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    Suck It Up, Buttercup

    I have a new blog, over at Suck It Up, Buttercup. This one will likely not be updated until/unless I return to knitting design full-time again, so if you want to know what's happening here in Montana, come read the new blog. 


    It's Not You, It's Me

    I owe all of my fans in the knitting world an explanation. Some of you are wondering if I have dropped off the face of the earth, and I appreciate your concern. A strange thing has happened in my life. Knitting and I aren't seeing much of each other anymore. We still get together in the evenings sometimes for a cup of tea, but the relationship has changed,  and I'm finding it hard to write love poems (or blog posts) about something I don't love as much as I used to. 

    Being self-employed takes a lot of energy. If you're self-employed in a field you're passionate about, often that passion wil carry you through the difficult times and mask a lot of the negatives. Unfortunately, passion isn't usually a bottomless well, and when it runs out (as eventually it must), what once brought you joy instead starts to feel like it's sucking all the joy out of your soul. 

    There are many things I could say about being a professional knitting designer. Some of them I will say, and some of them I will keep to myself. One of the biggest pluses of being a knitting designer was that I got work from home and be home with my kids. That's huge for me, because having to "go to work" in an office causes me an inordinate amount of personal stress. It makes me nuts, basically, and then I make everyone around me nuts, and that is not good.

    Another huge plus was getting to travel and meet people. I do enjoy traveling and teaching, and being able to combine that with knitting was wonderful. I only wish that it weren't such an expensive logistical nightmare to fly in and out of Montana, or I might have traveled more.

    So why did I decide to do something else? I can't point to one single reason. It's actually like a whole bunch of reasons converged at the same time. There was the global economic collapse that tsunamied through our lives (the husband is self-employed, too), the fact that my kids are getting older (one of them went to college) and they need different things from me now than they did when they were little, and—here's probably the biggest one for me—the knitting world was beginning to look like a very big version of high school. I didn't enjoy high school. It was a constant game of "who's in, who's out, who's popular, who's not," and the fact that the knitting world was beginning to operate in that fashion made me feel exactly the same way I did when I was 18. I wanted to run in the opposite direction and find a place where I was valued for what I was able to do and not valued for my looks or my ability to schmooze. One e-mail in particular really set me on my heels. It was from someone who had edited a book on finishing techniques, with articles contributed by other designers (I was not asked to contribute). I am not sure why this person felt it was necessary to e-mail me and let me know about this book, but it almost felt like a slap in the face. like this person remembered after the fact that back in 1996, someone self-published a finishing book because no one else would take the chance. Oh yeah, that woman in Montana—what's her name again? 

    The choice to do medical transcription was made after a long hard look at the realities of our life here in Montana. Jobs are hard to come by. We live 17 miles from town, so a "town job" would come with a lot of commuting in bad weather and the associated fuel expenses. Training for something else had to be affordable and something that could be completed in a reasonable amount of time. I have a degree in biology and a "life experiences degree" as a cancer survivor, and while I am highly critical of the way the medical profession operates in this country, the workings of the human body fascinate me. The bottom line was that medical transcription was interesting to me, something I could train for quickly (and get money coming in again), and something which would allow me to work from home. If I had to do something besides knitting design, I reasoned, medical transcription was a good second choice. 

    You know what? It's really kind of amazing to me how well it has all worked out. I have a job with a great company. They pay well (compared to what I hear a lot of other MTs are making), my account supervisor is a wonderful human being, and I am on an oncology account. That last part blows my mind every morning when I log on to start working. I could have ended up in any one of a hundred different specialties, and I landed a job in the one specialty I wanted more than any other. When people ask me how I like my new job, the first words out of my mouth—without thinking—are, "I love my job." It's mentally challenging—the other morning I spent 20 minutes looking up and familiarizing myself with the cytogenetics tests for leukemia so I could spell them properly (is it FLT-3 or flt-3 or FLT3 or flt3?). It calls on all the skills of writing and proofing that I honed writing knitting patterns. No two days at work are ever the same. I don't have to dress up and drive to work. I only fill up my car once every three weeks or so. The fact that everything fell into place so beautifully has reinforced for me that THIS is where am supposed to be right now, and THIS is what I am supposed to be doing. 

    I may come back to knitting at some point. Nothing is set in stone. Five years ago if you had asked me what I would be doing today, medical transcription probably would not have been on the list. But I need the break from knitting, so I am going to take it. There may be some associated changes with the website, too, but I am still working through that.

    And now it's time for me to go to work.  



    There is no work in my transcription queue today, which is very odd. Yesterday was light, too, but at least I managed to get close to my line count by dinnertime. It makes me wonder if something is wrong with the dictation system on the doctors' end. My account manager agrees that this is unusual, but she also let me know that we are getting some new doctors on this account so there should be plenty of work in the coming weeks. 

    Oh well. I was able to catch up on some stuff that's been hanging around my desk. 

    I went out to the garden to get some lettuce for a salad for lunch. Some of the lettuce under the row covers is bolting pretty badly, so I pulled it up and took it over to the clucks. The chick is out in the chicken yard (a fenced and roofed area off the coop) pretty much all day every day now. The husband had to rig up a barrier system along the bottom of the chicken yard because the chick was simply waltzing through the openings in the wire and wandering around the big yard. The husband went out the other day and found the chick in my herb garden. We do not want it getting picked off by a hawk or one of the dogs, so now it is confined and—thus far—has not figured out how to get out again. 

    It's always something around here. 

    I took some time this morning to go downstairs and clean and organize my stash room. I have a lot of yarn, and it needed some taming. It also gave me a chance to prioritize my projects, although I am pretty limited in terms of time right now. Mostly I like scarves and shawls and afghans that do not tax my brain too much. I do have to say that it is nice not to have to "design on demand," as I had been doing for the past 10 years. 

    And now it's back to laundry and cleaning.


    Work Smarter, Not Harder

    "Work smarter, not harder," is a phrase that gets a lot of airtime around our house, because the husband and I are no big fans of wasted effort. Sometimes it pops up in odd places.

    When I got home from Cleveland on Sunday, I noticed the .30-06 was propped up against the wall in the master bath. A firearm in the bathroom is not in and of itself an odd thing; that window gives us the clearest line of sight to the chicken coop. However, I had forgotten that hunting season started Saturday (I know, I should have my Montana resident license revoked). When I commented that shooting a deer out of the bathroom window did not seem very sporting to me, the husband came back with, "Work smarter, not harder. This way I don't have to haul it in a mile from the woods." 

    On Monday morning, the husband walked into my office and said, "There are some deer in the woods." Clearly, I was just not paying attention, because I said, "There are always deer in the woods." "Yes," he said patiently, "but I am going upstairs to shoot one and I didn't want to surprise you." And so the husband went up to the bathroom and shot the first deer of the season. Four weeks to and a couple more tags to go.

    (I feel sort of bad for my cousins in Ohio who are having trouble finding places to hunt anymore, while we're picking the darn things off in our backyard.)

    If only an elk would walk through . . . .

    Some chick pics for you:

    Mama hen has finally allowed the baby out in the yard with the other chicks. The husband says he does not know how the other chickens get any sleep, because the chick emits a constant "cheep cheep cheep" that seems to serve as some kind of homing beacon. Truly, it is constant, because the chick is a very adventuresome little thing. 

    And even though it has its own feeeder and waterer, it insists on getting into the feeder with the big chickens. 

    We have not yet checked to see if this is a male or female chick. It surely is cute, though. And appears to be a solitary accident, as we can't get the hens to set on any more eggs. 



    It has been an exhausting couple of weeks. On October 13, I drove to Corvallis, OR (about an hour south of Portland) to stay with my friend and former tech editor JC Briar. We went out for Indian food, caught up on what's been happening in our lives, and basically had a nice—although too short—visit. The following morning I drove to Beaverton, on the west side of Portland, to teach at the Tigard Knitting Guild's fall retreat. It was at a Catholic retreat center and I had a wonderful time. Those women know how to retreat.

    That Sunday morning I got up early and drove two hours north to see DD#1. We had breakfast and then headed to Seattle to meet one of my cousins who recently moved there. She works for Nordstrom. Her parents were in town visiting, so we all spent the day together. It was a lot of fun. DD#1 and I headed back to her dorm that evening and I took her and her significant other out for Indian food. I spent the night at a hotel and then drove back to Montana on Monday.

    I spent Tuesday and Wednesday here at home, working. My mother called Wednesday morning to tell me that my 94-year-old grandmother had died (she had been ill and this was not unexpected). I made some quick plane reservations, and on Thursday afternoon I flew to Cleveland for the funeral. Friday and Saturday were a whirlwind of family gatherings and the funeral. I said to my husband I must have hugged about 300 people, some of them more than once. I haven't seen some of my relatives since our wedding 21 years ago (it's a very big family). Yesterday morning I hopped back on a plane, arriving here in Kalispell yesterday afternoon. 

    I am tired. It's not so much a physical tired as it is a mental and emotional tired. A teaching weekend like that takes a lot out of me, and it was hard for me to find time to recharge my batteries before I had another emotionally draining weekend. I am looking forward to a couple of days of working here at home by myself. I miss my transcription work when I am not doing it. And I really do need to get my batteries recharged because I'll be heading to the Yarn Barn in Lawrence, KS, in the not-too-distant future. 

    And here is my big gripe about traveling: people who think they are the only people at the airport (they are probably the same people who drive as though they are the only people at the road). I got off the plane in Denver yesterday at one end of the terminal, and I had 10 minutes to make it to a gate at the opposite end of the terminal approximately one-half mile away. I walk pretty quickly, and I found myself constantly having to say, "excuse me, pardon me" as I was racing through the airport, because people would get on those people movers and plant themselves firmly on the left-hand side so that no one could get around them. At one point, a swarm of people—about 8 family members clearly traveling together—got on the people mover in front of me and the children in the group sat down on the people mover and blocked it altogether!!!!!!!! And they weren't toddlers, either—they were in the 10-12 year-old range and should have known better. I hardly slowed down; I simply said, "excuse me, I have a plane to catch" and walked over them. I said to the husband, at least now they probably won't do that again. It's an airport, people, not Disney World. 

    The chick is getting big and mama hen now lets it out in the yard for short periods of time. We thought maybe another hen was setting, but after about a week she abandoned the eggs. That's okay; it's getting cold and now is not a good time to have chicks. 

    And now, I am off to work.