Thursday, January 22, 2015

At last!

It's just two bobbins of wool. Two bobbins of slightly purple, very textured lace weight singles. Spun from some roving I bought at MDSW'14 from Karen Schlossberg of Avalon Springs Farm here in Mt. Airy, MD. I wasn't even all that thrilled with the roving as I spun it--there were large chunks of damaged, undyed tips scattered throughout, and bits of 1 cm cuts of what looked more like nylon than mohair, and very little "glitz." But it's a decent yarn, and there wasn't an absurd amount of waste compared to other rovings and batts I've bought, really only little bits I kept having to put aside. It wasn't for making the smooth, plied yarns I usually spin.

But it's 6 ounces of yarn, spun. Hopefully around 800 yards or more. I spun it, it came out beautiful, it's yarn. It's the first yarn I've successfully spun since spring 2014. My legs are working; my shoulder isn't at all but it doesn't interfere with my spinning since I draft with my right hand in both short and long draws.

Now I have a gradient top pulled out. I've changed in the last year, and it's not really my color scheme anymore, none of what I bought is. That's okay. I can spin.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Every day since May

Every day since May except for the actual day of my surgery, I have worn what to me are beautiful scarves, wrapped with care and precision in what has been the most self-pleasing and self-validating look I have known in my life.
Today this is me, just wearing a droopy black snood.

I woke up and my shoulder hurt so badly (this is still from the surgery in early November, which left nerve damage and scar tissue that needs to be broken down daily) I just can't do it. All I could do was pull on a snood.

So today I'm in pain and frustrated. I can't spin either because my shoulder is too stiff. I may just go nuts. And tomorrow I have a major medical event already planned at 9 am, so I can't just see about running over to my doctor. I don't know when the scheduled procedures will be done and I will possibly just want to come home afterwords. 

Maybe Tuesday. Of course, I'm hoping beyond hope by then it will be feeling better.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Wow, I'm too old?

Someone on the Wrapunzel Facebook group posted that she had tried to convince a friend who covers her hair to start wearing scarves (I don't know what the woman wears now, turbans, wigs, something else). The friend's response was that women over about 40 don't look right in headscarves (referring to herself, not criticizing the rest of us, was the inference). So all of those of us who "qualify" jumped in to show ourselves in scarves, feeling good, not feeling "mutton dressed as lamb!"
So here's what I posted, from the previous few days' outfits.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I can almost hear myself think!

My husband left about half an hour ago with most of the kids, and I'm actually HOME ALONE for a few more hours. I don't believe it. I haven't been alone in the house by myself for months, no joke, not for a single minute I'm fairly sure. There might have been a couple times when the only people home were kids in their own rooms, but never has no one been here.
Me this morning knowing I am finally going to get alone time

It's such a soothing concept. I crave time alone and more and more I don't get it. I can't explain why I need it so much, but it's like finally plugging charger into the wall and getting my battery recharged when it was down in the red zone and turning my whole self-device off automatically.

Unfortunately I don't think I'm going to get nearly as much of this as I need, but any is better than none. And I'm not expecting to accomplish anything in particular; I'll be playing on the computer and my phone, spinning, and possibly napping. Not exactly high productivity!  Given that my brain is still truly recovering from long-term oxygen deprivation and whatever else it wasn't getting when my lipoma was affecting my carotid artery, and that my shoulder is still killing me, I'm not going to be able to do any of the major cleaning and picking up that should be done.

I'll just be here, sloooooowly recharging bit by bit. Maybe I'll have another cup of coffee.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New beginnings

I realize it sounds like a rehab site, but you know that's what I mean.

It's been a really long, hard year. Hospitalizations for one child repeatedly, medical issue after medical issue for me. Problems with other kids' needs and services. And just real life that always overwhelms us. 

This is me now, today.

This is what I was able to do so far today--spinning for the first time since last spring. First my repeated blood clot interfered, then hospitalizations, then holidays, then gout, then cognitive problems, then surgery, then post-surgical complications.

But today I took off the bobbin of what I was spinning (which was hand-combed fine wool I want to spin at least 6000 yards out of, but which requires hand combing I can't do now) and put it away with notes, and got out some ready-to-spin fiber; it's BFL with a little mohair and glitter, with hints of purple. I'm spinning it into a lace weight single yarn to make a lace scarf.

More medical stuff continues. With the huge lipoma out of my neck, there's no longer ongoing damage to my carotid artery, brachial plexus, trachea, and esophagus, all of which were being compromised by it. But the pain from excess scar tissue and muscle and nerve damage continue, and yet another new medical problem has begun (but I'm not going to go into detail right now except to say I have MORE expensive, invasive testing and biopsies next week).

And I'm making a commitment to try to post at least every other day, if not every day. At least a little bit, a few sentences. I write, I need to write, I should write, I will write. Come along for the ride with me.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mostly on hold, so PIE!

My life, that is, is mostly on hold. My surgery was a big success, though it turned out that I had a double-lobed fatty tumor, with one branch the size and shape of a large banana reaching from the back of my neck under the muscle, around several nerves, and compromising the esophagus; and the other reaching over the muscle out to the shoulder and impinging on the nerves there. But it wasn't really growing through the muscle tissue much, so it was easier and less damaging to extract it all than it could have been. The problem for me is that I still have a lot of neck and shoulder pain two weeks out post surgery. I can't lift anything over a couple of pounds, can't turn my neck easily, can't lift my arm above the horizontal plane of my shoulder with any strength, and driving leads to pretty intense pain afterwards. But I have yet another doctor's appointment tomorrow and can follow up more then.

Today I am making pie.

I saw a tutorial a few weeks ago on making cinnamon-sugar swirl pie crust, and loved the idea. Naturally now that I'm ready to make pie I can't find the recipe. So I improvised. I used my regular recipe for a double pie crust (because I almost always do--I'd much rather have a little extra to discard when all it is is flour and shortening than have trouble getting the pie crust big enough and perfectly shaped), and I rolled it out into a big blob:

Then I gave it a very little big of oil and a LOT of cinnamon sugar, and started messily rolling it up:

I cut it into thin slices and put them in the pie pan, then when I had them all in I pressed them in to make sure there were no holes:

And finally in went the filling:

And the finished pie, baked and cooling:

This, obviously, is pecan, but I can see this being delicious with apple or pumpkin pie, or many other choices too. There's no reason why you couldn't do it as a pre-baked pie shell for a chiffon or meringue pie as well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Parshas Sarah Imeinu

Every now and then I take a little religious interlude here on the LeesyKnits blog, and this post is going to be one of those. So if you're one of my many beloved fiber friends, just skip on down and I'll talk to you soon, this post isn't going to have any wool or even alpaca content :)
Dedicated to the memory of my holy grandmother, Ilse Gutmann z"tl, the embodiment of the strength of moral character of the Jewish woman of the twentieth century

Last week on Shabbos we read Parshas Noach, all about the famous flood, Noach's behavior before during and after it, the family he created, and the repopulation of the world by both humans and all species of animals, both through peaceful means (general dispersal and wanderings to find ideal sites) and non-peaceful ones (the aftermath of the attempt to build a tower in Bavel).  We finish with the many genealogies of the families of Shem, Yaphet, and Ham, and the departure of Avram from Ur Kasdim.

Parshas Lech Lecha, the one we read this week, begins with a commandment to Avram to depart from Canaan entirely and to wander where he will be shown en route. Much is made of Avram's willingness to follow G-d's command and how this is one of the tests he is given. But wait. Avram did not depart alone. He took his household, including his nephew Lot (for whom this was a great opportunity to find new land to acquire) and his wife Sarai. We know Sarai herself had equal navua (prophetic ability or sense) to that of Avram, so did G-d tell her likewise what was commanded? Or did Sarai herself pass an even greater test, by following Avram based on what he explained to her of G-d's will, without herself hearing it directly? Furthermore, the Tzena Urenah points out that Mishlei (13:20) says, "Yeroa holech et hachamim yechakam vroeh chsilim," "He who walks with the wise will grow wise, but a companion of fools will suffer no harm." Whom did Avram take as companions? Lot, who apparently spent his time far from Avram himself based on later discussions directly in the parsha, and Sarai, whose inherent modesty would keep her near her husband. Logically then it is Sarai who is the wise woman giving wisdom to Avram.
We know that when they approached Egypt, it was Avram who feared because of Sarai's great beauty and not she herself. He tried to hide her, he tried to twist the truth; Sarai herself merely remained silent and obedient to his wishes. Ultimately, Pharaoh treats her well out of fear of Heaven and respect for her (not out of respect for Avram); and indeed it says (12:16), "He treated Avram well for her sake." Tzena Urenah as a source cites Bava Metzia, Perek HaZahav, "that a man should always treat his wife with respect, for the blessings come upon a home because of her…Rava used to tell people, 'Respect your wives and you will be wealthy.'" Indeed, the Jews' claim to Goshen in Egypt comes from this moment, when it is among the gifts given not to Avram but to Sarai to possess.

After the commandment of bris mila is given, we are told G-d takes the letter "yud" (which has a numeric value of 10) from the end of Sarai's name, and split it into two "hays" (each with a value of 5), one to rename Avram as Avraham, the other Sarai as Sarah. There is a medrash that the yud in fact complained at being taken from the name of a tzaddekes, and rather being divided between a tzaddekes and a tzaddik! The yud was consoled only on being promised that it would be re-constituted a second time as the additional holy letter that would later turn Hoshea's name into Yehoshua to allow the whole Jewish people to enter the holy land.

Of course throughout their travels Avram and Sarai, then Avraham and Sarah, taught the men and the women of fear of Heaven, holy Torah, halacha, and Noachite law. But what do we know about teaching? Despite the prevalent thought that teaching boys must have primacy, we know both historically and practically that in fact it is teaching the girls and women which is most important to perpetuate Torah in both practice and values. Twentieth century responsa are very clear about the critical need to educate girls and women in the the written and oral Torah. There are those who have said that if a community wishes to have separate schools for boys and girls and can only build the schools one at a time, they must build the school for girls first; for the boys will surely be taught Torah and if not they can be taught later; but the girls might not be taught Torah and might later not be caught up and then their whole lives, households, and families will suffer their lack of knowledge.

But now I will turn everything around and revisit last week's parsha, which ended with the generations after Noach leading to Avram and Sarai. For there we hear much of Noach's son Shem, and hear of his (I believe but am not running to look up right this second, correct me if I have the relationship wrong) great-grandson Eiver. Those names are familiar, for in Parshas Lech Lecha it is the Yeshiva of Shem and Eiver to which references are made. Shem and Eiver just like Avram were teaching the word of G-d, though only to men. Shem, after the departure from the ark, functioned as G-d's priest. But then why, if Shem behaved perfectly throughout the flood, in the situation in which his father Noach lay uncovered after drinking wine, in establishing a yeshiva from which to teach G-d's word, in functioning as the priest, why is he not the father of the Jewish nation? It can't be because he had unworthy sons among his descendants, for Avram had Ishmael, Yitzchak had Eisav, yet that didn't disqualify them. What did Shem not have that Avraham had? Shem had no Sarah. 

Certainly, he had a wife! We know this. And presumably she was virtuous for she merited being saved on the ark. But she was no Sarah. This week's haftarah comes from Yeshayahu. Passuk 41:1 "Be silent and listen to Me, you idol worshippers living on the most distant islands, who claim that I cannot redeem Bnai Yisroel from exile…", Passuk 41:5, "See, island dwellers, what a miracle I performed for Avraham and be afraid." The midrash states that "the islands" metaphorically invoked are Shem and Avraham, equally strong, equally stable, equally in service to G-d. In fact in relationship to the second passuk above, the midrash states that after the war of the four and five kings, Avraham and Shem were equally concerned for their mutual relationship; Avraham feared he had killed so many of Shem's descendants, while Shem was ashamed he had given rise to so many lines of evil men who would confront such a tzaddik as Avraham. They truly rose to equal heights in their yirat Shamayim. So again, what was different?

Avraham had Sarah.  For the haftarah ends, 41:13, "For I, Hash-m your G-d hold your right hand to make sure you do not fall, saying to you, 'Have no fear, for I will help you.'" This is obviously only symbolic, but think truthfully; who would in life actually hold Avraham's right hand? No one but Sarah, the physical embodiment of G-d's gifts and strength.