Friday, February 28, 2014

In the Field

Like I said yesterday, I was out in the field today, specifically learning how to install drapery at a hotel in West Virginia.

Tomorrow promises to be another long day. 

As I sat on that fountain, taking a moment to relax, I realized how much the process of "making" is like meditation to me. It lets me focus what might otherwise be a wandering mind. I would type more, but I am utterly exhausted. Tomorrow is a new day.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Prepping for the Coming Season...and the rest of the week.

With the temperature hoving somewhere are below freezing, I wanted to hole up in the house for the day, and essentially hibernate. The problem with hibernating is that you miss out on doing all of the domestic chores that are needed.

My mother is handling my father's illness very well, almost too so. One of the things that I wanted to do was to make things on her as easily as possible. By spending a few hours in the kitchen, I managed to cook up meals for the next three days since I need to be out of town to do a few jobs. To be specific the meals included: Two pounds of mashed potatoes (the good kind with butter and cream), two Cottage pies, two beef and spinach pasties (one of my go-to's) and about four pounds of beefy macaroni and cheese. These can be paired with a wide variety of vegetables (canned, frozen, and fresh) to make complete meals. I would be much more comfortable with doing the jobs out of the town knowing that my mother is free to keep a closer eye on my father.

More planting was done, an entire flat was planted with onions, peppers, and sunflowers, and another two containers were prepped for chives and dill. The seeds in the first flat are beginning to sprout, and the herbs and zuchinni (one of my favorites) are showing promise already.

Oh, and I did laundry, some home repair, and knitted another hat. I kicked the household's ass, and took names. It doesn't happen often. but damn, winning feels good.

'Nuff said. (at this point, I would walk away from an explosion while putting on my sunglasses...but I don't have the special effects budget for that.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

(Somewhat) Productive Day

As the title says, today was somewhat productive. Aside from some personal issues that I do not wish to discuss publicly, today was mostly about re-centering and trying to find a balance point. Today's projects included two hats, as well as some additional progress on my powder horn. I also started a series of up cycled buttons, the images all sourced from vintage textbooks.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Thoughts on a Crisis in Faith

When one thinks of a "crisis of faith" one has a tendency to think of the divine. My problem is unfortunately much more profane than that. As I sat and watched my father fade out again, I was struck by how poor my father's medical care was (and is) and how it is affecting my faith.
Once again, not in God. I still need some omnipotent target for my anger.
The faith I am slowly losing is my faith in man. For many years, I have lived with the philosophy of Moliere, "for the love of humanity." But watching my father be so ill, and watching the tragedy of errors at the hospital has made me wonder if humanity in fact deserves that love.
Man is a great and terrible creature, able to inflict harm or do good with a single thought, word, or gesture. As of late, I wonder if the better nature of man is going to win, and for once in my life, I am not so sure that it will.
I am growing tired of being constantly disappointed in my fellow man. To expect the best of each person, only to have my (what is unfortunately an) illusion shattered each time. And while this is going on, one profound quote echoes through my mind over and over again: "What is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me.

Ps: Projects accomplished today include two hats, one infant and one adult.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Today I received something very nice: the opportunity to travel for a job. Once I was out of college, that was one of my favorite things to do. Unfortunately due to the familial situation, I haven't had much opportunity to do that as of late, but a fast job let me leave town for just a brief moment. Sometimes leaving a situation allows you to get perspective. The job gave me a chance to recharge both myself and my wallet.

Both of these factors came in handy for the rest of my day, since it mostly consisted of shopping, especially grocery shopping.When I was younger, I used to hate having to go, but now as I have aged, I now fully understand a lot of the factors that go into a successful shopping trip.

I think the first of these factors are organization, and keeping to your budget. This second one is especially important to me at them moment. As for organization, I had three different ads, all marked with the items and quantities I needed, in addition to a notebook with the list, and finally an envelope full of coupons. I felt fairly well organized.

What did that organization get? About $60 off of the grocery tab for today. Oh, and in keeping my promise to make something every day, I finished up another infant hat. That and the scarf I am working on both use what I refer to as the "dregs" of the yarn, that last bit left which is too short for a project. When combined together though, it serves two purposes, 1) saving money and 2) creating a one of a kind piece.

Well, I am exhausted, and now I have reached the destination for the night. Good night John-boy.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Productivity/ Obsession.

I am starting to get the feeling that I am obsessing about productivity. The very fact I think this is the case means that most likely that IS the case. In short, it's an obsessive version of Descarte's theory: I think I am obsessing, therefore I am.

Well, that opening paragraph is a tautological nightmare. The point is, I am slowly coming to the conclusion that I have shot right past the balance point between relaxation and work. Work is good, but having it on your plate 24 hours a day, loosing sleep over if you are working enough can't be good for you.

Additional random thought: Through empirical observation, I have noticed that a majority of the population no longer works with their hands in...well, any capacity. I have come to this conclusion based on the number of people who have come up to me and asked me what I am working on when I have anything that I am tinkering with in my hands. It is actually rather sad to think about, as how many skills will die out when there is no one left to practice them? Side note: I completed two hats today.

After spending the whole day at the hospital, I went to do a quick job promoting an upcoming film Kids for Cash. It looks rather promising, but considering the premiere is tomorrow, I doubt I will catch it.

In the end, I feel today was productive without being blatantly so. I was there for my family, which is one of the most important things I can do right now, I made some money (which will go a long way towards covering groceries this week), and I still was able to make something (or strictly speaking, two somethings, but why nitpick?) All in all? A decently productive day.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Get By...

...With a little help from my friends. Yesterday was, well, cathartic, among other things. Am I still angry? Hell yeah I am. Am I dealing with it. The answer is also yes. Thank you all who reached out to me, a lot of your wisdom and perspective was greatly appreciated.

Today was focusing more on planning to deal with the financial issues. I am now doing my best to bring in the groceries for the house and take over meal planning. This received a boost today at the grocery store when a lot of the canned goods are on sale, and more importantly, a lot "no salt" vegetables were among them. Menu planning for my family is an, well, we'll call it "interesting" puzzle in the interests of being polite. Balancing food allergies, the various medical conditions in the family (hence why no salt is important,) the actual food preferences withing the group (my mother hates peas, and my girlfriend hates seafood. I consider them both horribly mistaken.) and food costs can be practically a full time job in itself. Fortunately, I am slowly getting better as I go, and have now discover the extensive use of weekly ads.

On a more manly subject, I have started work on a new powder horn for myself. For those people who have no idea what that is, it is literally a horn (in this case, from a cow) that has been adapted into a container to hold black powder. This device is a mainstay of hunters and re-enactors both. The thing in particular that I discovered today was that with so many microscopic layers, horn is not so much "worked" as a material, but "coerced" into shape. But, I did cut myself on the project, so I now know it is worth pursuing (I know, it is a strange metric, but I don't consider myself having worked hard on a project unless I have accidentally made myself bleed.)

And as usual, I have another hat done, this one should be great for the oncology ward. Tomorrow is the start of a long few days though, and I have miles to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cards on the Table.

When someone has mixed results to tell you, they often start with prefacing it by saying: "Do you want the good news or the bad news first?" The truth is, there really usually isn't good news, but they are trying to skirt around what the bad news actually is.

To that end, today's accomplishments included a really good spaghetti sauce, as well as what is above, an asparagus and ham pastie. I finished up by knitting another infant hat, using up the rest of a ball of light blue wool blend yarn.

I guess this is the point where the bad news comes in.

Since my father's diagnosis, everyone has been asking me how I have been feeling. Now, to be fair, in regards to sharing such details, I can easily quote Boondock Saints: "Real men hide their feelings. Why? BECAUSE IT'S NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS" (capitalization theirs) I am a very private person, so I am extremely careful to let each person see exactly what I want them to see.

But that is past. Time to put the cards on the table. I am going to let everyone know exactly how I am feeling. The truth is, I am angry. Not a little bit, but a long simmering rage that threatens to boil over at any second. The kind where I feel warm and tingly all over, and know that is not due to good feelings, but due to my blood pressure raging, and my jaw hurting from clenching my teeth. The kind of rage that I keep contained, because releasing it will only cause more problems. The kind of rage that scares me.

I am raging at the care my father has received at the hands of the hospital (negligible at best, criminal at worst.) I literally cannot see my father's doctors without engaging in violent fantasies in my head. I want these incompetent fucks to receive some measure of ill will. They had a YEAR of hospitalizations to find out what was causing my father's pain. There were tests that were done that had suspicious results on them, and were brushed off. My father has STAGE 4 cancer, and after being treated by a carousel of physicians, one of them noticed something was wrong. Hopefully it isn't too late.

These people (I refuse to call them doctors) are a menace, and the only thing the hospital does is to serve as a conduit for making money.

For the past year, I have been having panic attacks. I've done pretty good at hiding them, but I know they are there. And I am angry about that. Very specifically, I am angry at myself. I should be better than this, stronger than this. It turns out I am not. Sometimes I  wonder if the anger is the only thing giving me energy, keeping me from just wanting to crawl into a ball under the covers.

I am angry at circumstances I have no control over. Due to things I cannot control, my family has shot from the upper middle class to the poverty level in about two months. TWO FUCKING MONTHS. That was for emphasis. In the land of opportunity, everyone should be experiencing upward mobility. I guess this just isn't the case

I am angry at God for this, just in case he is there. I don't really feel a need to explain this one, so I'll just let it sit here.

I am angry because I feel like a whole generation of us were lied to. We were taught each one of us was special, that we all had our own unique talents. We were taught that we had to study hard, go to college, and that hard work would be rewarded. I look around me everyday and see members of my generation toiling under the same delusions, and I am filled with rage. I then get angry at myself for blaming other people for my own problems.

At the end of the day, I am angry at myself for even letting this out. So the offer is up. When there is a problem, you do what must be done. I know I need to keep my head down, keep pushing and hopefully we are going to come out of this all right. I'm operating on Wiley Coyote logic right now. If I stop moving, I will fall.

Spinning Wheels

So, today I feel like I spun my wheels a little bit, and in keeping with how icy the roads are here, I failed to gain traction. The job scheduled for tomorrow was pushed back, as was the first business meeting for today. No luck there. As for my second meeting, I am fairly sure the gentleman I was meeting was completely off of his meds. I am given to hyperbole upon occasion, but I am fairly sure that was not the case here. I followed along with his mania until he started to talk about his latest project, that of creating medieval weapons for the homeless so that they can rise up against the rich. Wouldn't you know, I suddenly remembered a prior appointment, and high-tailed it out of there. Lesson learned? Screen my meetings much more carefully.

I also managed to get some essential household shopping today, and once again took advantage of coupons and sales. Necessity is slowly making me better at this "saving money thing"

Finally, I managed to knit not one, but two infant hats in light blue and white.given my Facebook feed (and the fact that Valentine's day was this past week) I am trying to keep items like that handy for the inevitable baby showers. When I give hats as a gift, I actually prefer to give them as a set of two or three. That way (as babies are messy) there is always another hat that can keep the child warm as the first hat is being washed. I promise for being a big, tough guy, I do think logically about home-making (on occasion.)

I also received a phone call early in the day which sort of colored my perception of the day. I used to, and still occasionally do work as a teaching artist, and the call was from a former student of mine, letting me know that another student in one of the classes I taught killed himself. It hurts to think that someone so young would decide to do such a thing. I suppose I have been trying to wrap my head around it all day...and I just can't. The idea of throwing away such promise seems like such a waste, and if you know me, you know how much I abhor wasting anything, let alone talent, drive, and a young life. I guess I will close with a sort of public service announcement. If you find yourself reading this in a dark hour, know one thing: I am thinking about you right this moment. And with that thought, know you are not truly alone. Namaste.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Thoughts on Saving Money (and Maybe the World?)

In the process of making, one encounters a problem on occasion, namely that of being short on funds. Many things can be made inexpensively, but the problem with inexpensive is that it often entails some measure of cost. (For example, I found enough yarn at the thrift store to last for...possibly a this rate, and it cost $5.99. This is not a large expense for a month of entertainment, but the point stands that there is still an expense.) As a result, due to the issues that are taking place around here, I have slowly gotten better at using coupons.

I fully admit, I used to be rather shy about looking for sales, and especially using coupons. For the longest time, I considered it a sign of weakness. A very small one to be sure, but still an admission of sorts. I have come around to realize though, that using coupons is actually a rather effective way of stretching funds that would otherwise be very difficult. The fact I have a slight addiction to the TLC series Extreme Couponing may have something to do with my conversion, but you get one admission of something from my subconscious per day, my thoughts on trash tv will come at another time.

Now as for today's work: I picked up a decent load of supplies for the house today at a lower price. Before I set out, I had a coupon for $5 off of a $25 or more purchase. I combined this with a deal that they were running on Coca-Cola for four cases at a cost of $15, and then receiving a coupon for $5 in credit. By purchasing eight, I was able to use that coupon, and get all of the products for $15 total. I then paired that with a case of water (I know the tap water here is "safe" but I live in Western Pennsylvania. We are surrounded by mining companies, and as West Virginia has recently shown, mining companies and safe water don't necessarily mix.) and a pair of Valentine hearts (I've worked with chocolate before, it does not magically go bad the day after Valentine's day) for an additional $8. For nine cases of drinks, and a sizable amount of chocolate, the total bill came to $23.

I also finished a camouflage (that was difficult to spell) hat for my father to wear when he starts chemotherapy. I also will be dropping off a lot of my hats and scarves to the oncology ward when he goes, as I was surprised to learn that many people become very cold constantly during the process due to nerve damage. If I can help stop it, I will. I think this means I might need to double my knitting, since I still want to help the homeless. In further news, I have two meetings tomorrow, so in spite of everything else, progress is still being made.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Late to the Party

I wanted to write this somewhat earlier, but a few things came up that needed dealt with, hence why I am writing this at one'o'clock in the morning, instead of...well, sleeping springs to mind. Talking of the mind, I guess I just have a lot of it on that lately. For some reason, my creativity tends to flow more, and the ideas come more quickly during an extended period of stress. At this moment, my notebooks are filling up more and more quickly, and some of the crazier ones, such as the Andrew Huntley Museum of Contemporary Art (a portable museum in a suitcase) are starting to actually take shape. I suppose these flights of fancy are my mind's way of taking a little time off stress. When the creative process is in full swing, the demands of the body and heart can wait. Like I said earlier, any control that is exerted over the chaos is a lifeline to progress. All one can do is to hold on.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

I'll be honest, some days writing everything down is a lot more effort than it seems to be worth it. Today was a fairly productive day though, as I completely finished my tool bag that I have been fiddling with, made from an old pair of jeans. I like that material because I try to be as sustainable as possible...and sometimes in times like this, I succeed. My right fingers are bruised because sewing denim is actually quite difficult, especially through six layers.

The biggest success with today though was a scavenger hunt for my girlfriend. Using a full pack of the grade-school valentines, I wrote out clues on each one, leading to the next. (As one is expected with a treasure hunt) and that finally led, after sending her through the house several times, back to the beginning. There she had chocolate and one of her favorite Disney characters waiting for her. Valentine's Day: Accomplished.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lots of paperwork.

Today was a day of work, yet I feel like not much was accomplished. I guess that is how it goes with paperwork. After keeping my hands full of writing implements all day, I felt like a failure. This feeling is especially strong with some of the forms that were to be filled in. The funny thing is that when I get a tool in my hand, that feeling of failure goes away completely. When I am creating, I am finally the master of...something. Sometimes, when life is spinning at a more and more rapid pace, establishing the smallest amount of control can make all of the difference.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Finishing Up Tasks

Today was a day that focused on completing a few tasks that I had half-started. As a result, I was able to finish both a scarf and hat that I was working on, as well as complete the possibles bag made from an old pair of jeans. Other than that, I was glad to get the first of my crops for this year planted.

Within those containers are the seeds for tomatoes, various herbs, lavender, an extra amount of zucchini (to make up for a pitiful amount last year) and yellow squash (perfect for grilling.) A lot of my work lately focuses on recycling the old to create the new, and this is definitely something I want to keep embracing. Besides being more fiscally responsible, it is also taking a major step in sustainable design. Every thing I do this way is just one more object kept out of a landfill. The snow is still pretty thick here, and the cold can make things difficult, but I am looking forward to some bigger projects as soon as I can get outside.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

...And Today.

Well, I suppose the best part to start would be to say that today...happened. This is hopefully not new information to anyone familiar with the passage of this strange concept called "time." It was both my girlfriend's birthday, and a day that my father had the first of his cancer appointments.
The birthday went alright, although I wish there was more I could have done. Fortunately, I managed to source exactly what she wanted, and I had plenty of wine for tonight. In that case, I definitely had success.
As for my father, I am not sure what to make of it. I want to be around him and make as many memories as possible, but sometimes being around him is difficult. Today started out fine, by by the time he was back in the chair in the afternoon, he needed his oxygen run to him.  I understand that there are up and down days, I just wish that I wasn't constantly saying the wrong thing. The most frustrating part is that it is still "wrong" even when I just agree with whatever he says, personal convictions aside. I just want something to be right for him, and it seems like the more I try, the more I fail to make it right. I have honestly run out of ideas. As for my daily accomplishments, I knitted a little more material onto another hat, started prepping containers to start seeds, and did most of the sewing on a possibles bag. (It's a backwoods term, I know, and the only reason that I didn't finish is because you can only force a needle through six layers of denim for so long before your hand cramps up.) Hopefully tomorrow will be more productive.


To be honest, not much was accomplished yesterday. I finished up reading the second book of February, Sacred Clowns by Tony Hillerman. I also knitted another hat, this one in white and pink. As for my cooking? That was a complete and utter failure. I am not sure I have ever been so disappointed in a particular dish. I think that is it for February 10th.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Staying in From the Cold

I admit it, compared to yesterday, today was a much more quiet day. With the snow coming down constantly, I made a judgement call to stay in and work in the house. I finished up another hat with my knitting, and I did a little bit of cooking, specifically making the mashed potatoes.
Now to be fair, my potatoes are good. Not exactly healthy, but good. I usually start out by peeling between five to seven pounds of potatoes, adding a heavy pinch of salt and boiling them in about a gallon of water for about twenty minutes, or until they are tender. I then pull it off the burner and drain it. Everything then goes into the extra large bowl on the Kitchenaid mixer. (To be fair, I still sometimes use an antique potato masher, the stand mixer is a fairly recent find for me.) Then, starting the mixer on low (This is more important than you can imagine, I started it on high once and was cleaning mashed potatoes off of the ceiling.) I start by adding some butter. As I was first taught by my parents, it calls for about half of a stick for margarine. As I learned to cook though, I started to follow my grandmother's method, and I now add a solid stick of butter, cut down into pats to make it easier to integrate. This is then followed by a half cup to a cut of half-and-half. (The exact amount depends on the dryness of the potatoes, and really has to be determined by eye. Potatoes are an agricultural object, so standardizing density is impossible.) My first recipe called for the role of the dairy to be played by a similar amount of two percent milk, but I personally prefer the cream, both for taste and texture issues. (In regards to the milk and margarine versus the cream and butter: I said the mashed potatoes were good, I never claimed that you could eat the whole pot by yourself. Like everything else, moderation is key. That being said, with how processed margarine is, I think butter might be healthier.) The mashed potatoes are ready, and have about fifteen servings.
I guess if there are any morals to take away from this, it might be to think critically about the information that is brand new to us. On occasion, we can reach to the past to learn how to do something better. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Feminist Wake Up Call

Today I took a twelve hour gig as a P.A. for a junior cheer leading competition. I'll admit it, I did it for the money. Work is work. But seeing as how I am utterly exhausted at this point, I wanted to set down my thoughts that I had recorded in my notebook earlier today:

It is Four 'o' clock, barely halfway into what has already been a long day. The air reeks of sweat, hairspray, and the rancid stench of spoiled dreams. Not the dreams of the kids doing the cheering, although if I had a knack for predicting the future, it wouldn't be a stretch to see a lot of therapy down the road. I can see two groups already forming here, the future rebels, and those pint-sized mean girls, for whom age is only going to inflate those negative traits even more. It almost makes you wish for a metaphysical pin, to pop that problem before it becomes a real issue. Unfortunately most strangers don't consider that a service when you do that to their kid.
And so I sit here, and watch.
The ones to watch though, are not the small ones. That fetid smell of broken dreams comes from something much older. Watching the mothers, wearing too much perfume and too much make up, flaunting their too much jewelry for their too much friends, while living in a too much house and driving a too much car. Watching them "suggest:" that cheer leading might be fun. Watching them pimp their six-year-old daughter out to writhe on stage in a midriff exposing shirt like some sort of backup dancer for Miley Cyrus, all in some vain attempt to recover the lost beauty of their youth. Watching them try pathetically to regain what they once had and fail. Watching her hand a bottle of water to her daughter, telling her she needs to "watch her figure" as grease from the piece of pizza drips down her double chin. Watching that same daughter slink off to a corner crying, her belly swollen not from fat, but from malnutrition. Watching the girls enjoy the junk food served at the concession stand, and then quickly run to the bathroom, only to return flushed and sweating, with a faint scent of bile, one of the many signs of more eating disorders.
And yet I sit here, and watch.
This is my punishment for participating in such an industry, one that robs the flower of youth of joy, and more importantly, of health.
And so I sit here, and watch.
No punishment is greater than the tortures that the mind creates.Perhaps this is my punishment, to watch the monsters I help create feed on their young. To watch this fresh hell, that some dare call a sport, but is more accurately all of the downsides of an athletic feat combined with all of the scrutiny attended to the Sport Illustrated Swimsuit issue. To watch girls under the age of twelve be drawn into this world of self loathing,  To watch myself helping to perpetuate this on another generation, and to watch the fragile bud of youth be trampled further underfoot, when it should be guarded as something precious.
And yet because of my decisions, I am condemned to sit here and watch.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Caged Tiger.

Today was my mother's birthday, and so I wanted to do my best to do something for her, especially considering all that has happened in the past few months. I started by baking one of her favorite cakes, seen here in the middle:

That is a Jello cake, a white cake infused with cherry Jello and then covered in whipped topping. In terms of culinary history, it is very much a dated desert, most likely from some time in the 1960's, and most likely arising from a cookbook printed by the company. In the photo above, it is flanked by a spice cake with cream cheese frosting, and on the other side a cottage pie. Shortly after this was taken, I made a rookie mistake, and slipped on some non-stick spray on the floor. Let's just say the cottage pie (what was left of it) did not look so good after that. 

All of the cooking today took up most of my time, but I did manage to get this done today as well:

One more hat. This one uses another technique I haven't done in a while. That is creating the pom-pom for the top. It is then stacked on while closing up the top stitch. (You can also see my girlfriend photo bombing the hat.) 

In short, I felt very domestic today. While part of me feels accomplished, I am looking forward to things settling into a routine so that I can truly get into building things again.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Keep on...Keeping on.

Today...was a long day. Very long. Exceedingly long. So long that the minutes seemed like hours, and you don't want to imagine the seconds. Imagine the tedium of reading this introduction all day long. Got it? Good. Anyway, my father is out of the hospital now, which is a good thing. As a family we also spent a lot of time talking to one of the priests while we were waiting for the discharge papers, and at that point something came to light that I wasn't expecting. When the priest asked my father why he is fighting the cancer, he responded with "Them." He isn't fighting the cancer for himself at all, if it were just him, he would be ready to make himself comfortable and surrender. Instead he wants to be around for my family. I can't run away now, even when sometimes all I want to do is run down the street naked and screaming. Something to give myself a little vacation in my head. I can't do that now because he is fighting to be around for us. I need to fight with myself to be around with my family. It fills me with rage that my father is dying, and I am unable to stop it, and that people like my girlfriend's ex, who willingly abandons animals in the cold, survive. Where is the cosmic justice that is always promised?

Anyway, here is today's project:

At this rate, none of the homeless will be lacking hats by next winter. I also finished up reading my first book of the month, Changes by Jim Butcher, part of the Dresden Files. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Best Laid Plans...

Be prepared, I will probable be quoting a lot of the Enlightenment period philosophers at this point. The title, of course comes from Robert Burns, the poet Laureate of Scotland, and is completed by the words "o mice and men gang oft aglay" (better understood as "of mice and men often go awry." This fairly accurately describes what happened with today's post.

I originally intended to write a long post about frugality, and the re-use of leftovers in cooking. I even did a very good job on the examples including this:

A four layer dip made from refried beans, cheese, salsa, and leftover Hamburger Helper. Good tasting? Absolutely. Good for you? Well...let's not talk about the sodium in this.

I also made this:

A pastry filled with asparagus and the remains of a spiral cut ham, with a mustard-cheese sauce. As for this one? Good, and good for you.

I was feeling fairly accomplished at this point, until two separate events happened. The first of these was that I received the news that my father has surgery once again tomorrow. He says that I don't need to be there, but I plan on it. There have been so many errors that have taken place that I honestly do not trust the hospital to provide a solid standard of care anymore. If you can't trust the people that you put your life in their hands, where exactly does that leave you?

That would be enough for most people to put them on edge, but that was then followed by another messy phone call. My girlfriend received a message from her ex stating that he no longer wanted the cat that they adopted, and that his plan was to set the cat out in three days. Bear in mind at this point we are due to receive approximately a foot of snow in that same time span. The mere thought of this fills me with rage, and to be honest, makes me wish someone would re-arrange his face with a baseball bat. You do not hurt those weaker than you. It is not done. I wish that I could bring the cat in question to my house, but I have a very affectionate, extremely territorial cat of my own (territorial to the point where her cage before the adoption read "does not play well with others") 

At this point, I am beyond angry to the point of being numb, and am doing my best to channel all of this anger and pain is a positive direction. Will I succeed? I hope so. I recognize the fact I am human, so there is the possibility that all of these feeling will just simmer for a while longer. Only time will tell.

I want to leave you with his thought for tonight, a quote commonly attributed to Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing." If you see someone abusing someone weaker than you, will you have the courage to stand up to them?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Another setback.

Today was rather rough. Another day spent in the hospital with my father, but this time his surgery went well. As I was waiting, I knitted this:

One last hat in red and yellow. The red and yellow skeins are now finished up, so this should be the last one of this pattern for a while. I would normally have some sort of philosophical observation here, but I am honestly too worn out from today to have that at the moment. Perhaps the new day will bring some new eyes to the situation here.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Knitting a Relationship

Today was a rather important day for me, being the first anniversary for my girlfriend and myself. It started rather poorly however, as we spend most of the afternoon in the hospital with my father. He is due for another round of surgery early tomorrow morning. As I sat there knitting, focusing on making the rows evenly over and over again, I realized that the fibers I was working with had more significance than I initially thought.
On its own, a single strand of yarn is not very strong. and indeed is made up of even smaller fibers. When you knit something, you take one, and often more strands, and by contorting them and placing them under tension, you make them stronger. It was at this moment that I had the revelation, that some materials, and people need to be put under pressure to have them reach their maximum performance. It also gave me pause, especially on my anniversary to think about the colors used. Very rarely when you knit do you use a single color, but you look for something to compliment it. The contrast is what creates the whole pattern. As it is with yard, it is so with relationships. By finding a partner that complements you, and by being put together under pressure, you can create something stronger than each individual. On that note, here is today's project:

A pair of matching hats in red and yellow. I think these might be the last two hats in this pattern, since the extra large skeins are running out. Knitting time on this pair, about five and a half hours.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Groundhog Day

At midnight last night, I was not at home. I was actually at the bedside of my father, waiting on the results of a test. As I sat there, I was focusing all of my thoughts on knitting. This may sound strange, but the repetitive motion of moving over and over again in a loop is very meditative. That is how I completed this first project at about two in the morning.

This is a two strand knit, for an adult. Hopefully this will be headed out to the shelter sooner rather than later, something that is completely dependent upon when I can get out of the home/ hospital routine. After catching a few hours of sleep, I was back at the hospital, and while my father was sleeping, I knitted this:

Another adult hat, in red and yellow. I was fortunate enough to receive some yarn (and by some I mean close to ten skeins) Two of those skeins were crimson and mustard yellow, two different colors that don't really blend with anything else. I think this combination actually works. This hat went to one of the nurses at the hospital. Nurses spend all day taking care of people who have trouble taking care of themselves, so it is nice to be able to give a gift to one of them on occasion. 

I fully acknowledge that I am not rich, and even when it comes time to give for those less fortunate, I don't usually give money. If there is a cause, and it must be one I truly believe in, I will give you something that is much more valuable to me than money, that being my time. Money comes and goes, but time is the truly finite resource. If I give you my time, and you give me time in return, that is a transaction worth more than any financial gain. 

I will leave for the day with this closing note. In the "Infinite Universes" theory, every single choice causes two universes to be created, one for each choice. If every action you take, and more importantly, every person you meet causes another universe to be created, why would you not recognize the power that each new interaction has?

Day Late, and Dollar Short

Well, I did it to myself this time. I intended to post this yesterday after I had it finished, but unfortunately I had to go to the hospital with my father. Here is the project for the first of February:

One newborn hat in the traditional blue. A friend of mine is having her second child soon, and I wanted to finish up a few odds and ends for her and her family. The time on this was about an hour and half, using a three strand loop. Basically, on any given stitch I had six strands to deal with, which is why something so small took over an hour to do.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

January 2014

Today is February 1st, which means January is now officially over. To say that it has been a rough month might be considered an understatement.

In the early part of the month, my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, and had to undergo an extensive operation. Part of me is still adjusting to the new routine of taking care of him every day. Unfortunately, this also means that I need to put a lot of my travelling plans on hold for the foreseeable future. I need to know where my priorities are.

I don't really believe in making "New Year's Resolutions" To me, they always seem like goals that are usually going to fail. I have no problem with setting goals though, and to that end, I have set two major ones for myself.

The first of these is one that I set for myself on my twenty fifth birthday: To make my first million dollars and to change the world for the better by my thirtieth birthday. I will be turning twenty seven this year. I've made some progress, but I have much further to go.

The second goal focuses more on a project I have wanted to try, and that is to make something every day. For the month of January, I needed something small and portable that I could occupy my time with, and chose knitting. It is small, portable, and forces you to focus your thoughts. Knitting while angry is practically impossible.

To that end, with the worry about my father, January was a productive month, with 35 hats and 4 scarves being made. I have also re-read Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris, one of my go-to biographies of my favorite president. Finally, to round out the count, I received three rejection letters.

Until Later,