Monday, August 28, 2006

I'm alive! That must have been some sort of flu because I was simply out of it for 9 days and I still am coughing a little now. The bad thing is I have given it to the Bear who is now coughing and spluttering like I was.

While I was sick, spring arrived. All our fruit trees except the pear are in bloom, the peas are up, there is about an inch of asparagus coming up, my Earlicheer narcissus are popping open and the rosellas are courting. The Imp and I both found the chirping and waggling of tail feathers by red birds with blue wings and tails quite entertaining. There is much weeding to do and I need to get the berry bushes up on their trellis but I thinks I will take activity a little slow today. Oh, and there is wattle in bloom everywhere. It's hard to describe how overwhelming all this yellow is. Entire hillsides turn golden, or lemon, depending on the species. And since there are so many species, when one stops blooming, another starts. We have 2 Cootamundra wattles in our front yard which were self seeders from somewhere. It can be considered a pest but I love the colour and when not in bloom it has sort of silvery grey fern-like leaves. They don't live long and the bigger of the two is already dying after 10 years.

I was listening to Cast On today at work wherein an old mill was visited, and I thought as the weaver described his tasks about a story on 60 Minutes last night about the gloom regarding the future of the petroleum-based economy. I had to think while I was listening that at least I knew enough about vegetable growing and textiles that we wouldn't go hungry or naked. I am glad I have a practical skill like knitting instead of whiz-bang computer graphics. And if we face cultural collapse due to a) running out of oil; b) global warming; or c) escalating ethnic violence, I hope by then I am on my farmlet with a whopping big garden, some sheep and goats and an ecologically sensible house with at least some solar power. All those years of reading Mother Earth News must count for something.

Round 21: The Swannies beat Brisbane soundly. We are sitting in 5th place on the ladder and on percentage are quite aways from the 6th. We play Carlton next week which is a pretty sure win. Adelaide plays Melbourne next week which could have interesting results for placings. Melbourne incredibly drew with Geelong; you would think in a sport where scores are over 100 points in many matches that a draw was unlikely but it's happened twice this season and there is no extra-time completion of the match.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I got out of bed yesterday and did exciting things like go to the chemist and have Bowen therapy. I got about 4 hours sleep the previous night. had a sore throat and was still coughing. As the day wore on I got more and more tired until by 9PM I decided to call it a day. I took a healthy dose of sleeping pills (don't worry, it was only my formerly usual dose which I had weaned myself off and now need back) and slept the night and finally woke up for sure at 1PM, still with a sore throat and the occasional cough. I think I'm glad I stayed home from work another day. When I got up yesterday I had planned to work today but as the day progressed that seemed like an imposssible challenge. Whatever this bug is, it's a persistent one, but my lungs are clearer so that's a good sign.

Peeked into the backyard and my peas are up! and we had TWO stalks of asparagus! I wish it would rain. Forecast says it might. My tomato seedlings are doing well. I planted Diggers 7 coloured heritage tomato selection, some beefsteak type red ones and some orange ones (my favourite).. I promise to do better with recycled water this year. I find it ironic that all the govt agencies are gung-ho on using recycled and grey water now when a few years ago it was illegal to use grey water on your garden. I must get the Bear to rig a plastic pipe from the washer out to the back.

While lying in bed I have been picking over the grey washed fleece. Yikes is it dirty. Not just VM but little hard black things scattererd here and there. The fleece itself is incredibly solf and fine. Some of the finest I';ve felt. But in many cases the tips of the locks have solidified like concrete. According the the gurus on the Spinlist, this can happen with fine fibre. So I am monkey picking this, removing VM and cuttung off tips where necessary. It is also shorter than I am used to, at the 2-3" length and softly variegated grey. It will make something very soft like a scarf.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hullo? I haven't died, although at times I think it would have been easier if I had. I am finally out of bed after 5 days of a monster cold. I am still coughing but I have done not much of anything but blow my nose and cought for days. I will post again when I am truly back on my feet.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

My cold is in full bloom: running nose, chesty cough. This is where I take care not to leap out of bed too soon. I could manage to get pneumonia, which I did once (and the Bear was in NZ without a contact number when I went into hospital. Dear J stayed with me in the ER until I was admitted). Alternatively, I can cough so much I can re-activate the arthritis I have in my sternum. Strange place to have rheumatoid arthritis, but I have it there. When it flares, breathing becomes painful.

I spent t some on my lying in bed time yersterday going over the fleece I had washed, This sheep had fine but shortish (3") fleece that varies between almost white to medium grey. There is lots of VM and the tips have solidified into concrete even after washing (only the tips as the rest is lovely and soft.)

Book report: One of the books I checked out of the the library was Bright earth by Philip Ball. It is book about color written by a chemist. I gather from what I have read so far he is concentrated\ing on colour in art, to discuss what pigments artists actually had access to and used through the history of painting. Since art history is one of those things hanging around from college days, it should be interesting.

Round 20: we lost to Geelong. I was worried about this match as Geelong have shown their (occasional) abilities this season and when they are playing at home it is dangerous. I didn't watch because our beloved local station doesn't think Canberra is in Sydney's demographuc and shows us other matches. Had I not been in bed I could have watched it on Foxtel. It may mean we drop out of the top 4 which has implications in the finals like getting a home final matchnbut let's not get ahead of ourselves

Friday, August 18, 2006

Snuffle. I am lying in bed with a box of kleenex and Della on my tummy. No points to those who guessed I have a cold. Still made it to see my GP at 7.30 but only because the Bear had to see him too. Unfortunately the GP was unwlling to change the dosage of one of my medications without my rheumatologist's blessing and I just discovered that said rheumatologist is in hospital and therefore unreachable. I do wish these doctors would notify all their patients before getting sick or leaving the country because it leaves us patients in limbo (I hope you know tongue is in cheek). I will have to muddle along not sleeping until I either see him or manage to beg GP to got out on a limb. Meanwhile other friend C is sick (as was my Bowen therapist) and I suspect one of them for giving me the cold. This is the only advantage to having friends who only contact you electronically. BFLB is trying to read between the lines of my blog, which even X2 says is written in my "public voice", rather than read the email I sent her saying what was going on in graphic detail. As I said befoe, you can't make people read email. After the dr visit I came home and went back to bed and slept (!) for 3 hours with The Imp on my tummy.

Had lunch with J where she looked at yarn from the stash to replace the scratchy stuff for her cardy. She chose some yummy wool/acrylic blend in blues and purples I bought for myself from Elann. (Do all the mentions of Elann in this blog give a hint to my yarn buying tendencies?) C discovered that "our" Patons now has a web site finally. Patons no longer has a mill in Australia because they decided just before knitting really took off that women don't knit anymore, according to the (male) manager. There is a mini-mill for sale in ebay Australia and we are all pining and then getting realistic. If I had the money I wouldn't be pining; .I'd buy it in a flash. Meanwhile I got some books on dyeing out of the Library to get ideas. The Dyer's Art is very inspirational especially when you think of the stunning results achieved in third world countries with little technological assistance (and no OH&S watchdogs either).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

One of the things that's essential when you have a chronic disease is your support netowrk. By this I mean the medical professionals who understand your condition so you don't have to explain why you take all these medications and who know what you have been through already. Acute care is rare and I strongly encourage to have the kind of documentation rcclive mentions on her blog with you wherever you go. You can't anticipate where you might be when you fall or need to see an out-of-town medico and having this kind of information on you saves you trying to remember things while you are stressed.

I also mean those people whom you rely on for understanding and who don't recommend the latest fad diet/medication/herbal treatment that they are sure will cure you. The type who are there no-questions-asked when you need help and understand when you are a bit distant but are clued in to depression. Unfortunately I left those people behind when I left the States for sunny Australia. My darling Bear is a tremendous support and I couldn't function without him but he does have a demanding job. He's not a workaholic like my ex, but he's not easily budged when he's working and he does travel, altho not again as much as my ex. Email is not a reliable source of support because you can't make somebody email you or even read your emails. I'm still working on a support network here. I have a wonderful boss who is totally understanding about my unreliability but determination to work. I have a lot of friends here, all originating from the work environment but I'm still working on having that rock I can count on for shoulder-crying, bucking up, and reliability (not quite) 24/7. I don't come high enough on anybody's list of priorities yet so still feel somewhat isolated.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I publish this photo to prove I actually do knit. It is the front of S's Christmas sweater and since cables are my thing I am chugging along happily. It is in an Elann special superwash wool and is really what I would call British racing green. I also knitted a little bit on my summer weight socks and spun a little of the Brown Sheep mill ends. I sat down and finished my miniscule inkle braid in purple and pink crochet cotton which was done just to prove that the loom did actually work. There are 6 plastic net bags of fleece soaking in the washing machine which I hope didn't felt since this is the first time I've tried the machine method. This is the grey fleece bought in May and it turns out to be very dirty. The danger in buying a fleece in a bag is that you can't tell how dirty it is until you get down a layer or two into the bag. Here is some of my finely spun EL that I am so proud of. If it turns out to work in weaving I might be tempted to enter it in the Show (state fair to you in the US) considering it started with unwashed curly locks and ended up like this.
I am suffering the consequences of the craft show and then garden work. I slept very little Saturday and Sunday nights and was in a lot of pain during the day. Apparently that much standing was too much for my legs and the muscles are screaming. Neurontin had no effect. So I stayedl home today and slept and ironed and put wool in the washer. Some days are just write offs when you don't have control of your body.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Round 19 (and 18 since I forgot to post): two wins in a row, an unsurprising one over Essendon and a solid one yesterday against Melbourne which put the Swans in 3rd position on the ladder. This with Goldspink umpiring and even reporting Neitz for messing with Goodes. Will wonders never cease! I read in the paper yesterday that the defensive unit had studied videos of what and how umpires were calling various plays and altered their behaviour to be more effective. It's at this point in the season where I can easily become over-excited, consumed with footy and it is not good for my health (literally). Last year when it seemed unbelievable that we would actually go all the way after 72 years, it was kind of a dream, even though I knew they were playing really well. This year I know it could happen again and I must stay calm.

Yesterday I culled out the last of the dead berry bushes so the Bear could put up a new support for the trellis that they are attached to. The canes cane get so vigorous that they actually pull the steel lattice off the fence. It wasn't work that required a lot of strength or aerobic activity but a lot of stretching, bending, and pulling and my body paid a price for it. I slept very little last night because of the pain. I tried all my remedies except the alcohol taken internally (because I didn't want a hangover) but nothing really worked and I am still very sore. We also did some additional major pruning on the pear and the plumcot so the fruit will be within picking distance. Today I planted tomato seed.

I am making progress on the front of S's Christmas jumper but I worry that I have enough wool. I do according to the pattern instructions but it's disappearing rather quickly. Time to look for coordinating machine-wash wool?

Friday, August 11, 2006

I am seriously trying not to get too excited about the finals. Finals footy (what Americans would call the play-offs) is a whole different world where every game is crucial. We only have one potentially dangerous match left, against Melbourne this weekend and I know we can beat them, if we play well. At left is a photo of Michael O'Loughlin who is one of our true superstars (when he kicks straight). He is akin to Michael Jordan in that he can do impossible things with the ball and has great footy brain and knows when to do something unexpected and brilliant. A sneaky handpass to another player who kicks a goal while the other team is still concentrating on him. A kick from an impossible angle on the run. Picking up the ball and doing a 180 out of a tackle to kick a goal. He started playing in the seniors at 18 and is now 29 and one of the longest serving and highest scoring players we have. He kicked his 400th goal last weekend. And yes, despite his Irish name he is Aboriginal.

The first paragraph was written on Friday morning before I went the the Australian craft show where C and I trawled semi-quickly. I tried very hard not to look at quilting (but bought 3 fat quarters), skipped the scrapbooking, senciling, punchwork, sewing machines, embroidery (mostly). I was thrilled to see a small (and new) stall selling Procion dyes so I had to buy some. Then I caught a man explaining dyeing lace to somebody and butted in and asked if the dyes did wool too. Yes. Ozecraft dyes and they come in a wonderful range of muted soft colours because they are designed for people doing antique looking lace. So I collected 6 dyes from him. I don't think they go very far because he sells them to dye small items like fringe and lace but there should be enough to dye a small amount of yarn for a scarf. I bought two books, Stephanie's newest Knitting Rules! and Pat Ashcrofts No-pattern knits because I think it would be a new way to look at bits and pieces of yarn I've spun. There were so many beading booths and for the most part we by-passed them. With two exceptions: a Japanese guy selling the most gorgeous cloisonnee, glass, porcelain, onyx, etc. beads at ridiculous prices. I bought a pair of red cloisonnee earrings and a little pink cloisonnee jointed fish for A. At this point I called my boss who supposedly wants to do beading but turned down our offer to take her to the show and berated her for not coming because I was beginning to get sucked into beads and she would be in hog heaven. She promised next year (we'll see). Then there was a booth that was selling some already made up things like Christmas ornaments (which I am a total sucker for). While C was cruising I found one of the stall holders knitting with wire. Now I swore I would not do this but it looked so easy and the results were stunning. So I bought a spool of purple wire and a little kit for a necklace that has square opalescent beads in it. Can beads and cats co-exist? I think A would like a purple wire bracelet. I also bought some more scissors (can any craft person have too many scissors?) and a magnifier disc on a gooseneck that clips directly to your needlework frame. The magnifiers-on-goosenecks-on-stands didn't have necks long enough to get from my table to my needlpoint.

As an aside I went to Vision Australia a couple of weeks ago to see what handy hints and products they have. I bought a purse-sized magnifer that is much stronger than the one I have. This is for reading labels and instructions on boxes and bottles. I also got some marking do-dads so mark things like appliance plugs to tell you which way is up (Australian plugs have two prongs at a diagonal / and \ and a vertical prong centred below so up and down are important) and a lot of hints for coping. I was told not to drive at night (which I don't). They also had a magnifier light on a table stand. I wanted to see if there was similar at the show but there wasn't. I have one that attaches with a C-clamp (in theory) but it is unstable. The table stand one is the way to go and now I'll order it.

After the show C took me home and we talked to the cats a bit and then she left. I went to lie down and I slept for 2+ hours. My legs still hurt and my left knee has been very painful for the last week. I think a serious diet (like a liquid one) may be in the offing. Fruit season is about over and that's been my main thing. I went on the liquid diet in the states because of my knees and I may have to do it again. My "normal" genetically-induced weight (shape like my mother and sister) is not good for my joints and I am not ready for surgery.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

This will be a image heavy post as I have a lot of things in the pipeline. Firstly a close-up of a lock of the new dark grey fleece. It is so crimpy and with the lanolin making it stiff it's almost like wire. I haven't seen such straight fine crimp very often. I will have to plan for this to bloom when washed. Might I even do a sample this time? Radical thought.
And here is the fabled inkle loom, properly warped this time although with a teeny warp of crochet cotton that will not yield anything more than a shoelace, if that. If you care, check out this site which is a help for inkling. I have bought cheap rolling kitchen stands with wire baskets underneath. I have one for the carder and one for the loom. I have lots of crochet cotton that I want to use and the English Leicester after I dye it.

Today also brought a box from Elann with a bunch of patterns, and this yarn Fibretrends lace scarf (lace? Maybe?)
, a pattern for a tote out of Himalayan recycled silk (in the stash) and a book of summer tops from Schachenmayr, most of of them showing much more skin than I would ever but there are a couple of intriguing ones: a jacket with lace sleeves and bottom edge and a lacey T-shirt. Lace is on my list of knitting resolutions and maybe with a DK cotton I can see well enough to do it? Other people produce lace shawls like it was easy. If I can spin, I should be able to knit lace. I have been in a knitting slump after the socks and need a kick in the posterior.

The house is fragrant as I have a pot of pumpkin soup on the stove, and a pot of veal & barley stew. When I came home from my Bowen therapy I went into the back yard to get some of the prunings to put in the trash pack and found a small grey cat on the back porch. It was The Imp! Somehow she must have zoomed out when I briefly opened the back door to decide whether to hang the laundry out. Which means she was out for hours! And she very definitely wanted to come back inside. I am heartened that she didn't think to stray. The yard is all fenced pretty high but we know how she can jump. Obviously curiosity didn't extend very far.

Round 18: Swannies beat Essendon (not surprisingly given their recent form) and are now 4th on the ladder. I am trying not to get excited about the possibilities for Sept. My friend J and I have a deal that we will go to the Grand Final together if we make it and this year there is nothing (aside from the expense) preventing us (last year we were leaving for the US in a few days and couldn't afford both). If we manage to stay in the top 4 we may get a home final which I would certainly want to go to.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Cognitive impairment. Two little words but boy they pack a punch. I used to be really smart. IQ130+, top of my class in everything, never took a course that was beyond me (except a couple where the sociological issues were the problem). Then I got FMS. I feel like I took a stupid pill. I have zero short term memory as well. I can't remember a phone number long enough to dial it. That's why I don't knit lace. How many stitches and how many rows? Arithmetic was never by strong suit but now sometimes adding one digit numbers is hard--I don't even know if the answer I came up with (13?) is the right one. It's doubly frustrating because I remember it wasn't always like this. I can still remember all the words to all the Beatles songs and most of the MARC I need for work but the little everyday things are really beyond me. And please don't give me, we're all getting older, because this happened relatively suddenly and I wasn't all that old when it happened. Those of you who can still do it (whatever the It is you want to do) be thankful that your brain chemistry isn't as screwed up as mine is. And BTW, that theory of FMS is the one I think is right, that the brain chemistry has gone kerfluey and your muscles don't do what you tell them to so you drop everything, etc.

What brought this on? I sat down and warped my new inkle loom this morning. And it just wouldn't work. I have a simpler inkle loom and I know how it works but this one just wouldn't. I looked at my book and the diagrams and I looked at the loom. I tightened and loosened. Finally I was getting so frustrated that I went out to the chemist and the P.O. (bye bye socks!) and came home and had lunch. Went back to the loom. Of course it wouldn't work. I had warped it the wrong way around. If you don't know how an inkle loom works I won't bore you but in the end I had to cut the warp off and start all over. If you cannot focus your brain, you can't see that your loom is not warped like the picture in the book. I now feel much more concern and compassion for those among us who aren't the sharpest tool in the shed. They aren't blogging and doing book reviews and it may not because of where they grew up or how their parents raised them. They may have been born with the stupid pill already engaged and looking at the diagram in the science textbook is not going to make sense no matter how long they look at it. So at least take pity on me when I can't figure out how to make change or remember your name even if I see you every day. There are some days when I wake up and don't even know my own name. I'm not really this stupid, really I'm not, at least not all the time (so far).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Am I making up for lost (blogging) time? Or more likely posting things I forgot the last time

For all spinners there is a great site I Can Spin which has videos of practically everything you ever wanted to know. The fibre prep I described earlier is there as are a lot of other helpful things. They were very helpful whan I was learning and they keep adding stuff. For all of yu who are learning on your own, this is a gold mine.

Round 17: Swannies beat Port in Adelaide in the pouring rain. Didn't watch again because Dr. Who is on at the same time as Saturday night games.(Just between us, I just don't get the whole Dr Who business. Maybe if you've been watcing it for years it it wonderful but I find it incredibly lame. Even now that the new Dr Who is David Tennant whom I absolutely love.) We are in 6th place on the ladder and I don't see any movement this week as top 8 teams are playing each other. If we don't finish in the top 4 we don't get a home final, but we managed to win the premiereship last year after an uneven season There is a new ad coming soon with website of Professor Barry Hall teaching you footy. It is very funny and be sure to put your mouse over the bear's head.

Why am I pining over some lovely Shetland fleeces? I adore Shetlands and there aren't any here so I drool over places like this. But with home repairs higher on the list of money outlays, I'd better wash the fleece I've got. I just got my copy of Spinning for softness and Speed by Paula Simmons (OOP; I havd to buy used via Amazon). I admire Paula's work but I didn't realize that the book is all about long-draw woolen spinning. Someday I will try it but I am now very happy with my inch-worm worsted spinning. I plied the CVM last night so I could spin more of something. Had half a bobbin of the Borwn Sheep mill end to did some more on that. It spins up surprisingly soft which makes it a real bargain. I may overdye this as I have lots of grey wool.

I also discovered that the real estate agent was partially fibbing regarding land in Victoria. There is a cutoff at 8 hectares but all it means is what you can do on land without a permit. Of course you have to get council approval for everything but there are several other blocks of land available (some he's even listed as agent for) so I think he was just pushing rural residential developments he was selling and we have to look harder. We also have to decide how far away we want to live. I decline the land with a beautiful view over the army's training ground as I don't want to exchange barking dogs for artillery.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Been quiet again. Been depressed again. Another death in the (extended) family. Generally feeling like I am always scrambling just to keep afloat. No progress on the things that I really want to do because I'm too busy doing laundry or catching up on sleep. I am taking another day off from work and hope I can warp the inkle loom before the siren call of ironing gets too compelling. I wish I could be one of those housewives who really didn't care. I know one who would rather read than clean and does so, and her house was past my pigstye level. There's a point when I can't stand how dirty the kitchen floor is, to use an example.That point comes a lot later than it used to but it still comes. The Bear could care less, but then he's a bear.

FO: socks. I'm going to start summer socks from Lana Grossa Cotton Fun. I discovered I had bought the same colour Regia cotton in both 50 gm and 100 gm balls. Maybe the Bear and I can have matching socks? The cardigan is a dead end. It was Bendigo Ready-spin of their "Rustic" red tweed. It's generally not very soft wool and the basket weave pattern emphasizes the edges and it was just too scratchy for the intended recipient. As soon as I manage to contact her to ask about a substitute (I will offer the alpaca and some other yarn from the stash) I'll start again. The Bear has managed to lose the jumper I knit him last. He claims he can't find it in the house; I am convinced he took it with him the China last December and it didn't come home with him. Gosh, I'll have to knit him another. The Rustic would suit him. I just wound off a bobbin of EL that I had spun & plied fine and I am over the moon with the results. I know you're not supposed to make handspun look as perfect as commercial yarn but this is pretty damn close, and considering it's a longwool taken from raw locks to fine yarn, I find this infinitely more satisfying than spinning some boring merino. It will make super straps for hard wearing purposes when dyed and woven on the inkle.

Spring is threatening to start early and I have paperwhites out already and the wattle is blooming. This prompted me to almost finish the pear tree's reduction in size but I need somebody taller to finish the plumcot so the possums don't eat all the leaves off it like they did last year.I pulled some weeds. planted 4 new strawberry plants, and some sweetpeas in the big terracotta pot. I bought pea seed and spinach seedlings and will dig out my lettuce seed and try and get them in the ground maybe tomorrow, although the work may come back to bite me tomorrow with sore muscles. I generally only care about my fruit and veggie garden and don't grow flowers except some spring bulbs and a few things in pots. I have raised beds for all the veggies. My fruit trees are: apricot, pear (packham), plumcot, and 3 plums, all late season. I also have raspberry vines, and logan-, boysen- and sylvanberry canes. The last are an Aussie cross of blackberries and boysenberries and are very vigorous. In December we are drowning in berries. My jam is known on 2 continents; I sell the excess at work and donate the money to charity.