Tag Archives: knitting

Conclusion: Because

I recently came to an important conclusion about my riding. I am sure you are waiting with baited breath to hear what it was. But to I think I should give you a little background first.

It started when I finished a few knitting projects I had planned on for quite some time. I had, in rapid succession, quite a few knitting projects I had planned to give away as gifts. I, of course, have many more I wanted to do, but I didn’t really want to start on them yet and none of the gift deadlines were particularly looming. So I felt a little depressed. There are so many beautiful projects in the world to be knit, how could I knit them all, and if I couldn’t knit them all, why should I bother knitting anything? Thus went my completely ridiculous line of reasoning. So I listlessly flipped through my knitting books and magazines thinking how fabulous it would be to knit this sweater, or that hat, but I just didn’t have the right yarn. Then I started going through my yarn stash and feeling the beautiful yarns and thinking of how I would love to knit with this yarn or that yarn, but darn it, I just didn’t have the right pattern. And then it hit me. I madly grabbed the two skeins of homespun yarn my mother had sent me ages ago that had been sitting in my stash begging for the perfect project and then lunged for the issue of Piecework that I knew had a pattern I had been longing to knit if only I had the perfect yarn. I knit a test swatch (but only a very small one because I generally don’t believe in them and because it is a shawl pattern for heaven’s sake) and then I paused…I realized I had no real reason to knit this beautiful shawl pattern from 1930, that perhaps Miss Marple would have knit. I had no one in mind that I would give it to, and I had no real use for it myself, though I suppose I could use it at work. Why would I knit this project? That was when it hit me- why not! I would knit it, as huge and ridiculous as it may be, because I could and it was there and I wanted to do it. I would enjoy it, the yarn was just right for the pattern and vice versa, it would be beautiful and special. Of course it will take ages and I am praying I have enough of the unique yarn that I cannot get any more of, but I am doing it because it will be knitting for the sake of knitting. What does that have to do with my great conclusion about my riding?

Well, of course, though I qualified for our state’s dressage championships at training and first level I decided that I wouldn’t go. It would be fiscally unwise for me, I haven’t been able to take as many lessons as I would like, and aside from the shows at which I qualified I haven’t shown Strider at all. And did I mention those shows were at the barn where I board? He usually travels well and winning certainly isn’t everything, but I want our first trip to championships to be over the moon wonderful. I don’t want to be worried that I am not prepared and that I can’t really afford it. But I still have been riding like a crazy person. At least 4 days a week, no matter what, I am at the barn riding. There was a brief time I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. Was I trying to prove something? Was I determined to get to second level by next year? No and no. Well, kind of no. Mostly no. I realized that right now I am riding religiously for the sake of riding. Because I love riding and my horse and the barn where I board and the experience of it- and I didn’t really need another reason. So my great realization is that goals are wonderful. Having a reason to do something can often be very important. But sometimes it is just as important to do something for no reason at all.

So, I hope you do something you love not because you have a goal to accomplish, but just because. And until next time, RAWR!!!!

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Totaled

Last Tuesday I had a bad day. It wasn’t an RA flare, or just being in a bad mood, and I know that attitude really effects how we perceive things. But I think this counts as a genuine bad day; not that I don’t see a few positives. I will get there, just bear with me for a bit. But let me tell you what happened:

 First, I set my alarm clock one hour late on accident. I plead that when I set it after 11pm the night before I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing. As far as why I was up that late the night before- that is a longer story but suffice it to say my schedule right now is pretty rough. Sometimes I think we get cosmic foreshadowing of things to come. Perhaps my having all of 2 minutes to get dressed and out the door to have any prayer of getting to work on time (I usually leave before my alarm even went off that day) should have been a good clue that staying in bed that day would have been the better choice.

Miraculously, I made it to work on time and work though less than fun went as well as it usually does- nothing remarkable there. I managed to leave nearly on time for my dentist appointment that afternoon. It was a bright sunny day, I was just heading in for a cleaning, and really things were going well after such a rough start. Until I went to get on the interstate. For those of you that aren’t familiar,Coloradohas relatively speedy interstates. The speed limit in many sections is 75mph, but many people go 80mph and merging can be interesting since often drivers are less than kind about allowing people in. I was driving on an on ramp with a tight curve, and to my awareness, I was suddenly swerving out of control; every correction I made to try to gain control just made the situation worse. I hadn’t been going very fast, since I drive that on ramp all the time and know the turn is tight, but I slammed on the brakes and pulled my car into a skid away from traffic. Good idea, right? Well it was until the skid took me into a pole sideways. Ears ringing and vision returning after the side airbag deployed, I sat there in disbelief. I have never been in a real car accident (that is qualified by the term real because I did have a minor one once but someone essentially backed in to me from a stop because they took their foot of their brake), and at the time I couldn’t figure out what had happened to cause it. I was dazed and shaken but otherwise ok. I got out of my car and glanced over it. It looked remarkably fine considering, and seeing the interstate a few feet away made me grateful that the situation hadn’t been worse. A driver that had been behind me stopped and made sure I was ok and I took a minute and gathered myself. I looked at the time, well, I still had plenty of time to make it to the dentist, even if I went slowly.

I eased onto the interstate and my car felt a little odd but ok considering, or so I thought. I got about a mile down the road when it swerved a little again and then I heard a distinctive sound. I admit my first thought wasn’t particularly printable. I pulled over, and got out and started attempting to change my tire which was rather flat. I was beyond shaken at this point so I really wasn’t making good progress. I had the jack out but couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to put it together all of a sudden. So, I am fiddling with pieces of the jack when a Colorado Department of Transportation truck pulls up. The two CDOT guys were amazing. They had the tire changed so quickly I hardly knew what was happening. Thankful for my full size spare, I was on my way again, if rather slowly, since by this time I was quite terrified to drive. I got off the interstate at the next exit and took a back way to the dentist’s office. I made it just in time for my appointment somehow, so I was lucky enough to find out I need more dental work done. (I have major jaw problems so though not surprising the vast amount of dental work I have had and how much trouble it is for me makes it an ordeal.)

 So, I readily and hastily submit that I am grateful that I wasn’t hurt beyond a bruise from the airbag deployment. I also am rather glad I had switched insurance companies a few months ago and have much better insurance than I used to have. Bythe next afternoon I had a rental car, covered by insurance, and my husband was steadily working through the insurance claim process. So it was pretty bad as far as days go, but it seems like things are working out. Unfortunately, per the insurance company, my bug is squashed, or rather, totaled. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. One point of relief though, was that even in a rental car, Strider still comes up to the pasture fence when I drive up. Don’t ask me how he knows its me, and believe me, I have asked other people if he does that when they drive up and they assure me he doesn’t (so I either have friends that want me to feel flattered by my horse or a horse that is pretty wonderful. Or both.). 

Unfortunately that means that this week will be devoted to dental work, a rheumatologist appointment, and car shopping. I think those are three of my top five most dreaded activities. I am hoping for riding as many days as I can and a knitting night to ease the pain. So far I am at least on track with riding, even if I did mostly stretchy work with Strider last night. We have no more shows this season (I know, we really only had one: between EHV-1 and finances it has been a good season for me to focus on training), though I will get to groom at one, so it is nice to just ride and try to keep improving.

I guess all that to say, I think we all have truly bad days, thankfully, a day only lasts 24 hours and even seasons have to change someday. And horse time usually helps. Well, until next time, RAWR!!!

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Frigid Ramblings

Today I can’t seem to get warm which makes my body ache all over. But I am learning ways to cope. One of my favorites (that I can actually do at work- can’t go see Strider or Matt or pet the dog at work, and though I can sometimes knit it depends on the moment) is to look at the mountains. I am certainly lucky to live in a state with such awesome beauty. This morning the mountains are of course snow capped, giving the craggy peaks a frosted look. Then, the clouds above them were tinged in pale oranges and pinks against a light blue background. Below that though, a steely grey element is softened by light grey clouds wrapping the lower portions so only the tops of the peaks poke out. With a view like that it is hard not to feel a little better.

 The irony of it all is that I might not even notice the beauty I live with if it weren’t for pain or frustration pushing me to find an escape hatch. Odd that. Why is it that we seem to need a catalyst to notice the constant beauty? I know I can’t write a decent poem when everything in my life is going perfectly. I just can’t find any inspiration when nothing is out of place. But when there is an irritation I must find something, anything to escape the source of the irritation, even if that escape is just creatively focusing on that irritation and pretending it is happening to someone else. So I guess I am just a really good escape artist when it comes down it- a coward if I am honest though.  So I would never really be much of an artist if I wasn’t an escape artist. And though I don’t want to suggest an answer that is too easy to a problem that is far from it, perhaps there can at least be some solace in pain or frustration, or whatever it is that pokes and prods us into finally venting what becomes art.

 OK…rambling over. In the news: I am trying a new treatment. So far I have no clue if it helps. The first infusion made me tired beyond imagination, but other than that I have no assessment. I did get to joke around with an x-ray tech who was on temporary infusion patient baby sitting duty about the weird side effects of prednisone though and that was actually entertaining. It made the longer infusion time seem not very long at all. I love when medical people are honest and don’t look at you like a freak when you tell them about your experiences, so having her joke around with us about prednisone psychosis was really fun.

I have also started trailer shopping. I admit it makes me cringe to think about spending so much money but it will be so nice to not have to ask someone else when I want to take Strider or Vanya somewhere. Though I hope most of my showing this year will be with my barn, it will still be a load of my mind. Then we just need to get Matt a car so we aren’t putting miles on truck….one thing at a time.

It has been positively frigid here lately so I ride when it is warm enough and when I can’t ride I get the odd sensation of choosing what I will do with my time. I read a few books (they were amazing and gripping; I could hardly put them down. I love reading), have gotten a few knitting projects done, used our wii once or twice, and even seen Matt once or twice when we were both awake. I have to say the guilt of not riding eats away at me though making it harder to really enjoy. I need to be exercising more too but again…one thing at a time. Until next time….RAWR!!!!

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Guilty as Charged- Ambiguous

“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.”   -Winnie the Pooh

Please read this blog post from the Owl City blog entitled, “You are Braver than You Believe.” I have read it at least four times; I keep coming back to it because each time it catches me in a number of ways. Some are too hard for me to put into words, and some are probably nonsense, but after a rough few weeks…make that months….years….oh heck, I think if we are honest most of us don’t really have easy lifetimes at least in certain respects, it hits home every single time I read it.

First: the Winnie the Pooh quote. Don’t we all want a friend like that? A friend who is so close to us in spirit and in thought that they can see the words we need and speak them and even when they are apart, they are with us in our thoughts, memories, etc. by virtue of being such a part of us. I don’t want this to be a spiritual debate but I feel that if you have faith then of course this should be very much how faith is as well. Recently, upon realizing that a person I had very much counted as a friend really wasn’t one anymore, made me really think on friendship and how it should be. Shouldn’t our friends respect and honor us? Support us but be willing to tell us when we aren’t behaving as we should? No friend will ever be perfect; I know that, but I think at least sometimes we all need someone who sees us better than we can see ourselves to give us a reality check and someone who can cheer us on without condemnation when we are losing perspective. I hope I am that friend to my friends…

The rest of the post is where I become rather convicted. I know that there are so many things in my life right now I am struggling to change, to fix, to improve. I get impatient with my situation; I get tired of fighting battles that, when I am honest about it, I know will not end or if they will, it won’t be soon. I get tired of pain and struggle. And before I know it, I am wishing things were different. It is so easy to lose sight of the opportunities I do have, and the blessings and the reasons for hope. One thought acts like a spark in the middle of a field of dry grass- it is rapidly out of control. And yet it is a waste of energy I am ridiculously short on in the first place and often such thoughts pull me into not wanting to try- to just give up. I know- not a pretty picture.

So what does it come down to? I don’t have a perfect solution unfortunately; I wish I did. But I keep coming back to this blog post- how preposterous is it for me to wish for things to be the way I want rather than the way they are? Who am I to think I have a right to these things I don’t have? What should I focus on? What should I do? What do I actually have the power to control? Why would I have been better off if things were different? How can I presume that?

I won’t say it is easy- I will readily admit that if someone told me that there was a moment in life that tipped the scales as it were and made me get RA, or that I could prevent the accident that changed my sister’s life forever, or any number of other moments, and gave me the chance to go back and make everything different, I probably would jump at the chance. Even though I know it wouldn’t really make me content. But I guess all that is to say that peace, hope, and contentment- they all come when I embrace the life I have instead of fighting it. I just wish I could remember that more often.

So….today here are some things that are blessings for me- to remind me why things shouldn’t be different. In no particular order:

-My husband: and not just because I am married to him and think I need to put him on the list. There are too many reasons to list.

-My true Friend: because there are so few people who get so much about me and don’t think I’m bonkers (or if she thinks I’m bonkers she still seems to like me anyway lol)

-My Family: I include really all my family in this (it is a rather funky and odd family believe me…) as they have either supported me in the past or are supporting me and cheering me on now.

-My Horses: I can’t believe I have TWO still and they are both the best ever. Vanya was my companion growing up and Strider…well…hard to put into word but I will just say he is amazing.

-My Cat and Dog: because when I am not able to do much at all they can still make me smile and feel a tiny bit better.

-Knitting and spinning: few other activities can hold my attention as well, make me patient, and somehow produce something anyone else would want to use! And there is something therapeutic about fiber that can make even the worst pain or stress fade…

-Faith: I am blessed to have a Savior who cares about me, forgives my failures, and shows me by example how it’s done.

-Good Doctors: I have some amazing doctors working to reduce pain, prevent damage, etc. They also take the time to listen to me and make sure we are working towards the same goals.

 I know this was a bit of a deviation from the usual more news type of post, but it had been swimming in my head for a while and finally I decided I should just post it already. Well, until next time…..RAWR!!!

 

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Sock Phobia

I know I am a terrible blogger, but I hope you will forgive me. Today I come to you humbly and with an admission that does not come easily to me. I was afraid of socks.

 Before you have me committed, allow me to explain. I was afraid of knitting socks to be more specific. I can knit, purl, knit two together, etc. so my mother (who, rest assured is not the type to tell me I can do things when I can’t) assured me I could knit a sock, or even a whole pair of socks.  Finally, the beautiful fingering weight sock yarns lured me into the pit of temptation that is sock knitting. I cast my stitches on to all four size 3 needles and took the plunge.

 And actually, the first sock turned out just fine! (I will post a picture once I get my phone playing nice again) I am well into the second sock in the pair and everything has gone rather well. I admit the kitchener stitch on the first one was not flawless, but I will get better I am sure.  But, what, you may ask; does knitting a sock have to do with horses or RA?

 Knitting, specifically knitting this pair of socks, has allowed me to think about nothing, a skill that I previously had been unable to master. As I knit I can simply “zone out” as I knit and purl for the rib and knit the instep, and pay just enough attention to know when I need to decrease or knit the heel flap etc. When my hands are stiff and sore, somehow I can still knit, even with ridiculously tiny yarn (though up next is another hat in this pattern: http://wendysknitch.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/sweet-eleanor-available-now/  which I made recently and had a lot of fun with and I can use bigger yarn. Gave the first one to Aubrey. Not sure who will get the next one…..maybe Lara or Julie.). I get a feeling of achievement and satisfaction when I am done and am actually starting to notice that on the whole  my dexterity in my hands is a tiny bit better after knitting consistently again (I hadn’t knitted in ages and just started again in the last couple months) and the popping in my finger joints has decreased ever so slightly. So, it helps the RA symptoms a tiny bit and when it doesn’t pain control by focusing on something else is not to be under rated.

 But what about riding? Interestingly, I realized through knitting that I had a huge problem in my riding. I was frustrated a lot. I would have great lessons and then have mixed results during the week mostly because if anything at all went wrong I would think I was an awful, miserable excuse for a rider and that Strider deserved better. How could I get on my horse and ruin him? Didn’t he deserve better after everything the poor horse has been through? And yet this would make our rides worse since Stride would sense my anger and frustration and a vicious circle would begin. But in knitting, I have no such struggle. Even when I have to undo 7 rows of stitches because I misread a pattern, I only get slightly annoyed, mostly because I wish I could be making forward progress but ultimately I want the finished product to come out right so I don’t mind too much. So what is different from knitting to riding aside from the obvious? Why was I ok with going back and fixing a mistake in knitting, but in riding would brook no fault?

 

Ultimately I still don’t know the answer to that question, but in asking it I came up with tools to help me stop the vicious circle in my rides (thank you for the advice COTH forum members). I also am ending up with a really nice pair of socks that will hopefully help keep my feet warmer. So really, I win whether I answer my question or not. More later; until next time, RAWR!

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I’m Back Again….Again.

I know….I’m a really bad blogger. I have my excuses, but really they can be summed up in three words: Life and Rheumatoid arthritis. Bad excuses I know, but they are real enough to me.

As far as life goes I have just been really busy. I have given up for good on amateur status- it was just too hard to try to maintain- and started teaching riding lessons again.  Just beginners as I know I am not a world-class trainer, and I know some would probably argue I am not even good enough to teach beginners, but, I suggest that the laws of supply and demand will work. If I am an awful teacher and don’t do a good job people will not want to pay me to teach. Right now that is not that case. Therefore I will do it and appreciate that it makes affording my horses easier. I also am riding another person’s horse for her, for a total of four horses to try to keep in shape (yikes!) on top of my forty plus hour office job. I am really wishing the office job had fewer hours for a number of reasons, scheduling being only a small one.

As far as rheumatoid….well…I don’t want to be depressing and am trying to stay positive. Here are the facts. I had to up my methotrexate does, add an anti inflammatory and I’m still struggling. My rheumatologist keeps threatening prednisone again and I dread that. Honestly taking a vicodin at night along with all the other things seems to help a lot but I don’t know if that is advisable long term. We are already playing with fire given that my liver enzymes have not been consistent and we are increasing the methotrexate. I am doing everything to keep every hair I have on my head. I braid it at the barn, carefully detangle and avoid messing with it as much as possible and it still comes out alarmingly quickly. I am taking my folic acid like I should plus a multi vitamin when I remember(my personal favorites are the vita-lea ocean wonders…yummy chewables and I notice that I have a bit more energy when I take them. Placebo effect maybe but I’ll take placebo effect over no effect!). I have really struggled with sleep though. I hardly ever sleep through a whole night and that is getting pretty exhausting. Probably about time I called the rheumatologist but I dread it. I know he can help but I don’t want to hear that my last resort is prednisone. If I hide my head in the dirt the problems will go away right? Ha ha.

On a brighter note, I have resumed the ever so domestic hobby of knitting. I actually finished two projects, a felted coffee mug sleeve and a key hole scarf. I am presently working on a scarf for Matt that will be felted after I finish knitting it, which will take me eons since it needs to be wider and longer than I want the finished product since the felting will shrink it a bit. I am enjoying it though and I am about a third of the way done I think. After that I hope to embark on mittens for the first time. After several years of knitting on and off I have never made mittens and I think it is high time I did! I have discovered I have quite the yarn addiction though. I can’t resist a soft pretty colored yarn! Sometimes it is harder than others to knit because of pain or stiffness in my fingers but if I can force myself to do it I find it can help. It certainly distracts me.

That is all for now. unfortunately I have not been making the time to run. I keep hoping that soon I will get in a settled enough schedule to get back into it but it hasn’t happened yet. Sigh. One of theses days. Until then I ride tons and love my horses and my family! They are awesome! Until next time…RAWR!

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