Monday, July 21

Memories, like the corners of my ... thing up there in the skull, you know what I mean

I used to have a great memory. I used to be able to bring up exactly the right word when I was talking. Heck, I used to be able to recite the entire plot and character arcs for every book I'd ever read. And that's saying something. And it wasn't so long ago either.

There was a time when I could juggle fifty different details. I was On Top Of Things. I was the go-to person for tracking a dozen threads and never got a one tangled. I was good. I'm still good, for that matter; I just have to write every blessed thing down now. No more storing them up in my thingie. And yes, proper nouns were the first to go.

I used to think it was funny, the things that my parents couldn't remember. Like how old they were. Geez, how could you forget something like that? These days I'm doing the math, just like my dad used to do. Good thing it doesn't require long division or I'd never know. Bits of conversation are temporarily misplaced, too. A friend will say "didn't I tell you?" And I'll say "no, I don't think so." But then a week later the entire former conversation will pop up to the front of my brain. The odd thing about that is that it will come out entirely out of context with whatever I'm focused on at the time.

No, it's not dementia or Alzheimer's or any of those other dreaded things that we all fear. A lot of it has to do with time and energy. I don't seem to have as much of either as I used to, and probably my brain is getting sloppy as a result and isn't sorting and filing information as diligently as it used to. The other thing is that I'm older and there are simply more memories for my brain to store than there used to be. I was thinking about that just this past weekend as I was cleaning out a closet. There was so much junk that had migrated to the back of the closet floor, stuff that's totally useless and why wasn't it thrown out in the first place? Old empty hangers that had worked their way to the far left end of the rod, one garment at a time. Empty boxes. A mateless winter glove. A leg warmer - just one. Where the heck did that come from?

The closet got that way because of my own bad habits. I've got clutter issues. I'm always sure that I'm going to find a use for this whateveritis that is still perfectly good. Like one leg warmer? Probably I threw the other one away already thinking, like Romeo, that its mate was already gone when all along she was just sleeping in the back corner of the closet.

So what does all of this have to do with my memory issues? The back of my mind, like my closet, has become the repository for all sorts of things that have long outlived their usefullness. It's interesting the way it works. I find one lost leg warmer in the back of my closet and I wonder what the heck I was thinking. But if I pull out a phone number from childhood, I marvel that I still hold onto it. And what really is the difference? The difference is that I can clear out all that clutter from my closet; what's in my brain will stay there, only surfacing when, as with that lost bit of conversation, I'm looking for something else entirely.

Maybe the trick is to get my real space more organized. Maybe then my brain space will relax and follow along. I'll be able to pull what I want to the surface more readily. First I need to find the time and the energy. And a really big trash bag.

Tuesday, July 8

Playing With String

I'm still crocheting, and how. I finished the sweater for Mom, which she loves, and then started another project, a tank top thing that is supposed to be part of a two-piece sweater set but won't be. It won't be because (1) I don't have enough yarn for both pieces and (2) I only want the tank top. I'm not really a twin set kind of gal, not that there is anything wrong with that. They just never look the way they are supposed to when I'm wearing them. Anyway, I finished that and in fact wore it to Portland so a few people have seen it already. For the rest of you, if you are at all interested, I'll try to get a picture up soon. It is worked in a linen blend yarn called Rowan Damask. It was a bit like working with twine, if you can picture that, but the linen softened up tremendously the more I worked with it and should continue to do so with wear which will make it a very comfy piece. I'm not entirely satisfied with the way the armholes turned out. Well, it's all a learning process.

Next up is this t-shirt which I'm doing in FibraNatura Equisite Bamboo, a bamboo/Merino wool blend in a blue/green shade they call "Winter Sky." I know, bamboo doesn't sound much like something you want in a t-shirt. Well, they don't spin it up into yarn straight from the branch but rather put it through a process that breaks down the fiber. What you get at the end is an incredibly soft yarn that feels something like cashmere. No, really; I've handled some pure bamboo yarn and it's fabulous. In addition to its softness, bamboo is also a fiber that has excellent drape and "breathes," much like cotton. Since they are both cellulose (plant) fibers, that makes sense. The downside is that it doesn't contain much elasticity and can stretch out of shape over time. That's where blends come in handy, combining the attributes of different fibers. In this case, the cool softness of bamboo and the soft elasticity of Merino wool. If you are thinking of wool as that hot, scratchy stuff, then you haven't given Merino wool a try.

It turns out that wool can vary in texture much the way hair does among people. Human hair, when viewed through a microscope, is composed of layers, like scales. The number and size of the scales decides whether your hair is frizzy, curly or straight. It's all a matter of genetics. The same is true with wool; it varies depending on what breed of sheep it comes from. Merino is a very soft, smooth fiber that still retains the best characteristics of wool, i.e. durable and elastic.

To get back to the project at hand, I'm very pleased with how the Exquisite Bamboo handles. Although it's nice and soft, the yarn is not "fuzzy" so the stitches have good definition. Initially the yarn had a tendency to split as I worked with it, my hook catching some of the fiber strands but missing others. Now that I've done several rows of it, however, I'm encountering less of that. My fingers seem to have made the necessary adjustment. I would tell someone who is working with any new yarn for the first time to be patient and give it a chance. Eventually you get used to working with it. As you can see by this swatch, the Winter Sky is a variegated (multi-colored) yarn. In some yarns the dyeing process for variegated results in a too rigid patterning. In this case, I think it just adds some interest. I like the shading of blues and I think they named it perfectly.

Monday, July 7


I got my hair cut this weekend. I hate dealing with haircuts and I have a tendency to put it off until my hair is at the stringy stage. I have a "perfect length," as I think most people do, that one length that allows me to do what I want with my hair. It's the length that always seems to look and feel good. It my "comfort length." Any longer than that and it gets stringy and ratty looking. Any shorter and I lose the ability to pull it up or back, which I often do when I'm doing chores. If I can't do that it drives me crazy the whole time I'm working. The problem? The problem is that hairdressers, in my experience, are constitutionally, perhaps even genetically, incapable of cutting off less than two inches.

I go to the hair dresser and I say "just trim the ends." I say "I really like this length, just give it a bit more shape." I think that's pretty clear, don't you? But no, I look down after a few snips and I see two and three inch locks littering the floor. Why is it so hard? Don't misunderstand me, I'm not getting bad haircuts. The cuts are always really cute ... just not what I want. They always want to give me some kind of cute short cut and, pay attention here, I HATE SHORT HAIR. I HATE IT.

And my hair grows very fast so it's not like I can go a long time between cuts. I've tried that and I end up having to wear it up by necessity because I can't leave it down at all and still have it look decent. I shouldn't have to do that. I should be able to get, amnd it, the amnd hair I amnd want! I swear to Bob, the next hairdresser that whacks off more than 1/4 inch from my head is going to get something of their own snipped off. Maybe I'll match it inch for inch. Maybe I should make this clear before I even sit down. Maybe if I brought along a pair of sheers of my own they would get the message.

Thank you. I feel better now.