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Nailed it

I went for my manicure on Friday (a new color from CND Shellac, Tartan Punk!).
I never thought I would be a manicure person, but I have to admit after a few times, I was hooked, and now I go every two weeks, because shellac lasts that long and looks nice and shiny and doesn’t chip or peel. The part that got me hooked was having nice nails that didn’t break or split and how much more enjoyable knitting became without constantly snagging with my always-breaking, thin nails and dried up cuticles and hangnails. If you knit or crochet, get a manicure; it’s miraculous.

I often take my finished projects in for show-and-tell, because really I don’t have anyone to show off to except my manicurist. At any rate, near the end of my time, I was approached by one of the hairstylists and asked if I might knit a shawl for her mother’s birthday in September. Apparently she had been silently admiring my work for a while. Most of you know about knitting to spec. Don’t want to do it. It’s a drag and takes all the fun out of it when you have to do something, rather than want to do it. And then, what’s a fair price for both sides?

I was taken aback and torn by the request at the same time. First the reluctance to do spec knitting in general. Next, the fact that she thought I could make something pretty (and for her mother) was very flattering. Then the fact that she is from an unknown one-of-the-formerly-Soviet-Union republics. They know from knitting. It’s a bit intimidating to be approached that way and uncertain if you can live up to the standards and esthetics of Russian knitting.

We talked briefly about what she had in mind, but there was a bit of language difficulty. I came home with a little sketch and color preference and went to work searching my Rav library for patterns I hoped would meet her parameters, or at least get a better understanding of what she wanted. I sent her a list of 14 patterns that I thought might work and waited to see if any caught her fancy. To my delight, she chose Southern Blue, a pattern I bought as soon as it was released. I’ve wanted to make this shawl since I first saw it. Then I looked through the finished projects and more at the pattern … and it is loaded with nupps.

I don’t mind working nupps, but it has a lot of them. Let me repeat, A Lot. Still, we’re only in the planning stage here, and now I have the pattern selection, she might prefer to have beads in place of nupps. Or maybe a combination. And we’ll still have to get together over what fiber, what weight, what blue exactly. I’ll probably take in a dozen or so shawls so she can give me an idea if she wants light and airy lace, drapey lace, warmth, or just what her thoughts are on that front.

I don’t intend to become a spec knitter, but I’m thinking this might be just what I need to get some mojo back. I’ve been floundering for several months, not knowing what to make and just occupying myself with some charity hats for schools, a scarf test knit, and a couple pair of socks for myself. So, here’s me, looking forward to an experience but with a small measure of dread.

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Dreambird

Dreambird was finished some time ago. I ended up with 18 feathers, used about a pound and a quarter of yarn (some 1,300 yards) and wet blocked that puppy out. It took two days to dry completely. It’s huge and heavy and awkwardly stored away. I’ve come up with no good way to fold or roll it up for safekeeping, so put away it looks like a toddler’s attempt at origami. I didn’t bother to measure it because I couldn’t find any meaningful reference points for dimensions. The short row construction makes it a spiral shape, sort of knit on the diagonal. It’s an enigma, in a way. A pretty enigma. But it does a serviceable job of covering the hood of my car, so you can see it’s large.

In the time since finishing it in May, we’ve been having nearly record-breaking high temperatures. This does not best please me. I am a delicate flower and wilt when it gets above 80F. So I’ve been making hats and cowls for distribution to a school district in Wisconsin. It gets cold in Wisconsin. And small projects are just the ticket when your own weather is scorching.

Heart

black heart

I thought I saw you this morning.

I was taking my husband for his annual cardiology check up. You came out of the pharmacy and walked away from us. It was your gait and your build, the blonde hair was short like a school-approved cut from the 1960s, the black-framed glasses, the chinos with a narrow black belt. Not a madras plaid, short-sleeved shirt but a pale green tee shirt nonetheless evocative of the times. I was swept back forty-some years and almost called your name to run after you, but I might have stumbled over my walker …
Not really that last bit, but it’s not entirely outside the realm of reality.

We’re in a hot, dry spell here, like summers I remember from the years when everyone I knew was young and invincible and the future went on forever.

When we went upstairs to the clinic, this black heart sculpture was standing in the waiting room. It’s filled with heart words and heart songs and heart quotes. Hopeful, I suspect, is the intention of the piece although the choice of black seems inappropriate. But that’s art for you.

I hope you’re well, and doing well.

More feathers

There has been further progress on Dreambird, but at 11-1/2 feathers, it’s becoming a bit of a slog. Not only is the weather getting warmer, but the sheer size of it in worsted weight rather than fingering is getting unwieldy trying to flip it around for all of the short rows. So I guess it’s a good thing that it’s nearly two-thirds finished. The rate of yardage used looks like it will only yield 18 or 19 feather segments, but in worsted the size should be decent. Here, the mats are arranged in a 4-ft x 4-ft configuration and the spiral-y shape is beginning to show.

Dreambird, two weeks in

Dreambird, two weeks

Forty years later

The fall of Saigon is 40 years gone now, and I still question what it was all about; what was it for? After countless news broadcasts, documentaries, films, interviews, print articles, books and now websites, I am no closer to understanding the times we lived through. I’ve had difficulties with this period, most likely because I was an impressionable age, but not least from the societal upheaval that occurred at the time. Those of us fortunate enough to not have to serve, those who served and made it back home, we were all shaped by our experience of those years.

I find myself here at 4:30 a.m. Being a woman of a certain age, I am prone to waking in the night unable to make my brain shut up; and it often races down the highway of what if. This morning it comes courtesy of an onslaught of programming on PBS, and I am wallowing around in it for the second time this month.

When my first husband was drafted for service July or August 1970 (his number was 178 in the 1969 lottery), he went to Ft. Lewis for basic training. Once he was out of basic and looking at his MOS, we burned up I-5 between Vancouver and Tacoma every weekend for a while. He was only in for 18 months and never left the states.

His MOS ended up being something along the lines of personnel specialist and he learned how to avoid being sent to the war-that-wasn’t-a-war. If you were enrolled in training when the rosters were being filled, you were exempt. This resulted in his going to Ft. Sam Houston in Texas at one time for training, about two or three months, if I remember correctly. Then he returned to Ft. Lewis.

Sometime in early 1971, I took the civil service exam and in July, got a job at a Madigan Hospital Annex on base and moved to Tacoma. My job was administrative, medically processing out Vietnam returnees for discharge. At that time, Ft. Lewis was processing out something around 100-150 troops a week and it was not at all unusual to receive a couple of marriage proposals a week from the boys coming back. They were all so young. We all were.

I worked there until he was discharged in February 1972 and we returned to Vancouver, relatively unscathed by the experience. Life moved on, we divorced at the end of 1979.

In the 80s, I finally started growing up. I made new friends–most of them were civilians, having been deferred or gone off to Canada, still holding on to old beliefs from the 60s and 70s. I know what it was like for those boys coming home and I was still witnessing that same 60s-70s opinion of those who had served in the military. In the 80s, being a veteran was still met with derision and oftentimes contempt. At present, it’s become the empty “thank you for your service” that my son and daughter hear on Veterans Day.

In 2010 I was in Virginia visiting my daughter and grandson and we took the train in to Washington for a day. She wanted to see some museums and the botanical gardens, I wanted to go to The Wall. We didn’t make it there. I still want to go to The Wall. I feel as if I need to see it, touch it and shed some tears. For catharsis. For all the boys of my generation who didn’t make it back home. For all the boys who came home, the damaged and the sound. I won’t understand it any better, but I might be able to put it to rest.

This is difficult

After being away from the blogging-and-sharing idea for so long, it seems the only way to get back to it is to start posting diarrhea from my brain. I truly overanalyze everything these days.

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