Thursday, October 31, 2013

Seven quick excuses

Excuses for why I never blog, that is ...


Normally I think it's a little presumptuous to apologize for not blogging.  I mean, is it really such a suffering to be deprived of my writing for a few weeks?  Maybe no one noticed.  And if you've subscribed in a reader, you'll get my posts as I write them, so the old hassle of refreshing again and again for new content should be a thing of the past.

However.  I started this post four Fridays ago.  So perhaps excuses are in order.


The first excuse is that I'm feeling like a Luddite lately.  So tired of the internet.  The way it breeds debate without discussion, short attention spans, news selected for shock value, the echo chamber of only choosing to be friends with people we agree with, and of course the physical laziness of loafing around on the computer all day.  There is so much beauty and love and excitement on my own street, why am I searching for it online?

Then that famous Louis CK clip about cellphones and this short story
pretty much finished the job.  No more internetz for me!

Nah, I didn't give it up or anything.  But I've been spending a lot less time online lately, and that is great for me.  Not so great for this blog.  Of course if I cut out the random poking around and replaced it with blogging, I wouldn't be behind, but content creation is work, while content consumption is play.


I've been replacing internet time with spinning time and OH MY GOODNESS I am so in love with spinning.  It's absorbing without taking all my attention (I don't have the attention span to knit, I always lose count), it's done standing up so I feel more active and energetic, it's easy to catch the spindle while I run to get Michael off the kitchen counter, and wool is just so .... woolly .... mmmmm.

I think anyone who is into any kind of fiber craft will understand the addiction.  How people buy yarn with no purpose in mind just because it's nice.  How you might end up with bags full of roving or a million crochet projects on the hook at any given time.  It's a sickness.

I think it's the fluffiness.

Anyway I got 12 ounces of Cormo (Corriedale/Merino cross) at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival last month and I have been going to town on it.  It's so sooooooooft.

Marko needed a spindle too...


So then after that I discovered dyeing and WOW THE AWESOMENESS.  Turns out you can do wool (not other fibers) with food coloring.  I did some handpainting of yarn I'd spun this month and it was so fun.  Marko helped, and we learned about how primary colors mix into secondary colors.  He got a little lumpy ball of rainbow color, and I did the rest -- 150 yards of fingering weight, which is my month's work -- in sunset colors, inspired by the painted maple across the street from me.

Yes, it turned out super bright ... I'm okay with that.

Then I tried dyeing some wool blue and green, but the blue never took so it's mostly pale green and white with darker green streaks.  Reminds me of green marble.

When I say 150 yards was a month's work, I don't mean I was spinning for hours a day.  I teased the fleece by hand for about half an hour a day (I don't have carders, and it was rather sticky and matted too) and then spun for about 20 minutes before running out of teased locks.

Still, I have to up my pace, I think, if I ever want to make enough to do anything with.  150 yards is not a lot, at least not for knitting.  Knitting uses bulkier yarn and more of it than weaving does -- which is why knitting got popular after the spinning wheel was invented.  A spindle is great for making fine thread for weaving, but it is (usually) slower going.

You see where I'm going with this, right?  I need a loom, obviously!

Meanwhile, I think I will have to start selling handspun on Etsy in order to fund my habit.  I know there are people who read this blog who'd be interested in that.


This also appears to me one of those winters where we get ALL THE COLDS.  Since September we have never all been well at once.  Marko wakes himself coughing at night.  Michael seems happy enough but he's a snot faucet.  I've had sore throats and sore ears and general misery, and of course there are no sick days for mothers.  (Though one day John was home early and made dinner; I would have kissed his feet if I could have crawled off the couch.)

I worry this is all my fault for not feeding my kids more nourishing food.  But between our ever-tightening budget and their pickiness, I don't know what I can do about that.


Also, something I forget every year and remember on the first real blustery fall day, is that fall is migraine season for me.  This is a shame for me because I love autumn.  I love the weather, the colors, the briskness.  I didn't mind that week of steady rain we had.  But when the wind comes out of the north -- as it spends all fall and winter doing around here -- and everything is clear and cold, I get horrible, horrible headaches.

The pain centers behind my right eye.  Then it travels down the side of my head, down my neck, and ends behind my right shoulder blade.  I have no idea why that is.  Going outside, standing up, sudden movements, and breathing hard all make it worse.  Heat, rest, and avoiding sugar seem to help.  Nothing puts an end to it, though, except a weather change.

This makes me rather useless for awhile.  I loaf around and try to distract myself and watch the mess accumulate.  I leap up from time to time and extricate the kids from trouble, and then I grab my head in agony because I had to get up.  Or I sit on my butt and yell at them, and they ignore me because they know I don't care enough to get up.

They seem unfazed.

Sigh.  Today is overcast and moist and I feel fine.  But I live in fear that the wind will turn and I'll be back to misery.


Also, I am worried sick about Obamacare.  I haven't really been stressing about it until now; my feeling was that we'd just have to see how it affected us, but aren't we too poor to see much of a rate hike?

Eh, no such luck.  As it is now, John and the kids are on his work plan, for about $500 a month.  To add me on it would be another $500 a month, so I'm on my own very minimal plan for about $100 a month.

Well, of course, if you can afford your plan, you can't keep your plan, so that plan is being canceled and the only "replacement" offered is on the exchange, which we can't log into.  But the estimates we can find offer to cover the whole family for $700 a month or so.  That wouldn't be so terrible -- only $100 a month we don't have, to try to stretch our already threadbare budget to cover -- except the deductible is so high that we have to pray not to get sick just as hard as we would if we had no insurance at all.  $4500 per person.  That means, basically, every baby I had would cost $4500, if I was lucky enough to fit the whole pregnancy into one calendar year.  Oh, and 35% after that.  So, basically, we can't afford to have more kids.  That's the only way I can figure it.

The one bright side I can find is that we are probably exempt from a tax penalty if we don't buy insurance.  At least that's what the Kaiser website says:

"Q: My employer offers health benefits to me and my family. The company pays the entire cost of my coverage but contributes nothing toward the cost of covering my family. We can’t afford to enroll my wife and kids. Can they get coverage and subsidies in the Marketplace instead?

A: You can always shop for health coverage in the Marketplace. However, your employer-provided coverage is considered “affordable.” That’s because the affordability of employer sponsored coverage is only measured with respect to self-only coverage. Because your employer pays the entire cost of the employee-only coverage, you are technically considered to have affordable coverage (even though practically speaking, it was unaffordable to you.) As a result, neither you nor your wife and children are eligible to apply for premium tax credits in the Marketplace.

There are a few other things you should know. First, depending on your family income, your children might qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program in your state. Check with your state Marketplace to find out if your children may be eligible for CHIP.

Second, because the amount you would have had to pay to actually cover your spouse and kids was more than 8% of your family income, they won’t be penalized for not having health coverage."
Well, ain't that lovely.  We are free to take risks with our health and budget.  I suppose that is something. 

Say a prayer, will ya?  We've looked into a lot of options and none of them our good, but the best "out" I can find would be for John to get a job in his field at last, one that pays him a reasonable salary and/or provides decent health insurance.

Otherwise I might end up picking up a part time job.  Because I'm afraid selling lotion and handspun yarn isn't going to cut it.

That's about it -- more quick takes here.


Christine said...

I've been limiting my time online, too, and it's been very nice. And my house is just a touch cleaner, so win for everyone.
That orange yarn is gorgeous. I have no idea how to knit, so I have no use for it, but I'm sure someone can make something very pretty out of it. That spinning you are doing looks quite relaxing, actually.
I will pray for both a reasonable solution to your healthcare coverage and for the weather to keep your headaches at bay. Funny how the kids always know when Mommy is down and unable to stop them from getting into trouble.

Kathleen Basi said...

Christine has already said most of what I wanted to say. I would bet that long-term, the outcry over situations like yours will lead to changes in the system...but it doesn't help in the short run. I'll pray.

Colette said...

Clicked over from Conversion Diary because I saw your picture of the pretty. Love the orangey, peachy hues. Love. That yarn would be so perfect for socks.

Had to laugh about your weaving comment. When I told a friend of mine I was going to start spinning, gave me a pin which said: "Spinning. Because knitting isn't crazy enough."

Praying that our elected officials come to their senses about the terrible cost this "Affordable Health Care Act" is foisting upon people.

Sheila said...

Colette, I once saw a button that said "Spinning. Because knitting is too mainstream." And I'm discovering a sort of hipsterism about it -- I once caught myself saying, "If you're going to spin on a WHEEL, you may as well just BUY the yarn!"

Haha. It's not a competition. But I do love my drop spindle and have no desire to get a wheel.

A loom, though... sigh.

The Sojourner said...

Scott's employer sent out an email the other day saying, "Yeah, the plan we offer is totally not legal, but we're grandfathered, so haha! Have fun on the marketplace!"

Blargh. We've sort of got things figured out for the next year or two, but if we want to continue being alive in 2015, much less have a second child, our plan is basically the same as yours: Husband gets a job in his field that actually pays what he's worth. 'Cause you know those sorts of jobs are just lying around for the taking.

Bernadette said...

I am so sorry about the migraines, but I do think your handspun looks lovely! I'm a knitter who's been resisting spinning and weaving for a while now. Though "resisting" seems to mostly include window shopping & mooning over spinning wheels and looms, and then thinking of what it would be like to add fiber stash to my already too large yarn stash, and then not buying anything at all. Still, I've promised myself that when I hit my 40th birthday, if I am still single, I will buy myself a spinning wheel (I'm thinking the Kromski Interlude), learn how to spin, and officially become a Spinster.

Jessica Snell said...

I've dyed yarn with Kool-aid before - it's really fun! (and you can do any natural animal fiber, not just wool)

Sheila said...

Bernadette, you should get a drop spindle while you save up! The skills are pretty transferrable, you can make lovely yarn, and you can get one for about $15 on Etsy. Mine came with 4 oz. of wool to get started.

Sojourner, sounds awful! People our age are really struggling -- we never had a chance to get established in our careers before the bottom fell out. John recently had his second job interview in two years. He was hopeful because he's way overqualified for it and it paid so little. But no dice. Probably because he has so little management experience -- but how do you get THAT when every job that involves managing anything requires management experience?

Enbrethiliel said...


#1 -- I know another blogger who felt presumptuous announcing a hiatus, which is like an advance apology. Personally, I'd apologise because I feel that all the people who show up regularly on my blog are doing so because I promoted it to them as an interesting place to be--which means that silence on my part kind of lets them down. Of course, this is just my perception. I have no idea why most people keep following my posts.

#2 -- My job requires me to be online all the time, and my boss is pretty lax about what you can do on office computers, so it is easier for me to blog than it would be if my job were more like yours. But the amount of time I spend "plugged in" does bother me. I once read an SF novel in which the Internet's virtual world is so intricate and complex that a lot of people stay online nearly all day, but staying connected while doing something in the real world is a little stigmatised. You're either all virtual or all real--and no straddling! I remember it whenever I enter another cafe with free WiFi. Sigh!

#3 -- You have no idea how much I wish I were a crafty person! My grandmother is a "champion" crocheter, but although I've been an earnest student, everything I make is a mess. =( I'd swear that I do all the counting right, and yet, based on what I end up with, I don't.

#4 -- That is a gorgeous shade of orange! When you do get your loom, I can't wait to see what you make with it! =D

#5 -- I'm really sorry to hear about the colds. =( My Italian clients swear by hot milk with honey and a bit of melted butter. Add some whiskey for the adults. ;-)

#6 -- I'm even more sorry to hear about the migraines! But gosh, your boys look adorable in that photo! Michael is getting so big! =D

#7 -- All the Obamacare stories I've been hearing just make me shake my head. My hope for you and everyone else is that this plan either doesn't get off the ground at all (There's still hope, right?) or is scrapped as soon as possible.

Sheila said...

#7 They are talking about delaying it. First the Republicans wanted to and the Democrats refused to deal, and now the Democrats want to delay it because they're afraid it will hurt them in the next election. Even another year's grace would help us a lot.

#5 Hot water, honey, lemon and whiskey is my go-to. Especially with laryngitis, which I got all the time when I was teaching. Marko gets a teaspoon of it if he's really hacking. I figure better a little alcohol than no sleep at all.

#3 Knitting or crocheting requires two skills: spatial intelligence and the ability to focus patiently for long periods. I have the former, but not the latter. If something takes more than a week to knit, I will never finish because I forget where I was. A spindle is better, there is nothing to remember. I just check what's already on the spindle and try to match it. No pattern needed.

#2 I can actually understand the "no straddling" rule. One likes to have people's full attention. I live in fear that John will get Google Glass and then I won't even KNOW when he's checking texts while I'm talking to him.

Belfry Bat said...

#2 People already straddle a lot, just on cell-phones --- heck, just for twitter! --- it's one of the newer stupid ways people get killed driving, crossing the street, or whatever.

I think Mr. CK mentions this, too.

Enbrethiliel said...


My spatial intelligence is pretty horrible, so that must be it. =P

At least I can still cook . . .

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