Monday
Jan022012

A No-Poo Update

Some of you may remember back in July or so that I decided to stop washing my hair with shampoo and join the "no-poo" movement. I have always had issues with frizzy hair (the flatiron is the best invention EVER), and I wanted to see what would happen if I stopped the shampoo. By all accounts, going no-poo was supposed to be a great way to combat the frizzies. Most people use baking soda and cider vinegar, so that's what I used, too.

After the initial yucky period of excess greasiness, which only lasted about two weeks, my hair settled into being soft and manageable and not frizzy. I could go a few days between washing and not feel like I had a dead animal on my head. All was wonderful for a few months. 

Around November, I noticed that my hair was getting dryer. It's very dry here anyway in Montana, but worse in the winter. I began to look like I was wearing a Brillo-Pad on my head. I tried stretching out the days between washings. Then my hair began to get greasier and greasier—except that the "grease" was actually like a waxy buildup that I could not get out no matter how often or how much I washed with the baking soda. And I noticed that the baking soda wasn't actually dissolving in the water anymore; it would form this really gritty paste instead.

We have really hard water here. It's great for my bones (my bone density readings were off the chart a few years ago), but wreaks havoc with stuff in our house. I refuse to get a water softener because we have the best-tasting water on the planet. (Everything is a trade-off.) The hardness of the water seems to fluctuate throughout the year, so I suspected we were having a spike in water hardness that was affecting my ability to wash my hair. 

A Google search yielded a blog post by someone who was having the exact same problem. Her solution was to boil the water before adding the baking soda. Apparently water hardness is caused by calcium ions and bicarbonate ions in the water, and boiling the water drives them off and leaves the water "softer" afterwards. Ta-da! I tried it and it worked. Now I keep a bottle of boiled water + baking soda in the shower, and that's what I use to "wash" my hair. I follow that with a rinse of diluted cider vinegar (if you don't rinse the baking soda out before you pour on the vinegar, you get a nice tingling foam that probably looks like a science experiment gone awry on your head but feels good). 

My hair is back to being soft and manageable (and mostly non-frizzy) again. I love it. And that is your public service announcement for today. 

Sunday
Jan012012

I Went to Sleep, and When I Woke Up, It Was 2012

I don't plan on posting daily, necessarily, but it is the first day of a new year and it seems appropriate that I begin as I mean to go on. Besides, I was awake in bed ay 4:30 this morning with ideas for at least two dozen blog posts floating clamoring to get out of my head. Better here than making noise inside my brain. 

The husband and I had a quiet New Year's Eve, just the way we like it. I am particularly fond of watching the Twilight Zone marathon on the SyFy channel while knitting next to a cozy fire. It is a good way to decompress after Christmas. I don't particularly like Christmas. That sounds so Scroogish, I know (every year I fully expect to be visited by whomever the Janet Szabo version of Jacob Marley is). It's just that Christmas has almost always meant a boatload more work in my already full schedule, and I get very stressed out trying to manage all the moving parts (the husband, by contrast, sails through because he thinks that his only responsibilities in this department are to pat my hand and see that am well-supplied with chocolate and wine so that I don't have a meltdown). This year came with the additional stress of getting a kid moved home from college and ready to head to Spain for five months for her semester abroad. And it's not like I go overboard getting into the holiday spirit; in fact, if it weren't for the kids taking over the job of putting up the tree and hanging the stockings, the house wouldn't look much different than it does in July. 

Anyway. I try very hard to keep my eye on the important stuff in December, but it's always a relief when January gets here. 

Today also begins the first day of my four-year term as an elder at our church. It used to be that Amish and Mennonite congregations chose their leaders "by lot," meaning that whoever drew the short straw was deemed the one chosen by God to serve (how interesting that everyone usually went into that process praying fervently that someone else would get the short straw). Our congregation, led by the existing group of elders, enters into a several-month discernment process during which people are nominated for the position. This year, I believe, we had 12 people nominated. There is a first-tier elimination process in which the nominees have the opportunity to say whether or not they would be willing to continue on in the process. Seven of those nominees declined to continue on.

DD#2 and I had an interesting conversation one night in which she asked me why I didn't say that I was "too busy" like some of the other nominees did, thus getting myself neatly out of consideration for the position. Yes, I am busy. Yes, I am aware that this is a position of great responsibility, especially given where our congregation is at the moment. But I firmly and truly believe that if God asks you to do something, it's rude to say no. Even if you're not ready to answer with an enthusiastic "yes," you should at least entertain the possibility. 

I should point out here that I am a converted Mennonite. When we moved to Montana, I transferred my membership in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod to an LCMS church here. However, I came to a point where I could not, in good conscience, raise two girls in a denomination which treats women like second-class citizens. I grew up with the message that I somehow wasn't good enough for God because I wasn't a man, and I didn't like it. The LCMS does not allow women to hold a position in the church where they might be in authority over men; hence, there are no women pastors, no women elders, no women presidents of church councils. My own mother was admonished once for trying to run a church council meeting in the absence of the President and VP. No thank you. 

One Sunday a few weeks before Easter in 2000, I decided to go to the service at Mountain View Mennonite Church. It's only a few miles from our house, and a lot of the people I interact with daily in our community attend church there (teachers, bus drivers, fellow firefighters, my friend and my children's "other mother" Susan). They also know how to sing like nobody's business. I went home from that service feeliong like I had gotten a thunderbolt from above. I never went back to the Lutheran church. In the intervening 12 years I have been quite involved there, most visibly as the church pianist. 

The Mennonites have not always treated their women respectfully, either, but this particular congregation has a beautiful and strong group of older women who have been wonderful role models, some of them having served as elders themselves. I value their wisdom and wealth of knowledge (and their recipes). And the group of people who make up the existing board of elders is a group I am looking forward to working with. So we'll see what happens. (Confession time: I also know that I will be sitting in a lot of elder meetings, so part of me is selfishly looking forward to the extra knitting time.)

And now, speaking of church, it's time to go get my music ready for this morning's service. 

Saturday
Dec312011

In Which I (Plan To) Come Back With a Vengeance in 2012

Apparently some people (coughKiracough) have been missing my regular blog posts. Here's a confession: I have missed writing them, but I stopped when I realized that writing posts not about knitting on a blog that ostensibly was supposed to be about knitting just felt wrong, even though many of my readers insisted that they didn't care if my subject matter ranged far and wide. However, I really felt like I needed a different forum, so my subject matter is going to range far and wide here instead of over at BigSkyKnitting.com. It may even include some knitting.

The blog title was stolen shamlessly from my friend Sarah, who used this line on me once. I have been known to use it on my children, but mostly I say it to myself inside my head for motivation. Hey, we all do what works, right? 

I'll see you next year. 

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