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Aug 5, 2016

Unhidden, A Review

Dina Given's Unhidden is very engrossing. I loved the twists and turns. I was fully engrossed in the secondary world that Ms. Given created for her readers.

The only thing I didn't like was how the book ended. I wanted the story to continue and go further. Then, again, I like sagas, so there is that.

The story is a mix of who done it with a dash of fantasy and high tech science fiction. Mystery lovers, fantasy lovers, sci fi lovers, and lovers of love will enjoy the story.

I got my copy through the NetGalley readers program, and am giving my own opinion of the book. I gave it five stars for thoroughly allowing me to escape into her world.

Jul 15, 2016

The Box, Male Oppression

The Box, Male Oppression



Recently, I had the great opportunity to listen to a talk about sexism. One of the panelists mentioned the box that society puts male children and men into in which they cannot feel emotions, are not allowed close male friendships because of gay oppression, and are the first ones sent to war. This opened my eyes to what it means to be male in our society, and the experiences that my dad and brothers, and by extension other male persons, have had as members of the male group of humanity. I resisted the idea that men are oppressed because women are the oppressed ones, so that means that men are the oppressors. But, men have been conditioned to be the oppressors and so are oppressed just as women are.

No one is born with sexism. Sexism is a social construct that makes biology the reason for differences in power. This social construct hurts men as well as the women it oppresses by making men the agents of sexism through hurting them to the point they think it is normal and right to be in charge because they are male, a happenstance of hormones. This indoctrination begins as children with blue, trucks, and outside being the sole provinces of boys and pink, soft, and indoors being the province of girls, at least in this society. If you see a child in blue and can’t tell on first glance that that child is a girl, you get labeled as a boy until corrected and then it’s apologies for the mistake, but also in a way, apologies for the elevation of the girl to boy, and accusations to the parents for trying to pass the girl as a boy, when in reality that may simply be her favorite shirt or the last piece of clean clothes because today is laundry day, either way, it is just a blue shirt, not a marker of boyness or girlness. Just a shirt.

And, so the indoctrination begins. It continues as children are told that boys are supposed to be good at math and girls at words, and that boys can have as much sex as they want because no one will know what they do, but if a girl has as much sex as she wants then she is labeled a tramp or worse. It continues when girls are told to change how they dress because it distracts boys from getting an education and that girls’ bodies are just for objectification as sexual things no matter how unsexual the child feels. It continues when boys are teased by others for crying when something hurts them, so they learn to keep the hurts hidden, and that just festers like a sore wound because it is. It continues when youth, beauty, and feminine mystique are used to send messages to children that only those who look and act perfectly matter, and the rest better know how to make the best of whatever assets they may have because they aren’t loveable because they aren’t perfect or ideal and will need to work hard to prove themselves, whether male or female. It continues with the myth that all rapists are males and strangers. It continues with the myth that only other places have sexism and that the glass ceiling doesn’t exist anymore.

So, how to stop the seemingly inevitable flow of indoctrination? Stop and think about these things, and then, talking about them with yourself and your circle of family and friends. Then, sharing time equally to allow everyone the chance to be heard and have a voice while sharing the stories of the hurts from sexism and the joys of being a girl or woman or boy or man, as your case may be. Then, not just listening to each other, but taking the chance to be heard and heal from the sexism and oppression to the rest of the world.

There are many organizations doing this kind of work, but one I know of is the No Limits/The Liberation of Women program of the International Re-evaluation Counseling Community. They have brought the ideas of RC, Re-evaluation Counseling, to the topic of Sexism. They are working towards the end of sexism worldwide by 50 years, now being in the middle of that time. Re-evaluation counseling is the name given to the shared listening process where each person gets an equal amount of time to talk or just express in whatever way the feelings the topic has for them. This time is considered confidential, is done with the idea that we are intelligent, capable, and good., and that we can figure the solutions to our own problems just by being given the space to be listened to while we process through the thoughts and feelings associated with the topic.

May 18, 2016

Top 7 things that make me feel better

Hi! I saw that making a list of things that make you feel better is a good way to feel better, so here's my list, in the order the thoughts come to me.

1. My family, it's a crazy bunch of people, but I feel better when I'm with them.
2. My dog, Casper is funny and almost always makes me laugh.
3. Writing. Expressing myself verbally, both spoken and written, is a good way to feel better. Writing wins though because I don't have to share it until I'm ready to.
4. Sunshine after the rain, and the smell of the rain. I can't generate those, but I can appreciate them when they happen.
5. The smell of freshly mown lawns, aromatherapy seems to be a theme here.
6. Hot baths, just floating in hot water to soothe achy muscles.
7. Water, whether at the lake or the ocean. Either is a luxurious and rhythmic soothing of frayed nerves.

Bonus: Thunderstorms. They clear the air of all the built up tension, and then you get fresh air afterwards. They also help to reduce humidity sometimes. Even if their going through does cause migraines, I still enjoy the spectacle and pomp of a good thunderstorm. Respect!

Apr 28, 2016

Projects Update, April 2016

Finished Objects!

First up is the one with a picture that can be shared. This is the Rain On Notre Dame cowl by PrariePoppins on Ravelry, Sarah Sircha elsewhere.

The shapes on the left of the bottom picture are the steeples of Notre Dame and the shapes on the right in the bottom picture are of Raindrops on window paines and also stylized Eiffel Tower shapes in the same stitch design.

I also worked on a couple of my own designs. One is a yarn cake holder that can clip to a belt or belt loop with a carbine clip, which I own way too many of those clips for a non mountain climber, they are just so darn useful! And, as a key ring can't be beat, just open the clip and slip off the keys in need. I'm going to switch the hard rings for ribbons or yarn for actually holding the keys on the clip in the next few days. 


I'm also working on a hat test knit for dogyarns on Ravelry, Elizabeth Ravenwood elsewhere. I can't share pictures of this one yet as it has not been released, and I'm not quite done with the knitting of the hat. I have a funny story about the knitting of this project.

I went to pick up the project and my cable needle, a fancy toothpick, skewered my mound of the moon on my right hand. OWIE!!! Did that hurt. But, thankfully that is an area with thick skin and the puncture didn't bleed when I finally calmed down enough to pull the toothpick out of my hand. It was my own fault for not dulling the end of the toothpick with an nail file board, and for using the fabric of the hat to hold the needle, as either dulling the end or using a different home for the needle would have prevented the accident. Needless to say, it took a few days for my hand to be comfortable with knitting again. Even without any blood coming out, there is still a bruise in the muscle where the puncture happened.

As a friend said when I told her about learning a lesson about knitting, "Sometimes the lessons stick!" She later amended her reply to mention that she didn't intend any puns, though I was the first person to tell her I thought her reply was funny. 

Frogging Pond, or evidence of creativity in progress!

So, I've been wanting to make the Everyday Hermione Socks for a long time now, and when I saw a pair from The KnitGirls podcast, I knew it was time to start the project. Maybe I misread the directions or something, but it wasn't coming out how I wanted to have the pattern on the leg look, nor what the pictures looked like or the sock from the podcast. So, I frogged that project, and I used the yarn in a plastic canvas coaster. Who says you can't use fingering weight yarn on plastic canvas? Does it have to be heavier yarns all the time? It was fun to break the rules and do whatever for once in a long time. Then, through that I realized that there are no rules in art/crafting and that I can do whatever the hell I want to do with the supplies I've procured. So, refreshing!

I also had been participating in the Sock Madness fun that started in March and had made it into Round 2, but the project and real life just conspired to be too much at the beginning of April, so I frogged that 3/4ths of a sock and removed the beaded cuff gently, so I could reuse the beads too. This was the Rose and Thorn pattern, which is lovely, just not meant to be then. But, I got to reuse this yarn in the Hapiness Shawl I mention in the Designs on the Needles section.

Designs on the Needles

Happiness Shawl.

Like I mentioned above, I wanted to make a pair of socks out of a pretty and popular design on Ravelry, the Everyday Hermione Socks, but I frogged that project since it wasn't what I thought the actual design was going to be. That then led to me using the pattern I thought was in the socks in a shawl I'm designing as a rip off of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Square Shawl from the Knitter's Almanac. This project isn't going to be done soon as it is my passenger in rides project and I have yet to get half way through. This is my Happiness Shawl project.

The first yarn for the Happiness Shawl came from a pair of socks I talk about in the Frogging Pond section, which came from boutrosbabe on Ravelry, or Heather of Highland Handmades on the web. It is fingering weight and herSugar maple base in the I'll Make My Own Sunshine color, which just inspires happiness in me, hence the name of the pattern. The next yarns will be from the Rainbow minis kit from Cauldron's Path on Etsy that I bought many moons ago. This is Shayla's Sunrises base, and the rainbow kit, which has over 300 yards of black with a mini skein in the ROYGBIV colors. The yarn I'm debating about for the edging is the Unwind Yarn Company, Journey Sock base, in the Re-Entry colors. With the addition of the rainbow kit and black, I'm thinking this might interest folks who would like to make a project that is inspired by the solar system, with the ROYGBIV being the orbitals around the sun with black in between the sun and the different colors, and then the multi color at the end to show the complexities of space beyond our own solar system. The red in the Re-Entry yarn also makes me think of the infrared spectrum of noise in space, plus the name screams Space!

I also recycled the wave cast on from the Sock Madness Round 1 pattern, Slip Stitch Spiral, which is a recycling of Cat Bordhi's Footprints cast on, to start the project, only by doing 4 waves instead of three. Then, I worked stockinette for as long as I could with invisible increases at each corner. Then, I used the pattern I thought was in the Everyday Hermione Socks pattern, with all of the excitement on the increase rounds, like Elizabeth Zimmerman mentions in her Square Shawl instructions, not the pithy ones, but the other ones. Then, I got bored of that pattern, so I went to the next step up in difficulty, and that took some puzzling to get the corners right. I actually started using stitch markers for this pattern then. After I'm don't with this, I will add in the rainbow minis and start with a wave style pattern in lace to go from there to the end of the project.

I have some yarn with a lot of the shawl colors mixed into it. I'm thinking of using that to do something on the external edge, maybe a picot bindoff, or something.

This design is heavily inspired by colors and textures.

Yarn Cake Sacks

I'm also designing what started out as playing with yarn, and then progressed to yarn swatching, then went on to a finished object using loads of techniques. The finished objects could be baby hats, or the parts could be stopped at various steps to be a headband as well. But, I added a drawstring to make them into yarn cake holders that can clip to belts or not, and keep the cakes from imploding on themselves on a shelf. These also make good project bags, and yarn based yarn bowls. Extremely, pretty and practical. I'm just charmed by them!

They also make learning advance techniques easy because they are not very big, and I don'tknow about others, but cup cozies just don't do much for me, though they are really pretty too. Just not my cup of tea.

Anyways, hats and bags though are really useful for me, so that's what these are.  I will be sharing more pictures as the release date for the patterns approaches. 

For now, these are inspired by textures and techniques, then color, but that's my way of seeing them, your's may differ!

TaTa for Now, folks!

Apr 4, 2016

So what have I been up to?

Let's see!

November was a rough month emotionally. I got really burnt out on life and knitting and crafting wasn't happening. I was doing a lot for everyone else, and not taking good care of myself.

December, was, well, I did want to help decorate for Christmas, but it was still tough. Luckily my family loves me even when I'm not sure I'm lovable.

January was a fresh beginning. I decided to Sort for the House Cup and was with the Ravenclaws again. So, it was back to crafting with a passion. And, life started looking more nice in general.

February was interesting in that I finally felt weird about turning a 4- birthday. I wasn't sure why it struck this year and not the one when I turned 40. But, it did, and I realized that life needed to be funner and that I was tired of living how I'd been living doing a lot for others but not me.

March was a return to some blahness, and not because of the weather, which was awesome and way too warm for Northern New England. El Nino is a strange phenomenon! Anyways, the month ended with me just wanting to get the projects done and moving on with fun things.

I just did a goals check in for the 2016 Goal Along that PrariePoppins is doing on her website, Imagined Landscapes

Mar 29, 2016

Soul Cleansing ...

Hey there, everyone!

I have been having a hard year. I had migraines non stop between March and November of 2015. I lost my crafting mojo. I even lost a lot of faith in reality and God. I have found faith in reality again, but I don't know what I think about God anymore.

I don't think in the same way about a lot of things. I'm more clear eyed about my past and some people who misused my generosity of spirit. I have no control over the ways that the head works, but I do have control over how I respond going forwards. Anyway, that is not what I wanted to write about tonight.

But, it's what needs writing about, so I am going to rename this post, and write about the bullet journal journey later.

Now, I am writing about this as it is important.

I have medicine for a few things. Some are to prevent migraines by increasing the tolerance for the things that set the brain of into a spreading cortical depre, like those experienced by folks with seizures, only the electric storm only affects the brain and not the parts of the body that control gross and fine motor movement. Depression, the mood disorder, is also sometimes associated with the spreading cortical depression, which is just like a ripple across the surface of the brain that dims its electrical activities for a bit, and that leads to the seizure of folks with epilepsy, the attack phase of the migraines, and possibly the lowering of mood in depressive epi, along with a host of other side effects that this spreading cortical depression sets in motion that are designed to protect the brain and the body, but mostly the brain.

Some of you may remember that there are four stages of a migraine when it is in the wild by itself. They are prodome, aura, attack, and postdome. The prodome stage is marked by a sudden increase in desire for carbohydrates and simple sugars. This stage can last a few days. This is also when lots of people eat the chocolate that is blamed for their migraine, even though it is just a bit of time linking the two things along with the cravings for those carbohydrate and simple sugars. During the aura stage, which is not always present, the person experiences hallucinations of sound, smell, and sight along with flashes of light that crosses their field of vision. The attack stage is the pain of the migraines, also there is nausea, sensitivity to sounds and lights. Most people in this stage strive to get to the darkest and quietest place available. The attack stage will last anywhere from four hours to three days or so. Then comes the postdome. This is like the hangover for those who know what that feels like. For those who don't, you're groggy, sounds still smart, bright lights can hurt still, you want to sleep it off, and food is not a good idea. This stage can last for a few days too.

A single migraine from start to finish can go something like this...

Sunday, you wake up and eat pancakes with syrup, cereal, coffee with milk, and a muffin for breakfast. You spend the morning trying to catch up on paperwork. Lunch comes and all you want is a sandwich and a bowl of soup in a breadbowl from Panera bread stores. You get the apple to look healthy for the cute cashier. Then, it's shopping at the department store for shirts and jeans. Then it's mid afternoon and you notice that you are sneaking the snack cakes to your child's school lunches. You know that something needs to change, you had to buy bigger clothes than last time earlier today. Then, it's supper time. You decide to be healthy and that you will have a good sandwich with lots of vegetables and some fruit for fillers, hey, you still have the apple from earlier today.

Monday, you wake up a bit after the second snooze button press. You have cereal and milk, toast with butter, coffee and milk, and some oatmeal to stay focused throughout the morning. Lunch time and you have a whopper of a burger with your friends from work on the floor, and think about getting lemonade, but get a super sized cola instead.  Snack time and you raid the vending machine in the break room, you get licorice, tortilla chips, nuttier butters, and some flavored water. Supper is steak, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry juice cocktail, and butter pecan ice cream for dessert.
Tuesday, you don't so much as wake up as you are suddenly aware of this crushing, burning, white hot poker of a stick holding your head up on top of a spike with the same excruciating pain, no, this is beyond pain, whatever it is, it surrounds and is cleaving your skull and brain in half along the corpus collosum, and the sensation, whatever the heck it is envelopes your spine. All you feel is white, hot, burning, pain. Eventually, you pass out unable to take the intensity anymore. When your eyes finally flutter open again, you find that you can't move just yet. Your body is still in an insanely tight fetal position. You stretch out on foot and then that leg slowly, ever so slowly, just in case the pain of the night returns.  Eventually, you have stretched out all of your limbs and there was no return of the pain. You sit up on your side, so that you can vomit in the trash can that now lives by your side of the bed. The room darkening shades are not dark enough, and you can see it is a beautiful day outside in the world of the rest of the world.  You gingerly flex your toes as you stand up , sort of, you are still leaning on your bed, heavily. You use the wall and bed, then the door frame as supports on your way to the bathroom. After making it to the toilet and sitting down, you do your business. The strain of solid waste management causes you to loose your breath with the effort, and to get a small bit of pain, nothing like the night before, to hurt your head and your vision pulsates with the blood being pushed through the vessels in your eyes. You know you are a wreck and weak. You want to be able to do what you normally do, but today is going to be a lucky if you make it to the living room day. You are happy to have the habit of charging your phone by your bed. You make it back to bed gradually. Then, you do the hard part. You call your boss and disappoint them again, then you call your spouse to come home and get the kids ready for school bc you are not able to do it. You failed again. As if the excruciating pain and torture for no purpose wasn't bad enough, you have the ability to make sure you feel like the worst possible person for experiencing this horrendous event that you didn't ask to be part of.

Wednesday, you wake up still hurting, and groggy. You are feeling better today than yesterday about going through this, but otherwise you are still in the attack stage.

Thursday, you only hurt a bit in the morning, by evening you are ready to start being part of the family again.

Friday, you are still not fully functional in the cognitive areas and driving is not a good idea this time, so you stay home today too. You can handle the kids, getting them ready for school, and your spouse can go back to work.

Saturday, you are back to being able to drive again, and you take the day easy. By supper time, though, you are wanting something crunchy and sweet, maybe a lb and jelly sandwich with some potato chips would be a good idea.

And, so goes the story of another week in the life of a person who lives with migraines.

I have experienced the searing pain that I described above, and the other more insidious pain caused by finding fault with myself for having had the migraines. I'm still working on being gentle with me. But, there is no way to know when a night will wake me up from deep sleep with some pain or the cruciate curse pain, for the other Harry Potter fans out there. That's the hard part. For all of the advantages and advancement in technology and medical research we have access to now, I am at the mercy of my own brain waves and electronic system.

Micromechanics may have to be a new adventure for me, or someone, to find out the how and how to fix of the brain.  I could be content with not knowing the why of mig, if only the how was much better understood.

Right now, they are lucky to have a model of migraine stages.

Then, there are oddballs like me who don't fit the normal mold for migraine disease. I have as many as I do bc I have scar tissue in the brain section where migraines happen, so the reduced space for normal functions leads to more migraines than before getting sick and than others with migraines would have without the scar tissue.