Sub sub sub sub…

Groups and sub-groups fascinate me.  First of all, there is no group of people that can’t be broken up into multiple sub-groups.  Second, no one is so unique that they can’t find a group of people like them.

Let’s hit the first point: every group of people has sub-groups.

You all know this: think about where you work.  You probably all have similar training, work in a similar environment, doing similar things, but you are not “the same” as these people.  Your background, experiences, and personal interests make you different.  Someone walking in to your workplace might just see “a group of engineers,” or “a room full of teachers” but you know that isn’t true.

As an ASL Interpreter, I have Deaf people who I count among my friends.  If you’ve only “met a Deaf person once,” you will assume all deaf people are just like the person you met.  I can tell you without question, that is not so.  Deaf people are just like people who are not Deaf, that is, different from one another.  In my group of Deaf friends, one is a knitter, like me.  One speaks on his cell phone, but doesn’t text; all of my other Deaf friends text me.  One is a stay-at-home mom who is an avid reader. One loves music and dancing.  (For those people who are confused right now, being Deaf doesn’t mean you hear nothing, it means you have a hearing loss.)  The only thing these friends have in common is that they are unique.

We all want to be unique.  Unique is good.  Unique is special.  Our fingerprints are all different. Our DNA is ours and ours alone.  There is a point, however, when unique becomes, well… weird.  You wouldn’t want to be the only person in the world, for example, who liked eating chocolate covered pretzels.  First of all, they’d be very hard to find.  People would ridicule you for making them yourself to satisfy the craving.  And, if every time someone tried your delicacy they got sick, you’d start wondering just how “unique” you are.

Which brings me to my second point: no one is so unique that they can’t find a group of people like them.

For better or worse (and I’m definitely a “better” believer), the Internet has made the world smaller.  There may only be a few people who share your interest in antique cars, whale bone corsets and macrame, but rest assured someone likes these things as much as you do.

I’m a member of a website called Ravelry, which I’ve talked about before.  I describe it as Facebook for Knitters, but it’s really much more.  On Ravelry, you can join various groups of people who share your interests.  I belong to a Harry Potter Knit & Crochet House Cup group.   The House Cup group is run as a School.  We’ve broken the year into 3 terms (3 months, break, 3 months, break, 3 months, break).  Everyone is sorted into a house (just like the original books) and each term there are classes with a “homework assignment.” You craft an item for the class to win points for your House (I’m a proud Badger of Hufflepuff in my 5th term.) Each house has it’s own separate forum where we can chat online and cheer each other on. You post pictures of your project to prove you’ve finished your “homework” and … okay, some of you are reading this thinking, “Okay, THAT is weird.”  Well, the HPKCHC has over three thousand members.  I may be weird, but I’m in good company.  And they really ARE good company.  Besides chat & encouragement, I received many birthday wishes online last month and two of my Hufflepuff classmates sent me snail mail cards with gifts!

These people are great and I feel lucky to have found them.  They are my sub-group.  Maybe even my sub-sub-group. And it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

Just for fun, I recommend you check out the website 10 of the Weirdest Hobbies (http://www.oddee.com/item_97171.aspx).  Even though one of them is knitting related (no, I’ve never knit one of those), my favorite is number 8: Grooming Dogs.

Just helping you sleep tonight

My mom used to say you should learn something new every day, so once she had been presented with a new random fact, she would say, “Now I can sleep tonight.”  I have an interesting tidbit that, I hope, will help you sleep tonight.

I regularly read the Yarn Harlot’s blog (http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/) and although I don’t always agree with her, I respect her work and enjoy reading what she writes.  Today she gave me my random fact.

She spun some yarn from wool that she got from North Ronaldsay Sheep, a breed of sheep that is endangered.  These sheep live only in North Ronaldsay, the northernmost island of the Orkney Islands in Scotland.   This island is only 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2) large and has a population of about 60, according to Wikipedia.  TINY!  To put this into perspective for my New England, USA friends, Central Park is (according to NYCGO.com) 843 acres, or 1.3 square miles, so this whole island is roughly twice the size of Central Park.  (In my head I hear Dudley Moore as Arthur commenting, “They recently had the whole country carpeted. This is not a big place.”)

Anyway, back to sheep.  What’s really odd about them is that, because of their home conditions, they eat mostly seaweed.  I think that’s fascinating!

I read that steps are being taken to preserve the breed, such as exporting some sheep as exotics, and keeping a few herds separate so that one bad disease wouldn’t wipe out the breed entirely.  I would absolutely love to have some wool from one of them, just to have it!  I’d spin it and then just keep the yarn.  And pet it occasionally. Or maybe I’d knit a little toy sheep from it, just to remember my random fact.

Over the Rainbow

More random thoughts heading your way!  Today’s thoughts may be more random than others due to the pain medications I’ve been taking.

Thought #1.  Some of you may be thinking this blog will have something to do with the Gay Community because of the “Rainbow” title.  Wrong.  I was actually trying to reference the fact that I am post-surgery.  This is my first post since telling everyone how nervous I was about my upcoming procedure.  (There’s a blog in between the two posts showing my response to the Yarn Harlot about the USOC’s cease & desist letter to Ravelry.  If you’re a knitter, a copyright attorney, or an Olympic fanatic, you may be interested in the debacle.  Otherwise, we can simply move on.) So, pre-surgery on one side of the rainbow; post-surgery on this side.  Get it?  Okay, enough then.

Thought #2. I’m a lot less reticent to discuss my procedure now that it’s over than I was before.  Perhaps that’s because I’m not nervous anymore; it’s done.  Truth is, I had a hysterectomy.  They removed my uterus and did some repair work to other organs while they were in there.  The repair work required using a muscle from my abdomen as a sling so I have a rather long incision where they harvested the muscle.  My husband, Wes, would argue that the muscle wasn’t exactly “required,” since there was an alternative synthetic mesh product they could have used.  I saw a video online.  It looked like chicken wire.  No thanks.  As of today, I’m 18 days post surgery and the incision still hurts.   Quite a bit, sometimes, hence, the pain medications.

Thought #3.  The more people I talked to about the surgery, the less alone I felt.  I’d had no idea just how many of my friends and acquaintances have had similar surgeries.  Women talked to me about their caesarian deliveries and how they coped with recovery.  (One friend’s strategy to get out of bed led me to tie a bathrobe belt to the footboard of our bed.  I could pull on the belt with one hand until I was upright enough to lean on the other elbow, then roll off the bed.  It worked, but it was certainly not graceful.)  Many women told me that they, too, had had hysterectomies.  So many of them that Wes was prompted to ask, “Does anyone we know still have a uterus?”  In general, women I spoke with concluded that my procedure was going to be a bit more complicated than most, and everyone’s story was slightly different, but they all ended with the same, “You’ll be fine.”  And I am.

Thought #4.  My hospital stay wasn’t that bad.  Actually, it was rather nice.  The nurses and aides were helpful, caring and attentive.  My roommate was friendly.  The time passed rather quickly.  One very helpful item was my “puppy.”  He was a gift from my Uncle John years ago for Christmas.  He’s been used mostly as a decoration over the years but, for some reason, when I left for the hospital, I grabbed him.  He was the perfect choice.  He’s soft and squishy and full of “home.”  Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a name.  I’ve always just called him Puppy.  If anyone has a name for him, leave it in the comments and I’ll take it under consideration.

Thought #5.  I’ve gained weight.  Or have I?  I weighed myself before going in to the 50 gramshospital and again on the day I came home. (Don’t laugh, I can’t possibly be the only woman who’s done this!) I weighed 6 pounds more when I got home!  How is that possible? I barely ate for three days and they removed one of my organs!  But the scale doesn’t lie.  I’ve been told, though, that it’s probably only fluid, or it’s because I’m still healing.  My research (that is, Google) showed that the uterus commonly weighs about 50 grams, about the size of a skein of sock yarn, like the one shown here.  Sigh.  Not nearly as much as I was hoping.  But for the past few days people have been telling me that I look like I’ve lost weight.  So maybe the scale does lie.  Either way, I’m enjoying the compliments.

Thought #6. When someone says things will get better, they don’t mean immediately.  When Wes & I started dating, he had lost his wife of 26 years just months before.  It was a tough year; an emotional roller-coaster of “firsts.”  Every holiday, birthday or anniversary was the first one without her.  The day would pass, he’d recover from the emotional trauma and life would get a little better.  Until the next landmark date.  Everyone said the first year is the hardest.  When March came around and we reached the one year anniversary of the day she passed away, I thought, “Now things will be normal.  He’ll be okay now.”  Ummmm… no.  Things did get easier for him over time, but it didn’t magically happen on a specific date once all the checkmarks had been ticked off.  She’s been gone 10 years and he still has moments when it hurts.  It probably always will.

I guess I didn’t learn that lesson well enough because when the doctor told me that the first two weeks would be the hardest, I expected he meant that once I hit the 2 week mark I’d be home free.  All downhill from here!  Ummmm… no.  For the most part, every day is a little better, but some days are even harder than the day before.  It’s like looking at a stock market chart: Up one moment, down the next, but with a definite trend in one direction.  That’s encouraging.  I have to look at the bigger picture – especially when I have a day like yesterday.  Wes had a couple of places to go, so I joined him for the ride.  That’s all I did: ride along in the truck for a few hours.  By the time I came home, I was wrecked.  Totally exhausted, from being a passenger.  That would make me feel terribly old except that, as everyone keeps reminding me, I’m still healing.  I am a bit older, though, because:

Thought #7.  Today’s my birthday. And I’ve got the day off.  No place I have to be, no chores I have to do, and all day to not get there and not do them.  It’s gonna be a good day.  Happy Birthday to me!

My response to the Yarn Harlot’s response to the USOC

You can read the Yarn Harlot’s post here: http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2012/06/21/now_that_you_ask.html

It is nice to have a calm voice rise above the mob. I agree with much of what you said. However, I believe you missed the mark on this one.

You are correct that the USOC is not asking Ravelers to abandon their games, only rename them. (I say “their games” because I don’t personally play along, although I am an active Ravelry knitter.) I don’t know much about copyright laws, but what you said made sense, except that I agree with the people who pointed out that, unlike your Sock Summit example, nobody would confuse what we do with THE Olympic games.

You missed the mark in your comparison of knitters to athletes.

The difference is NOT that we are knitters and they are athletes. The difference is that they have a world-wide competition every four years to find who is that best at running 100 meters or playing table tennis or shooting an arrow. We have not had a forum, on the global scale, to compete with our peers. If we did, I’m sure we would be eager to see who would win at Cable Construction or Turning a Heel or Working Without a Pattern.

You said, “We are not, however, spending our whole lives trying to be not just someone who can run 100 metres, but trying to be someone who can run 100 meters better than every single other person on earth.”

Perhaps not. But we would! If there was a global competition to be the best at something knitting-related, there are those of us who would train and compete in those events. At whatever cost. In my home state of Connecticut, our local fair is having it’s 100th annual event. (http://www.goshenfair.org/contests.htm) Among it’s contests are Needlework, which include knitting and crocheting. Competition is fierce. Those medals are displayed with much pride.

The Olympics only highlights athletes. (Can I use “Olympics” here? Is there a jar I should throw a quarter into?) We don’t know, every four years, who is the best typist on the planet. Or the best electrician. Or what construction team can frame a house the fastest. For some reason, long ago, certain sports were chosen to highlight achievement, and we continue to raise our athletes to demi-god status. Perhaps it’s because it’s not as much fun to watch someone type, or wire a house, or even knit a sock. It doesn’t make for riveting television programming.

You said they “put more sweat and training and work into that than anyone else ever has in the whole world.” I understand that physical training is different than knitting but you, of all people, should know how hard we train! Just like the athletes who want to be coached by the Great Ones, knitters travel to your Sock Summit, or various retreats to learn new techniques, training with those in our field who are recognized professionals. Somehow these knitters find time, funding and passion to better themselves at their chosen endeavor. It just happens that they are improving knitting skills rather than rowing or sailing skills.

You said, “We are not like elite athletes.  We are really great, but we are not the same as they are.” Well, of course not. The same way my surgeon is not the same as my accountant, but if I said that my accountant, by doing a great job on my taxes, “saved my life,” I’m not denigrating the work that my surgeon does. In the same way, Ravelry’s competition, using a derivitive of the Olympic name, does not somehow belittles their athletic efforts.

As for being an elite athlete: You are not, perhaps, an elite athlete (recent bike-riding notwithstanding), but you are elite. Let me say that again really carefully: You, Stephanie, are an elite knitter. You belong to a small, select group. You are paid to travel, teach and learn about knitting and knitters. Many of us would choose that as a vocation were it an option, however, because our craft is not held in high regard, there are few people who could command enough money in this field to make a living at it. You are an exception. You are doing what many of us would like to do but can’t. Your profession is made possible by the devotion of knitters to their craft.

The USOC said that by spending time knitting, competing amongst ourselves, and doing it in our own forum during the same time the Olympics are held, we were, being “disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fail(ing) to recognize or appreciate their hard work,” which in turn implies that anyone can, without any time or training or effort, pick up needles and knit something – basically failing to recognize or appreciate our hard work. I’m not advocating pitchforks and angry mobs but is it any surprise their words were met with such hostility? They added their voices to the many who already can’t believe we pay upwards of $20 for yarn to make one pair of socks or that we value giving a handmade hat that took 15 hours to make instead of simply buying a store bought item. And you defended them.

It’s a fine line to walk. I agree we must “Stay Classy.” That doesn’t mean we should accept the abuse, nod our heads and move on; it means we express our outrage in a civilized manner. I don’t know how sincere the USOC’s apology was, but we wouldn’t have received one had the knitting community not risen up together in anger. Now, I believe that, for the most part, we have been heard and it’s time to move on.

Perspective

It’s really all about perspective.

Y’see, I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals.

I’m quite a klutz and spent most of my childhood falling and getting minor (and sometimes major) scrapes.  I’ve been stitched up more times than I can remember.  I used to say, “Well, at least I’ve never broken anything.”  Then I fractured my ankle.  Then I fractured it again.  And, just for good measure, I did it a third time.   Yes, the same ankle each time.

In the seven years we’ve been married, my husband, the carpenter, has spent more than his fair share of time in the ER.  Staples in his head.  Pieces of his fingers getting stitched back on.  That kind of thing.  Not to be outdone, I’ve managed to clock a few hours in the ER myself, once or twice with seasonal asthma-related breathing issues, but I did manage to fall down a flight of stairs and get food poisoning  (in the same week!) a year or two ago.  My mother-in-law, however, has been the frequent flyer in the family and, since she lives with us, we spend countless hours getting her to and from the ER and visiting her in the hospital.  As a sign language interpreter, doing emergency work in the ERs and hospitals is some of my favorite work.  I know how overwhelmed a person can feel talking to a doctor when a loved one is ill, and knowing that I am providing a valuable service makes my job extremely fulfilling.

In general, because of my experiences, I feel very comfortable in hospitals.

Next week that will all change.

Because next week, I will be the patient.

I’m having surgery.

(Pardon me if I don’t share all the details publicly.  All I need to say is that it’s considered major surgery and, no, it’s not cancer.)  I’m in my late 40s and my last surgery was when I was 7 (or was I 6?) and had my tonsils out. I’ve managed to come through 4 decades without doctors cutting me open.  Even my son’s birth didn’t require a knife or any painkillers.  (Well, at the time, I may have disagreed about the painkillers, but I didn’t get any.)  Not counting tonsils, I have all my original parts – even my appendix.  Maybe God figured I didn’t need any extra scars; I’d gotten so many as a kid.

I’ve talked to other people who’ve had this surgery done and they’ve said it will be fine.  I understand that everyone’s experiences are different, but I find it comforting to talk to people who have walked this path.  Especially since I did what most people do, in this day and age, when I found out I needed surgery: I turned to the internet. What a mistake!  The horror stories were rampant!   I turned to my husband one night, tears in my eyes and fear in my heart and said, “I am NOT having this done.”

Obviously, I’ve reconsidered.  I know the benefits outweigh the risks.

Still, I will admit, I’m scared.  One friend who had a similar procedure done told me, “I’d been in so much pain that recovery wasn’t bad.  I felt so much better.”  I understood what she was saying but, I’m not in pain.  Not yet.  But I will come out with pain.  Luckily I’ll also come home with painkillers.  I’ve been told I’ll sleep a lot.  I was also told, by a fellow knitter, that I should knit a simple washcloth while I’m on painkillers, just for laughs.  I’m considering it.

Because, more than anything, I know it’s about perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m scared because I’m still on “this side” of the surgery.  I don’t know what to expect. Once it’s over, I’d really like to look back on it all, maybe look at a washcloth, and laugh.

What does this say about me…?

Maya Angelou said, “You can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” That may be true. I believe you can also tell a lot about a person by their browser bookmarks (or “favorites,” depending on the program.)

Like most people, I have some boring sites bookmarked. I need them, but I don’t necessarily enjoy them. Like my bank’s website. I may want to check my account balance, but it won’t make me laugh. Most often it doesn’t even make me smile. I also work on my computer, so I have to visit my office website. I don’t hate doing it, but it isn’t fun.

For fun, I have a bunch of spots on my toolbar so I can get to them quickly and easily. In no particular order, here are some sites from my bookmarks:

http://Facebook.com – If you aren’t on Facebook, it’s probably because you made a conscious decision not to join it. If you don’t know what Facebook is, I can’t help you. And by the way, how did you find MY blog?

Ravelry.com – a knitting website. Like Facebook for knitters. There are patterns, people, places to keep track of your projects and places to brag about the things you’ve made. It’s also home to some of the nicest people I’ve never met.

Pottermore.com – for people who want more Harry Potter. It’s only recently opened to the public. It’s supposed to be for kids, but everyone I know who signed up for it is an adult.

Pinterest.com – “Pin” a picture. That’s all. Look at other people’s pictures. Get ideas. Don’t think to hard. I love it.

Places I haven’t bookmarked, but visit semi-regularly, when I want to waste time and get a smile:

ANY of the icanhascheezburger.com-related sites. My favorite being the lolcats.

There’s failbook.failblog.org – which is the best, that is to say the worst, of facebook entries. Of course, if you are actively avoiding facebook or don’t know what facebook is (Really, is there anyone on a computer who doesn’t know what facebook is? Really?) you won’t find these funny. (Foul language warning.)

If you have ever texted with an iPhone and had the auto correct change your text to something unintentional or downright embarrassing, you’ll love damnyouautocorrect.com. (More foul language here, as the title may suggest.)

Along the same “texting with an iPhone” theme, I recently discovered textsfromdog.tumblr.com. These are supposedly texts between a dog and his owner. Lots of foul language – but if you’ve ever had a dog, you understand that.

Thinkgeek.com – wonderful place to find geeky gifts. Where else can you find things like a lightsaber umbrella or a Star Trek inflatable Captain’s Chair.

If you’re feeling melancholy or want to reminisce about the good old days, visit dearphotograph.com. Pictures taken from the past are held up against the present landscape.

If, after all of this, you can’t find a website to fit your mood, try out coolsiteoftheday.com. Something for everyone. 🙂

If you have a favorite website, please leave it for me in the comments!

The Real Hunger Games

The Real Hunger Games

Is there anyone who really doesn’t like to learn? I remember not liking “school.” And there were certain classes that I didn’t care for.  (Some classes where the teacher would’ve taken me to task for that previous sentence, which shouldn’t begin with the word “and,” and shouldn’t end with a preposition.)  But mostly the math classes. I just can’t wrap my head around those. Numbers don’t change, so by now I should have a pretty good grasp on them but, frankly, they get more mysterious to me every year.

I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone, though, who wanted to stop learning. We naturally have a Hunger for Knowledge.

Over the past few years, I’ve been learning a lot about knitting, crocheting, spinning yarn, and other fiber-related things. (Some of my friends and family have also, albeit without as much enthusiasm, learned alongside me.) But I still want to learn more! I want to read about it, take classes to improve technique. More! More!! I have a sewing machine in the attic. I want to learn how to use it. I’ve tried at least twice in my life to learn to sew. Failed miserably both times. Still, hope springs eternal. “This,” I think, “will be the time I put Martha Stewart to shame!” All I need is an instructor (looking around hopefully…)

My mom has started going to exercise classes. She plays Mahjong (which I had to look up online to get the proper spelling). She’s doing new things to keep her mind and body active and I applaud her! My dad got back into painting recently. Each painting shows he’s trying something new, even if only one small aspect of the craft. He’s darned good at it, too. (I mean “good” like, “Your DAD did that?!” I can’t draw more than a stick figure. ::shrug:: He can’t knit.)

A friend of mine shared with me her recent experience with bio-feedback. She’s in college working on her second (third? fourth?) degree, all while balancing some difficult medical issues.  It blows my mind.  Another friend had her first written work published recently.  Isn’t that awesome?  My husband is considering going back to college after…well, after many years.  He’s thinking about changing careers.  I couldn’t be prouder!

And we are all over 40!   We talk about our medical procedures with each other.  That’s what OLD people do!  But we’re still young enough to learn.  No – to WANT to learn.  We’re still Hungry.

Every now and then I get depressed about the future. Today was one of those days. The economy is awful. Politicians make me sick. The gap between The Rich and The Poor is huge and I’m much closer to the latter than I would like to be.

Then I remembered all the opportunities that still await. Tons of stuff I don’t know yet. So much left to try! So much left to learn! It’s probably a good thing that our brains don’t “growl” when they’re hungry the way our stomachs do. I’m not sure they ever get full.   The noise would be deafening.