I have half of my horizontal joins done! It tickles me–in a prickly way–to know I’m going to finish this afghan next week. It makes me feel like, if only I had timed it better, I could have finished it by Saturday. But I did not. And I will not. I will just be frustratingly close.
I’ve revised my feelings about the gray. I now like that it’s dark because it lets that middle part look like it’s glowing.
My favorite thing about this afghan, though, is that the motifs end up all being a little crooked. If you look carefully, you can see that many of them twist to the right. But even just the act of joining them is starting to pull them square. Washing and drying it should straighten everything out nicely. But I like watching the movement, subtle though it is, now.
I’m also accumulating things to start on my dye project. When I walk the dog, I’ve been planning what I want to try to dye and in what order. With Kool-aid dyeing, you can do enough yarn for an afghan in a day. But I’ve now done enough research to know that this will be much different. That I’ll probably get a skein a weekend done.
So, some things–like tea and turmeric–can wait. But other things that are only available now must be done now. I must be ready. So, things I think I can start with include day lilies, dock (if I’ve properly identified the thing in my yard), and Queen Anne’s Lace.
I’ve got my eye on the poke berries and I’m just waiting for them to ripen. And I’m watching the privet for the same. But I think, if necessary, I can harvest berries and freeze them. Flowers and leaves, I think, need the shortest time between harvesting and putting in the dye pot. So, I need to do those first.
I’m excited, though.
As for the dog, Christ, you do not want to have to take a two-hour emergency trip to the vet with him if you don’t have to. Not that he was bad. But it was just worse, or as bad, as I’d been letting myself think it was.
The conclusion is that we think he ate something Sunday or Monday that made him sick to his stomach. He then got diarrhea, which made him more nauseous, which gave him more diarrhea, in a terrible feed-back loop.
So, he’s taking a pill to control his nausea, a pill to repair and soothe the lining of his GI track (tract? I’ve never thought about that before. I don’t know which it is.), and a pill to help his poop coagulate. And he has to eat this special bland food, wet and dry. They want me to give him seven scoops of dry food and a can of wet food a day.
He has never, in his whole life with me, eaten seven scoops of dry food a day. He is barely interested most days in eating three. And with an upset gut?
But he’ll eat the wet food.
And, y’all, the cat loves the wet food. The bland as fuck food for the dog. She bullied him out of his bowl yesterday. This morning, I had to give her a tiny bit on a spoon to lure her away from doing it again. She prefers it over her own wet food, which is the dog’s favorite thing.
This tiny eight pound cat bullying a sick 110 lb dog out of his bland as fuck food.
Will wonders never cease?
The join I’m using is just a simple single crochet, but through both loops, so that, unless you know what to look for, it’s hard to tell where the squares start and stop. It’ll be more obvious on the middle squares, but I think it’ll still be nice.
I’m just waiting for it to get closer to the time the vet opens so I can run the dog up there.
And I heard again from the FBI about the Looby bombing. They destroyed a bunch of relevant files in 1977, which… is not what they told me in the first letter, where they destroyed a bunch of files in 1996, but lo and behold, some files made their way to the National Archives, where I can request them. Mysteriously.
Well, maybe not that mysteriously.
In unrelated news, no, seriously, completely unrelated. cough cough. wink wink. Jim Cooper has my vote for as long as he wants it.
It’s not going to be done in time. Trying to cram an 8 week project into four was ambitious and, maybe, if I’d done nothing but work and crochet, I could have finished it, but what’s life without friends and dog walks and goofing around? It’s just going to take me another week to get it joined and bordered. I’m making my peace with it now.
I was worried it was going to be overly pink, because I used a ton of pink yarn because I had it left over from the peacock afghan. But I feel like it doesn’t at all look overwhelming here. I do wish I’d used a lighter gray for the background, but lesson learned. This is still nice.
Sonnyboy is having a terrible bout of diarrhea, which, ugh. I came home last night to a bunch, but he seemed okay otherwise. His appetite was fine so I fed him like normal.
But then, every hour or so, he wanted to go out.
Then I had to go to bed.
And I woke up at 4 in the morning to a noise that sounds funny when you’re a kid, but strikes terror when you’re an adult. I threw the dog back outside. I cleaned up a little. I went back to bed.
When we walked, he was definitely feeling like he had to poop, but everything had already cleared his system, so nothing but noises came of it.
When we got home, I grabbed my purse and went to Kroger. I came back with a shit-ton of paper towels, canned pumpkin, Pepto, and hot dogs. The dog has now had two big scoops of pumpkin and a mega dose of Pepto. He’s now sleeping more soundly than he has in a day.
Meanwhile, my boss’s bosses are coming to the office to spend the morning, so… so… I hope this works to clog the dog up, because I can’t be home with him.
I’m also pissed because the first bout came complete with corn–a lot of corn–and I have’t had anything with corn in it. And aside from the faint odor of poop, my house also smells kind of spicy, which, again, is not something I have eaten at home lately.
And yet, I can’t for the life of me figure out where he’d have picked up something spicy and corn-filled. It sounds yummy, but still! Please don’t feed my dog, neighbors.
Anyway, please keep your fingers crossed for my household today.
All right, fuck it. I decided yesterday I need something big to work on that isn’t depressing or full of racists or both. I’m going to plant dye an afghan. I’m going to slowly make my dyes from things I have in everyday life or from around the neighborhood and I’m going to see what happens.
I have a friend who spends a lot of time dealing with ridiculous fabrics, so I asked her if she’d be willing to take whatever I eventually came up with, and she said yes.
I’m already ethically opposed to giving someone a wool afghan if they’re not prepared to have another pet–since the kind of washing they need is an enormous task. Here, I love you. Have some work.
So, I wasn’t going to spring “Here’s a lot of work and do it carefully or these colors will fade. Hell, these colors will probably fade anyway.” on someone who didn’t have experience with finicky things.
Anyway, so now I’m paying close attention to what things in my neighborhood I might be able to experiment with. Y’all, what if privet makes some beautiful dye? What if I find a use for that garbage plant?
Y’all, I just… I’m just putting one foot in front of the other. Emails remain unread. Read emails remain unanswered. Things that need to be written remain unwritten.
I have been watching a lot of dying videos and working on this afghan.
I’m pretending like that’s something.
You guys! Look how the middle of this is going to look! Ugh. My whole heart. It’s just amazing. Can I finish it in three weeks? I have my grave doubts. But it will be close.
Look at me, tucking my tails as I go, so I don’t end up with five thousand tails at the end. I feel like some kind of god. A minor god, but a god with the power to not annoy herself.
Also, I love the colors in this, because you get to see various tones of the same color sitting together, which is one of my favorite things.
I’m kind of feeling panicked and anxious about how much I have to do today, but it’s just four things–groceries, laundry, dishes, and write a Pith post.
I’m not sure what my deal is.
I have a million things to do today. I just want to sit at home and work on the afghan for my cousin who’s getting married.
They told me “green.” My cousin and his fiancee.
Maybe I should someday make it my goal to make a green afghan I like, but I just find green a very hard color to work with as the primary color. I don’t know why, exactly, but I think it’s because sometimes green pings for me so hard as John Deere green that it’s hard for me to see it as anything else. Like, here’s my beautiful afghan with tractor branding.
But my plan for this afghan is to give each square a green center (I have three shades of green yarn) and then make the big motif in the middle out of blues and yellows (green deconstructed). So, green, but not only green. And my accents are reds.
I think it’s going to be fantastic.
I’m going in to work late because I’m working late.
I finished my afghan!
I’m still futzing with the pattern a little bit. I like how this one lays better than my other one, but I suspect I could improve how I do the part that, in this afghan, is pink and maybe get the yellow to gap much less. But I realize these are very minor things only I notice.
I really like the doodads and am glad I added them.
Now I have to try to crank out an afghan for my cousin’s wedding in a month. I kind of don’t think I’ll be done, but at least I’ll have something to show them.
It’s already looking a little sci-fi to me. This is a pattern from that same book as the first doodad afghan, which I would share the title of, but it’s clear across the room. But now that I’m starting to get a feel for how she puts things together, I think her patterns are quite brilliant. And the weird way she does stitches really gives the work a weird, neat look.
I got called a racist this weekend and, you know, as much as it stings, I think the guy is right. And also an asshole, but right.
Writing for Pith requires–at least from me–a certain amount of bravado. Sometimes I come down on the wrong side of the asshole line.
I don’t think there’s anything for me to do except acknowledge it and move on. But I have been struck by the people who want me to fight him, to comb through his social media and ruin his life, to make him sorry.
Like, first of all, I am a person and he is a person and we’re not going to fight for your entertainment. But secondly, you know what feels really racist to me? Going nuclear on a guy who was right because he dared piss me off.
Like, I’m trying to be a good person out here. I fail and fuck up sometimes. Why are folks hell-bent on tempting me into being worse? It’s really insidious.
Anyway, I also spent some time getting far enough on the afghan that I could do some doodad samples to see if I like the look.
I love the doodads! Also, I love how the green works in this afghan, just a tiny hint under the raspberry. Anyway, in real life, I’m just starting the green round on the motifs, but I had to work ahead to see if I was going to be happy with it.
I especially love how the raspberry and the yellow go together, though I’m not sure why. There must be some color theory to explain it, but I don’t know it.
I finished the afghan. I’m very, very pleased with how it turned out.
This morning, the dog and I met a very elderly neighbor and, you guys, the dog was so gentle with him. He went up politely and sniffed the guy, but did not jump. I was just so proud of him.
I have some addresses of the families of some people from my book. I’m trying to decide how to contact them in a way that’s safe for me and yet not off-putting to them.
I remain confused by the lack of curiosity among local journalists as to who did this. I had thought it was because they knew and just, for whatever reason, couldn’t report it. But that really doesn’t seem to be the case.
Another weird thing about the Looby bombing I just noticed recently, because of the new historical marker, is that the offices for the sit-in movement were right behind Looby’s house.
This still says to me that the fact that they didn’t use the alley or plant the bomb behind Looby’s house matters. If they had known the area, they would have had to think behind the house was a better spot.
Okay, so I tried to get a picture of the whole front done, but the cat was having none of it.
Still, except for a few ends to tuck, it’s done! I think the key for doing an afghan like this in the future would be to figure out how to do it join-as-you-go, because really, the most odious part is all the joining of the small pieces. Anyway, I plan on a loose blocking this weekend.
And you guys! Look at how it looks backlit!
It’s so beautiful! I can’t even stand it.
I have a lot of ends to tuck and it still needs all its little motif spacers but it sure is pretty enough just like this.
In a surprise to me, I’ve ended up loving to doodads, but kind of not liking the wavy side edges. This still feels very, very architectural to me, though, so the parts on the edge that stick out remind me of tiny turrets.
I’m oping it’ll be done by the end of the month. I won’t say I wouldn’t do it again, but I think it’s much more likely you’ll just see the squares and the doodads again.
My nephew came to visit me yesterday! Well, I went up there at lunch and spent a ton of time playing with him, but I had forgotten everything I wanted to bring him, so they stopped by later.
He was so surprised! And he liked my light fixtures. And the dog, even though he seemed very overwhelmed by all the fur and slobber and loudness.
And I got more done on my afghan. I fucked up majorly. I mean, majorly, because I was so tired. I was trimming a tail and I cut the end of the seam. This should have caused the whole seam to unravel (picture how tugging opens a bag of dog food), but it didn’t. So rather than picking it apart, I just left it. I mean, I picked at it and tugged at it, but I couldn’t get it to come open, so… I don’t know. The nice thing about how these seams are is that it’ll be really easy to fix if it does come apart. But damn.
Also, this morning, I saw a flock of turkeys in the field and the tom saw me. He puffed himself up real big, as if to tell me I’d better not even try to come near his family. Toms are fearless.
I love how this is coming together. I feel sort of bad giving someone an afghan that is more art that blanket. She can never put this in the dryer. It’s not particularly soft. But it’s so beautiful. I think it’s worth it.
I finished a draft of my manuscript yesterday. I need to have something to send to the editor so he can see what I’m up to and this is it. Or will be after I let it rest a little and look through it.
But I also heard from the National Archives and they have the Hattie Cotton file–200 pages–which they will send me. And the J.B. Stoner file, which needs to be read through by their legal team, but that can be done.
The whole Stoner file is 2,000 pages. Obviously, I’m not doing that. But Jesus Christ, how do you end up with a 2,000 page FBI file and one conviction? Like, what then was the purpose of keeping a file on you?
I just want his early years, and that also seems like a much more manageable two or three hundred pages. The archivist who is helping me even found that a bunch of Stoner’s ’58 file was in another spot, and made sure I would know to ask for it.
I suspect that’s either his Confederate Underground activity or his run-in with Bull Connor. In other words, the stuff they did actively try to get him for.
It’s really weird compared to fiction–the process of writing this. When I write fiction, I agonize over everything and am convinced I suck as a writer. Rereading this, I’m like, oh, hey, this is really good. This is really engaging. This is really funny. Like, I’m finding the writing part really easy (knock on wood).
The parts I’m struggling with are bigger-picture things: Should I interview so-and-so? Is there another investigative avenue I should be pursuing? Is there something I’m missing?
It’s a really nice change of pace. Also, those questions aren’t killing me. They just seem like stuff worth mulling over.
Am I…am I enjoying this?
I found my doodad groove and worked up 11 done ones, so I could stick them to the end of the afghan that’s done.
Y’all. Y’all! Look at this.
I love this so much. I want to put doodads on all my afghans. I’m making a peacock afghan next and I’m kind of already pondering how I can put some doodads on it.
I got all twenty-two doo-dad triangles done and I’ve now started on the first round of dangly bits.
It’s not so bad if you can get into a groove.
I got some good work on the manuscript done yesterday, too, and I’ve been thinking about how, even thought it’s obvious how close together horror and comedy sit in our brains–why we sometimes laugh at funerals and scream in delight–we don’t acknowledge that very well in real life.
Once something is funny, it’s not dangerous. Or at least that seems to be our overarching belief. And you can see how this bites us in the butt with a guy like Bill Cosby who joked for years about drugging women to have sex with them, but it was funny, so we took it as harmless, even though people were being harmed by him.
And, y’all, these racist terrorists are hilarious. I mean, there is not a stupid, fucked up thing they won’t do. Fuck each other’s wives, steal from each other, spend decades as FBI informants narcing on their friends, try to kill each other in the stupidest ways possible, etc. Literally standing there with blood on their hands insisting the Klan is a heritage association and not violent.
And they were also a deadly, evil blight.
Sometimes, I feel like making something funny makes it safe for us. So, I’ve been mulling over whether acknowledging the humor in my story is responsible.
But I do think things can be horrific and dangerous and also hilarious. And I think it is okay to laugh at dangerous things as long as we don’t mistake our laughter for an indication that the thing we’re laughing at isn’t that bad after all.
Which, you know, I often think is Mel Brooks’ position, but I’m not sure people really get that in his work, either.
And I’m no Mel Brooks, so I worry.
I’m out of yarn. Not completely but enough that I could either stop and buy yarn now or muddle on making aesthetic decisions I’m not quite satisfied with only to end up still needing to buy yarn, but now less happy with the look of the blanket.
While I’m waiting on yarn, I’m going to be doing the little decorative flourishes on the half of the afghan I have done and, I think, making my doodads. I had kind of decided to leave the doodads off, but I have time now and the odds and ends I have left are perfect for doodad construction. Plus, look at this doodad I made:
It looks so cute! How am I supposed to resist adding those, even if it is a butt-ton of work?
I think I have decided that I like to crochet a lot, but not too much. Ugh, that sentence makes no sense. Okay, there are patterns that are just ‘do nothing but crochet in this direction for this long and then come back.’ Eventually those start to bore me. How many more feet of the same color can I stare at?
But the type of afghan like what I’m working on now, which has a lot of small parts that have to be put together, I also don’t necessarily like. I don’t like when the putting together takes as long as the making of the motifs.
A thing I think I have come to realize about this designer is that, for her, the joy is in the putting together.
And I have to tell you, once I realized this was what she loves about the process, it made me less resentful of how long it’s taking to get everything together.
Anyway, on Thursday I’m going to talk to some folks about the bombing book. I am nervous as fuck.
I really want my book to strike the sweet spot where it is conversational and accessible to regular people and also I want historians to find it useful. But if ordinary Nashvillians can’t read it then I have failed.
But I haven’t read a lot of history books written like I’m writing this–with snarky asides and long meandering discussions of whether a person’s literary aesthetic informs their racist violence aesthetic.
So, I guess, if you have read a book like that, let me know. I’d like to compare approaches.
I keep saying this is an orange afghan, but so far, it’s not very orange. Here are the representative squares of the last three rows.
Granted, that middle one isn’t orange, but it’s a variegated yarn that is very orange in parts.
I had a really productive weekend. I got some good writing done. I’m about a third of the way into Wexler & Hancock’s Killing King. I had a lovely dinner with friends and then a lovely brunch with some other friends.
And I got a bunch of this afghan moved from “almost done” into “done.”
A thing I have been fretting about with this afghan is that it’s got a kind of decorative doodad on the top and bottom and I have been worried that I might not have enough of the same color yarns to do the doodads. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me until right now, but I can finish my squares and then do the doodads. Then I can use the rest of the yarn on the filler triangles.
Also, because of the doodads, the afghan doesn’t have a border. I’m a little nervous about that.
If you know me in real life, you know that I’m waiting around for things. I’m waiting around for the FBI to send me files I FOIAed a year ago. I’m waiting around for the National Archives to tell me how much lead time they need to go through JB Stoner’s file before I can see it.
I do internet searches on my lunch hour, trying to think of combinations of words or phrases that might bring some heretofore unknown piece of information to me.
And I work on afghans.
Yesterday, I did a reading at Cheekwood. The day before that, I found the grave of KKK leader Emmett Carr. While at Cheekwood, I was talking to C. about life and, anyway, I admitted that I have been crocheting so much because this bombing story is just so fucking hard.
It’s not just that I don’t think I can figure out who exactly did it, it’s that these dudes are terrible. I hadn’t realized how much I cling to the idea that overt racism can be an unfortunate character flaw in an otherwise lovely person. I mean, I think I know better than that, but you really confront your unconscious biases in a situation like this.
I think I’m a racist. No, I mean, I know I’m a racist. I think that’s terrible and I try to overcome it, but I’m not going to, because so much of white society is set up to guide me easily into racist positions and beliefs. I am a habitual racist and, like someone trying to quit smoking in the 70s, it’s hard to give it up because everything is set up to make smoking as easy and convenient as possible.
But I keep thinking of this reflex my mom has, whenever she’s recounting the story of something bad someone we know has done, to say “well, I’m also a sinner.” So, my mom can tell you about how their neighbor ended up being Ted Bundy II, and she’s still going to insist on seeing herself as also fatally flawed. And I find that deeply endearing but also frustrating, because there’s just a world of difference between my mom, who can get lazy and tired and not be her best self, and Ted Bundy, who has set out to be the worst of himself.
And I’ve wanted to believe, because I have to live in this world, that the Ted Bundys are rare and outnumbered by people like my mom.
But in a story that starts for someone “I’ll hurt children,” there are a lot more Ted Bundys than Betty Phillipses.
And they’re terrible all over. Their hatred of black people isn’t their only character flaw. They’re lousy spouses. They’re terrible parents. People flee from them, and rightly so.
It’s made me acutely aware of how much racism is built into the assumption that race terrorists can otherwise be good people–as if a willingness to hurt people doesn’t show a willingness to hurt people, because the people they’re hurting are black (or brown or gay or whatever).
But it’s also tough.
And I realized I’ve been crocheting so much because I need out of my head, out of the space I share with these people.
I keep thinking, why am I doing this? But it’s because the story as it’s been told to us is wrong and lets too many people off the hook. And I just can’t accept that.