Saturday, March 21, 2009

Penny Rug and Laptop Bag

I'm halfway through the Penny Rug Purse. Now that I'm into it, it's a bit dull. Even with the frequent color changes, it's just hundreds of rows of stockinette (knit a row, purl a row). A nice little perk is that a lot of the people in my knitting group admire it and find it to be really eye-poppingly colorful.

Today I launched into another project: the Aguona Laptop Bag kit from Knit Picks. It's a challenging project in several ways. The first, is that it's knitted in the round with a fairly large stitch count (230 stitches). The second, is that the front and back of the bag are different Fair Isle patterns: one chart for the front and a different chart from the back. Finally, the bag has a very dense gauge so I'm knitting it on size 2 needles.

On Ravelry, I looked at the comment other knitters had in making this project. A lot of people griped about the gauge, so I was very careful to make a swatch (and another and another) before starting. The pattern calls for size 4 needles but--no way! I ended up on size 2's. Also, when I made my gauge swatch, I was careful to knit the swatch in Fair Isle pattern--not just stockinette. I'm proud to see how this goes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dealing with Medical Billing Issues

Although Aetna paid my claim for last year, an Orange County hospital continued to chase me down. Last month, I sent a little letter with my payment that was ignored. When I got a new bill this month that didn't reflect the changes, I got really angry. I find I'm a little depressed today BUT I called them and calmly went over my EOB.

They said they would correct the bill today. So, I'm high fiving me for dealing with the issue and not avoiding, and for dealing with it calmly in spite of my depression.

Penny Rugs

Today I started to knit the Penny Rug purse from Bag Style. It’s this amazing thing that uses 10 eye-popping colors of yarn. After I’ve finished knitting it, I’ll throw it into the washing machine with a hot wash, cold rinse cycle and wind up with a felted bag.

The purse’s design is based on a penny rug. Of course, I had no idea of what a penny rug was until I googled it and—wow! It turns out that women used to take worn out knitted wear, felt it, cut designs from the felt, and sew them onto a large piece of felt. Although the name is “penny rug,” they were typically used as decorative table runners. The “penny” in the name refers to the idea of using a penny as a template so that even the smallest scrap of yarn didn’t go to waste.

This has given me an idea of how to use all the little scraps of wool yarn I have left over from knitting projects. Yum-o-rama. I even surfed the web and found I can get large sheets of felt from here:

I'm amazed at all of the penny rugs on the web. It reminds me of what my friend said: there are all of these subcultures that exist around us every day. We never see them until we look directly at them--and then we're amazed that this whole subculture exists. (He was talking about the discoveries he made when he started to play blues harmonica.)

Dreaming future yarnish stuff is amazing for getting one through the day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Grace of God

I'm learning so much about God's grace.

Because I had several years where…hm…I was living in God’s permissive will and struggling with mental illness, I racked up a bunch of problems for myself with the Franchise Tax Board and HOAs. I was so ashamed, I hid from the problems, so they got worse and worse.

God has graciously shown me that, because of the severity of my illness, I belong in the corporate world with structure, social interaction and benefits where I can exercise the talents He gave me.

As I’ve gotten on my feet, God has queued up each of these problems and given me the emotional stability and finances to conquer them. The more I agree with God on the things that fall short of his standards and the more I ask for help, the more grace falls and I can finally SEE and KNOW God is knitting together the dropped stitches of my life.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Adventures in Lent - Day 13

I’m happy to say I haven’t fallen off the soda wagon yet; however, I completely gave up on the T.V. fast. I probably could do it for a week or a weekend, but 40 days—oy!

On a happy note, I have been reading more. I finished “Violet Dawn” by Brandilyn Collins and “Grave Risk” by Hannah Alexander. I like them quite well as cozy Christian mysteries. I’m not sure how Christian it is to read about murder for entertainment, but I want to be more careful about feeding my mind too much dark stuff—both for the sake of depression and out of love for God.

I know it won’t make God love me any more or less if I read murder mysteries; however, he does tell us to think on things that are good, pure, true, and holy—not because he’s a killjoy, but because he knows that our minds and souls are more fragile than we know. Too much dark stuff numbs us out and damages our ability to be sensitive and compassionate to each other.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Feeding the Ducks

I needed to unwind at lunch so I went to feed the ducks at the local park. Yes, it was a little weird last week with the international festival of coots, but I knew what to expect this time.

Sort of.

Again, the lake erupted with coots when I tossed the first scraps of bread into the water. The twist this time was that there were several Canadian geese and I think what was a Snow goose. The Canadian geese sound so cool. They've got this deep, low sound.

The Snow goose was huge! Hip high. It made a terrible, nasal squeaking sound. When I would turn away to feed the coots and ducks, it would bump me with its bill or grab my trousers and give them a shake. It was an interesting looking duck with a bumped bill and a waddle under its throat. Its breast was white, its body was tan and its feet were pink. Its insistence at being fed made me laugh out loud.

As I searched for information about this goose, I learned that I'm not supposed to feed wild ducks and geese. Kind of bums me out because it's been kind of cool spending time with them at lunch.

Adventures in Lent - Day 10

Not drinking soda is easy. I'm still tempted when I go through the drive-thru, but I'm getting better at ordering milk, juice, or punch. (I still haven't gotten with the idea of a burger + iced tea.) It's not even a sacrifice any more.

So, because I don't "feel" the sacrifice, I'm planning to up the ante. Every time I would drink a soda, I'll put $2 in a "soda jar." Then, on Easter the contents of the soda jar either goes into the offering plate or to a ministry--and it stands to be anywhere between $75 and $150. So, very cool.

And now for something completely different.

I've always hesitated to call myself a Christian because my life doesn't reflect godliness.

I've always had this nagging worry that, at the end of my life, God would turn me out of heaven because I hadn't really walked with him. I buckle down and try to pray or read the Bible, hoping that it would MAKE ME LOVE GOD, but it's been as effective as dragging a child by the ear to the dinner table to eat vegetables.

To rely 100% on grace...on God's own word...that he has my back....that he's got good plans for absolutely scares the snot outta me.

And yet, today I decided to put grace to the test. I got up and said, "Ha! I don't hafta pray." And then, instead of watching TV, I ended up talking with God about work but without the veneer of holiness. I said he could be the project manager of my team.. I felt gentle instead of snarky so I prayed a little for my co-workers.

All day today, it's been effortless to work hard. I knocked through a snag I've been procrastinating about for MONTHS. My team totally gelled. They worked hard but actually thanked me at the end of the day. And some of the petty crap I've been carrying dropped away with no effort.

So. It's like a terrifyingly scary little miracle.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Adventures in Lent – Day 5

I made it through Day 4 with no soda. I got another lemonade but didn’t even finish it. Fortunately, today is a gray day so I’m not jonesing for soda the way I was during super sunny Saturday.

I’m continuing to memorize Psalms on the way to work. I’ve struggled with this. Part of me says, “It’s just works.” But, part of me says, “Hey, Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles all could quote scripture.” So, even on the days I’ve gotta force myself, I’m continuing to creep through.

So far, I’m on Psalm 4. And, even though I’m kind of “force-feeding” them to myself a lot of the time, they kind of come back to me:

Psalm 1: Imagine being like a tree planted by a stream of cool water. They’re so lush. In the Sierras, the oaks that are planted by the water have such amazing color. In Japanese gardens, when willows are planted by a stream, they grow so luxuriantly that their branches dip into the cool water.

Water is used in baptism to signify death and resurrection. Jesus’ baptism is one of the few places where Bible references the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as all present at the same time.

Our bodies are mostly water. Our planet is mostly water. When Jesus’ side was pierced, both blood and water flowed from his heart.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Adventures in Lent - Days 3 and 4

Okay, so a bit of the soda lust kicked in and I still haven't done any serious fasting from T.V.

Yesterday, I was late getting my lunch. I drove through
Boston Market for one of their $5 favorites. Immediately, I was faced with the temptation of having soda with my meal. But, I remember that they serve yummy Minute Maid lemonade. It was a minuscule sacrifice though, as I'd really, really, really wanted a coke.

Later that day, the Coke craving kicked in again when I went to do my errands. I was sorely tempted to pull into a gas station for a quick soda fix; instead, I splashed my thirst with a bottle of Crystal Light fruit punch. Still, my soda tooth ached for a 20-ounce
Coca-cola over ice with a nice fat straw.

Today, I grabbed a burger after church. Again, I was faced with avid soda lust. Oy! I've gotten in the habit of having soda for lunch, dinner, and with an afternoon snack. But, again, I resisted and went with a carton of OJ instead. But, even as I write this, I'm longing to lose myself in sticky-sweet, carbonated soda-soda-soda.

Part of me thinks that, perhaps I'm even cheating by having OJ or lemonade or iced tea. But, perhaps, sacrifice is one step at a time.

On the good side, my depression has lifted. It had been dogging me for weeks. I'd tried going to bed sooner, but I tossed and turned or woke up at 4 a.m. I tried taking Benadryl, but it only allows me to sleep for 4 hours and then *bong* I'm awake. My NP has prescribed 3 mg of Melatonin. I'm getting a bit better, but still having a hard time falling asleep, sleeping deeply, and getting more than 5 hours of sleep. She advised me to up the dose to 6 mg tonight. We'll see how that goes.

In the past, I've taken Ambien but, the more I read about hypnotic sleep meds, the less I want to take them. And yet, I know that when my sleep cycle breaks, my depression comes roaring out like a lion.