Afghans

I got too far in my own head to remember to show you all what I’ve been working on.

Here’s the scrap afghan I just finished:

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Yep, that’s as satisfying as I thought it would be.

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And here’s the afghan I’m trying to finish now:

Blue

I lived through my parents’ visit. My therapist said I should not try to think like someone I don’t want to be like.

Well, there goes that pastime.

I’m still working on collecting enough urine for my indigo vat. But I have many deep feelings about the idea of creating the thing that will dye the wool, like using my body as the medium for dye delivery.

There’s a kind of physicality that I find really satisfying.

I was looking for the source for my belief that sleeping under an indigo blanket grants you prophetic dreams, but the main source for that on the internet now is Tiny Cat Pants.

But when you get what’s involved with dying something indigo–at least traditionally–every step does feel like magic. You make this liquid that, as it ferments, is perfect for indigo dying. You spin the fiber you’re going to dye. You do the dyeing. Then you sleep under the blanket.

It feels like a circle, like you put out all this stuff that results in a blanket that, when you wear it, dumps stuff back into you.

Also, the occasions when I feel like this body is perfectly suited to do the things I want to do with it are very rare. I don’t need to improve anything or alter anything or suffer in any way.

It just does the thing I want it to do.

It’s weird. Nice, but weird.

The Box

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Rufus is coming home in a flowery box.

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I got the phone call yesterday that Rufus was ready to come home. I went and got him and he came in this flowery box. Which is still sitting in my car, along with his leash, because I both can’t bear to not have him near and can’t bear the thought of bringing him in the house.

I don’t really see how I can bury him in a box that pretty. But, at least, I don’t have to make that decision yet. There’s no timetable.

Sig Vat

I’m making a sig vat in my garage, which, basically, amounts to filling a bucket with pee and hoping it ferments. It smells remarkably bad, which is saying something, since it’s fermenting pee. I expected it to smell bad.

This is worse.

My dad sent me a dollar for my birthday. In a card. He asked me to open it on FaceTime so he could see my face. He was disappointed that I wasn’t more disappointed.

I don’t even know what to say about it, really. Like, apparently they’re also going to pay for me to get a new kitchen floor, though I’m going to ask them to help me pay for this air conditioner repair that I have to get done instead.

So, they’re not being dicks? They’re just pretending real hard to be dicks in a way that lets them enjoy hurting me, but they get to feel cool about it because they know they’re also doing this other thing?

Yesterday they called to say that they would be in town at the end of the week. I was worried about what folks would think of a vat of fermenting piss in my garage, but now?

Now I don’t really give a shit. I hope they think I have lost my mind.

Keeping On Keeping On

I feel okay. Sad but okay. I’ve been working on a new afghan. I’ve been busy at work.

Friday’s my birthday. It’s become a source of annoyance. My parents asked me what I wanted and I told them I thought they weren’t doing birthdays anymore, since they didn’t get me anything last year.

Which, I mean, they didn’t. And I don’t mind. Well, that’s not quite right. I don’t need anything, but it did and does hurt my feelings when they call to tell me all the ways they’re helping my brothers and yet I don’t even get a birthday present.

But also, whatever. I’ve accepted that as long as they think I’m fine, they don’t think much about me.

But now it’s turned into this whole big to-do where they insist they did too get me a birthday present last year. And finally, I was like, folks, check your bank records.

So, last night they called to say that they had, indeed, apparently forgotten my birthday last year, but it’s because they were so busy with the Butcher and helping him get out to Arizona.

And, honestly, the conversations about this have been much more painful than them just forgetting.

Because, of course, I was wrong, then when I wasn’t wrong, well, it was understandable, because some other person needed their attention more.

And no apology.

Though, clearly, from all the phone calls, they do feel bad. But instead of just saying they’re sorry, their coping mechanism appears to be to try to make me feel bad instead.

But whatever. I don’t have the bandwidth to feel bad. I just worked on my granny squares and “uh-huh”ed them until the conversation was over.

One Week

I think Saturday was the hardest. Usually, we did something just for fun on Saturdays. Went for a long walk or a drive or to the park or something.

And this Saturday, I finished an afghan and was sad all day.

Yesterday I went for a walk and now my house and walking pants are full of ticks. Serves me right, I guess, for going outside.

I have been hatewatching abstract artists on YouTube. I was hoping they could help me with color theory, but really, just getting into Adobe Color has helped with that.

There are two things I dislike about these artists–the reason I hatewatch. One is that I want them to explain how and why they decide to keep going. Because I have watched a lot of videos where the artist had a really nice painting and decided it needed more layers. And then had an ugly painting.

And, like, sure, maybe we’re having an aesthetic disagreement on what is lovely or when something is finished, but since they don’t (or can’t) articulate why they’re keeping on keeping on, it’s hard to say.

Yesterday, I saw a woman painting on these two olive green abstract pieces. They were ugly. Like so ugly you couldn’t look away. But she was talking through her process of deciding when and how to add more green (no!!!!!) and as much as I didn’t like the paintings, I think I got what she liked about them, what was pleasing her. And at that point, I wasn’t hatewatching anymore. I was just watching the interesting process of a person making some painting I didn’t like. I still don’t get why she liked them, but I trusted that she did and that they were doing for her exactly what she wanted them to do.

So, that was nice.

But the other thing I dislike about these abstract paintings is that a lot of these artists seem to think that “abstract” and “unintentional” mean the same thing. Like, if your painting starts to mean anything, then you’ve failed.

And I think you should have reasons for what you do. And with something like abstract painting, I don’t need for you to be trying to capture, say, the essence of a soul in distress. But “I’m doing this because it’s fun.” or “because I like it.” is good enough for me.

But, like, you must have some reason for doing the thing. And it irritates me to watch so many videos where art seems to happen solely by accident, without any reason from the artist.

Adrift

I just feel adrift without the dog. It’s so quiet in the house. Walking without a dog sucks and is stupid.

I don’t know. I feel like I should have more to say, but I just don’t. It’s ludicrous that he’s dead. It’s just an affront to me.

The King is Gone

Right up until the end, he was happy, leaning his head out the car window on the way up to the vet. Barking at the baby goats in the parking lot. He even jumped when he heard we were going for a car ride.

At the vet, he managed to snag himself some cat treats and then they fed him a chocolate cupcake. It was as wonderful as he had suspected.

And then we killed him. He went very peacefully.

I went and sat on a friend’s couch and got drunk and cried and then he brought me home because he was afraid if he went to bed, I would get up in the middle of the night and try to drive home. Sounds like something dumb I would do.

The house is so empty it’s hard to bear.

He was a wonderful dog.

I Guess We’re Going to See How Much a Heart Can Take

The dog is dying. I want to say more than that, but I also don’t have it in me.

The vet cried when she told me. I have all this medicine he’s supposed to take, but he doesn’t want to eat. I’m getting as much down him as I can and hoping the steroids will increase his appetite.

They think it’s lymphoma. We’ll know when we get the tests back.

I guess they think he has at least a month, because they gave me a month’s worth of pills.

But it’s been so sudden and so devastating. The difference between him this Friday and last Friday is… it’s just so much. All of a sudden, like overnight, he’s frail and old.

Scattered Thoughts About Things

My Looby talk went great. Even over Zoom. I felt super interesting and like I had things people wanted to hear to say. It’s really gratifying and I’m maybe feeling a little hope that the book might make a difference.

Ha ha ha. We’ll see how long my optimism can be sustained.

I’m reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo for work. It’s not great. I was telling the Professor that 75% of it is fine, if sometimes a little too simple, 20% of it reads as if the author didn’t read the book–like claiming that white people don’t think about whiteness and then saying that she knew from the time she was very little that it was better to be white.

The last 5% is just wrong. Like, deeply, wrong. Even in the wake of us electing a white supremacist to the Presidency, she still downplays the importance of white nationalism in understanding white people’s racism.

It’s really something to be reading a book about how the biggest racial problem we face is white people’s inability to acknowledge their whiteness when white people are showing up with guns at statehouses. Like, maybe rethink your thesis?

But also, it super annoys me how many of her anecdotes are about her shitty friends and their racist ways or her shitty colleagues and their racist ways and yet, unless it’s in some part of the book I haven’t gotten to yet, there’s nothing about how she confronts her asshole colleagues or how she drops her shitty racist friends.

She’s a diversity trainer–that’s her job–and an anti-racist activist and she wrote this book that’s being used by workplaces around the nation to foster discussions of racism–including mine. AND SHE CAN’T DO THE NECESSARY WORK.

And if she can’t do it, and this is her job and passion, isn’t that a problem for the teaching of her book?

Also, she takes white people’s thoughts about racism at face value and I just don’t understand how anyone in this culture who pays attention doesn’t realize white people lie about race all the time–even if only to ourselves.

I’m just irritated. So many people of color have written so many books about whiteness and its problems. We couldn’t throw a little book money their way instead?

Back?

I said I was back, but now I realize I don’t really have anything to say. The dog is so slow and the pain medication I got for him that worked great I’m out of and the online pharmacy is backed up.

I fought with everyone yesterday and mostly felt like I lost.

Tomorrow morning I’m giving a Zoom presentation about the Looby bombing. I feel both super prepared and not prepared at all.

tHE iDEA eXECUTED

I THINK my game has bEEN chanGED. wOW. sO, i SOAKED IT IN abOUT A QUart of vinEGAR TOPPED OFF WITH WATER, Becuase I knEW IT WOULDN’t get very hot. Then i TOOK IT OUTSIDE ANd painTED ANd squirted anD SPRINkled dye on IT. tHEN I covered it with anOTHER Black garbAGE Bag anD LET IT SIT IN the suN all afternOON.

I love it. I can’T Believe how good it turnED OUT. eVEN the bACK IS AMAZINg.

i wonDER IF i COULD USE GUAR GUM TO THIcken THE DYE JUST A LITTLE TO GET SHARPER LINes or discernABle drops?

I also wonDER WHERE i can PICK UP A cheap stock pot, a deep onE, Because i WOULD LOVE TO TRY DIP-dyeinG AN afghan.

Idea TestinG

i WANted to see if a bLACK GARBage bAG WOULD BE ENOUgH HEAT TO SET DYE. aNd it is! I mean, thERE’S ALSO A TON of acid in THAT SQUARE. iT HAD A LONg bATH IN vinEGAR. but MY IDEA WORKS. now I just nEEd to GET the afghan CROCHETED ANd ready for a good warm day.

Also, my nEW COMPUTER IS ORDEReD. tHIS WILL ENd.

The idea

My poet frienD, C (OKAY, LISTEN, my computer is dyinG ANd the death spasm it’s IN right noW IS TO RANdomly capitalize words like I’m writinG SOME WEIRD RANsom noTE, LIKE THE CAPS LOCK IS possessed. Please just roll with it.).

Where were we?

Right. My poet frienD, C, HAS AN artist sister in tEXAS ANd she takes her canVASSES OUTSIDE ANd painTS THEM OUT THERE. i GUess SHe Stretches anD MOUnTS THEM LaTER? i DON’t knoW. but watchinG HER WORK MADE ME WANt to try somethinG LIKE THAT WITH AN afghan.

lIKE, MAKE THE AFGHAN as the canVAS ANd take it ouTSIDE ANd dye it in SOME ABstract way onCE IT WAS A WHOLE THINg.

So, i’m makinG SOME YARN to serve as an INterestinG Backdrop for this abSTRACT DyeinG PROJECT.

i’M ALSO ORDERINg a nEW COMPUter today. I hate to spenD THE MONey, bUT LOOK AT THIS.

Hanging on by a Thread

The Butcher lost his job.

What is there to say? I feel helpless and angry and afraid. The idea of this tiny family full of people I love not having health insurance in the middle of all this makes me want to vomit.

Before all this, they had found some old Nazi here in the U.S. and shipped him back to Germany and a friend of mine was mulling over whether it does any good at this late date to be prosecuting old men for things they did as young men.

And, in the time before, that seemed like a reasonable existential question. Something you might mull over. Can a person change? Is it justice if it comes at the end of a bad person’s life? Etc. Etc.

Now?

The feeling I have toward the people who are doing this to us has clarified things for me. I want them to never rest entirely easy, to always fear that, no matter how they try to make themselves safe, someday they may have to answer for what they’ve done.

And I will cheer loudly, every time they pull a 90 year old Nazi out of whatever life he’s been hiding in.

Because fuck those people.

Against All Odds, We’re the Big Door Prize

What is there to say? Republicans make choices that cost us our best people. Grandmas and cousins and the guy down the block who always said “Hey,” and John Fucking Prine.

The deaths in New York are a blood red thorn on the front of the New York Times.

And people are still claiming its nothing or that its almost over. Get back to work.

Other Things

I’m still here! I’ve just been doing other things. Like this:

I love how this turned out so much. It’s called “Jazz Bird.”

I also dyed some fiber with highlighters.

It spun up pretty cool.

I tried to make some masks, but it basically just resulted in me getting hugely pissed at my sewing machine and ruining a lot of fabric.

The dog and I took long walks.

I keep trying to remember that the world is always ending and always beginning anew.

This Afghan

Under normal circumstances, I would be pissed about the amount of applique I’m ending up doing. But in these times, it feels more like creative problem-solving than tedious sewing.

Starting Week Three

I spent time this weekend looking at friends’ faces. That boosted my spirits a lot and I need to remember that when things get rough.

The weather is gorgeous. I’m trying to decide if I should work on the porch this morning. I probably will.

My therapist wonders if this crisis is showing me that I would like some companionship. I laughed at that, because it would be just like me to decide now, during an apocalypse, is the time for love.

Accomplishing

I finished this afghan. I haven’t washed or blocked it yet but I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I even ended up liking the big flowers, even though I thought at first they would annoy me.

The afghan I’m working on now is delightfully ridiculous. We had this design for our subject catalogs that I loved that we didn’t end up using and I decided I would try and see if I could make it into an afghan.

So, I took the design (left) and cut it up into squares (right) and I dyed up a bunch of fiber and now I’m making it. I really love the contrast of the super modernist design with the rustic crochet and handspun yarn. It just makes me laugh.

I went to the therapist yesterday. I thought i was feeling pretty good, but I cried almost immediately when I saw her. And just kept crying.

She said a lot of really helpful things. But a thing I’m dwelling on and trying to take to heart is that there’s a kind of connection I make with people that makes me unhappy, but I keep searching it out because it feels intense and thus real. And instead I need to put more time into cultivating relationships that make me happy, even if they don’t carry the same intensity of feeling.

She said it was like scratching at a scab. It feels good, but it keeps the wound from healing.

Damn.

I guess that’s why she’s the therapist.

Keeping Track

The Butcher is going to lose his job.

One of my dearest friends is going to have to give birth alone.

The person who first published my fiction has Covid-19 and it’s very likely she will die.

Fuck yes, I’m keeping a list. And fuck yes, I will burn with rage about it for the rest of my life. These evil dumb fucks did this to us. They wanted to hurt us as bad as they could and they did. And I will never forgive them.

Working Some More

Last night I finished piecing this all together. Now I have to decide on a border. I really love this part, though, where all the squares are put together but they don’t yet belong to one another.

Everything’s still trying to maintain its own shape and size and elbow its neighbors out of its way. It’ll be different after it’s washed. Everyone will lie together how they should. They’ll work more like one piece of fabric.

But things are still a bit unsettled at this stage.

Keeping On

I’ve been working on my afghan!

This picture represents the moment when I realized the pattern had an error in it and was a square short. This is for Angela at the post office. She likes pastels and a “Monet” feel, but she also really likes turquoise.

In real life, turquoise has more green in it but, oh well, she’s getting blue.

I’ve also started dyeing for my next afghan. Did I already tell y’all about this?

It’s going to be so hard! I can’t wait. I want a challenge that’s difficult but where the stakes are low.

Step one was getting the base color right.

The definition of nerve-wracking is having someone’s Pantone swatches to try to match a color when they’ve told you they paid almost a thousand dollars for them. I’M MESSY! Don’t give me valuable shit to borrow.

Lord.

But it worked out.