Hippy Crap to Calm Pissy Spirits.

A year ago I would have openly laughed at anyone saging a room or dwelling, now, it’s something I take semi seriously. Living in a 120 year old building I have a steady truce with the energies that live beside me but last week my landlord was in a side of the building’s basement we have all decided that does not belong to us.  I will not lie, as soon as I pulled up and saw the plumbers moving in and out of the wrong side of the basement my stomach cramped.  See, this building is old as hell and has seen a lot of things.  I have had very real experiences here and none have creeped me out (a whistle in the kitchen when I was totally alone in the bar? One only Matt and I used to call our dogs, our very personal “get your ass over here and pay attention to me you filthy canine” whistle was clear as day while I was by myself.

Well, in the basement things get different really damn fast.  It’s split into 3 parts.  The part right off the kitchen stairs, a bit of storage, and the rest.  I don’t like to go into the main part, it’s poorly lit, it’s damp, and I’ve heard things being tossed around down there but I’ve never felt THREATENED.  The storage is fine, apparently no one cares about storage.  The OTHER part of the basement is a different story completely.  It is not a place any person ever wants to be.  It’s filled with amazing things and I refuse to go look at them.  That part of the basement belongs to something else and I have decided to respect the crap out of that as long as they respect my apartment.

5 hours after the plumbers invaded the wrong side of the basement fixing a drain I got a call from my chef saying that my smoke alarm (1 of 2) was going off like crazy without any hint of smoke and my dogs were howling (even scarier is I wasn’t home and it wouldn’t’ stop), It went off again after I reset it out of no where an me not being in the apartment an hour later so I pulled the thing apart and took it downstairs.  I still had a smoke alarm and I’m not going to deal with it, The next night I heard a loud bang in my apartment while I was down in the bar, upstairs nothing was amiss (this was definitely not a dog thump), it was so solid a thump that I could feel it through the floor of the bar 14 feet below.

That night I knew that something was amiss and saged the fuck out of my apartment.  I did this when I first moved in mostly in a ritual to claim this space as mine and a place for positive energy for myself.  I decided that this would be a place of healing and progress and I wasn’t going to accept any crap into my space.  I saged every corner of this place with windows wide open feeling a little foolish and also determined.  I could have sprinkled fairy dust into each corner and thought happy thoughts and it would have had the same effect.  This was going to be my home and my first without Matt and I was going to make it the best I could.

Tonight my bartender told me that last Sunday she actually had to take a break while closing because she was so scared so suddenly that she almost broke down in tears.  This is from a woman who had worked before at the same bar for years without ever being bothered by anything in the bar.  I hadn’t even told her about my smoke alarms or thump.  Tonight I brought down the sage and gave it to my bartender working tonight.  Thankfully I seem to always employ at least one hippy who doesn’t give it a second thought.  We had invaded something’s space and now it was invading ours.

I know it sounds dumb and new agey but sometimes you have to accept that there are things you just can’t understand and that doesn’t make them any less real. I’ve probably had the least of all the experiences reported by my staff and patrons so tonight we sage and hopefully put the truce back in place.

And before you say it, no I don’t at all believe that Matt’s spirit is at the bar.  I believe he is in peace where ever we all go after we die.  He’s definitely not here, I don’t know how to explain it but I just know it deep in my heart, he’s gone and whatever I’m dealing with is not him.

Things That Change

I’m sure anyone who has every gone from being in a relationship probably can relate but there are a lot of things about suddenly being a widow I never thought of before.  Things that would affect me in a way I never imagined.

1.  I can complete all my laundry in like 3 loads.  This is astonishing to me.  I can also do this after going 3 weeks without doing laundry.  How crazy pants is that?

2.  When I go looking for a clean dish or cup I have one and my sink is clean (most of the time).  This is even crazier because I only have 4 plates and 6 cups to my name (including coffee cups).

3 Taking care of two massive dogs can be more challenging.  I don’t have any back up when the boys are being jerks so there are times when I just send them to their corners for 15 minutes of quiet time and to settle.

4. I can have a carton of ice cream in my freezer for weeks before it’s gone.  I didn’t even know this was possible.

5. I bought scented drier sheets.  My sheets smell NICE.  Matt had seriously sensitive skin so everything was perfume and dye free.

6. I can light scented candles without criticism.  I can pick the scents i like and not worry if they are “stinky”.

There are lots of things I don’t like obviously.  I miss my best friend every day.  He had the kindest eyes (which he shared with his sister and his father) and the best smile and was a center of calm in my worst storms.  I hate how empty the house can feel about an hour before bedtime and all my midwest friends have gone to bed and I have no one to talk to.  My bed is empty and I still haven’t adapted to sleeping in the middle.  I have found ways to root out the happiness though.  There are still things that make me insanely happy and I’m trying to focus on them.  Sometimes I suceed and sometimes I fail but that is all in being human.  Whenever I start to get stressed or upset about something I try to remember that the worst thing has already happened, whatever follows is nothing compared to that and if I could get through losing my best friend and husband I can make just about anything happen.

Distance and Time

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time but I neither had the emotional strength nor the distance to put what I have been feeling and encountered into words.  Now, almost 6 months since Matt passed I feel like I have a better perspective on this thing we call grief than I did.  It’s like driving onto an overpass and seeing the skyline of a city, it’s easy to see with some distance, maybe in another 6 months I’ll see it from the distance of a plane flying overhead.  Someplace I recognize, some place that still tugs a bit at my heartstrings, but not my home anymore.  

It’s easy to make your home in grief and linger there, wallowing in the days that you don’t get and forgetting to live the days that you have.  To look back on the road your traveling, on everything that you’ve lost, on everything that’s been taken from you.  It’s hard to turn away from that and look forward to where you are going.  It’s a struggle not to try to grasp for the things that have fallen beside the road and try to drag them with you, it’s hard to let go because you feel as though letting go might mean forget and you never ever want to forget a single moment.  Those plans you had are gone, you must let them go and make new ones, make a new life, and try to be a whole person again.  It’s hard.  It’s really fucking hard.  Distance through time helps, it doesn’t solve anything but it helps.  The razor sharp edges of loss are dulled and eroded, eventually they don’t slice right through you every time, only sometimes and only in some moments.

I have had some crazy things said to me in the months that I’ve lost Matt from being criticized to wearing my wedding ring too long (a month), to comments about NOT wearing it, to dating advise, criticized about keeping my last name because I’m “not married anymore”, to being told not to “grieve too long” to “I don’t see you as a widow, you can’t be a widow” (ok, let me just jump in my way way back machine and will my husband’s cancer away so I don’t have to be a widow anymore, wish I thought of that).

I am determined to believe that people are generally coming from a good place, that they are good people who have no idea what the hell is coming out of their mouths or how they sound.  I have to believe this or else I would spend a lot of time punching people in the face.  This tragedy didn’t happen to other people, it happened to me and my inlaws.  More people might have been saddened by Matt’s sudden death but they weren’t affected by it the way we were.  They weren’t present at those horrible final moments.  They don’t count, at least not in my book.  Given that I believe that people are inherently good I have to believe that the terrible things that come out of their mouths are because they just don’t know what to say.  

What is the best and only thing you have to say upon learning that someone has passed?  “I’m sorry”, “That fucking sucks,” “That’s horrible”, then let the conversation move on.  Don’t dwell, don’t force us to talk about what we don’t want to talk about.  If I don’t know you chances are I don’t want to play 20 questions about the worst 11 days of my life.  I might cry, you might feel like a dick, and this could have been avoided.  

No one wants to compare loss.  Ever.  I know it might have been a big event in your life that you lost [fill in the blank], but it’s not the same, it’s nowhere near the same.  The reason for that?  We are not the same person.  How I deal with grief and how I feel about my loss you could never understand and I could never understand how you felt about yours.  I might have an idea but I’d never presume to know how it affected you.  I hate to hear “I know exactly how you feel” because all I want to say in response is “No you FUCKING don’t, you have NO IDEA how I feel.”  I definitely don’t want to compare notes with you. 

Things do get better though.  Not because of anything anyone says, not because of anything anyone does.  It gets better because that’s the only option.  The pain will be with me forever, there is nothing I can ever do to erase those terrible days, but it becomes more distant, it becomes more manageable.  Eventually life turns becomes normal again, a new kind of normal, something different than before but not necessarily terrible.  The storm has passed and the cleanup can take years but eventually everything is swept up and a new life forms. 

Time Marches On

So, in another week an a half my husband will have been gone for 3 months.

I don’t know how the time has passed, mostly I’ve spent it in a total fog though I know I’ve been super productive.  I’ve been productive because I needed to run my husband’s bar, continue working my full time job, and pack up a 3 bedroom house, 2 garages, a barn, sell my livestock, and move into Portland to be closer to my bar which i was commuting to every day.

Busy has helped.  Everyone said that being busy would keep my mind off things.  People who say crap like that have never experienced their life shattering apart in a million pieces.  Yes, I’m putting the pieces together, there are unexpected triumphs as well as unexpected baseball bats to the face.  If life gives you what you can handle but if that’s true life must think I’m as badass as Batman.

Some days I can handle just fine, some days I’m really freaking awesome, some days I can’t do anything but cry in my car at lunch, and sometimes I just want to break anything and everything I can.  I am more often the latter than anything else.  I have always been quit hot tempered but now it’s different.  Now a rage boils within me unlike anything else, it’s not explosive, it’s not as though I’m mad at any one thing, but ti’s there just as physical as a boulder and no amount of yoga or breathing exercises help.  It probably exacerbates things that I swallow down my feelings whenever I’m in public.  

I’ve never been good at publicly expressing the deeper sides of my personality and though i don’t want to share those feelings with the world I don’t know that sucking it up is working for me.  I guess time will only tell.

One thing I think definitely helped was moving. The space I now live in doesn’t have any memories of Matt and it’s a good retreat when the world gets to hard.  I like my little two bedroom apartment, I like living closer to the city, I like everything about it except that I wish I had larger sidewalks to walk my dogs.  Thankfully I am very close to a large nature reserve. 

Things have changed, obviously, but not in the most expected ways.  I learned that I am not an un-tidy person, that I regularly keep my dishes done and vacuum once a week along with my bathroom spotless.  Who knew?  Who knew that cleaning up after another person for 11 years made me give up completely?  I have learned also that I will watch the same DVD twice in row rather than get up and put another one in.  I also have not cooked a thing in 2 weeks.  I am in love with my blender and if I can not make a smoothie out of it in 5 minutes chances are I’m not eating it.  Also, LAUNDRY, who knew you could do all your laundry in two loads? WHO KNEW? I sure as hell didn’t.  

These are not really plus sides as unexpected but obvious outcomes of living by myself.  Living by myself is weird but I think being an introvert and an only child makes me much more ok with it than most people.  I don’t mind my time alone, I find ways to fill my space.  I’ve started drawing and painting again, eventually, when I can face it I’ll start knitting again.  I put aside all the hobbies that brought me happiness when Matt died, not intentionally, but I just didn’t have the attention span for anything lasting for more than 5 minutes. 

I have rekindled friendships I had always had but are much more present in my life.  I walk with the dogs, hike by myself, and for the first time in a long time do everything I want to do when I want to do it.  I miss Matt like crazy every moment of every day, but I think I’m starting to find myself again.


How to Handle a Grieving Person

Something terrible has happened to someone close to you and you don’t know what to do or say.  Chances are you are going to say something stupid, that’s ok, that’s kind of expected.  But as I go through this experience I have noticed some things that most people just don’t understand or wouldn’t think of.  Things that make the situation more uncomfortable than it has to be.

You want to sympathize, you want to make sure that person knows you feel for them.  For me personally it’s very hard.  My basic rule is if I’m acting normal, if I’m smiling or even laughing please don’t ask how I’m doing.  Let me pretend things are normal.  If I tell you things are ok or as ok as they can be please leave it at that.  The process of losing a loved one, much less a husband is exhausting.  There is so much more to deal with than just grief and sometimes I just don’t want to rehash everything a hundred times a day.  Sometimes I want to live in the moment.

Also please don’t be offended if I don’t want to discuss every aspect of the illness or passing with you.  I believe that every person has a key circle of family and friends they reach out to constantly for support.  It’s nothing against you if you don’t happen to fall into that circle.  I don’t respond to texts, emails, instant messages because I just don’t have time and because each response encourages further interactions and conversations I don’t have energy for.  Sometimes I don’t want to talk about the worst thing that has ever happened to me.  I know that people don’t consider that when they start prying, they don’t even see themselves as prying, but it is.

If a grieving person doesn’t respond to your questions or dodges them it’s not because they aren’t dealing with their grief, it’s because they don’t want to deal with their grief with you or in public.

Next, you want to help, you offer it.  “Just tell me what you need.”  What a great sentiment, really it is.  Trouble with it is that when dealing with a million thoughts, feelings, and pains added to daily life delegation of these tasks to another person is nearly impossible.  Thinking of what you could do or what would fit with your life and schedule is really a hard thing to do add to that that the person isn’t functioning on all cylinders and you will be met with a smile and a nod.

What’s better?  Just do something if you want to do it.  Point in case when my best friend was here she cleaned my entire house.  I didn’t ask her to do it but it was the nicest thing she could have done.  I came home and had a clear uncluttered space when everything else was falling apart.  My cousin had my car detailed, my dad fed my goats and sheep and dogs, my mom and step dad bought me 10lbs of coffee and 105 pounds of cat litter and fixed every light bulb in my bar.  If you want to help just do it, don’t wait for us to point at something.

It’s heart warming to know so many people care but it’s also overwhelming, if you sense a person needs space it’s ok to give it.

Heart Broken

I don’t know how I really feel about writing this post.  Part of me feels that it’s very private, part of me feels that it’s a way to help get on the road to mentally accepting this.

On Sunday March 2nd, 2014 my sweet, kind hearted, handsome, gentle, strong as a bear husband Matt passed away from testicular cancer.  He was never sick, showed no signs, and was gone in 11 days.  Urgent care had sent my husband home with a diagnosis of a cold when I was worried about his shortness of breath, when his memory disappeared I brought him to the ER who found that Matt had a collapsed lung and thought that he had pneumonia.  He did not. 3 days later he was diagnosed with cancer, after that things went very quickly to surgery, and treatments, and chemo, then his heart failed and through CPR had brought him back he was on a ventilator and his kidneys were failing.

We had to make the hard decision to let him go in peace.  It broke my heart into a million pieces.

It’s been a week now.  I’m standing and I’m moving forward.  I’ve sold my herd of sheep and goats, I’ll be moving into the city soon I hope, and I’m getting a handle on managing our bar.  Keeping busy keeps me standing.

I have amazing family and amazing friends that have really helped me get through this.  I’m not sure what the future holds, all I know is that I miss my husband and best friend and that I need to keep moving.

Back From The Abyss

It’s been a long time.  A really long time since I’ve even looked at this space.  This is a natural order of things I think when your life has gone through the spin cycle.  One moment you are coasting along then you are whirling violently with the sound of a jet engine in the background unsure of when – or if – things will ever stabilize again.  They do because they have to, life has to stabilize from time to time in order to give us as people a chance to breathe an get our feet back under us again.  We may come out damp and wrinkled but it’s nothing time can’t iron out. 

That is how it’s been for me over the last year and a half and though it’s not been easy (hell sometimes it’s been downright miserably hard) I am out on the other side, surfacing after the long plunge of isolation. I will not go into this last year since it wasn’t really that interesting.  Yes, we bought a bar, yes it’s pretty awesome, yes we love it.  If you are in Portland you should come visit The Lighthouse Inn.

This sphere had once started out as a knitting blog and though I still obsessively knit I feel that is not my only focus anymore.  I knit, and when I remember I do take pictures of it but not as I once did.  There was a point when knitting was almost a competition for me, how many ‘likes’ could I get on Ravelry, how many comments?  That gets exhausting after a while and I stepped back from it. So instead the blog here will grow as I have grown and I hope to give it a voice that is more than just knitting and photography and goats.

Don’t get me wrong, goats will still be a huge part of it because, damn, who doesn’t love goats?  But the main focuses will change and evolve as life has forced me to evolve.  This year I have made one resolution (I seem to do better in singulars, I can accomplish just one thing in the span of a year) and that is to try to be fearless.  I come from a family ruled by fear, fear of being late, on time, of traveling, of bills, of weather, of uncontrollable acts of God.  Everything comes with a warning. I can’t tell you how much this irritates my husband who was taught to live life as it comes. I have gotten better at my fear and anxiety issues over the last 10 years of marriage but it’s still not perfect.  I tend to hold myself back from dreams because I am afraid I won’t achieve them, hold back from people because I am afraid they won’t like me.

How dumb is that?  Holding yourself back because you are afraid you won’t achieve what you desperately want.  In essence I have created what I fear, I won’t succeed if I don’t try.  So here’s to my year of trying things.  Not all of them will work, most of them probably won’t, but at least I’ll have something to show for it. 

And because it hasn’t happened in a year….here is a picture of Charlie.  More to come, I promise. 

The Lighthouse Inn – WE BOUGHT A BAR!

The story of how the Mr and I came to own a bar is a long and twisted path.  It’s been a year long twisted painful path that has finally brought us to – I believe – what we are meant to be doing.  I won’t get into the specifics of the last year because it’s filled with a lot of pain, anger, and bitterness that honestly, I’m just not ready to air publically.  Partially because it would make me seem like a jerk to say what has happened publically and the people involved in it that basically ruined our life for a good 9 months.  We are stronger than most though, and have prevailed in a way that even surprises me.

It all started almost a year ago, on March 15th – yes, the ides of March, how prophetic is that? – when the Mr was forced out of the company he built, the company he started and grew and cultivated into a profitable venture.  Forced out by greed, blind ambition, and selfishness.  It tore our world apart and left us floundering.  What went wrong?  Who can we trust anymore?  What the hell am I supposed to do?

You know that scene in action movies where the star s are dumped into a coal mining cart and sent rushing along an abandoned ruined track till they hit a patch where the track is suddenly missing and they are sent flying over empty open space?  That was us.  We were floundering mid-air struggling to catch that one single hanging chain.  And we did.

A few months after the Ides of March I asked the Mr what he wanted to do.  It was clear he didn’t want to stay in finance, he wanted out.

“I’ve always wanted to own a bar,” he says with a shrug.

If you’ve been married for any length of time there are times when your partner says something so outrageous that it just stalls your brain…this was one of those times.  But, also at these times you calculate how likely that thing is to happen and if you are like me you decide that it probably won’t so it won’t hurt a thing to encourage them.  So I did.

Little did I know that moment would be when our life changed direction forever.  The Mr found a bar broker and we started looking at bars.  We looked at hip downtown bars where the crowd was a million times more awesome and current than we were, we looked at dives that were neat but made no money, we looked at modern Scandinavian bars with lots of glass and blond wood and patio space but couldn’t make heads or tails of where the money actually was coming from.  None of them felt right, none of them were us.  None of them were bars the Mr and I would go to for a beer and a burger.

Then the broker came back and said “I think I’ve found your bar, I think this is it.”

He was right.

The first time we ever entered The Lighthouse Inn everything felt right.  It was a blue collar bar filled with history, amazing woodwork, and everything we love.  The price was right, it was more than right,
it was ½ the price of other bars we’d looked at.  It was a mess of who owned the bar, who owned the building and all that jazz but in the end, it was perfect.  We signed the final papers on December 6th, 2012 and we were bar owners.

It’s hard work, I mean HARD work, but like anything you love, it’s worth it.  We have had a crash course in bartending, bartenders, cooks, and venders.  Sometimes it’s been awesome, sometimes it’s been batshit crazy, sometimes it’s just been laugh out loud ridiculous but we love it.  We have gotten to know our regulars – some who’ve been coming to The Lighthouse Inn for 35 years – we’ve made amazing friends, we’ve been welcomed so warmly that it blows my mind.  And as long as we “don’t change anything,” per our regulars we are fine.  Course we have changed things and they haven’t noticed till they’ve commented on how good it is.  Like our hand cut, hand battered onion rings, or hand cut steak fries, or fresh calamari.

It’s been a whirlwind trip and it’s not over yet, it’s only the beginning, but it’s going to be the ride of our lives.

Pattern Promo & Some Other Stuff

II’ve kinda been a terrible blogger but life finally seems to have gotten back to normal.  Well, normal for us at least.  This has been an insane year for the Mr and I.  It’s like someone took our life, turned it upside down, shook out all the contents, and left them out in the rain.  It hurt, things were uncertain, but I could only have gotten through it because the Mr is my best friend, I have an amazing family, and I am to damn stubborn to stay down for long.

1.  I have published the Pix Wrap and it turned out quite wonderfully.  To celebrate I’m running a buy one get one free promotion on all my patterns.  use promo code YayLife to redeem.


2. Probably the most important thing ever…the Mr and I bought a bar! 

The Lighthouse Inn, located in Portland, Oregon, has been around for the last 54 years, before that the building was a bank (it’s old vault is our liquor stock cabinet), and a post office.  Honestly, I really believe that this was the Mr’s life calling.  He loves it (though it is SO MUCH WORK), the customers are freaking awesome, we have a great staff, and there is an amazing sense of accomplishment when someone compliments you on the bar.

If you are in Portland please come down!  We are located off the 30, just over the St. John’s Bridge (tht green one you always see in Grimm) heading to the coast.  You can expect good drinks, amazing burgers, and a laid back attitude where everyone is friendly.

3.  I realize you all have’t seen pictures of goats or anything for a while, so here you go.


Pix Wrap

Continuing on my theme from the Rough Sea Shawl I knit the Pix Shawl as a wrap.  It turned out really lovely.  Just needs to be tested.

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