Friday, June 29, 2007

Wrap It Up.

**Just in - Annie Modesitt and her family are currently experiencing a very difficult time - her husband has been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers, and if you feel so inclined, donate. The costs of keeping a home going at a time like this can be devastating to a family. The last thing anyone should have to worry about when facing this is the stupid mortgage.**

I hate that my hair touches my face in the summer. It drives me nuts. I used to have waist length hair that I wrestled every morning into french braids, or just pigtail braids if I was feeling rushed, or a single center braid in the back. My hair is very thick unless managed with those scary razor thinning shear things, so my single braid was about 3" across at the top and not comfortable. I went through years of work as a nurse with side-braids like a five year old. The residents called it cute. My mother wept softly, but then she also had a problem with the non-shaving phase, and the patchouli thing, and the perpetual cut-off and hand embroidered jeans - although she did purchase Birks for me, but only after she discovered her shrink wore them too, which made them ok. I cut it for the sake of vanity, pure and simple, total sell-out, but I hate having it cut. I feel like I am sacrificing it's integrity by razoring it into managable, modern shape. If practicality were to take precidence, I'd have it back to my waist and perpetually in a headwrap and braids. I can't go quite that far back in time, but suspect that when I am old (and wear purple) you will find my with two fat braids down my back. In summer I take half of the equation - the headwrap part - and put it into practice when bumming about. Usually this takes the form of an old bandana or scrap of calico of a pattern that matches nothing I am wearing. These scraps are generally accompanied by home made cotton and/or rayon dresses or jumpers of decidedly unflattering shape and style. 'Frump' lives strong in me. It's not something I wear when away from home anymore (sadly, for I miss the comfort). Difficult to accept, but "professionalism" and "worn calico housedress with red bandana topper" do not work well together. But I digress.
To the point: when Girl gave me one happy little skein of bamboo in ideal Melissa colors and the idea of a headwrap first was brought into the picture I had a visceral reaction : sadness. I assumed that this would be a drag-along item that I used to cover a bad hair day when grocery shopping, or something I wore under my bike helmet so my hair didn't spike through the holes. It would probably not be something I could wear any old time, but would have to be restricted to the garden or the deck or the transfer station. I was wrong. Way wrong. I want a million of them in all colors to co-ordinate with my entire wardrobe. The headscarf grows up, and I am on board.

Melissa's Happy Butterfly Headwrap

Needles: US4 or size needed to obtain the nebulous gauge stated below.
Yarn: 1 skein Alchemy Bamboo; 100% bamboo, 138 yds/hank or other lovable yarn that you could only manage one hank of - just make sure you've got at least 138 yards. (Classic Elite Bamboo, Plymouth Royal Bamboo, Artyarns Regal Silk, leftover Great Adirondak Sireno, Debbie Bliss Pure Silk DK, Filatura Regina, etc)
Gauge: Eh, who's counting?? OK, if I had to guess I'd say 5.5 sts/inch in st st AFTER blocking. If you don't get gauge, consider reducing or increasing your cast-on by one repeat to make up the difference. Play with it.
Finished dimensions: 4" x 46" after blocking. Remember - most of the non-wool yarns will grow a lot in length after blocking and wearing.

Using crocheted cast-on (a.k.a. chain stitch cast-on) place 23 stitches on needle. Work in garter stitch for 4 rows. Begin following charted pattern below, maintaining two stitches on either side of the charted pattern in garter stitch. Row 1 and all odd numbered rows are wrong side rows. Follow chart throughout scarf. You may wish to use stitch markers to denote the two edge stitches. Continue until you have about 5 yards of yarn remaining. Work 4 rows of garter stitch and cast off (or bind off, it's all the same to me).
Wash your scarf in cool water, squeezing to ensure that the water penetrates the bamboo fibers. Spin or squeeze to remove excess water, then lay flat to dry. When dry, tie one on and go for a spin in your convertible, dust the house, do the shopping, head to work, run out for a lovely evening. It goes anywhere. Now make about 20 more in a variety of colors and wrap your way to inner peace.

If you take the plunge, I'd love to see the results. Email me, or post a comment with a link to your blog.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's MINE! ALL MINE!!!! (insert evil laugh here)

(And Nora's question answered, but after I gush)It's Belle. And Gail made it Belle-acious. And it's MINE! All six skeins!! I am calling it chocolate berry mousse. And I know EXACTLY what I am going to do with it, but more on that later. Katy knows. For now, feast your eyes on it's loveliness. Bask in the silken glow. Is not it...heavenly?? I loved this yarn the first time I saw it at NENA in 2006. Then it came in as a close-out and I bought a bag of a mushroom color (9035) to over dye with Gail's help. And I shall. But in the meantime, fate stepped in (when it comes to yarn all for ME fate's name is usually Kathy) and dealt me a delightful hand to play. I get...YARN!!!!YARN YARN YARN!! Now, given my position in life one would assume that I don't have much room for yarn. This is not the case. Truth be told I design a garment, knit it up, and the yarn in garment form leave me. Even if it's not for the store I have to preserve it as the original garment. It isn't worn. It sits in a box and rests, and waits patiently for exposure on a pattern page. But this?? IT'S MINE!! Anyone coming to Manchester in July, or visiting the store, it can be yours as well - though maybe not this exact colorway since I bought it all. ALL! MINE!! HAHAHAHAHAAA! (sorry.) The others are equally yummy, in fact amazing. I actually saw this yarn last Thursday and knew it was mine but I did not have the wherewithal to bring it home. When I walked into the store and saw it, was fait accompli. I LOVE GAIL! I LOVE WEBS!! I...I...maybe need a little rest period now.
Deep breath...OK. I feel better now. Girl bought me a single skein of Alchemy Bamboo - I love Girl - and it took me a few days to decide what to do with it. Erin and Cirilia both suggested Knit and Tonic's Dream Swatch Headwrap. It seemed a reasonable plan, so I downloaded. And downloaded. And downloaded some more. Then after what seemed eons of patiently watching the progress bar (I so love dial-up) I attempted to open the file. It alleged corruption and irreparable damage. So I deleted it and downloaded it again, assuming of course that the issue was my pathetic Internet connection. The second file also failed to open. This I took as a sign. So I swatched. Now I have an orange snake. I suspect it will appear here in a very different form, blocked and beautiful - stay tuned. It's on US 4's, and one skein has been perfect to go round my head and be tied.
Today is all about finishing up the Colrain jacket - finished picture in next post. Nora posted a comment about Colrain and I'll try to answer her questions. Colrain does retain most of the elastic qualities of a wool yarn, but with the added shine and drape of the tencel. The tencel takes the dye very differently than the wool and it gives the yarn a luminous quality that you can really best appreciate in person. It's a 'best of both worlds' scenario. I'd wear it as a grub-around weekend pullover just as quickly as I'd use it for the dressier cabled jacket. (No, they don't pay us for talking nice about the yarn. And I'll be honest - if there is a yarn I am not thrilled with, you'll know.) Sizing a pattern depends on yarn and garment style. For my purposes I'll assume you're considering Colrain for a typical average garment. Using the finished measurements of the pattern, and assuming you get gauge, Colrain is not a yarn where you're going to see the endless stretch we often associate with tencel, rayon, silk, cotton, etc. I would lean toward choosing the size that's right for you - 2-4 inches larger than your actual bust measurement for the average garment. If you're ever unsure about any yarn, swatch excessively first. Use a whole ball, make two or three. Wash them, spin them nearly dry in a salad spinner or washer and if you're worried about stretch, hang one up to dry along the cast-on edge rather than lying flat; hang another one in the opposite direction (along the row edge). This simulates a few long wearings. Playing with swatches before knitting a garment can save a world of woe later on. Think about simulating actual wearing conditions.
Photographic woes abound here. I have three - nay, four patterns ready for publication but we cannot get decent pictures. The camera appears to be focusing on some distant object rathat than that which is in the center of the frame. What I need is my own personal photographer. Or at least someone with a camera that has not been dropped from the backpack in the middle of the Magic Kingdom. I think her days may be drawing nigh. I think I need one camera for "real" pictures and one for traveling. I also have a tiny cheap thing that takes awful pics but it weighs so much less and fits in my purse. My kingdom for a photographer. And a sweater model. Sigh.
I taped again with Kathy and Steve for Saturday's Ready Set Knit. It can be heard on WHMP Saturday morning at 9am, or downloaded if you who don't live on a dead end road in Western Massachusetts where Verizon and Comcast fear to tread with anything bigger than a simple phone line. Download time for a podcast here is 3 hours. This is fun, this radio thing is. Probably I could easily be distracted into this as a career path if one presented itself. Gratefully I don't have the voice for it (phew!). Because I live in a location that appears to be the fifth level of hell, I cannot receive AM signals in my house. Instead, I ran to my car barefoot and in jammies as the show was starting and sat and listened to myself mumble and Ummmm my way through two of the four minutes pf my very first radio appearance. I hope I improved with experience. It was longer this time, so my poor father will not have to download 30 minutes of "knitting stuff" for four minutes of his daughter saying "ummm" a lot. There I sat in my car on Saturday morning, knitting and listening. Mr Wonderful appeared and wanted to listen too, but also wanted to go to the dump (What is it about men and the dump?). So I moved into his car without fully remembering that I was in my jammies and barefoot and had not brushed my hair. Off we went to the transfer station and then on a brief drive through the woods. Luckily we live in a part of the world (this may be the only benefit of living here - the roads are awful, I can't get a radio signal, TV antennae don't work, and Verizon does not love me enough to put in high speed - I'll save the Comcast story for another day) where appearing in public in curlers and a head scarf is still not considered abnormal - jammies and unbrushed hair don't stand out. So if anyone needs me Saturday morning, I'll be in the car - although perhaps coiffed and garbed this time.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

On the Radio (WO-ooo-OOO-oahhh....)

***Download Me!***
(this is way too fun!)

I am on the radio, or will be! Saturday morning, 9am, on The River (Or WHMP depending on where in the happy valley you live and which signal you can get), for a whole five minutes. Or, actually, more like 2. This was hugely fun. I would do this again in a second. Which is good because they asked me back for next week! After that I shall return to my normal humdrum existence, no more radio spotlight. For now. I've discovered that my nervousness about a situation usually stems from a fear of the unknown. Getting ready for BEA it was more about finding a cab and seeing places I'd never seen than nervousness about seeing the cover, etc. But I know what a studio looks like, and I basically know what to expect, so there really wasn't any nervousness. It's just sitting and knitting for a while, then chatting with Kathy about the book, and poof, it's over and done before you even know it happened. BUT - I must sit closer to the mic next week. I fear the thing. It's probably got germs on it or something. Kathy - no fear. It's like her buddy. She's sitting right up to it chatting away like she's been in broadcasting since birth. This may be a gene I didn't get. But these two - don't they just look like they were born to it?
New knitting! We've got a lightly cabled jacket coming along in Colrain - the idea for this actually predates the Radiance Cabled bag, but at the time we had limited yarn in-store, in fact I think we had three balls. In fact, the bag began its life as a swatch for the jacket. Now that there's endless colors and endless yarn, the jacket can be born. I love it myself, but then I am partial to burn orange and cables! This pattern will appear in the Fall Valley Yarns catalog, and would be really lovely in any of the Colrain colors. In my mind it was originally in natural, but once the colors were available that all changed. I love Colrain. Someday I am going to have time to knit myself something in it. Super soft, incredible shine, great memory. It's radiant. Lustrous. I love it.
Also finished, and soon to be on the website (learning as we go, we want to get three patterns up for retail and wholesale but we really lack experience to make it a smooth or fast transition) the Assateague Sock in Seacoast Panda. I love this yarn. Really really do. It has enough memory to be comfortable, but some shine and softness from the bamboo, and it's washable and everything. Truly lovable. And I like how the pattern came out. I was initially a little frustrated by the change in patterning over the gusset area, but I am over it. We love the hand dyes for their complex color variations and then get annoyed when they don't do what we want. maybe we should learn to embrace them for what they are - original, unique, inventive, creative, different. I could knit this pair again with the same colorway and probably get a different appearance. It's what compels me to use the hand dyes in the first place.
Today may be turning into an errand day, and I am not sure how I feel about that. I don't love errands days, but there may be a nice "Ahhhh" lunch break in here with katy, so this could significantly improve the usual tone of an errand day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Where It's At

There's a lot of fun in my life, to wit: seeing my name in the Valley Yarns catalog for the first time. Or the day I arrived at Storey and my name was on the white board - "Welcome to Storey Publishing Melissa Morgan-Oakes". Ohhh...the moment I signed the contract for the book. And then BEA and a weekend in New York. Or today, when I am heading off later to record a few minutes with Kathy for her podcast.

But this is where it's at, really. Knitters knitting my stuff and liking it. Or even not liking it - just knitting it! Knitters knitting my stuff. That's what makes it all meaningful for me. This is an experienced sock knitter who converted the pattern to toe-ups to maximize the use of her Lucy Neatby yarn. She also went a bit bigger on the needle to accomodate her foot, which is an excellent alternative to adding a repeat, which might make things difficult when it comes to working the heel

Hi Melissa, attached is a photo of the finished pair. Love love LOVE the pattern and plan another pair in Fleece Artist Sea Wool sometime soon.

Cheers from Nova Scotia,

If anyone makes the Sweetpea sock, please shoot me an email with a picture and any comments. I want to start a little Sweetpea Gallery here, just to see what folks do.

Tomorrow: some knitting, a pair of socks, and maybe an exciting blow-by-blow podcast experience!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Confession

OK, I have to admit to this. Since the Knitty issue went live and all of you lovely Knitty readers started linking here from the Sweetpea page, I have been obsessed - truly obsessed with sitemeter. Not because of the numbers at all. I mean, the numbers are nice and everything. It's the world map view, where I can sit and load the last 100 visitors to this blog and see where you're from as dots on this little world map. Australia. Canada. Alaska. Japan, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Britain, South Africa. Wales! I am a Morgan. I take it seriously. Someday I am coming for a long visit.

It is a wonderful testament to the universality of knitters and knitting. Someday I'd like to come and visit all of you. We can sit at a cafe, or in a park, or a knitting shop and have a cup of coffee - or tea. Or real sushi. The knitting community has created a truly small world of knit-minded people, and I love that. If you'd like to post a comment just saying where you're from, you would possibly push me to thralls of excitement never before known. Even better, if you're currently experiencing a cool meteorological or natural phenomenon as I also have an obsession with weather.

I am going now to get my haircut, but I will be thinking about you all on my way. Where you're from, what you're knitting, and how awesome it is that a worldwide community can be created simply by this amazing medium of technology!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Got Knitty?

Got Sweetpeas? Gotta get 'em!

This has been the most giggle-making week of my life, and I love it! Look! KNITTY!!

Friday, June 08, 2007

I So Lied

It's a rare occurance that I lie. You can ask my kids. Lying is a big no-no around me. But I admit it, I lied. Amazon is nice and all. But proof pages? That's a whole new level. I wish there was some kind of Author Response Warning System. I wish someone had sat me down and said "OK, when you finish the manuscript you will completely forget the name, size, weight and color of every sock in the book. You will become addicted to toe-up socks and not even conside a top-down sock for weeks. Maybe even months. Then, it will seem for a long time as if you never wrote a book, that it was all just some kind of dream. The hours of insanity, the threatning of your husband and remaining child, the dog's swollen bladder, the ignoring of dust and grime will all become a distant memory and you will try to move forward with your design life. Moments will remind you - emails from the editor, emails from the other editor, questions from friends, family and acquaintances. But really it'll feel pretty flat for a while. You'll go to BEA and someone will write Exhibitor Author on your shirt like they mean it. That will be the first clue. Find a place to sit, and call your husband and cry a little. That's a good moment. Next you'll see your cover for the first time and you'll get all teary and feel warm and happy. Then you'll be on Amazon - and we all know you're an Amazon shopper, so that'll feel pretty big. But wait, Miss Bossy Britches, 'cause it ain't over yet. It's barely getting up steam! Your editor will send you an email. She'll say something really casual like 'Hi, Melissa. We're going to have some sample pages out to you by the end of the week.'
When the envelope comes, take your time opening it. For fun, expect 3 or 4 pages to fall out. This will be a moment to savor. Let the whole thing, all 141 pages, just slide out into your hands. Try to remember to breathe. The first page won't push you too far over the edge. It's an endpaper with a title on it, no big deal. But turn it, slowly. See the dedication page? Now you'll bawl."

That's about it in a nutshell, folks. A proof copy, in my hands, in my home. This is IT, this is MY book, MY BOOK. (Did you HEAR that?? My book!)I'd show you more...but don't you want to wait for the real thing? Can you imagine it?? Bound and spiralled and secure in a hardcover?

I just thought of one small drawback. I am probably going to have to dres like a grown-up forever now, aren't I?
I have to go objectively and maturely read my book, making marks as I go - although I am limiting the marking to the white borders only, anything else would be, would be a desecration, man!

In totally other news, Girl made me do this. It's very bizarre, I did not know they let anyone over 30 join up, but so far no one has kicked me off. I am torn between it being another way to talk to people, and another thing requiring my attention. More will be revealed.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

You Know It's Real When...

They said they'd be sending me sample pages sometime soon. That sounded exciting. It would be nice, thought I, to see something in progress, something tangible, something real. But then today I got this email from Persnickety, to whom I owe the greatest blast any day has had in a long time. You know you've arrived, you know it's for real, you know they're really serious when you're HERE!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Melissa Takes Manhattan, Part Two

***warning*** this got out of control. We'd call it a "longish" post...
I thought I'd seen it all in Northampton what with the Dalai Lama sighting. Silly me. The Jacob Javits Center in New York is where it's at. Where else can you find LL Cool J, Dr. Ruth, Sandra Boynton and god all under one roof?
So, what's BEA like? Schwag. Endless schwag. Free books every five feet. Or less. Who's there? A whole lot of people. Like a wicked whole major lot of people.
Probably more people than I have ever encountered in one place before in my life, and I think that'll include Disney World (in December, anyway). Most importantly, I saw people with names like Stephanie, Laurie(by the way I LOVE this book!!), Ann and Kay, Debbie Stoller. Yeah, there were "celebrities" too, but who cares when you're in the presence of knitting greatness?? I got free books, some signed. Mr. Wonderful even got some. I found a book on cycling mishaps, kayaking adventures, and a bunch of travel books on NY (hint, hint...a nice long weekend in Manhattan would be fun, darling...).
My handler Amy Greeman deserves a medal for putting up with me. Lookit her, calmly reading her Times at Starbucks while I obsess over my laptop. I have some...peculiarities of character, which can make me an interesting bunkmate. First, I am obsessed with my email. And the lack of (scary, as in "we will be spamming you for life if you connect through us") Internet access in the Gershwin was equivalent to physical starvation. I spent a lot of time chasing free Internet or buying not-cheap Internet. Anything to connect. I have the same affection for my cell phone, so when I discovered that I'd brought Mr. Wonderful's charger by mistake there was a small crisis. Then nearly more of one when it was discovered that a cell charger in Manhattan is not $14.99 like at Wal-Mart.
I saw the book cover, which nearly put me on the floor (note: this photo was taken on Saturday, long after I had adjusted to the cover's presence in the booth). I sneaked onto the BEA floor Thursday during set up to get a preview so I would not bawl in public, smack in front of the Storey booth, when I saw it for the first time. Good call, I think. Mr. Wonderful was supporting me long distance via cell phone as I trawled the floor in desperate concern that I find the booth and that the cover be up. There was this very awesome surreal, slow-mo moment there as I stopped, turned, looking and not finding, and all of a sudden whispered "Oh my God" while crying. There it was, larger than life, right in front of me. It's the first tangible evidence that I really actually wrote a book and someone really actually is publishing it. I should show you the marketing piece. It's something else entirely! Blogless (let's work on that, shall we?) Katy arrived and after a few tries, we did meet up Saturday. It was very good to see a second well-known face. Friends, when you're in the middle of your first trade show wearing an author badge for the first time, feeling a little overwhelmed and slightly confused are a huge gift.
Everyone MUST buy at least one copy of Crazy Aunt Purl. I love it. Love it, love it, love it. And in person she's a warm, wonderful Southern girl. Could just eat her up. She reminds me a little of someone else, another bubbly and happy person that I know and love, not the kind that make you want to scream but the kind that make you want to just hug them.
New York cabbies are something else. Now, this is my first big city cab experience. Whenever we go to Washington we use the metro or our feet, so the whole cab thing was new to me. I managed to learn how to say "27th between 5th and Madison, please" just in case I got separated from Amy and needed to get back to the Hotel Gershwin. Oh, the Hotel Gershwin. I actually think I'll go back. Totally odd, funky pop-art place, complete with original, signed chicken soup can in the lobby, preserved in a plastic box. I walked down the Creepy Stairs (didn't know that, didja Amy? I had to, man) one morning while Amy was showering, and discovered that every floor is painted in a different colorway. It's clean, reasonably comfortable for Manhattan, and cheap - that's a big plus. There's no Internet unless you 1.) pay for it and 2.) allow them to spam the ever-loving heck out of you. At Hampton Inn, wireless if free. I missed the Hampton Inn. But the Hampton Inn is $300 a night. I opted for the Starbucks around the corner for Internet, $10 a day on T-mobile. Also there's this most wondrous place called Cafe 28 around the corner that has everything from soup and sushi to fresh fruit and soda, wine, eggs, coffee, you name it. A veritable treasure trove of a place. If you were out to save a buck or more you could eat entirely at this place 3 meals a day and not run out of options. They even have a hot bar in the back, by the soda cooler. And organic chocolate at the front, by the power bars.
One morning I decided I was a great grown girl, and I walked, all on my own, from the hotel up Madison to 39th and back again, in search of quickie business cards. I have no cards, and this is an issue apparently (Nobody told me. Who knew? Now I know, cards shall be forthcoming!). It was early, and not a lot of people were out and I loved it. All the stuff I've heard all my life about New Yorkers was all wrong, or at least significantly mistaken in most things. The cabbies are polite, and they drive maniacally well, if fast and a little frenetically. But they do the job and they do it well. Some are downright chivalrous, tsking when we're grabbing luggage out of the trunk and taking it from me, and this is after we've paid them, so it's not like they're tip seeking. The "regular" people, like the guy cleaning the street at 7am, seem for the most part warm and welcoming. He stopped spraying the sidewalk for me, and gave me a big smile and a "You're welcome, have a great day!" to my little New England "Thank you". The speed people move at is a little intimidating for a country girl, but if you just move at your own pace, and let them all fly by you, you'll see a lot and feel a lot that they're missing.
Shopping - I have never seen so much extraordinary stuff in my life, some of it causing me moral qualms and reinforcing my opinion of excessive, scary consumerism and American culture. I saw a $7.5 million necklace at Cartier, and diamonds as big as grapes (like green Thompson, not little champagne grapes...) at Tiffany's. Tiffany's diamonds do shine brighter and sparkle more, so you know. There IS a difference. I tried on a pair of $1200 Versace stilettos. Despite the attentive and supportive salesman, I managed to pass them by. He worked for it, too. It's the first time I have allowed a shoe like that on my foot in about 15 years. They were very pretty and sparkly. And entirely too high for me, as in "plummet to your death if you misstep" high. $1200 for a shoe. For $1200 I could feed a small country through Heifer International. Yes, I went to the American Girl store. It was a trade-off. It was that or Disney, and Amy drew the line. Her choice, remember! This too was distressing. I remember Pleasant Company, pre-Mattel, who repaired Samantha for free when Kioshi chewed her arm to pieces, and returned her in a johnny with a hospital wristband. I remember the comfortable history education disguised as play, and the high quality. I own the AG dress patterns, which are excellent. I remember when Bitty Baby had a hand-crocheted layette. Somewhere around here are Samantha, Kirsten, Josefina and Addy. And maybe Molly. And their books, too. And Bitty Baby, of course. This new version of AG is not what I'd like to remember. OK, the doll holder in the bathroom? That's cute.
Last but not least, I confess. I saw the peep show at the Museum of Sex. We had to walk by it over and over, day after day. What's a girl to do but peep? That was one hot chick let me tell you. Un-Bee-Lee-Vable had I not seen it with my own eyes. Totally worth the look! It's something else. Not sure I'd put myself all out there quite like that, but hey, what do I know!? Here’s the attention getting peep-show window, and you can (and you should!!) click here for the actual show – remember, this is a G-rated blog! I did see people entering this establishment to see the current exhibition, entitled Kink. I love sex, I'm actually a big fan. You could ask Mr. Wonderful about this, but if he answered with anything but a blush he'd be killed. God made sex, even wrote a whole book about it, sex is good. I am, in fact, the person my oldest and dearest friends come to when they have clinical sex questions. But my "old-school" notions of sexuality very deeply involve concepts of privacy and intimacy, so the idea of walking through a museum of with displays requiring warnings not to touch, lick or mount with a bunch of strangers is not my kind of thing. A peep show I can cop to. But pay $14.50 to wander through a public exhibit? Not so much my kind of thing.
So that's it in a nutshell, leaving out tons of things, like Hamachi sushi in Grammercy Park, Waitress at Lowe's, the Thursday marketing conference that made my brain hurt, the overwhelming feeling of BEA and yesterday's post combined that forced me to stop, sit and knit multiple times right where I was, the invitation to TNNA from Unicorn Books to sign in January, the incredible beauty of Grand Central, the sadness at the $18 "ride to the top of the Empire State Building" that I just could not make myself pay for, then surreal feeling of the Wedneday I had followed by the weekend I had, followed by the Monday and Tuesday I am currently having, the peace that falls over you when you see a friendly face over lunch (a $7.95 salad the size of my fist) and can talk without reservation about the insanity around you, the feeling of needing a handler, the lack of knitting time, and the pressure of needing to wear things that 1.) are not denim, 2.) are ironed and 3.) match.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Nature of Life

I debated posting this now, or waiting until after my Manhattan Retrospective. I need to do it now. I needed to do it Wednesday. There has been a bit of death in this blog and in my life of late, from the dog to Kristie and Lynda's fathers, and Now This. On Wednesday morning as I was preparing to leave for New York, I received a call from an old friend. It was a teary message and I knew immediately. She was calling about her daughter Olivia. And she was calling to tell me something horrible. She was calling to tell me Olivia was dead.
1988 was really a great year for me. My daughter was born and I rejoiced and celebrated. I adored Megan from the moment of her conception. Even though I sensed my marriage was ending, I had peace about it. I had been depressed a little before Meg was born and a little after, but in my heart I knew we were in the final countdown to freedom and it felt safe and good and strong. Lisa and her husband had gone to Florida, and she'd returned with her son Brandyn in tow, pregnant and unsure of how she felt about that. Her husband rejected Olivia long before she was born. It's something I can't understand or relate to. I can bond with an unborn child and take it into my heart just on the basis of faith in it's presence. Men are able somehow to discard children they've never met long before they're even born. Maybe, right now, I envy them.
Lisa and Brandyn moved in with us. Quite a household with me and my two kids, my soon-to-be-ex, and Lisa with Brandyn and a growing bump. We laughed a lot. We made cookies. We cried a lot, too. She asked me to be with her when the baby was born, and I agreed. I love labor and delivery, and at the time my sole goal in life was to be a midwife (and how I ended up a knitting teacher and designer and author with a nursing degree is utterly and completely beyond my comprehension). This would be my first birth, and I was very excited. We discussed drugs, episiotomies, and labor practices. Lisa wanted what I call a 'tech-y' birth. She wanted drugs. She did not care if they cut her, in fact she wanted a 'pis. She wanted me there for support, and to ensure that she got her way. Although I am a huge proponent of natural childbirth, I am there to make sure a woman gets what she wants, to support and encourage. We talked about names. Jacqueline. Paige. Olivia. It was like we were having a baby, this all-girl band; as if these two straight girls decided to get pregnant and have a baby of their own. We joked about how I could have given birth to all four kids, since they were all at least 9 months apart. I was The Mommy then, big into being a mom, breastfeeding, into natural foods as much as I could be on a too-tight budget. I took the whole thing rather seriously, and would nurture anything that came my way.
When Lisa began to complain of upper abdominal pain we all dismissed it as "no big deal". But the pain did not resolve. Lisa was admitted to the local hospital with HELLP Syndrome. Briefly, it's believed to be a cousin of preeclampsia and causes a series of very scary things in pregnant women - clotting factors are inhibited, certain blood cells are destroyed. It can be lethal if untreated and requires immediate delivery of the baby, as delivery is the only thing that will stop the relentless destruction of maternal blood cells and the eventual seizures that accompany the syndrome. We spent the evening in a labor room in Springfield with two beds. A series of women in varying stages of labor passed through the other bed in a haze. It was the first time I'd experienced the difference in cultural birth practices, and I admit to a bit of envy. A Hispanic woman will scream things at her husband that most woman only get away with in transition, and then only for a few minutes. One woman came in at 3 centimeters, screaming, calling this man every name in the book, threatening him with a long dry season, dismemberment if he made any attempts, and death if he succeeded. She screamed for over an hour, until they transferred her to a birthing room. "Dios Mio! You ba%$#rd!! Do you see what you do to me?? You are NEVER touching me again! NEVER!! If you touch me I will kill you!! OH!! AYI, AYI, AYI!!" and the muttered reply "I am sorry, baby. I am so sorry. I promise. I will not, no, never again...." (Sure, right. We believe you, dude. Never again. Uh-huh...). I'd have given anything to scream at my husband like that for even ten seconds. It was comical. Lisa being told by her doctors to relax, be calm, and us in this room surrounded by women screaming their heads off all night long.
Lisa was put on a Mag drip. Magnesium sulfate is used in toxemia to halt the seizures that can kill. Understanding that delivery needed to be imminent, we were frustrated that things weren't moving. Get the baby out, everyone lives, we all go home. There was a debate as to how to proceed. With toxemia, cesearean delivery of the baby stops the syndrome and the mother is managed and the baby is fine and life's a big old party. With HELLP, incisions are the last thing you want to create, since a woman will bleed out between the first cut and the time you get the baby free. I will never forget the look on Lisa's face when the doctor gave her the "good" news. No drugs, no episiotomy, no C-section, just one little line for fluids and meds. She signed heavily and looked at me and said, "I hope you're happy. You get your way after all." We were wheeled into a surgical delivery room. It was very cold, sterile, bright and white. It was essential, in case Things did not go As Planned. But things went just as well as one could hope for. A smooth labor, no episiotomy, a bit of pushing and yelling and there she was, this wonderful if decidedly blue girl child. The baby was alive, and would be fine, but as a result of the mag she had an APGAR that would make anyone suck air and not believe she'd still be with us at noon. She looked for all intents and purposes about to die. But she didn't. And wouldn't for another 18 years. And neither did Lisa, who lived to experience the day every mother dreads.
I remember this most vividly of all. I held her for her mother to see, and the doctor said to Lisa "What are you going to name her?" She looked at me and said, "I don't know. I can't pick. You name her." So I did. "Olivia Paige" I said. Olivia Paige Boske. And so she was. So now you know how she came to be here. You have heard how she was born, how she entered the world. You have not heard how she lived. And really, I am not sure it matters. I could wax poetic about how children should not die before their mothers. About the waste of a human life caused by one moment of recklessness. I could talk about how she wanted to be a lawyer and how she wanted a baby. It doesn't matter to me right now. Only one thing matters to me.
On Tuesday, May 29th at around 7:00pm two cars met in the middle of Route 2. Four people were involved, three in a Saturn and one in a Honda. None of that really matters either. Only one thing matters to me. The Saturn contained a life just 18 years short, and that life ended abruptly and without warning. And I loved her. And it hurts. And right now, that's really all that matters to me.
I keep seeing this picture in my head, from when Lisa and I took the kids to Maine for the day, and as I stare at it in my mind, she ever so slowly erases from her feet to the top of her little blond head, just disappears from the photo, leaving the other three on the beach. It haunted me all weekend.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Melissa's Big Adventure Part The First

(Guest-written by handler and quasi-publicist Amy)
The big bad city has not defeated Melissa Morgan-Oakes. We're sitting here in Starbucks observing life's rich pageant and preparing to head down to the BEA floor to snag schwag. I'm finding that someone here doesn't need all the OCD admonishments I keep handing out ("Don't take what the homeless guy is handing out!" "Don't cross the street until ALL the cars go past!" "Are you SURE we have to go to The American Girl store?") and is quite the capable big-city gal. As a matter of fact, someone here who was a little, shall we say, petrified, of being in a city where the blocks are numbered is living quite high on the hog. Yesterday passed in a blur of coffee, Tiffany's, Prada, Cartier (where we saw jewelry that cost MILLIONS), and Teuscher, the high temple of chocolate where we were stunned into silence by a blizzard of champagne truffles. Without being sort of creepily parental and weird, I have to say I'm so proud of the fact that she is not only not intimidated by New York, but she loves it. Which is good, since she figures into my master plan of knocking over several institutes of high finance and using the proceeds to move us both here where we'll go to Tiffany's every day and try on the big diamonds.
I'll end this post here but will continue to update on Melissa's march through Manhattan later this day.

OK...this was supposed to be totally a guest blogger event, but I just have to add one little handler/quasi publicist has booked me into the lovely Gershwin Hotel...adjcent to the Museum of Sex (which, for the low, low cost of $14.50 I may visit should I choose to). The sign makes it a tempting proposition....