No, I haven't done a newsletter in quite some
time. Part of that was that I had to retain legal help, which
advised no writing anywhere on any subject, after a new
next-door neighbor asserted, incorrectly, that she owned about 20% of
my property, refused to abide by two settlements based on appropriate
surveys, and by and large generated a difficult and costly
time before a judge finally put an end to her claims with a scathing
final decision. It was awful, and at one point involved her
being charged with menacing.
By then, not only was I not writing about knitting. I was not
knitting at all, pending two cataract surgeries last year.
By the time I could have started again, I was doing or having done
long-postponed work on my old house, built in 1924.
I was fortunate with almost all my subcontractors,
acting as my own
general contractor. The place now has a new
driveway, easy to shovel, and new gates; a new roof--hail-resistant,
since I live in the hail belt-- and new gutters; new side doors and
basement windows; some plumbing improvements; and a carefully done and
handsome new paint job, which I did myself, in the living
room, dining room, kitchen, hall, and bathroom. Some new
lighting fixtures from the Habitat for Humanity store ($2 each!) went
in the basement, which improved it a lot.
Best of all, a nifty mural by my artist/carpenter friend James, graces
the dining room. He'd stopped by just as I was dragging the
dining room bookcase out and finishing the paint work there, and asked
if there was anything he could help with. I thought maybe a
mural over a bare wall above the arch in the dining room. The
ladder was still in place. He climbed up, pulled out a tape
and a pencil, measured, marked, sketched, went and
got his paints and brushes, and painted for hour.
Watching it was like having one's own private magician. We
played Erroll Garner and Dave Brubeck and Oscar Peterson at
considerable volume and kept ourselves going with good Chinese food,
delivered, until it was done around 11:30 at night, and we could
celebrate with a beer.
Anyway, the house is in better shape, more weather tight, quieter,
looking better. I ended up repairing the old
foundations myself, and having them recoated with stucco just as the
weather was closing in, as it did in October, with a ferocious
storm. There's more to be done in spring and summer next year.
But once the weather closed down, I could get back to
knitting. For Christmas (and after) I made a lot of the new
versions that evolved into Not-a-Scarf 2.0, trying to find the best way
to do these. And I made myself a hat, when I found a single
ball of an old Rowan tweed; I worked this from the top down, worried
about how much yarn I had. It turned out perfectly, with a deep
cuff. The new pattern going up today includes Not-a-Scarf 2.0
and the top-down hat.
I'm glad to be back, and provide a fine selection of work that you've
done in the meantime, starting with the Polar Bear Scarf that became
The Bipolar Bear.
2.0 is quick to work up, makes a
wonderful gift for anyone
who lives where it gets really cold, and is fun to do. It can
be varied in its yarn (get gauge, please!), and style. The
cabling helps make it warmer, but you can do jacquard with this to good
effect, as well, with the floats across the back providing extra warmth
and wind-turning capabilties. It has a pocket in front where you can
keep a cell phone or a handkerchief, and it won't slither off, get in
the way, or be left behind on a coffee shop coat hook. And the big
collar can be turned up when the wind is blowing, which I love.
I have been working top-down hats and Not-a-Scarfs
to outfit the neighborhood, as I worked on these two patterns, and sat
the telephone trying to work things out for my eldest niece--once
smart, pretty, and talented, and only ten years younger than I--who
has, over the years, lost her hold on reality, wandering the
country, and making complaints to assorted FBI offices all
over the place.
She was here briefly in late October, arriving
unannounced. I had not seen her in some 30 years.
She stayed for a few days; I did her laundry,
repacked her; saw to having her prescriptions filled and purchased a
ticket for her to get back to California, where she said she'd kept her
apartment in a complex for the elderly and disabled. And then
she disappeared entirely, so I filed a report of her as a missing
person. It took more than two months for her to turn up, but
she walked into an FBI office in another state to make a complaint,
they found the missing persons report, and they notified the police
department, which notified me.
With a lawyer in California advising me and being immensely
kind, I bought some of my niece's personal personal items from the
apartment in California from which, as it turns out, she was evicted in
October; and am trying to deal with the social services people in the
state where she has alighted, and was briefly in a care facility, but
departed. Her parents are dead; her brothers and sister want
nothing to do with her.
For many of us, mental illness is shameful and embarrassing, but it
does occur, even in the best of families. More than anything
else, it is sad, and it is frustrating, We can't expect
people who are mentally ill to behave like people who are not, and we
cannot really relate to the way they think. The law makes it hard to
deal with appropriately. But I'm trying.