debate as to whether this is spyware/browser hijacking software. But I thought I'd at least tell you guys what to do about it. Best tip: Use Firefox. It's far and away the best browser.

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I am so frickin' not ready for this.

Today Josie and I went to Freddies and bought her four little teenie bras. She doesn't really have anything much to hold up yet, but not for long. And she does need that extra layer under her shirts now; she's noticeably, uh, pointy in the chestal area.

oy.

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According to the British website alljoinin.com, the average British housewife would earn £30,000 were she actually paid for her labor. That's well over the actual average wage in Britain. At the current exchange rate, that's just under $60,000. That number has stayed amazingly consistent--this isn't the first time something like this has been calculated out.

So should homemakers be paid a wage? I say no--I mean, who's paying?--but we do deserve more legal protection than we have.

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For 20 years now, I haven't had a closet with a door on it--the entire time I've lived in this house. When I lived in the downstairs bedroom (now Josie's), it came with a curtain over the door, which was the first thing I removed when I moved in. When we remodeled the upstairs, we ran out of money and space for a proper closet in our bedroom, so we made do with a couple of cheapo fabric-covered wardrobes that fell apart almost immediately. And yet we continued to use them, because we had no alternative.

Until now.

Last night we finished up installing two lovely new wardrobes from IKEA. (Heilsa IKEA!) And now we have not only enough room to hang all our clothes, but also a proper shoe rack, and room for John's large collection of boots. (One of his nicknames is "Imeldo.")

What makes the wardrobes the most lovely is that they have doors. Real doors, with, like, hinges and handles, and they're made of wood, or a wood-like substance anyway. We still have room for shelving in the wardrobes, which is a project/IKEA run for the week.

aah. adulthood at last.

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My Valentine's Day present to JJ was a bag full of goodies that cannot be discussed on a family forum. ;) The girls got bouquets of flowers from their daddy. And I got three hours to myself at a writing workshop featuring Kim Stafford.

I haven't been to a writing workshop in 25 years. That last time, I embarrassed myself so thoroughly with my own pomposity that I couldn't face doing another one and have actively avoided the teacher (a fairly prominent regional novelist) assiduously ever since.

One of the prompts was to write a love poem about the most beloved inanimate object in our houses. Since I have fibromyalgia, that would be my Tempurpedic bed, which I worship. Here is the poem:

Oh, bed. Oh, my bed.
In winter, you are comically hard when I first slip into you
Needing my heat to soften you to the point where you don't feel like a frozen board
Like I'm lying on the tundra, the permafrost
But oh, my bed
When you warm under my body, you mold around me and hold me up
All flannel and warmth, reflected back, my own warmth captured and transmitted into softness
And next to me, under the down and chenille
My boy, drowsy and moaning in his sleep
His mouth so soft and childlike and the little gray patch in his beard
I turn over on my side, careful of the box in my chest that keeps my heart from stopping
And you hold me up another night and let me sleep
Oh, my bed.

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all.

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Josie has her own room again, after nearly 7 years of sharing one with LouLou. Lou kept the old room upstairs with us, and Josie got the guest room downstairs off the dining room.

My mom said, "But where will I sleep when I come?" Josie will move upstairs to her sister's daybed, and guests will use her bed as they always had in the past.

It took us nearly two days of work to get the guest room ready, Josie's stuff downstairs and put away, and Lou's room mucked out. And I mean mucked out.

I don't know how they managed, but we've mucked out their room three times this month, and each time it's as bad as the last. It's one of the reasons we gave Jo her own room, so that they're responsible for their own messes now.

Josie has kept her room fairly tidy so far--and is living in there, I never see her it seems like--and Lou has actually made a few strides toward tidiness herself. I got her out of bed last night (she wasn't asleep yet) to put away her books and toys, and this morning when I went into her room I could actually see the carpet. So there may be hope yet for this family. :)

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I'm getting old. I can tell, because silly things make me cry.

Today, for instance, I got a notice that someone had looked at my profile on classmates.com. Went and looked; it was an old boyfriend of sorts who'd looked me up before, no big thing. But elsewhere on the page, I saw a name, a name I'd sorta been looking for, a name I'd even googled once. For here, I'll call him A. He was...well, I never really said it before today, not even to myself, but he was my first love.

A was brilliant. I mean, really brilliant. I mean, I'm smart and I felt slow around him. I mean, he didn't take calculus in high school; he helped teach calculus. He was sweet. And he was beautiful. Stunningly, amazingly, unconsciously, heartbreakingly beautiful. As much as I love my husband, and as handsome as he is--and friends, my boy is darling--A remains the most beautiful boy I have ever seen. Green eyes, golden hair, swimmers body, perfect teeth. And he liked me, for a little while at least. He was the first boy who ever asked me out, and I worshipped the ground he walked on.

Of course, it didn't end well.

One of my greatest regrets in life is that I had the chance to kiss him, for him to be the first boy I ever kissed, and I blew it. I was in his arms, and we were saying goodnight, and I went to kiss him but I was so nervous I kissed his cheek. And then the moment was gone and I never got another one.

For all I know, he's gay. For all I know, I was just something to pass the time when he came home from college (he was two years older). For all I know, the embarrassed look he gave me as his sneering best friend drove them away the last time I saw him wasn't embarrassment but shame. For all I know, he's never thought of me once since. For all I know, he's thought of me as often as I've thought of him, but I doubt it.

I just wrote him a quick note via classmates. I don't expect to hear back, so I told him what I needed to tell him: That he had been so special to me, and that I hoped he was well and happy.

And now I'm sitting here crying. I'm nearly 47 years old and I'm crying over a boy from high school. I'm getting old.

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I always said that the day Josie gave up her bosom companion Snow Bear would be a very sad day, and here it is. Lou came into bed this morning with me, holding Snow Bear. "Oh yeah," she said, "Josie gave him to me."

Snow Bear has been Jo's best stuffed buddy since about age three. He has gone everywhere with us in that time, even to church. I've had long conversations with him, with Jo supplying his sweet, gruff voice, and most nights when I said good night, I'd always add "Good night, Snow Bear," and get a low "good night!" in return. Knowing that I won't hear that ever again saddens me greatly, but children grow up.

I asked Josie about it, and she said she just didn't need him any more so it was time for him to go to Lou. It's true. About six months ago she stopped taking him outside the house, and then she stopped worrying about if he'd be okay by himself in the house about three months ago. (She used to settle him on the couch and say goodbye before we'd leave.) So I knew this was coming.

Still. To think I will no longer have conversations with Snow Bear makes my eyes sting a little. More than a little.

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We got an HDTV a couple of weeks ago; our old tube TV bit the dust much earlier than we expected. Tonight John got a DTV antenna for it so we can watch digital off the air. We'll be getting digital cable once the new paycheck kicks in, but for now this is good.

And we're sitting here like a couple of stoners watching Conan O'Brien going, "Dude! Check out the detail on the background! Omigod! the couch cushions! Do we have any Doritos?"

Apart from that, I haven't seen Conan in a while, and I've heard that during the writers' strike (go writers) that he's really smokin' funny--just basically being Conan. And maybe it's the stoner thing from the DTV, or maybe he's just hilarious, because...he is smokin' funny. My stomach hurts from laughing.

He's a frickin' brilliant entertainer, and if you haven't checked him out lately, you should. He may even be *funnier* without writers. I mean, right now he's singing rockabilly, really playing the guitar, with Japanese subtitles. You hadda be there, but I'm glad I was. I can't wait until he takes over the Tonight Show.

Plus also, Conan? The beard is working for you. Keep it after the strike.

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Hi! I'm back! Long time no type! blah blah! :) I have so much to tell you. I'm not even sure where to start. Suffice it to say, to begin with, I'm feeling better. I haven't been depressed like this--when I wasn't sick or something--in a while.

It always seems to be, though, just before a major change in my life. This time around, it's in my creative life. I'm not ready to share the details of that, and may never be, but the short version is that I finally broke through to something I've been trying to do for a very long time. (More after the cut.)

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Courtesy my buddies at the Merc, I present to you, the most awesome Beatles/Led Zep cover band ever: The Beatnix, doing "Stairway to Heaven" Beatles-style. No, srsly.

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You may have noticed that for large chunks of the last week or so TNH has been unavailable. And then I closed it down with a moving notice.

One of our sister sites that we share our server with came under severe attack, and our hosting provider was less than helpful even after JJ and I figured out what was going on and how to stop it. In fact, they told us that if it happened a third time that we would be asked to leave. Well, it did, and so we've left. I won't say that our new provider is attack-proof, but they are more helpful, and outages like this week's should be more rare.

The last couple of weeks have been very difficult for me. I'm undergoing a depressive episode and now this. But things are now looking up a little. Here's hoping.

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You have one more day to submit your video question and vote on your favorite questions at 10 Questions. Starting this Saturday, the US presidential candidates will begin answering the top ten questions. Several candidates on both sides of the aisle have committed to answer, including John Edwards and Ron Paul. Get votin'!

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We just paid $3.23 a gallon for heating oil.

Sit with that for a minute: $3.23 a gallon for heating oil.

We're not wealthy people; if the survey results this summer are right, few of you out there are, either. We don't believe in credit card debt and we have a small emergency fund but not a huge one. We've been crushed by extreme medical bills, twice, and we've managed to claw out from under.

And now this.

We're lucky that we can do it--this time. But what about next time, when heating oil might be up over $4 a gallon? What about all the folks who can't afford it? This is going to be a long, cold winter for a lot of people.

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I've finished two sweaters, count em, two! One for Josie and one for Lou:

Josie's sweater

Lou's sweater

Lou's is too big--makes her look like the snowsuit kid in "A Christmas Story"--but it's cozy and warm and she loves it. Josie's is extra-long on purpose so that she can wear it for a while. She practically lives in it. Lou's is from super-bulky Gedifra Gigante from the yarnvalanche, and Josie's is handspun Romney from roving I got at Black Sheep in 2005. I'm so glad these are done!

Mostly now I'm working on a big pile of scarves from the yarnvalanche bags--mistake rib in alternating stripes of Kureyon. I'm hoping those will make good presents for folks.

BTW: If you're a member of Ravelry, aka "the big giant time suck," there is a TNH group on it! Please join and share your projects.

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A follow-up to yesterday's 10 Questions announcement:

I have my own ideas as to what the top political issues are for homemakers regardless of political identity, but I want to hear from you first before I start fulminating. What issues are important to you as a homemaker? What issues most affect your family, and what do you most want the next government to address?

I'm not looking for partisanship here and I don't want debate. I want to know what's on your minds. So I'm going to ask that people just allow commenters to put stuff out in this post and not respond or argue. Thanks.

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I am THRILLED! to announce that The New Homemaker is co-sponsoring an important effort to engage the public in the political process: 10Questions.com.

Supported by the New York Times editorial board, MSNBC.com and a multi-partisan group of blogs, 10Questions.com is doing what the CNN/YouTube debate should have done. Not only are the public submitting video questions for candidates of both parties, but the public is voting on which questions get asked. In the CNN version, CNN chose the questions--which is how we ended up with a snowman asking a question in a presidential debate. *rolling eyes*

It's also against the spirit of what video sharing communities are about. At YouTube and other video sites, the users vote videos up or down, deciding on a video's popularity themselves rather than depending on a gatekeeper.

I HIGHLY encourage you to submit questions, and/or vote on which questions should be asked of the candidates. Remember, these questions are going to be asked of both Republican and Democratic candidates. You'll find a banner at the top of our home page for the next 28 days and at the bottom you'll see the current top video. Check in to 10Questions.com often to see what your fellow citizens are thinking.

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Did you read about the Medtronic defibrillator lead recall? Guess who has a Fidelis lead implanted in her heart?

Oh yeah, baby.

Luckily, I have an appointment with my cardiologist next week. There's not much that can be done, really. There's a 2.5% chance the lead might fracture--setting off inappropriate shocks or no shock if I need it--but as one of my online support group members said, if we didn't have the ICD, there would be 100% chance we'd die if our hearts stopped.

Apparently there's some jiggery-pokery that they can do with programming to mitigate potential problems. Replacing the lead is not recommended, and I'm not really thrilled at that idea anyway. My heart was jumpy and irritated for a year after implantation and the last thing I want is to go through the cath lab and implantation and healing all over again. It is hell.

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Lou is finally starting to come out of her spastic goony pre-schooler period, which has gone on now for FOUR YEARS. She's got her first really loose tooth, a lower front one, for starters. She's beginning to calm down and not mug non-stop all day. She's sleeping in her own bed, and not her sister's, more and more.

And yesterday, she officially joined the ranks of readers.

Josie had gone out to spend her birthday gift certificate to Powell's with her grandparents, leaving Lou and me alone in the house. So we sat down, slightly against her will, with the McGuffey First Reader and looked at the first five lessons.

She practically sailed through them! I know Josie has been sort of teaching Lou from the Reader, but she obviously hadn't memorized all of the lessons. And when we got to a word that stymied her in Lesson V, "catch," once I reminded her that "ch" sounds "chuh" she sounded the word out on her own.

I cheered and yelled and grabbed her and kissed her all over and made her giggle and squeal. "Lou! You're a reader now!"

And that message seems to have taken. Last night, she read Lesson VI for her dad, and then the two of them went to the store. "Look, dad, that's organic," said Lou. Really? said daddy, how do you know? "It says 'organic' right on it--o-r-g-a-n-i-c." John gaped. "I can read now," Lou added matter-of-factly, "Mama taught me this afternoon."

See why we love homeschooling so much? I wouldn't have missed yesterday for anything.

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Tomorrow John and I celebrate 13 years of official state-sanctioned partnership. We're whooping it up tonight; fortuitously, the girls will be at a Girl Scouts sleepover.

We got married under a tree in our back yard, three days after he asked me for the second time to marry him. The first time, I said yes, but we didn't set a date, and as the date-setting time approached he got more and more nervous. Finally, he said, "Marry me tomorrow," and I said the county makes us wait three days. So he said, "Marry me in three days." So I did. :)

We both worked a half-day, and a flower cart on the bus mall did my flowers. We had to wait until Lou was born to afford decent rings, and made do on the event with $5 silver bands. We spent our wedding night at Edgefield (Thursday night special), and he went back to work the next day.

They said it wouldn't last, but we've been best friends from the day we met 15 years ago this November. I truly have never had a better friend than my John.

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I'm behind in posting my finished objects! Latest first: To the right is a skein of laceweight merino I finished this week, 275 yds, 4 oz. Spun from a merino roving hand-dyed by Sherri at Butternut Woolens, a colorway called Salmonberry. Part of a set of seven bumps I got in trade for some web work in I think it was 2004. Every time I think I've spun up or gifted all seven I keep uncovering one. But this time I really think it's the end of that trade!

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I am a very light sleeper. Very light. The last three nights, right around 1 am, an alarm has gone off in our bedroom. It was a high-low tone, like a European police siren, but soft. There was only one thing that I knew of in my room that would produce a sound like that:

My ICD/pacemaker.

It was supposed to alert, if it needed to, at 10:10 am. But the way my medical care has gone, WHO KNOWS. Oh, I ransacked the room to make sure. The first thing I checked was my iPod, which coincidentally I'd brought up stairs three nights ago from its usual spot by my chair. I couldn't find an alarm clock on it.

So finally after I heard the tone again last night/this morning, I tried to find a sample sound at Medtronic (the ICD maker), but only found a note saying if you heard that sound to call your doctor IMMEDIATELY. So I did, and they said to call in when the clinic opened to have my unit tested.

I freaked out about what could have caused my unit to malfunction. The thought of going back into that hospital and having them screw around with my implant--it was more than I could bear. It's just too soon. I remember it all too well.

Finally John said, look, search on iPod alarm and see what you can find out. I just don't think it's your ICD. I found a tutorial on using your iPod alarm clock. Yes, it has one. Went through the steps. Found it, and discovered that the damn thing had somehow been programmed to give a soft, European police siren-y sound at, you guessed it, 1 am. I burst into tears of relief, and turned off the alarm.

I have successfully resisted the urge so far to throw the goddamned thing out the window.

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