Nailed it!

5:20 a.m.

I am awake, but Attila is not. This is how weekend mornings go. My waking time is consistent. During the week Attila wakes up before I do, to an alarm clock, which often awakens me, so that I in turn awaken him. On lucky mornings, the alarm clock awakens Attila first and I sleep in until just past 5:00 a.m. On the weekends Attila awakes long after I do.

So here I am sitting in my rocking chair, the sun is just peeping above the horizon and its glorious light is glittering through the frozen ice patterns on the window. It is cold out there, -17C this morning, on the thermometer just outside the kitchen window, which reads a little warm due to its proximity to the kitchen window, which leaks a bit of our precious heat.

One thing I don’t think I have ever written about here is my “crooked arm”. I am the eldest of five children, and that is how we children referred to my arm, the “crooked arm”. My father had other ways of describing me and my arm, but they are not worth repeating, although they are indelibly etched into my soul. As a child I considered his words, meditated on them as they came from my father, and completely rejected his point of view, much to my benefit.

My arm was damaged at birth, so badly that is was never expected to grow to a normal size. My Mom never gave in, and I was expected use my arm and hand as if they were exactly like my other arm and hand. The effect of my Mom’s “never say never” approach was that the arm grew to look as it should, and is quite functional. I have little motor control and restricted movement in that arm, there was neurological and skeletal damage that was assessed during my childhood, and again when I explored possibilities as an adult. There were medical interventions, with no guarantees, I discovered during the 80s, that would require breaking of bones and surgeries; I decided that my arm was a great part of who I am, and I would live my life with it as it is. I grew up thinking of myself as fully able bodied, and can do most of the things I am interested in doing. I have to choose my battles though.

I was chatting with Sister-The-Youngest-Girl yesterday morning about this, and she said that she remembers being very impressed that I could do one handed cartwheels when I was a teen. I was captain of the cheerleading team in high school, and to join the team and gain leadership I had to do cartwheels. I could not support any weight with my arm, so my solution was to practice day and night until I could perform a one handed cartwheel, with my “crooked arm” tucked neatly at my side. It was a very satisfying accomplishment, which took a lot of my time and effort.

I am older now, and still choosing my battles. In deciding to learn to crochet, I knew I was taking on a real challenge, it is an activity that demands fine motor control in both hands. I had had negative experiences with crochet during my childhood, particularly when I was a Brownie, where right handed people were teaching the skill and telling me to “just do it backwards”. I managed to produce the required item for my badge, but there were many tears involved, and a fair amount of physical pain. But I did it. So, deciding to revisit crocheting is not as straightforward as it might sound, in my instance.

I am well pleased this morning because I had a breakthrough in learning how to crochet. I am still at the phase where I am learning how to hold my hands in order to perform the stitches. It has been a real challenge. I tried all of the techniques I could find on youtube, no joy. The yarn slipped off my fingers constantly, no matter what I did. My tension was all over the map, my arm ached, my ears were ringing, and I developed a headache after a few minutes of stitching. I tried wearing a fingerless glove so that the yarn could feed up my wrist and out the finger, but that resulted in far too much tension, and I couldn’t control it with my finger. Then I took the fingers I had cut off the glove, cut off the tips to make finger tubes, and placed those on my pinky and my forefinger. This improved things somewhat, but I was still unable to control the tension to my satisfaction.

Then, as usual, when I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing, distracted by the sunlight, my fingers just did what they needed to do. I’ve nailed it! It was a technique I’ve not seen, so I believe it is unique to me, as is my arm, a custom adaptation for my physical limitations. And it worked! Instead of using my forefinger to feed the yarn, I use my middle finger, with a finger tube over my knuckle to prevent the yarn from slipping up my finger. I also have a finger tube on the end of my pinky to prevent the yarn from slipping off that the end of that finger. It is so much more comfortable, and I have much better control over the yarn and the tension.

Crochet right hand My technique, it looks awkward doesn’t it! Part of it is the angle of the photograph, trying to move my hands around so that the camera in the computer could catch the way the yarn is placed around my fingers. For me, this way of holding the whole thing together is the most comfortable so far.

I knew that if I spent enough time experimenting and practicing, that my unconscious mind would work with my body to come up with a solution! I have a lot of respect for the intellect, the thinking mind, an area where I have real talent and disciplined skills, but I have just as much respect for the unconscious mind, body knowledge, and emotions. My breakthrough has come through coordinating all of these aspects of human existence to find a solution to a unique challenge.

Now, all I need to do it just stitch and stitch and stitch until I develop body memory, and get a feel for the right tension!

1:15 p.m.

Our thoughts are increasingly wandering to the Rideau Camp, and Iris the trailer. Soon we will be heading out to the camp to work on the projects there. I will open Iris up from her long winter’s nap in a few weeks, and begin preparing her for her first trip out to the Rideau Camp. We bought solar panels on sale last fall, a great deal we couldn’t pass up. We have all but the battery to hook up to the 12 volt lights in Iris. AGM batteries are much more reasonably priced at Costco. So, it was time to spring for a Costco membership.

Yesterday was a shopping day. We visited two thrift shops. The first was the Habitat ReStore, where I purchased four key tags for $1. Then we headed to Value Village, where we considered everything to be overpriced. There we found the Planet Earth series on DVD for $7.99, in perfect condition, and purchased it, our only purchase there. Next on the list was Costco, where our membership was renewed, and we spent a few hours browsing around gawking at the huge number of items on offer. And of course, we did put some items into our cart. Our neighbours call Costco the $500 store, with good reason. We did not spend that much, not anywhere near, but we did spend far more than we had planned.

Among the items purchased were two sets of flannelette sheets for our beds. We bought the beds new just after we moved here, and have been using old, very old, bedding since then. The old bedding wasn’t really working out well. Attila’s fitted sheet was not deep enough and kept popping off the mattress during the night. My flat sheet was a double size and I kept getting tangled up in it during the night. When we spied the sheet sets for $14.95 each we decided to splurge and buy new sheets for our almost new beds. We brought them home, washed and dried them, made up the beds with them, and after spending a night with them decided that the decision to buy them was a good one. So good in fact, that a return visit to Costco was in order today, to buy two more sets.

Other items purchased yesterday were insulated coffee mugs for Attila. Attila drinks a lot of coffee, constantly, all day long. We recently splurged and purchased him a great vacuum bottle, which keeps his coffee hot all day long, unlike his old one which did not. He also uses an insulated mug to carry around and drink his coffee. He has almost worn out his coffee mug, the lid is cracked and leaking. A package of two new coffee mugs were in yesterday’s shopping cart a Costco.

Today, when we returned for another two sets of bed sheets, other items went into the cart. Salad ingredients, milk, and small food items were chosen. As well, I was tempted by brooms. We have been using brooms from the Dollar Store, which work, but not all that well. The current broom at home has been in sad shape for some time now. So into the cart went a set of brooms.

We have consoled ourselves that this binge spending is just our way of thumbing our noses at old man winter, who returned last Friday for a brief visit. It is our form of retail therapy, buying things we need as a treat.

We haven’t purchased the battery yet though, the original reason for renewing our Costco membership, they won’t be in stock until April. We can wait, we are all shopped out at the moment!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-15°C
Date: 8:00 AM EST Sunday 5 March 2017
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 104.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -15.1°C
Dew point: -21.2°C
Humidity: 60% Wind:
NE 12 km/h
Wind Chill: -22
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“A smile is the shortest distance between two people.”
Victor Borge
1909 – 2000

Crochet

I am trying to relearn how to crochet.

The first video I found on Youtube was fine, from it I learned how to hold the hook, doing it backwards, as the video was aimed at people who are right handed. I tried to follow along setting up for a slip stitch, but ended up with a knot so tight that I had to cut it off the ball of yarn and throw it away. So it was time to find a video meant for left handed crochet, this one was helpful.

Following this video I managed to get the first slip knot onto the hook and working correctly. Hours had gone by, and I was exhausted, as repeated failure can have that affect. Satisfied, I put my ball of wool and hook away for today. Tomorrow I will take it all out again and go through the same steps again, and maybe attempt to add one more. This is going to take some time!

I could grasp advanced mathematics, statistics, chemistry and all kinds of complex subjects and tasks, but put a crochet hook in my hand and watch me quiver!

After spending hours concentrating on learning a difficult (for me) skill, I needed to get up and move around! I puttered in the kitchen, and then began learning a spot in the front bedroom for the computer desk. It has been in the living room, the resting place of the 2007 iMac. The iMac is now safely packed into the original boxes. The desk also held the printer, which I moved into the front bedroom and onto the wood desktop that sits atop the filing cabinets in that room. Almost all of the accumulated paper work that had been sitting on the desk has been sorted, then filed or discarded. The computer desk is now empty, and ready for the next step.

I want to store the computer desk in the front bedroom, but there is almost no floor space in that room. The clothes drying racks are setup in there, and they will remain in use until the weather is warm enough to comfortably hang our clothes out on the line on the back porch. There are two 25 kg bags of bread flour in the front bedroom, one of white bread flour, and one of whole wheat bread flour. Slowly, but every so slowly, the contents of those bags are disappearing as my bread baking progresses, and eventually they will be gone. The clutter also consists of a tote containing all of my sewing and fibre art equipment, such as a sewing machine and a quilting hoop. There is one large tote full of fabrics, collected over the last 47 years. Another large tote contains genealogy books, files, correspondence, and CDs. And another tote contains bulk dry goods, rice and beans, which I will transfer to five gallon pails, which I ordered today, which will allow basement storage.

Also in the front bedroom are a single mattress to be used in Iris the trailer this summer, and four solar panels we picked up on sale, which will power the LED lights in Iris, allow us to recharge cell phones, and if we are really lucky, we might be able to watch a DVD on the computer when we are at the Rideau Camp for extended periods of time. In a few weeks all of these items will be moved into their summer storage locations, freeing up even more floor space in the front bedroom.

We had a quiet lovely weekend. Attila made turkey soup, I baked bread, and we both worked on making croutons. We eat a green salad every day, and the croutons make it a very special course for our evening meals.

Today I have found small stashes of things that I stored in containers over forty years ago, intending to get back to them immediately. Better late than never I suppose. For instance, there is a lifetime supply of hair combs, bought at a liquidation sale almost thirty years ago, when my girls were losing combs at an alarming rate. There is no shortage of nail clippers, shower caps, shoe shine sponges, and shammies. I think though, that if I have not needed these things over the last forty years, I need not hold on to them any long for the “just in case”; it has come and gone unnoticed.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

7°C
Date: 2:00 PM EST Monday 27 February 2017
Condition:Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 6.8°C
Dew point: -0.6°C
Humidity: 59%
Wind: SW 25 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
George Orwell
1903 – 1950