The Healing Reclamation of Knitting Sweaters-and the Red Head Curse

Ok, to get it out of the way-curse is a strong word but ‘the weirdly coincidental lining up of random homesteading clothing brands’ doesn’t have the same rhythm to it as curse.

Mid has been wearing the same lined flannel jacket for so long that neither of us remember where I bought it. I’m even honestly just running off the assumption that I’m even the one that bought it, it’s entirely possible that’s not even true. He tore it at the rail yard earlier this week and I said well, it certainly lived a long and happy life if right now I can’t tell you who paid for it, where it came from, or when it showed up.

We can get you another coat.

He really had issues with this. He felt…something like guilt, like he was taking food from my mouth or some such. The man is a trucker working out of a rail yard. He needs a coat. He’s not asking for a new full wardrobe of elder goth wear for when the bars open again.

Then he asked me for something that DID surprise me-he wanted to go down to Cabela’s to buy said coat.

Ok I said. We can do that. I like the candy selection, there’s bear related household goods (there’s a whole weird, weird story about me and bears that I haven’t talked about yet, ironically that also relates to boots), and Cabela’s/Tractor Supply/Bass Pro/homesteading and hunting stores are the only place left I can easily find jeans off the rack that fit me and actually last longer than three months.

Have I mentioned that I’m deep into glamsteading*? I’m wandering around this store in faux suede and faux fur and heavy makeup getting all sorts of looks, happily buying my jeans and orange flannel and Black Rifle coffee not really paying attention to the -brands- he’s picking up.

Then he says it…’I really like this Red Head stuff’.

Yes. My husband filled our cart with the brand I pulled out of the air for yesterday’s post. But yes, we did well with both price and quality and I very slightly fear we will become Cabela’s people because he just realized he likes their clothes and they’re actually cheaper than Target at this point.

*Glamsteading = homesteading without compromising on aesthetics and beauty rituals. It’s a word that comes from Instagram or TikTok or some such and is basically a push back against the idea that you can’t have a beauty routine and ‘be a good homesteader’.

That photo isn’t a sweater but right now I can’t actually find a photo of said sweaters.

I went a five to six month period where I just couldn’t knit. It wasn’t even just that it was canning season or that I lost access to the central air conditioning I’ve gotten used to working in a building (I am almost completely work from home at this point). I just…couldn’t. The concept of a complete mental and physical block comes to mind.

We actually have had more than a few sessions about this in therapy and while I was slowly able to start knitting again I am so far behind on commissions it’s almost comical and it is actually sad, it was still an almost painful process. Who lays awake at night feeling guilty about mittens? Me. I do. I’m that person.

Then I woke up one day and wanted to knit a sweater. Specifically I wanted to knit what’s called a yarn bra-a sweater that’s very tight, very cropped. It’s actually sort of tongue in cheek Fat Squirrel’s fault- I’m toing into perimenopause and she suggests high negative ease, cropped short sleeve or sleeveless sweaters on fat bodies dealing with hot flashes. Nothing says you have to wear them alone, they can go over garments, but when you can’t control your body temperature you don’t want a heavy sweater to your knees and to your wrists.

So I knit the damn sweater. And then I cast on another sweater. And then another sweater. Then I ordered more yarn. Then we went to Michaels. I dug out some handspun that’s been sitting around like a fluffy table ornament.

I finally asked my therapist about this-why am I suddenly knitting sweaters when I couldn’t knit a sweater for a decade? Why am I finally knitting commissions when I couldn’t knit them without knitting sweaters? Why am I knitting yarn bras, the style of sweaters I knit for myself when I was 20 and a lot more…body confident…than I am now?

She said the act of knitting a sweater is an act of dedication to self. It’s such a time and material requirement that even at my speed and even with the smallness of the garments that I’m making it’s still telling yourself you’re worth the investment to your self. You have to be willing to say you’re worth it to yourself to do it.

You have to be able to tell yourself you’re worth it.

And it is actually helping me finish commissions. Still much too slowly. Still painfully slowly. But it’s not taking me five months to finish a pair of mittens anymore.

You Don’t Win By Losing the Most-My Big Lesson from 2020

Let’s talk about the myth of the noble sacrifice for a minute shall we?

I know I’m going to piss off at least a few people with this one and you know what? I’m not sure I care anymore.

I had the dubious (because it came via inheritance and therefore you know, death) blessing to come into some money this winter and having to deal with ‘money’ and thinking about my debt reduction strategy and whatnot has made me have very long, uncomfortable conversations with myself around how I view material goods, homesteading, and that baddest bad word of all-money.

Combined with 2020 I have come to one of my fundamental life values: no one cares how much comfort you sacrifice in your drive for self sufficiency and homesteading, no one cares how uncomfortable you are and what you deny yourself, you don’t get a medal for being the most barebones hardened prepper at the end of the race.

whatever I’m just into the Bernie memes right now and he needed to be in the Utica train station.

I will say this-I understand that this is a balance and what priorities you need change by year, season, and life season. I am also willing to say this: what ruined my relationship with material goods and money as much as free spending and financial illiteracy was buying into the deprivation mindset that surrounds homesteading and self support.

For a direct example: don’t tell people that they need to completely cut out good coffee from their life if that’s what keeps them happy. I am so, so tired of hearing the ‘lattes are $10 a pop just buy coffee from the dollar store’ argument. You aren’t a better person drinking your dollar store coffee, they aren’t lost or foolish or dare I say unintelligent for spending it. Could there be skills development there? Yes. Could that be the conversation we actually have instead of this sneering self righteousness that frankly is a well earned stereotype in the movement? Also yes.

skills not sacrifice SKILLS NOT SACRIFICE

So this is how I actually teach this-learn to make the latte. No one is saying that you need to give up lattes. Get a good drip machine or a cheap espresso press. Get good beans, the best you can afford and whatever fits your flavor preference. Get a frother. Play your cards right and this will all be under $100 (new) and boom, unlimited lattes that will pay for the rig in a much shorter period of time than you think. A drip coffee isn’t a, ahem, fucking latte and I’m tired of people confusing their personal preference with other people’s value items.

oh look at least semi related memes

Ask someone about their boots and you’ll rapidly discover they understand this point perfectly, it just makes them feel better to play the high ground when it’s an item that doesn’t add ‘value’ as far as they’re concerned.

Walmart boots aren’t Red Head. The fact you’re fine with $1 Macdonald’s coffee won’t keep you out of the grave any longer than anyone else.

It’s not just the coffee. If you can afford to not live on rice and beans then why are you? If you can upgrade your cookware to heritage pieces, what are you actually losing by not doing so? When exactly are you planning on this mythical ‘later date’ kicking in that you can actually add comfort into your prepping and homesteading plans? I don’t have the answers here. I will say I know full well that there are times in all our lives we really need to buckle down and I do understand that at least a little thought should go into purchases, and I do believe in utilizing ways to extend resources like cast iron outlets, buying used, trading, mending, etc. This isn’t advocating a free for all of a complete swap out.

Just stop moralizing the sacrifices you make as anything other than the choices you’ve had to navigate.

Krampus and a Pandemic Reality

I might have said this before on here? But the therapist I see is as much a Worker as much as I am.

There is no concern about the ‘scientific method’ in the sense that don’t overthink this, she actually is a completely sound therapist in the medical sense. She just also practices something like Paganism and reiki. For a shadow working Pagan with multiple diagnosis and two sociology degrees it’s a working balance for both of us.

I have telehealth sessions about once every two weeks, which in 2020 timing means we often have about a years’ worth of ground to cover between check ins. Last session we were talking about our feelings about Christmas and by extension Yule in a world that looks like what we’re riding out right now. And she said something that has stuck with me for awhile-she said that ‘now we know why our ancestors created Yule in the first place, and we’re being forced to remember that Yule, at its core, is a death holiday, not necessarily a celebration of life.’

I’ll get around to figuring out how to edit images on this site again. Not right now though.

Yeah ok even for a woman who’s been a firm shadow worker for well over five years, it was a bit of a…sobering reminder. It’s not wrong. Yule isn’t so much a celebration of getting through so far, it’s -thanks- for being allowed to get through and a hope to hell (and Odin) that we manage to make it to the spring solstice with all our bits and our families intact. It’s the knowledge that this could be the last really good meal for multiple months. And a deep seated awareness of how dark ‘dark’ can really get (this is a different post but while there is a Santa/Odin connection it’s not what a lot of neopagans and social media want it to be, Odin didn’t randomly stop being a death and war deity to suddenly take a strong interest in children one night of the year-this was the middle of the damn Wild Hunt and any gifts He was giving were a boon).

And as we developed indoor plumbing and Maytag fridges and everything else we forgot that fairly important bit. We turned it into a children’s holiday, and our concepts of hope and redemption were in relation to a completely different form of success and survival.

Until we suddenly have to face down well over 200k pandemic deaths in the US alone and a hospital system taken to the brink. Don’t bother leaving comments on that. I won’t approve them. It’s not the point of the post (though it would be refreshing to see that people actually read this long of a blog entry anymore).

I ended up renting Krampus (2015) on Redbox this morning. I’m slowly regaining my taste for horror-it’s been coming and going over the past 9 months. Sort of depends on how much national news I’ve been consuming at the time. I wanted something sort of dark and sort of seasonal. If I have reviewed this movie before, I can’t get it to come up on a search. It does deserve its own review, just, not maybe today.

What I actually can’t shake this time around though, is actually a review I heard on a podcast either last year or the year before. They all liked the movie well enough but one of the reviewers said something to the effect that they didn’t like the ending because ‘redemption is supposed to leave you in a better place’. Redemption at Christmas especially should leave you in a better place.

Is it? Is that how this is supposed to play out? If you haven’t seen the movie, there is some controversy around the ending. Some people think it’s too bleak, other people think it’s not bleak enough, a lot of people actually think the movie isn’t nearly dark enough to be honest. And a lot of Krampus specialists are really annoyed by the whole thing, frankly. That’s a whole other post and I honestly don’t feel like grabbing the sources (look up Al Ridenour over at Bone and Sickle). The thing is, 2020 me is looking at this movie and thinking ‘my gods I hope you’re doing ok this year if this is what you have framed as ‘so dark you are emotionally uncomfortable”.

Also maybe there is some conversation to be had that if you take an image that’s decidedly not Christian (maybe not full Pagan, this isn’t the Odin show-though I want that movie, thanks- but definitely not Christian), and make a full movie around it, you need to understand that we’re not really playing by Christmas rules either. Actually no I don’t want an Odin/Wild Hunt movie unless it’s by a very select number of directors and writers. Hollywood wouldn’t know what to do with that particular mess and it would just be cheesy and painful and our heroes would do something silly like slaughter all the Hunters and ‘win’ in the end. You…you don’t win against death, in the end. I’ve read the spoilers for the end of Supernatural. Even those writers figured it out.

Not to make it look like I’m avoiding the point-there are consequences to our actions and sometimes those consequences lead us to better places but it can be something close to dishonesty in saying that those better places are pleasant or comforting. I feel like I’m coming close to starting to slide into DBT fundamentals, but we don’t like saying it out loud-the myths of Christmas imply that we all are owed perfection and someone telling us we did good and apologizing and/or love is enough to heal all wounds.

It’s not. And we all know it. We can ‘start over’ but we can’t go back to where we were before, that place doesn’t exist anymore if it ever existed at all. And maybe the problem with this film in 2020 is that feels a little like they got away too easy.

Monsterland-Or, Yeah, We’re All Sort of Monsters Really

*Contains spoilers, discussion of abortion in relation to plot points, and conversations around neurodiversity and mental health

**I prefer identity first language and that is not a matter of debate.

I’m watching Monsterland and the first episode has me REALLY conflicted.

(Plot: In a Southern American town a waitress is raising a daughter as a single parent. The child has intense behavioral concerns. A parallel plotline indicates there is a serial killer in the area. The two cross paths and she is introduced to a world much darker than what she is aware, and her current reality is already pretty stark. At the end of the show she ends up abandoning her daughter in a bid to start over completely without any influence from her past life or what she experienced in her last night in the town)

Which I mean is what horror ‘should’ do so if nothing else it’s effective. An argument about whether or not the show is ‘good’ is something else entirely; it drags a little and feels a little …self important in places like it knows that it’s trying to make you feel a certain way and that it doesn’t necessarily want to do that but you know you could have just owned up to this yourself and wouldn’t we all just feel better if you could come to terms with yourself without outside intervention? It reminds me a little of those people you run into in the store sometimes who can’t admit they’re annoyed so they make any comment on their behavior a ‘projection’.

Anyway.

A large chunk of this premise is about how the mother character doesn’t want to be a mother and ostensibly never wanted to be since they were pretty blunt about a botched back alley abortion. So when she ditches the kid, yes, she make a nasty choice after being forced into a shit hand by life as a whole. All the reviews I read aren’t wrong, you’re supposed to feel conflicted about this decision because it’s a shitty act in a string of shitty acts but there’s part of our shadow that says, we have all at least considered acts this dark in the past. We probably DID NOT act on them but I mean.

This is hardly new territory in horror/fantasy television-Serling touches on in it in a Twilight Zone episode where the character says we all think about robbing the bank, we just don’t DO it. What no one talks about in any of these reviews is that the kid is blatantly neurodiverse. The kid isn’t wired like other people and they’re making that pretty damn clear. So what exactly is the cause of our discomfort? Is it just the casting off of another human, or is it that nasty aspect of ourselves where we have to question what we would do with a kid that’s not ‘right’ if we thought we wouldn’t get caught?

This isn’t just a parent who doesn’t want a kid, it’s a parent who doesn’t want to deal with a kid that’s going to require true work to bring her to ‘normal’ (whatever normal even is, but at least not ‘biting the mailman randomly’). That’s a hell of a shadow moment from either side-trust me, as a person who actually is neurodiverse the reality that there are people out there who would rather just ‘get rid’ of me has been drilled into me for decades and is plenty terrifying, let alone any feelings of ‘disappointment’ we’re supposed to ‘allow’ parents to have for not birthing some sort of perfect child.

Ultimately whatever arguments we have with ourselves in the mean time (as in until or if we change the system) it’s neither the kid’s nor the parent’s fault any of this is happening but what they both need is some form of intervention where ‘dumping the kid on another random human and running’ wouldn’t even be an option. In a ‘perfect’ structure biting the mailman would just result in a call for a recommendation to a behavioral specialist and some sort of direct social support. There could be a structure in place where the child gets something like DBT and works through this disregulation and the mother feels safe admitting this is both hard and uncomfortable. I suppose thought that means having actual conversations around mental health, parental expectation, stigmatization, and neuronormativity.

(This is where I have to remind people about self advocacy. Yes parenting us is probably not a walk in the park, but plenty of us are fully capable of telling you what trying to actually LIVE like us is like and trust me, whatever you get from the outside is a pale echo. It’s not the point of this post but it’s why so many of us run hot when you enter into conversation about ‘autism moms’; our lived experience isn’t some sort of identity marker for people who aren’t actually, you know, autistic.)

As in, that’s part of the shadow this one pulls forward for me, that whatever this mother is feeling-her kid’s going to get it 1000x worse going forward and I don’t know how much empathy I can actually place on this decision. I don’t think I can say that the point of the episode is to feel some thing like true open sympathy for this woman but I do feel comfortable saying that part of the implication here is ‘I probably would do the same, or at least understand the motivation’. And no. Frankly. I don’t.

Is the show, or at least this episode, good? No. Not really. It’s sort of boring, and as I said prior top heavy and too self aware to not feel slightly patronizing. It doesn’t even try for that whole ‘comedy to make the darkness that much darker’ angle. It’s actually almost too dark to be compelling. But is it effective? Oh yeah it makes you sit in some shit. It’s not Serling come back to haunt us with ourselves and I don’t think that it’s going to stand up against time. But I will say it’s rare for television based horror to actually manage to hit emotional/psychological horror this readily.

It’s Been a Long Week. I Live in Buffalo. I Have Many Carrots.

pickledcarrots

It’s not that I have been silent all week, if anything, I haven’t been here because I have been making just so much damn noise elsewhere.

I know that I have talked about living in New York before.

What I may not have made clear, or not recently at least, is that I live in Buffalo.

We have all had a long week. I don’t have the emotional resources necessary right now to go through it all again over here, which I am aware is a privilege.

Which leads me to one of the personal developments that has happened over the past week-people seem to like to -hear- me. I am something of a very low level vlogger with absolutely shite videos. I refuse to edit these things, that type of shite.

If you were absolutely just starting out on your preparedness/self sufficiency journey what would you want to know? I am in a weird position in that there was never really a point in my life where I had absolutely no education in this area, it was what did I know when and how to adjust it to, say, an urban environment.

I am working on my own stockpiles and we’re definitely moving into growing seasons. My grocery bill is falling without doing much more than making sure to shop seasonally and go to farmer’s markets. I found a sale on carrots, I bought four pounds or more at $.40 a pound. That doesn’t sound like a lot of carrots until you’re trying to get them processed at the end of a day where you’ve already been processing food for almost 12 hours. I have found that we actually use more carrots if they’re dried so I am fine having carrots, but I’m sort of over carrots at this point.

June-In Season

pears1

Asparagus

Beans

Carrots

Summer squashes

Peas

Peppers

Apricots

Blueberries

Cherries

Kiwis

Strawberries

Raspberries

Tomatoes

Pears

Plums

Peaches

Nectarines

Radishes

 

*storage apples actually make great sauce, so if you’re low on sauce spring is actually a good time of year to make applesauces.

 

I Have Many Words.

All tools are weapons in the right hands.

I can’t sit on this one. I just can’t. Not with my not Caucasian husband sitting in the other room. Not with the…number I’ve lost count round of ‘when will this stop?’

It stops with us. It stops with us. It stops when we finally MAKE it stop.

My politics DEFINITELY put me on the Woody Guthrie and Dixie Chicks end of the spectrum. I do not have a lot of tools in my tool chest; I have a few. I have academics behind me. I’m not sure what people thought that conflict sociology meant. I have more than a passing familiarity with American protest politics (American -women- were looting and rioting as early as 1776, sorry, this is in our cultural DNA).

I have homesteading skills.

Here’s the thing. I can feed you. I can cloth you. I can heal you, to a point. There are generations of knowledge sitting in my head. I have an entire network of people that know the crap that I don’t.

I have heard it said, with some truth, that homesteaders end up on a certain end of the political spectrum. However this is one of those things that run in a circle, you go far enough to the right you end up left again. Control your own production. It’s a somewhat privileged position but less than you think. Do what you can. Learn what you don’t know. Teach the people who don’t know. Feed the people who can’t feed themselves. Jesus flipped tables but He also fed the poor.

So I mean I can’t make this stop, but I have my role to play.

Do what you can. Start where you are.

Deer Gate and Self Replicating Jar Orders

 

pumpkin

This will be a little housekeeping, a little general life stuff

It should be noted that since I went something like four years without consistent blogging that everything on this site is out of date. And some of it may stay that way. I have no idea if link parties are even a thing anymore. I have noticed a lot of the links on my blog roll are effectively dead. Even my about page is out of date. I don’t know if or when that will change. Just assume I’m not holding link parties any time soon even if they are still a thing.

I want to get back into horror and folklore posts again but I can’t guarantee if that will happen in the near future. I will also say that I can’t guarantee that I agree with whatever I wrote when I wrote that content, or that I would write it the same way now. I mean I feel like that should be an obvious statement but I actually still get daily hits for old folklore posts and in 2020 I feel like it’s safer to just state that I may not be completely in agreement with myself on years old posts.

My neighborhood is filling up with deer and I’m slipping into old habits. I spend a lot of time wandering up and down the bike path. The deer own that bike path. I’ve started calling it deer gate on my deer related facebook posts. I’ve fallen into a second shift sleep pattern which is honestly what my body does when it’s left to itself, and when I can stop injuring my feet I do a lot of housework and canning and knitting. Right now my kitchen is an implosion because it just hurts to stand too long between blisters and broken toes and whatnot. It’ll come back. Some of these patterns go back into high school and earlier. I used to spend a lot of time by myself, just wandering.

I honestly don’t know what comes next. I think it’s pretty normal to feel like we’re outside of time and disconnected from any sense of the physical right now. I want to think we’re going to be in some sort of normal by Halloween but I also feel like that’s just asking to break my own heart. There’s also frankly a lot that I just don’t want to go back to now that I know that there are other options that honestly I think could have always been available that just weren’t because of abstract and archaic social norms.

I have terrible lungs. There’s also always a lingering sense in the back of my head that I may not even be here for Halloween.

Fedex tells me that I have a package coming in tomorrow or Saturday. I haven’t placed an order that would be coming in tomorrow or Saturday. I googled the address that they gave me and it’s a farm store in Anoka. As in, the home of Halloween in America. Things are getting to that weird ‘everything is starting to make a pattern’ stage. I DID place an order with them that was delivered in full last week. I hope that it’s an accidental double pull and not that I’m going to have to figure out what to do with a misrouted woodsplitter or baby chicks or something tomorrow or Saturday.

 

Food Preservation May 21st-May 27th

There was a typo initially in the title that read as ‘May 275th’ and to be honest I’m not even sure that’s incorrect.

It’s hot here right now. It’s supposed to break soon but right now it’s inside of an oven, I know why people have outside kitchens hot. It coincides with a very short week and the funds to get stuff done, so I am working projects as long as I can stand to be in the kitchen and then moving on to other things for awhile and working like that on a cycle.

I have some projects that will be long term large size stockpiles this summer. My husband will eat as many dilly beans as a person puts in front of him and I finally hit the bottom of my 7 year old dried hot pepper stash. Both need to be as large as I can get them by the end of season. Same with the raspberry lemonade concentrate. It’s his favorite non-caffeinated beverage right now and I use to it make Italian sodas and rehydration drinks (add a little pink salt when you mix it). Same with tomatoes, I’m home canning my own and buying a can every time I do groceries. Even if we don’t go sideways this summer I still need to face Buffalo winters and my heat allergy.

dracula

Pandemic commentary or heat allergy? You decide

Food Preservation May 21-May 27th

raspberry coffee syrup-canned

raspberry lemonade concentrate

heirloom salsa

produce box pickles

produce box relish

dilly beans

pickled asparagus

dried jalapenos

dried peaches

dried apples

dried bananas

dried green beans

 

The Return of Produce Box Pickling-Pickling for Food Waste Prevention

The pandemic is making us all do weird things. I mean I think it’s expressing itself on all of us in odd and interesting behaviors.

In my case I’m afraid of touching everything in a grocery store. I don’t mean in that I worry about other people any more than I have ever been, but I feel like I personally am under a microscope more than I might have been in February.

What this means is that when I pick something up I feel a moral obligation to buy the damn thing, to probably a greater extent than they actually mean by the statement ‘don’t touch what you won’t buy’. It only really bothers me when it comes to produce.

Because I end up holding a half spongy cucumber being like what the $%^! am I going to do with this now. I would NOT buy this cucumber in pre virus world but here I am feeling like…produce guilt because it’s now My Cucumber.

producebox

Produce box pickling is a term I did not invent (I don’t think I did anyway) that is framed around grabbing everything that’s starting to get sad and lonely in your fridge and mix batching your pickles. So it’s being flexible with what’s going into your pickles instead of straight running a single vegetables.

So I brought home the sponge-umber,  cut off the worst of the sponge, and sliced it with a summer squash, a zucchini, and a single jalapeno. I chopped the vegetables into matchsticks and heavily salted the mix, and let sit in a colander in a bowl for a few hours to pull out the fluids.

After a few hours I made my base produce box brine (in the canning page link) with a dill seed variation and let the produce cook down in the brine for about 15 minutes. I ended up with just short of 2 pints of relish and sponge-umber found a use in life.

Yes, I am aware that I didn’t HAVE to bring the cucumber home. However I’m also sure that with it being as soft as it was it would have been tossed. I only lost about a quarter of the cucumber and ended up with a shelf stable product for future use.

A couple project notes: I used white vinegar for this run instead of ACV because that’s what was open, left out any dried hot peppers I might normally use because I used a jalapeno (though my household doesn’t think of jalapenos as hot necessarily), used a heavy hand on dill seed, and didn’t salt the brine because I really did lean into the salt because I used table as opposed to pickling cucumber and they tend to run much more wet. I do hot pack my relish as stated above and I had little to no left over relish post processing. I processed for about 10 minutes in half pints and a 12 oz jar.