Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Country 'Tis of Thee

Do you remember when you learned that song as a kid? I do...I sang "My Country Tizzovthee" with no clue what it meant, and I bet you did too. But as I got older, I understood the words, and the sentiment behind them.

I'm an unashamed patriot. I get choked up whenI hear our national anthem, and always have. Makes it tough when the DH and I do the announcing for the local high school football games! Living abroad as an Air Force pilot's wife just reinforced that, while it also gave me a perspective not everyone in the USA is able to obtain, seeing my country through the prism of a foreign eye. I remember after my eldest daughter was born, we went to our embassy in London to get her passport. I rounded the corner into the square where the embassy is located, and saw the huge Bald Eagle over the entry, and our flag, and tears filled my eyes. Of course, she was only a few weeks old so hormones were still askew, but I'm pretty sure it was mostly patriotism. :-)

And you know what? I bet you're a patriot too, whatever your country is. Good for you if you're a functioning, voting member of your have a right to be proud. Which is why I get so angry when I hear people disparaging another's patriotism just because their political beliefs aren't in lockstep with one another.

One side says that you aren't a patriot if you don't support war. Another says you aren't a patriot if you send wo/men off to be killed for another country. I say both sides love their country, and just have different feelings about what that means.

Democrats say Republicans aren't patriotic because they don't want to take care of people. Republicans say Democrats aren't patriotic because they want big government and take choice away from people. I say both sides are patriots and want to do their best, I just agree with one over the other!

So this week when a vicious attack piece against one of the Presidential candidates was posted on one of the knitting lists I moderate, I shut the discussion down immediately and put the poster on moderation, something I do as a second-to-last resort. Not to stifle their freedom of speech, but to prevent a flame war on a forum that has nothing to do with politics. To MY mind - the only one that matters for the sake of this blog! - slandering/libeling a candidate because you disagree with them? Now that is unpatriotic. Tearing down our political process for your own hate-mongering? Unpatriotic. Smearing someone who is willing to serve our country in a largely thankless job that's underpaid and overstressed? Unpatriotic. And I don't care which candidate you treat this way, or what nobles lies you tell yourself to rationalize doing are no patriot.

In this country, in any democracy, we give people a chance to speak, to believe and to act freely until that freedom impinges on the rights of others. To quote Voltaire (later also used by Jefferson) "I disapprove of what you say,but I will defend to the death your right to say it." So people have the right to spread lies and attempt to ruin reputations until it becomes actionable under law. That's the price we pay for living freely. But those of the world who force us to pay that price, to listen to their foulness, do not have the right to wrap themselves in our beautiful flag to do it.

Any person who tried to diminish another human being, for reasons of race, religion or politics...yeah, you got it. Not a patriot. Also not much of a person, in my book.

And after all, this IS my book.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Roped In

I've been quiet because my brain is too fried at the end of the day to give this blog the snarkiness it deserves. I just don't have it. We are doing a LOT of senior pictures, and praise be, the parents are ordering. Some of them big...and that means a lot of work for me. Say a kid is lucky in the complexion department - and let me tell you, at the age of 16 or 17, most aren't that lucky - and say they only have five zits. They order a four pose package, but pay to add a couple poses. They also order an eight picture folio, and a CD with 16 images...and only maybe four or five of the images for each overlap. Well, you do the math on how many blinkin' times I have to clear out those same zits. Wouldn't your brain fry too?

So to maintain what little semblance I have of what I laughingly call sanity, I've been knitting. Multiple things, but very little on my Orkney Pi. I just don't have the cajones for lace right now. What have I been working on, I hear you ask? How kind of you to take an interest.

First, some socks. Only my second pair, made out of Trekking in the Queen Kahuna toe-up on two circs method. Loving these, but I have about 2/3rds of the cuff to go.

Don't you love the color? Since I couldn't care less about these 'matching', I'm just working from both ends of the same ball.

Next is my emergency car knitting. This is the Irish Hiking Scarf, a freebie if you Google for it, and I'm doing it in the Rowan Tapestry I bought from Pat Kirkland at the RT&OF 1st Annual Hoot 'n Holler. Utterly yummy stuff that I'd recommend highly. Very soft but keeps definition.

This will probably be for my beloved Uncle Harry, who has gorgeous blue eyes, and who surprised me at my family reunion last week with a studio warming gift of a double frame set, mounted in a free stand with pivots on each frame. Means the world to me, especially since my grandfather originally harvested the wood from my grandmother's family farm. He knows nada about this, so I'm not under any gun. Oh, and I added a fourth cable for those of you who know the pattern.

Continuing my obsession lately with nice ropey cables, I had to cast on a sweater, my first real attempt at something other than a straight blocky no-sleeve dealy-job. LOL Melanie from Pink Lemon Twist recommended a book called A Fine Fleece, saying that it was a rare book in that she would happily knit most of the sweaters in it. I took a peek, agreed, and bought it. Very classic sweaters that will never go out of style, shown in both handspun and equivalent commercial yarns. I fell utterly in love with a sweater called "Gaelic Mist" - not much of a surprise given my love of all things Celtic. It kept calling to me, and insisted I needed to pull out the Cestari DK 3 ply I'd bought at MDSW (Maryland Sheep and Wool for the uninitiated...and don't ask about the initiation. It involves Elaine, lots of sheep and a Sherpa). I got it in a forest green to match my eyes :::batting same::: and really love it. My swatch was perfectly to gauge, and I cast on both sleeves at once.

I'm THRILLED with this and how it's working up. A bit more VM than you'd expect, but nothing unwieldy, and oh, how lovely the cables are. Yes, I flubbed a couple a bit but you don't have to wear it so shut up about it. I, perfectionist that I am, can live with it and so can you. I've done this much in just about a week....a very busy that's good too. I'm above the elbow now.

The green is a bit lighter than actuality in this photo. The cables repeat like this at the base of the sweater, causing a bit of a natural shaping and peplum effect. Hide a multitude of sins, it will, and I've got 'em to hide. Here's a detail of the cable - yes, one that's exactly right:

I don't mind being tied up if it's for cables like these! Or for the DH, but that's another story. ;->

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


The third definition of epiphany in the online dictionary I consulted is:

"a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience."

Yeah, dat. I had one yesterday, and I thought I'd share.

First, I've had a just a few true epiphanies in my life. The first time, I'd screwed up pretty well, embarrassing myself and people I cared about. You don't need details (I know you want them, but tough, this isn't True Confessions), yet it definitely was a humbling experience, which I pretty damn well needed.

The second real epiphany came during my first marriage, and it was two-fold. My beloved grandmother had died, and my grandfather was mourning his wife of 55 years. I realized that my then-husband, who had no respect and probably no love for me either, wouldn't mourn if I died. He would be relieved. That opened my eyes enough to start to stand up to his belittling with what to me became a magic mantra..."You saying it doesn't make it so."

Do you see the sheer power of that? After years of being told how worthless I was, I finally rejected being so reduced by his words by the infinite power of my will. Just because this man said it, didn't make it true. The strength of that finally got me out of a lousy marriage that had me continually walking on eggshells.

The next epiphany came when I was dating the DH. Not too surprisingly, I was a pretty defensive person. I've always been an infighter, and that's okay. But it's not okay to assume everyone is out to hurt me, and to build very high walls based on that. Finally, one day after I had jumped in his stuff for imagining he was insulting me, the then BF said he couldn't be with someone so negative. That he never wanted to hurt me, never intended to hurt me or anyone, for that matter, and my always responding to everything the wrong way was painful to him. I knew if I couldn't overcome this sad character flaw, a vestige of the abusive men in my life, I would lose the best thing that ever happened to me. Well, he's the DH, so you know how that ends. :-)

Which brings me to yesterday's epiphany. I was working on sorting out three separate orders from the lab that had come in at once, and was confusing myself. We had a LOT of orders to process last week...thanks St. Veronica! (No, I'm not Catholic, but she's the patron saint of photographers, and I'll take whatever help I can get)... so it was easy to get turned around on what was still out and what had come in.

I found myself saying out loud what that heinous little voice in my head was saying..."Oh, for pity sake, Diana, grow a brain!" or something like that. And the saying it out loud stopped me dead in my tracks.

We all have that little voice. Along with the music always going through my head, there's a running commentary. Sometimes it has my mother's voice, the voice that never yells but tells me I've disappointed it. Mom was great at the skillful manipulation of emotions. Sometimes it's the ex...usually when I've made the serious error of looking at my nude self in the mirror...telling me how fat and sloppy I am. Occasionally, it's a more cheerful voice, which is usually the DH. But most often, it's my own voice. And I scold me. Shamefully, terribly, unendingly. Apparently, very little I do is good enough for me.

So the epiphany? I realized that if another family member, or a friend, had the temerity to speak to me like that, I'd rip off their lips and make them kiss their own ass! So why in the name of all that's holy do I allow ME to do it to myself? I know better. I do. I know garbage in, garbage out. I've listened to the Power of Positive Thinking and found much of the logic in it to be sound. I know I feel better when I think good thoughts. So why am I denigrating myself from within?

The first step in the changes I've spoken of, you, my gentle, intelligent readers (both of you), will have noticed is the insight part of the definition of epiphany. Once we can see, we can change. So, my little voice, you are now on notice. I'm listening with the front part of my mind, and I'm on to you. I will not let you talk to me in a way I wouldn't permit from anyone else. I will change.

One day at a time.