Saturday, February 18, 2017


I couldn't knit for several weeks, my shoulder pain was just too bad. Then finally I had a little window where the pain wasn't gone but was much lessened and I was able to knit (most of, it had been begun weeks ago but barely started) another Icelandic sweater. I knit almost the whole thing and finished it all in one big burst over a few days. I seem to do a lot of things like that. The pattern is Istex Lopi's 20th anniversary sweater, free in all sizes (it's also available as a Ravelry download); though of course it didn't include my own plus-size and I had to size up. It fits perfectly, it came out beautifully, so naturally the weather here is in the 60s and it may not be sweater weather again until next winter at the earliest. 

The weird thing is my brain is once again at odds with my own sanity, I have nothing on the knitting needles and nothing compelling me to knit it. I've been doing some Hardanger embroidery and I've finished the work on one little piece, but I haven't managed to wash that and make it up into a pincushion yet. The kit came with the fabric, some backing fabric, thread, even a needle…but no stuffing (which I actually have, being me) and moreover no lining, which I have to find. I have to wash and press the work, then sew it all up, which for me is daunting even if the whole thing will only be about 4" square when it's done. The next embroidery kit I have is a Hardanger bookmark, which doesn't really require any finishing; once the embroidery is done, the excess fabric is cut away and I can just press it.  I think it might be a sign though of returning depression that I have no knitting plans at all right now.

One big fear I have is that because of tendinitis, I'm on prednisone for a few days; and I credit the prednisone and pain killers I was prescribed last year for spiraling me into the horrible depression of last fall, winter, and spring which culminated in the ineffective ECT treatment which has changed my life to this day. ECT obviously isn't going to be tried again, I'm not worried about that, I'm just very, very fearful of descending so deeply into my own madness another time so soon.

What I was going to say before I digressed as I always do though is that my mind seems completely off the hook. I can't figure out what I'm doing now or what I'm doing next. In the continuing tradition of my habit of trying much too much, I've made arrangements to take Feivel to the symphony tomorrow (Sunday, I mean). I'm fine about going though I'm obsessing about the process a little (not too much, I'm not needing to back out to preserve my sanity in that regard). I suspect it will be overwhelming in a sensory way though, just by the very nature of low cello tones. I figure that with just me, Kayla, and Feivel around for the day that I can come home and completely hide and decompress for a few hours if I need.

I'm not terribly coherent here, am I? It's just sounding like a diary post at this point. I'll leave off and try to rally my brain power.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I wish I could put it in words

I see other people able to verbalize their experiences, so I know it's generally possible. I don't seem able to put into words my mental illness, my physical pain. Mind you, I'm appreciative that both are only moderate right now, I've certainly been much more mentally ill at times and the physical pains I'm just having to live with right now (I guess I'm keeping the manufacturers of naproxen sodium in business).

I have all sorts of intimate, extraordinary, eloquent thoughts but they simply don't translate to the written (or spoken) word. I don't have a way of knowing if it's a problem with my use of language or with human expression itself. It leaves me uneasy, uncertain as well as disappointed and gives me a feeling of incompleteness.

So I leave today a simple embroidery piece I just found at the bottom of a bag stuffed with embroidery odds and ends. This is sashiko style work done as finished embroidery rather than used as a dye technique; the fabric has first been dyed in indigo and then embroidered in heavy perle cotton (real Japanese sashiko is a technique of using these stitching patterns for resist dyeing). Apparently I worked this at some point last year. It's all wrinkled and tousled from sitting under an entire grocery bag full of floss, hoops, shisha mirrors, boxes, packages of even weave fabric, and so on. I don't have any idea what I'll do with it (I should add a border to it and sew it into a pillow, but that's not happening any time soon).

Thursday, February 2, 2017

I would rather be knitting

…but my shoulder pain has come back badly. I mean it's done an excellent job of returning, but the pain is bad. You know what I mean.
chocolate babka; I had to use up a jar of Israeli
style chocolate filling in the cupboard after all

I'm substituting baking and kitchen prep. By 10 this morning my challah and chocolate babka were out of the oven and my chicken soup almost ready to come off the stove for this week's Shabbos.
One challah

In the last week I've made mozzarella cheese a couple of times, feta cheese, cottage cheese (that was wonderful, though they've all come out well, it's just been years since I had cottage cheese). I made croissants for the first time (I've made the homestyle chocolate croissants French mothers prepare for snacks, but I'd never made the flaky crescent style "real" croissants before). I made muffins (I always make muffins).

I'm looking for anything that feels productive, but nothing relieves my mind as well as knitting does.

Monday, December 26, 2016


These times it's nothing and it's black and it's tears and one more step and I wouldn't be here at all. I can't think, my usually eloquent brain is shut down. There's noise and there are people and they're all around and don't go away. The noise stops what little coherence my thoughts had. I can use pretty words but they don't give me pretty thoughts.
I'm worthless, useless, not deserving the space I take up. That's what goes through my head when it's not just emptiness and whatever emotion evokes all the crying. Tears and tears until the tears just stop but my face is still screwed up.
I take the medicine and it closes down the thinking and it makes me eat and gain weight until I'm an empty, fat, undesirable nothingness of heaviness and ponderance and thoughtlessness. I've lost my memory, I've lost myself and my past.
This doesn't work. This isn't working. I can't do this much more. The only thing keeping me here is knowing that my suicide would be bad for my kids. It doesn't stop me going to sleep every night praying I just won't wake up, something will happen, some combination of medicines will accidentally interact, some heartbeat just won't come, breath will just stop. 
Depression isn't a bunch of sad thoughts. It hurts in a way that isn't like other hurts. I would do anything to make this hurt stop and if the only way it stops is death I wish for that but I know I can't bring it because, yeah, the kids.
It's dark and it's black and it's garbage and it's me in where I am. Negative thoughts where there are thoughts at all and mostly just animal moans in my thoughts and the voices reminding me how much this hurts and how much this isn't worth the time it takes and the space I take up. Mixed up words and an empty head except where it's the depression holding on.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Twenty three hand knit hats

…plus one scarf.

That's what I'm sending to be distributed at the Larkin Street Youth Services Center, where they'll be given out to homeless teenagers.

I hope the recipients will at least have a few minutes of thinking about the fact that I and others do care what happens to them, and want them to have something of comfort.

If you knit hats and would like to contribute to the Hats for Homeless Teens initiative, let me know and I can give you the contact information for the woman who coordinates it. She has a personal relationship with the center through her daughter, whose story is heartbreaking, but she is giving back so much through this project.

Monday, October 31, 2016

When life gives you carrots (recipe)

Well, actually it's when your weekly vegetable delivery service delivers too many carrots, you make carrot walnut muffins.


3 large carrots, grated
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk (cow's milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, anything will work)
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 400F. Line muffin tins with paper liners; this will make about 15 large muffins (or 30 regular size ones).

Mix the carrots, walnuts, eggs, oil, sugar, brown sugar, and milk in a large bowl until the eggs are well beaten and everything is well mixed. Add the flour and baking powder and stir until just mixed. It may look slightly dry at first but the moisture from the carrots is going to make the finished muffins very soft and moist.

Fill the muffin tins 2/3 full for regular size muffins or to the top for large muffins. Bake for 20 minutes for regular muffins, 26 minutes for large muffins. Remove muffins from the tins and cool them on a baking rack. Enjoy.

You can add a little nutmeg, allspice, and/or cloves if you like, or a little vanilla extract or vanilla powder.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

I don't look up

I'm knitting, I'm reading, I'm scrolling on my phone. Someone talks to me, someone important to me, my husband, one of my children. I don't look up. I murmur responses while focussing on what I was already doing. If I do look up at all, I don't make eye contact; I gaze to the side of the head of someone I love.

I don't mean to be disengaged. I don't mean to be rude. I don't mean to be dismissive. I don't mean to not value the interaction. I don't mean to be self-involved. I don't mean to not seem to care.

I can't risk being distracted of my focus. If my mind isn't totally focussed on what I've shoved into it, the knitting stitches, the words on the page, the images on the phone, the thoughts shove their way in.

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, if my mind isn't focussed, the thoughts are there. The thoughts deciding which would be the best way to die by suicide. Which would be the most pain-free, the least troublesome, the most accessible. The only way I can stop them, turn them off, shut them down, is to never let them in so much as a crack. The second I don't fill my head with ordered thoughts, those chaotic, destructive, and ever-tempting ones make their way right in.

I love you. I don't ever want you to think I don't care about you, that I value meaningless knitting or books or social media even nearly as much as I value you. I can barely hold on here though, and it's showing in these difficult, dissociative ways. 

Please don't top talking to me.