30 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 30th

Today, I am thankful that it's the end of the month.

It's time to get back to posts about knitting... after I get back from a much-needed vacation. And if any of you are going to the Roller Derby World Cup, see you there!

29 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 29th

Today, I am thankful that I get to come home every night to curl up with my amazing boyfriend.


28 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 27th and 28th

Whoops! I guess I got so distracted yesterday that I forgot to post. I'll make up for it by being thankful for two things today!

Today, I am thankful for my experience in Small Claims Court, as stressful as it was at the time, 'cause it's going to come in handy soon. I am also thankful for the leftovers that are in my fridge, because their presence means I don't have to get groceries for a few more days.

One of the perks of adulthood: mashed potatoes for breakfast! Om nom nom!

26 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 26th

Today, I am thankful that I got to spend a few hours with old friends.

Granted, it meant being a stone's throw from a place with some very bad memories, but enough time has passed that I was able to enjoy the visit without too much stress. It was great to reconnect with people I haven't seen in ages, get some knitting done, and add a few titles to my must-see movie list thanks to one friend's recommendations. All in all, a nice day, and nicer still to come home and curl up with the fella. Life is good.

25 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 25th

Today, I am thankful for leftovers.

And that they're in someone else's fridge. Temptation, begone!

...and we sat down to another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat...

24 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 24th

Today, I am thankful that Amanda gave me the best sweet potato recipe ever.

It doesn't have marshmallows (thank goodness), but it does have a third of a cup of heavy cream, and lots of brown sugar. It's going to be hard not to just mash my face into the pan when I take it out of the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving!

23 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 23rd

Today, I am thankful for snow that shows up when it should.

Halloween was too early, but Thanksgiving is just right. Now, for a cozy day of knitting, hot chocolate, cuddly cats, and movies. Tomorrow, baking!

22 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 22nd

Today, I am thankful for my new family.

For the first time since my friend Amanda moved away, Thanksgiving is going to feel like a holiday. Nothing like wonderful people gathering together to make me feel less curmudgeonly.

21 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 21st

Today, I am thankful for the clarity that comes with time.

It's amazing what you realize when you've had time to move on and see things in a more realistic context. I've learned that bullies and abusers are really the most fragile, terrified people, but they'll never, ever admit it. I've learned that everybody lies, everybody has trouble remembering things, and that being human isn't something to be ashamed of. I've learned what true forgiveness and love feel like, and that the latter involves frequent reminders while the former doesn't. I've learned that I knew all along what "support" meant, and shouldn't have believed the lies. I've learned that family doesn't have to be a dirty word, and that I can love mine despite what they did to me. I've learned that I am, in fact, a good person, even though I've done some bad things.

And I've learned that I mirror the people around me, and need to surround myself with positive people in order to be a positive person. This is where that imaginary delete button comes in. Bad influences, begone!

20 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 20th

Today, I am thankful for my boyfriend.

He cuddles me when I need it, and doesn't when I want to be left alone. He asks enough questions to show his interest, but doesn't interrogate me. He gets my jokes, and loves my geekiness. He says what I'm thinking, often precisely at the moment I say it, too. He is supportive without being pushy. He is forgiving and patient. He knows that we both need alone time and time with our friends, and that having that time apart lets us enjoy our time together that much more.

He is perfect for me, and I love him very much.

Now if only I could get him to not throw his clothes on the floor. ;-)

19 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 19th

Today, I am thankful for time to myself.

As much as I love to cuddle and do all manner of mundane things with my boyfriend, sometimes I need to just curl up with the cats and a mug of cocoa and zone out for a while. Today is one of those days, and, as if someone were listening to what's going on in my brain, the fella's shooting buddy moved their range time from this afternoon to this morning, so I have the big, sunny house all to myself for a few hours.

Maybe I'll finish that third Capucine.

18 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 18th

Today, I am thankful for my stash.

As much of a pain as it's been to move so much yarn so many times in the last few years, I'm glad now that I went to the trouble. Always having materials to work with is a wonderful thing, especially when money's tight. Just last night I did a little stash diving to find yarn for yet another Capucine hat. I did rip out and re-knit the crown of the second one so it stays on my head now, but the colors in both that and the first one don't quite go with the other knitted things I like to wear. This one's going to be plain grey (recycled Goodwill sweater!) so it won't clash, and I've learned my lesson about trying to modify this particular pattern -- my head really is that big, and there really do need to be that many rows in the crown.

17 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 17th

Today, I am thankful for the delete button.

Sometimes, you just need things out of your life. Credit card offers? Delete. Fake Facebook friend requests? Delete. Male enhancement drug adverts? Delete. Messages from people who don't understand that no means no? Delete.

If only the rest of life had delete buttons... think how much simpler it would be! Unwanted advice from that pesky friend who thinks he knows everything? Delete! Awkward supermarket convo with someone you unfriended a year ago? Delete! Painful memories that always pop up at the worst possible time? Delete!

Someone should write an app for that.

16 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 16th

Today, I am thankful for automated phone answering systems that allow me to talk to a human being when I need to.

'Cause there's no menu option for, "I can't give you the paperwork by the day you expect it because I won't have it by the day you expect it. Alter your expectations."

And to the people who design automated phone answering systems that don't allow people to talk to human beings when necessary? Karma can be rough.

15 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 15th

Today, I am thankful for temp agencies.

Now if the one here were just better staffed so I didn't have to spend 20 minutes on hold every time I called...

14 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 14th

Today, I am thankful to have a yarn store nearby that has a knit night.

Sometimes, I just need to hang with knitters. Y'all understand, I'm sure.

13 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 13th

Today, I am thankful for my health.

It seems like an odd thing to be thankful for today, considering I had an especially painful bit of food poisoning around 2am, but getting through things like that reminds me of how rarely I get seriously sick. Sure, I have chronic pain, a host of mental health issues, and hyper-sensitive digestion, but they seldom lay me up for more than a day at a time. I get a cold maybe once a year, haven't had the flu since high school (and haven't had a flu shot in almost as long), and have learned the warning signs and preventative measures for the one thing that could put me in the hospital if not caught early.

And y'know what? I don't use any of that antibacterial/antimicrobial goop, I wash my hands with indy/handmade soap when they're dirty, and I don't eat anything special to protect myself from illness. I accept germs as part of life, and let my immune system do its job.

But I've just learned that Friendly's "Graham Central Station" ice cream and leftover fettucine alfredo do not combine well in my tummy. Ouchies.

12 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 12th

Today, I am thankful for New England weather.

I know, given the crazy storms and such that have hit the region this year, it's an odd thing to be thankful for. I'm not saying that I'm glad we've had to endure post-apocalyptic living conditions several times this year. That was horrible, and we still haven't really recovered. What I am saying is that I enjoy waking up in the morning and not knowing for sure what each day is going to be like.

Earlier this week it was in the 60s and sunny. Yesterday we had flurries (or a blizzard, depending on how you see such things). It's the time of year when we layer clothes (because the day can go from puffy coat to t-shirt temperature by lunchtime, then back again come dinnertime), make sure there are gloves in every coat pocket and an ice scraper (and shovel, and blanket, and extra washer fluid) in every car, and bring an umbrella everywhere in case of precipitation that's rather more liquid than solid.

Because I don't check the weather report unless it's by accident or I'm planning a long trip, I get to be surprised every day. It's one of those little things that I find so pleasurable about living in New England.

11 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 11th

Today, I am thankful for our armed services.

Setting aside matters of budgets and policy, I appreciate the men and women who protect and serve our country. Thank you all for your sacrifice.

10 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 10th

Today, I am thankful for roller derby.

Back when he was still living in San Antonio, David was one of the photographers for his local roller derby league, and while he never took me to a bout, his pictures and stories planted a seed in my mind.

Years later, I was looking for people to see and places to go, and discovered a hardcore derby fan who told me all about the local leagues. We went to a bout, and I was hooked, both on derby and on him. We've done five-hour round trips to our home teams' away games, we've booked a vacation to Toronto in December for the first ever Roller Derby World Cup, and there's a dedicated section of our closet exclusively for derby shirts.

You've all met football or hockey superfans, well, I'm a roller derby superfan. I dress up for bouts and have signs devoted to my favorite skaters/teams... the signs may or may not have glitter on them. (They totally do!)

And, lest we forget that this is a knitting blog, I have knit derby-related projects, too! Some of the early bouts this year were really cold, so I whipped up some legwarmers in my favorite team's colors (another excellent use for Red Heart, btw), and I started a matching mohawk hat with jammer stars on the side, but haven't gotten around to making the final star yet (they're appliquéd because my obsessive side doesn't like what duplicate stitch does to the proportions of a five-pointed star). The fella even got me a book of derby-related patterns written by roller girls (how awesome is that?), but it's out on loan to a friend who's currently an NSO (that's Non-Skating Official) for her local league.

While I have no interest in skating, I'm thrilled to have this amazing sport in the area, and very excited about the World Cup. And as much as I'd like to say I knit at bouts... I'm usually way too wrapped up in the game to even remember that I brought my knitting with me!

09 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 9th

Today, I am thankful for my family.

My family is always on my mind this time of year. Friday is the anniversary of the day my mother moved out and filed for divorce, and though it's been thirteen years, I can still remember how I felt that day. Even though I've maintained relationships with both parents and see them regularly, I still struggle with the fear and anger and worthlessness that peaked in that family therapy session when Mom made the announcement.

As I've grown up and spent a lot of time working on my own issues, I've realized things about my family's issues that allow me to have relationships with them without sacrificing my own health. I know, for example, that my mother will only contact me if she wants me to do something for her. That doesn't mean that she doesn't care what's going on in my life, just that she doesn't know how to feel comfortable asking how I'm doing without making some other, more practical request at the same time.

I know that my sister, who is so much like our mother that she can't actually have a relationship with her, got all of the drive and motivation that I lack. She works hard, studies like crazy, and gets stellar grades in some seriously tough classes because she has a plan for her future, and she's not going to let anything get in her way. Our relationship is strained at times because we see the world in such different ways (her cynicism is as beneficial to her as my optimism is to me), but I know that when the chips are down, we come through for each other.

I know that my father and I will never have a loving relationship, but that doesn't stop us from trading jokes and keeping each other updated on the mundane goings-on in our lives. The abuse he suffered as a child was passed on to me, and while I know he never intended to hurt me and probably doesn't even understand that he did, that pain stands in the way of me truly accepting him as a father. Still, he's appreciative when I make his favorite meals, and he's financially supported me far beyond what most parents would consider reasonable, so I do value his presence in my life.

Despite my family's dysfunctionality, I'm thankful to have them. They've taught me a lot, even if most of it is how not to be, and I keep learning new things about myself because of them. They're nowhere near perfect, but they're mine.

08 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 8th

Today, I am thankful for frogging.

Because some projects just need to be ripped out.

07 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 7th

Today I am thankful for Aleve, without which I would not have been able to get out of bed this morning.

Still can't do much now that I'm out of bed, but hey, I made it this far, and that's awesome.

06 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 6th

Today, I am thankful for what my mother taught me about cooking.

My mother isn't the best cook in the world. She tends to be scared of both flavor (except curry) and disease, so she boils everything beyond recognition and doesn't use seasoning. That said, she did teach me a lot about how to put a meal together, and what staples to always have in the pantry to get me through lean financial times.

Her meal guidelines look a lot like the old food pyramid: start with a grain (pasta, rice, bread), add a serving of protein (usually some form of meat), then pick one green vegetable and one red/orange/yellow vegetable, and maybe a little something sweet for dessert. Following this plan, my pantry always has a variety of grains (pasta, rice, and couscous) and some shelf-stable protein (lentils, canned tuna), my freezer is stocked with veggies (Hannaford's fiesta blend is becoming one of my favorites) and meat (sausage freezes well), and there's always enough flour/sugar/baking powder to bake up something tasty.

And for the flavor and techniques, well, that's why I used to watch a lot of cooking shows before I went TV-free. Alton Brown taught me the science, Graham Kerr (both as the Galloping Gourmet and in his more recent, health-conscious work) taught me the flavors, Jamie Oliver taught me to relax and have fun, and Anthony Bourdain taught me how to appreciate the meal as an experience.

Oh, and Gordon Ramsay taught me that some people are just jerks and should be ignored, but that has very little to do with cooking.

I suppose I could summarize my mother's food-related lessons like this: plan your meals a week at a time, use as few pots as possible (because the dishwasher only holds so much), make it balanced, and always have something to fall back on. After all, you never know when the power's going to go out (in which case, having a gas stove helps, but so does having a couple cans of tuna and a manual can opener), that pound of beef you were counting on is going to turn out to be freezer-burnt (I think Mom has venison in her freezer from two presidents ago, so this is more of a risk for her than for normal people), or you're suddenly going to have hungry family members pouring in from distaster-stricken areas (as happened a week ago, and boy, was I glad to have put a few pounds pulled pork in the crock pot that morning).

Speaking of food, it's about time to go grocery shopping. What staples do you keep in your pantry for emergencies?

05 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 5th

Today, I am thankful for Red Heart Super Saver.

Blasphemy, I know, but when I need a basic worsted weight yarn to test out a pattern that I'm probably going to rip out an hour later anyway, my first dive is into the bin labeled "acrylic." Last night, for example, I was considering my costume for tonight's roller derby bout, and was leaning toward something steampunk, but I lacked spats suitable for the boots I wanted to wear. I grabbed a ball of Red Heart and some needles, sketched out my plan, did a cheater-swatch, did some math, and cast on. I only got a few inches into it before I realized that a) my swatch/math had been wrong, b) there was no way I could get a pair of spats done by the appointed time, and c) I was, by that point, leaning more toward a renfaire-style costume anyway.

Still, the Red Heart came in very handy, and suffered the frogging with no ill effect. If I'd completed the project, those would have been the hardest-wearing spats a gal could hope for, and I could just toss them in the laundry if they got muddy. So while I won't be casting on for an acrylic sweater any time soon, Red Heart Super Saver does have its uses, and I'm glad it exists.

04 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 4th

Today, I am thankful for the internet.

Despite the trolls and stalkers, despite the wackos who have entire websites devoted to their tinfoil hat construction techniques, despite the fact that anonymity lets people feel free to say things they probably wouldn't say to somebody's face, I still love the internet.

I can check in with friends and family at a moment's notice, without having to use the phone (which doesn't seem like a scary thing until you have a hearing disability) or wait for a letter to arrive. I can research almost anything without having to wait for inter-library loan to come up with the one obscure text I'm looking for. I can limit my exposure to things like Lindsay Lohan's legal troubles, my abusive stalker's unsolicited emails, and anything relating to Michelle Bachman's hair, making my surfing experience that much more pleasurable.

And the best thing about the internet?

It has Ravelry.

'Nuff said.

03 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 3rd

Better late than never, eh? I was so excited at the prospect of insulating our windows this morning (yes, really, I'm weird like that) that I completely spaced on the whole blog thing and didn't remember until I was headed out for the afternoon, which brings me to my purpose:

Today, I am thankful for my friends.

One of the benefits of being unemployed is that I suddenly have time to go visit all of the far-flung friends I've missed while I was busy with work. This evening I caught up with a friend who I haven't seen since the last time there was snow on the ground (hey, now, no Vermont jokes, we do have summer up here) because she lives an hour and a half away, and most of the road to get to her place washed away during Irene. The plan was to fill each other in on the last two seasons of activity, cook dinner, and veg in front of the telly for a bit (I even brought knitting to work on).

The best laid plans, and all that...

Shortly after my arrival, one of her far-flung friends called to say he and company were in town, and would a group trip to the local diner work for us? Well, naturally! So we had some delightful company, the best mac-n-cheese a restaurant can provide, and rousing conversation about pens, firearms, Utilikilts, Angry Birds, and bar cats, among other things. Despite the change of plans, it was still precisely the type of cozy evening I'd been craving, and I'm very glad that I finally had the opportunity for it.

Speaking of friends, if any of you had given me your contact info, or if you hadn't but want me to have it, please drop me an email. My cellphone went for a swim the other day and my SIM card shorted out, so I need to rebuild my personal phonebook. My provider tells me I can transfer my old number to the new phone and card (task #1 tomorrow morning), so you won't have to change my info in your records, but I'd love to be able to call all of you fine folks once again.

And this time, I'm duplicating every record on paper. Modern tech is great, but ancient tech is far more reliable.

Night, all. Dream yarny dreams.

02 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 2nd

Today, I am thankful for Vermont Public Radio.

I don't have television, I don't read the news online, and I don't read the paper. Instead, I have the local TV station on my Facebook feed for hyper-local news, and I listen to VPR for everything else. My imagination is fertile enough that I can picture the places and situations I hear about on the radio without having video or pictures thrown at me, and because the stories on VPR come from a variety of sources, I feel better informed and don't get bored with the same news loop being replayed every 15 minutes.

Listening to VPR is also a coping mechanism for me. Being slightly obsessive-compulsive means that there's constant chatter going in my head (along with constant music), and if I don't have something engaging to listen to, I get stuck thinking the same things over and over again. Most commercial radio stations only make this worse, because they play the same songs over and over again (especially the stations that restrict themselves to a particular era) and the DJs and commercials are so inane as to drop my attention instantly.

There's a reason I set my computer's MP3 player to shuffle through three thousand tracks, and why my music collection is so varied. I never know what I'm going to be in the mood for, and I don't want to hear the same song twice in a week.

That's another wonderful thing about VPR -- it has separate frequencies devoted exclusively to classical music, and some of the shows focus on genres I don't know very well (like pipe organ music) or test listeners by merging one composer's tune with another's style, which is great exercise for the brain. Coming from the land of WFCR, which mixes news and classical, it's wonderful to be able to decide which I'd rather listen to at any time of day.

Which reminds me, it's time to break out the RCA cables, get my hi-fi set up, and decide where the speakers are going to go in the craft room. Then I'll see if my little radio receiver gets a clear signal out here in the boonies.

01 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 1st

Every morning this month, as I sit at my desk eating my breakfast yogurt, I'm going to think about all the things for which I am thankful, and I'm going to share one of those things here on the blog. I tend to think too much about the problems in my life and too little about the benefits, so this will be good practice for me, and maybe it will even inspire someone out there to do something similar.

Today, I am thankful for uninterrupted sleep.

My job and I have just parted ways, and as soon as it was official, I found myself finally able to relax. I hadn't realized just how tense I'd been, and how scared I was to go to work every morning. Just a week ago I was having trouble falling asleep. I would wake up a few times a night in a panic about work, and struggle to get back to sleep amid the chatter in my mind. Now, my sleep is peaceful, I wake up rested and optimistic about the day, and I feel very productive (which is good, because job hunting takes a LOT of work!).

Like Martha says, sleep: it's a good thing!

What are you thankful for today?