Winter is for Knitting #2

mesidetoside1I found a cap-sleeve cropped sweater pattern that was knit from side to side and so I decided to follow the pattern, since it was exactly what I wanted. I made a swatch to check the gauge. I followed the directions.

It came out much larger than it was supposed to, and I had to fudge to make it fit. It’s certainly wearable, but not really what I wanted. I just don’t do well following a pattern; I do much better if I figure it out as I go along and then it fits the way I want it to. I’m going to try the side-to-side idea again, but this time I’ll do it my way.

Who is Jake Trussell and why…..

Why do I have him listed with Kerouac and Kafka in a poem that I wrote when I was twenty years old?

jake TrussellEven the information about him in the last available copy of his chapbook that I just bought for $10 doesn’t tell me anything about how I might have come to know anything about him more than a half-century ago.

Apparently, he wrote back in the late 30s and 40s, and this chapbook is his only collection. The inside cover says

Only a limited edition of 1000 is being printed, and none of them will ever be available except as a personal gift from the writer.

The copy I bought is inscribed to “Doc Chandler: who appreciates cheesecake and football predictions — all the good things in life. Jack Trussell, 10-15-57.”

I was a freshman in college in 1957. Might I have heard him read his poetry on campus? Did one of my fellow pseudo-beatniks tell me about him? Did I share a beer with him one night in the tiny bar on Central Avenue in Albany where we gathered around a table in front of a bizarre mural of Buddha, Shiva, and various other inspirational myths? I don’t know why his name would appear in my poem.I don’t remember. Have no idea. “Doc Chandler” certainly doesn’t ring a bell.

About the poems in this collectin Jake says “To me, poetry was always a personal thing, written for the pure joy of writing and for no other consideration whatsoever. These poems were written at very odd moments ….and on the strangest assortments of materials (napkins, the backs of old football programs, and scraps of typing paper crammed into a beat up portable late at night on a kitchen table).”

I guess that sounds pretty much like what we were all doing back then.

Most of his poems have end line rhymes, which I rarely like. I might never know why his name found its way into one of my very early efforts. Maybe I had read this one of his; I know I would have liked this one, which he wrote in 1938:

trussell exit

My 74th year selfie.

WYSIWYG. No photoshop. No makeup. Oversized funky glasses.

74a

I have some good genes from my mother — wrinkling is slight, but there are some deep gravity-pulled lines.

I have some bad genes from my mother — losing hair around the hairline. Bangs are the answer. And a better hairstyle, but I haven’t found one that I like. And then I have to find a hairdresser who can cut it.

Onward into my 75th year.

I want to have fun with the trappings of aging.

I keep wondering if the biased attitude of the larger world against “old people” (can’t hear well, can’t see sell, can’t walk or count money fast) is because that’s the most obvious things they notice when we are out in public. And we often don’t look like getting old is much fun. (Granted, if you are in pain, it’s not.)

But what if you are like me and don’t mind getting old and want the world to see me as having fun while it lasts? What if the first things they notice about an older female is not that she’s old, but rather than she’s having fun with the trappings of getting old?

Well, you could do it by dressing like these stylish elders. If you live in New York City, or Paris, or London — and if you have occasion to dress more elaborately than the usual pants and sweater (or, if you’re like me, jeans and a t-shirt) — the notices you would get, no doubt, would be positive. But I’m not sure that small town living calls for that kind level of creative dressing. And what I’m more concerned with is turning our frailties into fun.

funkyglassesOK. So, I have to wear glasses. I go online, find a pair of funky oversized frames for $35 and have my prescription put in them. When I get noticed, it’s not because I’m old. It’s because I’m being old with a flair. And, instead of strangers glowering at me because I am in their way, they comment on my glasses when I look them in the eye and smile. (It’s also very important to look them in the eye and smile.)

Now, what I wish is that the folks who are experimenting with these glasses/hearing aids would actually mass-produce them and include some funky frames.

But for now, I have to wear hearing aids. So, to make wearing them a fashion statement, I just sent for a pair of these. If I decide I like them, I might order a set of hearing aid charms from the same entrepreneurial young woman who makes and sells them. (Hearing impaired little kids seem to love them. Check out these photos!)

Now, we are down to the shoes. As we get older, our feet often become a real problem from the wear and tear of all of those years supporting our weight. (And if you subjected yourself to high heeled pumps, then the problems are even worse.)

I have blogged before about my addiction to sneakers. The reason I am able to wear funky sneakers (even though I have a tendency toward plantar fasciitis and years of ballroom dancing in high heels have taken their toll) is that I invested in really good orthotics. You can fit orthotics into almost any shoes, but you have to try the shoes on with the orthotics in them (because you need a longer and wider size than usual, and not all shoes will work). The smart thing to do is to go to a specialist who makes orthotics for dancers and athletes. Almost very city has one. If the orthotics are prescribed, Medicare should pay for them (minus co-pay). I have been using the same ones for 25 years.

Fashionable_walking_canesFinally, we come to canes (which I don’t need — yet). But, for those who do, catalogs and drug stores carry all kinds of colorful ones. If you have to use one, flaunt it.

I’m wondering what other ways we might be able to encourage those impatient “others,” as we move through the public world, to actually “see” us elders as being more than just a necessary nuisance.

[Addendum: My friend Ronni Bennet at Time Goes By has written about wearing hats to put flair over thinning hair. I'm not a hat person, so I'm looking for other possibilities (other than a wig).]

Sorting Socks

I have over three dozen pairs of socks. And that’s not counting the ones without mates.

I can’t imagine how I ever accumulated such a stash, but it’s typical of my reluctance to get rid of stuff. Psychological stuff as well as physical stuff. Sometimes it works to my advantage, for example, when my grandson is rooting around for some odd and end for a project he is constructing. I usually have whatever it is he needs. That reminds me of the earlier version of this book that I bought for him when he was a toddler.

But, like my stash of socks, there is stuff I don’t need to carry around with me. The writing workshop I took yesterday brought that fact home with great clarity.

Sorting socks is not the complete answer. But it’s a start.

Now, if I can only get an Amtrak writer’s residency, that might really give me a fresh start.

Starting fresh at age 74. Hmm. I can be Amtrak’s Grandma Moses. Ya think?

[Oh bollocks! I just realized I put the wrong Facebook url in my application. That might knock me out of the running right there. Too soon old; too late smart.]

going bra-free

A little over a year ago, I shared my experiment with adding a layer to a t-shirt so that I didn’t have to wear a bra. I decided that fusing an image onto the front makes the fabric too stiff.

Since then, I’ve been trying a some different ways to do it. It’s been a lot of trial and error, but I’m not a perfectionist, and I found an easy way that works for me. Someone has asked me about how I do it, so I’m sharing my process here.

Although I am pretty much a size 12/14, I buy t-shirts in an X-large or even a 1X. If you’re not going to wear a bra and you don’t want to look like you’re not wearing a bra, then you really need a roomy knit top to work with. And the knit needs to be substantial — not the sheer or flimsy jersey kind you find at places like Old Navy. You don’t want the fabric to cling to you.

I have found that the best and least expensive t-shirts to use are made by Croft and Barrow (Kohls), Cabin Creek (JCP), White Stag and Just My Size (Walmart). Make sure that they are not the “fitted” style but are more boxy. A longer tunic works well too.

T-shirts with stripes or graphics also work best because they makes it easier to figure out where to do the top-stitching on the front. You can just follow along one or more stripes or you can incorporate top stitching into the graphic.

You can use any kind of knit fabric for the liner. I recycle old t-shirts for that purpose because the fabric doesn’t run. I don’t even bother hemming the edges. You can also buy really cheap t-shirts to cut up at CVS or Walgreens. I buy the largest size they have so that I can make several liners out of one t-shirt.

Here, for example, is tie-dyed tunic onto which I sewed a lining so that I could wear it without a bra.

tiedye

I measured a rectangle shape that would be large enough to cover my breasts and cut out a double layer from an old grey t-shirt. I pinned and then hand-basted the rectangular double layer onto the inside of the front of the shirt, positioning it so that I could top-stitch along the front design. I used a decorative stitch, but a zig-zag would do just as well.

This is what it looks like on the inside.

tieinside

This is what the top stitching looks like.
tiedyeclose

You can make the liner go all the way down to your waist if you want to. Since it’s not attached at the sides, if it’s longer, you can tuck it into your pants or skirt, leaving the shirt itself loose. You can also use several layers of the knit for the liner if you feel more comfortable with more coverage.

It’s best not to use a ribbed knit t-shirt because top stitching is harder to do; the ribbing stretches out and pulls the shirt out of shape. It can be done, however.

Here’s a ribbed tank top that I lined.

outside front

outside front

inside front

inside front

Here’s what the front of a solid navy t-shirt looks like with decorative top-stitching that looks a little like trapunto quilting.

navyoutside

Here’s what it looks like on the inside.

navyinside

As I said, I’m not a perfectionist, so I don’t worry how the liner looks on the inside. Someone who is more meticulous, however, can adapt my method to work for them. If anyone reads this and tries it, I would love to see what you did and how you were able to improve on my idea.

I wish that some clothing designer would create ready-to-wear roomy t-shirts with nicely designed trapunto or quilted or appliqued fronts that camouflage the lining and adequately disguise a jiggling bare breast. (And I don’t mean appliques of cats or dogs or Christmas trees; art reproductions or original fabric art would be perfect, I think.)

when blogging was personally new

This is something I posted during my second month of blogging back in 2001. I wrote some great stuff back then. I had posted a “best of Kalilily” for those early days, for which the links don’t work. So when I fix them, I’ll reprise the post here.

Big Picture, Little Picture
So, there are some discussions going these days on about the purpose and value of weblogs. Oddly enough, the other night at my bi-monthly group meeting, I mentioned that I had begun a weblog, and I was asked to explain what that was and why I was doing it, and why I just wasn’t keeping a journal. As I’ve said, I’ve unsuccessfully tried keeping journals before and I write so much slower than I think that I got frustrated and quit. I can type almost as fast as I think (I got used to doing that at the job from which I retired last year, which involved mostly whipping out quick documents for others to share and claim as their own.) So, it’s easier to do it on the computer. And why don’t I just keep a journal on disk, I was asked. The truth is, I admitted, is that I’m used to writing for an audience. And I like having an audience. Even my poems are usually written with an audience (sometimes of one) in mind. It’s why I ballroom dance. I’m a performer at heart. I need ways to say to the world: this is who I am. Look at me. Pay attention. It seems to me that that’s at the heart of why everyone else who keeps a blog does so. In a world where we all have to live up to expectations and assume roles for survival purposes (our own and others) — caregiver, mother, employee, citizen — it’s so satisfying to have a place where one can BE who one is. Or in some cases, where one can BE who one wants to BE. It really doesn’t matter. We can create who we want to be or be creative with who we are. Either way, one has an identity, a voice. In a way, it’s kind of a new art form — or at least it can evolve in some cases into such. How cool is that!

my raging PMS poem

One of the advantages of being post menopausal is that I no longer get the raging PMS that — in retrospect — I think was responsible for messing up my various relationships, including that with my parents.

Back in the 50s and 60s and 70s, PMS was considered a fabricated rationale for plain ol’ female bitchiness. Now, we know better, and I know that what I (and my friends and family) had to suffer through was actually my PMDD.

It’s hard to describe what it felt like to go through those terrible fits of insanity to those who have never experienced it. So, at the time, I wrote this poem — which, I think, pretty much says it all.

Tooth Mother

A sliver of moon
like a sharpened claw
slits the underside of April,
sending clouds as heaving as stones
onto the roiling rim of earth.

It is time for the Tooth Mother’s coming.
She tears through my skin,
talons sharp as the moon,
eyes that slice, breasts like scythes
along my hungry tongue.
She breathes into my mouth
the bold remains of winter,
turning my cries to ice,
my thoughts to stones
that roll like clouds
along my ragged edge of mind.

just like in the bible

Well, almost.

Aaron stuck a stick in the ground and it flowered.

I stuck a willow branch in the ground and it’s budding.

budding willowJapanese willow

The branch is from our Japanese willow tree . It will be a bush rather than a tree, but otherwise will look the same.

I wonder if Aaron’s rod was really a thick willow branch, which roots very easily and buds quickly.

willowWillow trees are part of my Polish heritage; they grow all along fences and stables and wayside shrines throughout old Poland. I have a collection of translated prose and poetry from 1945 called “Wayside Willow.” It is a first edition, signed by the editor and all of the contributors. The dust jacket is missing, although the flyleaf portion is stuck inside like a bookmark. It was a gift to my Dad, who was very active and well-known in the downstate New York Polish community. It comes with me wherever I go. I have to admit that I have never read through the entire publication. Maybe today, Father’s Day, is a good time to do that.

The willow has a rich mythology, some of it controversial.

The above link says that I am a willow person….

Willow people (i.e. those born in March) are beautiful but full of melancholy, are attractive and very empathic, they like anything beautiful and tasteful and love to travel, they are dreamers and restless, capricious and honest, they are easily influenced but are not easy to live with being demanding, they have good intuition, but suffer in love and sometimes need to find an anchoring partner.

…but the truth is that I don’t like to travel, I am not easily influenced, and I’m awfully easy to live with. As for the rest, I’m not sure that I can be objective.

chatting with China

[NOTE: If you have landed here before reading the previous post, please go and read it first.]

This post tells the end of the story I began in the previous post. It is a story with an ending that I didn’t expect, a story with an opportunity for learning on all kinds of fronts. I begin this post by saying that I cancelled the PayPal claim. But that’s not the end of it all.

There are three participants in this chat — me (the American consumer), staff of UPlay (the manufacturer of the unique phone/tab I bought), and staff of JSXL Technology (the online distributor from whom I bought the device). Two of us, I think, came away from this “chatty” business deal a little wiser about how to communicate with others and how to do business in a way that satisfies both consumer and product provider/s.

The communication issue here was not triggered by national culture or language. It was about attitude and trust. It was about civility. It was about respectfully listening and responding. It was a lot about good business practices and how to build and keep a customer base through good customer service (or the opposite). It also was about how to behave as a decisive consumer who doesn’t always know the right questions to ask when it comes to technology.

I am not a distributor or a marketer, but I am a thoughtful (if somewhat impatient) consumer. In many ways, I am a good example of today’s global consumer: I have a good idea about the product I want; I know how to use the internet to research my options; I expect complete and accurate product and ordering information on e-commerce websites; I order online from a global market. And, like the usual “shop-from-store-to-store-and-deal-with-store-clerks shopper, I expect my product questions to be answered thoughtfully and politely.

I could have been better at my consumer chatting; UPlay staff could have started off better; JSXL Technology has a big #FAIL, right up to the very end when I was still figuring out if and how I should return the phonepad I ordered from them. Bad attitude and bad customer service does not build a business or consumer trust.

JSXL Technology is a brand new e-commerce site, less than a year old. (My bad for not noticing this right away, but they were the site that offered the UPlay phonepad I wanted. The UPlay site itself did as well, but I gave up trying to figure out how to order from them.)

While JSXL might have a good website and know technology, they are worse than worst at knowing how to run a consumer-dependent business. They have a lot to learn and obviously (as demonstrated through their email conversations with me, their consumer) know less than nothing about how to deal with their customer’s questions. My advice is to not buy from them until they have more experience as an e-commerce business; they are hell to deal with.

That leads us to the other chatters and what we might have learned.

I have learned that I have to be more patient and accurate about explaining what it is I am asking about. Part of the problem is that you don’t know what you don’t know. And phrasing a question about a technology problem in a way that will get you the answer you need is severely hampered when you don’t know what you don’t know. (You know?) I don’t know what I can do about that, but I think I might want to get into my more patient “educator” mode when dealing with unhelpful, arrogant, (supposedly) consumer support staff. This time I lost patience, stopped trusting, and entered my warrior mode.

Lastly, UPlay staff, who resolved the whole issue by finding a way to return the phonepad for a reasonable postage cost.

And so here is the unexpected end to the story:

I have decided to keep the phone/pad — despite a really wonky boot-up process and the problems with time-outs when trying to download anything. I still don’t understand why the “Android drivers” come up as downloaded but uninstalled (Code 28) and don’t know if the mobile phone component will work when I eventually get to T-Mobile and get a SIM card and a plan. I’m hoping that the UPlay staff will explain what I still don’t understand and will answer future questions should they come up.

Meanwhile, I have successfully installed an SD card and used the camera; the GPS works; I have downloaded Words With Friends, OverDrive Media Console, Kindle for Android, and a few other apps I use. All of that is working. I am trusting that it will continue to function as I need it to. And I am trusting that UPlay consumer support staff will give me some advice if I run into function issues.

It’s a very cool little device, a whole lot cheaper than the ones I read about that soon will be reaching the American market.

I have not yet tried to download into the phonepad what I need to blog through WordPress. While I’m writing this on my HP Pavilion Notebook with a 17 inch screen, who knows that but soon I will be blogging from my 7 inch UPlay phonepad gen 3. (But first I will have to buy a keyboard case to make it easier; I found one, online, of course.)

I’m the kind of consumer you want to be nice to, young JSLX Technology. I hope that this all has been a valuable learning experience for you.

It has for me.

[UPDATE: Countless email back and forth with uPlay did not provide any solution to the problem of why, even sitting right by the wifi router, connecting to websites and downloading continued to frequently fail. They didn't know why; I should send it back and they would check it out. Instead, I decided to do a "restore to factor settings."

And that solved the problem.

It makes me wonder if the folks at the seller's site put in a setting or something that wound up causing a problem. So, the uPlay phonetab is in play. I haven't yet activated the mobile phone part of it or purchased a smartphone data plan. I'm still experimenting with all the features of the tablet component, which are impressive.]