Friday, November 07, 2008

Grief subsides

It’s been 7+ months since Mommie Cat died and I miss her still, but not with the grinding sorrow of fresh grief.

Because of the vacancy Mommie left, Outside Tiger has slowly become an inside tiger, sleeping at the foot of my bed. Tommie, her “kitten,” has taken Mommie’s place as my right-hand cat, always close by, waiting for skritches and treats. And Cat is now my only girl.

I’ve been in my new job since June and it’s heaven. I enjoy my co-workers greatly. The work is fairly easy.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

All Things

And so I did finish the API manual. It was horrifying.

I'd created chartering estimates based on a reasonable amount of work. However, the team wanted our two-person team to create two technical manuals in a month. The .Net Controls Guide was 150 pages and the API Manual was 495 pages--yes, in just 20 working days.

By the time I finished, my hands were screaming in pain. It felt like knives were being jammed into my wrists everytime I clicked a key.

The result is that I looked for and found a new job. I'm psyched and scared.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

All things--even API Manuals

I've been procrastinating about getting started on writing an API Reference Manual. I'm really intimidated by it. I felt a bit overwhelmed by the technicality of it and the fact that I'm separated from the developers by 3 time zones.

But, I'm saying to myself, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Which means, I can even count on Jesus to guide me through writing an API Reference Guide. I mean, if He was instrumental in creating the universe in less than 7 days, certainly an API manual isn't too hard for Him.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cleaning house

When Mommie was dying, it's like I HAD to knit to deal with the overwhelming sadness. Now that she's gone, it's been hard to get started in knitting again.

I spent most of this weekend cleaning my house. Mommie died because I let myself live in my depression. I used it as an excuse to live a sloppy life. My home has been a dirty, disgusting mess for 3 years.

Yesterday I took 15 bags of trash to the dump. I've got 6 more to go, but it's looking better.
I washed 2 sets of silverware, three sets of dishes, and 2 sets of glassware. I can see my kitchen counter! I "swiffered" my floors 6 times before they were clean. Now, my home smells like citrus instead of detritus. I cleaned stuff out of my fridge that expired last summer and restocked it with fresh fruits and veggies.

I cried as I cleaned because Mommie won't be here to sit with me on my clean patio or to bask in the sunshine on the clean, fluffy carpet. She died because I didn't take care of myself or anything very well. But, the way I can honor her is by being kinder to my kitties--cuddling them instead of pushing them away and by giving them a clean home to live in.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

You deserve a break today

I was waiting in the drive-thru at Mickey D's when I saw a guy get out of his Jeep, walk to the dumpsters, and throw away his cigarette. I thought it was so cool that he threw his cigarette butt in the trash instead of in the parking lot, I paid for his lunch. He yelled, "Thank you," as I drove away.

Rewriting my life's script

Today Dr. Laura said that for short-term burnout, physicality is a great remedy: take a hike or something. Short-term burnout is about overloading the brain. But, long-term burnout is about a lack of joy and requires rewriting your life's script.

So, I am kind of hating my life and I do feel a lack of joy. So, I need to figure out how to go to the place of joyfulness and usefulness.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

It doesn't get better

It's been three weeks and one day since I put Mommie to sleep. In some ways, I've already forgotten her and moved on. There isn't unendurable pain. It's not fresh and raw and sharp. But...

The other day, I was getting ready to go to work and did a quick "cat count" before I left. I saw Cat sleeping on the bed, Bug sleeping on the patio chair and Tommie's face smiling at me from behind the living room chair. But, I rushed all over the house, panicked, because I couldn't find Mommie. Suddenly, I remembered she was gone. Fresh grief.

Sometimes I still call out to her, "M - O - M!" I don't believe she can hear me. It's more that I'm afraid of forgetting my darling kitten.

I feel guility because I don't look for her every day. It doesn't cut me up when I don't see her sitting inside the front door when I come home. I don't miss her any more when I wake up. I can't remember the details of her face. The memory of her meow is already dimming.

And yet, last night I read my rembrances of her and couldn't get through it without tears crashing down like a waterfall.

I kept thinking I'd get a little stone or box to remember her, but I can't yet. She's just a damn cat, but I loved her. I was crappy at being loving to her most of the time, but I did give her a moderately safe place to live when no one else would. And, in point of fact, she chose me. Maybe that's why I miss her--because she's one of the few things in this world who chose me.

Everyday Christmas

Today's Christmas "box" is for a little girl. It's a canvas bag stuffed with a child-sized pillow and blanket, a stuffed toy, slippers, crayons, and coloring books. I also scored some glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs and wind up cars to add to some boxes in progress for a little boy.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It gets better

Serious depression set in over the weekend. I didn't make it out of bed much on Saturday or Sunday. With a person, you can tell yourself, "X wouldn't want me to be like this." But, while MommieCat was a sweet, affectionate girl, she really didn't care about the quality of my life.

But, today I'm turning the depression corner. I've resume the wonderful vitamin B complex (which really seems to help). I'm also starting to set goals and to do things that make me feel powerful instead of powerless. These are serious keys, for me, in overcoming depression.

I still miss Mommie. I notice it most when I eat because she would always demand her share. Part of me is afraid that I'll forget her. I don't want to forget her, but if the pain goes away, I'm afraid I'll forget her.

I also am ashamed at how much I took her for granted. Alot of people tried to tell me that I shouldn't feel bad because I gave her a great life. Well, I didn't. If I'd have had her blood tested in January when she had such a bad eye infection, we might have been able to knock the E coli down in time. But I was equal parts cheap and depressed. She paid for my stupidity with her life.

The thing I can do is, from now on, to treat my 2 1/2 remaining cats with more affection and to buy insurance so cost isn't a factor when I take them to the vet.

I don't believe that animals go to heaven. The Bible says that God created animals, that He knows when a sparrow falls...but they don't have souls. Still, I know God created Mommie for me and sent her when I needed her the most. I hope He loved her enough to take her heaven.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Grief and Baby Sweaters

I was doing great yesterday and today *bleah*. I could barely crawl out of bed! I kept hearing Mommie all night. I'd hear her clicking into the room as her extra toes caught on the carpet. I heard her questioning meow. I woke up scratching her head and ears--but it was only the teddy bear.

To assuage my grief, I'm knitting and working. However, I don't want to finish my berry bag. I think it has something to do me working on it while Mommie was dying...or maybe I don't want the reward of finishing the bag while I'm grieving for Mommie...or even that being done with the bag is like being done with Mommie.

So, instead, I'm knitting baby sweaters for charity. I work with Chris Coble. He and Lori lost their kids in a car accident last spring. The amazing news is that Lori is having twins in May. I'm kicking around the idea of making three sweaters for their babies. In Berrocco Comfort. I may go with Rosebud, Peche, or Buttercup for the girl sweaters and Military Mix for the boy sweater. (I know, these colors are not neutrals, but why should I resist yarns named "Rosebud" and "Buttercup"?)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Story of Cat

Ten years ago I dated a man who, after his divorce, moved in with his parents with his two young daughters. I think he needed the comfort of family and wanted his girls to have the positive female influence his mom could provide.

The family had a large yard that was inhabited by a multiplicity of feral cats. Most of them were white, scruffy-looking things. They had no interest in human company and would, in fact, scatter at the hint that a human was thinking about going into the yard. The B’s didn’t want the feral cats to starve, so they put a plate of kibble on the patio every evening—first come, first served.

One day, as I was sitting on the patio, I spied a tabby kitten with a sweet white bib and white kitten toes.

I figured it would be great to adopt this young cat. I imagined watching TV in the evenings with the grateful tabby curled on my lap, purring contentedly.

I brought a cardboard box over to the B’s, ready to be a pet owner. I figured that capturing the kitten would be as simple as scooping it up and putting it in the box. So I put the box on the patio, reached out to grab the kitten and YOW! I got a faceful of growl. I was terrified by this thing that was probably less than 1% of my body weight.

Papa B wasn’t about to be thwarted.  He cornered her and scooped her into the box.  The box came alive with fury but I carried it to my truck anyway.

The box bumped and lurched with anger as I drove the few short miles home.  I was grateful that I'd bought a bag of kitty litter so I could weigh it down.

When I got home, I set the box in my living room.  I knew I had to open it, but I was afraid of being savaged.  I got a broom and gently nudged the lid open.  POW!  The box exploded and a lightning bolt of tabby streaked around the living room, into the dining room, into the kitchen and UP onto a basket on the kitchen counter.  I approached warily as two golden eyes glared at me from the safety of the basket.

I decided to leave well enough alone.  I put out a dish of food, a dish of water and a cat box.  I wondered, "What have I gotten myself into?"  But I loved this little feline too much to let her go the way of her littermates--eaten by coyotes or run over by cars.

And so our adventure began.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


My kitty is dead. I can hardly breathe. I hear her questioning meow. I woke up this morning and she wasn't there. She's a pile of ashes now. All I have left are memories and a scrap of fur.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Letting her go

Today is the day I'm putting Mommie to sleep. She's thin as a rake and her charming personality is gone. She sleeps and eats. She took weak to jump off the bed. I had to put a disposable catbox on the corner of the bed.

I don't know why she's dying. I only know that she is. I've tried antibiotics, steriods, and subQ fluids for 5 days. And she's getting thinner every day. I'd be a complete jerk to deny it and continue to "hope" she'd get better.

I've kept her around because I didn't want to feel guilty about putting her to sleep and because I didn't want to face the pain of her loss. I'm old enough to know that nothing can take her place.

A phone call from the vet confirms that she has e. coli. Damn. Mommie always has been a trash picker. But it's my fault she got to the trash. The guilt is overwhelming and my heart is broken. I feel like coming completely unraveled.

Friday, March 21, 2008


My beautiful girl
Mommie Cat is nearing the end of her shelf life. I want to write about her before I put her to sleep because I can't stand the thought of writing about her in the past tense. I want to write about her alive, not dead.

Mommie is a black and white cow cat who is confident in her own beauty. When I think of her, I picture her sitting with her white chest out, whiskers forward, absolutely confident that she is beautiful and irresistibly petable. And yet, she meows like a junkyard cat—a really, grating, disagreeable alley cat sound.

She is a mask and saddle cat. I love that her black ears are sugar-frosted with wisps of white. From the front, she appears to be mostly white. From the back, she appears mostly black—a solid black tail with little wisps of white. Her front legs are marked with black spots. It looks as though the spot starts on one leg and continues to the other. Her best marking is a black, heart-shaped patch over her heart--my black-hearted girl. Her fur is extremely fine and soft and shiny.

I also love that she’s a polydactyl—front and back. I sometimes call her my pterodactyl.

Although she can really talk trash, she is extremely gentle. I’ve sometimes had to give her eye medication or trim her polydactyl nails and she just doesn’t scratch.

She’s my only cat who is a greeter. When my other cats hear someone walking up the steps, they scatter and hide—but not Mommie. She always greets me when I come home from work, either sitting near the front door or howling at me from an open window. She always presents herself to my infrequent visitors. She wants them to have the opportunity to admire her extreme beauty.

She is an amorous girl. She doesn’t like to sit in my lap or to be held, but she loves to be petted—especially her neck, shoulders, and behind the ears. She puts her whole head into my hand and sometimes nuzzles my palm to awaken me for “the petting.” Because she enjoys it so much, I call it “heavy petting.”

Mommie showed up on the patio of my Costa Mesa apartment in the Spring of 1998 with her five feral kittens: two black and white polydactyls, two black polydactyls, and a tabby. She presented her kittens with pride, whiskers up, her tail like a little flag. She spent the afternoons sitting in the sun on my patio chair while her kittens slowly destroyed every plant in my garden.

Over the course of a month, I worked to tame her kittens. At first, when I would open the door to the patio, the kittens would scatter. Mommie would remain on the patio chair, smiling in the sun. Bit by bit, the kittens grew accustomed to my presence.

I borrowed a large dog kennel from the Irvine animal shelter and captured the kittens. I kept Mommie and her kittens in the kennel at night but let them roam my bedroom during the day. As soon as the kittens would tolerate being handled, I gave them to a kitten adoption agency. I’d planned to give all of the kittens away, but Mommie howled and HOWLED with grief when I separated her from the kittens. So I kept her tabby kitten, named him Tommie and he’s lived with me, Mommie, and Cat for nearly 10 years. Tommie nursed on his Mommie for nearly 4 or 5 months, until he was almost the same size as her.

In 2000, the cats and I made the move to my condo in Aliso Viejo. It was a smooth transition and we settled into our new home nicely.

Mommie sleeps in a lot of places, but mostly she sleeps on my bed. Sometimes, she even sleeps on my pillow. The sound of her purring through the nice is extremely comforting.

I love that she is my cuddly cat, the cat that wants to be near me, the one who wants to be petted. She, more than my other cats, is my companion. When I’m home, Mommie is always within arm’s reach, except when I’m in the kitchen.

She loves to drink from a sports bottle of water and is an avid junk food eater. She assumes that any food in the house is up for grabs. Many times I’ve been watching TV and eating chips, left the room, and come back only to find a black and white cat butt sticking out of my bag of chips. She loves to eat melon—especially watermelon and cantelope. And, probably from her feral days, she's an avid trashpicker. She cheerfully pulls anything and everything interesting from the trash for midnight feasts.

She loves riding in the truck. She likes it if I hold her in my arms as we’re driving down the road. She looks out the window and the wind ruffles her fur.

Terms of EndearmentMommie Lou, Mommieness, M-O-M, Mommie ManyToes
My Girl
Mommieskin Rug
Wicked Little Girl
Naughty Girl
Tiny girl
Big girl (Great BIG Girl)

A Nonsense Song I Sing to Her
Mommie Lou
I love you
I really do
Oh Mommie Lou

You’re the best
In the west
Oh Mommieness

I love you
I really do
Oh MommieMew

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Story of Outside Tiger (AKA “Doodlebug”)

When I moved into my condo in February 2001, it felt luxurious for me and my three felines to move from a 750 sq ft, one bedroom apartment into a 1100 sq ft, two bedroom condominium. Still, I felt I was on the verge of becoming the weird lady in the corner house with all the cats. I definitely wasn’t looking to adopt any more animals.

We settled in nicely. Tommie, Mommie, and Cat all found their favorite sleeping spots and especially enjoyed spending their days napping tummy-side-up on the patio. Spring turned to summer and summer turned into hot. After one uncomfortably sweatable day, I came home to discover my kitchen counter throbbing with ants.

I swore under my breath and began to evict the offending insects. As I cleaned, my furry trio danced around my feet, begging as though they were hungry. I shooed them away because I always left out a large bowl of kibble so they could freely feed.

My Outside Tiger
After banishing the bugs, I tugged off my work clothes and grabbed a shower. Still, the tabbies swirled and yowled outside the bathroom door. “What the heck do they want,” I wondered.

Before throwing myself in front of the TV for the night, I checked the kibble bowl. Damn. It, too, was alive with ants. I swept the kibble into a plastic grocery bag and tossed the bag outside of my front door. Ahhh, now I could cool off and watch the tube.

Just as the opening credits for ER started, I heard something rustling near my front door. Crap. I figured a possum had come up onto the porch, attracted by the kibble smell. When I peeked out the window, I saw a rake-thin tabby, wolfing down the kibble, shaking and twisting his head when the ants stung his face.

I ran and flung open the door. I wanted to give him fresh kibble—not trash. But he ran as soon as he heard me move.

I struggled with my thoughts. Four cats is definitely too many. And yet, this beautiful leonine animal was so thin I could see his ribs and hip bones nearly piercing his skin. I decided he could be my “outside tiger.”

Each night, I put a fresh bowl of kibble outside the door and wait next to the window to be sure he got his dinner. After a few weeks, I could leave my front door open and watch through the screen door as he enjoyed his dinner. Finally, after a month, I could sit on the steps and watch the sun set as my outside tiger nibbled kibble.

The best day came when, one evening, I felt a tentative paw on my leg. It was followed by a tentative tiger as he crawled into my lap. Tear flowed down my cheeks as I petted his golden tabby fur and sleek muscles. I had resisted loving this creature because I didn’t want the responsibility or stigma of being “the cat lady.”

But outside tiger taught me that creatures and situations are transformed by love.


I notice that I can be pretty dang project-oriented toward knitting rather than process-oriented. As a result, I put a lot of pressure on myself and rob myself of enjoyment. In my knitting, I'm working to be mindful of when that critic kicks in...and of when that GOTTA GET IT DONE, GOTTA BE PERFECT mindset kicks in.

Today, I was working on a purse. I made a few errors in learning the pattern (trinity stitch) and felt calm about it; however, when I got to the point of having to rip out a row of purling, I'd just had enough. Instead of forcing myself to rip, rip in that moment, I just put my knitting back in the bag and scheduled a teaching appointment with my teacher. And I feel peaceful. I can continue if I want to or I can wait until I see my teacher. But it's okay because I'm learning to master a new stitch.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Natural Highs

1. Falling in love.
2. Laughing so hard your face hurts.
3. A hot shower.
4. No lines at the supermarket.
5. A special glance.
6. Getting mail.
7. Taking a drive on a pretty road.
8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.
9. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.
10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.
11. Chocolate milkshake (vanilla or strawberry ).
12. A bubble bath.
13. Giggling.
14. A good conversation.
15. The beach.
16. Finding a 20 dollar bill in your coat from last winter.
17. Laughing at yourself.
18. Looking into their eyes and knowing they Love you
19. Midnight phone calls that last for hours.
20. Running through sprinklers.
21. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.
22. Having someone tell you that you're beautiful.
23. Laughing at an inside joke with FRIENDS
24. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.
25. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.
26. Your first kiss (the very first).
27 Making new friends or spending time with old ones.
28. Playing with a new puppy.
29. Having someone play with your hair.
30. Sweet dreams.
31. Hot chocolate.
32. Road trips with friends.
33. Swinging on swings.
34. Making eye contact with a cute stranger.
35. Making chocolate chip cookies.
36. Having your friends send you homemade cookies.
37. Holding hands with someone you care about.
38. Running into an old friend and realizing that some things (good or bad) never change.
39. Watching the expression on someone's face as they open a much desired present from you.
40. Watching the sunrise.
41. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for another beautiful day.
42. Knowing that somebody misses you.
43. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply.
44. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other people think.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Agitated and Itchy

Damn but I'm agitated today. Not irritable. Just unable to settle down. I feel like jumping up all of the time. I start to work and I immediately want to work on something else.

It was dang near impossible to go to sleep last night. As David Byrne said, "I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax." Will I fulfill my hope and go headlong for glory?

I spose this is the upper boundary of normal, buzzing around the perimeter of hypomania.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Creative Hibernation

I think my creative self is mulling over what to do next; however, there's nothing I'm burning to knit. Even leafing through my stash of knitting books doesn't inspire. Maybe I'm a little burned out. I dunno.

Because of my restricted driving status, I didn't attend the felted scarf workshop in Long Beach. I did buy a drop spindle the other day. I haven't figured out how to spin yet though. I plan on creeping in on Tuesday night to give it a try.

My cats are passionately in love with the roving that came in the drop spindle kit. They really get freaky with it. They act the same way as they do with catnip. Cat is the sweetest girl kitty and yet, after a few minutes of rubbing her face on the roving, she spiked me (without claws) when I tried to take it away.

I leafed through the book "Intertwined" the other day. Wowee--that's some weird and intriguing yarn. I can't really imagine becoming a spinner...but I'm interested in learning how to make yarn.

I've been working my buns off at work and that sucks up a lot of my creative energy, too. Even though it's technical writing, it's still writing.

So, I don't know what's up with me creatively. But, it's normal for me to burn hot and cold, to wax and wane in my interest towards my hobbies. My brain is wired that way.

And yet, my creativity walks forward. After college I took drawing and loved life drawing. I took painting and loved the smelly, juicy forgiveness of oil paints. Through the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts I learned to make paper, masks, and weave baskets. Mada Leach and David Speck were awesome teachers.

When I fell in love with basketry, I searched until I found the Misti Washington Gourd and Basketry Guild. I wove all kinds of baskets for several years. I even travelled to the AMB Convention in Michigan and the Indiana Basketry Convention.

One day, while I was shopping for basketry supplies, I saw a class for making books. I took the workshop and soon abandoned basketry for book arts. I travelled to the San Francisco Center for the Book to take workshops from master printmakers and book binders.

When I was hospitalized for depression in 2001, my desire to do anything disappeared. For years, the only thing I did was kung fu.

In 2006, I noticed a knitting store near my martial arts studio. I signed up for classes and learned to knit.

Friday, February 08, 2008

New Hobby?

It's weird. After obsessively knitting for months, I've absolutely run out of steam. Part of it is due to the restricted license preventing me from attending knitting classes, but another part is that I've got no interest.

I wonder if a new hobby is waiting for me.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Phoebes and Lantana

On this first day of the Year of the Mouse, I stepped out into cloudless blue skies and sunshine. I'm so grateful for the violet and ivory lantana that surrounds the office building and the peeping cheeps of Black Phoebes as they buoyantly bounce from tree to tree, looking for lunch.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Firetrucks and Slinkys

Today my lunch excursion to Target's dollar bin yielded a plastic firetruck and tiny Slinkys. I'm starting to be tempted to slow down a bit in my excursions, or to branch out and select a single $5 item.

I've even started to notice the sale items at Starbucks--wondering if a young person might like a cool coffee mug or adult "sippy cup."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bipolar Disorder Defined

Bipolar Disorder Defined

An opportunity to learn
Creativity in coping with Chaos
Determination to defeat the deceptions of Depression
Self confidence in spite of Setbacks
Generosity to live for others when hope has Gone dry
Compassion for the broken.
Faith that God has a beautiful purpose—
even for me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Diann Brannon - Don't be Afraid of Tomorrow. God is already there.

My friend, Diann Brannon, has been gone for nearly 5 years and I still miss her Texas drawl.

When I remember Di, I think of how much she loved her Italian grayhound. She always described Gracie as looking like a deer. She always loved to watch boxing on Pay Per View--not for the violence but because she loved the way the boxers "just glisten."

Her love of life was expressed through her ready smile, flaming red sports car, and bright red sofa. And, although most people would never think of a salad as being "mouth-watering," Di made such amazing salads that I'd leap at one of her salads the way a 5-year-old leaps at a chocolate chip cookie.

During the last years of her life, Di became a technical writer and she went through one layoff after another. It was a tough and stressful time for her. Everyday she'd call me with the Stump Report. She'd stand on an old tree stump in her backyard, look out over the neighborhood and local park, and tell me what she saw. In ne of her last Stump Reports, she told me about a rose blooming in her backyard that had been a favorite of her mom.

Di's mom died of breast cancer when Di was 19. Two of Di's worst fears were that she would Di in poverty or die a lingering death of cancer.

In August 2002, it was me who went into the hospital for a lengthy stay. At about the same time, Di was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was too ill to visit her in her last months. She passed away in February 2003.

It's a funny thing, but I always think of Di's death as evidence of God's love for her. He walked with her through her illness and kept her from facing her other worst fear. One of the last things she left me with was a little sign that said, "Don't be afraid of tomorrow. God is already there."

Another remembrance of Di is here.

An Untraceable Saturday Night Fever

Since my Friday meltdown, I've been working on the things my counselor told me to do: write down 3 achievable goals and do one nurturing thing. Today, I sat in on a software Beta testing session all day at work. It was fun to be learning a new product, but the teacher is definitely a grumpy, impatient guy.

At 5 p.m., I decided that my reward would be a trip to the movies with popcorn and everything. I wavered between racing across town to see "The Great Debaters" or staying near work and seeing "Untraceable." I figured that racing across town and wrestling with parking would be a drag, so I opted for Untraceable.

I'm sorry I went.

The acting was fine and the plot held my interest, but it greatly disturbed my soul. Untraceable is not so much a thriller, but one of those sadistic voyueristic torture films, like the Saw franchise. As I started to watch the movie, I knew, as a Christian, I shouldn't be there. I shouldn't support this kind of entertainment. But I stayed because I'd already paid my money and was too embarassed to ask for it back.

And I started to think about how horror movies have changed over the years--starting with supernatural monsters like The Mummy, Frankenstein, and Dracula and moving to the villian being your sociopathic neighbor. There's something weird about our culture because a lot of us love murder as entertainment, whether it's something as simple as CSI or Law and Order or whether it's suicide videos available for download from the Internet.

Where are we going with all of this violence? With our preoccupation with violence and our penchant for reality shows, I wonder how many years will go by before we have shows like the executions and animal hunts held by the ancient Romans in the Colosseum. The ghoulish blood lust that was in them is the same as the one in us.

But I can't completely point my fingers at "society." I chose Untraceable over The Great Debaters. And my soul is less for it. When I left the theater, I was not lifted up. My soul felt as though it had crawled over into a corner to hide. It made me remember that, back in 1977, my Dad insisted on going with me to see Saturday Night Fever because it was originally rated R. After he left the theater, he said he would rather have been dipped in the gutter than have seen that movie because "at least you can wash that kind of filth off."

I didn't understand what he meant then. At the time, I thought he was a prude. But I understand him now. Thirty-one years later, I can still remember the scenes from Saturday Night Fever that made my Dad so disgusted: the disinterested stripper dancing on the bar, offering her breasts to the patrons; Tony's gang taking turns with Annette in the backseat of Bobby's car; and a guy stepping out of the backseat of a car turning to ask the girl, "What was your name again?"

And so, I hoped I've learned my lesson with Untraceable. What I put into my mind might stay there forever. There's no real way of knowing what I'll remember and what I'll forget. And what I put in my mind affects my soul. And just as I would be careful in what I would feed a child, I should be more judicious in what I feed into my mind and soul.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Okay, so after having a nasty day of suicidal ideation style depression on Friday, I turned the corner this weekend. God bless my counselor for taking the time to help me find my ability to cope with life. And God bless Pastor Coffin for delivering an amazing sermon on Exodus 17: how God speaks to us, how we get off track, and how to get back into gear.

One of the things my counselor advised me to do to break the depression is to:
  • Set 3 goals every day
  • Do something that nurtures me
Part of me feels that this "nurture myself" stuff is self-centered and not Godly. On the other hand, God cares for us. He doesn't want us to be in terrible pain all of the time any more than a parent wants a child to be in physical, emotional, or spiritual pain.

So, on Friday, I accomplished my 3 goals and bought myself a bouquet of beautiful flowers. I put the flowers in the entryway so they're the first thing I see and smell when I walk through the door.

And I woke up with a bit of happiness and energy on Saturday. So I cleaned up months of trash, books, projects, clean and dirty clothes off my bedroom floor. And I vacuumed. And I felt HAPPY and PROUD. My reward was to go to knitting; however, that turned out not to be a reward. So I bought 2 new fluffy pillows. And they are absolute heaven.

I awoke again on Sunday with energy. I set 3 achievable goals. I cleaned up months of books, projects, and trash off of my living room floor. And the momentum is building...

It's so exciting to have the depression break.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Shut up I'm counting!

Knitting class was absolutely jammed today. I was starting a new project but OY! I didn't get very far. I was sitting at the table with a person who was incapable of shutting up. Don't get me wrong--I enjoy chatting while I'm knitting, but I also enjoy periods of quiet where my mind can rest, I can count my stitches, and read my knitting to see if my project is on the right track.

I also enjoy a conversation about an interesting topic where there's give and take. And I always ask the people at the table about the projects they're working on. But THIS WOMAN nattered, blabbed, blathered, blethered, chattered, and jawed about NOTHING. It's like she had to blurt out every thought that came into her head. She kept yapping at me even when I said, "Could you hold on a sec, I'm counting my stitches" and "I need a minute to look over my knitting." But Miss Yappity Yap just giggled said "Oops!" and immediately blared on. Ninety minutes later, when she finally shut her cakehole, she realized she'd made huge mistake in her knitting. She had to tear everything out and start over.

This woman is a blabbermouth, completely insensitive to others around her. I would love nothing more than to smack the crap out of her. Part of me hopes that, by ripping out 8 rows of stitchings, she's learned that you sometimes need to shut up when you're knitting.

Another part of me hopes that God would make me sensitive to the people around me. Perhaps this woman is lonely and needs to yap-yap because no one listens to her at any other time. I dunno.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Trolling for needles at Michael's

I was rolling through the knitting section of Michael's, innocently buying some needles when suddenly, I was accosted by 2 shoppers. They were baby knitters whose brains had glazed over in trying to figure out how much and what kind of yarn to buy to crochet an afghan. They waved their patterns and peppered me with questions--and I could answer them!

I realize that I am now a true, official knitter. (Also, it's lucky there isn't a 24-hour yarn store or I would sleep there, gently snoring in a pile of DK.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

In Our Own Voice

I'm getting back into the swing of doing In Our Own Voice presentations through NAMI OC.
One of the presentations I'll be doing is for Providence Community Services in Norwalk. I'm a little nervous because I'm not at my highest functioning level. I've probably got too dang much on my plate and, and and.

I'm tired of feeling tired and scared. I'm tired of feeling overwhelmed. I'm tired of feeling angry. I'm tired of feeling worried.

And yet, I want to knit stuff to give other people comfort and to do public speaking about mental illness to give other people hope. It feels a bit hypocritical, but they're the only ways I find meaning in life.

And, I know the cost of doing a presentation. They zoom me into hypomania for a day and crash me into brutal depression the following day. But it's still worth it. I've seen family members be helped when I tell my story.

Hookie Lau

I'm driving to the hoop on the Hawaiian lap robe. Only three stripes and the edging to knit before it's ready to go to Mary Beth. I'm feeling some urgency to get it done because some of MB's fingers are turning dark. This is the same thing that happened to her toes before the doctors decided to amputate both of her legs up to her knees. I guess I'm thinking that, if she has to go into the hospital again, I'd like her to have a cuddly afghan in the hospital with her.

I'm knitting this lap robe because I remember that, when I was in the hospital, Joyce gave me a chenille afghan. It was great because it's sometimes chilly in the hospital. But, even more, it was like getting a hug from a friend every time I wrapped it around me...and that was something I really needed in the long, dark hours of the night. Having that afghan meant that somebody loved me--an awesome thing to remember when you're feeling yucky.

Does mobile blogging work?

Very cool. I can send email from my phone or anywhere. This is useful when I want to use large pieces of an email. I can just forward the email to and edit it like a crazy thang.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Everyday Christmas continues to continue

Today the items I scored for the shoeboxes were two rubber balls that light up when you bounce them, 2 Hot Wheels cars with hot metallic paint, and two boxes of Crayons. Toys of joy for only $6.41.

Now that I've discovered that Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars can be purchased for only 97 cents, I know I'll be making them part of my regular skip-lunch-and-buy-Christmas-toys shopping ritual.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Every day with Everyday Christmas

Today I went to Joann's to pick up some stuffing for my teddy bears. They had some fun stuff in the dollar bins: rhinestone-encrusted emery boards, pink lamé headband...all things glitz and glam...for the Pedragales boxes.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Knitting a Teddy Bear for Ashley

Last night I got the news that my kung fu Master's little daughter is in the hospital with 3rd degree burns on her face, neck, arms and torso. She's a curious 2 1/2 year old and pulled a pan of boiling water off of the stove.

So, I got some yarn and (hopefully) a simple teddy bear pattern. I'm going to try to finish teddy by Sunday night.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Everyday Christmas Continues

It's so cool! I keep finding little things for the Pedragales Christmas boxes. Today I scored wooden airplanes, trains, and dinosaurs that come with a set of paints and brush. I know I'm on the right track when I look at a toy or game and think, "I wanna do that!" Already the boxes are filling up with things that sparkle, glow-in-the-dark, fly or growl. And, yes, it blesses the socks off me. No wonder Jesus said, "Hey! Bring the kids over here to me!"

Hawaiian lap robe and Shag Scarf

I've really messed up my Hawaiian lap robe. I've got about 20 extra stitches on the row. (I wanna throw it on the pile of UFOs, but I can't.)

On the Shag scarf, it seems like the picked-up stitches are baggy. It makes an unattractive gap between the old piece and new piece. (But I'm not giving up and I LOVE this Comfort yarn so much I could write sonnets about it.)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Knitting Replaces Kung Fu as Life Passion

I had a really rough holiday season but it's turning around now. Knitting has replaced kung fu as my passion. I'm working on a lap robe for my friend in Hawaii, a baby blanket for a family that goes to my church, a chemo cap (I'll make more of these to donate), a funky scarf with all of these weird flaps. After I finish one of these projects this month, I'll move on to knitting blankets for homelss cats to donate to animal shelters and hand puppets and stuffed toys to donate to CHOC.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Gift Ideas for Everyday Christmas

small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, small Etch A Sketch®, toys that light up or make noise (with extra batteries), Slinky®, etc.

pens, pencils and sharpener, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.

toothbrush, toothpaste, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb, washcloth, etc.

Hard candy and lollipops (please double bag all candy), mints, gum, T-shirts, socks, ball caps; sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Everyday Christmas

My church has a sister church in Pedragales, Mexico. Each Christmas, the members of our church pack individual shoeboxes with gifts for the children of the neighborhood in Pedragales and we host a Christmas party outreach. I don't have any kids of my own, so it gives me special joy to pack boxes for these kids.

I decided that I'll celebrate Christmas every month in my home. Toward that end, I've already started creating boxes for the kids at Pedragales. My stated goal is one per month, but my secret goal is more like one a week.

And God has opened up some cool little surprises--princess wands and tiaras, Slinkys, and dinosaurs in the dollar bin at Target. (I was tempted by some pirate hats and swords in the dollar bin, too, but there's a weapons ban on Pedragales gifts.) And I won't buy everything from the dollar bin; the Lord would give these little ones His best.

Even more, the Lord, has gifted me with a heart for charity knitting and some of the most fun and funky patterns for kids' hats and hand puppets. These aren't Grandma's knitting patterns! If the Lord allows, each box will have a handmade hat or puppet, too.