Where’s My Mojo?

It’s gone, just gone. Can’t find it no matter where I look. Have you seen my knitting mojo?  Have you perhaps stolen taken my knitting mojo? Wherever it is, whoever has it, please return!

I’ve been too busy lately, mostly being busy with doing nothing. At least I can’t see results of my busyness. Usually that means I’ve been online going nowhere. Not this time, at least not that I’m aware of. Or am I on autopilot and don’t even know what the left hand is doing? I just can’t get into another gear with my knitting. Holidays coming up very fast and Hanukkah on turbo-speed or even warp speed heading our way this year, makes no difference, I don’t feel the pressure.

Good for my heart. Bad for holiday presents. I always have some super easy knitting on hand to do while waiting for appointments or attending classes. That would be washcloths or dishcloths. But how many can one woman make if she doesn’t even have enough people who use these items? Socks are another knitting project for on the go, as long as they are simple socks. But I got it into my head that I’ve made enough simple socks in my life and now it’s time to work patterns into socks. I have two such projects on the needles and neither is the perfect no mind needed kind of knitting.

An update on the deathflake mittens: I managed to knit with the right color progression, see below, but noticed that I knit very loosely when knitting stranded and, yes, frogged it all again. My next attempt is with smaller needles but I put it aside for a while to finish a pair of socks.

Here are the frogged mittens:


You see where I’m heading here? I’m burned out on dishcloths and washcloths and simple knitting but can’t find the stretch of time needed to make more complicated items like patterned socks or shawls or sweaters or….

That’s what I call a major mojo problem. I’m making an appointment with another season of “The Good Wife” and knitting today. It might be the cure.

I’m a very handy person when it comes to problems around the house. At least I think I am. This might all be a big delusion I’m finding out now. Yes, I can put down laminate flooring, but I can’t do the finishing touches. For years now, we are missing the finished edges of our floors. And where the floors turn into stairs? Ha. That has never been worked out in my mind. And the fact that I stopped cold when it came to the dining room and living room.

I also do plumbing jobs. Most times with a little bit more success. OK, you’ll never have to worry about that stopper again once I got my hands on it, and who needs it anyway in the bathroom. Our latest is the shower, it drips. I worked my magic, but unfortunately it had nothing to do with the shower head. The drip, I diagnosed, is caused by the thing that turns the shower on and off. I could replace whatever part is worn out, but I’m pretty sure I should turn off the water supply first. Now I know how to turn off the water supply to toilets and sinks, there is a handy knob to turn underneath them. But where does one turn off a shower water supply?

Doing research online tells me this shut off mechanism is not easy to find for showers and tubs and there is talk about concealment of these valves. Is that fair to the amateur plumber I ask? Since I’m not about to go hunting for something someone was trying to hide from me, probably successfully, I’m aware I have to shut off the water supply to the house if I am to make the repair. I can do that and have done that before. But, here is my fear: what if I can’t fix the problem? Then I’m stuck with a shower that would spew out water and the only control is no water to anything. Can I risk that? This is one time where I need to follow up and fix the whole problem and not just a part of it.

Next! Believe it or not, both our bathroom sinks are malfunctioning. They were both clogged up. No problem, I have done this many times before, get down on the floor unscrew the trap, clean it out, and reattach. With my frozen shoulder it has become somewhat of a bigger problem, but I can still do that. Unless part of the metal pipe breaks off. No problem, I put a plant in there so no one is tempted to use that sink. And after all there are two sinks in this particular bathroom. So I go clean the other sink and reattach the trap and guess what, something is wrong and now water leaks out of the trap. That has never happened before. The only solution I can see is get a new trap and keep my fingers crossed. That will be a purchase made later today.

At least the sink in our second bathroom still works, but I’m starting to feel squeezed. We have not renovated our bathrooms since we moved into our house in 1992. My belief is that we still deal with fixtures from 1976 when this house was built. But the new roof and gutters ate up our extra money and we’ll have to wait for a while before any thoughts of a new bathroom get to cross our minds.

No wonder my knitting mojo left this house new roof and all, who wants to live in a one bathroom sink home?

I’m still struggling somewhat with the heart anniversary, and I’m following along and reliving the events. You can stop right here or follow Stephen’s posts from last year.

“October 18, 2012

Still uncertain about the atmosphere on this planet…. A pretty rough day here: another transfusion and a many-syllabic-named lung problem, on top of the usual pains, discomforts, and indignities. I hereby predict much better things for tomorrow. Marianna on the Mend! -S

October 19, 2012

What’s the point of surgery if you don’t have scars to show off? This is a lesser one, of course, on the arm that graciously gave of itself – the one that hopes to soon join its partner in knitting. All in all, a better day today. The highlights were pretty high – including several hours of visits from 5 friends (asked if she’d seen the tunnel of light, Marianna responded no, it was dark and smoky, with jazz playing); and the lows were manageable. Onward! – posted by the husband of the Bride Of Frankenstein

October 20, 2012

No sugar-coating in this update (that would be bad for M’s diabetes). The only good news is mostly symbolic: 8 days after our ambulanced arrival, she’s finally out of the ICU and into her own room. Other than that… Not a good day, sorry to say. From a pre-dawn attack by a seemingly psychopathic (but presumably incompetent) couple of syringe-wielding nurses, through an entire day and evening with energy tank registering empty-minus, this has been the one step back that paves the way for tomorrow’s two steps forward. As for tonight… I think I’ll stay right here and create my own ICU. -S

October 21, 2012

The Creature Walks Among Us!

Best day yet. Two hallway walking journeys, a coupla hours of chair sitting adventures, and another good visit with friends. Marianna is well spent after all that, but definitely on the road to the road home. As always, thanks for the supportive e-shouts! -S

October 22, 2012

If you’re following Marianna’s journey from death’s door to health’s highway, you know what to expect: this was another 1-step-back day. The apparent culprit: meds that kept her blood pressure too low. Way too low, like ~74/45. Less pressure on her healing heart, but it prevented her from doing anything beyond breathing. With blood pressure meds on hold, she’s back to her self, as we look forward to morrow…. -S

October 23, 2012

A pretty good day in general – a little more walking, a lot more waking, and a major post-surgery highlight: sitting in a chair for an hour’s worth of bathing, hairbrushing, and braiding by 2 attentive nurses. I (Stephen) promise you: Marianna was in full radiance.

Still no word on our return date (probably accompanied by an oxygen tank), but I think it moved a lot closer today. -S”


It’s been a bit quiet around here. Not at our house, just here on the blog. It hasn’t been so loud at our house since my teenagers got into punk and them or me blasting the music. Enough suspense: we got a new roof.

As a typical German I was prepared with food and drink for the workers, but they hardly accepted anything. My grandmother used to get a case of beer and food whenever a repair project got started at her house. I watched and learned. But people here don’t let me be nice to them, I feel ripped off.

Today, a year ago, I was in surgery. This is what Stephen posted on my facebook page at the time:

“October 15, 2012
After 7 hours of *successful* surgery – quadruple bypass – Marianna 1.4 is inching her way toward consciousness, to be followed by weeks/months of healing. Whewwwww. I’ll report more when we know more; for now, see – and read and repeat aloud – previous sentence; repeat as necessary… -S”

It probably was the most difficult time for my family ever. Both our kids were around, our daughter Liana having flown in from Denver and Toby was able to take a few days off from firefighting. I have no idea how Stephen held it together, whatever the “it” is. Turn this situation around and you can be assured I would have fallen apart.

Some recollections from Stephen who was posting updates to my facebook page then:

“October 13, 2012
Hi friends of Marianna Greenberg… If you’ve got some spare prayers/love/good healing thoughts/golden circles — whatever you’re into — please send ’em her way. We’re at Sacramento’s Mercy General Hospital, where she’s recovering from a massive heart attack and will have open heart surgery within the next coupla days. She should be sleeping peacefully right now, after a very nightmarish few hours. Visited a few minutes ago: tho really weak of course, she seemed to be pretty much back to her full self — enough so, that she asked me to let folks on her 1000-truffle-benefit page (sorry, no handy link) know there’ll be a delay…. G’night for now, happy birthday to Toby who’s sitting/dozing across from me, and LOVE for Marianna — more massive than anything else. – Stephen


October 14, 2012

Update: We’re still deep into the woods, but on a clear path toward home. Probably tomorrow morning (depends on how Marianna’s doing, according to all the tests and numbers and evaluations), the path will become a surgical journey through a triple (minimum) bypass. In the meantime, she’s pretty stable, glad our kids are hanging out with her – Liana’s braiding her hair right now – and really appreciative of your love and support. (She said, “Tell them they’re sending so much light, it’s keeping me awake.”) More thanks from me – feeling much more like me after actually *sleeping* (in a 3-question-mark motel!) last night.

Following up on our previous update – re Marianna’s concern about getting so much light from y’all, see pic. In other news, kids and I moved out of – make that escaped from – the seedy motel and into a nice hospital-related apartment across the street; from homely to homey. And the uppest update: Marianna’s on track for surgery, tomorrow around 8 am till midday. Soon, friends….”

Right now I’m reliving this and trying to process. I’m not aging gracefully. But then I have always totally thrown myself into any experience good or bad. There is no half-way for me. Let’s make this a massive heart attack seems to be my modus operandi. And then go for the quadruple by-pass. And then let’s have a pulmonary embolism to top this experience off nicely. I bet my life will end in the ultimate: death.

Since it’s Halloween season I might as well creep you out a bit with the arm picture after surgery:


All that is left now is the line down the arm, no more Frankenstein look.

Today I get to indulge, indulge, indulge. Just try to stop me. Bored? Come back another time. Though eventually this all leads to knitting.

At some point during my second heart attack or escalating heart attack I was technically dead. I have been asked about the white light and flippantly answered seeing smoke, hearing jazz, etc.

I can report nothingness instead. Whenever I came close to dying, I felt myself falling into emptiness and nothingness, falling asleep without dreams. Often my thought then was, this dying is not so bad, this feels like easy death. Every time I would wake up again and realize that my death would be much more difficult for my family than myself. At some point during my initial stay at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital I asked the doctor if I would die. He answered: You could. I asked Stephen to call Toby. I had this grand idea of a profound good-bye, but all I managed to tell Stephen and Toby was to take care of themselves and each other and that I’m OK dying.

The image of hell as a 30s nightclub with lots of cigarette smoke and jazz stayed with me for days. In my morphine induced semi dreams and pain state of my body, it morphed into deeper and more desolate pictures. I saw dumpsters and rats and the refuse that used to be people, the music long gone. I wrote poetry in my head about it, but that is long gone too and all I’m left with are the images.

After coming out of surgery, mostly unconscious and breathing tube still in my mouth, I remember Stephen saying that I looked like crying and screaming at the same time. I remember thinking that he can read me well. And then a memory of someone dying behind the curtain next to me. Discussions about DNR and that a decision needs to be made. Next I hear a priest saying a prayer, and then an announcement that it’s over. I could not wait to be able to speak again and talk about this. And the nurse confirmed that it really happened.

Before surgery I assured the surgeon that it would be OK if I died on the operating table. No hard feelings since I brought this on myself. He replied that no one dies in the operating room. Well, but apparently they can a short while after.

I still have the memory of being wheeled to the operating room on my bed. Thoughts of what a big mess this room is, sort of like my house with stuff all over. Not much color though, mostly monochrome. Many, many people bustling about. Then everyone trying to explain what they will be doing until I told them to just put me out and that I’m hoping I will not feel any pain. And that no matter what they explain now, it will make no difference. They will do their job and I’m down the rabbit hole now and hope to find my way back eventually. Next: I’m out. Thanks guys.

After almost 7 hours, I wake up, kind of, almost…. The difficulty was my family waiting all this time. They are the heroes in this story, and of course the doctors and nurses. It’s unimaginable to me what I put them through. I will never, ever be able to show my appreciation and gratefulness and love to them. All I can do is knit whatever they want.

And here we are at knitting, finally. The Zombie BBQ scarf has stopped me. I’m avoiding working on it because it’s not what I wanted and I’m settling for what it is. So many new projects were started until I realized what’s going on. Avoidance. So I made a pact with myself: finish this scarf and you get your knitting freedom back. You’d think this would work, right? No, instead I do all other kinds of crazy stuff.

Here is one crazy project: I signed up for online classes with edx and coursera. 4 of them. Two have started. One is Care of Elders with Alzheimer’s Disease. The reasons for this class is that my life might be affected by people with this disease. The other class I signed up for is Science and Cooking, a Harvard class. Am I over my head in this class! Want to know the molecular weight of food ingredients or the number of molecules in the food? This is the class for you. But they won’t bring me to my knees, though I am close many times. All I have to get is over 60% to pass, I might be able to do that. This is so absurd from someone that had to get the highest grade or feel like a failure. I’ll keep trotting along until the next class How to Change the World and Scandinavian Film and Television.

All this because I don’t want to work on the bloody scarf. There are socks to knit, shawls to finish, mittens to start. Do you realize that Hanukkah starts a day before Thanksgiving this year? Is this crazy or what? It will have to be lots of I-Owe-Yous this year.

Something I believe I did not show you yet is an Ashton shawlette worked in silk for my MIL. I was hesitant to post a picture in case she’s reading here. Her birthday and present giving over, take a look. A silk scarf does not stretch as wool does, but it still turned out.

Pre-blocked and while blocking. One of the next posts will be about my fiber fleece adventures.

DSC_0004 DSC_0002



For days, thoughts of a one-year anniversary have been haunting me. Yes, it has been that long since my little and massive heart attacks and all that came after: the bypass surgery, the embolism, the 20-day hospital stay, recovery, and on and on and on.

Life has changed dramatically since then. My spiritual life has taken a turn for the worse, if that was even possible. I talk about it, I push it away, thoughts keep on creeping back, I can’t shake it. “It” is what I consider my short death. Probably everyone I know is sick and tired of me talking about It or about the ordeal itself. After all that happened, we have few friends left.

We used to host parties, at least dinner parties, almost every weekend. Since heart attack and bypass, I wasn’t able to put out that much energy anymore, but no one invited us in return. In the past year we had two dinner invitations, or only one? And I’m lucky if everyone actually shows up when I invite them. I’ve kind of given up for now.

Back to the “short death” part. After the massive heart attack and being ambulanced to the hospital in Sacramento and resting in ICU, I either continued with the heart attack or had another one. Never figured that one out. I remember saying that my heart is starting to hurt again and lots of commotion around me. My mind started sinking into depths I’d never experienced. There was a physical and mental distance to everything around me, and it grew and grew. The void between me and others and material life as well as spiritual life became so vast I didn’t want to make the effort to overcome it. I was content drifting farther and farther away without any regrets or misgivings. Until it all stopped, just nothingness I could only talk about afterward, since at the time there was no experience at all.

Apparently I mouthed to Stephen through a window that I loved him, because by now the family had been herded out of the room and I was surrounded by 10-plus medical responders. Stephen later told me one of them exclaimed there was no pulse anymore. There was talk about using the paddles, but no agreement on that. This is when a nurse did some resuscitation on my chest, and I came back without any knowledge of having been gone.

There seems to be an out-of-synch problem now. I feel my life never caught up with the few moments I missed. What happened in those moments must have been monumental for me. I’m afraid to admit it, but since then death has a whole new meaning for me. Of course I don’t really want to be tested to make sure it’s so. My death has a new meaning, not so sure about anyone else’s.

The fear of death has disappeared, and all that remains is the fear of pain. So many times I’ve said it would have been better if I’d died then. It would have been a very easy death. For me. One that I could have accepted. Whenever I die now, I’ll have to experience it all over again.

I didn’t experience any white light or god, or any inkling of other or bigger or anything for that matter, less than even sleep. There was a time during the hospital stay when I did experience a white light. With the pulmonary embolism. As soon as I was deprived of oxygen, my surroundings started fading from colorful to washed out, and it became brighter and brighter, to the point where I wished for sunglasses. Or at least for someone to turn those overhead lights off. I can only deduce that a lack of oxygen gives one the type of “I’m about to die and I see the light” kind of experience.

Take into consideration here that death is probably a very personal and different experience for each of us. Don’t draw any conclusions from what I’m saying. If I had a shred of faith left in me, it’s gone now. My belief is in nothingness. And there’s no fear associated with that. No regrets, no bucket list, no worry about the mess I leave behind, just OK, everything is OK.

Two myths, perhaps only personal ones, but myths: you can’t have a heart attack while exercising, I proved that wrong. And no matter what my grandmother said about wearing nice underwear, I didn’t care, because if they were clean when I put them on, they certainly were totally messed up when I arrived at the hospital. I had no control over any functions during the heart attack, it seemed that I was going to purge everything. Hugging a trash can, throwing up while sitting in a wheel chair instead of on a toilet. And this is the dirty truth.

There’s a barrier now between me and most of the rest of humanity. That part of humanity that doesn’t share my experience. Is this why support groups are so important? As a society or as individuals we don’t have what it takes anymore for empathy? Instead, we direct everyone to their own kind to deal with problems? Weren’t we able to support all who lived in our communities, no matter what their experience? Or is this a case of the way we never were?

I tend to have nostalgia for the olden days, sometimes I call them the Little House days. Everything was alright then, life made sense, people were connected to each other. I could write books on the changes from back then or perhaps speculate how it really was like to be a woman back then, or a child, or a man for that matter. Life was hard, and perhaps it is all a trade-off. No alienation, but instead overworking yourself. No time for alienation, because no time for socializing, because you had to work so hard.

If I seem like a whiner in this post, I’m not trying to nor do I feel like I’m whining. Just trying to get some thoughts out. I guess I could keep a diary, but then again, I’m a Gemini.

The night of my MIL’s birthday was the little heart attack; this anniversary is coming up in a few days. Then Toby’s birthday eve was the massive one. I sure know how to pick my dates, eh? Yes, I’m nervous and scared. Though a calendar year is arbitrary, it does have meaning in our lives, if for no other reason than to mark the seasons.

What if instead of a year being a year or a month being so many days, we would mark time differently? Mark it with events we don’t have in our consciousness right now. Imagine not noticing the changing seasons, there has to be something we’re unaware of that could be used to mark time. And no, it won’t be every time I finish a knitting project. That would get me in all kinds of trouble.

Back to the year though, perhaps we could rush ahead and make it, let’s say, November? I returned November 1 from the hospital, so let’s make it later in November, OK?

I will find myself in the same boat knitting-wise as I did last year, except this time around I have even more water to bail out. I had so many started or unfinished knitting projects and finished them all within a couple of months. This year it might just take me next year to finish them all. What the heck is wrong with me? Because I don’t see myself breaking this pattern. With gift-giving holidays coming up, I even have excuses for my bad behavior.

Seems I’m back on the knitting track and have left more morbid thoughts behind.

Go ahead, start another project on me!

P.S. I don’t want to be ungrateful. I thank all my friends who cooked for us after I came home from the hospital. At least twice a week for several weeks we didn’t have to give any thoughts to cooking. Thank you!