Archive | Good HomeKeeping RSS feed for this section

The Great Yarn Beat Down, or Life at Jenny’s

17 Apr

So I’m here in NJ where we’ve been having a Gathering of the Goddesses, including Lani and her two amazing daughters, Sweetness and Light. I hadn’t seen the girls for years, and I still thought of them as around 11 and 13, which was way off – they’re now 15 and just-turned 18 and they are admirably fierce. Sweetness got her nose pierced for her birthday, the fearless creature, and Light kicks butt (in a thoroughly charming way). Lani, of course, is the goddess she is, with a great streak of pinkish-purple in her hair. She’s got a fabulous job, a fabulously empty bed no longer filled with a faux-Scots wanker, and life is good.

I got here on Wednesday, drove Jenny to the eye doctor on Thursday and on Friday we played. Saturday Lani & Co. arrived and we went out to breakfast, where Jenny terrorized me. Of course, I’d been jabbering in Danish at her for two days so it’s no wonder she was looking a little glassy-eyed and and thinking wistfully about “Saw II: The Reckoning.”

We ate too much at breakfast, then Crusie crashed, Sweetness and Light crashed and Lani and I went shopping. (When the going gets tough the tough go shopping).

And we returned for the Great Yarn Beatdown, similar to this summer’s Great Fabric Beatdown.

First of all, Jenny’s got a stash that she’d never get through if she lives until 100, and the sheer amounts are crushing her. So she’s doing slash and burn – she’ll still need to go through things again, but right now she’s made a huge difference, and Lani went home with a bag of yarn, a half finished sock (her knitting is phenomenal) plus a new Crusie purse that I reluctantly passed over (happily Crusie showers me with treasures, so I was willing to give it up since I already have the Disney Villains on my usual purse.) So we came back from brunch at Kathy’s and Jenny attacked the pile.
It’s been a massive undertaking. The girls played outside with the dogs (Jenny’s house is basically a tiny house full of treasures and magic) while Lani knitted and I crocheted.

So I’ve got a dozen trash bags full of yarn (plus a car loaded with other goodies). Which means I can crochet madly while listening to audiobooks, which I need to do because I need many ways to wallow in story. I’ll be showing you my creations and the books that I read – hey, maybe I’ll even do that on Facebook.

Anyway, Lani and the girls left (sob) and we were all set to watch “Moana” when we had an epic brown-out and we both toddled off to bed. Today, more yarn, then (heehaw) clothes. Tomorrow I head back home.

Anyway, peaceful goddess time in NJ (we weren’t in the mood for wild right now) and we have to do it again. Maybe next time with tattoos.

So, with all this excitement I gotta ask – what’s on your agenda?

All About You (Krissie)

16 Jan

Photo on 1-16-17 at 9.56 AM #2 Ah, me! (Which, incidentally, is what Juliet says at the beginning of the balcony scene). I’m full of quotes today. I looked at my image on Photo Booth and I looked soooooooooo old! But then the line from “Gigi” popped into my mind – “Am I getting old?” “Oh, no, not you!”
And now that song will be in my head all day.
I’m working on hauling out my office, but it’s a huge job. I need to figure out how to break it down-it gets too overwhelming. I keep grabbing boxes full of stuff and finding twenty differents places for things to go. I probably need to find ways to break it down, and yet, storing, tossing and giving away is a no brainer, but a lot of the stuff simply needs to go somewhere. Probably because my office is downstairs, I toss everything in there if I have to do a sudden cleaning (it’s always wrapping and present center during Christmas). I need to figure out how many receptacles I need and where to find ’em. I have one for giveaways, one for “to-file”, one for memorabilia (my mother’s writing, etc), trash, of course, one for office supplies …
Okay, bird by bird. I managed to write three days last week – I’m hoping for five this week but four will do. Things are always pulling at me. I’ve decided I can’t start swimming again – it’s too expensive and takes too long (25 miles away). (However, I’m seeing more surgeon tomorrow since it’s been a year since my shoulder replacement and it might be a good idea for the shoulder, in which case I’ll figure it out). So it’s gonna be writing in the morning, working on the house in the afternoon and sewing when I get the chance.

My pal Mort (Maggie Shayne) has a system where she breaks her days into segments – I think they’re two-hour ones. She puts them in spiritual terms, but I’m just trying to be as simple as possible. If I could implement that it would be perfect – one segment for writing every day (always with the option for keeping going), one segment for the house, one segment for fun. I’ve got to put some thought into it – how much downtime in between, etc. I’ll work on this and let you know how it goes.

Tomorrow the rest of the pets! I found a cat video on Amazon (as in, video for cats, with squirrels and birds) and our babies when crazy. Thunderpaws kept looking behind the flat screen, trying to find the squirrel, Lulubelle sat on the rug, transfixed. It was a hoot!

What’s on your agenda? (And no, I’m not getting old, right? Older, sure. I like that. I just wish it could go both ways).

All About You (Krissie)

28 Nov

Photo on 11-28-16 at 10.35 AM

So shall we do a tap dance and tell you everything is fine? Not my style, but then, there are times you gotta pull up your socks and move on. (Bad Tim stuff).

I’ll go with our first holiday tradition – Stoop Soup. A treasured recipes from the 1970’s made by yours truly when I was a cute young wife living in an old farmhouse in the tiny town of Stannard, VT (where Bernie used to live). First, you cook a huge, fabulous Thanksgiving turkey. Then you strip the leftovers off the bones and put the carcass in a huge pot. You throw in an onion, carrots, celery, any leftover veggies plus peppercorns and a bay leaf and you put it on the back burner of the stove and you turn it on. You let it cook – well, it’s supposed to take 4 hours but I usually forget about it and get back to it in 6, 8, or 12 hours. And you can’t cheat and use a crockpot – it gives it a mushy flavor. When it’s time to go to bed and you can’t cook it any more, nor can you put it in the refrigerator because there’s no room with all the leftovers from Thanksgiving, you put it out on the door stoop, where, because it’s Vermont, snow is covering the ground and the temperature is, at the very best, in the low thirties. You put the lid on and go to bed.
For the next three months you pass it every day and think “God, I have to dump that mess in the woods” but you don’t touch it, and by the time Spring rolls around you make your husband trudge out past the fields into the woods and dump the incredibly horrible smelling mess of bones and mold and rot. Bring the pan back, scrub the hell out of it and start all over again next Thanksgiving.

On rare occasions you can vary the recipe by bringing the stock pot back in the next day, draining it over a colander, toss in some turkey, more veggies, a splash of sherry, a splash of soy sauce, and maybe some leftover rice (though if you don’t eat it all the the rice will swell up even more and become slightly weird). But then you miss the winter decoration of the stockpot on the door stoop, and this time of year it’s all about tradition, isn’t it?

This week I’m meeting Miranda Neville for lunch, going into Burlington to drop off stuff for Goodwill, going to NAMI meetings (tonight and Thursday), start decorating the house, write, sew, and keep my fucking sanity. Also, not cry more than twice a day.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

So what’s on your agenda, my darlings?

The Great Fabric Beatdown (Krissie)

27 Oct

My BFF Sally was here at the end of summer (after the plays were over) and we talked about an Asian shirt she’d made, one i wanted to do too (it had originally been my pattern).  I had Richie go down to the basement and bring up my two tubs of Asian Fabrics, and Sally was incensed that I took such bad care of them.  We were still looking for another one, so I told her to go down into the basement and look.  She came back up with a mission – I had so much fabric simple maundering on the shelves that it was criminal.  She suggested Richie load it all up, carry it over to her barn (which is actually a remodeled living area).  There we could go through with it, I could give stuff away or have a massive yard sale, and then turn on my kids’ rooms into a sewing room that wasn’t dark and dank.
And so we did.
Richie has a full size pickup, with a full-size bed (for people who don’t know pickups, a lot of them are short-beds, making them easier to park, etc).  Richie filled the truck three times with my fabric, worse than even I had thought, and then Sally and I got to work.  We went through tub after tub, sorting the stuff first by what I was willing to give Sally (A lot) and stuff for the supposed craft yard sale).  Once we did that, we started going through all the quilting fabrics, dividing them by color/motif/etc.  I have Asian, Asian Blues, Christmas panels, Christmas reds, Christmas Greens, Christmas blues (I have way too much Christmas fabric, and I gave away a ton, plus made four Christmas quilts already).  Baby fabrics, animal fabrics, geometrics, homespuns, northwoods, batiks, flannels, Asian panels, magic, Laurel Burch, 30s fabric … and of course every color under the sun.  And that was just the quilting fabric.  I gave Sally almost all my flannels, almost all my Batiks (I’m one of the few quilters who isn’t batik-mad.  I like them, of course, but I tend to me seduced by Asian and novelty fabrics).
But I had two huge tubs of fleece (I’ve making a ruin from a vogue pattern pretty soon- dead simple and really warm).  I large tub of knits.  A container of fabrics I bought t G Street Fabrics twenty years ago with Kathy Seidel (I have fabrics that are more than 40 years old).  I have wools, and heavy weight cottons and denim.  And then there are the doll clothes fabric, and my head reels.  Not to mention three large tubs full of UFOs and Brainstorms (bunches of coordinating fabrics that I haven’t figured out what to do with).
We brought my stuff back in one truck load, so that was real progress.
So – I have Asian fabrics and colors against the back wall, UFOs and colors on the side wall, Christmas and novelties on one front wall, apparel and doll clothes on the other shelf (I’m reusing the plastic shelves from the basement to hold all this stuff.)
I’m out of space.  I really gave away at least half my stuff, and I’ve still got too much.  The thing is, I was very self-indulgent when it came to fabric.  If I liked it I bought it – there were prices on stuff I gave to Sally that horrified me, and I’m guessing it was at least $2k worth, possibly more.
Now I’ve got container after container of notions, threads, laces, elastic, etc.  I figure I’ll consolidate the tubs into two or three, plop myself on the bed upstairs, stream something on the tv (nothing with subtitles) and sort through them.  Obviously I’ve got more than enough containers – I’m going to have lots left over.
And in all this stuff I still have tons that I could give away, that I’m holding on to for no particular reason.  Gotta make myself do that too.
The problem with drowning in fabric is that the chaos pretty much smothers your creativity.  If everywhere you look there are bursts of disorganized color you look at it and sigh. Breaking all of it down, culling through it, suddenly makes creativity possible again.
As for the yard sale, we gave that up fairly early as Sally couldn’t resist more and more of the fabric I was giving up.  At that point I was going to figure out some kind of craft swap, but the pile kept dwindling.  I gave seven tubs of stuff to my theater organization for costumes, plus two grocery bags of costume partners, and then someone working for Sally took the rest: a young woman who cleans houses and works like crazy just to make it, who had lots of friends in a similar situation, and that’s just where I wanted the stuff to go.  So I was saved the trouble of a yard sale or a swap and got the stuff to the right kind of place.
Next, I thought I’d give all my scrapbooking to the elementary school.
I’m keeping track of all the UFOs (three quilt tops, at least, to baste and quilt, and soooooo many others projects.  Maybe I should learn to do spreadsheets.
But it’s been quite wonderful, to finally remember what I’ve got.
I did lose stuff that I really loved.  I gave Sally almost everything she wanted (it’s possible that she ended up with more than me) but there were a couple of projects that I wasn’t ready to let go of.  I let her take them with the proviso that I would take them back if she didn’t use them, but when she got all the stuff back to Ann Arbor everything got separated and integrated into color piles, and I feel a little mournful about them.  But I had too much, and even if I lost stuff I really wanted (did you ever notice I have trouble NOT sharing?  A lot of people can’t share – I’m the other way.  I have a hard time holding on to things I love).    Anyway, even if I lost stuff I have enough to keep me busy even if I live to 120.  So it’s all good.
At this point, once I finish up the stragglers (the notions and thread and catologuing the rest of the UFOS) I can face the sewing room with joy once more.  I’m a Taurus – I adore fabric (and China, and silver, and linens, and …at least my Scorpio rising keeps me under control).  And I went to a quilt show last week and barely glanced at the vendors, which is often the main reason I go.  I haven’t bought much fabric in years – now I can stop living in the past with my quilting and start moving forward.

Inside Happiness

10 Jul


What’s inside me right now is a PBJ and that makes me happy.

How did you get an inside view of happiness this week?

A Brand New Shiny New Year (Krissie)

4 Jan

Photo on 1-4-16 at 9.09 AM It’s a brand new year, a brand new world! It’s minus 2 degrees here, but I don’t have to leave the house. Richie’s got the new wood stove fired up. It’s a new to us one, from Ireland, with a window where you can see the flames and castles on the side (I’ll take a picture later). It doesn’t hold as much wood as our old box stove, but it’s much prettier.
I worked on cleaning my office yesterday, and I’ll do a little bit more today. Not get carried away, just make it livable while I recover from the shoulder surgery. Then maybe do a little tiny bit of writing, not too much, just as much as I want to.
Here’s what I need to be happy:
1. Richie
2. Feeling healthy
3. Not being in a clinical depression
4. Writing (I always feel happy when I’ve written)
5. A relatively clean house
6. Children who are safe and well

Not in that order, of course. Except Richie might come first. But the truth of the matter, as we all know, is that we have to know the difference between the things we can and cannot change, and let go of what we can’t change.
1. Richie’s always there, and rarely annoying (even the most fabulous husbands are annoying sometimes)
2. Feeling healthy. I can work on the food thing. I can get the surgery for my shoulder and knees and do the rehab, damn it. Not slack off on that. There are things I can do to feel better.
3. Not being in a clinical depression. That’s kind of out of my control. I take SSRI’s, etc., and we adjust them if they’re not working, but sometimes the darkness just closes down. It’s a chemical thing, inherited from both sides of the family. But I do my best — I see a therapist, I take my meds, and I think I’m going to start meditating. And I’m going back to church. So I’m doing what I can do.
4. Writing. I always feel better when I write. It’s because a magical fantasy world is necessary to my well-being. Not important, but necessary, starting when I was little. While my family stormed around me I would read, and then I would go to bed and make up stories. When I am in absolute despair the only thing that helps is curling up with a wonderful book (which is why I’ve reread certain books so many times. Cruisie is a great comfort read). And while the words don’t always come, you can make a very small daily goal. Actually I think mine is 300 words. Getting to a thousand is better, but anyone, any time, can write 300 words. It’s not enough to send you in the wrong direction in a book, and it’s still enough that it will start the flow of words if they’ll come. Most important, they keep your head in the story, instead of letting it disappear from your life for weeks and months on end. So I can write 300 words.
5. A relatively clean house. Damn, that’s so hard for me. I buy declutter books, I read theories, I start to clean, I move junk from room to room. I donate tons and tons and tons to Goodwill. But it’s like being caught in a blizzard and the more I shovel, the more it snows. I have stopped shopping. That’s something I have to figure out, because it IS something I can change.
6. My children’s well-being. Which is a major contributor to my major depressions. And I have to let go. I can’t make them happy. I can’t fix them. I’m not them – it’s their own journey, not mine. All I can do is let go. For that I have to go to my Al-Anon meeting, do my readings, work my program. Otherwise it’s going to eat me alive.
BTW, my elder child, Daniel, is doing beautifully. Is even happy, employed, in a relationship. Tim’s in trouble.
I have to stop spending my life mourning all those who are lost, missing my grandchildren, dreading new disasters. I have to celebrate the wonderful New Year’s Day I spent with my grandkids. Version 2 I can stop mourning all those who have gone before me. They had their own paths, I did everything I could for them and I need to let them go with grace.

So that’s what I’m doing for this year. I need to accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.
And the other thing is baby steps. 300 words, not write two hours five days a week. Not Clean All Things! like (that’s where that cartoon comes from isn’t it? Jenny, when you read this, if you can find it would you post that great cartoon?).
Just try to live my life with reasonable grace. It’s what I hope for all of you.

And now, I want to hear what you want for the next year. Did all of you pick a word? Mine is Rise. Again, baby steps. I don’t have to soar, I just have to rise.

So what’s on your yearly agenda?


Heat Wave (Krissie)

8 Sep

ooops. Here I am again. I’ve been kind of caught up in grandchildren drama — well, they weren’t dramatic, they were awesome. It’s the adults who cause the drama.
Not me, though. I back off (of the drama, at least) and just do my best to get as close to the kids whenever I’m allowed near them.
I will say no more about that.

I keep waiting for summer to end so I can start living life again. I’ve got a bunch of doctor’s appointments, got to find two new doctors, help my son figure out a good future for himself. I get to enjoy my elder child’s joy of finding out who he/she is and not have to worry since Spawn (an agreed-upon nickname since the proper name keeps changing) is not only gainfully employed but loved the apartment and the roommate.

And I’m ready to nest. To go through all the overflowing baskets of clean laundry in my bedroom (be there a dozen), to overhaul the kitchen, clear out my office, concentrate on work, visit Crusie, visit the grandchildren, visit mini-me.

Yesterday was the hottest day in the summer. Which wouldn’t seem odd to some people but our high is usually in the low 70s at this point. Every day is at least 20 degrees above average, it’s hot and sticky, and of course we don’t have air conditioning. I just feel like I’m waiting for life to begin. In northern VT this weather is so rare that we feel we have to grab it, not waste our time indoors cleaning.

But I do like to nest in the fall. Most people like spring cleaning — I’m a fall person. We’re getting ready for 6 months of indoor living (at least) and I want to clear the decks and make the place cozy, because no matter how you bitch about it it’s still going to snow and rain and sleet and hail.

I want to cook again — I haven’t really cooked all summer. Soups and fresh breads and things with apples. Instead I’m sitting here in my bathing suit.

My best bet is to enjoy the weather while we’ve got it, even if it’s not exactly what I want right now.

Maybe that’a rule for life. Even if it’s not exactly want you want, there are always thing stop be savored and enjoyed.

So I’ll do my best to savor this week. How about you?

Oh, and TO LOVE A DARK LORD is on sale in all markets (except the UK) for $.99 through tomorrow, and it’s one of my very best books, so go for it if you’re in the mood. I gotta say I have so many $.99 books I’ll never read them all, but fortunately my kindle holds a hell of a lot of books.

In the meantime, I think I’ll go swimming again.