Today, lots of people are making Seven Layer Dip for a party celebrating a televised spectacle in which enormous grown men beat the crap out of each other and smaller white guys make a mint. Between the misogyny and the dripping testosterone, it’s bad news for women all around, but that’s nothing new. You know what is new? I’m physically able to do stuff all day again.
Perhaps you remember that five years ago, I had hip replacement surgery and made recovering from it my job. I ate with healing in mind. I exercised and did physical therapy with great seriousness while telling jokes for months on end. And then, two years later, I did it again. The physical therapy place should have a wing with my name on it. I felt a million percent better and have gone on with life as if none of that ever happened. Sometimes I forget how limited my life had become, how dealing with pain sapped my energy and strength, how few things I could do in a day because arthritis in my hips made sitting, standing, lying down or anything in between exhausting.
Perhaps you remember my grandson Panky is whip-smart. He has not had it easy with school systems designed to push ordinary kids to graduation day and administrators who are scared of smart kids. One day it dawned on me he should spend time with the smartest kids and adults used to the quirkiness of smart kids. He should go to space camp. Once I thought of it, I began scheming about how I could make that happen.
I would need a part-time job. Then one came to me: the bagel place in which Pete works three days a week needed someone to bake cookies and cakes, mix compound cream cheeses and generally clean for 4.5 hours on Saturdays. I started work five weeks ago. At first, I moved through what I had to do, didn’t think much about it and suddenly, I’d been on my feet for five hours. Five hours! I didn’t know I could do that. And then I did it again the next weekend and the next.
Apparently, I can do that now! But this weekend, I did a few different things. On Friday, I set up croissant dough, because I can! Yesterday, I did the complicated rolling and folding after working at the bagel place. I smoked eggplants in the backyard smoker. Today, Pete and I rolled out and folded pain au chocolat. I whipped up baba ghanouj. We baked off the best pain au chocolat of our illustrious careers, which is to say the last year. This afternoon, Pete and I made breakfast sausage from scratch and stuffed it into natural casings. You should see me standing atop a kitchen ladder, stuffing raw pork into a hopper. Ridiculous! But, even a year ago, I couldn’t have done all this in one day, even with good planning.
Progress in life takes different forms. In my case, progress takes the form of cookies and sausage and space camp. Five years ago, I could not have imagined it.
We’re expecting a snowstorm tonight and another immediately following. Somehow, this does not amount to expecting a snow day. How-how-how can two separate snowstorms in one night not result in my spending my tomorrow in jammies, kneading whole wheat dough?
When I’m at home during daylight hours, every two hours I pour a pot of boiling water over a frozen water dispenser for the chickens and give them treats. They reward me with a few eggs and standing at the other side of the run, pretending we’ve never met. It is winter, after all. The chickens have wild ideas about me. Why can’t I fix this wet stuff falling from the sky, with a roof over the run perhaps? It’s hard to look at this and not think, “Since I can manipulate their weather, I should make it spring already. Where’s my tanning lotion?”
Annual report time!
This started out as the Cat Blanket Project. The Lovely Georg, Ceiling Cat Remember Her With Fishy Treats, asked friends to knit or crochet blankets for animal shelters, which I did. But then people from all over – possibly including you – send me yarn in large boxes; other agencies/organizations ask for yarny help. So! You trusted me with art supplies. This is what I did with them in 2014, in 2015, and in 2016:
cat blankets These go to Georg or to a shelter with which Georg is in contact. In 2017, I added crocheted cat toys.
baby blankets A nearby hospital has a baby blanket project. I try to make blankets early in the year or during long car trips. I sometimes buy special yarn for this.
scarves There are a number of projects that ask for scarves. I send or deliver them all over the place. Mostly, I buy yarn for this that I think will be fun and soft to wear.
hats Several agencies ask for hats for infants, children and adults. Infant hats are quick to crochet.
lap blankets There’s a chemo facility nearby that asks for lap blankets for patients. I send these through a friend. She feels they are greatly appreciated. In 2017, lap blankets also went to veterans near the Shore.
In 2017, I stitched my fingers off!
Early in the year, I sent out 15 cat blankets and a friend donated an additional blanket. Later, 45 + 45 cat toys went to the same place. That’s 10 more blankets than I produced last year, yay!
Three baby blankets went to the hospital project. Four scarves and three hats went to a community project. I made a thick, giant rug for a very large dog belonging to a very elderly lady.
Seven lap blankets went to veterans, through new friends. Two large blankets went to the Welcome Blanket Project. Finally, early in the year, I made 36 pussy hats for the Women’s March On Washington. I totally bought out my local yarn store’s pink yarn supply!
Sometimes, when donated boxes of yarn arrive at my door, the skeins look like random leftovers from dozens of projects, but sometimes they don’t. This year, I spread out the contents of one box on the floor of my craft lair and discovered unfinished sweaters, Alpine lace, knitting needles, bobbins, threaded tapestry needles. Many things were individually wrapped in plastic bags and labeled. My impression was that a knitter’s projects stopped suddenly, and everything ended up in the box.
Thank you, you, you for trusting me.
Not many people know this about me: I don’t eat doughnuts. It’s not that I’ve joined the Doughnut Temperance League (meetings Tuesday nights at the Best Buy near the feed store), it’s that I have no metabolism and the fastest way to double in size is eat a doughnut or six. I don’t really miss the doughnuts I don’t eat. So when I was encouraged to get a doughnut, that is exactly what I did not do.
“Ta,” you say, “this is fascinating and all – everything about you is! – but what does it have to do with – for example – me?” I haven’t got the faintest idea, really. At the moment, I’m sitting at a desk, waiting for someone to finish a task so I can resume doing a very large job where I work at the unnamed university. Waiting is a skill. I do not have it! It is taking a great deal of effort on my part not to skitter across this room, loom over the working someone and bellow, “ARE YOU FINISHED? BECAUSE MY MIND IS WANDERING AND I AM TALKING ABOUT DOUGHNUTS.” You can see where that might be a workplace no-no. And I am so hoping my new supervisor won’t have HR on speed dial.
In about another 11 days, the daylight hours will begin to be longer and the nighttime will begin to feel shorter and that’s important because right now, 6 p.m. feels like the middle of the night. That was kind of groovy when I lived the vampire lifestyle, dressed in black all the time and super-pale from the lack of daylight-enhanced Vitamin D coursing through me, but times change. I changed. I want freaking sunlight.
Last week, friend of Poor Impulse Control Paulie Gonzalez renewed the domain name for another year. Thanks, Paulie! I’ll send a decent bottle of wine the new address in the wilds of Asbury Park.
In other news, Panky is a little too smart and quirky for the adults in his new school, so I’m thinking he should hang out with other supersmart kids this summer. Panky’s had a rough go for the last few years with a couple of schools going so far as to try illegally tossing him out. Education policy in the U.S. has gone crazy, and kids need us to do better. For my part, I can’t do much, but I can find some money to send that kid to a place where he’ll meet other smart and quirky kids just like him, I hope. And they will make robots who I also hope will not use us for spare parts.
I’m winding up my year in fiber arts projects and stitching as fast as my fingers can manage. Do not think I am ignoring you because I am not! Until I am genius enough to be able to crochet and blog at the same time, I will continue to have conflicts. Do I blog? Do I stitch a thing? I feel exqueezed! But I am here, and I will be here, for PIC’s fourteenth year.