Eric’s Summer Socks 2017

Eric's Summer Socks

I haven’t finished a pair of Eric’s Summer Socks before the end of his visit since 2012. Other projects step in and take my focus. A shop sample needs to be completed. Sudden design inspiration must be pursued. The materials for a test knit show up at my doorstep.

Of course, a few months ago I put all of those activities on hold. Now, my hands are at the end stages of healing. I can feel my knitting life beginning to expand again. I submitted a design for publication which included me knitting a mini version of the piece (since my sketches tend to look like a kindergartener who’s gotten hold of Mommy’s good drawing materials). I’m teaching a brioche class in September and knitting up a shop sample to promote it.

Working on Eric’s Summer Socks gave me hope. After taking only ten days to complete the first one, I was able to finish the second in fourteen along with knitting up that swatch for the design submission and working the first couple of inches of the brioche cowl.

Not quite back to normal, but I’m getting better!

Eric's Summer Socks

For the last few years, I finished his socks in time for Christmas. He would pick his yarn and I’d cast on with the best of intentions during the first couple of weeks of his visit. By the time he left, I would be distracted by other shiny new projects and promise to mail them to him. For the remainder of the summer and all through fall, the socks traveled with me whereever I went, getting a stitch here and there between test knits and shop samples and design knitting. By Christmas, they’d finally be done. Wrapped in bright paper, they’d take their final journey to his house and he’d unwrap them in time for his winter semester.

Today, after I made him model the socks, he came into my office to give them back.

“Thanks, buddy. You get to keep those now.”

“Oh. I thought you might need them for more pictures.”

“If I do, I’ll let you know.”

And, grinning, he left the room with those socks clenched in his grasp.

Next year, when I feel time crashing in on me like I’m standing in the center of an hourglass swimming in sand, I hope I remember this moment. This moment of him knowing that those socks, that sock design that I created just for him, the one that fits his foot perfectly and sits firmly under his shoes – those socks are his now. This moment where he grinned and took possession of his socks two weeks before he left. I hope I remember how happy he was to have those socks.

Eric's Summer Socks

And how happy I was to hand them over.

***

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Diary of a Lesbian Housewyfe: The Sparkle Darkly Silver Lining

Fireworks, July 3rd, 2013Each Independence Day follows a certain ritual. My honey-bunny and I wake up, get dressed and go downtown to peruse our little town’s annual Fourth of July parade. The giant bull, the local arts camp’s musical number, infinite horses ridden by rodeo queens and cowboys, the old stagecoach, the convertible or pickup truck from the local dealer, and the high school band all pass us by as we cheer and avoid being pelted with hard candy. Next, home for lunch and a short nap before the evening’s activities. Tux, our border collie, hides when he hears the first firework. Usually we have a cookout or just go to one where we ingest large quantities of hamburgers, corn on the cob and cream pie, all washed down with some sort of alcoholic beverage. The sun sets, and the town’s firework display begins. Following the municipal display, we head home to comfort our trembling dog until all the fireworks in town stop usually sometime between 2AM and the end of the summer.

To prepare our border collie for his upcoming ordeal, we try several tactics. In the beginning, we attempt to just ignore the fireworks in a futile attempt to convince him that they won’t harm him. After the six bazillionth time of dragging him out of his hiding place, we decide that the best thing is just to help him hide by covering him with towels in the closet. He finds those attentions annoying, ditches the towels and hides in the shower or under our bed. At that point, we close the shower curtain and hope his hair won’t clog the drain or sigh as we watch his butt disappear from view. Nothing seems to help the poor boy, and we always find him late in the evening, trembling in his chosen location, looking up at us with pathetic eyes pleading with us to make the noises stop.

Last February, after fourteen wonderful years, we finally had to say goodbye to our sweet Tux. His death brought us a profound grief which we still are barely concealing from our friends and neighbors. However, in our practical optimism, we have finally found our silver lining for this sad situation. I should amend that lining from silver to sparkly gold, red, green and blue.

Oh yes, the fireworks are coming back to our house.

This year, on our way home from our vacation, we stayed a while in Evanston, Wyoming to purchase fireworks. I hadn’t been in a fireworks store or even at a fireworks stand since I was in high school maybe even elementary school. Even then, I had never seen anything like this. The fireworks store was cool and smelled of sulphur. Concrete floors and bare metal shelving reminded me of a warehouse store, but of course, this place was much, much smaller. Shelves with stacked palettes of shrink-wrapped fireworks lined the sides and center of the large room. Firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, and fountains with names like Delirium and Patriotic Fantasy decked these halls. Everything from sparklers to artillery shells shone in brightly colored boxes promising wilder colors, higher loft and louder bangs.

Steph’s eyes widened and her breathing became shallow as she entered her nirvana. “Okay, let’s check it out,” she said in a husky voice.

Uh-oh. I knew she liked fireworks, but I never actually realized how much she gave up for our Tux.

Now, certain fireworks are illegal in Colorado and, for the benefit of any peace officers in my audience, I would like to emphasize that we bought nothing that was illegal. Really. That we have been caught with. Yet.

We cruised up and down the aisles, first thinking that we could simply carry our purchases in our arms, changing to the little hand basket halfway through the store, and then finally graduating to the full sized shopping cart. Steph picked out roman candles, bottle rockets, fountains and firecrackers while I grabbed sparklers, party poppers, worms, and little fantasy fireworks shaped like chickens and bees.

When we arrived home, we were relating this story to our neighbors who reminisced about getting high and watching those worms burn. And me, a member of the Just Say No” generation.

Anyway, being the only ones in the store aside from the two teenage girls working the register (it was only late May at that point), we finally began asking questions when we arrived at the checkout counter.

How is this fountain?”

“It’s our best one.”

Are these three foot long sparklers really good?”

“They’re awesome.”

Are these fireworks the bangiest?”

Bangiest? Did she just say bangiest?

No. You want the ladyfingers.” I watched the taller brunette circle the counter, pluck the firecrackers from Steph’s hand and deftly snatch the other packet from the cart, ending up with both held between two fingers in a most disapproving grasp.

Wow. I guess they really weren’t the bangiest.

Brunette girl tilted her head in the direction of the firecrackers and led Steph away while I stayed to oversee her redhaired compatriot ring in our purchases. At the firecracker shelf, brunette girl tossed the rejects back into their place and picked up the infamous ladyfingers. “Three of these will blow up a toilet.”

Really.”

And they work underwater.”

They must have extra security in the bathrooms at the Evanston, Wyoming school district. Steph grabbed two packets and headed back to the front as quickly as she could without feeling she was losing coolness points with either of the teenagers running the place.

We spent $191.62 on fireworks.

In Steph’s defense, it had been almost fifteen years.

In my defense, it was “buy one, get one free” on everything in the store. I’m quite the bargain hunter.

So, this year, following the municipal firework display, we scooted down to the elementary school near our house with Steph’s 12 year old boy cousin in tow and set off quite a few fireworks. They buzzed and popped and whizzed and fizzed. They traveled quite far into the air and exploded with trails of hot ash floating behind. They flared and fountained. Meanwhile, this young fellow’s face glowed with happiness in the brief flashes of light as he learned how to correctly ignite fuses with a punk from a forty-seven year old woman coming back into her own.

One day, we’ll own another dog. But I realize this now.

He’ll have to love fireworks.

***

Back in 2006, when I wrote this piece, we had just survived the horrible year of 2005 (my sweetie’s motto? “I survived two-thousand-five”). When Cappy came along in 2007, he absolutely filled the bill. I don’t know that he liked fireworks, but when they went off, he would bark at them. We continued to play with them until this year. During the move, my sweetie gave her entire arsenal away and hasn’t replaced it as yet. She insists she doesn’t miss blowing things up.

***

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How to Get Away With(out) Murder: Teaching Friends & Family How to Knit

How to Get Away With(out) Murder: Teaching Friends & Family How to Knit

On Friday, I made my teaching debut here in North Carolina! My new LYS, the Knitting Diva, hosted the class.

“How to Get Away With(out) Murder: Teaching Friends & Family How to Knit” is a brand new class that I’ve developed over the past couple of years. I had no idea how it would be received and was happily surprised by the response. With only a brief introduction, eight students joined me to learn to be knitting teachers!

How to Get Away With(out) Murder: Teaching Friends & Family How to Knit

Passionate knitters love to share that passion with others, but don’t know where to start when it comes down to actually teaching a friend or loved one how to knit.

This workshop teaches knitters how to share their craft with effect and love. From setting simple boundaries to nitty-gritty techniques like how to knit a lefthanded student, this workshop prepares intermediate to advanced knitters who are ready to teach.

Teaching Knitters to Teach New Knitters

Split into four sections, I covered how to share your passion without destroying your relationship, how to show students to perform actions, how to recognize mistakes and fix them, and the specifics of teaching lefthand dominant knitters and children.

As always, by the end of the class, I made new friends. After the first few moments, I found my anxiety releasing. I wished I’d memorized more. I made myself an outline that I didn’t quite adhere to, but I think that’s pretty normal. I wish I’d been funnier.

However, my new friends had a good time. Their favorite parts of the class included:

  • New terminology for teaching
  • Different approaches for teaching adults versus children
  • How lefthand dominant knitters knit
  • Ways to show students techniques so they can see your hands as they would see their own.

Each time I teach a class, I learn something new – my favorite part of the teaching process! The most amazing thing I learned in this class was a new way to perform the long-tail cast-on.

Learning A New Cast-On
Thanks, Kathy!

The technique resembled the knitted cast-on, using both hands actively and throwing your loop around as you cast on. Quite interesting! I need more practice so I don’t forget!

A big Thank You to everyone who helped make my teaching debut in Asheville a success!

And now I send eight new knitting teachers out into the world to spread the craft with their loved ones.

Class at the Knitting Diva - 7/21/17

Enjoy teaching, my new friends!

***

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Diary of a Lesbian Housewyfe: Mitzvot?

The Bear Entered Stage LeftA couple of years ago, Stephanie and I got invited to a “Seder and Kugel Cookoff” for Passover. Like good little gentiles (Lesbian Law #6: “Celebrate diversity in all its forms.”), we did extensive research on the internet and our cookbook archive for recipes. We settled on two, one matzoh and one potato.

Chicken fat sizzled in the large cast iron skillet while Steph peeled and grated the potatoes and onions. (My favorite helpful hint from a reader on Epicurious was to use bacon drippings in lieu of chicken fat. Okay. Just a hint. Soooo not kosher.) I soaked the matzoh to blend it into the apples, raisins and apricots for my sweet casserole dripping with butter, sugar and cinnamon. We slipped both of them into the oven and crossed our fingers. They both came out golden, crisp and brown.

I liberated a red Spanish table wine from my winerack and I brought that along for dinner.

I totally gained points with our hostess, Sureva, by allowing that this choice was inspired by the Sephardim (Jews from Spain or Portugal, especially those exiled from those countries in the late 15th century – Thanks to The Ghost of Hannah Mendes by Naomi Ragen).

I didn’t know you had Jewish heritage.”

I don’t. I just finished a novel.” Sheepish smile and thrusting forth of wine bottle.

She took the wine, extracted the author and title from me (see above) and disappeared to greet other guests.

Whew. Passed my test!

A large table in the center of the living room quickly filled with sweet and savory kugels, noodle, matzoh and potato, brought by a bunch of whitebread gentiles just like me: pink-skinned and feeling a little bit guilty about missing the next day’s Easter service because of a Passover Hangover.

The kugels beckoned as we learned the rules of the contest. Two votes each, and cast your votes by sticking a toothpick into your favorite after tasting all of them (Tasting, mind you! We have a full dinner ahead!). We circulated and scooped small bites of each kugel onto our tiny paper plates. By the end, a couple of kugels looked like porcupines while others stood lonely, not even one vote from the person who made them! Luckily, ours did not suffer that fate. I voted for myself, and Steph’s potato kugel was given perhaps the greatest compliment imaginable by Sureva: “Your kugel tastes just like my mother’s.” The potato kugel received several toothpicks.

We stepped back from the table and sipped some tasty kosher wine. (Yes, I did say “tasty kosher wine.” Some good kosher wines are being bottled these days, and they are now available year-round at lovely local wine shops.) The surprise of the evening was Nate, then only eighteen, being crowned the King of Kugel. “Unfair,” some of us cried; our voices muffled by mouths full of kugel.

Next, we ambled over to a large L-shaped arrangement of tables and enjoyed a traditional Seder dinner accompanied by all the kugels. Our hostess made copies of the service for us to read aloud in turns, progressing around the table one paragraph at a time.

Why is this night different from every other night?”

For starters, I found out what a kugel was. And made one!

We departed carrying one half-empty container of apple-matzoh kugel which went into the refrigerator for a month (We were kugeled out!) before finally being sent to the great round black kugel heaven (otherwise known as the garbage can) on my front patio. I must admit, I deposited it there without much thought. The bushes were just beginning to leaf out in early May and I had triumphantly finished my spring cleaning that afternoon.

In the middle of the night, Tux, our border collie, barked at the patio door. Sleep befuddled me and I lay there blinking myself awake while Steph stumbled to the door.

Tux. I’m up. Thank you. Good dog.” Steph pulled back the curtain covering the glass door and her tone changed. “Oh my God.”

At this point, my sweet honey-bunny has noted that I should tell you we live in the middle of town. Downtown. Securely in the midst of town. Our sweet little house is arranged with other sweet little houses, all with house numbers, on a paved street with a name in our little mountain town.

Because we live in town (in case I haven’t made that clear enough), the last thing I expected Stephanie to say was:

Bear.”

I sat straight up and made myself a little “bed-wobbly” as I realized that the continuing sounds of crashing and bumping were actually a bear going through our trash. “Bear?” I regained my balance and ran over to the door to peer uneasily out the curtain.

The bear was halfway into the trashcan about eight feet away from us. She tossed out bits of trash, dragged out a particularly interesting morsel, sat back on her haunches and snarfed it down, daintily leaving the plastic wrap or bag or container on the ground. Steph and I looked at each other. As fascinating as this was, a bear sat on our front stoop strewing garbage everywhere. We had to do something. “Let’s turn the light on. That should scare it away.” Two floodlight bulbs cover the patio area with light. We never turn them on because we like to sleep in the dark, but desperate times call for desperate measures, as the ubiquitous “they” say.

A flip of the switch and light illuminated a black bear, probably about four to five feet at the shoulder (not standing on her hind legs) when she untucked herself from the garbage can.

That’s big. I mean, really big. A big black bear.

She pulled another tasty bit from the trashcan and blinked as the light hit her face. She turned her big bear head toward us and dipped her chin a little as if to say, “Thanks. It was a little dark out here.” Then, she went back to chomping on…. Kugel! She was eating the remnants of the matzoh kugel!

Steph looked at me.

I looked at her.

Bear Mitzvah!”

The bear peered briefly at the two crazy naked ladies giggling in the plate glass door and returned to her rumination.

A bear cub sighted in summer of 2016 in our back yard
A bear cub sighted in summer of 2016 in our back yard at our home in Steamboat Springs, CO

In the morning, after picking the garbage out of our yard, we drove to the hardware store and bought a large rolling bearproof trash. Outfitted with a metal strap around the lid and cables with trigger snap hooks which attach to the metal tabs poking through metal lined slots on the top, this trashcan completely thwarts the bear (at least our black bear). Bears tend to come back to where they’ve found food before, so for a while we found this trashcan turned over on its side in the yard or standing on its head on the patio.

However, since we installed this tough trashcan, we’ve never found any actual garbage in our lawn.

And finally, after a full summer, she’s given up on us.

She’s clearly come to understand Lesbian Law #1: Never Underestimate the Power of the Lesbian Housewyfe.

I may only be a housewyfe, but I can outsmart a bear.

And cater her “bear mitzvah.”

***

We now skip from the nineties to the mid-2000s. During this time, we lived in our little house on a dead end street in the downtown area of Steamboat Springs with our border collie, Tux, and still had our old siamese, Cleo. The bear who visited us during that first year of living in our very first house returned year after year. Sometimes she even brought along cubs. However, that trash can made it through generations of bears attempting to get our trash. A noble investment, and one I recommend if you live where bears can get into your trash.

***

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Diary of a Lesbian Housewyfe: A Short Explanation on Husbynds & Wyves

A Short Explanation on Husbynds & WyvesOne day this past summer, I sat in a friend’s home watching my lovely wyfe and our lovely hostesses bustle about the kitchen and make dinner. It is not often that the Lesbian Housewyfe gets a break and this one was blissful! I reclined on a couch in the living area, read magazines and drank a beer. Mmmmm. I went through my friend’s extensive collection of publications one by one until I reached this one particular gay magazine with Greg Louganis on the cover. Intrigued by the promise of an excerpt, I opened and started flipping. Somehow I landed on an article expressing the general frustration of the homosexual community over the lack of a label for our “life partners.” Reading that article, I realized my mission. This idea could have some merit, I thought. Now for the acid test.

I bounded into the kitchen area and exclaimed, “I have the answer!”

All regarded me with suspicion. Only my sweet wyfe was brave enough to venture. “LA…. What exactly is it the answer to?”

“The gay spousal label problem!” I stated proudly.

“Oh.” Everyone relaxed and went back to their duties. As I thought they were rather dismissive, I chose not to reveal until they asked.

Steph chopped up a cucumber.

I will not tell, I will not tell, I thought over and over.

Pasta dropped into boiling water.

I bit my lips together.

Sauce dripped down the side of a jar.

“Well, since you asked….”

No one responded.

“Wyfe-with-a-y and husbynd-with-a-y!”

“Uh-huh.” A voice from the kitchen encouraged.

I barged on. “You see, I got the idea from womyn-with-a-y. I was just reading this article about the whole problem and thought, ‘this lady seems so emphatic that none of the words we are using are specific or emotional enough. What is the answer? What words could we use to signify the warm fuzzy aspects of our relationship and still show the formality of our commitment? What words could we use to emphasize the nontraditional formation of our relationships? What words can we use to show our true and complete partnerships? Well,’ I thought ‘what word best describes the formal familial status of Stephanie in my life?’ My answer to that question is that she is my wyfe. You like that label, don’t you honey?”

She nodded (in recognition of Lesbian Law #11: Value and treasure every remark your partner utters (serious or silly) and back her up, if need be) and I continued. “So you see, since the words husband and wife are so widely recognized, then it follows that husbynd-with-a-y and wyfe-with-a-y would retain the easy recognition and carry the emotional and formal status of this relationship without ambiguity. At the same time, these words (rather aptly, I think) point out the nontraditional form of the relationship through the spelling and non-gender-specific use.”

My friend’s lover piped up, “So I can be a husbynd?”

“Yes!” I exclaimed, delighted that she grasped the concept so quickly. I must be making sense, I thought, and started doing cheers in my head.

“Does that mean I have to be the wyfe?” My forty-five year old radical lesbian friend asked defensively.

The screaming fans fell silent.

Whatever, I thought, and placed special emphasis on that second syllable so as to emulate that ever-so-unique junior high brush-off. I took a deep cleansing breath and said aloud, “No. You can both be husbynds or both wyves or one be a wyfe and one a husbynd. It’s more personal preference than anything else and, frankly (or janely), it could change from day to day.”

“Hmmm.” She said and I could tell the idea appealed to her. Yes! I thought and the fans began to cheer once again.

Then the questions began to fly.

“Can a wyfe mow the grass?”

“Every day.”

“Can a husbynd cook?”

“Don’t marry ’em if they can’t”

“What about gardening?”

“Either or both as far as I’m concerned.”

“Cleaning.”

“You could be a house husbynd.”

“Can a housewyfe have a job?”

A long silent stare was my only reply.

My forty-five year old radical lesbian friend giggled.

She actually giggled.

“Don’t be a goober,” I replied. “I think it’s basically whatever you feel more comfortable with. Do you feel like a husbynd or a wyfe?”

“Husbynd.”

“Well, that’s that then, isn’t it.” I said. Now that I look back at the incident, I might have been a bit snippy because my forty-five year old radical lesbian friend looked sharply through astonished eyes and I knew I was in it now. I steeled myself for the storm that can be created by a womyn-with-a-y who has seen first-hand both the oppression of the patriarchy and the acceptance of the Michigan Womyn’s Festival. She lived through Stonewall. She worked in a lesbian-owned womyn’s bookstore. She’s done radical lesbian guerrilla theatre. She’s held pot-lucks.

I had broken Lesbian Law #24: Never, ever contradict a crone.

I was so in trouble.

My heart beat faster.

Her laughter escaped in a huge bark followed by a trail of giggles from everyone.

I almost fainted.

“Well,” I breathed a silent sigh of relief and swallowed, “isn’t this a great idea?”

“I think,” my forty-five year old radical lesbian friend replied, “this idea could have some merit.”

And I wisely allowed the conversation to deteriorate into gossip about old friends and cooking instructions.

But I smiled knowingly for the rest of the evening because I know Lesbian Law #1: Never Underestimate the Power of a Lesbian Housewyfe.

This idea could have some merit.

***

Gosh, this piece takes me back! When I wrote this piece back in 1997, I was twenty-seven whole years old. Now, I’m two years older than my “radical lesbian friend” in this piece. I guess I can be a crone now. I’m certainly cranky enough.

***

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A Sock in Ten Days

On Sunday, I finished the first of Eric’s socks.

Eric's First Summer Sock
Knitted using Skacel Wunderklecks (75% Wool, 25% Nylon) in color 2151

In case you’re counting, that means one sock in ten (10!) days.

An improvement of four days over my last sock.

Four days.

I’m trying not to get too excited. Excitement always gets me into trouble.

For example….

I cast on the second sock on Sunday while we conversed with my sweetie’s aunt and uncle, connecting with them after a decade. Brilliant conversation distracted me as I worked up an inch of the leg.

The next day dawned a little ouchy for the hands so I spent lots of time applying my CBD cream and mint oil. After a very abbreviated knitting session, I rested.

Tuesday brought its own effort with a visit to a new knitting group at my new local yarn shop, The Knitting Diva. I tried to be charming as I worked through the rest of the leg and into the heel flap. I don’t know if I succeeded, but the group seemed really quite nice.

Eric's Second Sock

Today? A little ouchy. I’m resting and rubbing again. And I’m making sure to sprint with my knitting (twenty minutes on, at least five minutes off). Sprinting seems to help keep my hands from getting too ouchy.

The second sock continues. With the Wimbledon semifinals and finals happening over the weekend, I may even complete the pair.

Wouldn’t that be something?

***

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Instead of Chaos, a Weekend of Summer Socks & Tennis

For the past three years, I spent this day in rollicking chaos. The Steamboat Arts Council’s biggest fundraiser, Art in the Park, meant early mornings and late nights, starting with Friday when all of the vendors arrived and I made my contact with each one of them. The beer tent got set-up behind me while I explained the local sales tax rules and the location of each booth. On Saturday and Sunday, the same early mornings applied, but the evenings were filled with counting the crumpled dollar bills donated to support the Steamboat Arts Council and spent on beer. Each one had to be straightened and counted, put into a pile and wrapped in bundles. My sweetie would make a dinner of appetizers for my counting helper and me, and spend the evening with us straightening the bills while we counted each one twice. (Double counting. It’s a thing with non-profits. And people who want to make sure their count is accurate.) By ten, we’d be done and off to our respective beds to sleep until the next morning when it all started again.

This year, my household sits quiet. Eric and Aunt Stephanie are off on a couple of errands. If the rain holds off, they will finish erecting a tent to act as my sweetie’s workshop. Perhaps they’ll even mow the lawn. I’m writing alone in my office with only knitting in my plans for the weekend.

Speaking of which, Eric’s summer socks are progressing.

Eric's Summer Sock Progress 070717

The short legs make these socks feel like they knit up so quickly. Even with my curtailed knitting time, I’ve already worked through the heel and gusset and am into the long, long journey that is his foot.

Perfect timing for the Wimbledon weekend! All that stockinette allows me to knit row after row while never missing a bounce of the ball.

Cloudy Skies Promising Rain

The cloudy sky thrills me in a way only a knitter (or reader) can imagine. The promise of rain for Saturday (and maybe Sunday) means no guilt about sitting and knitting for an entire day.

I haven’t had a good day of knitting since Christmastime. I promise I will take frequent breaks to rest my hands, I will do all my hand stretches at regular intervals, and I will slather my hands with my CBD lotion to keep them in tip-top shape.

I’d say “scout’s honor” but I never was a scout so you’ll just have to take the word of a preacher’s kid.

A grown-up preacher’s kid who wants this healing trend to continue so many more of these quiet knitting Saturdays can follow.

Good Luck to my friends as they construct that festival, making sure everyone’s paperwork is in place, dealing with emergencies, finding enough water to keep security well-hydrated. I wish them strength in their journey over the weekend as well as a great turnout and the most amazing donation amount ever!

I’ll be in North Carolina, holding this chair down for you.

***

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Diary of a Lesbian Housewyfe: Guide to Surviving Sporting Events

Diary of a Lesbian Housewyfe: Guide to Surviving Sporting EventsAt the tender age of nine, in a futile attempt to fit in with my classmates, I begged and pestered my poor parents until they agreed to trot me down to the old ball field and sign me up for softball. They spent the remainder of their summer dragging me to practice. This experience provided all of us with the sure and steadfast knowledge that the only danger I presented to the other team was the chance that a fly ball would smack me on the head and cause a game delay while the medical team scraped me off the ground. My only athletic talent seemed the mysterious ability to become distracted by inanimate objects while actually playing the game. After realizing that my current state of athleticism was not about to change, the dedicated coaches of my softball team stopped telling me where the games were. I believe that my parents were in collusion with them.

This was just my first sign from God that I was not meant for great athletic feats.

In future years, I found myself failing physical education exams, getting kicked out of gymnastics class, and breaking my hand while playing a game of intramural broomball. For those of you without knowledge of this particular sport, just imagine a bunch of college students running around on ice pretending they are playing hockey with brooms for sticks, a kid’s inflatable ball for a puck, and sneakers substituting for skates. They promised me that it wasn’t like real sports.

Liars!

My complete athletic experience has been spent on the bench worrying that the coach was going to make me play, in the game completely terrorized that someone was going to hit the ball my way, or back on the bench in total pain because I attempted to play the game. As soon as I realized this, I ended my athletic career.

(Can you really end something which never got started?)

Having said all this, I believe that I can honestly utter the phrase, “I am not a jock.”

Therefore, I went and got married to someone who was. I still can’t figure out how that happened.

Due to her full-body embrace of athleticism, I found myself once again immersed in the bosom of the great lesbian community: the softball field.

Lesbian Law #23: Each lesbian must attend a minimum of two dozen softball games in her lifetime. At least one half of these must be in adulthood.

Oh yes, if you won’t go willingly, you will end up dating or even marrying someone who will drag you to them. It’s just God’s little way of saying “Gotcha!”

However, there are ways to avoid actual sweat and still stay in your wyfe’s good graces. For instance, you can temporarily revoke Lesbian Law #22: Everyone gets a chance to play in the middle of, well, any game, thereby insuring a victory for your team and a little bit of relaxation for you. This strategy lacks any sort of guarantee, though. Unfortunately, most lesbians respond to this generous offer by saying, “It doesn’t matter if we win or lose. You just go have fun.” They don’t realize that if you never entered a playing field in your entire lifetime, it wouldn’t be long enough between games.

Therefore, I am passing on the fruits of my wisdom, also known as:

LA’s Femme Tips for Surviving Sports.

Tip #1: Always wear a dress and heels when attending any sporting event. You’ll look and feel great and, in the event that the softball team doesn’t have enough women, there is no way that you can play.

Tip #2: Lesbian Law #21: The duty of the femme at sporting events is to bring the refreshments. Good cookies and a special knack for margaritas are always a socially acceptable substitute for actually participating in any game. The margaritas just need enough tequila for the rest of your teammates to forget you’re there.

Tip #3: An enthusiastic cheerleader is worth three good infielders. If you can get your teammates to believe this, you are officially home free.

I was lucky. My wyfe finally left that softball team. Even though this was not my goal, the side effects are great! I haven’t been forced onto a field in about two years. I feel blessed.

However, although I have an understandable aversion to playing sports, I find that I very much enjoy watching others play. Yes, even the Lesbian Housewyfe has been bitten by the Extreme Olympic Horsy Tennis Bug. You probably have friends who have succumbed as well.

In my case, I am glued to the television for about three to four weeks out of each year. My events are the Extreme or X-Games, the Olympics (winter and summer), all the Grand Slam tennis tournaments I can find on TV, and anything with a horse involved-including rodeos (strange, don’t you think?).

The Olympics are pretty self-explanatory, as are the tennis tournaments (I still haven’t figured out the scoring yet), and any girl who ever loved horses understands the last. Now the hard one. The Extreme Games were first shown on ESPN in 1995 and I was hooked. These people jump out of airplanes on surfboards, climb steep manufactured mountains, and fling themselves around on bicycles, skateboards, and in-line skates. The most impressive of these crazy folk trek across miles of wilderness in a sport called Adventure Racing. This year, one of the members of the winning team popped a tendon in her knee on the next to last day of the race and still finished. And she was one of the oldest people at the games. Nothin’ but butch there.

I find that my fascination with sports grows each time a new event begins. I’m one of those people who sits with a box of kleenex at her elbow and teary eyes glued to the television screen. I sob with the excellence of it all. Sometimes my friends will watch with me and try to berate the dedicated young athletes because they didn’t do something as well as the guy from Sweden. My only response is, “Could you do that?” They respectfully clam up. Strangely enough, I find that my loyalty is exclusively to those athletes whose names are forgotten after the games end. I could care less about Michael Jordan or John Elway. Maybe that has to do with the idea that they have enough fans.

But I digress….

Not even I wish to admit that all I did all day is sit around and watch television, although it has happened more than once. “Sports Fever” can capture your attention in a way that no other entertainment can. And you can’t videotape it because then the excitement will be lost.

Unfortunately, you still have a job to do.

Fortunately, I have an answer. (As if I’d be writing about this if I didn’t.)

The only way to survive this “Sports Fever” and still maintain your housewifely status is to pick the right chores to perform and carefully schedule them. I have found a line of chores which I call the “Do Practically Nothing” or DPN chores. These chores require a minimum of effort and create a full day of work. The best “Do Practically Nothing” chore is laundry. All you do is dump your laundry items into the washer, sorting as you go (after all, you only have a three to five minute commercial break), and let the machines do all the work while you sit back and watch cute little Miss Steffi Graf slam another one away. When your wonderful supportive wyfe comes home after a hard day on the job and asks what you did today, you can look her straight in the eye and exclaim (completely guilt-free), “Laundry.” I don’t know anyone who doesn’t fold the clothes in front of the television anyway, so there we go. Thank God for the person who invented the washing machine. Where would I be without it? Out in a stream somewhere scrubbing clothes against rocks.

Ick.

Laundry can be complicated, however, by the introduction into your life of Lesbian Law #18: Conserve all energy except yours. In this case, one must adhere to one’s time schedule with a vengeance unseen outside of the German train system. As soon as the commercial break starts, run back to the washer and empty it. Collect any stray clothespins you will need, as if time allows. Then, at the next break, trudge out to the clothesline and hang your clothes quickly, quickly, quickly! A kitchen timer is always useful in this situation. I did this for a couple of years before insisting on the installation of a dryer. Who wants to hang their clothes outside in the middle of winter anyhow?

If you have a dishwasher, dishes can be handled in the same way. Very cool. Just be sure to let them air-dry. There is never a need to dry your dishes with a towel unless you really need that cup NOW. And don’t let anyone tell you different.

Another good DPN chore is baking. However, schedule this task during one of the events you don’t particularly care about like hockey or any of the Dream Team’s basketball games. I find splitting prep time into three to five minute intervals affects your final product in a very detrimental way. However, once you get into the rising and baking stages, you’re home free! Can you tell that my personal favorite in the baking department is bread?

Baking bread is my therapy. I can recommend nothing sweeter to solve a marital spat than slamming some dough onto a counter and beating it up for eight minutes. Then the yeasty smell of rising and baking bread fills the house. You take out a stick of butter as soon as you start the first rise and, by the time the bread leaves the oven, you have the perfect consistency to coat each warm slice. Your spouse is guaranteed to show up willing to apologize (whether or not they really did anything wrong) when you pull that hot loaf out of the oven. With all of your anger spent in the kneading process, you may simply smile, slice the bread, and accept these heartfelt apologies. Plus, you have enjoyed two to three hours of watching the cute little women’s gymnastics team bound about on mats and bars and other weird equipment that just make you think “Ouch.” Have a second slice, you busy bee! You’ve already burned up those calories.

As you can see, the main characteristics of “Do Practically Nothing” chores are that they take a maximum of three to five minutes to get started and a minimum of effort to sustain. Any chore which can sustain these stringent guidelines qualifies! But good scheduling is intrinsic. One slip up and you might miss the synchronized swimming or the mass street luge. No one wants that to happen. After that, all you need to add is your imagination. Who else do you know who can go to a fancy dinner and be doing their laundry simultaneously? These chores are magic!

So I send you out into the world to enjoy the fruits of my wisdom. Use these tools sparingly, my children. They are powerful and other’s knowledge can mar the admiration of those around you.

Remember Lesbian Law #1: Never underestimate the power of a Lesbian Housewyfe.

We “non-jocks” have got to stick together.

***

Those “Do Practically Nothing” chores still hold up after all these years, and with age came the knowledge and ability to situate a television near the kitchen so I can watch the tennis even as I knead the bread.

The Extreme Games are now the X Games and I’ll still catch them now and then.

As I write this, I’m in the midst of Wimbledon. Roger Federer is on court playing a tie break. Bread is in the oven.

***

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The Promise of the Rainbow Socks

Over the weekend, I finished the Rainbow Socks.

Rainbow Socks - Complete
Knitted in Schachenmeyr Regia 6-Fädig Color (75%Wool/25%Nylon), Color 6367

When I purchased this yarn, my hands still hurt so much I couldn’t knit. I purchased this rainbow striping sock yarn as a promise that I would be able to knit those Rainbow Socks I’d been coveting on everyone else’s feet.

As a child, my parents taught me the story of Noah and the Ark. After a warning from God, Noah built a large boat (the Ark) and loaded his family and a male/female set of each of the animals in the world. Then, an apocalyptic rage of water ended the rest of humanity and animals as God wiped his earthly slate clean. After the flood eased and Noah could disembark from his Ark, God placed a rainbow in the sky as a promise to humanity that he would never destroy the earth again.

Doesn’t it make you want to pick up one of those cute sets of the boat and animals? Pack up the boat and save yourselves, kiddos! Apocalyptic family fun for every day!

However, Noah’s story lodged the rainbow’s promise in my psyche. Each rainbow shows me how God promises to love me one more time. (Or at least, not kill me by drowning me in a flood which covers the entire planet.)

While my perspective has changed this story from literal to parable, I still love rainbows. Each rainbow, whether in the air or on a flag or on a pair of socks, fills me with hope and wonder, and that hope springs from that story.

So, these Rainbow Socks are my hope and my promise. Finishing them gives me hope that I can return to my former knitting production. Each time I look at them, I am reminded that knitting projects can be finished. Each stitch adds up into a row and each row into a tube or panel of knitting and each tube and panel of knitting can become a sock or a sweater or a cowl!

As I knitted these socks, each stripe reminded me of my promise to care for my hands. I stopped knitting when the pain came. I rubbed my hands with CBD lotion, did soft exercises to strengthen and limber them, completed an almost month-long cleanse to rid my body of toxins. I pampered them and guarded them and they responded. The pain eases a little more each day. My knitting time increases.

I even cast on Eric’s Summer Socks. (Did I mention he’s here now? Five more weeks of Eric time!)

Eric Walking Ty 0617

My Rainbow Socks aren’t just a celebration of color at the end of my legs. My Rainbow Socks represent a promise to myself that I will care for my hands. My Rainbow Socks remind me that my knitting isn’t just my art, but part of healing and a way I share my love with others.

And now, I celebrate.

***

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Diary of a Lesbian Housewyfe: Change of Address

Diary of a Lesbian Housewyfe: Change of AddressMoving is traumatic.

I wish I could soften this blow somehow, but even the Lesbian Housewyfe has to admit that uprooting your entire household and taking it somewhere else, even if it is just next door, is not as easy as we all wish. Whether you have a truckload full of professional movers or a handful of drunk friends, the experience is always memorable. That’s just the nature of moving.

As theological offspring (secular translation: a preacher’s kid), I began moving at an early age. My valuable moving lessons included Possessions Can Be Transient (if one is or isn’t careful with the breakables), Your Childhood Room Defined Through Your Presence, and How to Pack and Move An Entire House in One Month. Recently I was able to put my extensive knowledge of moving to good use as Stephie and I made our first move as an old married couple.

The beginning of our moving process plays like a soap opera. This particular morality play brings to light the plight of the renter in the 90’s. Renter, of course, meaning, “Landless rabble who give a portion of their income (after taxes) currently at the rate of 25% to the landholder of their choice. Alternate definition: Those who throw money down a rathole.” In our case, the house we were living in was sold out from underneath us. The new landlord (Skippy, a.k.a. The Evil One) increased our rent geometrically and took away all our storage space. We got out of there as quickly as we could, which is to say about four months. The process went something like this. I can’t be entirely specific because the most wretched memories are quickly being repressed, even as I write this.

I began by setting aside the last month for packing and finding a new house. I would have begun packing earlier but, for some strange reason, both Stephie and her mother had a definitively negative reaction to the suggestion of living out of our suitcases for three months. Also, searching for a new house to lease doesn’t really work out more than a month into move-in because of the quick turnover of properties. No one wants to leave their rental property vacant for two or three months until your lease is up. Funny that.

Anyway, as my self-imposed deadline slid up with the silence of a snake in the grass, I gathered boxes. All kinds of boxes. Big, small, found, bought, cardboard, and plastic. My favorite were the big plastic 18 gallon storage boxes which one can easily find on sale at Target or K-Mart (or WalMart I suppose. We didn’t really have one handy here, but I used to frequent them all the time when I lived back in Arkansas). Some of the most handy, though, were the 32 gallon plastic trash cans with the little wheels on the bottom. I moved my whole kitchen with those and didn’t nick one dish or break one glass. And my movers were the handful of drunk kind. One of the unfortunate side effects of this behavior is that I still scour the Sunday advertisements for sales on those big plastic storage boxes. I just can’t help it.

I also sneaked around and packed things while no one was watching. Stephanie and her mother started getting that “deer caught in headlights” look whenever they heard me say, “When was the last time you used this?” Everything over a year out of use was either stuck into a pile to sell or packed away into one of our big plastic boxes. I was pretty ruthless. Or so I thought until I got into our new house and found about ten thousand things I should have just thrown away. Of course, who knows when you will next need a cute little egg cup made with a chicken foot as a base? These are the types of things which can unexpectedly come in handy, you think as you pack it.

What was I thinking?

As our allotted time in the old house dwindled, we began looking for a new house. I can’t tell you how many houses I walked through. We sorted through the newspaper ads using our highly selective criteria (two bedrooms and cheap!), made phone calls, and set appointments. I looked at full houses, duplexes, apartments and ratholes where you wouldn’t send a dog to sleep. I questioned owners about gardening (Can we dig up the yard?), pets (Our two cats are really well behaved and completely litter trained. Really.), and what services they paid. I talked to people from one end of the spectrum to the other. When I thought I couldn’t go on, a wonderful little dyke came along with a cute little house and said all the right little things. Don’t you just love it when you meet someone who can do that? She even gave us an invaluable week of overlap. Of course, she knows Lesbian Law #16: Rent your house to ‘Family’ whenever possible. Lord knows, we need to stick together.

When the search had finally ended, we gathered the forces which consisted of a handful of students (who came to help in return for free beer), friends (who came to help in return for free beer), and indentured servants (who came to help because we helped them). Stephanie’s mom found a guy who would rent his enormous moving truck out for almost pennies and we set the date, the Saturday before Memorial Day.

As with all good moving days, it rained. We persevered however and, with the help of Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, and the Miller Brewing Company, got every one of our large things moved on that very day. The small moving party went well and everyone cleared out in time for us to go back and retrieve the cats from the old house. When we walked in, they were staring at the door. I can tell you, the ride back to our new house was quite noisy. Once we got there though, they were pretty happy. The new house has carpeted floors, a nap-time luxury at our old house. Everyone settled in quickly.

The last week before the move-out deadline at our old house, we gathered odds and ends which would fit into a small Plymouth Horizon and transported them back to be unpacked. Plants, small but awkwardly packing objects, and the most fragile knick-knacks were moved this way. The rest of the stored things were smushed into a rented moving van and trucked across town. On the night before the last day, we cleaned that old sweet house from top to bottom.

I felt a strange sadness in the pit of my stomach as I closed the door. I had never put so much work into a house. This place had been our first home. I learned to garden here. The vivid memories of my first household came flooding into my mind as I took one last look. The first tomatoes devoured greedily off the vine. Losing all my basil last year because I didn’t make the pesto quickly enough. Finding that I really did enjoy the quiet zenlike quality of the cleaning process. Having my wonderful Stephanie give me the space to write again.

Fortunately, the feeling was fleeting because I really was too busy to dwell.

Stephanie did the walk-through with the old landlord the next day and at approximately noon, mountain standard time, we were free. Free as the breeze. Free from Skippy (a.k.a. The Evil One), free from the burden of such a big house (our new one is nice and cozy), and free from my mother-in-law! Oh yes, during this time, she moved out to a whole new house by herself! I mean, I love her but, well, have you ever tried living with your mother-in-law? I can’t recommend it. Especially in those first few months when you’re still shifting the balance of the chores and wondering what brand of milk your honey likes the best.

But now we are in our new house, unpacking. Y’know, it took a month for us to pack and now I find we’ve taken a month to unpack. We’re almost done now! And my theory seems to have held up because, when one undertakes a new task, it always pays to remember Lesbian Law #1: Never Underestimate the Power of a Lesbian Housewyfe.

Now, where should I put my garden?

***

Twenty-two years in the future, the moving process isn’t going quite as smoothly. While we’ve managed to get out of the grip of the landlord, our zeal to remodel and improve our home has delayed our unpacking by months. My sweetie persists and I know we’ll be unpacking most of the boxes by the end of the summer.

Just in time for that fall cleaning!

***

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