Sunday, April 29, 2007

Round 5: Finally a convincing win, even if it was against bottom dwellers Melbourne. Percentage will make a difference later in the year (teams that have equal win/loss records are ranked by the difference between points they scored and the points scored against them). Sour note: Tadhg may have dislocated his knee cap. I hope it's "only" that because that is recoverable in some cases whereas if he's done the knee in completely, that could even mean loss for a season. I admit I switched in and out because we watched Borat first and then I watched 2 episodes of Dead like Me which of course I only discovered long after it was cancelled. One thing I thank the DVD magnates for is access to so much on DVD that doesn't cost large amounts. We have complete sets of Stargate: SG 1 and Atlantis and Farscape, plus Hamish MacBeth and Dead Like me and some of Gilmore Girls and Six Feet Under. I wish we could afford Star Trek, mostly Voyager and Deep Space Nine, but they are too expensive. I had mixed reactions to Borat; some of it was hysterical and some cringe-making and some just stupid (naked wrestling in the convention dinner). I have joined a mail order DVD supplier, mostly because there are things I want to watch like The Hours that I know he doesn't and I want a broader selection of films than are at our local video rental. Foreign films, older ones that have been weeded out of their collection. I am a serious film fanatic but rarely go out to the local cinemas, because their schedules don't fit mine, their seats are extremely uncomfortable for someone like me, and they make decisions like Happy Feet was a children's movie and only shown at matinees.

I have almost finished the blue Opal socks and the Bear has chosen his next sock yarns: Regia stretch in a blue & brown which I have no idea of pattern that will form if any. I think the stretch is a good option for him. I may be gifted with a rather large amount of alpaca fleece from a friend of my Bowen therapist who says she can't sell it. To test what's involved with raw alpaca, I am washing some from the stash, some black and some light fawn. I knew they were dirty because alpacas like to roll but I was a bit taken aback when the first wash water was itself black. They are soaking for a second go as I type. At least you don't have lanolin to get out.

Here is a close-up of the first skein from the filthy fleece. It is a very non-descript grey and this skein is from batts carded before I learned to comb first so there are more bumps and lumps than I'd like. But I cannot convey how soft it is. It has quite a bit of bounce (moderate crimp) and is soft enough to make you want to cuddle it. I may over dye it and knit a scarf. I've changed my mind about my weaving project as I don't want my dress red & white scarf to be in any way screwed up because it was my first woven object. There are some really nice dish towels in one of my magazine that use Log Cabin colour and weave in a very interesting play of colours. We always need placemats and napkins because we actually use them. Putting a clean tablecloth on is a major operation due to the Bear's clutter, so changing place-mats is much easier.

There may be unexpected interruptions in blogging over the next week or two while I get new carpet installed in my bedroom. Yes, it's taken us since New Years to get around to it, but we did have the interlude where we bought 29 acres of land. Now things have settled down, and the guy is coming to measure on Tues. I don't know how much wait there is after that. It has meant I've had to move all the books out of the bookcase, clothes out of my dresser, etc. so the furniture can be moved. And then of course, move everything back in. We are going with a neutral wool Berber not too different to what was down here when it was new (a long time ago).

It Rained! 27 nmm on Saturday and 17 mm today! and that's not here (where it also rained) but onto the 29 acres!. It looks like more rain is coming. I also noticed that there there was only one day (until this rainy weekend) when the temperature didn't get over 20C when we in Canberra have had numerous days of highs of 17 or 18. So it really is warmer there. I can grow citrus and figs, which some people seem to be able to grow here, but I have killed too many lemon trees to try again.

Friday, April 27, 2007

I know, I know. It's been ages. I have been either flat out busy or flat out asleep. Nothing got done either last Saturday or on Weds, which is a usual day off for me but was ANZAC Day holiday for everybody else. Sunday we went on an extended trip to the mall and both of us were flagging by the end. There have been days when my legs hurt so much I was wondering if I could walk down to my car, even tho it was in the handicapped spot next to the staff entrance. I have been much interested in the story line we are seeing currently here in "House" (which is one of my favourite shows). This line revolves around a cop who was given the usual House treatment of sarcasm and contempt and has decided to get him by removing House's pain meds. House is deemed a "drug addict" and not capable of practising medicine while taking narcotic pain killers. This is a scenario I live in fear of, especially when we go to the States for a visit. I take controlled release morphine and strictly controlled sleeping pills. I would not be able to function without them. US customs says you may not bring in drugs that are not allowed in the US. I haven't specifically investigated my meds because I didn't want to raise any red flags, but I am always nervous that some hardline customs official might decide to search my luggage and find said meds and despite the doctor's letter I always carry when I go overseas, might decide I was a druggie and confiscate them. The cusoms web site says you should go to an American doctor to get the prohibited drugs. Am I suposed to waltz into a doctor who knows nothing about me and ask for morphine and sleeping pills? I actual had to do this on one trip when I forgot (stress of overseas trip --> cognitive impairment & short term memory loss) my sleeping pills and had to get Saint J to FedEx them to me. Meanwhile I had a week of no sleep, until I convinced my sister I really really needed them and went to a local (NY) GP who looked at my letter and said "Good grief, what's the matter with you that you are taking all this?" Fortunately he believed me and wrote me the prescription (which required govt approval just as it does here) and I finally got some sleep. People with chronic pain take pain medication not because it gives them a "high" or any euphoria, other than that which happens when the pain is significantly reduced, since I am never pain free. The US I know has real sensitivity on opiates, and I had a GP who didn't even like using codeine for migraines. Here it's available over the counter and while I do have to do a lot of paperwork for my morphine, I also have a rheumatologist who is pragmatic about pain and managing it.

Good news at last! We now have the piece of paper that says Box 6A is ours, even if they misspelled my (maiden) name wrong on the title certificate. When we go to the wool show in July we'll need to get a lock for the gate and do some enquiring about what we can do without a building permit. There was even a whopping 4mm of rain last Sunday.

Round 4: We lost to Adelaide, in Adelaide, which is always a hard ask. Their kicking accuracy was atrocious. I have to admit I only watched the last quarter, since the Bear and I were watching a DVD together (Friday and Saturday nights are our movie nights). The Swannies were only down by 14 points when I turned it on, but it only got worse from there.

I have been knitting furiously on the Opal socks after I spun the last of the first pound of BFL I have. I wound off another hank of plied BFL which is a bit finer and more consistent than the last. I also wound off a skein of the filthy fleece. I would have posted a photo but I decided after its usual dip after winding off that there was too much lanolin still lingering so I gave it a hot wash with dishwash liquid. This is partly because I want to overdye it and no lanolin makes dyeing easier. I may be gifted with a substantial amount of alpaca so I've been taking a dive into the stash to find my raw alpaca to see how hard it is to wash. I know there is no lanolin issue, but that alpacas like to roll in dirt. I finally found a podcast I like and that is Fibercast, partly because Nancy sticks to her topic, provides helpful stuff like what it's like to raise alpacas (The Bear loves alpacas and like to go and hum with them at sheep shows), an interview with Earth Hues Dyes about natural dyeing etc. No fluff, Just The Facts. Of course I am consumed with envy at all the announcements of upcoming fiber festivals in the US. We'll have one wool day in May at the Old Bus Depot Sunday Markets and then the nationals in July.

The Aussie dollar is high at the moment so I am buying stuff I have been holding off on like some knitting books (trying for used when possible) and some fiber but not much. I tried the Heal my Hands stuff (what do you call it? a cake, a container full?) and since it has lanolin in it it is extremely long lasting and makes the palms of my hands really soft and supple. But I have really bad cuticles and dry finger ends (another FMS thing) and it's hard to get this semi solid cake of lanolin, beeswax, etc. to penetrate there. I like the Body Shop's Mango Body Butter for my nail areas. I slather that on before I go to sleep at night. The Imp has taken to sleeping with me but usually starts jumping up and down on me around 5AM, when she is escorted to the door. Then she goes and licks the Bear's toes.

Still enduring the saga of the inability to get the proper permits out of the USDA for my fleeces to be sent to me. According to the mill and a Shetland breeder, their USDA people don't know anything about such certificate but Quarantine here assures me that they do it all the time. I am left in limbo with 2 fleeces ready to be shipped to me if we can just organize the frelling certificate. There will be at least 2 more Shetlands and 2 of the crossbreeds I think I already mentioned.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This is what carded batts of the filthy fleece look like. After
picking open the tips of the locks which were encased in mud, washing several times, combing with a dog comb and drum carded (sometimes twice). I still get noils because the fibre is so very fine. I shudder to think how much of my time has been spent on $8 of raw fleece I have a plyed bobbin full what I will wind off in a day or two.

I got the latest issue of Knitters earlier this week and something in it jumpstarted my knitting flame. Not that there was a partular item that screamed "KNIT ME" although there were several I liked that were lace (damn it). But I suddenly felt like knitting. I got some very old stash yarn called Alpaca Fiesta from Diamond Yarn It is a 2-ply, loosely plied of 2 singles, one bright turquoise and one thick & thin dark green. My gauge swatch was sorta difficult to knit even in garter stitch. But the garter stitch showed plenty of texture so I think I'll just plug numbers into Knitware and spit out a basic vest. I will have to be careful not to split the plies.

Hope had asked what I was going to do with my spindle-spun silk and I hadn's really thought of what. I have one scarf out of hand-dyed tussah and it was a bitch to knit. The silk I'm spinning is bright coral and will need something to tone it down. So I thought of using it as weft with commercially spun silk as weft. I have some undyed from Glenora Weaving so I think I will aim for.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Round 3: I missed most of the action due to what I tend to regard as the reverse-jinx effect. They play well until I start to watch at which point the wheels fall off, so I stop watching only to return to watch them tidy up the match with ease. I don't know whether it's the fact that I'm watching that I get to see Schneider handpass to a Brisbane player, Spida miss several goals, whatever, but while I went back to my ironing in despair, they controlled the fourth quarter and won easily. Mick scored the first and last goals on his 250th game. Barring injury and making the finals, he could hit 300 by the end of next of season. He still has the desire because he definitely shows his emotions on the ground. Since Brisbane was undefeated, this was an important win. Not so nice seeing Ben Fixter playing for Brisbane but I don't know what the internal factors were which led to his de-listing and subsequent drafting by Brisbane. Might have been mutual for all I know. Because of the screwy nature of the broadcast rights this year, the match was shown on one free-to-air channel while the commentary was from the Foxtel pay TV network. They cut off coverage immediately after the siren so we didn't get to see Mick chaired off the ground or the team singing the team song in the locker room, which we had become accustomed to. Cheer cheer!

Yesterday we went to
Fishwyck markets which is so dangerous. Loads of lovely fruit and veg, 2 fish markets and too many deli/gourmet food shops. We came away with 2 kinds of plums, pears (a choice of 4 different kinds), a rockmelon (cantelope), the first mandarines (tangerines) of the season, flat beans, a sweet potato (which are absurdly expensive here), fresh corn (ditto re expense) and 2 of 8 different varieties of potatoes (from common Desirees to purple congo), a piece of swordfish for me and snapper for him, and blood orange sorbet and a smoked chicken breast from one of the delis. I resisted sheep's milk cheese and mango gelato, and figs were 2 for $2.50 which is a bit pricey even though I salivate in thinking about them.

I knitted away on the Bear's jumper while I watched TV last night and finished plying a bobbin of the filthy fleece.Tonight is combing locks of filthy fleece before I go back to BFL and I may take up a turquoise and black alpaca vest from the stash after the fiasco with the lace jacket.

BTW I finally finished His Majesty's Spanish Flock, and cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone with an interest in wool genetics and the commercial development of wool internationally. Only the illness of George III and of Sir Joseph Banks led to the demise of the experiment as the Regent had little interest in things agricultural. What surprised me was that the proceeds of years of shearing were simply stockpiled and then dumped on the market as an extremely bad time for the price of fine wool. I didn't find it terribly clear why this was unless it was Sir Joseph's withdrawal from ongoing management of the flock. The experiment certainly had profound impact of Australia through the purchase of some of H.M.'s sheep for Australia. I also found it interesting that the ordinary English judge of sheep found the merinos pitiful because they were used to looking at meat sheep. One pertinent comment was that you don't judge a merino on horseback, but get down and part the fleece. All that lanolin attracts a lot of dirt which obscures the true nature of the fleece. (Hence my filthy fleece which is delightfully soft but wouldn't look like much on the hoof).We call merinos in a paddock (field) stealth sheep disguising themselves as rocks. The normal washing procedure prior to shearing English sheep was to wash them in a river. This obviously doesn't not work with merino due to the level of lanolin in the wool.

Current BBBB is Beautiful Swimmers about crab fishing in Chesapeake bay. Australia is slightly lacking in crabs, making up for it in succulent oysters and enormous prawns. Mud crabs are found to the north in mangroves but are usually served as chili mud crab which leaved me out. I long for crab imperial from the Chesapeake or in desperation crab cakes. And can I have red Lobster cheese cornbread and a deluxe margarita with that?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Round 2: They beat Richmond by 16 points but I have to hang my head and say I didn't watch. By the time I remembered they were playing we had to leave for Cirque du Soleil so I wouldn't have seen the end anyway (big cop-out). The Bear reported that Spida kicked 2 goals, had 15 possessions and did well as ruck. Good to see Darren Jolly still there and contributing as I was afraid that Spida would push him out just as he was maturing. Having 2 available ruckmen who can also play forward is a Good Thing. Mick seems very pumped up this year and even hoped to reach 250 matches which is amazing. And to think I watched him debut as an 18 year old. (a rookie is called a debutant in Aussie sports. Picture a 6 ft black footballer in a fluffy white dress).

Instead of ironing, I hung out online, carded 3 more batts of filthy fleece, cast on the Bear's new jumper and uploaded new CDs from Not Lame. They seduced me with Hook Heaven 2, so as long as I was buying one, I also got Class Three Overbite's Rendezvous, and Love by design's Let the Outside in. I must go iron if I want to listen to them. But my hand hurts, she whined. Too much mousing, she grumbled.

Having plucked 2 enormous butternut pumpkins out of the autumnal garden, I have pumpkin roasting for my roasted pumpkin and ginger soup. Winter is definitely soup weather so despite the weather pixie telling you it's warm and sunny (which it is) I feel like soup.

I just found out that it is not me being incredibly slovenly in leaving gobs of hair on the floor when I blow dry, because I cleaned the existing hair up yesterday and it mysteriously re-appeared, so I think The Imp has been pulling it out of the waste basket. Where does she get these ideas?

Friday, April 13, 2007

I have a lot on my mind that I want to post about but my legs are killing me and for some reason both hips have been sore for days. It may all go back to another mall trek, this time, besides going to Medicare and Medibank getting refunded $, and Coles for things the Bear couldn't find in Woolies and looking in vain for fish and debating buying frozen baby octopus... You get the idea. I also bought a couple of blouses to tide me over until I get fully slim. I know I've danced about this subject but I'll come out and admit it. I have been seriously dieting (as in I joined A Plan) since last August and I have lost 35 kg. Now I need that uninvented invention, shrink-wrap skin where I stand in a hot shower and the loose skin tightens right up. Instead I have droopy thighs and torso but you can now see my collar bones, I have only one chin, I have gone down 4 sizes and am on the cusp of the last. Of course the first things to lose size is my fingers so all my rings are loose. Should I get to the point that they are falling off I shall have to think about resizing them again, because my weight does tend to yo-yo but over very long periods of time (years, like). My search for slacks is continuing as every "fashion" store I went in had the very same hipster, wide band top, extra long (even on me), flattering only on an 18 year old skinny child. K-Mart was pushing shorts. In the middle of April when I'm into freezing feet weather. See Crazy Aunt Purl for her rant. And why do they think larger sizes (like an 18, wow) all want cropped pants? Nobody looks good in them. I bought a fitted (!) ruby red blouse and a black long sleeved number with white pin stripes. In my ideal world I'd wear Lands end all the time. I'd live in 7-day twills and turtlenecks with handknit vests in the winter. I am a tiny bit leery of ordering jeans mail order. I wear nothing but Lands end shoes because they are the only shoes I find always comfortable. I have 6 pairs of their All-weather mocs. There is a Fletcher Jones outlet in our new outlet mall so I may hit them for some seriously nice slacks, but then I work with dirty books So I walked from one end of the mall to the other and by the end my hips hurt so much I was wondering if I would make it back to the car. I did (thanks to my handicapped pass) but my hips still hurt 3 days later. I will iron this afternoon but that's it.

Searched out some new fibery podcasts to try. It was so nice to hear Brenda's voice again that I saved her podcast till the last as a treat. I am very jealous of having all that time to knit Aran jumpers, but not of her illness. I wish I could get some of the super blogs I find as podcasts. One I have found is Curious weaver which sparked my interest being Aussie and, aside from being an awesome weaver, dabbles in using weaving software and even Photoshop to spark her creativity (an idea close to my heart). She lead me to The Online Guild of weavers spinners & dyers and I looked at their longwool challenge. My English Leicester looks very much like theirs although I didn't comb mine. I have Wensleydale and Marsham in the stash. I am plying the spun filthy fleece, still picking out VM. I am hoping with a plyed yarn when washed will bloom into something soft that I might over-dye and knit a scarf out of. It hurts to sit for very long. It hurts to lie in bed too long. It definitely hurts to stand. Maybe I need to to take my Neurontin.

I haven't sorted out the fleece buying yet. as Matt has gone silent again and I am waiting to hear from my other fleece sources. I bought some Gotland from Copper Moose as well as a couple of small items as the dollar is high. I have so many books I have none that are on my wish list that I crave. I'd like to pay for these fleeces while the dollar is high. The dollar is high and I am lacking time not stuff. Knit from the stash. Spin from the stash.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

As I expected, Cirque du Soliel was wonderful. I have seen everything broadcast, have even said I'd go to Las Vegas with the Bear (major geek conference) if I could just see them. Well, they actually came to Canberra, that forgotten capital city, and put up their tent right in front of the Library. Every act was amazing, even the clowns, and I generally don't like circus clowns. We were about 5 rows back but on the side. The only act we missed, therefore, was the Triple Trapeze which is designed to be appreciated by the centre of the house. And of course what I love are the costumes, all fringes and iridescent fabric and strange protuberances. I was afraid my jaw would remain permanently in my lap. I was so right that seeing them live would be something beyond the TV experience. This show was Verekai which has now moved on to Melbourne. I was especially taken with the spectacle of the tent gone black to be filled by tiny moving lights, no doubt provided by placing lights on performers in black. To those who have never seen lightning bugs, it must have been doubly special. I tend to think my dislike of traditional circuses originated when my mother and I were witnesses to a show in New York when I was young where a tiger turned on its handler and while I haven't retained any overt fear from the event, I just don't care for circuses. Of course, my father dragged us to Venice, Fla, to see Ringling Bros. every year and I couldn't make him care that I really don't like watching elephants, clowns and dancing ponies.

The Imp was tres naughty and slipped out the front door and took off at night thus activating a search and rescue operation. She didn't go far, as I expect she was surprised to find it dark outside. I very carefully prevented myself from panic and once she came out from under the cars she was easily scooped up. One cannot tell a Burmese the she has no road sense, or for that matter any sense of real danger. All instructions are not to let Burmese out on their own but ir's hard to tell her that.

I did more garden cleanup on the weekend and didn't tax my hands overly. We harvested one watermelon, about soccerball sized. I don't know whether it will be yellow or pink inside.

I finally got the Bear measured since he's off the size charts despite losing a bit of weight. I plugged the numbers into my sweater software and spit out a plain jumper (nothing "fussy" for him) but it will be knit out of hand-spun from Bendigo's readi-spin in the colour "red tweed" which is a darkish red with royal blue flecks. I am spinning more BFL, cleaning the filthy fleece, and have temporarily ceased knitting everything else but the Opal socks.

My DVD trial sent me 21 Grams first which was an interesting film and I do like Sean Penn. Tonight it's Ocean's 12. The TV networks are flooding us with re-runs so help is needed. The Bear subjected me to The Legend of Zorro which reveals to his mental age for watching movies.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Once again mea culpa. This has been a very uncomfortable week. I have had on-again off-again IBS* all week, sometimes meaning I just felt uncomfortable and bloated, sometimes meaning I needed to be within a few yards of a toilet. It is still there but I am trying to ignore it since it shows no signs of either going away or seriously interrupting things (I hope). I say hope very strongly as we have tickets for Cirque du Soleil this afternoon and I do NOT want to be heading for the ladies in the middle of a performance, but stress, even "good" stress, can really ratchet IBS up. I used to get it like clockwork every time we went up to a Swannies match just because I was excited. I also forgot to take my meds Thursday night which meant yesterday I had nausea, headache and prickly pain due to withdrawal from my antidepressants. I recently learned that the gut has many times more serotonin receptors than the rest of your body and an SRRI or lack thereof could easily affect the actions of the gut.

My usual reaction to felling like crap is the crawl into bed. Just for 5 minutes. no, 10. Maybe 30. Why don't I take a little nap? Whoops the morning is gone. So goes my life, lost in sleep, not necessarily because I'm "tired" but just because I want to push the painful world away for a little while. It works and sometimes I even feel better when I wake up but I rarely do all the things I have "planned" for whatever time I have available. Housekeeping is the first to go, hence the dust bunnies multiplying and the fridge needs a thorough clean (that I will do this long weekend). To my North American pals, Australia has a 4 day long weekend over Easter, given Good Friday and Easter Monday as public holidays. I find this very strange because there are the usual pronouncements of separation of church and state and there is none of the standard "God Bless America" type sloganeering by politicians. I am convinced the holiday remains as an excuse to eat all the chocolate one can, since chocolate in many forms is everywhere at this time of the year and they don't dye Easter eggs, and so we can have one last holiday (it's also school holidays) before winter arrives.

This also means we are on holiday from weaving class and since the instructor is also taking personal time after that we have 5 weeks without weaving class. Last week we played with different kinds of weft: fuzzy, shiny, boucle, anything including wire. It was a lot of fun and gives the mind lots to ponder. I am to bring in my inkle weaving next class which might prompt me to warp it again for my next band. We will do double weave next week which intrigues me in my design to weave a blanket from hand spun on a 30" wide loom. Then we go into projects, and I know I want to weave a red and white "dress" scarf in either twill or a colour-and-weave pattern. I might use some hand spun in the process.

I have knit nothing but socks and have almost finished the first of the 2 Opal blue socks. I plyed off another bobbin of BFL and am ready to spin some more. I continue my wrangle in trying to source Shetland from the US with many breeders eager to sell to me but refusing to believe that there are special laws regarding importing to Australia. I found a very promising site last night only to find they were in Canada and the thought of adding that to the equation made my brain hurt.

We watched Casino Royale on DVD last night and I am not fond of the new James Bond. Yes, he has a gorgeous body, but his ears stick out and I don't find him sexy. It also seemed that a requirement was that he run really fast. The opening titles were an absolute delight tho and so clever. The idea of 007 playing poker and not baccarat though. I mean really. I have been watching season 5 of Alias which for some reason our local network declined to air, so I had to buy it on DVD. I'm glad I also bought Gilmore Girls on DVD because we didn't see that either, even a shortened season or out of order. I signed up for a mail-order DVD rental service to watch DVDs I know the Bear doesn't want to watch but I do. So far they have mailed me (but they haven't popped out the other end) Ocean's 12 and 21 Grams. His tastes are those of a 14 year old boy so if there is subtlty or nuance or a love story (without car chases) he isn't interested.

*Irritable bowel syndrome