Saturday, December 22, 2007

Enough with the rain already! It is now close to hurricane conditions, with pouring rain, strong gusty winds and the occasional lightning and thunder. At this time of the year we are usually flat in front of the TV watching cricket but the first test vs India was washed out yesterday and I don't know whether this wet stuff is moving or not. It started yesterday evening and has been raining all night and is still going at 11.30. This is not a Canberra summer, but then I don't have to water the garden.

I finally finished the Panda Cotton socks. I liked the yarn and now knowing how much yarn was in the balls I could
gave made them a little longer. I am now casting on some Regia cotton/wool in grays and white and aim to finish them and the red cotton top before the warm weather is over. Having said that, our only hot days so far were in November and we've had night down to 10C.

This is also what I have been doing and have many more to go. When the supermarket has a tray (box) of 12 mangoes for $15 you buy it, make mango jam out of half of them and eat the other half. MMmmm, mangoes..(imagine Homer Simpson voice). When I innocently planted loganberry and boysenberry plants I did not anticipate that they would be laden with berries that more or less all ripen at once. So I make mixed berry jam which is now world famous. If I have extra strawberries they go in; if I have raspberries, they go in as well. The small jars are honey lemon jelly. J gives me huge bags of lemons when her tree overachieves and because Australian honey is so yummy, I found the recipe for this jelly, which is to die for on crumpets. I make jam for gifts, for home consumption and to distribute to the world through my annual sale at the NLA. I encourage donations and the results go to charity. I have apricots calling to me and more berries (and I've made 2 batches of the berry already).

This came in the mail this week from Lone Star Arts: 2 hanks of superwash roving, one called Go Spurs which I assume refers to a sports team, the middle one is Hula for obvious reasons, and the sock yarn in Neapolitan. Do you all remember when ice cream only came in cardboard boxes and flavours were strictly limited (unless you went to Howard Johnson) and the carton of Neapolitan always seemed to lose its chocolate first (at least it did in my house)? So the sock yarn is brown, white, and pink. I haven't spun in ages being knitting obsessed with only time out for alpaca. So I pulled out a 500gm lump of merino cross in a colourway called Amethyst from Ewe Give me the Knits which is a blend of colours that ends up purple, but not solid. I do so love to spin but it just creates more knitting yarn. Must warp that loom.

Book reports: The Root of the Wild Madder was certainly interesting from a traveling point of view, when the author is wandering over Iran and parts of Afghanistan looking for his heart carpet. There is lots of stuff about Persian culture going back before Islam, and discussions on the languages of carpets. Now, while I love Oriental carpets and I too prefer handmade natural dyed tribal rugs, this book seems to be on a higher plane than simply either the making of the carpets or the carpet business except parenthetically. It's got more about how a carpet speaks to you or not on a sort of mystical level. There was very little about madder or any natural dyeing at all, or even a in depth description of the carpet making process; the author refers to to other books about carpets for that. So if you are interested in ancient Persian poetry and the mystical nature of carpets, this is the book. I felt a little let down because I thought there would be more about the process.

The Terminator Gene by Ian Irvine is as you would suspect by the title about a virus that is developed to be released making all males sterile to rid the planet of humanity
after global warming raised the oceans 6 meters, because the maniac in power believes that is the only way to restore Earth to its natural state. That said, the author pours every bit of action-adventure stuff he could think of into the plot is excruciating detail. The story ends with the levees around New Orleans collapsing and the heroic rescue of the population by hundreds of volunteer chopper pilots and the bad guy falls out of a helicopter holding the canisters of virus that end up buried in the Mississippi mud. Had I been the editor of this I would have removed many irrelevant sections. I was disappointed because it started out well and is also Aussie sci-fi. I only give it a B-.

Friday, December 21, 2007

This is just an interim pop-up of my head to let anyone who cares know that I am in fact all right. Tues I got the good news from ACT Breast Screening that no malignancies were found in either the calcium deposits nor the surrounding tissue. I had a feeling in my gut that it was going to be clear but guts can be wrong. I'm glad to have a clean bill of health but can now look forward to boob smashing annually.

I have felt particularly unwell this week, in constant pain that wouldn't shake off. I spent 2 hours waiting to see my GP before he goes on Christmas break so I can get my meds. When I left the clinic my back was very unhappy and this continued till today when I finally got the time for a session of Bowen therapy and feel much looser now. I have several batches of jam waiting to be made and I simply couldn't stand up long enough to do it. So I laid down a lot, in the company of the Imp, not really taking naps but just getting off those sore legs and giving my back a rest. I feel much better at this point. We have had soggy wet weather for weeks which doesn't help; humidity drives my pain level up significantly. Today we actually saw the sun, which only made it more sticky. Now it's raining again and the same of forecast for the next several days. After so many years with dry conditions this feels very weird. Even without a drought we don't get this much rain for such long stretches. Naturally the garden wants to grow like weeds which are also growing. And the lawn needs to be mowed if it ever stops raining long enough to mow. I've had zucchini from the garden and have picked peas, but not enough to make a meal.

I have been pondering this week the concept of where I go from here in my life. I've never been a single woman, much less a nearly 60 year old single woman living in Canberra. I realize now that he's not coming back no matter how much I miss him, but I don't quite what to do with myself. Yes, I know, I have a zillion interests and passions and friends but I don't know whether I just keep going day by day, filling in gaps with whatever comes to hand (classes, traveling, fibre working) or plan towards some goal. When the Bear was alive we were so focussed on getting our land and then getting ready to sell this house and move to our dream home. Now that that plan has been shattered, I am a little unsure whether I make a new plan or just keep putting one foot in front of the other. No pressure except that which I choose to put on myself. Right now it's still a day by day sort of life,

I did find that I can move one of the wardrobes that is supposed to go to the tip (actually to the recycling facility attached to it) so I can get behind it and strip off the pink girly wallpaper that the Bear lived with for 14 years. Since it was only applied to one wall and then under a window, it's not a huge task to remove it. The former owners of this house were very fond of wallpaper but applied it so poorly that it is very easy to remove. Once the furniture is removed I can get the new carpet laid and
built-in wardrobe installed. Then paint applied and a new guest bedroom is born. My dear MIL will have to put up with a work in progress when she come to visit next week for a few days.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I had a thoroughly unpleasant morning (4 whole hours) having my left mammary gland pressed into many different positions ranging from uncomfortable to down right painful. Then I had an ultrasound of my right breast because they thought they felt something there but it was only scar tissue from my reduction surgery. Then they X rayed some more. The calcifications show a change in tissue, since they weren't on my last scan. They could be just calcium (old age) or they could be a marker for other tissue tissue change that is not benign. Mine is at the very extreme top of the left one so they had a hard time getting an image clear enough so that they could get it out by biopsy. Eventually it was successful, They removed all the calcium in the biopsy and I am sore and bandaged am am supposed to take it easy this weekend. Today I feel like a wet kitten, which may be the aftereffects of being cheerful all during the procedure, going back to work for the division Christmas party, driving to the other end of town to my therapist and then coming home. My dinner consisted of nibbles from the party, 3 Krispy Kremes, and a Cornetto. I go back in 5 days for the results. I think with my family history you have to take everything slightly off as serious which is good, but I wasn't prepared for feeling this bad. Old age sucks.

Now I will have a lie-down with the grey cat (hopefully without the wrestling matches we sometimes have for control of the middle of the bed).

Monday, December 10, 2007

You know you've got strange priorities when you buy a new bedside lamp because your cat doesn't like the one you have. My faithful halogen bedside lamp died (the base cracked and fell apart). The Imp loved the old lamp as she used it as a heat lamp and/or spotlight on her beauty. I replaced it with a squat table lamp from the guest bed room but she couldn't get the same effect from a lamp whose shade she could barely fit under, although she tried. She also seemed to believe she must go under the shade to get to the window sill. So I went to K-Mart today and bought a new lamp just like the old one and she immediately went and sat under it looking very pleased. The things we do...

I had a mammogram a couple of weeks ago and just got a call from the clinic and they want me back to look at some "small calcification" in my left breast. I will not panic. My mother died of breast cancer. My half sister is currently undergoing chemo for breast cancer. I will not panic yet.

I finished washing one bag of alpaca! The next bag has extremely long locks and I have questioned its breed. 8" long but just as dirty if not more so. I'd show a photo but pure white fibre is a bit difficult to photograph!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

This will be short since my MIL will call at 8.01. I so overslept today. Did not wake up till 11AM which put all plans for today out the window. I know my MIL will say I needed it and that may well be true, but I'm going have to start setting the alarm clock on weekends. I got up, ate breakfast, got dressed and mowed the lawn, weeding and mulching as I went. While I really don't much like mowing the lawn (we don't have acres of grass like I was used to in Ohio) the garden looks so super since we've got so much rain in the past few weeks. The berries are coming in 2 weeks early and I may have to make jam tomorrow. There's still edging and fighting back mint (I might get one of those flame thrower weeders, whatcha think?) and vinca and more pruning but in general everything is green and growing. Also need to kill snails.

I had planned to attend the first Swans social event of the season with was a picnic in Queanbeyan, but that is a long drive and my schedule was already shot to hell. The handsome Irishman was coming but Craig Bolton pulled out maybe because he knew I meant to chastise him. He got a lot of votes in the Swans' best & fairest so maybe he improved in the second part of the season when I couldn't watch. I have to stop being afraid of my house and of the Swans just because they remind me of the Bear. Life does go on and there are lots of things to do where I can't allow survivor's guilt to keep me from the things I love. I finished up watching the end of season 3 of Enterprise. In retrospect I wish they hadn't canceled it because it was going in an interesting direction and had lots of time travel which is a thread of sci-fi I love. Real stunner of a season end; just when you thought everything was safe... I have Stargate Atlantis Season 3 and Battlestar Galactica Season 3 so the dearth of summer TV won't bother me. Yes, all of those arouse survivor guilt that he can't watch them with me. Have to imagine him in the other chair making faces at me. The "shock horror" face, and all the rest. I never realized during our electronic courtship how silly he was in the flesh. A pleasant surprise.

Friday, December 07, 2007

It has been a thoroughly dreadful week. A wet and stormy weekend (I am most grateful for the rain but it didn't help my mood) which led to 1) missing the Bear terribly, and 2) stupidly climbing up in the pear tree in trying to prune it which led to very painful ankles, knees and hands the next day. The issue with missing the Bear I think came from spending too much time in his den where all the air molecules must have been breathed by him multiple times. I was totally miserable and even tried calling Lifeline where I got not very caring or thoughtful service but complaints from the person on the other end of the phone about how stressful his night had been. Excuse me, who is counseling whom? I just remembered I forgot to go to my therapist's appointment this afternoon. ARGH!!

In an effort to make up for missing Monday's work I worked three days straight and therefore was knackered by last night. I mentioned the hand pain I was having which I now think is a result of the poorly arranged position I am in keyboarding on Della in the living room. She sits waiting for me on a tapestry covered stool but there is no good place for the mouse and I get my wrists in weird positions. I need to either find a better position or move back to my bedroom where I used to use Della. Ergonomics is not just for the workplace. In trying to solve the Mystery of the Painful Wrists (don't you wish life was like a Nancy Drewe novel?) I've gone back to flick carding alpaca, with the goal of emptying at least one trashbag. The stuff I've got in this bag is beautifully soft and terribly dirty. The Senior cat likes me doing this because she can sit next to me on the couch while I do it.

Other various things that happened this week. I locked myself out of the house 3 days in a row and the last one happened when I had not yet returned my emergency key to its hidey hole. After calling a 24 hour locksmith I walked around to the front of the house and noticed I'd left the sliding door to the dining room wide open. Duh. Tonight I stepped on the Imp twice as she silently got directly behind me and suffered the consequences. I found in the course of my work toiling in the bowels (leaky ones at that) of the Library a relatively rare copy of a 19th century utopian novel valued at ~$300AU that nobody knew we had. I always feel like I should get a medal for these things because I find so many items we have no record of, just because I have a suspicious mind. I have hit the first lot of Arthur Upfield Bony mysteries and found several editions of various titles we didn't have records for. They are now judged politically incorrect at worst or simply dated at best, but I found them all great reads when I wanted to devour everything about Australia. Book report: Peter Corriss's Appeal Denied, the latest Cliff Hardy mystery which I enjoyed as always. I wish he would write more but they are the sort of thing one tries to read straight through in a day. I have started Terminator Gene by Ian Irvine which is sci-fi and even Aussie sci-fi. BBBB is Root of Wild Madder, which is very little about wild madder and more about the Iranian carpet trade and ancient Persian poetry. The Salvos finally showed up to pick up the furniture I had to offload and declined to take any of it. Thus all my plans for shifting furniture must go back on hold. They said it was too 70's and people didn't like it. This while we have been using it for 15 years in this house because it was all we had. Poor people must be getting fussy.

I tentatively say that the issues with resolving the death benefits from the Bear's superfunds will be happening soon. I will then be able to pay off the bills that have been piling up; I haven't even been able to pay for his funeral services due to lack of funds and had to borrow from my MIL to get the roof fixed.

I also am totally blown away by my blog statistics. Who are you people who read my drivel? When I see 20 page hits in a day I am really mystified. I must have more friends than I thought I did or have developed a cult following. If the latter is the case, see preceeding paragraph. Donations appreciated. Just joking folks. Send fibre.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A few words regarding sleep, fatigue, and fibromyalgia. It seems clear now from what I read that it has been proven that FMS folks have the problem that normal sleep doesn't work correctly in its role in refreshing and heal the body. We don't go into the deepest level of sleep completely, having alpha waves intruding into delta sleep. Therefore we wake up in the morning feeling worse than when we went to bed. I also awake stiff and in pain. As a result of this "unrefreshing" sleep, or independently as part of the whole syndrome, I am tired all the time. Stress makes all of this worse. I can sleep 8 hours, or even 12 hours and still wake up miserable. Today was one of those days when people kept telling me how awful I looked and I was even dozing over my lunch. Therefore I left at the 5 hour mark and came home and laid down to sleep. Of course, the roofers arrived and seemed mystified that I was sleeping again after sleeping half of yesterday. I sometimes feel like I spend half my life (or more) asleep or just dog tired. I heard someone on a podcast who had calculated (based on actuarial tables) how many days he had to live. Leaving aside I have no idea how FMS might (or might not) effect my life expectation, I can only think wistfully of how many of those days I have spent asleep or just plain tired. This is extremely frustrating to a person likes me with a zillion hobbies and other activities that I want to enjoy. Sometimes I feel like the sleeping patterns of the cats has infected me. They, however, don't have a job, do not have to shop for food, cook it, and have no hobbies besides occasionally savaging a toy and demanding my undivided attention when awake.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The Imp seems to get all the space in my blog so I decided to give The Senior Cat a chance to be centre stage for a change. She's 16 and the Bear and I acquired her as a RSPCA kitten when we moved into our first house together. She is getting arthritic and can barely manage to jump up on my chair and has a chesty cough that the vets can't diagnose. At the moment I can afford another 4-digit vet bill that resulted from her last visit. She is still very affectionate, loathes the Imp (for many good reasons), and after her brushing every Sunday morning, I put handful of her fur away for the day when I can blend it with some wool for a permanent reminder of her.


Some fibre content at long last. Sonny and Shear had some irresistible things available including Lorna's Laces rovings (why did they have invent this? I have no will power) at left and some lovely sock yarn at right called "Dream in color Smooshie" which it is and is superwash handpainted in coulourway "beach fog".


Lastly there is this beautiful bag which I think may become my default traveling bag, not just a knitting bag. It's from Scout's Swag and is messenger style, which I like both because it leaves your hands free and is more secure by going across your body rather than just over your shoulder or in your hand. While I have what I view as the perfect handbag, it does tend to fall off my shoulder if I'm carrying things. The bag was reviewed by Jennie and Nicole on Stash and Burn and when I looked at online I fell instantly in love. It's brown fine-wale corduroy with a not-too-loud lining. There is a zippered pouch on the flap, two flapped pouches on the outside, more on the inside and a divider to break up the inside. I could see the normal contents of your purse in one side and your knitting in the other side with those random but necessary accessories like scissors, crochet hook, stitch markers, etc, in the smaller pockets. It's big enough to hold substantial amounts of knitting. One beef I have with a lot of knitting bags is they are big enough when you start a project but when you get to the point where you have the whole front (or back) of the jumper, or both front and back if you need to match them up at some point, or if you want to carry more than one ball of wool with you, there's just not enough room. That's why I tend to use plastic shopping bags instead of purpose made knitting bags. My sock knitting bags are 1) a cheap make-up bag from K-Mart in a rather loud pink floral and 2) a cylindrical tapestry bag made of Laurel Burch cat fabric from Colorful Critters which both have room for 2 socks and all necessary things like tape measure, crochet hook, etc. My other projects, which up to now have rarely left the living room, they live in plastic shopping bags


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Once again another week gets away from me. I am trying so hard to remember all the things I need to do each day (and usually forget one) that every second seems filled to the brim or I am so knackered that I fall asleep in my chair. The weekend's activities to sap my strength involved the garden, Saturday weeding and mulching and pruning. The 36mm of rain we got on Thursday makes everything look wonderful. The melon seeds I planted have sprouted, and the portulaca is already blooming. The bramble berries are actually starting to colour already. Today I mowed the lawn and trimmed edges around the veggie beds. By the time that was done I more or less collapsed for a while. I started packing up the books in my bedroom (for the second time in 9 months) for the great furniture shift, but the whole process has been stymied by the fact that The Salvos didn't show up on Friday, despite confirming that they were supposed to come. Since all furniture relocations depend on them removing certain items, I am now even more surrounded with boxes. I have succumbed to the advertisement of a roof restoration firm and they are due to start tomorrow. They cost a lot of money but I am so tired of holding my breath every time it rains. We've been having so many unexpected thunderstorms (like this afternoon) and the thought of 90 cracked tiles on the roof is enough to make the money seem worth it, especially since I've already spent thousands on the roof and it still leaks. Dear MIL is lending me half of the money, since there is no news about the super funds' death benefits. I will also gain a roof that is all one colour which is nice, since I had never looked at my roof from an angle that showed that the additions made to the house in 1983 were made with a different colour tile. Typical.

I've been having a lot of hand pain lately which I wake up with in the morning, but usually it quietens down to background noise during the day. Please hope it isn't knitting related. And I haven't been spinning at all. Tonight I addressed Christmas cards instead of knitting, but there was all that garden work earlier. I am trying to get my head around exercising with FMS which all the books say you should do. Aside from the fact that my knees are so bad my surgeon told me not to walk a lot, I have no idea where I would fit this into my life. If I have a free 15 minutes I would prefer to read a book to exercising, especially after work and whatever else I had done that day. I view my gardening as exercise but I suppose it isn't aerobic enough (altho mowing the grass certainly felt like aerobic exercise) or targeting the right muscles. I tried some stretches and also could do 15 sit-ups with ease without having practiced in years. I'd like to strengthen my legs without involving my knees but it's hard to find exercise that doesn't put some strain on the ligaments while helping the muscles.

One magazine that came this week had an ad for travel in Australia and I would still like to go to Cape York. All the tours I had seen in the past involved some camping, but it seems like there is enough tourist development that you don't have to do that now. I have never been much of a camping person and FMS really requires a bed to sleep in. It is my enduring regret that the Bear had just conquered his world class snoring via a CPAP machine and before we could exploit the benefits of being able to sleep in the same room, he left me. I am getting used to being alone, but I still miss him every hour of every day. I am pretty sure he would have been happy with the election result but he was such a cynic about such matters that he may have dismissed even a change this drastic as just a different group of politicians to muck things up. At any rate I'm still poking around looking at travel and tours.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why is life so complicated, time-consuming, complicated, and expensive in time and money? I accomplished a lot this afternoon in chasing up things, getting minor paperwork and purchases, giving the Bear's suits to the Salvos, etc. This involved driving all over Belconnen, walking from one end of the mall to the other, came home and fell asleep while watching the news. Not that there's anything important in the news since we are hurtling towards and election on Saturday and every other ad on TV is a political one so the mute button gets a workout. The best news is I found my knitting! I lost the Laurel Burch bag with my sock knitting in it several weeks ago and tore apart the house, and the car to no avail. There it was in Westfield's lost and found which made my day. I got paperwork to change the name that the Victorian land is in (plus not so small fee), but I'm still going round in circles with the ACT land registry. To complicate matters one arm of the bank says the mortgage has been discharged, and the other part says it hasn't. Please sort this out internally before getting me involved, please.

We continue to have hot days and frequently end the day with thunderstorms. This is not usual Canberra weather for November. Certainly the opposite of last year when it didn't get truly warm till December, and then cranked it up to 35C. Hot weather always makes me sleepy so it's a struggle to get anything done, especially when it's ironing which is in need of attack. All I managed Sunday was a thorough bathroom clean, and then fell asleep for most of the afternoon. This is what worries me about traveling. I can sleep in planes if my legs don't hurt too much.

One book I got in the mail recently was The Oxford Companion to Food which looks extremely informative and hunger
producing. Just the right thing while one is trying to stick to a diet.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I may have given up on the specific trip to Italy but I am still thinking of traveling, probably a longish tour of North America. All previous trips were factored in around the Bear's job, him convinced he was indispensable and couldn't go away for long and/or hitting as many work-related sites as possible. Now I have long service leave and someday some money, and am going to stick pins in a map for people, events, and sights to see. I haven't seen the Grand Canyon but the Bear had. All advice is to go while you are still able. I am discovering more textile tours and even Elderhostel or (shock horror) a cruise.

My throat is much better--I am still a bit croaky and baritone but it doesn't hurt as much as it did. It has turned into summer overnight. We went from 16C to 30C in a week. Everything in the garden is mulched, snail baited and tomatoes staked. I have been getting a handful of strawberries.

RCCLive tagged me with a blogger meme:
"open the book you’re currently reading to page 161 and read the fifth sentence on the page, then think of 5 bloggers to tag." I am currently reading Richard Morgan'sThirteen which was sold in the UK and Australia as Black Man which seems to be a reasonable title because the main character happens to be a black man and the novel takes place about 100 years in the future. I am not up to p.161 and hate to read ahead, but I'll oblige. Ha! The line is "What?" I too have not a lot of bloggers to tag but I'll try
1. Random Knits
2. Jejeune
3. Purple Purl
4. Sarah

The alpaca I pulled out most recently to flick card and go into the washing bag was over 20cm long (8"). I hope I can do it justice when I spin it. I can't put it through the drumcarder without cutting it into smaller pieces.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My throat is still very sore. I went to the medical clinic (packed at 5 PM on a Sunday, go figure) and waited 2.5 hours to see a GP who looked at my throat and said "Very red" (Duh), wrote me a script for antibiotics and said bye. A) I think all the GPs bar one in the practice are afraid of me because they know I have a complicated medical history, B) he didn't really listen to my description of what happened but thought (red throat=strep->antibiotics). It is slightly better today and I also got some soluble Panadol which help me take the rest of my meds. Stayed home from work partly because I was tired and partly because I hate croaking at people who still want to talk even tho I can't. Ate yoghurt and frozen yoghurt and fruit (watermelon was good).

Before I went to the clinic I dabbled in the garden, spreading snail bait, weeding out vinca, killing ants and tried unsuccessfully to spray my homemade animal deterrent on the berry plants since something (guess what) is eating the leaves. They can't reach the berries because they hang down low but they eat the f**king leaves off. And after I give them bananas, the ungrateful wretches. But the upside was I picked my first strawberries! Yippee! Now all I need is some cream. In my ear all the time is the Bear's voice ("strawbs") and I really needed a hug for my sore throat.

Last night I plied one ply of merino with one ply of mohair to try as sock yarn. I was also naughty and bought a skien of sock yarn from Sonny and Shear Dream in color Smooshy sock yarn and Lorna's Laces roving. Why does there have to be roving from Lorna's Lace. My flesh is too weak to stop myself from buying it. I did have to chuckle at them claiming how fine 22 micron merino is. The top of the line is around 12 and there is drive to go below 10 microns.

I am beginning to lose interest in Steven Pinker's book. The first chapter was about categorizing verbs according to their actions and it was too much like Linguistics 101 and I have to admit that this analytical side of linguistics is always the part that I had a hard time getting interested in. So I flipped ahead to his chapter on metaphor which I had heard him discuss in a podcast. He was using as his example the introduction to the Declaration of Independence ("When in the course of human events...") and I was with him with "dissolve the bonds" and even some further examples, although I doubt even Thomas Jefferson was thinking about the Latin origins of currently used English words when he wrote them. But when he got to the etymology of "it" to discuss its use as metaphor, I lost it. I just don't believe that going deep into the etymology of pronouns reveals anything about how the brain creates metaphors or what those metaphors mean about human cognition. Here he had spent the whole first chapter discussing how a child has to learn how specific verbs fall into which class to know when they take objects or imply change of state, and then he thinks people are aware of the etymology of "it" as a metaphor? It's this type of line of reasoning that ultimately drove me out of the discipline (aside from the lack of jobs) because I could not work up enough intellectual energy to actually buy into this even enough to pass my comprehensive exams let alone teach it. I should have done my PhD here where you can narrow your field enough and there are no comprehensives (which in theory I think is a bad idea but would have given me an out).

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Here are 2 of the 3 items I picked up at the post office today. At right is a Potluck Roving (colourway Iris) and the small cones at right are from Village Spin and Weave and the rest of the cones came from the ebayer Walnut Creek Yarn Company a great source of mill ends and other good stuff. I also got 2 reeds for the 2 looms, a 6 dent for the table loom and a fine one from the big loom. They are spotless stainless steel. I washed some of the alpaca I have been flick carding yesterday and it came up spotlessly white. Someone on some group said you could add Napi-sam to wash water to get white fleeces really white. I thought that a bit drastic so I used Oxy Action with my dish soap for the first wash and shampoo for the second.What I had thought was fawn is really white--you just have to get it clean!

Speaking of getting things clean, I found out via some folks who are trying to get some clean Shetland fleeces to me that they haven't even been mailed by the mill yet. We were under the impression that they were shipped in May, but in fact that was only when the mill sent samples to the USDA for the certificate needed to send them here. I am trying very hard to not mention the name of the mill because it's the only one who was even willing to try this route of me buying fleeces, them processing them and shipping to me with the correct paperwork. Apparently the mill wasn't too upset about the fact that 6 months have gone by without a response from the USDA. So the Shetland breeders are trying to light a fire under the mill owner to get the paperwork. I called Quarantine here, thinking it might be in some backlog and they said (to my surprise because this is contrary to what their web site says) that if the paperwork is correct, they don't even sample, but just send it on. I have 3 Shetland fleeces and a BFL in the hands of the mill and 2 more fleeces set aside (and paid for) to see if this process works. I now have been waiting for a year for my fleeces to be processed by the mill but nobody else is willing to do this for me so here I sit.

I didn't have a good start to the day. When I took my handful of pills this morning, I think one got stuck in my throat and it must have been something that was not meant to dissolve anywhere but my tummy. My throat burned like I had swallowed acid and closed up painfully. I can still (at 6PM) barely swallow so I don't know what I can eat. And of course I've lost my voice. I hope things settle down enough so I can take my evening meds.

After housework (like vacuuming) I spent the day in the yard, ridding the driveway edge of ivy, mulching the beans (and the peas who decided it wasn't too late after all to come up even if they are 2 months late), planting some portulaca in a big terra cotta tub and adding one more tomato to the mix. I planted some melon seeds where I pulled out the going-to-seed silverbeet.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's late and I'm tired and have a headache but I just wanted to say hey before hitting the hay (joke, folks). One thing about me is I watch a lot of TV. Everything from documentaries on Nat Geo to CSI. My guilty pleasure TV-wise this year is the American version of "So you think you can dance." We are promised an Aussie version next year. I just love watching these kids dance their socks off. We are about to get the grand finale next week and I would choose either of the male dancers as they just continue to excite and amaze me. It's the only "reality" TV show I can tolerate and the airwaves are crammed with quiz shows and other forms of crap. Which is why I watch a lot of DVDs as well as TV; I'm a participant in a program where you set up a list of movies you want to watch and they send 2 at any one time to you and you send them back. I am catching up on TV shows that Aussie stations showed in the middle of the night if they showed them at all and movies that I missed, and it takes the effort out of going to the DVD rental place and guessing at what they might have in stock that I might want to watch.

Book reports: I finished Sean Williams and Shane Dix's trilogy Evergence and think it was one of the most satisfying outings in action hard sci-fi I've read in a long time. I have started reading Richard Morgan's Thirteen which I bought twice because it was published under a different title in the US and the UK (Black Man) which makes me so mad. His previous novels (Altered Carbon, Woken Furies) were of the same futuristic thriller genre. In between I read the latest Kathy Reich's novel Bones to Ashes which was predictably a page turner. I hated what they did to her novels in making a TV series which had only the slenderest of commonality with the novels (female forensic anthropologist, full stop), changing the locale, the surrounding characters, etc. My BBBB Empires of the Word bogged me down by the time I hit the end on the role of English as a lingua franca today. I've read a lot about this and I just got stuck. I may come back to it after I read The Root of the Wild Madder by Brian Murphy about the making of carpets in Iran and Afghanistan, and The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker which is Semantics 101. Why am I reading linguistics books? Didn't I get enough of this in grad school? I also squeezed David Crystal's By Hook or by Crook in there somewhere (etymology, especially of British place names, this time). Two recent purchases burning up the shelf space are Eric Clapton's autobiography and that of Patty Boyd. How this woman married two of the men I have idolized since I was a teenager and made neither of them happy I must find out.

I am still cleaning alpaca. One reader asked how it spun up and I can't tell because I haven't spun any yet! I've been madly washing it but haven't spun it. I am spinning very fine merino that I will ply with mohair and then dye for sock yarn, and some of it I will ply with the palest of the beige alpaca (which sometimes looks almost white) and dye to even the colours out. I got lots of white merino from the free fleece. I'm mostly trying to move alpaca from sitting around dirty in trash bags to clean and ready to spin. I am also grumpy after placing a rather large order for weaving kits with Heritage Yarns only to be told they don't ship outside the US and Canada. I would have thought this would have been an opportunity to grow their business, and I wanted to take advantage of the strength of the Aussie dollar but nope.

I have decided against the trip to Italy and beyond. I realized I am just not strong enough physically. I cannot by myself haul suitcases around airports. Tactile Travel has a less active tour in Sept but it's not in the part of Italy I want to see. I may just do another trip to the US, or Canada, or New Zealand. I can speak Canadian and Kiwi after a fashion.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

So much for good intentions. I had a very up and down week sleeping, usually too much rather than not enough. I am still plowing through stuff to get to the point where I can bring my loom home. Once I can get the Salvos to take the wardrobes and bed head, I can get the Bear's room carpeted, then painted, then, then then... Very slowly until I get a real income. We had a humongous thunderstorm last night and 35 mm of rain and unfortunately a very small roof leak again right over my bed. Enough for a spot of damp. I did check a couple of times during the evening but saw nothing so this might have been in the middle of the night. Please no roof repairs now!

Yesterday I took my boss to the local gem and mineral show which was great fun. I have to admit to having expensive taste. On one of my first trips to Australia I discovered the yellow sapphire and fell instantly in love. Very expensive. So aside from oohing and aahing over interesting minerals, I was drooling over $1200 yellow sapphires despite having 2 other sapphires on my hands, a blue on the left and a green/blue/yellow parti-coloured on the right. My boss and I bought 2 half of a fossil (photo to come), but nothing else.

Today I decided it wasn't going to rain again and did laundry, got petrol for the lawn mower and mowed the lawn. The rain has made all the veggies very happy and I have plain green beans, flat Italian beans and climbing limas all coming up as well as tomatoes and pumpkin, melon and zucchini. I think a couple more cucumbers wouldn't go amiss. And the berries are flowering or actively making berries. There are even some strawberries with colour. And lots of snails. As I write I hear a king parrot calling.

All week I have been debating taking Tactile Travel's week in Lombardy seeing the luxury spinning mills, the slow food movement and Lake Como. One minute I'm gung ho, the next I wonder how I can do it on my own when everyday life is sometimes beyond me. I would never get the Bear on a tour of Italy and I don't know what traveling alone with diminished strength would be like.

In the evenings I have been trying to process more alpaca, and flick carding clumps of alpaca long enough to be spinnable and discarding the short and excessively dirty bits. I have a plump mesh laundry bag to wash and the dregs of 2 trashbags to go. When I bring the loom back I also bring back 2 bags of alpaca so something has to go.

Friday, October 26, 2007

See, I'm trying to be better at this blogging thing even with a grey cat curled up in a ball asleep on my left arm. I am going out to lunch today and am just trying to catch up before that happens. Yesterday passed as days do. Work included a meeting about authority work, which is a topic close to my heart but I am also not ready to stand up and pound the table with my shoe and shout "Do more authority work!" even tho it needs to be said. After work I dropped the clothes off at the Salvos, went to 2 chemists, the dry cleaners and the post office and IT RAINED. It had been thunderstormy all day but then it settled into a good old fashioned rain and the plants I got in the ground look super. I have 2 bales of sugar cane mulch to spread and a bag of gypsum. I managed to vacuum and dust the living room which may be the total for housecleaning for today.

Progress is being made on all WIPs: down to the heel in the cotton socks, but the black yarn is very difficult to see stitches in, but then who's going to be looking at the heel of my socks? Cast on and knit an inch of the red cotton top and my hands don't like knitting with this yarn. One inch and they were complaining. I opted for a 4 x 1 rib instead of anything fancier because of the fluffy nature of Portofino. Spinning lace weight merino to ply with mohair and maybe to ply with alpaca. Someone suggested using a non-chlorine bleach to whiten stubbornly discoloured wool and I may encounter the same problem with the alpaca because it is pure white (or ivory) some places and the washing didn't help other spots. Yes I know I've got tons of the stuff so throw it away but I'm not ready for that yet.

I've been having late night crying sessions again. Not as gut wrenching as before but mostly just missing him and thinking of all the plans we had and how they will not happen now. I know I'll have a future doing interesting things but it's not going to be the future we planned. He just left too soon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Wow! A friend returned from one of her epic backpacking trips that included Peru and Bolivia (as well as hiking Hadrian's Wall). She brought me three outstanding weaving presents which she tried very hard to get from genuine sources and not commercial, possibly mechanically produced, items. The band is double weave and is differently coloured on each side. The bag uses (I think with my very primitive weaver's brain) supplementary warp for the white motifs. The book is Textiles of Ancient Peru which is a visual treat and I haven't even delved into it. I just went to try and find a link and could find none probably because it was published in Peru so I feel very pleased that I have it. I am getting so consumed with the desire to weave and am so frustrated my inability to do so because of lack of time and trying to force myself to pace myself and NOT be exhausted. I have multiple issues of Handwoven and I want to do everything in them.

When I managed to drag myself into work yesterday after firstly being forced to go to the medical clinic pharmacy because I ran out of MS Contin and park illegally because it was busy and I couldn't walk from where I could park legally and hauled myself in to work and my boss immediately told me I looked horrible; later in the morning she shanghaied a colleague to go get me a cappucino! This morning I have done one load of laundry and sent the greywater out the back, I managed to get most of what I had already packed of the Bear's clothes into the car to take to the Salvos, but when I opened his wardrobe to look further I felt the big bubble of grief begin to form and I said to myself, "Stop now." The box of beer I found was one from his workplace where they had replaced the photo of the local wine merchant on the side with photos of The Bear. I cannot part with the box and neither can I part with the socks I knit him. I can stand have the door to his bedroom open, which also helps now that it's warm. I have had a rubbish removalist in clean out the back shed. I need to get to get to financial place where I can hire assistance for the yard and housework.

In reading All About Fibromyalgia I keep reading case studies where someone had some event that eventually diagnose them with fibromyalgia and their treatment involved taking some ibuprofen and taking a mild sleeping aid for a few weeks/months and now is fine. I want that kind of fibromyalgia. I don't want the kind I have where I am exhausted after 5 hours of work, after doing the amount of "housework" I have described above and may have to rest the rest of the day. The book is full of advice on pacing yourself and avoiding doing some things that are too tiring (vacuuming). This may mean that the vacuum cleaner is always out and simply moves from room to room in a progressive task that never ends.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I was greatly heartened from the comments made about my blogging. Maybe I should stop feeling as if it's an obligation and do more what's on my mind, whether it's fibre related or not. It's a warm sunny Saturday here but I am incredibly tired so I am going to limit myself to household duties today. I went looking for the fan for my bedroom and instead found another box of home brew (beer)! This is very old by now but I stuck a bottle in the fridge to see if it's drinkable before I pour it either on the garden (is beer a fertilizer?) or down the drain. I have not yet found a beer bread recipe I like (and I have tried a lot and they all end up like bricks) so unless it's either drinkable or useful in another way it will leave me with a box of empty bottles. I found a box of sewing patterns in cleaning out and since they were mostly 1980's style dresses, they went out. A large box I had wondered about for a long time turned out to be full of jigsaw puzzles. The Bear and I loved doing puzzles but I can't imagine trying to one with the Imp zooming around. The puzzles went to D. A bit more free space found.

Yesterday I knew I was getting a new mattress delivered for my adjustable bed, so I stripped everything off it and washed the cotton blanket and my heavy cotton bedspread, collecting the greywater and distributing it on the young plums and my berries (the loganberries are in bloom). I was hoping that by request to have the old mattress removed had been passed on, but when the delivery guy came he said all he did was deliver it, full stop. So I had to man-handle the old mattress out of my bedroom and into the Bear's, unpack the new mattress which was in a very heavyweight cardboard box with plastic over the box and plastic around the new mattress. This was not fun, but I eventually got the mattress out of the box, and re-made my bed and laid down and fell asleep for 2 hours. Called rubbish removal place which hasn't called me back, but I want my old mattress, the 2 old mattresses for the bunk beds we had an eon ago I found in the shed, and 2 pieces of old furniture removed and they can't fit in a skip. I also emailed about getting rid of the Bear's CPAP machine and will give it to someone who needs it but can't afford it rather than trying to sell it. I ended up exhausted for some reason.

I spent the evening knitting on my latest project, the Sakioro II vest from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Vests. I am using some yarn BFLB gave me which is an Aran weight in blues, pinks and purples. I am having some problems with colour pooling but I don't think there is a solution. I've tried changing balls of yarn and got the same pools. The panels of the design follow the Japanese weaving of narrow panels cut and sewn together so there are 2 30-stitch panels sewn together to make the back.

There was an interruption in the middle of the last paragraph which went something like this: Ants! on my computer, on the floor--go down to the cupboard in the laundry to get ant spray--notice I have 3 mesh bags of alpaca to wash--fill tub with wash water and immerse bags--clean cat boxes (next to laundry sink)--take ant spray into living room and spray--come into kitchen & notice dishwasher has finished--remember it's 2 PM and you haven't had lunch--eat a mandarine and 2 pears--return to what I was doing. Realize I am tired and this is my week of recharging my batteries. Tomorrow I will do gardening stuff. And write a list of power tools to advertise on work classifieds. Now I will take a nap. I am reading All about Fibromyalgia which is so supremely comforting in knowing that what I feel is what other people feel and I'm not some freak or that I am making it all up. They know a lot about neurotransmitters and what they do and how they do it but not so much on a cure. I am hoping some of the genetic research being done will shine a light on this, since they've managed to find genes for a lot of disorders (look up the research done by the Iceland genetics team).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A lot of stuff about blogging lately led me to ponder what blogging is and what it means in our online society. I have no delusions about the idea that all the world is online; it isn't but it grows constantly worldwide. There was a story on the news this week about the purported oldest blogger in the world, the 108-year-old Olive Riley. But she doesn't actually write her blog, just feeds comments to the person who puts it online for her. Then there are the feminist, or post-feminist bloggers who don't know what life was like pre-feminism. The Australian civil service used to force any female employee to leave the public service if they married. I never really thought seriously about feminism until I married the first time and found that it didn't completely fulfill me despite what society had led me to believe (it must have been subliminal advertising because my parent's marriage was certainly no shining example of marriage being loving harmony). While the glass ceiling is not as impenetrable as it once was, the salary difference between males and females in comparable jobs is still there. There are blogs talking about everything (and on occasion, nothing). I just listened to Brenda's interview with Crazy Aunt Purl who used her blog to get through the pain of being left by her husband and the subsequent divorce (and I just got my copy of her book Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair). Brenda's summer camp badges include "Knitting got me through my divorce" but not as yet "Knitting got me through the death of my husband."

You all know how I've talked about things that have happened to me recently. I can't tell yet whether blogging has gotten me through the depths of the feelings I've been through since I lost my Bear. My rheumatologist told me today that the loss of a spouse is the top of the list of stresses that can occur in a person's life and that the physical pain I am living with is a part of the grieving process, just expressed by my brain through pain. He offered upping the dose of my SSRI which has helped when I self dosed (and I don't want to go through months of waiting to see a new psychiatrist when I went through so many anti-depressants that did nothing or worse to finally find this one) and extra dosages of Neurontin as I need, but to watch out for the drowsiness and other side effects we are both familiar with. He also predicted it would be two years before I would feel like myself again, but I don't know how to feel myself while living alone in Australia. It's a new life I will have to figure out for myself. I need to keep my social network alive, and I worked a little on that today by meeting a friend for coffee. I know it's a pro-active thing that I must work at and not sit home pining, but get out and keep existing contacts alive and make new ones. I need to make plans for me without my other half. I have never liked the eternal flame type of mourners, who never move on and continue to grieve 25 years after an event. I will always grieve for my Bear but he would never want me to become a recluse because if his loss. He would want me to go out and continue my life and follow my interests. I also spoke to both my dr and my therapist about feeling guilty of not sufficiently honouring Brien's memory by thinking about moving on, even while thinking with the other side of my brain that that's absurd. I can't imagine ever having another "love interest" after having my soul mate, even tho many of the self-help widow books seem to go from grieving to dating.

I was flabberghasted when my blog stats passed 5000 and seem to continue to increase. I don't know who reads my blogs outside family and friends but whoever you are out there, thank you because you have somehow validated my babbling to know that I do reach somebody, although I'd probably blog even if I only had one reader because that's why I started this adventure 18 months ago. I read a lot of blogs and could spend all day following links and reading what other people are up to. I sort of feel that Ravelry has taken the pressure off posting on projects although I'll still post regarding FOs or when I take photos. Not everyone is interested in exactly what yarn I used for what. There isn't any equivalent for spinners or weavers and some of us chafe at that because it's such a powerful tool for knitters. If anyone cares, I am spinning some merino that was the free fleece given to me eons ago. I intend on plying it with mohair, just spun, for sock wool. Both are now white so dyeing will happen. And I still haven't got to my loom. Sometimes social networking takes time, as does grocery shopping, visiting doctors and life in general. Thank you all again for electronic hand-holding. I need all the help I can get.

Sunday, October 14, 2007



My only excuse this week is that I fell into pieces and had to call on reinforcements in the form of my dear MIL. Thursday I went on a crying jag in my boss's office, in the counsellor's office, on the phone... Well you get the picture. Somebody told me that you run on adenraline for a while then crash. Well, I crashed. All said to take another week off work, to ask my MIL to come an stay with me a little while. I need rest, sleep, and a little light gardening. The skip I spent the week filling has gone. I now need to weed the veggie patches and plant my seeds. The pear tree has suddenly covered itself in leaves and the logannberries are in bloom. But no rain; I had to use grey water again today on trees and berries.

And FOs: The cardigan I knit for my penpal J's grand-daughter from my handspun is done minus the buttons. Some miraculous 4-footed thief made off with one of the buttons I bought so I'll have to hop that there are more. The yarn spun up at the top is Masham from All the Pretty Fibers and even if it's not too soft, it's strong for socks.

I have spent far too much time on Ravelry but need to actually start knitting on my projects!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

OK, OK. What can I say. Another week taken off work and I have been working my big butt off (as if) trying to clear stuff up and out. A skip just arrived to give you an idea of the scope of this. I was also intending to do garden work but it has been colossally windy the entire week and not the kind of weather you want to be out in, even tho it is warmer now. Yesterday I finally planted peas (way too late) and filled the wheelbarrow full of ivy from around the pear tree. I found that but cutting off the wild shoots that appear on the pear and leaving them where they landed I now have wonderful store of pea stakes. But my trashpack is full and I'm not done. I also earlier attacked the mint and the area around the steps is clear. I went to the lengths of lifting pavers to get the mint runners. In cleaning I also managed to get into the old shed and found out there were not books (Cheer!) but one box was my high school yearbooks and I am annoyed that they were in that shed and not the clean dry one. Dead TV, old ironing board, get my drift?

I have also been inspired by Ravelry and stash diving to get back to knitting. The baby cardigan is finished bar sewing it all together so Next Project looms. I was listening to Stash and Burn and they got me thinking as well. I really like their podcast because even tho they have considerable humour (usually at their own expense), they also tackle real problems like, what we wish knitting pattern designers and publishers would put in their patterns, when yarn substitute doesn't work, etc. One mention of sock-knitter's block and talking about how big your sock yarn stash made me seriously look at my stash. Enough for 59 pairs of socks. While that might seem a lot, I did today almost run out of socks. I always wear wool socks except for really hot days and the wool & cotton blends suit working in an air-conditioned building. Some of the sock yarn was chosen specifically for the Bear. I am going to try and unload some of it. I took this (yarn strewn all around me) as a good time to add it to my stash on Ravelry

My 2 new projects (not counting the Panda socks I'm knitting) are a summer top and a wool vest. I am trying to find Cheryle Oberle's Folk vests which I know is here somewhere and I know there are several patterns in it I wanted to knit. Yarn options from the stash are many, Naturally Guernsey. handspun, etc. I also have an idea for a knitted Browncoat. When I heard that Jenny & Nicole are Battlestar Galactica and Firefly fans, I knew why I liked them so much. I got tons of both the tan merino and moorit corriedale handspun and a tightly knit coat would come in handy. Something like what's on the cover in the latest Interweave Knits, but not so funky. Funky, I ain't.

And (drum roll) I sold my car. My little red Corolla now lives next door with the evangelical Methodist Tongan teacher. I don't get what I think it's worth but I always overvalue my car in my mind. It has so few kms on it considering it's 9 years old. But she needed a car desperately and she's been nice to me so I let it go. Empty garage syndrome. Aside from the rubbish which is going into the skip.

Actual Swans content: There are mutterings and comments made by Roosy that he is going to do some shake-up to the side and may trade some senior players. I think we need it. There are some players who I think are just not playing to their best, or we need somebody better. Ironically (for me) Roosy said
For us I think we need to try and get an outside skillful running midfielder…we lost Paul Williams a couple of years ago and I think it’s a Paul Williams type of player that we miss." I said the same thing early in the season, that his retiring left a big hole in our midfield and there hasn't been anybody to fill it. I think we need a stronger, bigger defense. But we'll see.

Back to cataloguing my sock yarn...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I have probably started something that I won't keep up to date but I started to add stuff to Ravelry which would be a lot of fun except besides knit I also spin and hopefully weave. Ravelry is all knitting centred and there isn't even a decent way to show handspun. I think you're supposed to have more projects than I do, or I have projects, but they are cross-craft projects. Like I'm spinning what I think is mohair, knitting handspun and about to warp my loom. So keeping Ravelry current, much less adding back stock is problematic. After all, the knitting stash currently resides on the back deck, so not so easy to catalogue.

After spending a very lazy morning in bed, due to an extremely late night alternately crying and watching the beginning of season 10 of Stargate: SG-1 and eating chocolate chips, I levered myself out of bed, cleaned the oven and did the grocery shopping. I go on record as hating grocery shopping which is one reason the Bear did it. Ultimately the lack of junk food in the house drove me to it. My current necessary junk food is rice crackers and they have to be Sakata. Regarding Stargate, they took all the fun out of Ben's character or told him that he had killed the franchise or something because he looked distinctly unhappy in the 3 episodes I watched. Claudia looks happier than a pig in mud, but now she gets to play the person who doesn't know what's going on which is the opposite of Farscape. Third season of Atlantis is about to come out on DVD and it was a bit interesting to see the joining of the 2 shows in one ep. The Sci-fi channel is back to the beginning of Atlantis and I don't think they showed season 3 at all because in theory Prime is showing it here. When they feel like it. In the middle of the night.

Oh, and Geelong won the AFL Grand Final. Record score. Yawn.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Another week of "one day at a time." I get tired of being tired, of supposedly being on restricted work hours but still not getting home till 5PM or later because of all the additional tasks and errands that have been added to my to do list since the Bear left me. I spent a stressful (to me, though not to him) hour and a half with a very expensive lawyer whom I pray sees me as a pro bono case since we were addressing my claims concerning my lack of financial resources. I am hoping the result of the session will be a cessation of activities from the Mexicans (people in Victoria are here sometimes referred to as Mexicans since they live, after all, south of the border). I managed to lose my reading glasses 10 days ago and had to order new ones so I'm expecting a $400 hit there. I found a rare bit of Australiana in the stacks and in just attempting to get cataloguing assistance got it taken away for further research (a good outcome because I don't have to catalogue it then). I ate 2 Krispy Kremes while waiting for an appointment with my therapist (why does her office have to be right across the road from them?). The progress on the legal front has removed some of the blockage in my grieving process so I am back to crying daily and talking to him (why do I think he lives somewhere "above" me and address the ceiling when I talk to him?) I slept all this morning as I was just knocked out by the end of a week of "one day at a time." It is overcast and extremely windy so neither laundry or gardening would have been very fruitful today anyway. BFLB gave me the delight of a phone call to tell me she had a new kitten, and gushed about how cute she was. All kittens are cute; unfortunately they all don't grow up to be as cute as they started out as. I hope her little long-haired tortie grows up to have just enough of the tortie's quirkiness to give her personality and not make her a complete idiot. The Imp declined to sleep with me last night which meant I slept soundly, but she came in this morning to warm the small of my back.

I finished the scarf I wove in my "learning to weave" class by throwing it in the washing machine with another small item and putting it through the shortest cycle I could. I was not satisfied with handwashing which had still left it stiff and none of the undulating twill we hoped for showed up. The slight fulling of the washing followed by a steam press made the plain weave sections show some interesting texture, the undulating twill still didn't appear, and I ended up having to hand sew the end seams since my sewing machine balked at the thickness of the hem once fulled. It has now been turned over to my weaving instructor who is going to mount a display in the School of Art Library showing products of her classes' students. I bought Peggy Osterkamp's book Warping your loom & tying on new warps from the Woolery because I know better than to rely on my memory for doing this. Her book is full of handy techniques and points out the risky places where mistakes are prone to happen. I will need to do things like find the middle of all by harnesses, beams, reed, etc. One of the tasks I'd really like to get to this week is warping my table loom which will begin by putting together my warping frame.

I had an electronic brush with one of the famous writers I admire. David Crystal is a practicing linguist, which is rare enough that he does both academic and popular writing (unlike, for example, Bill Bryson who is a popular writer who delves into linguistic seas every so often). I am reading By Hook or by Crook which was lent to me by a friend, but I already had several of his books on my shelf, including Language Death, and Language and the Internet. I Googled him and found his home page at the University of Bangor, which my deep memory produced as Maine, when, of course, he's in Wales. I shot off an email as I am wont to do when somebody posts their email address and to my surprise got an answer back right away. My impatience with the small mindedness of academic life would have led me to failure; I am glad I found a more suitable career home in librarianship, where being a dilletante is an asset rather than a liability.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The business end out of the way first. Yesterday I cleaned. Seriously cleaned, things involving degreaser and a toothbrush. Now my hands hurt like hell so I will postpone garden work until it's a bit warmer. We supposedly has frost last night and I feel for all those people with tomato seedlings a fortnight ago in Bunnings (warehouse hardware store). My lawnmower was returned in pristine condition, but the self-propelled front wheel mechanism has died yet again. This is a 20 year old Sears mower and that plastic drive cog has failed twice and is a bit hard to source here. As if my hands weren't sore enough already I managed to catch the tips of 2 fingers in the gate when closing it. Ouch does not begin...

I found by diving into the stash another hank of the merino I am knitting the baby sweater out of and have confidence I have enough for the fronts.

Now I want to share something that some might find too private, too personal, but I need to tell the world about my wonderful Bear and why I miss him so specially much. Yes, most widows miss their husbands but he was my soul mate and we knew it almost from the start. I was delving into the closet in the den, just trying to organize and clean out, and I found one of the volumes of our email messages which he had printed out in their entirety. After 4 months of emailing we had sent 250 messages. This one was on top. Oct.2, 1990. From him. "I've fallen in love with abstract ideas before or I would have being in what I did [i.e. physics] but this is the first time I've ever fallen love with, so to speak, an abstract person. Yes, I know you are real, and cherish the reality, but it was the person burning brightly through your words those few months ago that brought me to hope I could show my own self to you. ... In my own way I can be pretty intense also.... I do have these moments when I challenge assumptions--you know that already. I hope we can keep doing that in the years we have together, darling. Keep being my burning and tantalising lady. As well as my loving and soothing wife. I love you." We didn't meet for 4 more months. We had 16 of those wonderful years that seem to have gone by in the blink of an eye, and now my heart is still torn and aching for him. When I found these letters, I cried. I have tears dribbling down my cheeks as I type, but I know how much we loved each other and holding these letters and looking at things we wrote about, brings our life back into sharp focus and makes it more real.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I recently added yet another bird book to our collection. One would think I have enough and the Slater field guide lives in the car and is our more-or-less life list as well. It's a bit tattered and torn and has gotten wet a few times, but until now I considered it the best and most useful in the field. Some of the others like Pizzey and the Reader's Digest guide are a bit on the heavy side. But when I saw the new compact edition of Michael Morcombe's guide I was seriously swayed. Each section of related birds is introduced with a page showing all the birds in the section with thumbnail illustrations. Then the pages devoted to the birds, instead of cramming 8 or more species on one page with a single static pose, are shown in multiple illustrations, often including a flight illustration (since one often only seems them as they fly away). There is a solid paragraph about each bird, a map showing its distribution and identifying when where are two subspecies that have slight variations. For example, opening the book at random, I have two facing pages covering 4 species of hawk, each with multiple illustrations, showing in flight from above and below and even in flight profile, with a description of how the hawk flies. The other thing I like is the indication of how common it is and whether it is sedentary or roaming, where it likes to hunt from and what it hunts. Maps and a description of its call. I long for the interactive day when they can insert a little chip or disc that you can press on and hear the call rather than trying to match what you heard to a person's description of it. At any rate, I bought it and with the help of another birder, figured out that we have acquired a pallid cuckoo in the neighbourhood which is not a new bird for me but I haven't seen it here, well I haven't seen it here at all just heard it. One of those annoying middling grey birds that are hard to see but easy to hear.

In trying to catch up with knitting book reviews I show you HandKnit Style from Tricoter. I bought it used and I see there is a second edition out. The designs are unusual and quite what I would call high fashion with surprising design elements like ruffles at the edge of a sleeve or alternating stripes of an ordinary yarn and a multicoloured ribbon yarn. The layout is pretty nifty too. Spiral bound so you can open it flat and the pattern folds out from the page facing the photograph the the item. My only quibble is that many of the patterns are written for small sizes only and I am not a 36 and probably never will be. Of course all the yarns are high end expensive but we know how to work around that, don't we? It sets the mind going in new directions I wouldn't have though of before and now I'm thinking of more things like stripes of BLF in the merino baby cardigan I'm knitting.

Two book reviews, phew! I am finally about 2/3 of the way through Harry Potter having given myself permission to indulge while my body recovers from garden work and my heart mends from the latest round in the settling of the Bear's estate. I am promised a call from an estate lawyer this afternoon, so must now go out in the rain to do grocery shopping. I'm glad I didn't tempt fate further by doing laundry!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Here is a not very good photo of the back of the shawl knit by BFLB. Not very good in the sense that my dear MIL is not all that familiar with the operation of a Nikon D50 SLR or how to frame a shot. It also includes far too much of the mess that is my kitchen which includes many things attached to the fridge or on top of it (my favourite biscuit tin is a Tim Tam one that says "Life's too short to eat fruit" on one side) plus part of the cookbook collection in the background. But the shawl is gorgeous and is knit from handspun, hand-dyed (neither by me) wool in eggplant purple tones that I didn't trust myself to do justice to. BFLB knits these things like I could eat Tim Tams. It hasn't been blocked thoroughly since it was squished in a box, and now will be packed away where m*ths can't get to it. (Speaking of moths, The Imp was having difficulty with her tiny brain distinguishing the shadow of a moth from the actual moth. When I finally showed her the thing flying around up at the ceiling she made herself as tall as possible as if willing herself to fly and then made a very plaintive "Mow!")

I neglected to mention last week that I am now the proud owner of a Bosworth Moosie spindle, for which you go on a waiting list for about 9 months. My name finally made it to the top of the list and I have one which does not look like what I was expecting a moose antler spindle to look like. I am glad Sheila didn't identify the source of the raw material on the customs declaration because AQIS probably thinks you have to kill an endangered moose to get an antler or that it is harbouring some germ to infect Australia's vast moose population. Actually it looks and feels like grey marble.

The other exciting news to report is that M, my weaving instructor, completely dismantled the loom in an hour. I was totally flabberghasted that she could do it so easily (until I saw her loom which is a distant cousin of mine). The rusty bolts were in fact all quite loose and what was glued together was in a part that didn't need to be dismantled. It is actually a 10 shaft loom, but only 8 had been installed, and has 10 treadles installed with 2 additional ones in the bundle of sticks the movers handed me in the night. We don't know what wood the loom is made of; it almost looks to me like American oak, but that's unlikely, and it wasn't heavy enough to be oak I think. I should try and track down the maker and find out. It is now all in pieces that would easily go through a door and I might move it all home and save myself the cost of a storage locker even if I can't re-assemble it yet since there is not yet room in the rearrangement of furniture in various rooms. I was relieved that she suggested replacing the linen string heddles with Texsolv ones because I wanted to but didn't know how "real" weavers (I don't count myself as one yet, still a wannabe) felt about the sacred nature of linen heddles.

Usually I await the blooming of the first wattle with great excitement. This year I didn't even notice the one in bloom outside my bedroom window. I think my mind has been elsewhere. I did notice however, that in the past week lambs have been popping out of all the sheep on my usual drive to work. I love lambs and I miss the Bear's particular voice he used to describe "little lambies."

I still have done very few of the the tasks I wanted to do this week except for pruning one of the fruit trees while my MIL held the ladder and pulling some weeds (a great way to take out frustrations and anger over things one has no control over). I am making progress on getting to things in the computer room, collecting bits of dead computers to recycle, throwing out 5 year old issues of Scientific American, etc. My good buddies at ADFA Library not only took all the Civil War books but also said they'd take all the rest as well and send what they didn't want to the local book charity anyway. That will make things much easier and when the shed has been emptied of books there might be room for bags of alpaca or even a dismantled loom.

Sunday, September 16, 2007



Well, I thought I'd catch up by posting some photos to prove I really do have a loom. I lost the camera in the every-changing mess that is this house. I know I'm making progress on it but it sure wears me out. Here is my new baby, to the left as she is sitting in her 5-star accommodation at the storage unit. Note the two warp beams, with the original warp of what looks like white wool knitting yarn. To the right is looking through the loom at the shafts hanging in place (after I'd re-attached them), and above is looking at them showing the string heddles, and looking down to the treadles. 8 in place and there are 2 more that could be added. 45" weaving width which I think will be enough to keep me occupied. The great meeting of the minds did not take place yesterday as my weaving instructor preferred her day off, which makes sense, so we are doing our inspection on Tuesday and I will ask her where to try and dismantle it. If it can be taken into 2 pieces and slid through on its side I think I can get it in the back door. Otherwise my only option is my dining room. Do I turn my dining room into a studio formally? That's where all my things like drumcarder and table loom live at present but I was so hoping to turn the back bedroom, which is a bit far from the bathroom for guests, into a proper studio looking out on the garden.

I've been in a pink mode in spinning and I am not usually a pink person. So I have pink Masham (left) on the Roberta and pink Wensleyday and BFL waiting in the wings. The effect of spring and all these flowering trees? And I got a lovely (to make a gross understatement) package from BFLB with some absolutely delicious dark grey cashmere roving from the Michigan fiber fest as well as a gorgeous shawl she knit me because I am so hopeless with lace. (My dear MIL is also knitting me a shawl, feather & fan, so I must look exceedingly pitiful in this lace shawl arena). Photo of shawl to come when MIL arrives from Sydney tomorrow for a few days and can point the camera at me for a change.

I was supposed to be taking a week off to recharge my batteries but I have not stopped, going full tilt and eventually had to cry "uncle" (why uncle?) and took a nap yesterday. I tried to lure the senior cat into the bedroom to have a truce of a 2 cat bed. but she took offense at something I did, hissed at me and left. I think she has arthritis because she moves cautiously and stiffly and I know how I feel when I move like that. I haven't working in the garden or potted tomato seedlings or washed the kitchen floor or ironed. But I did vacuum and managed to hang a picture in my bedroom that had been awaiting hanging since before the Bear got sick. I actually used the little electric craft tool he bought me to drill holes in a picture frame and put in screw eyes. It's from a poster from art exhibition the NLA did a few years ago with painting done by a colonial painter named J. Skinner Prout and is a very early scene of Hobart. It took my fancy and was offered as a discard since we had kept a few more copies than needed. I feel a great sense of accomplishment at doing this simple task all by myself.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

You may remember me saying I spoiled myself by buying tickets to the Powderfinger/silvershair concert to be held in Canberra. It was last night and I am glad I went but I was slightly disappointed at the venue. A large tent was erected on a grassy area on the north side of Old Parliament House. It was an all-ages concert and began at 6.55. I stood in a queue to get in for 45 minutes (I didn't realize till later that it didn't matter if I got in early) so then had over an hour to wait for the concert itself. It was freezing cold and windy and I was wearing my full length black leather duster (coat) with jeans and a skivvy (turtleneck) while there were under 18s wearing skimpy no sleeves tops and thongs. Then I discovered there was no seating. None unless you were in a wheel chair. I bought my outrageously overpriced T-shirt and stood. and stood. I eventually went to the St John Ambulance tent and asked if I could just sit down for a while. They were very nice and I ended up chatting to one (over the deafening fill-in music) and he turned out to be a baseball freak and wanted to talk to me about baseball. Sigh, Americanism follows me everywhere. I bought an overpriced not very warm hamburger and came back. Finally the noise of the crowd hinted that something was going on but it was only roadies. I went and stood at the outside edge trying to lean against a pillar. The crowd was pushing me further and further into the sardine mass in the area in front of the stage. I didn't want to go there but people just kept pushing in. I eventually was unable to move and had to balance myself in one little island of space. Delightfully loud, the kind of loud that makes your internal organs ring. But my knees were having a hard time keeping me balanced while not moving. I eventually bailed and sat with the ambos again for a while. But then they started playing stuff I really wanted to hear and I went back to the edge of the crowd where I could see the band easily if not the video show behind them. It was really awesome to watch them do the songs I really knew and loved. And I was no longer cold!! As long as I had room to move around, my knees were OK and this morning I am in less pain than I was on Saturday.

An aside on this rock show, the first I have been to in many years but not the last now that I am not afraid of going by myself. There were "older" folks there, some accompanying youngsters, some seemingly like me, just there for the music. There are always obnoxious gits like the 2 6' 5" goons who were more interested in picking up girls and getting pissed (drunk) than seeing Australia's leading rock bands perform. I wanted to see them perform live (and wasn't disappointed) but these guys had their backs to the stage and were dancing like doofusses. Reminds me of a Clapton concert I went to in Cleveland where a young kid was so drunk he spewed (threw up) before the concert even started and had to leave. When you pay $100+ for a ticket, I wouldn't think that getting drunk would not be your first priority; you can do that anywhere. Oh well, young people these days... As I said to the ambo my first rock concert was the Rolling Stones first American tour in 1964 where we teen aged girls stood on our seats and screamed the whole time.

After communing with my loom, I now need professional advice on disassembling it.. There will be a meeting of the weaving and wood working minds on Saturday morning to discuss whether it can be disassembled. I am thrilled to have acquired such a loom at what I consider to be a bargain price. Now let's see if I can get it into the house! I am taking next week off because I am so tired and need to get more things sorted, do garden prep and hope to warp my table loom. Heck, I'd just like the time to sit down and read Harry Potter.